Magazine article Commonweal

VOTF Watch: Can It Survive a Disinformation Campaign? (Notebook)

Magazine article Commonweal

VOTF Watch: Can It Survive a Disinformation Campaign? (Notebook)

Article excerpt

The lay Catholic reform group Voice of the Faithful has garnered many supporters (see "Voices of the Faithful," August 16) as well as some significant critics. Bishop William F. Murphy banned VOTF from meeting in his Rockville Centre, New York, diocese, as did Bishop William E. Lori in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Bishop Joseph J. Gerry, of Portland, Maine. (Bishop Emilio Allue, an auxiliary bishop of Boston, has ordered one of his pastors not to allow VOTF to meet in a parish, citing VOTF's "hidden and open issues.") Bishop Murphy, Boston's former vicar general, told the Long Island Catholic (September 18) that he sees no need for VOTF because a diocesan synod is being planned. He expressed doubts about VOTF's goals, questioning how "a group of lay persons or any group can announce that they are going to care for the victims of sexual abuse"; and he queried the meaning of "supporting priests of integrity." VOTF's motto also came under scrutiny: "`Keep the faith' and `change the church'--I don't know what that means.... we're not naive--we know that in the church today there are people who disagree with things that the Holy Father teaches and which it's necessary for a person to believe." "I made a judgment," Murphy concluded: VOTF "should not be setting the agenda for the good people in the Diocese of Rockville Centre."

In an August 13 press release, Bishop Lori explained, "I cannot support an organization like VOTF, which appears to promote dialogue and cooperation, but which in reality prosecutes a hidden agenda that is in conflict with the Catholic faith." What is this "hidden agenda"? Bishop Lori hasn't responded to my queries. He did note in the press release that VOTF "espouses views similar to the international dissent movement We Are Church, including the rejection of church teachings on sexual morality and celibacy, and a view of conscience contrary to the traditions of the church. …

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