National Working Groups

National Working Groups help develop the resources needed to advance our mission and goals. Sometimes they coalesce around specific projects or campaigns, such as bishop selection or the restoration of the female diaconate. Other times they work on multiple projects within a general category: survivor support or lay education, for examples.

The focus of each Working Group must fit within the overall mission of VOTF and address one or more of the three goals.

Any VOTF member may participate in Working Group efforts, whether “in person” or “virtually.” Although geographic presence may be needed for some activities, almost all preparation and outreach relies upon online communications. The National Office helps coordinate this work and also supervises project output and distribution.

These are the Working Groups currently supported:

  • Broken Vessel Healing Circles pursues reform and healing within the Church using the Healing Circle model of restorative justice, a concept that focuses on all those victimized when crimes such as clergy sex abuse occur within a community. The effort proceeds in collaboration with practitioners and specialists in restorative justice and supporters of clergy abuse survivors.

  • Financial Working Group is collecting publicly available information on diocesan finances to develop a web portal that will allow U.S. Catholics to review and compare the financial data their dioceses report. The portal also will include guidelines for assessing financial statements and “making sense” of how a diocese handles funds the faithful donate.

  • Bishop Selection provides background documents and a web portal for increasing lay input into the selection of local bishops. The portal allows Catholics to send their thoughts on diocesan needs directly to the U.S. Apostolic Nuncio when there is a vacancy. The committee also has conducted diocesan-specific models for increased lay participation in the bishop-selection process and has proposed to the Vatican a procedure for conduction international demonstration projects of the concepts.

  • Prayerful Voice works to accomplish VOTF’s commitment to “provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit” in all its actions. This includes opportunities for prayer, worship, reflection, and faith development that strengthen VOTF’s commitment to its stated goals.

  • Survivor Support aims to be “present” for survivors, to raise awareness of their needs; to provide a safe forum for survivors to tell their stories and seek justice, as well as to work for changes that will increase the protection of children against abusers.

  • Priest Support is committed to raising awareness and starting conversations regarding issues that impact priests and the priesthood and thus ultimately affect the laity and our faith communities.

  • Structural Change works for meaningful and active engagement of the laity in the life of the Church, through prayer, dialogue, and education—to help shape the structural changes that guard against future sex abuse scandals.

  • Protecting Our Children aims to increase awareness among the laity of childhood sexual abuse, to identify and promote effective child protection programs, and to monitor child-protection policies within the Church.

  • Voice of Renewal/Lay Education focuses on education about the role of the laity as members of the Body of Christ, prepares materials designed to assist and foster mature faith, and offers models of lay education to members and affiliates.