Sunday, October 5, 2003

'Time to take back church'


Get involved, Catholic group tells members

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MONTGOMERY - The sex-abuse scandal that has enveloped the Roman Catholic Church for the better part of two years in the United States has brought Catholics a few gifts - along with the terrible pain and suffering to those victims of abuse.

For one, it has awakened the masses.

That was the message Saturday from the Rev. Donald Cozzins, keynote speaker at the first Voice of the Faithful conference in Greater Cincinnati, held at Good Shepherd Church Community Center.

"We are witness to the unraveling of the last feudal system in the west," Cozzins said to thunderous applause from the 250 people participating in the conference. "The feudal system depends on the serfs - in this case the laity - being uneducated. The most significant gift this scandal brought us is a laity who will no longer be treated as less than full adult members of the church they love.

"They are no longer serfs."

Formed in Boston at the beginning of the abuse scandal, Voice of the Faithful now has more than 3,000 members nationwide. The group's goals are to support victims of priest abuse; support priests of integrity; and shape structural change within the church.

Cozzins said it is the right of every Catholic to question the traditional structure of the church, which he said is partly to blame for keeping secret the abuse of priests.

"It is time for all of us to say: I am here as an adult Catholic who loves the church and I have some questions," he said.

Nan Fischer, chair of the Cincinnati chapter and regional coordinator for Voice of the Faithful, agreed.

"We have all suffered, because we really care about the future," Fischer said. "We want to make sure it doesn't happen again, we want to help in healing the survivors and we want to return a higher power to the church."

E-mail dklepal@enquirer.com

Voice of the Faithful




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