Statement of Principle: VOTF is motivated by the conviction that the whole Church should respect the dignity and intelligence of all its members (clerical and lay), and acknowledge the right and responsibility of the laity, flowing from their baptism, to use their God-given gifts for the good of the Church.

Goal: To shape structural change within the Church: We respect the teaching authority of the Church and recognize the role that the hierarchy should exercise in discernment. It is essential, however, that all the people of God be involved in this process of discernment. We will therefore devote ourselves to advancing meaningful and active engagement of the laity in the life of the Church.

Approach: We seek to achieve this goal through prayer, dialogue and education involving clergy and laity. Our approach is to work from the parish* level upwards, both because it is necessary, and because it is possible. We recognize that it is on the level of the parish and in the context of parochial norms that our children have been grievously injured. We believe that, if we can make our local faith communities models of consultation and openness, analogous changes will follow at higher levels.

In order to move toward the vision of the Second Vatican Council, we believe that it is vitally important that the faithful of each parish engage in, and enthusiastically support the formation and actions of Pastoral and Finance Councils and Safety Committees. We must empower the laity to protect our children and all the people of God.

At the parish level VOTF will

  1. Emphasize lay involvement as a starting point that is crucial to the health of the parish and of the Church as a whole.
  2. Work to enhance education on the rights and responsibilities of the laity and clergy, and provide educational support and resources such as a primer on Church structure.
  3. Work to empower active, collaborative, effective and representative Pastoral Councils, Finance Councils, and Safety Committees in every parish.
  4. Support Parish Pastoral Councils (PPCs) by providing resources for formation of PPCs, and sample PPC foundation documents.
  5. Work vigorously for immediate, meaningful lay consultation in the process of pastoral selection.

At the diocesan level VOTF will:

  1. Work to empower and support active, collaborative, effective and representative Diocesan Pastoral Councils, Finance Councils, and Safety Committees in every diocese.
  2. Work to create and support Pastoral Councils, Finance Councils and Safety, Committees on intermediate levels, such as vicariate and region if the diocese is so divided.
  3. Work vigorously for immediate, meaningful lay consultation in the process of pastoral selection.

*Parish throughout this text refers to both intentional and geographical communities of faith.