July 02, 2007

Local VOTF Takes a Stand

I used to be a member of our local Voice of the Faithful chapter. I've, repeatedly, asked them to remove me from their mailing lists. Despite my best efforts, they continue to send me their propaganda. I usually just throw them, unopened, in the trash or I write "refused/return to sender" on the envelope. Today, I got this letter (below) in my email inbox. I found it interesting. One of the reasons I quit VOTF was that I felt there were too many members who had far more on their agenda then supporting people who had been abused by Catholic clergy. I, also, was not happy about the fact that their "priests of integrity" were usually dissidents. However, I have to give the local chapter credit for distancing itself from the national organization in this matter. Here's the letter:

Dear Twin Cities VOTF Members and Friends,

I don't know if you have heard yet, but the National Voice of the Faithful has issued a call for the church to open discussion on the issue of clerical celibacy. They see this as somehow connected to the abuse crisis because it contributes to secrecy. This was addressed in a New York Times article last Sunday, June 24 and is explained further in today's issue of the VOTF eNewsletter In the Vineyard.

I wanted you to know that the local affiliate of VOTF has unanimously disagreed with the National office on this matter. We think that identifying VOTF with any position on clerical celibacy distracts from our core mission of helping victims of abuse and supporting priests of integrity. Our experience is that it is hard enough to get the bishops to take VOTF's concerns seriously and if VOTF gets identified with this issue, it will only make VOTF less effective.

We have communicated our disagreement to the National office. We will also be sending letters to the local bishops to make them aware that the local VOTF is not embracing this issue because we want to stay focused on issues around sexual abuse. We will indicate our willingness to meet with the bishops and vicar general to find more ways of helping victims of abuse.

The press releases from the National office are expected to go out early next week.

Here is an excerpt from the letter being sent to the local papers and local bishops:

Recently, the national office of Voice of the Faithful has announced a call for reviewing the requirement for a celibate priesthood. The leadership council of Twin Cities VOTF has voted unanimously not to endorse this initiative because it draws focus away from the main goals of VOTF: to support victims of abuse, and to support priests of integrity. We are also concerned that taking this position will confuse the entirely separate issues of priests who abuse with priests who may or may not live out their vow of celibacy. Married priests will not be less likely to abuse children or vulnerable adults. We do not hold the view that mandated celibacy is what caused bishops to keep abusers in active ministry or failed to cause them to report credible accusations to local law enforcement.

I invite you to contact me if you wish to discuss this issue further.

Suzanne Severson
Co-Moderator, Twin Cities VOTF


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I usually just throw them, unopened, in the trash or I write 'refused/return to sender' on the envelope."

I read where one blogger sends back the response envelope with nothing inside. In your case, VOTF would be charged for postage on the returned envelope (assuming it's a "No postage necessary if mailed in the U.S.").

I thought it was an interesting suggestion, but I'm not sure if there is something wrong with doing that from Christian perspective...

July 02, 2007 2:38 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Do not do this! I'm just reporting what one person did.

During my dissident days, I was a paid staffer for a DFL endorsed pro-choice candidate for the United States Senate. My job was to help organize the state, north of the Twin Cities.

One day we received a letter in one of our postage paid return envelopes. In it was no name and address but a large gear weighing perhaps four or five ounces. The envelope was well taped to make sure that the letter would get delivered.

July 02, 2007 2:59 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

I meant to add "Good for the local VOTF chapter."

I'm sure the national chapter decided to expand their mission so they could raise more money.

July 02, 2007 3:03 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

I totally agree on your stance re: VOTF chapter. If they were just for protecting/helping abuse victims that would be one thing. But it seems like all these groups (SNAP, etc.) then branch out into other "problems" with the Church, and have connections with other dissident groups/priests/religious. That really gets me mad.

July 02, 2007 4:45 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

I fully intend that by sending the envelope back that VOTF could be charged the postage. I feel no obligation to keep their info in my home or having to bother to throw it out since I asked them repeatedly to stop sending me their information.

July 02, 2007 6:56 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

I had never heard of the organization - I live under a rock.

July 02, 2007 7:07 PM  
Blogger Adoro te Devote said...

That's interesting that VOTF is against the attack on celibacy. It seems to go against their ilk, as all these groups that claim to be working for the protection of abuse victims do seem to embrace dissident "theology". Very interesting.

I'm still not joining, though.

July 02, 2007 8:34 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Strange!!! The National VOTF website specifically states that it does not call for a review of priestly celibacy yet has links to articles printed in numerous paper on June 24th with the VOTF suggesting the Pope review the church’s stand on celibacy. Does the left hand not know what the right hand is doing??? Radicals (and they are radicals) on either side of a question are usually way off base. Why don’t they do something more useful – like, maybe say a Rosary.

July 02, 2007 11:26 PM  
Blogger Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

I'm glad to hear that your chapter of VOTF is seeking to do something good for the victims of our homosexual priests, rather than trying to uproot and rewrite the doctrine and traditions given us by the Spirit.

July 03, 2007 12:41 PM  

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