Some clear language from National's Priest Support Working Committee:
- To promote opportunities for priests, survivors and
laity to speak the truth.
- To encourage collaboration and mutual support between
priests and laity.
- To affirm and encourage the universal priesthood of
all the faithful by virtue of our baptism.
- To model the Church as defined by the documents of
- To advocate due process and justice for all.
- To coordinate, communicate and encourage efforts by
individual parishes and affiliates.
Suggested Focus Questions
(refers to meeting with priests and VOTF members called "Sounding Boards")
- How can Voice of the Faithful assist in protection
of priests' rights and how can priests publicly support the rights of
VOTF to truly share in the governance of the church?
- Have you heard a survivor tell their story? Have you
been part of a healing Mass or prayer service?
- What steps can be taken to facilitate open communication
and collaboration among the hierarchy, the clergy and the laity in order
to enhance the growth of our Church?
- In an address given at Marquette University,
Dan Maguire said the following:
- "Catholic theology is at its healthiest when the
search for truth rests on a tripod: the hierarchy, the theologians
and the faithful."
- Would you support a coalition of clergy, theologians,
and laity ...?
- How could this be promoted and accomplished?
- "We shall insist on the right, where we think it
is important for the good of the Church, to argue positions at variance
with those that are presently official." (Avery Cardinal Dulles,
"faithful dissent" possible in the Church today? How?
Msgr. Breslin receives Priest
of Integrity Award
July 13, 2005
INDIANAPOLIS — Msgr. Lawrence Breslin, a priest of the Archdiocese of
Cincinnati, received the Voice of the Faithful Priest of Integrity Award
July 10 at VOTF's national convocation. The award, which has been given
annually since the group's founding three years ago, underscore's the
group's stated goal to support priests of integrity.
"Msgr. Breslin has provided a model of
leadership for all Catholics — ordained and unordained alike — to follow,"
said Jim Post, VOTF president. "He courageously named a fellow priest,
who admitted the abuse, thereby placing the interest of the innocent
victim ahead of a brother priest...Msgr. Breslin has demonstrated a
commitment to truth and to bringing sunlight to the Catholic Church."
Kristine Ward, a Dayton resident and vice president of VOTF, noted that
"We live in a time of crisis. We seek true reform. Models of exemplary
leadership are needed as torchbearers of light in our church. Msgr.
Breslin has been a bright light in the darkness of this tragedy."
Voice of the Faithful Announces Fr. James J.
Scahill to Receive Priest of Integrity Award at New England Conference
Wednesday, October 13, 2004 – Newton, Mass.
– Leaders of Voice of the Faithful are announcing that Fr. James J.
Scahill, of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, will receive the Priest
of Integrity award at a conference hosted by the New England affiliates
of the organization. The award, given by the organization of lay Catholics
formed in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse crisis, honors priests
who exemplify the meaning of honorable pastoral service. Fr. Thomas
J. Doyle, who received the first Priest of Integrity award in 2002,
and David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those
Abused by Priests (SNAP), will present the award to Fr. Scahill on November
13th in Worcester, Massachusetts at a Voice of the Faithful conference
entitled “It’s Not History – It’s Time for Renewal.”
Fr. Scahill, the pastor of St. Michael’s
parish, is an outspoken supporter of the community of survivors of clergy
sexual abuse. In 2002, Fr. Scahill announced that the parish would withhold
its weekly contribution to the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts,
because the Diocese had not removed a notorious priest and convicted
abuser, Richard Lavigne, from its payroll. The monies withheld were
delivered to the Diocese only after all payments to Lavigne were terminated.
Fr. Scahill also was instrumental in bringing
the allegations against former Springfield Bishop Thomas Dupre to public
attention. Fr. Scahill counseled the mother of one of the survivors.
He then brought the claims of abuse to the attention of Archbishop O’Malley
of the Boston Archdiocese and to law enforcement officials in Massachusetts.
Dupre resigned his position as bishop when the allegations against him
Fr. Scahill has begun to work with the
Diocese toward community healing despite some initial tension with the
new Bishop in Springfield, Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell. In September,
Fr. Scahill and Bishop McDonnell held a healing Mass for survivors at
St. Michael’s parish. Bishop McDonnell apologized to Fr. Scahill for
remarks he had made about him and to survivors for the abuse that they
In 2002, Fr. Doyle said about Fr. Scahill,
“Scahill has not only listened to his parishioners’ concerns, he has
realized that they are his concerns as well and he has taken action!
This action has galvanized not only his parish, but also the Greater
Springfield community behind him and his parish’s just cause.”
“Fr. Scahill demonstrated exemplary courage
and principled Christian leadership by speaking up for victims of abuse
and insisting that the Church do the right thing in responding to them,”
said James E. Post, president of Voice of the Faithful. “When he spoke
out, he could not have contemplated the hardship he would face or the
criticism he would bear. But he did not flinch or forsake those survivors
of clergy sexual abuse. And, looking back today, we can see the power
of his actions - they are a beacon of integrity for all to see.”
“It’s Not History – It’s Time for Renewal”
will focus on the response of lay Catholics to the clergy sexual crisis,
how lay men and women view the current condition of the Church, and
how to restore trust and faith in the Catholic Church in the United
Father Tom Doyle
Urged the Church to Intervene, but Study was Rebuffed
Rev. Thomas Doyle, O.P.
The Isaac Thomas Hecker Award
Since 1974, the award recognizes North American Catholics
who have labored for a more just and peaceful world. The award is named
after Isaac Thomas Hecker, founder of the Paulist Fathers. The Paulist
Center is a worshipping community in the Catholic tradition with emphasis
on social justice, education, and evangelization located in Boston, MA.
January 26, 2003
by Jenna Russell, Globe Staff
BOSTON, MA--The report was thorough - almost 100 pages
- and its conclusions were stunning: Crisis intervention should begin
across the country to stop the damage being done by child-abusing priests.
Produced almost 20 years ago by the Rev. Thomas Doyle,
then a canon lawyer at the Vatican's Washington embassy, and two colleagues,
the report was ignored by Catholic leaders. Doyle lost his Vatican position,
and came to believe that reform would not happen in his lifetime.
Yesterday, though, after a year of mounting outrage at
decades of abuse that was kept secret and mounting evidence of accused
priests who were reassigned, a year in which hundreds of priests were
ousted or resigned, Doyle was honored by the church whose crisis he predicted.
Now 58 and an Air Force chaplain in Germany, Doyle received
the 2003 Isaac Hecker Award for Social Justice during evening Mass yesterday
at Boston's Paulist Center, for his ''unwavering efforts to bring justice
to victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse,'' said Donna Stiglmeier, pastoral
minister at the center.
The award, given to a North American Catholic who has
worked for peace and justice, has previously honored labor leaders Cesar
Chavez and Dorothy Day, and death penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean.
At a news conference in the library of the Park Street
center, Doyle said public speaking usually gets him in trouble. He compared
the current crisis to the Inquisition, when thousands were persecuted.
''The church left these people behind, and when they were
down, it kicked them,'' he said. ''I don't think the careers and perks
that go along with the hierarchy are worth the life of one survivor.''
This morning, Doyle plans to march outside St. Joseph's
Cathedral in Manchester, N.H., with abuse victims and leaders of their
movement, at the state's first large public gathering of survivor advocates.
Bishop John McCormack, leader of the Manchester Diocese, has been under
pressure to resign since disclosures that, as an aide to Cardinal Bernard
Law in the 1990s, he helped move priests accused of abuse from church
to church without informing parishioners.
Rather than walking away from the sex abuse issue in the
1980s when his report spurred no action, Doyle spent years working with
victims and their families, accused priests, and bishops. He helped found
the abuse survivors group The Link Up 10 years ago in Chicago, and has
helped develop church policies for dealing with abuse.
His choices ''cost him personally,'' Stiglmeier said.
''He traded hierarchical power for the power that comes with solidarity
with people in need.''
''He was prophetic in identifying the problem, and in
recommending a responsible course of action back in 1985, which was ignored
by bishops at their peril,'' said Anne Barrett Doyle, a founder of the
Coalition of Catholics and Survivors.
A Wisconsin native ordained as a priest in the Dominican
order in 1970, Doyle holds a pontifical doctorate in canon law from Catholic
University and five master's degrees. He has been an expert witness in
about 200 clergy sex abuse cases.
He is motivated, he said, by his relationships with victims,
''sitting and listening and feeling their hopelessness.''
Law, along with other influential bishops, initially supported
Doyle's 1980s study. But when its recommendations were unveiled, suggesting
changes in priest education and supervision, and even church culture,
that door was shut, Doyle said, and church leaders said the report was
written to make money for its authors. ''That got me angry,'' he said.
Doyle has said that the release of damning church documents,
long kept secret, distinguished the recent scandal from those of the 1980s
and 1990s, beginning ''a process that I thought I would never live to
see, the rather quick awakening of the laity and the rapid shattering
of the wall of denial.''
Catholic lay people played the role of ''enablers'' too
long, he said, giving money to the church despite their concerns. Calling
himself a pragmatist who doesn't expect an ''idealized'' church to arise
from the crisis, Doyle said he is nonetheless encouraged by the loud demands
of lay people.
''No matter how loyal you are, you can only take so much
pain when it comes to your children,'' he said.
Last summer, Doyle received the ''Priest of Integrity''
award from the lay Catholics' group Voice of the Faithful.
This story ran on page A15 of the Boston Globe
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.