Bishop Lori Speaks to Crowd

By Francis X. Fay, Jr.
Hour [Fairfield CT]
April 11, 2003

STAMFORD -- Bishop William E. Lori told a gathering of 200 here Thursday night that he is interested in every one of the 300,000-plus Roman Catholics in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

"But the voice I listen to is that which represents the breadth and width of Fairfield County." The explanation was in response to the request for recognition by the Voice of the Faithful in Fairfield County, represented by a few members present at the monthly "Theology on Tap" program of St. John the Evangelist Church.

"I believe in the importance of working and collaborating with lay people," he said. "The only thing I ask of the many, many diverse lay organizations in Fairfield County is simply that we all share the same faith and we all share not only the creed, but all that flows from what the church believes in faith and morals." VOTF arose last year in response to the crisis in the church created by the pedophilia scandal. "The answer to the crisis church has undergone this past year is not to reinvent the Catholic Church, but to be the best possible manifestation of the Catholic Church that God and his mercy will enable us to be," he said. "That is the real challenge. We must go back to core values, core truths and try to emerge as not something other than we ever were before, but authentically as does a family when it successfully responds to a crisis, since we are a family of faith." During a brief interview following his response to questions submitted on paper, Lori expanded on the VOTF question.

"My requirement for any and all Catholic organizations is simply and specifically that they hold themselves accountable to all the church believes. That is the solid basis upon which every problem or crisis and every opportunity in the life of the church is to be addressed." The bishop had spoken earlier of lay advisory councils that help him administer to the diocese, but VOTF claims its membership has been excluded.

"My councils have been put together on the basis of talent, people's willingness to serve and upon the promotion of special apostolates important to the life of the church," he said. "I don't know who the membership of the Voice of the Faithful is and I'm not making any effort to track it." Robert Mulligan and James Alvord, VOTF board members from Norwalk attending the meeting, listened intently to the bishop's words.

"It was a good theological lesson to a degree, but not any approach to a secular world," Alvord said.

Meanwhile, in New York, a top aide to the U.S. bishops said Thursday that the extent of sex abuse cases among Roman Catholic clergy in America remains unknown. "We still don't know how prevalent the cases are, or how prevalent they are in other sectors of society," said Kathleen McChesney, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Office of Child and Youth Protection.

McChesney, whose office was created last year in response to the nationwide clerical sex abuse crisis, spoke at a conference of roughly 100 civil attorneys, prosecutors and molestation victims at the Cardozo School of Law.

The meeting was believed to be the first large-scale gathering of the groups to share information about the abuse crisis, which engulfed the church last year. In 2002, at least 325 of the roughly 46,000 priests in the United States either resigned or were removed from their duties because of abuse allegations, many dating back decades.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.