After Nearly 3 Years, Boston Cardinal Meets with Lay Reform Group to Discuss Sex Abuse

The Associated Press, carried in Lansing State Journal [Boston MA]
August 12, 2006

For the first time in almost three years, Cardinal Sean O'Malley met with representatives of Voice of the Faithful, a Roman Catholic lay reform group in Boston that was founded in response to the clergy sex abuse crisis.

The organization, which now has chapters nationwide, has been shunned by many bishops who believe the group is trying to undermine church leaders. Some prelates, including O'Malley's predecessor as Boston archbishop, Cardinal Bernard Law, banned local chapters from meeting on church property.

Neither the archdiocese nor the reform group revealed details of the Aug. 4 meeting. However, the archdiocese said in a statement that it was "a helpful conversation about important issues and the continued renewal of parish life."

Dorothy Kennedy, president of Voice of the Faithful's Boston-area chapter, said in a separate statement, "We had an honest exchange of views about issues that concern us."

She said the meeting could be "the beginning of a collaboration around solutions to bring all Catholics together; hierarchy, clergy, and laity, in the pursuit of the mission of the church."

The abuse crisis erupted in January 2002 with the case of one predator priest in the Archdiocese of Boston, then spread nationwide and beyond. U.S. dioceses say they have collectively paid more than $1 billion in settlements for abuse claims over five decades.

Pope John Paul II appointed O'Malley as Boston archbishop in 2003, after Law resigned. O'Malley met with Voice of the Faithful leaders for the first time that year.

The group wants lay people to have a greater say in how dioceses and parishes operate.


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