Please send comments and inquiries to

In Luke 2:21, the aged Simeon was called to the temple by the Spirit. When the baby Jesus was brought in by his parents, Simeon knew he had lived to see “the Anointed of the Lord,” the “consolation of Israel.” Anna, too, was in the Temple that day – another aged person and prophetess. When she came to the scene of the infant’s presentation in the temple, she also knew that the deliverance of Israel was near. How did these old people know so much so profoundly? They knew because they stayed close all their days to their God, listening, believing and watching all things. We must do the same. See VOTF Lent reflections in Reflections for Our Time.

The Accountability Now Action Campaigns are ready for a March 2006 launching! Go to Campaign 2006 Update.

Get on board and let us know what is happening in your state’s legislative efforts on reform of statutes of limitations. Send to

Also note:
VOTF National Representative Council member Frank Douglas (AZ) has set up a new Yahoogroup website/listserv - PCTL—Protect Children through Legislation. The site will act as an information clearinghouse about current and recent initiatives aimed at reforming state laws dealing with sexual crimes against children. Typical reform efforts are mandatory reporting requirements for clergy and changes to statutes of limitations, including the application of “look-back windows" for cases where the statute of limitation has already run. The site is open to the public so take a look! Read details in NRC Update.


LATE-BREAKING News in Boston, MA: Archbishop Sean O’Malley has been named a Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI along with Archbishop William Levada (former Archbishop of San Francisco, CA and Portland, OR). Prior to these appointments, there were 13 American cardinals, 11 of whom are under the age of 80 and thereby eligible to vote for a successor pope. See John Allen’s column at NCR. Also see the VOTF press release and additional details on this story. For a complete list of the cardinal-delegates, click here.

  • March 14 is the date set for an exclusive hearing on SOL repeal bills before the State House Judiciary Committee. For details and updates on Boston VOTF, contact Dorothy Kennedy for inclusion on Boston VOTF’s excellent, one-page newsletter distributed twice monthly –

What will it take? Chicago’s Cardinal George’s failure to remove a priest against whom credible allegations of sexual abuse had been made documents both the failure of the USCCB to live up to its own language and the profound, ongoing need for vigilance on the part of the laity. See VOTF president Jim Post’s letter to National Review Board chair Dr. Patricia Ewers.

Denver, CO: As VOTF prepares for what promises to be a long campaign toward accountability in our Church and the protection of children, there is a parallel “campaign” being launched in various US dioceses. The sad state of reality among many US bishops is nowhere more evident than in a recent public relations commentary on SOL reform and windows that appeared in the “Catholic PR Wire,” an arm of Catholic Online; “State legislators in Colorado, Ohio, Michigan and New York, Iowa, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Minnesota and Massachusetts have introduced bills that might severely cripple the Catholic Church as an institution, hurting its 67 million members….”

  • NRC Region 13 rep Frank Douglas notes: “The message from Denver’s Archbishop Chaput, under the logo of his legislative lobbying arm, gives a glimpse into the hardball tactics used by bishops to defeat legislation to protect children.”; the Denver Post reports: “The church is arguing that Colorado law makes it tougher to sue public schools under routine governmental immunity laws and therefore it should be just as tough to sue the church for its pedophile priests.” Read more.

Spokane, WA: From the Seattle Times: “An organization of 82 Catholic parishes in Eastern Washington is opposing Spokane Bishop William Skylstad’s settlement offer of $45.7 million to victims of sex abuse by priests. The Association of Parishes, which was organized to represent the financial interests of the individual congregations in the diocese, contended the settlement raises the prospect that churches or schools will be sold to raise the money.” Bishop Skylstad is president of the USCCB. Follow this story.

Chicago, Il: Gretchen Ruethling reported for The New York Times that the “Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has hired independent consultants to examine how accusations of child sexual abuse are handled. Defenbaugh & Associates Inc., an international security consulting and investigations firm, will review the archdiocese’s actions related to accusations of child sexual abuse involving two priests. The cases came under fire after it was disclosed that the priests had been monitored but not immediately removed from the ministry after being accused. The archdiocese also appointed a licensed clinical social worker to review the policies for monitoring accused priests.”

Des Moines, IOWA: Bishops hear from victims’ advocates: “In an unprecedented session, representatives of victims of priest abuse met with the four Catholic bishops of Iowa in Des Moines Feb. 2 to ask them to take action against one of their own, the retired bishop of Sioux City.” See the Feb. 17 posting of National Catholic Reporter.

Detroit, MI: SNAP visits the archdiocesan chancery. Go to


Accountability Now Campaigns are under way with instruction materials now in the hands of affiliate leaders. See VOTF Campaign 2006 Update.

  • Must reading is Marci Hamilton; on the same site, see a proposal for federal legislation – the Violence Against Children Act of 2006.
  • Educate yourself on questions and issues of financial accountability by visiting the Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities (FADICA).
  • Correction: In the January 26 issue of In the Vineyard, please note that the “Collaborating on Financial Transparency” was co-authored by George Perkins (not George Bouchey as stated). To see this report again, go to the 1/26 Vineyard.
  • Get into the conversation! See NRC Update.

De-mythologize statements like, “The Church has remained the same since the time of the Apostles.” Sign up for VOTF New Jersey’s online course, The Catholic Church: A Short History, based on the book by Hans Kung. Registration will open on February 20 and the course will begin its spring semester on Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2006. Take advantage of this opportunity for a unique Lenten practice that will enrich your understanding of our church and give you a deeper perspective on our faith as you continue your spiritual growth.

The course is facilitated by NJ VOTF’s Joseph Lynaugh and Maria Cleary, both of whom have advanced degrees in Theology and Religious Education, respectively. There is no fee and the book is a reasonably priced paperback available online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Click here to register. For further information, contact or

COMMUNICATIONS Update: Do you know who your affiliate leader is? your area coordinator? your National Representative? the difference between one and the other? If not, find out here.

SURVIVOR Community Voices: To receive Bishop Gumbleton’s weekly homily published in National Catholic Reporter as “The Peace Pulpit”. NCR provides this service free of charge. Here is an excerpt from a recent homily: “One of the things that I have discovered with the abuse situation in our church, one of the hardest things for the survivors is the way that those who represent the authority within the church, the bishops, have made them enemies. Instead of reaching out pastorally trying to draw them in, trying to heal, they go to court and going to court in our system is adversarial. So now they’re the enemies. We have to fight them off and that’s exactly how many of them have felt. And the wound that they received when they were abused just become even more intense. How different our church should be.”

  • See “Detroit Archdiocese Urged to Support Changing Laws” on the SNAP web site.

CALENDAR Watch: The Parish Voice Calendar of meetings and events is posted on the Web. Use this calendar to find a PV meeting or a VOTF-related presentation near you. Event information should be sent at least two weeks in advance to in order to be on the VOTF calendar. Other events are posted on various affiliate web sites such as the following:

April 22: VOTF in Long Island, NY is hosting a day conference "Keeping the Faith while Living with Contradictions” on April 22. Go to their web site.

See the Feb. 9 issue of In the Vineyard for Dates to Remember including the Feb. 27 (not Feb 26 as mistakenly indicated) panel discussion at Boston College “Catholic Politicians in the US: Their Faith and Public Policy” moderated by Tim Russert from "Meet the Press." Click here or call 617-552-4820; March 24-26 retreat “The Church Women Want” at the Graymoor Spiritual Life Center in NY –; VOTF Bridgeport, CT will sponsor an April 29th Fairfield University panel discussion on “Elect Our Bishops? Why Not?” Go to; Fr. Gary Hayes invites clergy of all faiths who are survivors of sexual abuse by clergy to attend a May 26-28 retreat at the Kirkridge Retreat Center in Bangor, PA. Contact Fr. Hayes at for details or call 610-588-1793. Register online at

BOOK REVIEW Two Women of Galilee (MIRA Books, 2006) by Mary Rourke will be available in bookstores on Feb. 28. Rourke covered VOTF in 2002 for the Los Angeles Times and is the author of Amazing Grace in America. Two Women of Galilee is her first novel.

LETTERS to the editor – on keeping our eyes on the prize in VOTF; Aquinas as a model

PUBLICATIONS’ Notes: Subscribing to one or more Catholic publications is always worth consideration. We occasionally offer some light/some not-so-light samples of current coverage in these; as always, we welcome your own “finds.” See what’s happening in Commonweal, America, US Catholic and National Catholic Reporter at In Other Words.

QUOTE for our time: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Martin Luther King

In the Vineyard
February 23, 2006
Volume 5, Issue 4
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Letters to the Editor

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