Voice of the Faithful 2018 Conference, Progress & Promise, Is Set for Providence, Oct. 6

VOTF will present findings from its 2018 study of national online diocesan financial transparency.

Major speakers will include well known supporter of clergy abuse survivors Marie Collins, internationally recognized theologian Massimo Faggioli, and ecclesiology expert Fr. William Clark, S.J.

BOSTON, Mass., May 10, 2018 – Voice of the Faithful, a Roman Catholic Church reform movement focusing on issues surrounding the clergy sexual abuse scandal and the laity’s role in Church governance, will hold its 2018 Conference: Progress & Promise on Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Marriott Providence Downtown, Providence, Rhode Island.

A major feature of the conference will be presentation of findings from VOTF’s Finance Working Group’s 2018 study of national online diocesan financial transparency. The report is expected to show dioceses’ progress in financial transparency since VOTF’s 2017 study report, “Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency,” which was distributed last November (click here for 2017 report).

That report showed a wide disparity in online financial transparency among 177 U.S. Catholic dioceses. Overall scores ranged from 59 to 10 out of 60. The study found that 61 dioceses posted no financial data to their websites, and 75 diocese did not post parish financial guidelines. Many dioceses, however, scored well, and some dioceses pointed to their scores to show how financially transparent they are.

VOTF’s return guest speaker will be Marie Collins, who has counseled Catholic bishops and advocated for abuse survivors worldwide. Collins spoke at VOTF’s 2015 assembly in Hartford, Connecticut, about the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, on which she was initially one of only two clergy abuse survivor members. She has since resigned from the Commission, citing Curial intransigence as the major reason. Pope Francis named nine new members to the Commission in February 2018 after allowing it to languish for three months without a mandate. She will discuss the Church’s efforts to address the clergy abuse scandal.

Another prominent speaker will be internationally known theologian Massimo Faggioli, Ph.D., professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who is an expert on the history and effects of Vatican II. Specifically, Faggioli will discuss the legacy of Vatican II and what it means to be a lay person in the Church today in the context of Francis’ papacy. Raised and educated in Italy, Faggioli brings a western European point of view to bear on Church issues in the United States.

The third featured speaker will be Fr. William Clark, S.J., S.T.D., who is associate professor of religious studies at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He will talk about lay leadership in the Church. Fr. Clark specializes in systematic theology, particularly ecclesiology. His work is about grounding lay leadership in a theology of the people, according to the teachings of Vatican II. He is particularly interested in parish life and issues affecting local church communities. He also has extensive experience in parish pastoral work and retreat direction.

Also scheduled for the conference will be presentations by VOTF leaders on activities related to progress in helping to heal the wounds from clergy sexual abuse; holding dioceses accountable for financial transparency; and developing resources for lay leadership:

Healing the wounds of clergy sexual abuse — The facilitators of VOTF’s Broken Vessel™ Healing Circle program, former trustees Jayne O’Donnell and Bill Casey, will present an overview of Healing Circles and a progress update. By describing what a Healing Circle actually looks like, they will share with us how effective this restorative justice model can be in helping to heal those the clergy abuse scandal has harmed.

Holding dioceses accountable for financial transparency — VOTF’s Financial Working Group, led by trustee Margaret Roylance, will announce the results of its second annual survey of diocesan online financial transparency. As in 2017, the Finance Working Group will again in 2018 study all 177 U.S. dioceses and rank them according to their degree of online financial transparency. The Finance Working Group’s initial study revealed a wide disparity in online financial transparency. Based on responses to the initial report, VOTF anticipates some movement toward greater financial transparency to be shown in this second report.

Developing resources for lay leadership — The issue of leadership in the Church, always a focus for VOTF, will become increasingly problematic as the U.S. clergy continues to shrink, making the substance of lay leadership increasingly important. VOTF has formed a Collaborative Inquiry Team, which includes one of the 2018 Conference speakers, Fr. William Clark, to seek funding for a study to answer the question: What forms of lay spirituality will provide the basis for effective lay servant leadership in faith communities without a pastor? Members of the team will lead this discussion at the Conference.

The Voice of the Faithful 2018 Conferece: Progress & Promise will take place at the Providence Marriott Downtown, Providence, Rhode Island, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday Oct. 6, 2018. Registration is $85 per person during the Early Bird Special period. Registration for students with valid student ID is $25. The Marriott is offering a reduced rate to conference attendees. To register for the conference and make reduced-rate hotel reservations go to VOTF 2018 Conference: Progress & Promise.

Voice of the Faithful News Release, May 10, 2018

Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 781-559-3360

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.