News From National
Save the Date, April 18, for Our
VOTF 2015 National Assembly
Featuring Marie Collins, Irish clergy sexual abuse survivor and member of Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors
Voice of the Faithful® will be back at the Connecticut Convention Center on April 18 for our 2015 National Assembly.
We will take initiatives developed last year in Hartford to the next level. Helping us assess where we started, where we are, and where we go from here will be featured speaker Marie Collins.
Marie is a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Pope Francis has charged this group, which includes Boston’s Cardinal Sean O'Malley, with fulfilling his call for "zero tolerance" for clergy sexual abuse perpetrators and abettors. Marie has been leading child protection activities since 2003, when she helped the Archdiocese of Dublin set up its Child Protection Service.
Circle April 18 on your 2015 calendar now and stay tuned for more information about the VOTF 2015 National Assembly or go ahead and click here to register now.
An Appeal from VOTF’s Executive Director
Just a reminder that summer months are historically slow for donations—we are all on vacation, at the beach, enjoying the sunshine. This summer has been especially slow for us. That’s disappointing because we have two promising projects for the coming year: a restorative justice effort to directly promote healing, and a financial accountability program to help Catholics monitor their diocesan finances. Not to mention all our other ongoing programs.
We have a window of opportunity for Church reform with the Francis papacy. We can implement lasting models for change now, but we need resources to succeed. If you have never donated or if it has been a while since your last donation, we need your support now.
Please help us continue keeping the faith and changing our Church.
A Visit with Hartford Archbishop Leonard Blair
On July 28th, Mark Mullaney and Jayne O’Donnell met with Archbishop Leonard Blair, the recently installed ordinary of the Archdiocese of Hartford CT. The purpose was two-fold: for Jayne, representing Hartford VOTF members, to welcome the bishop to Hartford, and Mark as VOTF president to describe the national projects we are asking all bishops to consider joining. Following the meeting, Jayne filed the following report.
By Jayne O’Donnell, a Hartford Affiliate leader and the VOTF Development Coordinator
The Archbishop is soft spoken but also a very attentive listener. After sharing a bit about ourselves, Mark indicated that we had two specific items that we wished to discuss: Financial Accountability and Transparency, and Restorative Justice.
The first initiative, on financial accountability, will chronicle the public reporting of all U.S. dioceses to identify the extent to which they share their financial information with their parishioners. We noted that Pope Francis has been clear that he wishes to be transparent and accountable with the Vatican finances and the finances of dioceses throughout the world. Read more ...
SNAP’s Conference Celebrates 25 Years of Survivor Support and Advocacy
By Bill Casey of the Arlington VA affiliate
Approximately 300 attendees gathered in Chicago on August 1-3 to celebrate SNAP’s 25th year of supporting and advocating for victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The program highlighted not only the extraordinary accomplishments and shelf-life of a non-profit (most do not survive 8-10 years), but it also marked the course for the next 25 years.
Founder Barbara Blaine and Executive Director David Clohessy remembered the earliest efforts to provide a safe space for other victims/survivors who were isolated, shamed and often re-victimized if they spoke out, as well as progress in gaining public recognition, respect and successes for those who have been searching for a path to justice, recovery and resolution. They also reaffirmed SNAP’s commitment to overcome the obstacles that still impede these outcomes. Read more ...
Highlighting issues we face working together
to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
New documents show falsehoods in Nienstedt testimony
“Documents made public Monday (Aug. 10) in a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis show thatArchbishop John Nienstedt made false statements under oath in April about his knowledge of a priest accused of child sexual abuse.” By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio
-- Archbishop, under fire over abuse, apologizes but says he won’t resign, By Michael Paulson, The New York Times
-- Twin Cities Archbishop Nienstedt vows to ‘continue serving as I have been called to do,’ By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter
-- Archbishop John Nienstedt declares he won’t step down, By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune
-- Tough lessons lead to significant changes, By Archbishop John Nienstedt on Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis website
‘The Church is dragging its heels on child safety’
“The Catholic Church's revision of penalties and procedures fordealing with clerical sexual abusers is taking far too long, the former head of the national board for safeguarding children has warned. Ian Elliott described himself as ‘shocked’ that the revision of canon law's abuse penalties has been going on since 2008 and there is still no sign of it nearing completion.” By Sarah MacDonald, Irish Independent
‘Monumental shift’ in Rome on clerical child sexual abuse issue
“There ought to have been a sense of huge importance notedabout Pope Francis’s first meeting with six survivors of clerical child sexual abuse in Rome on July 7th last ... Battles by survivors to be believed and to secure accountability on the part of a Catholic hierarchy that knew about and allowed spread vile crimes against children rage on ... It was against this background that two Irish survivors met the pope last month. What happened in Rome was a monumental shift. In his acknowledgement, the pope shattered any illusions left about the lifelong, intergenerational and appalling reality faced by survivors.” By Mark Vincent Healy, The Irish Times
Pope Benedict XVI OK’d abusive priest in Paraguay, local bishop says
“A showdown between Pope Francis and a conservative bishop in Paraguay is heating up as the bishop rejected charges that he sheltered a priest accused of sexual misconduct, and claimed that Pope Benedict XVI himself vouched for the suspect cleric just days before his election as pope in 2005.” By David Gibson, Religion News Service
Cry out, sisters; cry out
This story addresses issues relevant to the Aug. 12-15 LCWR 2014 National Assembly. LCWR “will face decisions that will move the question of the agency of women in a man's church either forward or back. Strange as it may seem in the 21st century, the issue is whether or not women are capable of hearing diverse speakers and still remain faithful Catholics. The issue is whether or not women religious may discuss various points of view on major issues and still remain faithful Catholics. The issue is whether or not women religious can manage their own organizations and still be faithful Catholics. The Vatican's answer to those questions is no. For the last 45 years, however, LCWR's answer to those same questions has been a clear and persistent yes.” By Joan Chittister, Mary Lou Kownacki, National Catholic Reporter
Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus ...
Looking for Something to Do This Weekend?
The film “Calvary” is an intense whodunit set in the kiln of small village life in the west of Ireland. In its opening scene, the hero Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) is told in confession he’ll be killed in seven days. The penitent explains to Lavelle that as a young boy he was sexually abused by a priest, who has since died. The film unfolds from there.
To read a review, go tohttp://www.americamagazine.org/issue/211/acts-contrition
Letter to the Editor
While looking at the website for my diocese, the Diocese of Providence, my attention was caught by this title of a letter from the bishop: “From Bishop Tobin: Are You Unhappy With Your Pastor?”
That’s interesting, I thought, the bishop must be advising on what to do about problems with pastors. But when I read the article (www.diocesepvd.org/from-bishop-tobin-are-you-unhappy-with-your-pastor), it’s basically a scolding of anyone who presumes to complain about their pastor and an encouragement to pray for them instead.
So that’s it? What if we do have serious questions about our pastor? When I looked at the website today, I noticed that this article is marked at the end with “Comments are closed.” That actually seems a good title for the article, doesn’t it? Or: "Are You Unhappy With Your Pastor? Comments Unwelcome"
I don’t think Pope Francis would approve.
M. Annette Joseph
Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor, atVineyard@votf.org. Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.