VOTF comments on LA settlement
Catholic lay reform group Voice of the Faithful issued a statement in response to the $660 million abuse settlement in Los Angeles, charging that the Catholic Church in Los Angeles was "forced to follow the Gospel by the courts."
"If bishops had exercised leadership and oversight, this would not have happened," said Mary Pat Fox, President of Voice of the Faithful. "If bishops had not placed institutional reputation above the harm to children, we would not have had to seek help from the courts."
VOTF calls for LA courts to ensure that all records related to abusing priests be released. "We must all know who knew what and when and they must be held accountable. Five hundred victims came forward and are part of this settlement and we know this does not account for all of the abused. As abusers names are made known more victims will realize they were not alone."
The statement read in part: "Today the culture of secrecy in the Roman Catholic Church has cracked a little. If the reports are true and 75 percent of the parishes in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles were served by at least one of the abusers. The fact that the Archdiocese could keep these secrets for more than 20 years is astounding and should alert us all to the terrible consequences of allowing this culture of secrecy to continue. . . . Some of these cases should have come to light years ago as they were happening and the abusers should have been sent to jail because according to the depositions in the case the abuse was suspected or known by fellow priests, pastors and bishops but nothing was done about it.
"It would be most helpful and honest if the Cardinal and his fellow bishops would acknowledge that they have been knowing participants in what Cardinal Mahoney himself yesterday called a 'terrible sin and crime.' This same pattern of cover up was routinely practiced by the Catholic hierarchy all over the world. We must hold them accountable for their actions."
"How can we follow leaders who do nothing to correct obvious grave wrongs until forced to do so by a court of law?" asked Fox. "Unfortunate as the events that brought about this situation have been, it will be a great day for the Church—laity, clergy and hierarchy—if this inspires lay people throughout the country to finally take up their share of responsibility for the conduct of affairs in our Church. Catholics who think the clergy sexual abuse scandal is history unfortunately are wrong. The crisis is not over and the healing will not begin in earnest until those who covered this up are held accountable."
Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) also announced the appointment of Donna B. Doucette as Executive Director. Her professional background is in communications, organization and management, but Doucette has been an active member of VOTF since its inception, leading the Voice of Renewal/Lay Education National Working Group and serving as National Representative for the New England Region and as a member of the National Representative Council Steering Committee. She has also been active in her local VOTF affiliate and is a member of the Boston Area Voice of the Faithful Council.
"I welcome this opportunity to merge my daily work with VOTF's goals and mission, which have inspired my passion these last few years," said Doucette. "We help give voice to those who for so long could only silently pray for our Church's reform. I am honored to be entrusted with the task of enabling those voices to be heard."