July 10, 2005

Catholic group asks openness of church

Boston Globe

By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff | July 10, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS -- Leaders of Voice of the Faithful, the national lay Catholic reform organization founded in a Wellesley church basement three years ago, gathered for the first time outside the Northeast yesterday and vowed to intensify their push for greater financial disclosure by the church and increased lay involvement in the administration of the nation's largest religious denomination.

The organization has claimed victories in a series of steps by bishops nationally and locally to consult with laypeople about management of the clergy sexual abuse crisis. And many of the members interviewed here, as well as scholars who have studied the group, say the organization has played an important role in keeping in the Catholic Church adherents who might otherwise have left in frustration.

Many of the nearly 600 Voice of the Faithful affiliate leaders who traveled to Indiana from 33 states to attend this weekend's gathering said that creating a support structure for concerned Catholics has been the organization's greatest accomplishment.

''After the crisis broke, . . . I was seriously considering going elsewhere," said Evelyn Mercantini, 56, a corporate meeting planner from Reston, Va. ''I had even gone church shopping, but a friend told me about Voice of the Faithful, and it was exactly what I was looking for."

Yet the group has also faded somewhat from the public spotlight since its founding at the height of the clergy abuse scandal and is still kept at arm's length by many bishops. It has also faced staff turnover as it has spent much of the last year reorganizing its leadership structures to shift power away from Boston.

Posted by kshaw at July 10, 2005 08:47 AM