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In this issue: Continuing the message of accountability, VOTF has sent a petition with 8,000 signatures to Pope Benedict XVI; results from the May 2008 VOTF Survey on “what to do about abusive priests in our midst”; update on VOTF’s plans to help build a People’s Synod; a profile of Fr. James MacGee, nominated for the VOTF Priest of Integrity Award; just saying “no!” to diocesan reorganization plans in Cleveland OH; looking ahead to the sixth anniversary of the VOTF National Convention in 2002, we re-print four of the letters that appeared in the first VOTF quarterly, Voice.


If not literally, at least figuratively, as we say thank you to Peggie Thorp for conceiving of and then producing In the Vineyard these many past years. On the occasion of her “retirement” from In the Vineyard, we publish these tributes from the National Office:

The VOTF Board of Trustees recognizes Peggie Thorp’s fine work as editor and the outstanding cumulative accomplishment of In the Vineyard. In appreciation and thanks, the Board is presenting to Peggie a framed original VOTF logo, signed by the designers.

The VOTF National Representative Council honors Peggie with unanimous approval of the following resolution:

Be It Resolved: As Peggie Thorp has announced her retirement as Editor of the VOTF publication In the Vineyard, the National Representative Council formally acknowledges the vast contributions that Peggie Thorp has made to VOTF as Editor.

Be It Further Resolved: The NRC expresses sincere gratitude for her dedication to this enterprise and commends Peggie Thorp for the many years of service to In the Vineyard. Her faithfulness to this publication ensured that the primary communication vehicle of VOTF was always professional, relevant, and informative.

Be It Further Resolved: The NRC applauds Peggie’s scholastic endeavors, wishes her Godspeed, and anticipates future contributions that will expand our understanding of the VOTF mission statement and how to BE Church.


On June 4, we sent our petition calling for true transformation of the Church to Pope Benedict XVI. The petition included the names of approximately 8,000 individuals who agree that VOTF’s solutions – justice and compassion for survivors of clergy sex abuse; accountability of bishops to the people they serve; full participation of lay men and women in decision-making; financial transparency and accountability – are a pathway to this transformation. To read the cover letter, petition and signers AND/OR to add your name to the ongoing petition, click here.

The VOTF Survey on “What to do about abusive priests in our midst” drew more than 800 respondents over a several day period. The following are the highlights of this two question survey:

  • Seventy-seven percent (77%) of those responding called for establishment of online diocesan registries that would alert parents to the locations of these abusers.
  • An equally large majority – 78% – called on diocesan officials who signed confidentiality agreements when removing such priests to seek ways of nullifying those agreements so as to facilitate development of a nationwide registry of abuser priests.
For more on the Survey, click here.

DIOCESE/State Watch

Cleveland OH: In a bold expression of vitality, St. Peter’s Church in the Cleveland OH diocese is “just saying no” to diocesan reorganization plans that would merge or close nearly 50 parishes, St. Peter’s being one of them. Chris Schenk of FutureChurch described the parish decision to fight for its survival an expression of loyalty to the church’s vibrant, solvent contributions to the urban community. A recent gift of $2 million eradicates a debt to the diocese and would facilitate several parish efforts. For more on this story, see the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

WORKING Group Updates

Survivor Support Notes
In a curious “twist of faith” it appears that “US Catholic officials told families the outcome of their probes into accusations of sexual abuse by priests in less than one-third of the cases.” Click here for the AFP story on the Orlando FL USCCB meeting. Additional coverage is here.

A recent National Survivor Support Working Group press release is on the SNAP website.

Priests’ Support Working Group
Continuing profiles of priests nominated for the VOTF Priest of Integrity Award, Svea Fraser notes Fr. James MacGee. Click here.

Plus, an idea gathering force -- From Australia’s Catholics for Ministry: “During 2007 Catholics for Ministry circulated a Petition to the Bishops regarding the crisis we face in pastoral ministry. Almost 17,000 Catholics, including 168 priests, signed this Petition, which was forwarded to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference prior to their meeting in November 2007.” The petition, the bishops’ reply and the group’s reaction can be read here. To see the VOTF resolution seeking a review of mandatory celibacy, click here.

Book Notes

Voices of the Faithful honored by Catholic Press Association: At their annual awards banquet, the Catholic Press Association in the history book category awarded second prize for the year to Voices of the Faithful, a C21 Series book (Church in the 21st Century, Boston College) by William D’Antonio and Anthony Pogorelc. Congratulations to the authors, contributors, series editors, Crossroad Publishing and all involved in preparing and publishing this important book.

Voices of the Faithful is available through and through the Boston College web site at


John McGinty is the Interim Director of the Church in the 21st Century Program at Boston College. His essay “A Future Worth the Wait” considers the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the Boston Globe revelations of clergy sexual abuse, and the emergence and ongoing work of VOTF. These events altered both the American and the Catholic landscapes. McGinty’s probing conclusion has already been taken up by VOTF St. Eulalia (MA).

McGinty asks a question based on the lessons learned from these tragedies: “. . . as you look to the future, as you look to the next five years and beyond, what will be the definition of success? What will it mean, when you look back from the perspective of a 10th anniversary or a 15th or a 20th, to say, ‘We have done the right thing? We have done well? We have achieved what we have been called to do? We have been blessed with success?’” Read the full essay here.

SITE-Seeing, Etc.

Looking back to Spring/Summer 2002:  Letters written to VOTF in 2002 that still resonate. What is your recollection of the convention or your own beginnings in VOTF? Write to

Bishop Robinson’s US tour recently included VOTF in Orange County. “In a standing-room only community hall Wednesday night, a retired Australian bishop [who was] asked not to speak about the Catholic clergy sexual abuse by some American bishops outlined his theory on its causes and how to move forward.”

Reminder: You can access current and archived news in National Catholic Reporter, regardless of subscriber status. Go to

FutureChurch wants female biblical scholars to serve as consultants to the World Synod of Bishops on the Word in October in Rome. At this writing 23 prominent female biblical scholars have agreed to be on the list of possible synod consultants, and U.S. and Canadian bishop delegates are being approached. In this the final phase of the Women and the Word campaign, FutureChurch needs to raise $10,000 to help ensure that the witness of women is restored to our lectionaries and our faith life. Go to and click on “Women and the Word campaign” for details.

In the Vineyard
June 19, 2008

Volume 7, Issue 12
Printer Friendly Version (PDF)

Page One


Priests' Support Working Group Report

National People's Synod

Letters to the Editor 2002

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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