Voice of the Faithful, losing money, to call for celibacy review

Is “Voice of the Faithful”:http://www.voiceofthefaithful.org/ through?

A few weeks ago, the AP reported that the lay Catholic group, which formed in Boston during the sex-abuse crisis of 2002, had lost major donors and was projecting a $100,000 budget deficit.

Board Chairman William Casey said the group was having trouble developing a long-term vision after it came together to face an immediate scandal.

“When an emergency and a crisis occurs, people just want to help, they want to do something,â€? Casey said. “But two years out, four years, five, 10 years out, how do you keep that going? … Trying to struggle to figure that out is a real challenge.â€?

More recently, I came across a low-profile “report”:http://www.theday.com/re.aspx?re=0104592c-3c8e-49a8-90f8-7391b38fe693 that Voice of the Faithful will this summer call for a review of priestly celibacy. The group’s current president, Mary Pat Fox of NYC, said that the issue is tied to sex-abuse.

“It’s not that celibacy drives someone to be an abuser,â€? she said. “It plays a role in creating this culture of secrecy that then caused the bishops to handle the crisis the way they didâ€? because “you’re calling for a group to be celibate, and any deviations from that is something that you have to keep quiet.â€?

But here’s the thing: Since VOTF was formed, its leaders have insisted that Voice was not another liberal reform group and that they would not call for major reforms. The group’s reason for being, they said, was to call for openness and accountability from the bishops.

The new approach, then, is sure to bring criticism from some who were suspicious of Voice to start with. And it’s bound to be seen as a desperate move from a group that has not been able to start a movement of committed, centrist Catholics who want a greater lay voice in the church.

In the Archdiocese of New York, with at least 2.5 million Catholics over 10 counties, Voice of the Faithful has only three chapters.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.