BOSTON, Mass., March 27, 2023―Pope Francis changed the Roman Catholic Church yesterday by giving lay people votes in the Catholic Church Synod of Bishops, which now will be called simply the Synod.
“Our excitement at Pope Francis’ inclusion of the laity in such an important way today cannot be overstated,” says Mary Pat Fox, Voice of the Faithful president. “Since shortly after Pope Francis’ election, when it began to become evident that his leadership approach would differ from his predecessors, we have watched him gradually elevate attention on the role of the laity in the Church. We pray that the pastoral orientation, openness, and inclusivity he promotes will continue beyond his pontificate. This is the same mission VOTF has promoted since our beginning.”
For more than 20 years, Voice of the Faithful has addressed the laity’s involvement in Church structure. VOTF’s very mission is “to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church.” By including lay people, and calling for half of these delegates to by women, Pope Francis is welcoming such participation.
VOTF also has called for reforms in Church structure. Over the years, these efforts have included educating the laity and equipping them with the means to address responsibly issues of vital importance within the Church. Examples include annual nationwide reviews of diocesan financial transparency and accountability, lay involvement in diocesan finance councils, and diocesan compliance with child protection and safe environment guidelines.
In addition, VOTF has worked to promote lay involvement in the selection of bishops; the creation and support of parish and diocesan pastoral councils, finance councils, and safety committees; the eradication of clericalism, perhaps the greatest threat undermining lay input in the Church; and the establishment of an ordained women’s diaconate in the church. VOTF performs this work with the conviction that the whole Church must respect the dignity and intelligence of all its members and “acknowledge the right and responsibility of the laity, flowing from their baptism, to use their God-given gifts for the good of the Church.”
Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.
Voice of the Faithful Statement, Apr. 27, 2023, contact Nick Ingala, email@example.com, (781) 559-3360