On the weekend of July 8–10, 2005, three-and-a-half years after the emergence of VOTF, approximately 560 people from thirty-three states gathered at the convention center in downtown Indianapolis for a VOTF-sponsored Convocation of Catholic Laity entitled “The Laity Speak: Accountability Now.” Despite approximations that thousands of lay Catholics from all over would attend, reminiscent of the first convention in Boston at the peak of the abuse crisis, organizers’ optimism for such a turnout waned in the months following the initial announcement. Focus shifted instead to gathering VOTF leaders, defined as all those who “made the commitment to speak up for change in our church” or who “used your voice, along with those of so many others.”
The gathering invited yet another test of VOTF’s acceptance within the institution of the Catholic Church, revealed in the local archdiocesan paper’s refusal to run an announcement of the convocation. Indianapolis’ Archbishop Daniel Buechlein wrote a letter to every pastor in the archdiocese, alerting area Catholics to VOTF and its questionable stance on structural change. In it, Buechlein wrote that VOTF leaders “have been unable to clearly articulate its meaning or implications” and “seem not to be aware of possible implications to changing the church’s structure.” The archbishop instructed his pastors to read the letter to all parishioners during Mass.