Voice of the Faithful, In the Vineyard

In this Issue:


  • The August 15 Mass on Boston Common will long be remembered for the communion it brought to Catholics reeling from parish closings and all that has been so divisive. Boston VOTF member Donna Doucette reports in VOTF on Boston Common.
  • Interim Chair of the National Review Board Justice Anne Burke, speaking to VOTF, noted that the Church leaders she met in Rome " concluded that dioceses have done a poor job in screening candidates and that neither homosexuality nor celibacy caused the abuse crisis, but the Board will be sponsoring an epidemiological study for secular institutions to do the necessary research to discover the causes." Read more in Reports from the Field.
    • A letter from Justice Anne Burke to all priests in the United States was printed in the March 2004 issue of the Vicars for Clergy Newsletter, a publication of the USCCB Secretariat on Priestly Life and Ministry. The letter is available at the VOTF Peoria, Ill. web site.
  • Questions about VOTF but didn't know who to ask? VOTF president Jim Post "tells it like it is" and paints an organizational picture in Letter from the President.
  • Mary Ann Keyes reports on Parish Voice work (Be sure to check the various affiliate web sites, which are listed under Parish Voice on the VOTF Web site); Theresa Cooney reflects on her summer internship in the VOTF office.
  • Most of our readers and members will have received the much-praised 2004 Annual Report. If you didn't receive yours, please call the office at 617-558-5252 or click here to request a copy.
  • Discussions are cropping up all over the country on governance issues, policy making, representation, etc., and VOTF vice president Kris Ward is looking for help - see Message from VOTF vice president.
  • Representative Council is discussing a resolution calling for restrictions on promoting or otherwise honoring Church leaders who were central to the proliferation of priests' sexual abuse of those in their care. Council minutes were not ready for this issue. However, Gaile Pohlhaus posted an important reminder: All members of the representative council should now be on the VOTF_National_Representative_Council@yahoogroups.com If you are not, please contact gaile.pohlhaus@villanova.edu for an invitation.
  • "We have promises to keep," says Jim Post. VOTF continues to participate in dialogue with lay and ordained Church leadership on the future of our Church and is established as an expected voice on the issues of this moment in our Church. (See Jim Post's remarks before the July Council meeting.)
  • Philadelphia Roundtable invites Church leaders to discuss Church management issues - VOTF president Jim Post was there. See coverage of this important gathering.
  • How about some "Site" Seeing? - Members often note helpful and informative Web sites. This month we include the University of Michigan Web site for its family-based religious ed. program. Also, several members recommend an America article of August 2, 2004 that discusses the Portland, Oregon diocesan bankruptcy situation. Check out these web sites and more.


  • The August 2003 issue of In the Vineyard told readers about "The Healing Tree" planted in Boston. Survivor support activist Steve Sheehan reflects on the tree's altered environment. See Survivor Community News and Reports
  • New England SNAP coordinator Bill Gately took exception to Bishop D'Arcy's recent remarks regarding gay clergy and their fitness to serve as priests. "His comments are of particular interest to me, since the priest that molested me is a heterosexual man who is now married and the father of three children; someone with the criteria D'Arcy considers preferable." Read the full text of Gately's letter to the Boston Globe in Survivor Community News; also, read survivor Gary Bergeron's comments on the upcoming publication of his book.
  • Margaret Roylance gave a PowerPoint presentation on "Rights of the Faithful Under Existing Canon Law" and offers a summary of the issues covered. Significantly, a discussion began on whether or not Catholics should work toward effecting some changes in Canon Law. Read the summary and let us know what you think at leaderpub@voiceofthefaithful.org.
  • K of C Supreme Knight Anderson to speak with Bishop Lori on 8/29. Read more in Letters to the Editor; another correspondent provides RICO contact information.


SAVE THE DATE- NOVEMBER 13, 2004 - NEW ENGLAND VOTF CONFERENCE WORCESTER, MA "It's Not History - It's Time For Renewal" will be the theme of a full-day conference sponsored by the New England affiliates of Voice of the Faithful at the Worcester Centrum on Saturday, November 13, 2004. The conference derives its name from the words of Bishop Wilton Gregory, President of the USCCB, who summed up the bishops' response to the John Jay Report on the clerical abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in the United States with the words, "It's history."

"By selecting this theme, we want to affirm, first, that the abuse scandal cannot be swept under the rug, and second, that we must renew and reform the Church to ensure that the scandal is never repeated," said Event Chair Bob Morris of Winchester, MA VOTF,.

Confirmed speakers for the conference to date include Fr. Thomas Doyle; Pamela Hayes of the National Review Board; authors Jason Berry, David Gibson and David France; former Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Tom O'Neill; Professors Paul Lakeland of Fairfield, David O'Brien and Bill Clark of Holy Cross, Kathleen Kautzer of Regis College, and Ruth Wallace of George Washington University; Sue Archibald, President of The Linkup, and David Clohessey, President of SNAP; and Fr. Robert Silva, President of the National Federation of Priests' Councils. A Priest of Integrity award will be conferred on a New England priest who has courageously stood up to the power of the institutional Church on behalf of survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

For further information, or if you'd like to help out in any way, contact Bob Morris at rmorrisvotf@aol.com.

  • Of 357 Boston parishes, 65 had been slated for closing. On August 4, that figure increased by 10. Read more on the VOTF Boston Parish Closing web page.
  • Speaking of engaging each other, our Winchester affiliate has had a packed few months and VOTF NJ sent photos! See Affiliate News
  • HEADS UP - Boston College in the 21st Century is about to sweep us off our feet again. The planned two-year initiative begins its third year with outstanding opportunities for those who are able to get to Chestnut Hill, Mass. (If unable to attend, BC is offering a free publication covering many of the conferences presentations.) See some of the September lineup here in the Vineyard (Events/East) or go to the BC web site.; SAVE THE DATE - "Rejoice with Voice" on October 3. Read more about our first (and long overdue!) party for members in Events/East.
  • Be sure to visit the USCCB web site at www.usccb.org and read the recently published Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World. The letter opens with these words, ".The Church, expert in humanity, has a perennial interest in whatever concerns men and women." What Do You Think? Write to leaderpub@voiceofthefaithful.org.

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In the Vineyard
August 2004
Volume 3, Issue 8
Printer Friendly Version
(WORD Document)
Next issue October 12

VOTF is fast becoming a voice that is expected and a presence that can be counted on. From speaking out on issues of concern among all lay Catholics to fortifying the foundational work of our three goals, our continuing promise has been earned by ongoing self-education and a great spate of outreach efforts - these are well documented In the Vineyard and on our web site. Certainly up front in this drive is the August 15 Mass on Boston Common - the ad for which was accepted by the Archdiocese of Boston newspaper the Pilot. The upcoming November VOTF conference in Worcester is another educational and faith-centered demonstration. Too, our vice president Ann Carroll is assembling a national Convention 2005 planning team. VOTF is sharing what we hear and building on what we learn. Together, we are on our way to the formation of an increasingly engaged Catholic community.

In the course of advancing all of our voices, the national organization is working toward a governance structure that models the kind of collaborative communion implied when we speak of the People of God. To that end, VOTF vice president Kris Ward is seeking additional volunteers for our Governance Committee (see her Message).

One of the thorniest challenges in any grassroots movement is that of governance - in our case, how do we model for our Church a way of being that will ensure our baptismal right and responsibility to speak and participate in the work of caring for our Church? (Jim Post offers a picture of the organization as it is today in Letter from the President and a word about where we hope to go.) In the course of these discussions, we run the risk, occasionally, of losing sight of our mission to be "a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit." Recently, VOTF member and consultant Tony Massimini "dropped in" to a flurry of emails regarding VOTF's emerging organizational structure with words that brought all of us back to our shared call. We begin this issue (and close the Vineyard's second year!) in the spirit of Tony's words below:

Unhappily, I don't have an organizational bone in my body. I operate in terms of mindsets and visions. That said, I would like to offer the following for consideration.

Vatican II started out with the then-prevailing vision of the Church as a pyramid in which everything flowed from the top down. In this vision, God spoke to the pope, who spoke to the bishops, who spoke to the priests and religious, who spoke to the laity, who spoke to no one. The Council members set out to change that vision, and as they did, they knew that it would have been a theological and spiritual mistake simply to reverse it and form a bottom-up vision of the Church. Instead, they worked to do away with either "top-down" or "bottom-up" language. As a result, they gave us a vision of the Church as a People, i.e., a Church that at base, is a circle of people who enjoy full equality of human and baptismal dignity. Within this circle of spiritual equals, every person is called to be of service to the others and to the whole, (and to society), according to the gifts the Spirit has given her or him. All leadership within the circle is servant-leadership. The Ultimate Leader of the Church is the humble, crucified Servant, Jesus Christ, within Whom all of us live, breathe and have our being (and exercise leadership).

Of course, VOTF needs an organizational chart with lines going from one place to the other and all that. My suggestion is that as this chart is developed, the positions in it are seen and accepted as roles of service within a circle of equals.

In the Vineyard is taking a September break but will be back in October. In the meanwhile, we continue to encourage our readers to keep talking, think about "servant leadership" and what it means to you and, of course, stay in touch with VOTF by writing to leaderpub@voiceofthefaithful.org.

Peggie L. Thorp, Ed.