comments and inquiries to email@example.com.
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
- 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.
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 www.votf.org
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.
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
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
- Background – According
to wmur.com: “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
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.”
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.
and Joliet, IL - The apologetic Cardinal
George seems to be doing everything right, so what’s
wrong? Let us know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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
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
of unconvicted sex offenders who are found liable in a
Post reported: “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.”
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 www.votf-li.org; 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.
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.
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.
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 www.nj.com 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 FixTheLaw.org
to push for this legislation.”
Visit the VOTF New Jersey web
a recap of their March 25 panel discussion of “Whose
Money Is IT? Financial Accountability in the Church.”
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
Herald, “Accusers, however, can press charges
through civil lawsuits.”
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."
World News reports “Irish Commission
to Probe Dublin Sexual-Abuse Complaints."
SURVIVOR Community News –
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 email@example.com or
go to my web site at www.kathleenmdwyer.com 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 www.votfbpt.org.
Also, read Commentary – “No Small Thing."
- Sunday, April 23, 2006, from 4:00-5:00
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 www.ourladysfriends.com.
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
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
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
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 www.bc.edu/irepm.
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
What NOT to do if your parish is closing – See the
April 7 issue of National
Georgetown University’s Center for
Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) web
a wide range
of social scientific studies about the Catholic
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Review - Ron DuBois, VOTF National
Representative Council member (Region The Democracy
of God: An American Democracy by Robert J. Willis
for our time: National
Catholic Reporter asked that Cardinal George “use the bully
pulpit of Chicago, his elected position within the National
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