O'Malley Agrees to Meet with Voice of the Faithful

By Eric Convey
Boston Herald [Washington DC]
November 11, 2003

WASHINGTON - Boston Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley has agreed to meet next week with leaders of the lay group Voice of the Faithful - his first sit-down with representatives of the organization.

"It's to establish a dialogue with our archbishop," said Steve Krueger, executive director of Voice of the Faithful.

VOTF was formed in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse revelations of January 2002 and has had an at-times rocky relationship with the Boston archdiocese.

Bernard Cardinal Law blocked the formation of new chapters on church property before resigning in December 2002 but did not force existing ones to disband. Bishop Richard G. Lennon, who ran the archdiocese for seven months before O'Malley took over, continued Law's policy.

VOTF drew fire from church leaders for several moves, including raising money independent of the archdiocese for Catholic charitable work.

Krueger said he hopes next week's session will lead to a change in the policy on new chapters. Based on a brief preliminary discussion with O'Malley, Krueger said, "He certainly expects to discuss that."

A spokesman for O'Malley could not be reached late yesterday.

Luise Cahill Dittrich, a Voice of the Faithful spokeswoman, said a growing number of bishops have expressed comfort with the existence of Voice of the Faithful chapters in their dioceses.

"There's a good eight or 10 that like Voice of the Faithful," she said.

For their part, Voice of the Faithful leaders have worked hard to fight the perception that the group poses a threat to core church principles, Dittrich said.

But in some quarters, Voice of the Faithful continues to draw considerable fire from church leaders.

Over the weekend, three priests from St. Francis Xavier parish in Hyannis published a lengthy letter praising VOTF for some objectives but criticizing the group for failing to endorse church positions on controversial issues such as the ordination of women.

The Revs. Thomas A. Frechette, Paul T. Lamb and Roger J. Landy wrote: "Because VOTF has given no indication that it fully supports all the defined teachings of the church, we have grave misgivings about it and cannot recommend it to you."

Cape Cod is part of the Diocese of Fall River.


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