The following are comments regarding the recent proposal. Feel free to e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Joseph O'Callaghan presented these proposals last evening at a regional meeting of Long Island Voice of the Faithful. Thinking about his fine presentation since then, it occurred to me that these are excellent proposals if one is looking through the prism of the American democratic experience. From that perspective, such proposals seem eminently sound and philosophically laudable. They give specific content to the VOTF goal of "structural change," the goal that sends tremors through the American church hierarchy, especially in dioceses where control of "dissent" is given high priority.
On the other hand, it seems to me there are great obstacles to implementation of this kind of structural change in those areas of the universal church where there is little or no experience of democracy. Fr. Donald Cozzens reminds us that the American church represents but 6 percent of the world's Catholics. It's not where democracy has flourished that the church is experiencing the kind of extraordinary growth that is taking place in developing countries and cultures. I suspect that church governance issues may have far lower priority in the developing world than they have here in North America and in Western Europe.
If that is true, how can VOTF relate its third goal to the reality of the universal church?
St. John the Evangelist parish, Riverhead, NY
I whole heartly support the objectives of the Bridgeport proposals. Every parish in American should implement these proposals. Accountability, Openness and Reform should be embraced by every every American.
Cardinal, Bishop, and Pastor.
I applaud VOTF's dedication.
Just to let you know that I am extremely impressed with the content of your article. I hope it was published in your local papers, as the people who REALLY need to know of it are those who have been turned off by the Church and no longer attend. I am a member of the North Shore VOTF in Topsfield/Beverly/Salem, Mass. area.
We are trying to gain the interest of the young people...25-40...who seem so indifferent. Thank you for your wonderful piece.
Thanks for the most important product to come out of VOTF since its founding. I and, I'm sure, others are looking forward to reading and digesting it.
Best Regards, F. D. Tucson, AZ
Congratulations and thank you for very well thought out proposals. The language is concise and clear, non-confrontative and solidly based in our tradition. Again, permit me to applaud you and thank you.
Sincerely, S. D.
Let me give my thanks and prayers that your efforts will bring about dialog through the publication of the proposals for structural change.
Our Church is at a critical point in its history. We need to re-examine our current structure and move forward. Your document outlining your proposals seems well considered and sensible. I am sure that there will be a need for much discussion and negotiation to achieve the desired actions, but you are to be commended for stepping out and taking leadership.
No doubt there will be heated opposition ahead (much of it well-meaning!) and I would encourage you to stay the course with your goals.
With best regards, B. P. Ann Arbor, Michigan
Dear Bridgeport VOTF:
That is a terrific statement about structural change. It is also historic We have been pussyfooting around the issue of structural change as one of our main goals. You have come out in the open with specific proposals. If we get half of them in this country by 2010, we will have done a great good.
Thanks for your courage and industry.
M. D. Member, VOTF Springfield, MA Diocese
I want to tell my friends on the Cincinnati Voice of the Faithful board, my friends at Bellarmine Chapel and the VOTF at Bellarmine and my pastor, in addition to Frank Douglas, and all the people from the Diocese of Bridgeport who worked on "Five Proposals for Structural Change from VOTF-Bridgeport":
I have never seen a more superior systemic approach to the knotty problem of VOTF's third goal. Your Five Proposals, including a Preamble, an historical overview of each issue, its background in canon law, and each of the proposals themselves for the Bridgeport diocese demonstrate a thorough knowledge of organizational systems. This document offers a clarification of functions, roles, and procedures.
I believe it should not only be praised but published for a wider audience, and then put into practice. For starters I'd like to see the Cincinnati VOTF take it on.
Congratulations on excellent work. I can't get over your careful scholarship, the thinking-through of each proposal, and its exposition.
God bless you all. Keep the Faith, Change the Church.