Please send comments and inquiries to

“It’s important for victims of sexual abuse to have historical truth established.” Terry McKiernan of commenting on the value of documenting abuse.
See the
Boston Globe story under SITE-Seeing, Etc.

In this issue: Have you sent any inquiries to our national officer candidates or watched/heard any of the debates? It’s not too late to learn about the candidates in the VOTF national elections Feb. 10-24; a quick look at then and now in terms of membership; a victory for the laity in Maine, for vigilance everywhere and, yes, for bishops who listen (DIOCESE/State Watch); “seeds of hope” among younger Catholics? See Book Alert in this issue AND a review of Voices of the Faithful; has built an archive of truth (SITE-Seeing, Etc.); suggestions for VOTF Lenten Action; ever wonder about the accomplishments of the 2005 Accountability Now campaign; and more.


VOTF NATIONAL OFFICER ELECTIONS are under way – Feb. 10-24 and ballots are being distributed. For election news, access to audio replays of the officer candidates’ debates and some responses to readers’ questions, visit the Election page.

PRESS RELEASES on two about-faces – in the Portland (Maine) and the New Hampshire dioceses. In Portland, it took a public outcry from the laity to force Bishop Richard Malone to rescind a decision to allow Fr. Paul Coughlin to resume some duties (see VOTF comments on the decision and on the reversal – and check out Diocese/State Watch for reports from the media). In New Hampshire, Bishop John McCormack finally agreed to a fourth state audit, but only after steadfast pressure from NH’s Attorney General and her staff (see the VOTF comment).

Check out these options for LENTEN/SPRING ACTIONS – suggestions from the Accountability Campaign Team.

NUMBERS, NUMBERS, we’ve got numbers. You can count by snail mail, you can count by email, you can count by data entries. Check out this snapshot on VOTF registrations to see how our numbers continue to grow.

DIOCESE/State Watch

IOWA: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport is prepared to launch an unprecedented campaign of reform and restitution to sexual abuse victims as part of a bankruptcy settlement plan.

CATHOLIC WRITERS on Hope in Our Time will be featured in a public forum sponsored by Boston College Magazine and the C21 Center. If you are in the area, don't miss the event: Feb. 18, 7 p.m., at Devlin Hall 008. Featured writers are Clare Dunsford, Boston College A & S Associate Dean; the Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, BC Theology Dept.; Colleen Griffith, BC Theology Dept.; and Kevin Cullen from The Boston Globe. For more information, call 617-552-4576

MAINE: It started out as a sure fire way to repeat bad history but is closer now to being proof positive for vigilance. According to a Feb. 6 Maine News item, “Maine’s Roman Catholic bishop has allowed a retired South Portland priest to resume some duties, more than three years after he was forced to resign for covering up allegations of sexual abuse within the church…. [The priest] besides protecting Skinner [the convicted abuser] … was also found to have had inappropriate physical contact with a minor in 1985 while he was serving at St. Mary’s Church in Bangor, according to the diocese. But that contact did not amount to sexual abuse, and Coughlin was never charged with any crime, or punished by the church for the incident.” By Feb. 11, the story had changed. Click here for more coverage on this story.

IRELAND: VOTF Ireland is astonished by a large donation made to a convicted “pedophile priest” now serving a prison sentence. See
; and

AFFILIATE Initiative: Here’s an idea your affiliate might want to consider: The award-winning play “Doubt” will be shown by the VOTF Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky affiliates who arranged a block of tickets for a special performance to be held on March 16. The play will be preceded by a "Perspectives" discussion at 6:00, led by the play's director. For more details, go to AFFILIATE Notes in this issue.

BOOK Alert: Boston College professor and theologian Tim Muldoon, author of The Ignatian Workout: Daily Spiritual Exercises for a Healthy Faith, has written another book geared to a population much on the minds of older Catholics. Seeds of Hope: Young Adults and the Catholic Church in the United States is now available from the Paulist Press;; and Barnes and Noble. It is expected to be in book stores in March. AND Tim’s web site offers an excerpt.

In the last issue of the Vineyard, we advised you of Dick Taylor’s book Love in Action and his web site at Because this book is really a handbook, we add the following for your consideration:

Love in Action teaches you how to build an effective, faith-based group working for reform. You’ll find step-by-step ideas on how to start a group, run effective meetings, negotiate, or carry out direct action. Here are anecdotes, exercises, and hundreds of examples of people translating conviction into effective personal and institutional transformation. Discover the foolproof organizers checklist, how to do strategic assessments, the 12 steps of social change, and the essential ingredients of any action.”

SURVIVOR Community Notes:

Bob Schwiderski, Minnesota SNAP director and VOTF NRC representative, notes the following:
“Saving Children: The Sex Abuse Tragedy” is a documentary co-produced by the National Association to Prevent Sexual Abuse of Children (NAPSAC) and Twin City Public Television (TPT). The documentary is based on Victor Vieth's presentation of Unto the Third Generation: A Call to End Child Abuse within 120 years at our 2007 fall conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. Vieth is Director of the National Child Protection Training Center, a training program of NAPSAC. Supporting Victor’s presentation is the courageous testimony of five survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
[The documentary was aired on Feb. 9 but may be aired elsewhere. Visit the NAPSAC web site to learn more about the work of this organization. The site is currently under construction but is expected to be up and running shortly.]

SITE-Seeing, Etc.

Food for Lenten thought in this story of the laity’s complicity in clergy sexual abuse.

The New York Times reported: “The Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the influential Roman Catholic group the Legionaries of Christ and the most prominent priest disciplined after accusations of sexual abuse, [has] died.”

Doing what few would have taken on and fewer could have accomplished, has been building an archive of truth on behalf of the thousands of victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse. The Boston Globe story is a must-read.

VALENTINE’S DAY THOUGHT for our time: St. Valentine’s Day has confused so many people that the Catholic Church no longer officially honors St. Valentine. Yet the holiday has both Roman and Catholic roots.

The roots of St. Valentine’s Day lie in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia , which was celebrated on Feb. 15.
For 800 years the Romans had dedicated this day to the god Lupercus. On Lupercalia, a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and would then keep the woman as a sexual companion for the year.

Pope Gelasius I was less than thrilled with this custom. So he changed the lottery to have both young men and women draw the names of saints whom they would then emulate for the year. Instead of Lupercus, the patron of the feast became Valentine.

There was also a conventional belief in Europe during the Middle Ages that birds chose their partners in the middle of February. Thus the day was dedicated to love, and people observed it by writing love letters and sending small gifts to their beloved.

So St. Valentine’s Day is either “for the birds” or for the rest of us. [Gathered from .]

In the Vineyard
February 14, 2008

Volume 7, Issue 3
Printer Friendly Version (PDF)

Page One

Lenten/Spring Action

Affiliate Notes

Membership Notes

Book Review

Election Website

Prayerful Voice

Survivor Support Working Group

Priest Support Working Group

Structural Change Working Group

Voice of Renewal/Lay Education

Protecting Our Children



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