Church Rejects Voice of Faithful Meeting
Catholic Survivors' Group to Meet at Marriott

By Jim DeBrosse
Dayton Daily News [Dayton OH]
Downloaded March 22, 2003

DAYTON | The local chapter of Voice of the Faithful, a Catholic lay group formed in response to the pedophile priest scandals, has lined up two nationally known speakers for its first meeting April 3, but they won't be speaking on Catholic property.

Both the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the University of Dayton declined to provide a venue for appearances by Jim Post, national president of Voice of the Faithful, and David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

The speakers' presentations and a discussion afterward will be held at the Dayton Marriott Hotel starting at 8 p.m.

Post and Clohessy have been at the national forefront in pressing for changes in Catholic hierarchical policies toward priests who sexually abuse children and teenagers.

Voice of the Faithful, a Boston-based organization with more than 25,000 members and 160 parish chapters, supports victims of clergy sexual abuse and seeks to end the Catholic church's "clerical culture of secrecy, deceit, arrogance and abuse of power that has brought us to this shameful pass," according to its Web site.

Mike Knellinger, one of the organizers of the Dayton-area chapter, said he approached Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk in the fall about allowing the group to meet at local churches. Pilarczyk declined, he said.

Pilarczyk said Thursday he decided not to "encourage parishes to make their facilities available to Voice of the Faithful because the posture of (the lay group) in relation to the teaching of the church is not clear to me."

Archdiocesan spokesman Dan Andriacco said Pilarczyk is taking "a wait-and-see attitude" toward the group.

In January, Knellinger and co-organizer Kris Ward approached the University of Dayton about using its facilities. The Catholic university has been agreeable to the idea of a grass-roots meeting on campus, but not to the inclusion of the nationally known speakers.

UD President Daniel Curran said the university was "caught off guard" by the addition of the two speakers to the group's agenda in the past week. He said UD and Voice of the Faithful differ primarily on what is an appropriate first step for the group.

"We would have preferred to have it at the local level and have (the speakers) come forward at a future meeting," Curran said.

Even so, a press release from UD is promoting the off-campus appearance of the two speakers.

Knellinger said an open grass-roots discussion is still the primary purpose of the group's initial meeting. "But instead of sitting around and wondering what to do next, these speakers will give us some direction. They will give people who want to come forward help and encouragement."

Clohessy, 46, a husband and father living in St. Louis, was molested as a child by a priest. His brother, who also was abused by a priest, grew up to become a priest and an accused child abuser.

Post is a business professor at Boston University and co-founder of Voice of the Faithful. He describes himself "as one of the individuals you commonly see in pews on Sunday."

Contact Jim DeBrosse at 225-2437 or


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