|VOTF Says It Was Not Involved in Bill on Catholic Church
By Christopher Keating
March 19, 2009
Voice of the Faithful, an organization of lay Catholics, says it was not involved in the highly controversial bill that was proposed by the legislature's judiciary committee that would have changed the legal, financial, and administrative structure of the local parishes of the Catholic Church.
The group, which provokes either support or opposition among Catholics, says it has been falsely tied to the bill, which was offered as a raised bill for the committee headed by Sen. Andrew McDonald of Stamford and Rep. Michael P. Lawlor of East Haven.
The group, based in Boston, issued the following statement:
"Since the introduction last week of a Connecticut bill aimed at changing corporate structures of Roman Catholic parishes, various media outlets have reported unsubstantiated claims that VOTF initiated the legislation, supported the legislation, or sought doctrinal changes within the Church. These claims are not true.
"The situation in Connecticut brings a sensitive issue for all Catholics to the forefront. When an institution such as the Catholic Church loses $2.6 billion, in part due to clergy sexual abuse and in part due to the mismanagement of clergy, accountability will be an obvious issue. When numerous cases of financial mal-administration come to light, as they have in parish after parish in recent years, transparency also becomes a major issue. Ultimately, both issues point to questions about parish governance.
"In response, many organizations have put forward proposals and suggestions about how to improve administration and governance in the Catholic Church. It is in the light of such views and debate that the limited support from the VOTF Bridgeport affiliate for the CT legislation should be seen. But VOTF National does not support this legislation, nor do we adopt as official VOTF policy every statement our affiliates make.
"We do, however, encourage open discussions about solutions to the many challenges facing our church today. Our shared commitment is to identifying better ways to run the temporal affairs of the Church so as to ensure that financial mismanagement (lay and clerical), sex abuse, cover-ups and other malfeasance does not occur. We believe that all Catholics should participate in the continuing discussions about these important matters.
"That being said, it is indefensible for some media outlets to defame VOTF and damage its reputation by repeating false claims such as: VOTF wrote the CT bill--we did not. Or VOTF supports the ordination of women--we do not; we call for examination of all the roles women fill in the Church. Or VOTF is engaged in a dispute with the hierarchy about sexual morality, academic freedom, and reproductive rights--no, we are not, and we never will because our mission and goals have absolutely nothing to do with sexual matters, other than objecting to clergy sex abuse, or with academic freedom.
"Media outlets reporting these claims should retract such clearly false statements. They cannot claim that they are misinformed about the facts.
"Formed in 2002 in response to the clergy abuse scandal, Voice of the Faithful members are devoted members of the Catholic Church. According to researchers at Catholic University, "They are Catholics who are loyal, exercise voice, and do not want to leave the Catholic Church" but rather want to work to help the Church. We still do. We believe that clergy and laity should work together to build strong parishes. We focus on three goals of supporting survivors, supporting priests of integrity, and helping to shape structural change within the Catholic Church.''
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