VOTF Hears National Leader

By Francis X. Fay Jr
The Hour [Norwalk CT]
November 7, 2003

NORWALK -- The national president of Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) told 75 members of the Southwestern Connecticut Chapter on Thursday night that the laity is eventually bound to have a greater voice in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States because of the declining numbers of clergy.

James Post, one of the co-founders of the organization 21 months ago in the Boston Archdiocese, said that the 30,000 lay leaders in this nation match the number of clergy, but that the 30,000 additional Roman Catholics in lay leadership training dwarf the number of clergy in training.

"The church will become more and more dependent upon the laity and that should lead to a greater voice for the laity," he said.

The fact that the meeting was held in the First Congregational Church on the Green, instead of in a Catholic church building, led him to note that only eight of the 59 diocesan bishops in the nation have barred the organization from using church facilities. "The prohibition is mostly along the East Coast from Philadelphia to Maine," he explained.

A business management professor of 25 years standing at Boston University, Post described himself as an ordinary Roman Catholic until January of 2002 when the priestly sexual abuse stories began appearing in the Boston Globe newspaper. "That's when a group of us reacted by arranging a series of meetings in an attempt to understand the problem. What was astonishing to us was the extent of the problem and the fact that it had been covered up for so many years. It is amazing what you can come up with when a group of well educated people start brainstorming a problem and develop a plan to attack it." Post, expected to be elected to a second year as president in December, said that he and a group of VOTF leaders will have a press conference in Washington, D.C., next Monday in conjunction with the U.S. Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops.

"While we haven't been invited to speak before their conference, we will have talks with about 30 bishops," he said. "I really believe there will be more open dialogue between the laity and the church leadership in time." The Rev. Christopher Walsh, whom Bridgeport Diocesan Bishop William Lori assigned last May as liaison to VOTF, attended the session. While he didn't address the gathering, he did note afterward that the incidence of child abuse by priests documented thus far is in the 1 to tw2o percent range which is on a par with all professions.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.