Saturday, July 29, 2006


The first acronym, of course, means "Head of the Church." Of Boston, that is....

Cardinal Sean O'Malley will have a session with the founding chapter of Voice of the Faithful on Friday.

O'Malley's office downplayed the significance of the meeting, and said the cardinal has not revised the Archdiocese of Boston's policy toward the group, which includes a ban on meetings in parishes by chapters formed after October 2002, when the group was first banned by Cardinal Bernard F. Law .

O'Malley last met with the national organization in November 2003 and said he would reconsider the ban, but he did not make any change.

But leaders of the organization, which was formed in Wellesley at the height of the clergy sex abuse crisis in February 2002, view the gathering as symbolically significant, in that it demonstrates O'Malley's willingness to talk with a group that has been demonized in some quarters of the church.

O'Malley has not been critical of the group, and in fact appointed one of its founders, David Castaldi of Brookline, to lead an important archdiocesan committee overseeing the sale of property from parish closings.

The upcoming meeting with the leadership of the Boston chapter of Voice of the Faithful was apparently triggered when a group leader approached O'Malley this spring, during his 10-day pre-Pentecost pilgrimage to parishes that had been shepherded by sexually abusive priests, and raised the possibility of a meeting. O'Malley, who said the pilgrimage was to be an occasion for repentance and hope, agreed to talk with the group, and his office then scheduled it.

``In response to a request by representatives of Voice of the Faithful, Cardinal Sean and Father Richard M. Erikson , vicar general and moderator of the curia, will meet with those representatives," O'Malley's spokesman, Terrence C. Donilon , wrote in an e-mail. ``By way of the request, the VOTF representatives expressed a desire to be helpful to the Archdiocese. Cardinal Sean continues to demonstrate a willingness and openness to dialogue, and is committed to vibrant parish life throughout the church of Boston. We welcome the participation of all people who wish to assist with this work."

As always, interesting times in Beantown. More senior officials fleeing Caritas, the continuing search for the permanent CEO there, the archdiocesan official who quit after announcing that she had been "ordained to the priesthood" last year, and now this.

Stay tuned.