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“We are yours. We ask for the strength and wisdom to move forward, to act humbly and powerfully in building up your reign in this troubled world, in our troubled Church.” Opening words of Prayer for Accountability, part of the VOTF Palm Sunday reflection



  • April 9/Palm Sunday Prayer Vigil – join thousands of fellow Catholics, from wherever you may be on Palm Sunday. Click here.
  • Good news from the USCCB web site: Nearly 89 percent (or 169) of the 191 Catholic dioceses or eparchies (dioceses of the Eastern Catholic Church) which were audited during 2005 were found to be in full compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Bad news: One of these was Chicago; one was not Manchester, NH.
  • A letter sent to the US Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Sambi (see Commentary “Dear Archbishop Sambi”) profiles in one text a chronology of disdain in the Manchester, NH diocese; Manchester Union Leader editorial reprinted with permission in Commentary – “When a Bishop Fails."
  • Audit results on US diocesan progress in protecting children raise concerns among many, including the chairperson of the National Review Board Dr. Patricia Ewers who spoke to the VOTF SW Florida affiliate on April 4. [See recap in the April 20 Vineyard]; read more in “What Does Compliance Look Like?” under Diocese/State Watch.
  • VOTF Campaigns for Accountability have new pages on our web site; see “Victories in the Vineyard” – a compilation of just a few successes and case studies where the lay voice was heard; try our USER-FRIENDLY activism via the list of VOTF contacts by state for each of the two campaigns.
  • Voice of the Ordained and VOTF working together on Long Island: see Diocese/State Watch – New York.
  • Another instance of banning as policy in the Bridgeport, CT diocese: See Diocese/State Watch for VOTF Bridgeport, CT and Commentary “No Small Thing."


It’s 2006 in the Catholic Church: Do you know where your voice is? Every Catholic in the US has a VOTF National Representative Council representative. Find your region, your rep and your place in VOTF.

Check the VOTF web site home page for new “news” – press releases, Campaign for Accountability link and more; the radio program “Interfaith Voices” recently featured VOTF executive director Ray Joyce and VOTF Arlington, VA co-chair Bill Casey. Earlier on the same program, VOTF secretary Gaile Pohlhaus joined researcher/sociologist Bill D’Antonio. You can hear both programs by clicking on our home page link at

While compliance audit results are the most important gauge Catholics can use to measure how the Church is protecting children, the mounting cost of the cover up is another gauge – of financial means. See “The Ongoing Cost of Abuse Cover Ups” in Commentary.


WHAT Does Compliance Look Like? Audit results on Charter compliance in US dioceses beg Job’s question, “How long, Lord – how long?” Note: 104 of the 195 American dioceses conducted a "self-audit." In previous years, teams from the Gavin Group, a private firm led by former FBI agent William Gavin, had conducted on-site audits in all participating dioceses. See News-Journal coverage. See the USCCB web site for the full “Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” ; also check the National Catholic Reporter service “Abuse Tracker."

Manchester, New Hampshire –From The Eagle Tribune: “Yesterday's release of the state's first audit of the Manchester Catholic Diocese's sexual-abuse prevention efforts raises once again the question of why the church allows John B. McCormack to continue as bishop. His central role in the clergy sex-abuse scandal taints the moral authority of his position. He should do the right thing and resign.” And later in the editorial, “The need for a change in leadership is underscored by some of the audit findings reported yesterday. Three years after the settlement, the Manchester Diocese is still not doing things as basic as making sure criminal background checks are run on everyone who works with children.”

  • Background – According to “The audits were a key part of a 2002 settlement between the state and the diocese that ended a criminal investigation of whether church officials knew priests were molesting children, but failed to protect them over a period of decades.” And: “As part of the agreement, prosecutors agreed not to seek criminal indictments against the church. In exchange, the diocese agreed to enact strict new child protection policies, admit its actions had harmed children, and open itself to audits. [Attorney General] Ayotte said the audit found that no church ‘site’ checked was in full compliance with child-protection policies. In one parish, nearly half of the employees or volunteers had no criminal record checks.”
  • From the April 2 Concord Monitor: “The fate of the youngest members of the Roman Catholic Church in New Hampshire is now in the hands of parishioners. The leadership of the Diocese of Manchester remains in denial about its history of child sex abuse by priests and its responsibility to ensure that more children won't be scarred for life.”
  • This may be the first time most readers will have read a case based on canon law that argues for the removal of a bishop. Go to the New Hampshire Catholics for Moral Leadership web site.

Chicago and Joliet, IL - The apologetic Cardinal George seems to be doing everything right, so what’s wrong? Let us know what you think at

  • In response to ithering criticism over the breakdown in Chicago of the USCCB Charter, Cardinal George has initiated additional safeguards, as well as other actions requested by VOTF Chicago. Go to the archdiocesan web site.
  • Read VOTF Chicago’s communication to the Cardinal.
  • See VOTF president Mary Pat Fox update on the VOTF Chicago affiliate’s deliberations in Commentary – “VOTF and Cardinal George.”
  • "In August, a mother reported that McCormack had molested her 8-year-old son twice when he was alone with the priest after mass. Hearing of the allegation, archdiocese officials told McCormack he was not to be alone with children and designated another priest to monitor him. Days later,when the monitor went out of town on Labor Day weekend, McCormack took three boys to Minnesota on a shopping trip. When the monitor left again briefly over Christmas, McCormack allegedly abused another boy." Chicago Tribune, April 2,2006.

    VOTF New Hampshire’s Carolyn Disco said recently, “There is no more stunning evidence of the inadequacy of the USCCB audits than the finding of compliance by Chicago. How meaningless the Gavin Group’s work is, especially since they have no right to see personnel files.” (The Washington Times noted, “The problem, said Bill Gavin, head of the Boston-based Gavin Group, which conducts annual ‘audits’ on Catholic dioceses, is that his investigators are not allowed to research personnel files.”) [See the April 7 issue of National Catholic Reporter “Priest Personnel files may be open to auditors.”]

Carolyn’s remarks were confirmed last week when Dr. Patricia Ewers,the head of the USCCB’s National Review Board said that the audits’ shortcomings are especially clear in Chicago. An Associated Press article noted that the archdiocese was in full compliance, even though “it failed to remove an accused priest from church work for four months last year until he was criminally charged. Ewers called the situation ‘a great sorrow and disappointment to all of us.’”

  • Joliet,IL: Bishop Imesch not only apologized to parishioners in his diocese for offensive language spoken by him in a deposition last year (in a lawsuit filed against the Joliet diocese), he has promised to post on the diocesan web site the names of ‘diocesan priests against whom a credible allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor has been made.’” Go to the Beacon News.

Ohio: From the Columbus Dispatch, “The Senate gave final approval yesterday to a House-passed bill that requires church officials to report suspected instances of abuse and creates an Internet registry of unconvicted sex offenders who are found liable in a civil case. After heavy lobbying by Ohio Catholic bishops, the House stripped a provision that would have given victims a one-year window, or look-back, to file a lawsuit for child sex abuse that occurred as long ago as 35 years.”

VOTF Maryland: The long and heated battle toward justice for victims of clergy sexual abuse to the best of a legislature’s ability has been won, but not by survivors. The Washington Post reported: “In a legislative victory for the Roman Catholic church, Maryland delegates rejected a bill that would have allowed older victims of child sexual abuse to sue the church and the priests who abused them. Instead, the House Judiciary Committee on Friday, and the House on Saturday, approved a bill that would allow victims 25 and younger when the law takes effect to file lawsuits until they reach age 42. Maryland law currently allows victims to bring lawsuits until their 25th birthday. There is no time limit for criminal prosecutions of those who sexually abuse a child in Maryland. Under intense lobbying from the church,the bill was amended so the time extension does not apply to victims who are now 25 and older.”

New York:

  • Rockville Center diocese/VOTF Long Island letter responds to the Voice of the Ordained – read the letter written by VOTF Long Island to the priests’ association whose members offered to mediate differences between VOTF and Rockville Center’s Bishop Murphy. Go to; VOTF Long Island is also conducting a Diocesan Finance Council petition drive on the weekends of April 29/30 and May 6/7. The petition is on their web site.
  • Announcements of closings (biggest in 150 years) and reconfigurations in the Archdiocese of New York have drawn every response from stunned silence to plans for fighting the closings. Subscribers can see New York Times coverage.

Denver, CO: In the previous Vineyard, readers learned that HB 1088 won bishops support after a provision was cut (lengthening the statute of limitations for the filing of civil cases). The amended bill would lift the SOL on crimes against children committed after July 1. 1996. Denver SNAP reports that HB 1088, lifting the SOL on criminal prosecution, passed the full Senate. The amended bill again passed the House.

  • The Senate committee hearing arguments on HB 1090 (lifting the civil SOL and, among other provisions, eliminating silent settlements and the withholding of records) has moved the bill to the full Senate.
  • Colorado’s Catholic bishops opposed both bills.

New Jersey: The Star Ledger reported a disturbing incident involving a laicized priest living in a family community: “Paterson Diocese officials, who have been criticized for not properly notifying law enforcement about [the former priest’s] sex abuse, say that because Hanley is now laicized, they are not responsible for telling his new neighbors about his past.” See and click on Star Ledger.

  • VOTF NJ had good news recently: Theresa Padovano writes, “On Jan. 5, 2006, Governor Richard Codey signed Bill S5540/A2512 into law, retroactively repealing Charitable Immunity protections for all institutions which fail to protect our children from sexual predators. The Legislature was clear: Charitable Immunity was never meant to protect institutions over the right of our children to be safe from sexual abuse. VOTF/NJ was cited as instrumental in helping this to happen. By way of letters to the editors, press conferences and demonstrations at the State House in Trenton, NJ, VOTF has participated with SNAP, HOST and other supportive agencies in the efforts of to push for this legislation.”
  • Visit the VOTF New Jersey web site for a recap of their March 25 panel discussion of “Whose Money Is IT? Financial Accountability in the Church.”

Burlington, VT: An accused priest (against whom, records show, concerns had been noted as far back as the 1960s) “has avoided criminal prosecution in Vermont and Massachusetts, where he is accused of numerous similar offenses, because of statutes of limitation laws.” According to the Rutland Herald, “Accusers, however, can press charges through civil lawsuits.”

Bridgeport, CT: Joe O’Callaghan of VOTF Bridgeport, CT reports that the upcoming April 29 talk with Fr. Richard McBrien of Notre Dame University VOTF co-sponsored with Fairfield University is not welcome news at the diocesan newspaper. See Commentary – “No Small Thing."

IRELAND: Catholic World News reports “Irish Commission to Probe Dublin Sexual-Abuse Complaints."

SURVIVOR Community News –
The March 23 issue of In the Vineyard included edited text of a commentary “A New Commandment – Honor Thy Children” written by survivor Kathy Dwyer. Kathy objected to the edits. We apologize to Kathy and other survivors offended in any way by the edits made. Kathy has offered: “If they would like to read the unedited version, they can either contact me directly at or go to my web site at where I will post it on the home page for the next month or so.” While you’re on Kathy’s site, be sure to read about her book Healing into Wholeness and view her artwork.


  • VOTF Bridgeport, CT/Fairfield University: APRIL 29 “THE ELECTION OF BISHOPS: RETURN TO TRADITION” with University of Notre Dame professor of theology Richard McBrien. For details, go to Also, read Commentary – “No Small Thing."
  • Sunday, April 23, 2006, from 4:00-5:00 pm: "The World, the Flesh and the Catholic Church" - a special presentation by Eugene Kennedy at Trinity Catholic High School Auditorium, sponsored by Our Lady's Friends and Our Lady Help of Christians Justice and Peace Committee to benefit the Rev. Walter H. Cuenin Scholarship Endowment Fund at Trinity Catholic High School. For details, go to

Site-Seeing, Etc.

  • FutureChurch is launching a postcard campaign calling for women preachers in a general call for full ministerial equality in the Church. The organization offers outstanding resources for education, discussion, prayer and reflection. Their latest effort is planned to coincide with the release of the movie “The DaVinci Code,” which is based on the controversial book of the same name by Dan Brown. FutureChurch and many other Catholics are concerned over the portrait of Mary Magdalene as well as the image it projects of women in Church leadership.
  • America magazine, March 27, 2006, looks at the “implications for the US Church of the bankruptcy proceedings in Portland, OR and Spokane, WA”; the editorial takes on the Newman Club for defining Catholic identity in the negative - read “Measuring Catholic Identity.”
  • The Boston College Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry (IREPM) is sponsoring a summer conference "Prophetic Witness: Catholic Women's Strategies for Reform" as well as a daylong celebration of its 35th Anniversary entitled "Creating the Church Women Want." The Conference Week course will be held from 6:30-9:30 pm from July 10-14, 2006 and the 35th Anniversary Day will be held on Saturday, July 15, 2006 from 9:00 am - 4:30 pm. Additional details can also be found at
  • Villanova University: The College of Commerce and Finance is pleased to announce the opening of the Center for the Study of Church Management on Wednesday, March 22, 2006. The Villanova center, led by Economics Professor Charles Zech, is the first of its kind in the world. It is unique in that it is dedicated to the service of the Catholic Church in the United States through education and research. The mission of the center is to provide education and scholarship on fiscal and management matters in service of Catholic Church leaders. For more details, visit the Villanova web site.
  • What NOT to do if your parish is closing – See the April 7 issue of National Catholic Reporter.
  • Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) web site offers a wide range of social scientific studies about the Catholic Church.

What do you think? The Los Angeles, CA diocesan web site posted the following recently: “In the wake of the sexual abuse scandal, some laypeople have suggested that the faith and the Church are quite different entities. For example, members of the Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) say Catholics can accept the faith but also question the policies and practices of the Church. This view is clearly expressed in VOTF's slogan ‘Keep the faith, change the Church.’” Read the whole article “Is there a gap between the faith and the Church?” by Purdue University sociologist James Davidson. The question is a good one and we’d like to hear your thoughts at

BOOK Review - Ron DuBois, VOTF National Representative Council member (Region The Democracy of God: An American Democracy by Robert J. Willis (2006).

QUOTES for our time: National Catholic Reporter asked that Cardinal George “use the bully pulpit of Chicago, his elected position within the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the respect he enjoys both in the United States and in Rome to press for the kind of disclosure and honest reckoning that would finally demonstrate that:
• The church is at heart a sacramental community that believes in confession and forgiveness;

  • The church believes that the truth will set us free;
  • Church leaders have the best interests of the community, particularly those most harmed by the scandal, at heart;
  • Church leaders are willing to investigate the clerical/hierarchical culture in which this cancerous scandal took hold and in which it spread and to make the changes necessary to bring transparency and accountability to that structure.”

Also from National Catholic Reporter, March 31, 2006: “For many of the victims, it takes tens of years to acknowledge to themselves the toll it has exacted on their life,” said Steven Krueger, spokesman for the Coalition to Reform Sex Abuse Laws in Massachusetts. “It is one of the only crimes where the victim internalizes the guilt and the shame.”

In the Vineyard
April 6, 2006
Volume 5, Issue 7
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