“My brothers and I wish to be seen as people who listen, never as spiritual masters.” Brother Roger, founder of the Taize community, died at the age of 90 on August 16, 2005*

“In the face of violence, we can respond only by peace. Brother Roger never stopped insisting on this. Peace requires a commitment of our whole being, inwardly and outwardly. It demands our whole person. So this evening, let us communicate peace to one another, and do everything we can so that each person stays in hope.” Spoken by one of the elder monks at the prayer service for Brother Roger*

Voice of the Faithful At Work In The World

A Return to the election of bishops – an idea that is gathering steam
The Indianapolis Convocation in July produced a number of resolutions to be vetted by our affiliates across the country. Among these is lay participation in the election of bishops. As reported in the August 11 Vineyard, our VOTF Bridgeport, CT affiliate is working on a simulated bishop election. In this issue, VOTF San Francisco, CA announces their own discernment process for the selection of a new bishop to replace the departing Archbishop Levada.

Joe O’Callaghan, professor emeritus of medieval history at Fordham University, NY, has written a brief background paper on the history of bishop elections as well as some suggested readings. Read more

No lazy days of summer for our new National Representative Council
Frank Douglas writing for the NRC Steering Committee reports on activities since the Indianapolis Convocation when the newly elected members met for the first time. Their pace and progress in establishing their own processes, as well as actions taken to propel Convocation proposals, is impressive. The Convocation Implementation Team has been identified and issued their first communication this week.

Walsh legislation in the light of the First Amendment Boston, MA
Sen. Marian Walsh legislation would require the archdiocese of Boston, and all Massachusetts religious organizations that receive charitable donations, to file an annual report like the more than 30,000 non-religious charities in the state. The bill’s hearing in Boston drew broad support, inclusive of a few political surprises. One of the arguments against the legislation is the challenge it may pose to our First Amendment.

Two VOTF members, attorneys both, Sharon Harrington and Bob Morris, offer their differing perspectives on the First Amendment argument in Commentary.

John Hynes of Boston Area VOTF Council comments on the day’s work as well as actions needed NOW. Read more.

Note: VOTF Interim Press Manager John Moynihan is compiling the testimonies delivered at the hearing for distribution to some key players in the life of this bill.

School closings: Is anyone on the inside looking out?
Shel Silverstein’s children’s poem in the eponymous book A Light in the Attic ends with “There’s a light on in the attic, I can see it from the outside, And I know you’re on the inside … looking out.” Recent school closings in Boston beg the question – who, if anyone, is “looking out”?

Parish closings hit the Boston, MA area hard and while stalwart vigilers were successful in reversing some parish closing decrees, many who have moved on and others left untouched by the reconfiguration process found the archdiocese wreaking additional havoc in the halls of elementary schools. There are some clear lessons to be learned for Church leadership and parishioners across the country as they, too, face similar upheavals. Boston VOTF issued a statement for Vineyard readers – asking the questions that need to be answered.

A Washington Post story and another in the Buffalo News refer to Boston, MA for its effective protest around failed process in school and church closings. As VOTF president Jim Post said in the Post, “We’ve learned to say ‘No” to bishops here in Boston.”

What has happened in Boston frames the current issue of National Catholic Reporter. Read more

VOTF Louisville, KY reports some good news following a mutually helpful discussion at their diocesan chancery. The key seems to go back to VOTF’s earliest days – listening.


Voices of Survivors: SNAP’s David Clohessy’s commentary on symbol and substance “Thanks, But, No Thanks” drew dozens of supportive comments and requests for a repeat. Click here to read David’s June 2005 Vineyard commentary.

In a letter to the editor, one mother speaks for another in a response to Maria Rodrigues’ commentary in the August 11 issue of In the Vineyard,Reconfiguring a Relationship.

Calendar Watch and Heads Up! See details inside.

  • Just published – “The courage to buck the culture” in the current issue of National Catholic Reporter is the editorial – it’s about Boston yet the editorial and additional coverage speak to an altered landscape for all Catholics.
  • September 11 - VOTF Falmouth, MA extends an invitation to a promising and timely panel discussion made up of clergy, religious, and laity.
  • Boston College, October 23. SAVE THE DATE for the presentation of a study conducted on Voice of the Faithful.
  • The July 15, 2005 National Catholic Reporter editorial noted a more reticent USCCB as the bishops’ bi-annual meeting November 14-17 approaches.
  • To be published in September - Church Ethics And Its Organizational Context: Learning from the Sex Abuse Scandal in the Catholic Church edited by Jean Bartunek, Mary Ann Hinsdale and James Keenan includes a chapter by Jim Post.
  • Thanks will be due bishopaccountability.org for generations to come. Visit their web site and look at the outstanding resource they are becoming through dint of nothing but passionate commitment to righting wrongs and documenting facts. Go to www.bishop-accountability.org

*News of Note: Taize community loses its founder and leader – Brother Roger was known around the world for the spiritual community he established. His violent death brought shock and grief to all who have experienced what Pope John Paul II called “that little springtime.” Read more.

Change your email address? Please let us know!

Next issue of In the Vineyard will be September 8. Please send comments and inquiries to pthorp.ed@votf.org.


In the Vineyard
August 25, 2005
Volume 4, Issue 9
Printer Friendly Version

Commentary [What do you think? Respond to pthorp.ed@votf.org] VOTF members, attorneys Bob Morris and Sharon Harrington, consider the ramifications of legislation that would require a church to open its books.

  • Sharon Harrington – “First Amendment protections are not affected by improvements to law”
  • Bob Morris – “A church is not just another charity”

Contact Us 





For an overview of press coverage of VOTF, click here.

©Voice of the Faithful 2005.All Rights Reserved