.- Participants at the Summit of the lay organization âVoice of the Faithfulâ (VOTF) convoked this weekend at Fordham University's Rose Hill Campus, harshly criticized Catholic bishops, but also offered unspecified âcooperationâ to face the Churchâs current crisis.
VOTFâs Keynote speaker, former priest Eugene Kennedy, a psychologist, opened the meeting with a joke about the vacation plans of each person of the Holy Trinity and said the Holy Spirit option was: âI'd like to go to Rome. I've never been there.â
Kennedy also said that the church hierarchy, by denying sexuality, had lost its understanding of the human person and even true holiness, making scandal possible, and called homosexuals âthe scapegoats of the age.â âThis is a problem of the official church, in which the people have lost their confidence, not of Catholicism, in which they retain their faith,â he said.
On her turn, Sister Dorothy Ann Kelly, the former president of the College of New Rochelle, accused the bishops of fighting ânumerous opportunities to give the laity a greater voice,â from with the Second Vatican Council to the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin's âCommon Groundâ initiative.
Sister Kelly also said lay people âhave to be ready to sacrifice reputation, friends even, to press our causeâ in front of what she called the hierarchy's âcontinued defensiveness.â
Steve Krueger, VOTF national executive director from Boston, insisted that the group's members, as faithful and committed Catholics, could be the bishops' âbest friendsâ if the bishops âwould just listen.â
But according to Gary Stern, correspondent of the Journal News âSomewhere, the ears of bishops were burning. And if they heard all that was said about them at yesterday's Voice of the Faithful conference in the Bronx, their stomachs might have been churning.â
According to Stern, who reported the event for his newspaper, in re-examining the church's sex-abuse scandal, the VOTF conference âberated, rebuked and belittled a church hierarchy that many in attendance seemed to believe has no regard for them.â
âJudging from attendance at yesterday's conference, which surprised even organizers, Voice of the Faithful has ample support in this region â at least among white Catholics over 50 who favor blazers and sweaters,â he added.
Victims of sexual abuse were also present at the meeting, urging VOTF to âkeep the heatâ on the bishops.
In fact, Paul Baier of Boston-based âSurvivors First,â said that âThe church has no right to talk about pro-life, genetic engineering, euthanasia, until we get this right.â