Our Mission Statement
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
To support those who have been abused
To support priests of integrity
To support structural change within our Church
"Who We Are and What We Believe"
Voice of the Faithful, Inc. is an organization composed of Catholics
striving to be faithful to the teachings of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus
Christ. Joining VOTF is not a break with the church but a commitment to
strengthen and renew it. The following affirmations are not meant to be
a complete statement of who we are. They are primarily a response to those
who misunderstand us, including members of our Church's hierarchy and
lay Catholics who misinterpret our mission and goals.
- We are faithful Catholics in communion with the universal Catholic
- We love and support our Church and believe what it professes. We do
NOT advocate for any change in either dogma or doctrine. Our goals concern
governance issues and governance issues only.
- We accept the teaching authority of our Church, including the traditional
role of the bishops and the Pope.
- We will work with our bishops, clergy, and other members to strengthen
unity and human moral integrity in our Church.
- We believe that the laity has the graced dignity, intelligence, responsibility
and obligation to cooperate in Church governance in a meaningful way
according to the norms of Canon law, in order to correct the profound
flaws that have been revealed in the human institutional life of our
- We believe that sexual abuse by clergy and the response of bishops,
protecting abusers and forsaking the abused, have caused great human
suffering and damaged the moral authority of the Church.
- We believe that the council documents of Vatican II illuminate the
pathway for lay involvement in the Church.
- We urge that the openness and mutual respect advocated by Pope John
Paul II in Ut Unum Sint ("That All May Be One") and the teachings
of Vatican II be the model for meaningful dialog among bishops and laity.
What Brought VOTF Into Being?
VOTF is an outgrowth of the sexual abuse scandals that achieved widespread
attention in Boston. But this is not a problem brought about by a few
abusive priests. It is a problem brought about by leaders and others who
chose unacceptable actions to avoid scandal and to protect criminals.
It is a problem, not of one year, but of decades:
- Decades of deception and lies from the people we trust.
- Decades of misuse of funds that we contributed in good faith for charitable
purposes that were used to pay lawyers to oppose victims and to place
endless obstacles between victims and the justice they deserve.
- Decades of criminal disregard for the lives of our most vulnerable
through the reassignment of abusive priests who preyed on others while
the abused were left to carry their crosses for life.
- And here is the key: A value system that is out of sync with the rest
of society. A value system that places the avoidance of scandal and
the protection of priests above the safety of children, and the isolation
These are not isolated occurrences. They occurred in dioceses that range
the length and breadth of this country where five bishops were forced
to resign, and two others signed consent decrees as an alternative to
criminal indictment. They were repeated in other countries around the
world: Poland, Canada, Ireland and Australia to cite a few. Sister Sally
Butler, a Dominican sister who for a decade attempted to bring instances
of abuse to her bishop before taking her story to The New York Times,
calls it the worst crisis since the Inquisition. When asked to explain
why, she replied: "Because no one is shocked." Even the corrective
measures adopted by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops have met
resistance by individual dioceses around the county (New York Times, 6/13/2003,
What Specifically Does VOTF Seek To Accomplish?
"A seat at the table and complete financial openness." If there
were a parent at the table when decisions were made to reassign abusive
priests, they would not have occurred. If there were complete financial
openness, contributions would not have been inappropriately used for so
At the Parish level:
A representative (not appointed) Pastoral Council in every parish
A Finance Council in every parish reporting to the Pastoral Council
- A Safety Committee in every parish to oversee background checks of
personnel slated to work in sensitive positions.
At the Diocesan level:
A representative (not appointed) Diocesan Council similar to the
Independent financial oversight reporting to the Diocesan Council
- A mechanism to monitor compliance with the Council of Catholic Bishops'
charter for the protection of youth and children.
What Does VOTF See as its Mission Beyond Attainment
of its Stated Goals?
Once the goals of VOTF are successfully implemented and operational,
the underlying rationale for the existence of VOTF ceases to be.
Long Island VOICE of the Faithful, P.O. Box 1007, Nesconset, N.Y. 11767