Friday, July 08, 2005

VOTF in Ireland

Each week, the back page of The Irish Catholic has a column titled "Notebook", which is basically a guest column.

This week, the Notebook is written by Sean O'Conaill. At the bottom, the paper states that Sean O'Conaill is Co-ordinator of Voice of the Faithful (Ireland).

He begins with a quote from Lumen Gentium. Basically, he calls for more accountability from bishops. "That is why our bishops also need to be more accountable in our Church - to restore their own authority and to deny the Church's enemies the gibe that our leaders are more likely to hide from the light than to lead us toward it. We laity too are accountable."

He continues: "Founded in Boston in 2002, following revelations of the disastrous reassignment of abusive priests by the archdiocese, Voice of the Faithful emerged out of the protest of committed laity - readers, eucharistic ministers, parents - determined to preserve their faith for their children. Very many were proudly Irish.

"Determined that this catastrophe should be the last of its kind, VOTF agreed the banner slogan "Keep the Faith: Change the Church". It agreed also three main goals: to support victims of child sex abuse by clergy; to support all priests of integrity; to work for Church structures that would prevent the Church from harming itself again. . .

"VOTF has also taken the position that to fund the leadership of the Church without demanding accountability from it is irresponsible - it encourages unaccountability and secrecy and therefore guarantees scandal. . .

"We Irish faithful also need to raise our voices in secular Ireland in celebration of what our Church has given us. My Catholic faith is by far my most important possession."

He concludes: "In the months ahead we plan to hold public meetings in Ireland to promote this programme. In the meantime www.votf.org will tell you more. The site includes a sign-up membership form - totally free of charge."

Note this is not the full article. The excerpts have been chosen by myself.

The paper prints a logo as part of the article: an outline of a church steeple, with the words "The Laity Speak: Accountability Now" and underneath that "A Convocation of Catholic Laity".

So I went in and had a quick look at the VOTF website, but I did not "Sign Up". I couldn't help seeing the page called "VOTF Positions" stating, among other things, that VOTF accepts the teaching authority of the Church, and that VOTF does not seek the ordination of women, ending of the celibacy rule, etc, etc, and does not ally itself to any particular lobby group.

Now, I have seen no evidence of VOTF activity in Dublin. Anything I have read about VOTF over the last couple of years does not paint a good picture.

But the fact that The Irish Catholic gives half of the back page to this piece is interesting. True, this is just a personal column, and not an editorial. I must also add that the paper still is, as it always has been, owned by individual Catholic laypeople (actually his name is Otto Herschans) and not directly owned or controlled by the Hierarchy or any diocese or bishop.

I'll post more here, if anything happens.

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