approved Geoghan's relocations andcontinued priestly service. Cardinal Law'sprotection of a "brother priest" exposed thedark side of clericalism: Abusive priestsmattered more than innocent children.The shock of these revelations fueled arighteous anger among Boston Catholics.Parishioners demanded apology, meaningfulcorrective action, including the resignationof Cardinal Law and others responsible forcovering up the facts. But the hierarchy wasslow to respond, provoking parishioners tofurther action. And the dreadful disclosurescontinued, day-by-day, for many months.
A Movement Is Born
VOTF was a social movement before it wasan organization. if the cause was born in thefirestorm of revelation, shock, and anger thatoccurred in 2002, VOTF's mission statementemerged from
many hours of conversationamong an astonishing number of people whoattended the early meetings and shaped
Voice of the Faithful
as a grassrootsmovement in the Church's social justicetraditions. The steering committee includedmany talented, committed physicians,accountants, professors, social workers,teachers, writers, and more.Three points remain vivid about these earlymeetings. First, discussions were passionatebut respectful, in part because giftedfacilitators shaped consensus from thedisparate views and voices. Everyone washeard; everyone's view mattered. Second,leaders continuously reached out tosurvivors of abuse and thereby broadened -and deepened- our understanding of theseverity of sexual abuse. Third, themovement stayed centered in the church'sVatican II teachings with a passionatecommitment expressed in six words:
"Keepthe Faith, Change the Church."
Within afew weeks, VOTF became a focused, faith-based movement to press the church for justice for survivors, support for priests of integrity, and structural change to ensure apermanent end to abuse. The mission wasfor reform, not revolution.VOTF also took bold action. Its firstinternational conference was organized inless than 90 days and drew an audience of more than 4,000 from across the nation. Alay-administered charitable fund waspromoted as an alternative to the Cardinal'sAppeal, being boycotted by thousands of Boston's laity. Petitions and letters to PopeJohn Paul II were delivered to the Vatican,bringing visibility and publicity to the voicesof an emboldened laity. Not surprisingly,these actions were not welcomed byCardinal Law or many priests. But thecrowds grew in size and determination.VOTF members found themselves on aspiritual journey as well. Meetings oftenopened with a prayer for survivors of abusethat begins,
"We are the Church; we are the Body of Christ."
Those words speak volumes, emphasizing the unity of attendeeswith survivors of abuse and with those justawakening to the story of abuse in theChurch. These notions of solidarity andcommunity form a basic tenet of thismovement within the Church.
A Movement Rooted in Love,Not Anger
In December 2002, following 11 months of unrelenting pressure, Cardinal Law resignedas archbishop of Boston. He
was succeededby Richard Lennon, an auxiliary bishop of Boston, who was named ApostolicAdministrator. Lennon's appointment, whiletemporary, proved fateful, for it forced