No patience left – Voices of Faith call all baptized Catholics to pray, raise their voice, speak out and work for change.
Media Release: 22nd August 2018
Voices of Faith has followed with deepening sorrow and anger the revelation of sexual abuse and cover up by bishops and cardinals around the world. As the organized nature of the cover up becomes ever more clear and reaches ever higher in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, it becomes obvious: the abuse of children, women and men by clergy is a tip of an iceberg, a symptom of an autocratic system of power that needs to be dismantled so that our Christian faith can again be lived in an authentic way.
Our name “Voices of Faith” speaks of the nature of our commitment. Our faith impels us to cry out against injustice committed by those who claim to speak in the name of God. We call for all faithful women and men to raise their voices in order to reclaim our church for the sake of our children.
We believe that Pope Francis is sincere in his expression of sorrow in response to the most recent revelations of abuse, but words are hollow unless concrete action follows and we are no longer willing to wait for effective action. As the People of God, we must take on our responsibilities and exercise leadership. Our actions must focus on the root causes, rather than just address the symptoms.
We wholeheartly agree with Pope Francis that clericalism is one of the most significant systemic causes of the current crisis. We also believe, as Jesus teaches us, that it is futile to “pour new wine into old wineskins” (Mt 9:14-17, Mk 2:18-22, Lk 5:33-39). Church structures modeled on ancient autocratic empires with all power and accountability concentrated at the top depend only on the benevolence of the persons occupying these positions to be used for good rather than evil.
Our patience has run out. For years, our voices and the voices of many other faithful Catholics have been silenced with requests for patience and arguments about the difficulty of reforming such a large institution. We know that the task is enormous but we will not allow the lives of any more children to be destroyed, to see more women and men alienated to the point of leaving the Church, or to experience more of our precious faith being distorted.
Lay people whose faith, courage and determination have been instrumental in uncovering the sexual abuse and cover up must also be instrumental in the renewal of our Church. Our common baptism needs to be the ground of our renewal. As those baptized in Christ we are all equal - including deacons, priests, bishops and popes. This radical equality is what St. Paul envisioned as the new order for Christians when he spoke of us being “no longer slave or free, male or female” (Gal 3:28).
We acknowledge gladly all those – male and female - who feel called to sacramental priesthood. But beyond that, we insist that each one of us has an equal seat at the table. Let our baptism be the new basis of our Church, our ticket at the table of decision-making.
Therefore, we call on all people of good will - lay women and men, as well as those in ordained ministries: Let us reclaim the power of our baptismal promise. We are told that we “put on Christ” (Gal 3:27) in our baptism and we become one body in Christ. As one body, let us stand together in a revolution of the baptized.
Let us, with our voices of faith:
Pray for the reformation of our beloved Church to become a space of care and protection for the vulnerable, a space of justice and mercy in which we can proclaim our Christian faith
Raise our voices and speak out wherever we witness injustice, discrimination and the abuse of power. Let us no longer accept that honesty and truthfulness can be relegated to coffee breaks and gossip in corridors. Let us tolerate no more instances of “we all knew about it but no one dared to speak out.”
Work for comprehensive change in the structures and leadership of our Catholic Church to align it better with the gospel values and the spirit of Jesus Christ.
As a first step, we demand that Pope Francis calls a Synod of the Faithful – a comprehensive participatory process on a global level involving laity and priests, women and men, that will address the urgent problems of our Church and start us on the path to renewal.
We have to join together and recognize that the various movements in the Catholic Church – to renew the spiritual life of communities, to uncover sexual abuse, to demand equality for women, to end discrimination of LGBTQI persons, to introduce transparent diocesan managerial practices and many other important causes, are streams that powerfully converge at this time in history. This means we are living through a time of opportunity – a time of Kairos – during which the future of the Church hangs in the balance. We have a historical chance for a new resurrection amid the ashes of pain, betrayal, and abusive power.
Let us pray, speak up and work for comprehensive change. Let us create a revolution of the baptized. We are the voices of faith.
Voices of Faith works for a prophetic Catholic Church where women's voices count, participate and lead on equal footing with men. The initiative campaigns extensively to promote women’s leadership in the Church. Voices of Faith organise the only International Women's Day events ever held inside The Vatican. Ahead of the Synod on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment, Voices of Faith promotes the leadership of young women, including impactful participation of its representatives at the pre-synod meeting of youth in March 2018. Watch the promotional video here.