Calling All Catholics to
Transform Our Church
On behalf of all Catholics who share
our desire to help our Church, Voice of the Faithful presents this
message on the occasion of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the U.S.
Mindful of the many serious challenges
facing our Church today, yet hopeful
of a better tomorrow, VOTF’s
members seek the transformation
of our beloved Church.
• We envision a Church that is open,
transparent, and accountable.
• We imagine a Church that embraces
the gifts and talents of the laity.
• We dream of a Church governed
compassion, informed by justice,
empowered by equality, and
to act collegially.
But we cannot attain this
transformation until we heal the
wounds still open.
The Moral Crisis We Face Today
Catholics know too well the
human suffering and financial costs
associated with the global clergy
sexual abuse crisis. By 2004, in
alone, more than 4,300 priests were
alleged to have abused
young people between the years
1950 and 2002.1 Legal
by American dioceses amounted to
$615 million in 2007,
and now exceed
$2.3 billion overall.2 Catholic dioceses
for bankruptcy in Alaska,
Arizona, California, Iowa, Oregon, and
Washington. Equally troubling is the
fact that our leaders
this terrible toll.
How can our Church be a
when so many
bishops who repeatedly
transferred known predators
remain in office?
Without justice for the abused and
accountability from the bishops, this
crisis will continue to plague
Our Church Faces Many Other
Challenges As Well
The declining number of clergy
availability of Eucharist.
The laity continue to be excluded from
meaningful participation in decisionmaking.
youth — are leaving our Church to
religions, or no religion at all.
The hopeful vision of Vatican II
largely unfulfilled, and deep polarization
exists in our
Church about how best
to fulfill our sacred mission.
We seek a lasting, transformed
Christ that serves all
people with compassion, collegiality
cooperation. We believe in
collaboration among all members
Church in order to achieve
The Answer Is Transformation
We seek a
transformed Body of Christ,
a Church that both calls upon and
serves all members, lay and ordained
alike, with compassion and
Our Transformed Church Would:
Treat survivors with justice and
Benedict and all our bishops would meet with
of abuse, listen to their stories, and treat them with
respect and compassion. Show them and the world that
the grave harm our Church has done and
strive to become a source of
Make bishops accountable to the people
serve. Pope Benedict should call for the resignations
bishops who repeatedly reassigned predator
priests. Bishops of
integrity should stop blocking
settlements, initiate truly
independent annual audits,
and support revising the laws that govern
the statute of
limitations. Protecting our children would become a
priority, beginning with creation of a national database of
credibly accused priests. Fair investigation and prompt
of allegations is another priority.
Embrace full lay participation.
would embrace our responsibility to assume our
proper place among the people of God. Laity would
be fully involved
in the decisions that impact the life
of our parishes and our
dioceses, including parish
closings. Our parishes would grow, and
and grandchildren would become proud, active
of our Catholic Church.
Have full financial transparency and
accountability. Every parish would publish annual
statements. Every parish and diocese would
have fully engaged
finance committees providing
independent perspectives to pastors and
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops would
financial reporting guidelines into mandatory
requirements. Theft of
parish and diocesan funds
would stop, and we would no longer see
reporting that 85% of dioceses responding suffered
embezzlements within the past five years.
Release the gifts of the Spirit: Fresh
and theological insights would be embraced and
encouraged. We would facilitate meaningful, positive
creating forums and opportunities for
Catholics to express and
develop their faith, and
put that faith into action.
To all Catholics, Voice of the Faithful
this call: By virtue of your baptism, you are a
people. The time has come
to stand and to speak out. Out of love
our Church, act today — do your part in
for the growth and
well-being of our Church.
With your help, we can make it happen!
Please go to www.votf.org and sign up to receive
regular updates on
what you can do as a Catholic
layperson to transform our Church.
(pubblicato sul New Jork Times del 8