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"My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit finds joy in God my savior." Mary’s Canticle, Luke 1: 46-47.

Voice of the Faithful wishes our readers Christmas blessings. May our world know a true communion of peace for our families and loved ones.

NEWS Alert: Catholic News Service reports that the Vatican has confirmed Nebraska bishop Bruskewitz’s excommunication of Lincoln, Nebraska members of the Catholic reform organization Call to Action (CTA).

In this Issue:

VOTF NATIONAL News: National Representative Council Nov. ’06 meeting recap under National News Update; also, for those who might have missed seeing the May 2006 resolutions VOTF passed, click here.

  • VOTF Protecting Our Children Working Group Update: A year in preparation, the VOTF Protection of Children National Parish Survey is soon to be sent to at least one parish in each of the 194 dioceses and eparchies in the United States. Your participation is needed.

VOTF annual and monthly financial statements are posted on our website along with a summary of our annual budget in an effort to model the transparency we request of our church leaders. Click here.

DIOCESE/State Watch:
Los Angeles, CA – The nation’s largest diocese will pay $60 million to settle 45 clergy abuse lawsuits, out of about 500 pending; FT. Worth, TX – The Star-Telegram reports on recently released Fort Worth diocesan files that reveal Bishop Joseph Delaney “and other church leaders sometimes intentionally misled the public, their congregations and the priests’ accusers”; Barnstable, MA – The sad story of a retired priest and a small fortune of embezzled parish funds emerged last week, highlighting again the need for parishioners’ vigilance and stewardship of parish finances; and more from Cleveland, OH, Pennsylvania and Bridgeport, CT.

AFFILIATE Highlights: VOTF SW Florida and VOTF Twin Cities, Michigan.

A tragic day in Chicago: The violent deaths of three workers in the Citigroup Center in Chicago on Friday, Dec. 8 has left many reeling, including VOTF Chicago. One of those killed was VOTF Chicago leader Michael McKenna. See Janet Hauter’s message in “Remembering Michael McKenna”.

Book Review: Anne Southwood reviews Living Vatican II, The 21st Council for the 21st Century by Gerald O’Collins, SJ, Paulist Press, NY, 2006.


  • From Apostles to Bishops: The Development of the Episcopacy in the Early Church by Francis Sullivan, Newman Press, 2001. This highly readable, succinct overview of the early Church’s challenges and growth sheds considerable light on current issues in our Church.
  • He Leadeth Me by Fr. Walter Ciszek, Ignatius Press, 1995. Ciszek’s memorable testament to faith and survival over 23 years in Soviet prisons and their labor camps in Siberia was published in 1973. Since his death in 1984, efforts have been under way to name him a saint. Even without sainthood, Ciszek remains a contemporary inspiration.
  • VOTF Ohio’s Jack Rakosky whose background is an interdisciplinary doctorate in psychology and sociology reviews Mark Chaves’ Congregations in America (2004), at the VOTF Cleveland website. Jack says the good news from this first random sample study of congregations is that even very small congregations of fewer than a hundred regular participants are very vibrant. Interestingly and sadly, the clergy shortage among Protestant congregations is even greater than among Catholic congregations.

SITE-Seeing, Etc.

The November 24, 2006 National Catholic Reporter editorial repeated a concern for the Church, which they originally wrote a year ago: “We are watching the disintegration of a once-great national church, the largest denomination in the United States, into regional groupings bent on avoiding the spotlight and the big issues.” Subscribers can access NCR’s updated assessment in “Not bad for melodrama”.

Zingerplatz Pictures announced the long promised DVD release of its Award winning feature length documentary, “Hand of God.” This full-length ”Director’s Cut” version of the film – as seen at film festivals and other screenings across the country – is now available for purchase by credit card directly from the “Hand of God” film website. Go to the “Buy the DVD” page where you can utilize Google. For residents of Boston’s North Shore, the DVD can also be purchased at CinemaSalem – the site of several sold-out screenings of the film. Other stores may be supplying the DVD in the coming months.

Hand of God also premieres on PBS’ Frontline on January 16th at 9:00pm. For more details click here.

Provoke Radio interview with VOTF president Mary Pat Fox and VOTF secretary Gaile Pohlhaus during the USCCB meeting in November is at

Frank Murray, VOTF representative (WI, IL, IN), reminded us recently of Vatican II’s reference to dialogue between laity and Church officials in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), Ch. IV: The entire text is available at the Vatican's website.

“Let the spiritual shepherds recognize and promote the dignity as well as the responsibility of the laity in the Church. Let them willingly employ their prudent advice. Let them confidently assign duties to them in the service of the Church, allowing them freedom and room for action. Further, let them encourage lay people so that they may undertake tasks on their own initiative. Attentively in Christ, let them consider with fatherly love the projects, suggestions and desires proposed by the laity. However, let the shepherds respectfully acknowledge that just freedom which belongs to everyone in this earthly city.

A great many wonderful things are to be hoped for from this familiar dialogue between the laity and their spiritual leaders: in the laity a strengthened sense of personal responsibility; a renewed enthusiasm; a more ready application of their talents to the projects of their spiritual leaders. The latter, on the other hand, aided by the experience of the laity, can more clearly and more incisively come to decisions regarding both spiritual and temporal matters. In this way, the whole Church, strengthened by each one of its members, may more effectively fulfill its mission for the life of the world.”

In 1993, Fr. Tom Doyle wrote “Clergy Sexual Abuse: The First Decade”. VOTF Long Island has posted Tom’s assessment on their website. According to Tom, all the Catholic publications to which it was submitted rejected it. “One editor told me it was too ‘passionate’ and ‘explosive.’ Another informed me that it was too sensationalistic and that it exaggerated the problem and still another advised me to cease trying for publication and discard it because it was overly critical of bishops and presented a highly distorted and subjective view of a problem that was no longer urgent.”

QUOTE for our time:
“As you embrace the new beginning of Advent, know that you are safe, ever in God’s care. And soon Jesus, the fulfillment of God’s promise, will come bringing justice and peace to the Earth. May we be vigilant, standing with intention and purpose in readiness to welcome our Savior! Proclaim the good news among the nations: Our God will come to save us.” From the St. Jude League of the Claretians website.

In the Vineyard
December 14, 2006
Volume 5, Issue 22
Printer Friendly Version (PDF)

Page One

Diocese/State Watch

Affiliate Highlight

National News Update:

Theologian’s Corner – “Excommunication: Neither Theology Nor Revelation” by Gaile Pohlhaus

BOOK Review: Living Vatican II, The 21st Council for the 21st Century by Gerald O’Collins

Structural Change Working Group

Voice of Renewal/Lay Education

Prayerful Voice

Goal 2 - Priest Support



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