BOSTON, Mass., Oct. 3, 2019 – The present crisis in the life of the Catholic Church, which has been called the biggest “since the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century,” is drawing members of the Church reform group Voice of the Faithful together in the Boston area for their 2019 Conference: Creating a Just Church. Founded in 2002 during heightened awareness of clergy sexual abuse of minors in the Boston Archdiocese, VOTF seeks a church with greater transparency, accountability, and lay involvement in Church governance.
VOTF’s 2019 Conference: Creating a Just Church takes place on Saturday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at the Boston Marriott Newton, 2345 Commonwealth Ave., Newton, Mass. In addition to featured speakers and a panel discussion addressing Church scandal in local faith communities, conference attendees will hear the results of VOTF’s “2019 Report on Measuring & Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency.” Conference attendees also will hear from VOTF’s Child Protection Working Group about their vision of a new initiative, which could measure the vigilance of dioceses in following child protection guidelines. The initiative would leverage the way VOTF monitors diocesan online financial information and would be similar to that effort.
A special return guest speaker will be the Honorable Anne M. Burke, Illinois Supreme Court Justice, who spoke to us at our 10th Anniversary Conference in 2012. For more than two years, she served as the interim chair of the USCCB’s National Review Board, directing its efforts to investigate the causes and effects of the clerical sexual abuse scandal and helping to establish guidelines and policies for effectively responding to the scandal. She will provide invaluable perspective on the abuse scandal.
Justice Burke will be joined by Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center Exec. Dir. Char Rivette. Together, they will show how ChicagoCAC can be a model for battling clergy child abuse in your diocese. ChicagoCAC is Chicago’s front-line responder to reports of child sexual abuse, physical and other serious abuse, and the only not-for-profit coordinating the efforts of child protection staff, law enforcement professionals, family advocates, medical experts, and mental health clinicians under one roof.
A second featured speaker will be Fr. Richard Lennan, professor of systematic theology at Boston College. He presently directs Boston College’s sacred theology licenture program. Together with Boston College theology professors Thomas Groome and Richard Gaillardetz, Prof. Lennan wrote “To Serve the People of God: Renewing the Conversation on Priesthood and Ministry,” which calls for reexamining the formation process for diocesan priests and eradicating the priesthood’s embedded clerical culture. The paper resulted from a seminar at Boston College begun in 2016 and composed of lay and ordained, women and men, theologians and ministers working in pastoral and academic settings.
In addition, the conference will feature a panel discussion during which parishioners from the Cincinnati, Ohio, Washington, D.C., and Buffalo, New York, areas will discuss actions they are taking at the grassroots level to help create a just Church in light of scandals particular to their communities. Discussions of issues arising from the panel presentations and question and answer period will continue during lunch. Conference attendees will have the chance to ask the panel members about the broad variety of activities in which they are engaged and which have energized both their local faith communities and faith communities they have contacted in other parts of the country.
Additional information and links for online conference registration, online hotel reservations, and downloadable registration forms are at www.votf.org.
Voice of the Faithful News Release, Sept. 24, 2019
Contact: Nick Ingala, firstname.lastname@example.org, 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: 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.