The Laity Speak: Accountability Now

Indianapolis Convocation July 8-10 – Speakers Francine Cardman, Justice Anne Burke, Paul Lakeland and David Castaldi will be joined by lay religious, VOTF members from over 24 states, David Clohessy and Barbara Blaine of SNAP, and Frs. Tom Doyle and Donald Cozzens. WHY? Because THIS IS OUR MOMENT! Look at the menu of training opportunities, breakout sessions and more on our outstanding program and REGISTER!

Affiliates will have “wares” to sell, exhibit/presentations to make, and plenty of volunteer opportunities. See inside under “Convocation News” and watch for the next Convocation Update on June 16.

  • Election results are in from 12 of 14 regions for the 26 seats on VOTF’s new National Representative Council – did your choice win?;
  • VOTF President Jim Post will give the response to Archbishop James Weisgerber of Winnipeg, Canada at the 7th Annual Catholic Common Ground Initiative at Catholic University, Washington, DC on June 24;
  • a message from VOTF Vice-president Kris Ward on the upcoming USCCB meeting;
  • our new Executive Director Ray Joyce makes his Vineyard debut;
  • accused of sexual abuse by eight former members of the Legionaries of Christ, founder Fr. Marcial Maciel remains untouched by the canonical complaint filed against him;
  • VOTF San Francisco is circulating a petition to Archbishop Levada about the Fr. Maciel "investigation";
  • HBO’s “Twist of Faith” makes its TV premiere on June 28; CBS 60 Minutes (Wed) focused recently on an abuse case that has re-opened an old murder investigation;
  • the Jesuits’ national newsletter fired a writer for proposing dialogue on homosexuality;
  • the National Trust for Historic Preservation has identified Boston’s Catholic Churches among a list of 11 most endangered historic places in the country – is your church among them?;
  • our own Sr. Betsy Conway, former VOTF secretary, has been recognized by Regis College in Weston, MA for excellence in community service.

Read National News



[CORRECTIONS: Last month, Project Millstones was identified as a LI VOTF initiative. In fact, LI VOTF is a strong advocate for the project, which was initiated by Frs. Patrick Collins (MI), Thomas Doyle (NC), Robert Hoatson (NJ) and Kenneth Lasch NJ). We apologize for any confusion caused and any slight to the project’s inspired founders. To read the proposal, click here.

VOTF FL photos that should have accompanied their affiliate report in April were lost but now are found! See Regional News page]

  • VOTF NY has assembled a petition of protest over the forced resignation of Tom Reese as editor of America magazine;
  • Boise, Idaho Catholics saddened by their bishop’s failure, even while they applaud many of his efforts;
  • Maine Attorney General releases documents naming deceased priests accused of abuse; thousands of confidential Church documents released in Orange County, CA;
  • NYC VOTF is preparing for a wave of parish closings to be announced in September – they met to brainstorm for a smooth transition;
  • Rockford, Il – VOTFers remained in the church after Mass to hold a meeting despite being banned from meeting on church property – THEN what happened?;
  • the survivor community brought the September 2004 VOTF Council Resolution on Bishop Accountability to a Rhode Island vigil;
  • remember the Boston “Mass on the Common”? Now you can have it forever on a DVD;
  • “Twist of Faith” made its Boston premiere on June 1 at the State House;
  • referencing Boston, Notre Dame professor Richard McBrien calls the condition of priests’ pensions “another body blow to priests”;
  • the Milwaukee diocese has rescinded its proposal on unannounced searches of priests’ rooms;
  • Kentucky diocese of Covington agreed to a $120 million fund to compensate victims.

Read Regional News

In the Vineyard
June 2005
Volume 4, Issue 6
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For an overview of press coverage of VOTF, click here.


QUOTE of the month: Sr. Mary McGeer for CBS 60 Minutes (Wed):

"Molestation of children is evil and there's no other name for it," says Sister Mary McGeer. "When we cover it up, it's evil. When people cover it up, the people that are covering it up are evil." [See National News for more information on this program]

“All of us do what we do, think what we think, precisely because we love the Church and we want to see her sail safely and strongly through this sea of change.” Sr. Joan Chittister speaking in US Catholic

Viewing the DVD produced by VOTF Cincinnati recently, I was struck by the calm assurance of those who spoke on this video – priests, lay members of VOTF and survivors – that community is the only way we can move forward in our Church. The film is only 15 minutes long but packs a powerful incentive to belong to Voice of the Faithful and provides a compelling image of a Church in touch with itself. One of the survivors who speaks on film, attorney Gerard Ahrens, recalled the day survivors addressed the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002 and the astounding courage it took to do so. Ahrens says, “I believe a wave of grace came across the Church that day.”

The DVD will be just one of the affiliate “wares” sold and/or on display during the Voice of the Faithful convocation in Indianapolis, July 8-10. We hope that all who are planning to attend the convocation will be comfortably engaged with Voice of the Faithful leaders from all over the United States as we chart next steps toward reform in our Church. To that end, the Voice of Renewal/Lay Education group has posted on our web site their downloadable materials, which are the products of three years of consistent effort toward a more educated laity. The Structural Change Working Group includes in this issue an introduction to their own impressive output since August 2002; the texts will be on our web site convocation pages shortly, along with the Protecting Our Children Working Group material.

Take a look at the items in National and Regional News and the Commentary in this issue; these tells us about the scope of work being done for our Church and the scope of the work ahead. Coupled with our Indianapolis convocation, “The Laity Speak: Accountability Now,” these works of faith are writing Church history in our time.

When you think about it, who else is gathering faithful Catholics for open discussion of an accountable Church and how to get there? Who else is offering a whole menu of grassroots training opportunities in media management, conflict resolution, handling closing parishes, and survivor support actions? Where else will you have the opportunity to talk with Catholics from coast to coast, to join a conversation with Fr. Donald Cozzens on the ordained and lay ministries, to participate in lay-led liturgies and to be a welcomed voice for reform?

If you are unable to be with us in Indianapolis, your donation will speak for you. If you are already booked, know that your voice will speak for many. If you want to attend and have been putting it off, think about how you will feel on July 11 when the voices for reform were heard and yours was not among them.

We want you to be part of the “wave of grace” that is clearly heading toward Indianapolis!

Peggie L. Thorp


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