Faithful Revolution: How Voice of the Faithful Is Changing the Church

Faithful Revolution: How Voice of the Faithful Is Changing the Church

Faithful Revolution: How Voice of the Faithful Is Changing the Church

Faithful Revolution: How Voice of the Faithful Is Changing the Church

Synopsis

In January 2002, reeling from a growing awareness of child sexual abuse within their church, a small group of Catholics gathered after Mass in the basement of a parish in Wellesley, Massachusetts to mourn and react. They began to mobilize around supporting victims of abuse, supporting non-abusive priests, and advocating for structural change in the Catholic Church so that abuse would no longer occur. Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) built a movement by harnessing the faith and fury of a nation of Catholics shocked by reports of abuse and institutional complicity. Tricia Colleen Bruce offers an in-depth look at the development of Voice of the Faithful, showing their struggle to challenge Church leaders and advocate for internal change while being accepted as legitimately Catholic. Guided by the stories of individual participants, Faithful Revolution brings to light the intense identity negotiations that accompany a challenge to one's own religion and offers a meaningful way to learn about Catholic identity, intrainstitutional social movements, and the complexity of institutional structures.

Excerpt

I was abused by the prefect, the priest who was second in command at the seminary. He was the priest to see when you got in trouble. You didn’t want to see the prefect. My abuse came under the guise of medicine, in the infirmary. He acted as though he had extensive medical training, although he hadn’t. I developed a rash down there in September of my freshman year. I wasn’t sure what it was, thinking perhaps I had brushed against poison ivy. I was told to see the doctor in town that took care of all of us. He said that I did have a rash due to poison ivy on my arms, but that the other was a kind of jock itch. He prescribed a lotion for my arms, and another kind of lotion medication for the jock itch. When the prescriptions came, I was instructed to pick them up from the infirmary. Upon my arrival, the arm lotion was there with a note that said I would have to pick up the other lotion from the prefect … something about me being under 18 and unable to have the medication in my own possession. So I went to pick it up in the prefect’s office (a room which doubled as his living quarters). He had the lotion, and told me that due to me being a minor, he would have to apply the lotion. I was confused and knew that didn’t seem right, but he insisted. So that’s how it started.

—“Will,” a victim/survivor of abuse by a Catholic priest at the age of 14

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