Voice of the Faithful, In the Vineyard

"We are called. How do we answer?"

SAVE THE DATE!!!!!!!!!!!

July 9-10, 2005 Indianapolis, Indiana

"Here I am, Lord. Send me."

Details will follow in this space monthly and on our web site at www.votf.org

Praying Together During Lent

Calendar Watch - In February 2002, parishioners met at St. John the Evangelist Church, Wellesley, MA to discuss revelations of sexual abuse by clergy. The group would become Voice of the Faithful, the name adopted by consensus on Feb. 25, 2002.

News Watch - Boston, Feb. 7: Paul Shanley, the defrocked Roman Catholic priest, was convicted of raping and assaulting a boy while serving as a parish priest in the 1980s. Click here for VOTF's response and SNAP's web site for their response.

Eyes on Cincinnati, OH: Click here for the story of another priest speaking truth to power. Fr. Tom Bolte reminded his congregation, "We're called by Christ to constantly love, reach out and … work together," said Bolte, "and God will bless us as we do so."

NATIONAL News - Inside this section


Kris Ward says, "We have unique knowledge at this time. We are obliged as Catholics to put it to work for the good of the whole Church."

  • VOTF worked with the same workbook used by the USCCB as the bishops deliberate proposed revisions to the Charter - see background information, the workbook itself with VOTF's proposed edits, a parish check list for the review of the Charter to Protect Children and Young People; correspondence with review committee chair Bishop Harry Flynn; VOTF vice president Kris Ward led the VOTF Task Force that prepared the workbook for submission to the USCCB - read "The Workbook is Ours, Too"

  • Tri-chairs and convention planning committee for the second international VOTF gathering in Indianapolis, IN speak via conference call weekly; see what you can do

  • Many readers still miss Paul Baier's weekly e-mails in VOTF's beginnings - you can still hear regularly from Paul via the bishopaccountability.org one-page newsletter "The Monitor"

  • VOTF Protecting Our Children Working Group announces The Massachusetts Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Partnership gathering on March 2. See the workshops being offered

  • January Representative Council meeting recap; Feb. Council will meet at 10:30 am on Feb. 19 at the Fall River, MA library

  • OFFICE NOTES: VOTF is receiving resumes and beginning to interview for the position of VOTF Executive Director; VOTF Office Manager position is open - contact Rick White at 617-558-5252; also, a contact is looking for a forensic accountant - if you can help, please call Rick White at 617-558-5252

  • Courtesy of a participant in the Structural Change Network list, here is a link to a survey of the laity being conducted by US Catholic, a magazine published by the Claritians. They plan to publish the results in their April 2005 issue. To have your ideas included, fill out the survey here

  • Priests' Support Working Group encourages readers to study Boston College Gasson Chair Professor Jim Keenan's paper "The Ethical Rights of Priests." Here is the first of a three-part installment. To obtain a full copy, please send your request to pthorp.ed@votf.org

  • National Catholic Reporter must-reads; FADICA - what is it and why does it matter? And who said, "Within a sound ecclesiology of communion, a commitment to creating better structures of participation, consultation and shared responsibility… (is) an intrinsic requirement of the exercise of episcopal authority."

REGIONAL News - Inside this section

  • Affiliate News: We invited a few of our affiliates to share "birth" dates and VOTF memorable moments, as VOTF begins its fourth year; VOTF Brooklyn/Park Slope gathering received local AND diocesan coverage of their recent meeting; Fr. Donald Cozzens paints a feudal picture at VOTF St. Christopher's in Cleveland, OH

  • Events, Etc./Affiliate News East: February through April opportunities remain to hear Professor of Theology, Boston College, MA Jane Regan as well as Merrimack College, Padraic O'Hare speak at the ongoing lecture series "Adult Education and Faith Formation Program: 2004-2005 of Lynn, North Shore and Seacoast Affiliates"

  • Boston College's "Church in the 21st Century" has posted its Spring calendar

BOOK News - Ron DuBois reviews Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine, Bart D. Ehrman, Oxford University Press, 2004

  • BOOK Watch - The Pontiff in Winter: Triumph and Conflict in the Reign of John Paul II by John Cornwell and Heirs of the Fisherman: Behind the Scenes of Papal Death and Succession by John-Peter Pham; both are reviewed by James Carroll, author of Constantine's Sword, for "Washington Post Book World" here

  • Watch for upcoming Vineyard review of just-published Good Catholic Girls - How Women Are Leading the Fight To Change the Church by Angela Bonavoglia

  • This book remains timely, relevant and thought-provoking: published in 2001 by AltaMira Press: American Catholics - Gender, Generation and Commitment by William V. D'Antonio, James D. Davidson, Dean R. Hoe and Katherine Meyer, four sociologists using three national surveys to examine issues around American Catholicism


COMMENTARY - "Parish Life Without a Resident Priest/Pastor" is an excellent overview of current and future parish life. It is also optimistic! Please read this recap of the VOTF Seacoast, MA affiliate presentation by Sr. Mary Mazza. Comments/questions are welcome - send to pthorp.ed@votf.org



SIGN UP TO HELP WITH CONVENTION PLANNING -- Contact Bob Morris, rmorrisvotf@aol.com; Ken Sauer, kensauer@sbcglobal.net; Kris Ward, kristineward@hotmail.com). Please indicate in your e-mail the area(s) in which you would like to help.

Write to us! Questions, ideas, comments are welcome at pthorp.ed@votf.org.

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In the Vineyard
February 2005
Volume 4, Issue 2
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"The world advances by impossibilities achieved."
Charles Russell Lowell

No one would have said three years ago that an organization such as Voice of the Faithful was impossible but looking back, that alone is rather striking. Most who have been involved in VOTF know the hills we've climbed, the hurdles thrown in our way, the ugliness of squabbling over justice, the meanness of "holy" spirits, and the shock of failed systems at the hands of people who continue to occupy their once-graced perches. Yet VOTF has survived, not because so many millions of Catholics recognized justice under siege and not because the offending institution recognized a better path to "communio." If you're reading this column, you are doing so within a community of people who knew three years ago and know today that we are "called." That's why VOTF can stay this course. Considering the past three years, there can be no other explanation for the continued interest, support and energy for a movement that measures success by the day, faith by each other and justice by our witness to survivors.

And here we are, hard at work on our second international convocation - calling together our members and supporters, new friends and "friends-in-waiting." Like the day after the 2002 conference, attendees to the July 9-10, 2005 Indianapolis convention will reflect on the same sense of faith realized, Catholicism animated and justice shared that brought us together in the first place. We were called in 2002; we are called again to answer again, "Adsum." ("I am here.") Donald Cozzens in his book Faith That Dares To Speak expands on what we mean when we answer that call in this way. He translates Adsum for today's Catholics as "I am here, as a full, equal, adult member of the Catholic Church - and I expect to be treated as such by the authorities."

Together we face ongoing news about financial mismanagement in our parishes and dioceses; the odd juxtaposition of a Massachusetts abuser priest convicted and an Ohio parish priest applauded; the arrogance of clerical power; and concerns over the future of the USCCB Charter and Norms. These don't make for the most attractive invitation to getting involved, do they? It might be far more enticing to accept an invitation from our Church to "gather 'round the table" to be heard and to affirm each other in our different ministries. Until that sunny day, we have Voice of the Faithful doing the inviting. We remind each other in VOTF that saying "We are the Church" is the most inclusive of statements: The bishops who continue to hold jobs they should have left three years ago and those who will not rest until they do, are siblings one to the other alongside our Brother Jesus Christ. What a cast we make!

Whatever the news and regardless our individual and collective failures, you and I have a Church to call our own. Engaging in that reality is what VOTF is all about. Ensuring that we can do more in its interest is what Indianapolis will be all about. Save the date, follow the program development in these pages each month and on our web site, and answer the call. And if you don't "hear" any call, come anyway - maybe you just have to get a little bit closer. God can be like that.

Peggie L. Thorp, ed. pthorp.ed@votf.org.