DIOCESE/State Watch

New Hampshire: According to the Boston Globe, “The latest audit of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester shows ‘significant progress’ in its compliance program to prevent child-sexual abuse ….” Click here for the full story.

You also might want to check out VOTF member Carolyn Disco’s analysis of the audit results.

VOTF Kentucky: Good news from Region 5 VOTF representative Susan Vogt: “I am proud to pass on the news that Kentucky has just unanimously passed a bill that strengthens penalties for child sexual abuse. Although both the Louisville and Northern KY Affiliates worked on passing this bill, special thanks goes to Shannon Whelan who put her life on hold for many months to shepherd this through both the House and Senate.”

From Shannon Whelan: Today the Ky. Senate has passed the legislation that we have all been working on for the last 10 months. Because of the widespread support for this bill, it has passed with only additions that make internet use part of the bill. It passed the House and the Senate unanimously.” Among the bill’s provisions:

  • The bill takes child sexual abuse in the first degree up to 16 years of age and up to 18 years of age if the abuse is by a person in a position of trust. This is a felony if the perpetrator is 21 years old or older.
  • It extends the statute of limitations for up to 5 years after the 18th birthday for any misdemeanor. Misdemeanors, however, apply only if the abuser is 18, 19 or 20 years of age. 
  • HB 211 makes not reporting abuse a felony if it occurs a third time.
  • The bill also adds additional language to present legislation to make it consistent with the American Psychological Association’s definition of sexual abuse.

 Kentucky increased the civil SOL several years ago. One of the Senate leaders commented that they had a lot of calls about this legislation and another said that the newspaper in Paducah is following the progress and calling regularly. Together we have made a difference for today’s and tomorrow’s children.

Update on Belleville IL (see VOTF statement here): A National Catholic Reporter note says the Bishop Braxton has refused to resign. “More than half the active priests of the Belleville diocese have signed a public statement calling for Bishop Edward Braxton to resign, citing frustration with his leadership and their conclusion that ‘he has lost his moral authority.’ In response, the bishop issued a letter to Catholics in the diocese dated March 20, Holy Thursday, in which he stated he intends “to serve as bishop of the diocese of Belleville for as long as the Holy Father wants me to do so.” The bishop asked priests to read the 1,700-word letter at Masses on Easter weekend.

VOTF St. Petersburg FL worked with the Diocese of St. Petersburg in promoting a Day of Atonement proposed by Cardinal Claudio Hummes, OFM, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy. The Cardinal asked that there be world-wide Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament offering reparation and purification of the priesthood following the sins of clergy sexual abuse. He requested this occur in all church places world-wide with the prayers of priests and the faithful. The Victim Assistance Ministry and VOTF collaborated for the service, which was held on March 11.

PARISH Voices Heard

What may be most important in this experience is that a genuine transformation took place within the very space where God’s community comes together in Christ – the church itself. Here is the VOTF mission statement in action – “prayerful voices attentive to the Spirit.”

When parishioners were told in their parish bulletin that their participation in the Prayers of the Faithful would be terminated, they pursued what in hindsight might look like the obvious response but in Catholic Church behavior is, arguably, exceptional.

First, VOTF member Rich Moriarty spoke individually and then by letter to the pastor, as well as to the other parish priest. Then Rich, with support from several others in the parish community, decided he might simply and respectfully speak his prayer at the time of the Prayers of the Faithful. He paid the reader of the Prayers of the Faithful the courtesy beforehand of advising him that when he began the Prayers of the Faithful, he (Rich) would be contributing.

When Rich spoke his prayer (see below), 10 more Mass attendees did the same.

Less than one week later, parishioners received notice from the pastor that their participation in the Prayers of the Faithful would be re-instated.

Among the several lessons learned in this instance is that protest has many roads from which to choose; that commitment to a particular course is best shared beforehand; and that, like protest, listening by leadership also has many “styles” – from the immediate to the postponed, from person-to-person to a Letter to Parishioners.

Rich’s prayer that morning:

“Excuse me Monsignor, I have a prayer: I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the members of the Clergy and Laity in our Church, and in this Parish, toward a closer cooperation.... and that that co-operation be based on mutual understanding, respect and dialogue.... Lord, hear our prayer.”

Rich said later, “Maybe it was my own emotional investment in this but I really thought the ‘Lord, hear our prayer’ following my prayer was one of the strongest I’d ever heard.”


In the Vineyard
April 11, 2008

Volume 7, Issue 6
Printer Friendly Version (PDF)

Page One

DIOCESE/State Watch

Letter to VOTF

Prayerful Voice

Survivor Support Working Group

Priest Support Working Group

Structural Change Working Group

Voice of Renewal/Lay Education

Protecting Our Children



Contact Us 



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