The present crisis in the Catholic Church is drawing together members of the Church reform group Voice of the Faithful 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 Saturday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Boston Marriott Newton Hotel, 2345 Commonwealth Ave., Newton, Mass. In addition to featured speakers and a panel discussion addressing how local faith communities are handling Church scandal, attendees will hear results of VOTF’s “2019 Report on Measuring & Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency.” They also will hear from VOTF’s Child Protection Working Group about a vision for a new initiative that 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.
The Honorable Anne M. Burke, Illinois Supreme Court Justice, will speak during the morning session. For more than two years, she served as interim chair of 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 be joined by Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center Exec. Dir. Char Rivette. ChicagoCAC can be a model for battling clergy child abuse in any diocese. ChicagoCAC responds to reports of child sexual and other serious abuse by coordinating the efforts of child protection staff, law enforcement professionals, family advocates, medical experts, and mental health clinicians under one roof.
Fr. Richard Lennan, Boston College professor of theology, will speak in the afternoon. 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.
In addition, parishioners from the Cincinnati, Ohio, Washington, D.C., and Buffalo, New York, areas will discuss as a panel the actions they are taking at the grassroots level to help create a just Church in light of scandals particular to their communities.
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.
Additional information and links for online conference registration, online hotel reservations, and downloadable registration forms are at www.votf.org.