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“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Martin Luther King, Jr

In this issue: Board of Trustees Responds to Fr. Tom Doyle; join our virtual town meeting with National VOTF’s officer candidates and get ready for the ONLINE VIDEO FORUM with the candidates; from Illinois to Australia, Catholics are writing to their bishops; a unique Lenten prayer service; archdiocese of St. Louis MO busily excommunicating parish councils and banning theologians; a good time for an introduction to the Madeleva Lecture Series; VOTF press release commends religion journalist; and more.


Recently, Tom Doyle expressed his reservations about VOTF’s foundational commitment to structural reform of our Church. After giving Tom’s views careful consideration, particularly in light of his exceptional role in the sexual abuse crisis, the Board of Trustees respectfully, but profoundly, disagrees with the merits of his views. Click on this link to read the full letter of the Board to Tom Doyle.

JOIN the conversation with our VOTF National officer candidates. Just click, ask and be answered at

Mark your calendars for the big CANDIDATES FORUM scheduled for Feb. 4, 6, and 8. It’s a first for VOTF – streaming video, free audio tie-ins … the details are on the Elections web site.

VOTF National issued a press release commending the work of Chicago Sun Times religion journalist Susan Hogan-Albach for her investigative work uncovering the failed USCCB policy for protecting children in the Chicago diocese in 2004. The coverage, most recently in “The cardinal, his men and the McCormack legacy” has generated considerable and thoughtful commentary.

It’s 2008; do you know what your affiliate is doing? Click here and pick your state from the growing list of affiliates with their own web sites. AND how much do you know about your diocese? See where (and if) your diocese stands in the VOTF Diocesan Survey.

SURVIVOR Community Notes:

St. Petersburg Diocese launches a spiritual healing effort that avoids "trying to get people back to church" and opens to all faith traditions. It's too soon to judge the success of the 10-week program, which began in mid-January.

DIOCESE/State Watch

Joliet IL
The VOTF affiliate here has written a letter to their bishop that might be a model for other affiliates. We reprint the letter under “Commentary ” in this issue.

Belleville IL
“The good people and priests in the diocese of Belleville IL have demonstrated that they can successfully stand up to their Bishop and achieve justice.” For more on this story, see VOTF’s Focus. [Focus is the one-page update distributed between the publication weeks of In the Vineyard. To receive Focus, click here.]

St. Louis MO
Readers will recall the tug of war over parish ownership that erupted in 2004 and eventuated in the ouster of two priests there and a rash of parish council excommunications. Subsequently the community called a new pastor, Fr. Marek Bozek, who has served the parish since then. Archbishop Burke recently began the defrocking process of Fr. Marek Bozek. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it wasn’t only the parish’s refusal to hand over its assets to the archdiocese that stoked the Archbishop’s ire. Click here for an update on this story.

  • Archbishop Burke’s “concern” over a planned lecture by well-known Georgetown University theologian Peter Phan resulted in the Aquinas Institute of Theology withdrawing their invitation to Phan. Because time was so short, the college cancelled the lecture series that has been held there for 25 years. Phan’s 2004 book is under investigation by US bishops and the Vatican. Read more.

A petition, signed by more than 16,000 Church-going Catholics, to Australia’s bishops expressing concern over the priest shortage there was incorporated and discussed at the bishops’ November meeting. The petition suggests several ways to address the need for “new forms of ministry and leadership.” To read the petition, go to The bishops’ response is also available at

BOOK Alert: VOTF member from Philadelphia Dick Taylor has written a book based on his own nonviolent stance in life. The book is Love in Action: A Direct-Action Handbook for Catholics Using Nonviolence to Reform and Renew the Church. You can learn a little more about Dick and the genesis of his book by visiting his web site at where you can order the book. It is also available at

SITE-Seeing, Etc.

FRIDAY/SATURDAY, APRIL 11-12, A WEEKEND WITH EDWINA GATELEY: St. Susanna Parish announces a remarkable weekend that will center on the possibilities of becoming a resurrection community. Edwina is an internationally known theologian, writer, poet, and artist who founded the Volunteer Missionary Movement; her ministry has taken her to places like Africa and the Sahara Desert. It will take place at St. Susanna Parish, 262 Needham Street, Dedham, MA. Mark your calendars! For details and reservations, call St. Susanna Rectory
at 781-329-9575.

The much-celebrated newly elected head of the Society of Jesus appears to have received his first “homework assignment”: According to Associated Press coverage, the Rev. Adolfo Nicolas said “the religious order would study the pontiff's invitation to confirm their … adhesion to Catholic teaching, including on divorce, homosexuality and liberation theology.” See

A new book by Santa Clara University theology professor Gary Macy considers the women who were ordained in the Catholic Church during the first 1200 years of Christianity. Click here for more on The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination: Female Clergy in the Medieval West.

In keeping with Pope Benedict’s focus in the upcoming synod “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church”, readers might want to engage in a collaborative effort alongside the Synod. Noted by FutureChurch in its two-year campaign to promote synod awareness, Synod Council members have urged special attention to ‘the Word of God in liturgy, in preaching, in catechesis, in theology, spirituality, public and private meditation, enculturation and ecumenism.’ To that end, the Madeleva Lecture Series is worth investigating. Named after the legendary Sister Madeleva Wolff, CSC, president of Saint Mary’s College from 1934 to 1961, the series is well known internationally. Some of the most influential women scholars of the past twenty years are past-Madeleva Lecturers. In 2000 the lecturers collaborated as a group to write the now famous “Madeleva Manifesto: A Message of Hope and Courage.” To catch up on the various lectures and learn more about the series, visit The lectures are also available in small paperbacks at

LENTEN Prayer Service with a fresh face: FutureChurch has compiled a special Lenten service including the Stations of the Cross that spotlights the stories of women on Jesus’ journey and the ongoing struggles of women around the world. Copies of the booklet are only $2.50 each for 1-9 copies and less per copy for larger orders. For ordering information, email Barbara Litrell
at or call 928-649-0135.

In the Vineyard
January 31, 2008

Volume 7, Issue 2
Printer Friendly Version (PDF)

Page One

Board of Trustees Letter to Tom Doyle


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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