Organizing the Faithful

A Report from the Trenches

The Archdiocese of Boston, where my wife and I live, famously suffered from sexual abuse by priests, and by misfeasance and perhaps malfeasance by bishops in dealing with that abuse. By July 2002 there was an almost universal feeling in our parish that something must be done. At the parish council meeting that month my wife Helen proposed a resolution that would reach out to several nearby parishes (I’ve changed their names) in the hope of creating a unified response.

The resolution read in part:

In the hope of improving communications between and among laity, priests, and hierarchy and restoring lost trust, I propose a first step in building a structure of elected representative bodies that will serve in an advisory capacity.

I therefore move that we invite the parish councils of St. Lucy and St. Gabriel to meet with us and discuss the creation of elected committees or councils representing the laity and clergy of our vicariate, our region, and the archdiocese to serve as advisory bodies to the vicar, our regional bishop, and the archbishop respectively. It is understood that such a committee, if created, would start by requesting a meeting with the vicar.

(Our parish is part of a “cluster” with two neighboring parishes, “St. Lucy” and “St. Gabriel.” The archdiocese has five regional bishops and each region has four or five vicariates. Each vicariate, in turn, includes fifteen to twenty...

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About the Author

John C. Cort is author of, most recently, Dreadful Conversions: The Making of a Catholic Socialist (Fordham University Press).