The subject of her talk will be “Voice of the Faithful: Next Steps,” and her question for conference attendees will be, “How do we inform the laity that it is their responsibility to become leaders and equal partners in the administration of Christ’s Church?” She is scheduled to speak at about 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14.
For more than two years, serving as interim chair, Justice Burke directed the efforts of the National Review Board of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops investigating the causes and effects of the clergy abuse scandal and helping to establish guidelines and policies for effectively responding to this scandal.
Justice Burke began her judicial career as the first woman appointed to the Illinois Court of Claims. During this time, she also led the reshaping and improvement of the Illinois juvenile justice system. She then served on the Illinois Appellate Court and was appointed, then elected to the Illinois Supreme Court.
Before her appointment to the judiciary, she was a leading advocate for Chicago’s most vulnerable young people. As a Chicago Park District physical education teacher, she worked with children with disabilities and went on to found the Chicago Special Olympics in 1968. She later served as a director of that organization as it grew to become the International Special Olympics represented in more than 160 countries.
Justice Burke has served on several boards and foundations impacting the civic, cultural and educational life of Chicago. She also ran a neighborhood law practice that included representing the interests of children and families involved in neglect, abuse, delinquency and parental custody. In addition, she developed a very diverse practice that included criminal trial work and defense advocacy.
Justice Burke will join other conference speakers who have in-depth knowledge and keen awareness not only of the Church’s clergy sexual abuse scandal and its effects, but also of the clericalism in the Church’s hierarchy, theological and doctrinal underpinnings of Church teaching, the effects the reform movement has had on Catholics and the Church and what the future may hold for these issues. Speakers include:
• John Morgan, chairman, National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland;
• Rev. Donald Cozzens, author, international commentator and lecturer on religious and cultural issues, especially on the Church’s sexual and financial crises, and writer in residence, John Carroll University;
• Prof. Thomas Groome, theologian, author and Department of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry chairman, Boston College;
• Rev. James Connell, canon lawyer, pastor in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and advocate for clergy sexual abuse survivors;
• Jamie Manson, lay minister and award-winning columnist for National Catholic Reporter; and
• David Clohessy, executive director, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
Conference information is available at http://www.votf.org.