Laity Must Get Involved

Times-Picayune [New Orleans LA]
January 5, 2004

Since the initial revelations of sexual abuse of children at the hands of Catholic priests, there have been many letters on the editorial page. These letters have expressed outrage, cynicism, skepticism and heartache. Such emotions are understandable. After only a short existence in New Orleans, the local chapter of Voice of the Faithful, is thriving. We have heard and shared the same emotions. The Catholic community is concerned for its church but unsure of a proactive option for the laity.

The sexual-abuse scandal is only a symptom of the real crisis, which is the lack of communication and involvement between the laity and hierarchy. Accountability is a must on all levels. Recently, the Archdiocese of New Orleans held several "listening" meetings. The last meeting at Notre Dame Seminary exposed a disconnected faith community. Parishes are unfamiliar with one another. We felt as if we had just discovered a brother we never knew, living on the other side of town, a brother with problems.

New Orleans is a unique place, and Catholicism is a large part of what makes it special. We love our church, but Catholics of New Orleans have got to take responsibility for our church.

So what do we do to assure that no other child is victimized; that another survivor is not ignored? Vatican II mandates involvement of the laity. If lay people had been involved on all decision-making levels, it is likely that there would have been no secrecy and no crisis.

The clergy we have encountered have been blessedly helpful and supportive. Talk to your pastor. Let us speak the truth in love and hope.

Mark and Adele Foster

Voice of the Faithful

New Orleans

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