"It is in the Spirit that we eagerly await the justification we hope for, and only Faith can yield it." Gal. 5:5
VOTF National sends Christmas greetings to all of our readers with thanks for your engaged and engaging correspondence throughout the year.
Advent has been a time of preparation for the new beginning that is Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Our VOTF Advent prayer called on God to help us bring forth hearts filled with peace, healing, unification and gratitude. I know I am grateful for the contribution each of you has made in supporting Voice of the Faithful with your prayers, your actions, and your treasures. Read more.
IN This Issue: A focus on one of the three 2007 VOTF Priest of Integrity Award recipients; Affiliate Highlight is VOTF Long Island NY as they plan to commemorate the Dec. 28 Feast of the Holy Innocents in true VOTF spirit; book review on If the Man You Love Was Abused: A Couples Guideto Healing; Fr. George McCauley introduces readers to his book Eddie’s Dream; St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke blocks interfaith service; Dutch Catholics are resolving the “priest shortage” (see SITE-Seeing, Etc.); and more.
See VOTF National News for introductions to our two new members of the VOTF Board of Trustees.
VOTF comments on the USCCB National Review Board’s five-year report on Church handling of the clergy sex abuse. What follows is a worthy five-years later comment from Chair of the NRB Judge Michael Merz:
Chair of the NRB Judge Michael Merz said of the report, "Church efforts for prevention, healing, and vigilance will be demanded for the rest of our days…. The price of this crime is steep both in the pain felt by victims and the shadow cast on the reputation of innocent Catholic priests. Most priests never have abused a child or even someone's trust in them, but they bear shame by association. It's not right, but that's the fact."
Believe it or not, you can still order Christmas cards (and support survivors) from the VOTF Winchester MA affiliate. Remember that Christmas enjoys 12 days for the exchange of good wishes! Go to www.votfwinchester.org or contact Bob Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org or Marge Bean at email@example.com.
The VOTF Long Island NY affiliate is commemorating the Dec. 28 Feast of the Holy Innocents in an action-grounded way. Here is part of the message they distributed recently:
At the Mass, we will be leafleting at the Rockville Centre train station. We will cover the , , , and city-bound trains.
The purpose of our handouts will be to provide information about the proposed legislation to extend the statute of limitations for reporting child abuse, which will also provide a one-year “window” for those abused in the past to pursue legal action.
You may have heard that this legislation is anti-Church and/or anti-Catholic. It is neither. However, it is Pro-Child Protection-and it WILL provide justice to holy innocents throughout New YorkState. Please wear red to honor holy innocents everywhere.
If you would like to join us for Mass only, please do. Your presence at any vigil, even for a short period of time, sends a message of solidarity to the diocese and to your brothers and sisters in Christ. For additional information, go to www.votf-li.org.
Boston MA: The Boston Area VOTF Council noted the Dec. 13 anniversary of Cardinal Bernard Law’s resignation by joining with members of SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) for a vigil. Participants who braved the snowstorm that day read a list of 205 Boston-area priests and members of religious communities who were credibly identified as sex abusers by the organization Bishopaccountability.org. Read the affiliate’s statement here.
Bridgeport CT: The much-publicized and sad story of Darien CT pastor Michael Jude Fay has another chapter a sentence of 37 months in prison for the theft of over $1 million from his parish. Click here to read more.
Davenport IA: For $37 million, the Davenport, Iowa diocese has agreed to settle the claims of more than 150 victims of sexual abuse. The agreement includes a requirement that the bishop apologize personally to any victim who requests a personal apology. Click here to read more. Also, see the VOTF National press release.
St. Louis MO: St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke blocks interfaith ecumenism. See the St. Louis Dispatch for the story.
VOTF’s Pat Gomez reviews If the Man You Love Was Abused. See Book Review.
In an earlier Vineyard, we noted the publication of Confronting Sex and Power in the Catholic Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus by Geoffrey Robinson, retired Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney, Australia. We have just learned that The Liturgical Press will be publishing the U.S. edition of that book, which sold out its first printing in Australia within days. While awaiting that publication date, you may be interested in reading a review published in the National Catholic Reporter, or in an interview with Bishop Robinson himself.
A Vineyard correspondent noted this news report about the Vatican’s ruling of credibility in allegations against two Ohio priests.
CORRECTION: The Edwina Gateley retreat is to be held in West Yarmouth, MA (on Cape Cod) not Marstons Mills as reported in the Dec. 6 Vineyard. The Center in Marstons Mills is sponsoring the retreat. Information is available here.
Have you seen “Focus”? Our twice-monthly one-page newsletter identifies one indication of progress and one of an ongoing problem in our Church. You can access the current and past issues of “Focus” from the home page of our web site at www.votf.org.
Thomas Healey, treasurer of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management at its inaugural Best Practices Award urges diocesan transparency. Healey’s good news: “A new managerial mindset is starting to take hold around the country as parish and diocesan leaders recognize that excellence in temporal affairs can lead to a church that's better equipped to fulfill its spiritual mission.”
National Catholic Reporter notes a unique response to the priest shortage from our fellow Catholics in the Netherlands. Dutch Catholics are seeing the future with courage that has concluded the following: “that because the Eucharist is the essence of Christian community, that community therefore has a right to it. And if the hierarchy fails to bestow that right from above, local communities can claim it from below.”
LETTER to the editor:
A reply to John Shuster's essay "VOTF and Sexual Politics in the Priesthood" in the Dec. 6 Vineyard
A rather long QUOTE for our time but we think it bears repeating. This excerpt is from our first December issue in 2002:
It is hard to believe that a year ago we embraced this season without a VOTF! Today we not only embrace the organization and its continuing ability to maintain new and vibrant dialogue, but we embrace many new friends in far-flung places. Hundreds of you have written over the past month of your unwavering interest in and support for In the Vineyard and the endless work of VOTF. It means more than you can know. Your words and voices make a unique carol and we thank you for that sweet sound!
In the 1940s, E. B. White wrote a reflection about the Christmas season, "The Distant Music of the Hounds." In it, he decried the preoccupation with noise and bustle that seemed to be the lot of mankind in those raw post-war years. He had come across one of those little trumpets that hunters used to hear "the distant music of the hounds." He said, "The miracle of Christmas is that, like the distant music of the hounds, it penetrates finally and becomes heard in the heart - over so many years, through so many cheap curtain-raisers."
JoAnne Nowak from our Andover, MA VOTF "heard" something recently in some Advent material distributed at her parish, St. Robert Bellarmine. She wrote, "We read that Advent isn't rooted in nostalgic remembrance of the birth of a baby nor in the longing for the second coming but in the coming of Christ into our daily lives. When we take the tradition and enter it fully, we become Advent, the people in and through whom Christ comes."