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Voice of the Faithful, a Roman Catholic Church reform movement focusing on issues surrounding the clergy sexual abuse scandal and the laity’s role in Church governance, will hold its 2015 National Assembly on Saturday, April 18, at the Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford.
The featured speaker will be Marie Collins, a Catholic clergy sexual abuse survivor from Ireland who pioneered child protection policies there and is on the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
Organizers also have scheduled five interactive workshops to allow attendees to offer opinions and learn about VOTF activities surrounding several issues:
- Degrees of Transparency: The Good, the Bad, and the Confusing in Diocesan Financial Accountability
- Towards Healing the People of God
- Let’s Talk About It: Can Clergy & Laity Speak to Each Other as Equals
- Survivor Support: A Discussion with Fr. Tom Doyle
- Your Voice for the Synod on the Family
Collins was among the first in March 2014 whom Pope Francis appointed to his Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. She has spoken out for years on the Church’s need to provide better protection for children and justice for clergy sexual abuse survivors. She helped the Dublin Archdiocese set up its Child Protection Service in 2003 and was a member of the Lynott Committee drafting the Church’s all-Ireland child protection guidelines. She was among survivors who lobbied the Irish government for the Murphy Commission, which reported in 2009 extensive clergy child abuse and coverup in the Dublin Archdiocese. In 2012, she spoke about being a clergy abuse victim at the Vatican symposium on child sexual abuse “Toward Healing,” which was attended by Church leaders from around the world.
The documentary “A Matter of Conscience: Confronting Clergy Sexual Abuse” also will be screened at the Assembly. The film, produced by Boston College faculty members John and Susan Michalczyk, features several members of Catholic Whistleblowers, a group Catholic priests and religious formed in 2013 to support other whistleblowers and identify shortcomings in Church child protection policies.
Registration for the 2015 National Assembly is at the Voice of the Faithful website, votf.org.
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at votf.org.
Voice of the Faithful® Catholic reform movement will return to Hartford for its 2015 National Assembly, April 18
The Voice of the Faithful® Roman Catholic reform movement will hold its 2015 National Assembly on Saturday, April 18, at the Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford. The featured speaker will be Marie Collins, a Catholic clergy sexual abuse survivor from Ireland who is a member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
Collins has spoken out for many years on the need for change in the Catholic Church, better protection of children and justice for clergy sexual abuse survivors. She was a victim of this abuse while a patient in a Dublin children’s hospital. She suffered for many years with depression, anxiety, panic attacks and agoraphobia as a result of her abuse. Her abuser was brought to justice in 1997.
Collins helped the Archdiocese of Dublin set up its Child Protection Service in 2003 and also that year became a founding director of the advocacy and counseling support group for abuse survivors called One in Four (Ireland). She was a member of the Lynott Committee (2003/2004), which worked on drafting the Catholic Church’s all-Ireland child protection guidelines, “Our Children Our Church.”
Along with other survivors, Collins lobbied the Irish government to set up a Dublin Archdiocese commission of investigation to look into the handling of abuse cases in the diocese. The Murphy Commission issued its report in November 2009.
Collins was a founding member of the Irish depression support group “Aware” and set up and worked on their voluntary helpline phone service for many years. She was involved with other survivors in the preparation of the Liturgy of Lament and Repentance for Clerical and Religious Sexual Abuse, which was held in St. Mary’s Pro Cathedral in Dublin on Feb. 20, 2011, in the presence of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin and Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston.
In 2012 Collins gave her name to a new charity in Britain, The Marie Collins Foundation, and became a trustee. The charity helps those abused or exploited via the internet, mobile phone and such devices.
She has contributed chapters to the books The Dublin/Murphy Report: A Watershed for Irish Catholicism and Dark Night of the Catholic Church: Examining the child sexual abuse scandal. She was invited to speak about her experience as a victim of sexual abuse by a priest before Catholic Church leaders from around the world at the Vatican-sponsored symposium on child sexual abuse “Toward Healing,” held at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in February 2012.
In March 2014 Pope Francis appointed Collins to his new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Its first meeting took place in Rome in May 2014.
Workshops at the VOTF 2015 National Assembly are presently planned to cover diocesan financial accountability, restorative justice for clergy sexual abuse survivors, clergy/laity dialogue, advocacy training for the development of an ordained female diaconate and a panel discussion on clergy sexual abuse survivor support. Other features of the assembly will be announced soon.
Anyone interested may register for the VOTF 2015 National Assembly by clicking here, checking the box next to VOTF 2015 NATIONAL ASSEMBLY: APRIL 18, HARTFORD, CT, clicking the Next button and filling out the brief online form. Those who do not like to pay online by credit card can register by calling VOTF at 781-559-3360.
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.
Click here to hear coverage of the Clericalism Workshop at the Voice of the Faithful® 2014 Assembly in Hartford, Connecticut, Apr. 5, 2014, by Maria Johnson, producer of Reasonably Catholic, WESU-FM, Middletown, Connecticut.