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"The Church is not the petrification of what once was, but its living presence in every age. The Church’s dimension is therefore the present and the future no less than the past." Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI

In this Issue:

VOTF Accountability Campaign Updates and Resources are drawing more participants. All are welcome to join local VOTF affiliates on the two-part Campaign for Accountability. Interested in the Protect Our Children effort? Click here to connect with your VOTF state level contact. For the Financial Accountability effort, click here to connect with VOTF members in your state to join with others in your area.

  • Speaking of financial accountability, here are links to the state of affairs in Ohio:; and go to 'religion'; and (go to the archive section on coverage). Also, in Cincinnati, CH9 TV has an extensive series of both video and text articles. For ongoing coverage of bankruptcy proceedings in Spokane, WA, go to the Spokesman-Review.
  • Financial vulnerabilities on the parish level are well considered by Michael Ryan at
  • The cost of care for retired sisters and others in religious orders threatens to dwarf the cost of the abuse crisis. See Associated Press coverage.

National Representative Council Update: In Region 2 (NY), Ed Wilson has been elected to replace Mary Pat Fox following her election as VOTF president; Region 14 (FL, GA, NC, SC) said farewell to Dee Esteva and Marge Lynch and elected Doug Roach and Rosa Montenegro; and in Region 6 (MI, OH) former VOTF vice-president Kris Ward was elected to replace Mary Collingwood who is returning to doctoral studies. There are pending elections in Regions 4 (DC, DE, MD, VA) and 7 (IL, IN, WI). Click here if you don’t know who your Council representative is.

The nominating committee appointed by the VOTF Board of Trustees has selected John Hushon (DC), Bill Casey (VA), David O’Brien (MA), and Elia Marnik (MA) to serve three-year terms on the Board of Trustees, beginning August 2006. The National Representative Council approved the selection by the nominating committee. They will be joined by NRC members Ron Dubois (Region 1) and Dan Bartley (Region 2) who were recently elected by the NRC to sit on the Board of Trustees.

Diocese/State Watch: A federal Violence Against Children Act is gaining momentum; VOTF Boston has met with Cardinal O’Malley and VOTF Northern California has met with Abp. Niederauer (San Francisco); in Ohio, a kickback scheme unfolds with alarming layers; in Springfield, IL, “An internal investigation of the Catholic diocese that includes Madison County acknowledges that "a culture of secrecy has protected diocese priests who engaged in sexual and financial misconduct”; Bishop Walsh (Santa Rosa, CA) whose delayed response to an admitted abuser priest gave the priest time to flee the state, issued an apology; reactions have been mixed. See Commentary “From Apology to Justice”.

Parish life update: Catholic News Service reports: “When a bishop suppresses a parish, its assets and liabilities must go to the parish or parishes that receive the parishioners, not to the diocese, a top Vatican official said in a letter to U.S. bishops.” Read more.

  • See Boston, MA in Diocese/State Watch for “lay involvement in the selection of a new pastor.”

Protecting Our Children: An increasing threat from the internet industry of child abuse was noted in a New York Times front-page story on August 21: “What started online almost two decades ago as a means of swapping child pornography has transformed in recent years into a more complex and diversified community that uses the virtual world to advance its interests in the real one.” Subscribers can access the whole story and read VOTF’s response.

Survivor Community News: In a rare move by the print media, the Philadelphia Inquirer has posted on their web site a video produced by SNAP that features survivors reflecting on their abuse. The paper also printed a critical letter written by two attorneys who were assistant DAs involved in preparing the Philadelphia District Attorney's Grand Jury Report on the actions of the Philadelphia Archdiocese and its history of sexual abuse; VOTF National issued a press release in support of the O’Connell family’s efforts in seeking to force the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to disclose the names of all proven, admitted and credibly accused abusive priests; and more.

SAVE the dates: VOTF 2007 National Convention will be held at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island, October 19-21, 2007

Something to think about: Professor Daniel C. Maguire at Marquette University has written a thought-provoking essay, “The Church IS a Democracy”. In his comments Maguire quotes theologian Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza: “While the post-Pauline and post-Petrine writers seek to limit women’s leadership roles in the Christian community to roles which are culturally and religiously acceptable, the evangelists called Mark and John highlight the alternative character of the Christian community, and therefore accord women apostolic and ministerial leadership.” For the entire essay, which argues against two truisms that threaten to thwart real reform in areas of clergy sexual abuse, click here.

BOOK Notes: Bill Casey shares some thoughts on Parker Palmer’s latest book A Hidden Wholeness, the Journey Toward an Undivided Life. Parker Palmer is well known for his work in education, spirituality and social change in institutions. Also note the following.

  • The newest Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Catholicism notes VOTF, listed after Opus Dei in a chapter titled “It’s a Big Tent”, says: “Apparently VOTF seems to know its stuff and more than a little about Church stuff, too.” A concluding statement reads, “The spirituality of VOTF follows the prophetic tradition of calling leaders to accountability by speaking out. It also puts universal values to work by protecting the most vulnerable in the flock. Members of VOTF know that whether or not they will succeed in their goals of establishing dialogue with bishops and creating accountability by speaking out they are expressing their faith.”
  • Charles Curran’s new book Loyal Dissent – Memoir of a Catholic Theologian is available in paperback. In 1986 Curran was fired from his teaching position at the Catholic University of America after a finding by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that he was “neither suitable nor eligible” to be a professor of theology. Curran continues to defend the possibility of legitimate dissent from Church teachings that fall outside the infallible. A review of Curran’s book will be in an upcoming Vineyard. If you get to it first, please let us know at

SITE-Seeing, Etc.

The Catholic Common Ground Initiative’s 10th anniversary lecture was delivered on August 11 by the bishop of Las Cruces, NM Ricardo Ramirez C.S.B. “Building a Church of Communion” is available here. A Catholic News Service recap is posted here.

The “Report Card on Women in the Church” is under way and inviting your participation; Gaile Pohlhaus found a useful internet link for comprehensive Catholic news and issues coverage; Boston College has posted its C21 Fall program.

An interesting proposal has produced some sparks among Catholics worldwide. The conversation is in the works here. In the latest issue of Teologia, the Journal of the Theological Faculty of Milan and Northern Italy, Alberto Bonandi proposes a new “path” for admitting to communion, under particular conditions, divorced and remarried Catholics. Bonandi, a priest of the diocese of Mantua, teaches fundamental moral theology and is one of the most authoritative theologians in his field.

Mike Nicholas at VOTF New Zealand ( notes an excellent monthly publication Tui Motu, which means “stitching the islands together” and invites readers to join discussion of spiritual and social issues in the light of gospel values. The current issue is on the Tui Motu web site.

  • Of particular interest is a thoughtful commentary on the lost history of women in the Church. Read more.

The Aug. 14-21 issue of America magazine includes a commentary “The Way Things Are Going – Should I leave the Church?” written by a mother whose daughter is a lesbian. While her pastor has asked her to stay in her role as a CCD instructor, parishioners have complained that she isn’t qualified. There are many parallels to be drawn from this mother’s experience. Subscribers may access America online.

Next issue of In the Vineyard: September 7, 2006.

In the Vineyard
August 24, 2006
Volume 5, Issue 15
Printer Friendly Version (PDF)

Page One

Diocese/State Watch

SURVIVOR Community News

Book Notes


Structural Change Working Group

Voice of Renewal/Lay Education

Prayerful Voice

Goal 2 - Priest Support




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