- Some Catholic observers have credited pressure from the laity, in particular the fast-growing group Voice of the Faithful, for playing a role in Cardinal Bernard F. Law’s resignation last week as archbishop of Boston. Voice leaders had issued a call for Law to step down two days before he quit.
But as we know now, Cardinal Law had decided long before that to quit. It was more likely that the letter from a group of priests demanding his resignation had more effect. (And if VOTF is so “fast-growing”, why has their membership been reported as “25,000” since about April?)
The fact is that VOTF was the Johnny-come-lately. Laypeople were calling for Law’s resignation for months, some starting in the spring. It’s just that many of those voices weren’t politically popular ones with ambiguous demands for “change in the Church” that could encompass anything. No, a lot of those early demands were from theologically orthodox and conservative Catholics who wanted a return to the traditional disciplines of the Church and a rejection of the new sexual ethics heterodoxy that can be seen as a part of the reason for the Scandal.
Despite the media hype, VOTF is a small fish in a big pond with dreams of becoming a whale. They are institutionally insignificant, especially in the long run. I just don’t see anything about the group that tells me they’ll be around in a few years, except as a shadow of what they are now. What do they have to offer?