“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
DVD produced by VOTF Cincinnati recently, I was struck by the calm assurance
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
Laity Speak: Accountability Now
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
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.
results are in from 12 of 14 regions for the 26 seats on VOTF’s new National Representative Council – did
your choice win?;
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
message from VOTF Vice-president Kris Ward on the upcoming USCCB meeting;
new Executive Director Ray Joyce makes his Vineyard debut;
of sexual abuse by eight former members of the Legionaries of Christ,
founder Fr. Marcial Maciel remains untouched by
complaint filed against him;
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;
Jesuits’ national newsletter fired a writer for proposing dialogue on homosexuality;
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?;
own Sr. Betsy Conway, former VOTF secretary, has been recognized by Regis
College in Weston, MA
for excellence in
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
NY has assembled a petition of protest over the forced resignation
of Tom Reese as editor of America magazine; Boise, Idaho Catholics
by their bishop’s failure, even while they applaud many of his efforts;
Attorney General releases documents naming deceased priests accused
of abuse; thousands of confidential Church documents released
in Orange County,
NYC VOTF is preparing for a wave of parish closings to be announced
in September – they met to brainstorm for a smooth transition; VOTF SW Florida – photos “lost” in the April issue;
Il – VOTFers remained in the church after Mass to hold a meeting despite being banned from meeting on church property – THEN what happened?;
survivor community brought the September 2004 VOTF Council Resolution
on Bishop Accountability to a Rhode Island vigil;
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;
Boston, Notre Dame professor Richard McBrien calls the condition
of priests’ pensions “another body blow to priests”;
Milwaukee diocese has rescinded its proposal on unannounced searches
of priests’ rooms;
diocese of Covington agreed to a $120 million fund to compensate
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]
[Comments are welcome at email@example.com]
Message from VOTF Vice-president Kris Ward, Chair Charter Task Force:
The revisions to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People will be considered by the Bishops at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting June 16-18 in Chicago. Please be vigilant during this time for any updates and be ready to use your voice.
Voice of the Faithful obtained a Workbook that the Bishops used to gather comment from all United States Bishops on the revisions proposed by the Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse.
Voice of the Faithful submitted a Workbook with our comments on the proposed
changes and a letter with additional recommendations to Archbishop Flynn. The materials are available on our website.
Voice of the Faithful is opposed to any weakening of the Charter. Voice of the Faithful proposed language for strengthening the Charter and proposed the Bishops undertake a major education campaign in order to inform every Catholic about the provisions of the Charter.
News – “The Laity Speak: Accountability Now ”
Working group papers now on the web site are from Voice of Renewal/Lay Education and the Structural Change group. The idea behind making this material available and downloadable now is to help attendees at the convocation to arrive with as much background information as possible. Consequently, we hope all attendees will find themselves comfortably engaged throughout the weekend.
What To Look For on the VOTF web site.
Structural Change Working Group package – an Introduction from Margaret
During the last month, the Structural Change Working Group (SCWG) has been preparing for the VOTF Convocation in Indianapolis this July. Several long-term projects should be completed in time for the meeting, including:
the first, and soon the second, edition of the Primer on Organizational Structures of the Catholic Church;
[now posted] 9 recommended operating Principles for Parish Finance Councils (a parallel set of recommendations to the diocesan-level principles, which were unanimously approved by the VOTF Representative Council meeting in Hartford, Connecticut in May 2004);
two proposals for structural change based on our work with Ladislas Orsy, S.J., who provided consultation to the SCWG on Canon Law and Church governance. These two proposals are entitled “Independent
Judicial Review of Actions by a Diocesan Bishop” and “Diocesan Mutual Visitation as a Mechanism for Renewal”. They will be submitted for consideration by the convocation and the new National Representative Council, which will meet for the first time in Indianapolis, along with other structural change recommendations such as the Bridgeport Proposals (on the Bridgeport web site).
The SCWG has also submitted recommendations along with five other national Working Groups for a Project Workbook entitled “What
Do We Do Next?” The Workbook offers concrete steps that may be taken at the parish or affiliate level to advance the mission and goals of VOTF. The completed Workbook was submitted to the outgoing Representative Council at its last meeting in May for approval, and should be available for distribution in Indianapolis.
In additional to these projects, the SCWG has assembled a series of recommendations on Parish Pastoral Councils and Safety Committees for the Convocation. The information on Parish Pastoral Councils (PPCs) includes the results of the survey carried out by the SCWG during the last two years; a set of sample By-Laws for PPCs, and links to successful PPCs identified by the survey. Sample By-Laws are included in the package because the survey showed that PPCs that operate under By-Laws or some other form of foundation document are perceived by their members to be more effective and that the recommendations of such PPCs are more often implemented.
For almost two years, VOTF members from across the country have participated in the work of articulating structural change within our Church. We have done so electronically, through the Structural Change Network and other electronic avenues. The Convocation in Indianapolis promises to be a wonderful opportunity to put a face with all those e-addresses!
Voice of Renewal/Lay Education Working Group has posted on the web site:
Model for a Day of Renewal
Origins of the Church – with
Annotated Bibliography (pdf) on The History of the Church; Structures of the Church; Current Views of the Church; The Sexual Abuse Scandal; The Priesthood/Ministry; Prayer/Spirituality and more
AFFILIATES - Don't be among the unrepresented! To register now, click
And when you get to Indianapolis, introduce yourselves with an exhibit or a brief presentation in the Exhibit Hall of the Conference Center. .
If you haven't
received the e-message about display opportunities at the convocation exhibit
please contact firstname.lastname@example.org . If you have “wares” to sell, contact
John Moynihan at email@example.com . Pat Gomez can help with your
exhibit/presentation needs - contact PTCGomez@comcast.net.
Friday Training Sessions are FREE, i.e., included in your registration fee.
Spread the word: We are extending a special invitation to lay religious - contact Evelyn Mercantini at firstname.lastname@example.org
Share a room? Have a housing concern? Contact Michelle at email@example.com
visit the web site and see recent updates and news. Besides our impressive
roster of speakers, we will be joined by Frs. Tom Doyle and Donald Cozzens,
women religious, and affiliate representatives from over 20 states. Also,
the first Council meeting of our newly elected National Representative
Council will take place from 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency just before the
6-8 welcome reception in the same hotel, which is connected to the conference
ELSE CAN I DO TO HELP?
response to our last call for volunteers was wonderful - we have
all the lectors we could ask for! We would still like a few more
volunteers to be greeters, singers and Eucharistic Ministers -
contact Susan Troy at firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you would like to help with breakout sessions, transportation,
hospitality and information, please contact email@example.com.
you’re bringing any artistic creativity to Indianapolis, you are
much valued. Prayerful Voice is looking for a group to make banners
for the Saturday evening liturgy and Sunday’s Council Commissioning
and Sending Forth. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note the Friday evening 6-8 welcoming reception at the Hyatt Regency preceded from 3-5 by the first meeting of our new Representative Council also to be held at the Hyatt Regency. See the convocation pages for details.
RESULTS FOR 12/14 REGIONS
The National Representative Council is to play a substantive role in establishing policy for VOTF concerning the VOTF Mission Statement and Goals.
From VOTF President Jim Post and Executive Director Ray Joyce:
The election results from 12 of 14 regions have been counted and verified by the election committee, which consists only of non-candidates. A complete report will be available within the next week and will be published in the next issue of In the Vineyard. .
1: (5 seats) ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT - Donna Doucette (MA), Ron DuBois (MA), Jane Merchant (ME), Robert Morris (MA), Tony Wiggins (CT)
2: (3 seats) NY - TBA
3: (2 seats) NJ, PA - Bud Bretschneider (PA), William Culleton (PA)
4: (2 seats) DC, DE, MD, VA - Evelyn Mercantini (VA), Rich Moriarty (VA)
5: (1 seat) AL, KY, LA, MS, TN - Susan Vogt (KY)
6: (2 seats) OH, MI - Mary E. Collingwood (OH), Edward Friedl (OH)
7: (2 seats) IL, IN, WI - Mary Heins (IN), Genevieve O’Toole (IL)
8: (1 seat) MN, SD, ND - Shari Steffen (MN)
9: (1 seat) IA, KS, MO, NB - Bob Kaintz (MO)
10: (1 seat) AR, OK, TX - Joe Turner (TX)
11: (2 seats) CA, HI, NV - Jim Jenkins (CA), Hugh O’Regan (CA)
12: (1 seat) AK, ID, MT, WA, OR - TBA
13: (1 seat) AZ, CO, WY, NM, UT - Frank Douglas (AZ)
14: (2 seats) FL, GA, NC, SC - Dinorah (Dee) Esteva (FL), Margaret E. Lynch (FL)
The formation of this nationally elected, representative Council is a true milestone in the evolution and development of Voice of the Faithful. Together we share a commitment that the voices of lay Catholic women and men from across the nation, and world, will be heard in all our deliberations. We trust that the Holy Spirit will guide our discussions and actions.
Thank you for participating in this election process and for your continuing efforts to help Voice of the Faithful be a clear and reasoned voice within our Church.
Cincinnati has produced a DVD – and right on time for Indy!
Submitted by Nan Fisher
A professionally produced 15-minute DVD about the mission and goals of VOTF is now available for use in outreach efforts. The DVD was produced by Cincinnati VOTF to be used in presentations to pastors, pastoral/parish councils and to domestic church groups (e.g., faith sharing groups). It features commentary from two survivors, two priests and two members of VOTF affiliates. It is not specific to Cincinnati and is intended for use in a facilitated meeting to introduce Catholics to VOTF and to provide a starting point for discussion about how Catholics can respond to the ongoing issues that have resulted from the sex abuse scandal and its cover up by bishops.
DVD is part of Cincinnati VOTF’s outreach packet that includes their
position on Structural Change, a brochure to explain VOTF and a response
to send to the Archbishop of Cincinnati. Affiliate members are committed
to the two-fold approach of showing the DVD along with providing a way for
viewers to respond. We believe that the viewing of the DVD will inspire others
to respond and we want to capitalize on the opportunity to have impact.
DVD is copyrighted but Cincinnati VOTF’s goal is to share it as widely
as possible. Copies of the DVD will be available at the Convocation in
Indy. Resource materials such as the facilitation guide and sample postcard
will also be available in print, with the opportunity to have them sent
to you electronically. Members of Cincinnati VOTF will be at our booth
to share ideas and experiences of using the DVD.
outcome of the Convocation will be a renewed interest to spread the
message of VOTF—the DVD “Faithful Voices” will make that job so much
Francisco VOTF has put a petition on line asking
Archbishop Levada, as head of the Confraternity for the Doctrine of
the Faith, to continue the Fr Maciel investigation. The USCCB meeting
in Chicago June 16-18 is an opportunity to raise the issue and support
a positive response from the bishops. For more information and to sign
this petition go to www.votf-sf.org.
A Dubious Distinction for Boston Churches
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has identified Boston’s
Catholic Churches as one on a list of 11 most endangered historic
places in the country. The churches are Blessed Sacrament in Jamaica
Plain, Our Lady Presentation in Brighton, St. Catherine of Siena
in Charlestown and St. Peter’s
Lithuanian Church in South Boston. To learn more click here.
premiere of “Twist of Faith” at the Boston, MA State House
About 75 people gathered in a sub-basement screening room of the MA State
House on Beacon Hill to view the premiere of HBO’s compelling documentary about the day-to-day reality of living with abuse in one’s past. The film addresses with clarity the cloud that hovers over all aspects of a victim’s life, even decades later – work, family life, spiritual life – as
well as the destructive force of trust lost. The film will air on HBO
on June 28.
60 Minutes (Wed) provided national coverage of
another tale of clerical sexual abuse, this one led to reopening
an old murder investigation. There is a segment on the diocese of
Springfield, Massachusetts and the case of former priest Richard
Lavigne. Fr. James Scahill, who received the Priest of Integrity
award from Voice of the Faithful at our regional conference in Worcester,
MA last November, is also featured in this story. View the video
Read the text of the story, “Murder
Haunts the Catholic Church.”
president Jim Post to respond to Winnipeg, Canada Archbishop James
the 7th Annual Catholic Common Ground Initiative Lecture on June
28 at Catholic University, Washington, DC. The lecture is “Building
a Church of Communion.” The Catholic Common Ground Initiative
was inaugurated by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin with the
release of a statement “Called to Be Catholic: Church in a Time
of Peril,” on
August 12, 1996. It originated in a concern that unnecessarily
polarizing differences among church leaders and members hinder
efforts to build the Church community and to carry out its mission.
The statement proposes working principles for dialogue within
the Church and expresses the conviction that such an effort will
transform those who engage in it as well as strengthen the Church
for its mission in the new millennium. For more information on
the National Pastoral Life Center and the Common Ground Initiative,
Sr. Betsy Conway, former
VOTF national secretary and ongoing VOTF activist, has received
an award from Regis College for excellence in community service.
In addition to her ministry in Framingham (Bethany House),
the award highlighted Sr. Betsy’s involvement in Voice of
the Faithful and framed her work with VOTF as one of many
courageous choices. Sr. Betsy believes her VOTF work and
commitment were significant factors in being selected.
on the heels of the resignation of Tom Reese from America magazine,
a national Jesuit newsletter fired a writer for proposing
in the newsletter that the Church have an open dialogue on
homosexuality. See the National Catholic Reporter.
NCR reports that the “Maciel
go away.” That editorial and John
Allen’s coverage are at
BOOK ALERT: John
Allen’s new book The Rise of Benedict XVI : The Inside Story of How the Pope was Elected and Where He Will Take the Catholic Church will be released on June 7, 2005. Watch amazon.com and booksellers.
From Gaile Pohlhaus: Affiliates should send their meeting info to ParishVoiceExchange@Yahoo.com. It would be wonderful to see something on every block of the calendar!
[Comments are welcome at email@example.com]
From www.bishopaccountability.org: On May 27, 2005, the Maine Attorney General's office released the names of 21 deceased Roman Catholic priests who have been accused of sexual abuse. The release of these names had been ordered by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, in response to a lawsuit filed by Blethen Maine Newspapers, the parent company of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. The Attorney General's office also released 113 pages of supporting documentation on the accusations. Read more at www.bishopaccountability.org
In the Boston, MA archdiocese,
priests’ pensions are in jeopardy. Richard McBrien, Professor of Theology at Notre Dame calls it “another
body blow to priests.”
Globe reports on Boston parish closings: Arguing
that the Catholic parishes of Greater Boston belong to the parishioners
and not to the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, critics of the parish
closings said yesterday that they are turning to the judicial system
for help after failing to persuade church officials to abandon their
plan to shutter scores of local churches. Read more.
Boston’s “Mass on the Common” available
of the Boston affiliates-sponsored “Mass on the Common” are now available.
The DVDs/videos (please specify which you prefer) are $25 each. Proceeds
are a fundraiser for VOTF - Boston affiliates.
For those interested in receiving copies, please contact Rose Walsh at 16 Hodder Lane, Framingham, MA 01702 and include your check payable to VOTF - Boston Affiliate.
This Mass was a major undertaking, made successful due to the donated services of so many talented people in VOTF. The music is especially wonderful to hear again. In spite of the hurricane threat, the buses arrived from so many directions. This Mass will be remembered as one of the stepping stones of Voice of the Faithful.
From the Survivor Community - Vigil in Rhode Island
submitted by Steve Sheehan
On the partly sunny afternoon of May 31, 2005, a small but determined group of clergy abuse survivors and supporters stood before the cathedral church of SS. Peter and Paul in Cathedral Plaza, Providence, RI as the assembled clergy and hierarchy processed into the cathedral for the installation of Thomas Tobin as the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Providence. Each member of the group carried photographs of various survivors at the age at which they were abused, and signs demanding justice.
Bishops and clergy
processing into the installation ceremony of Thomas Tobin as bishop
of the Providence, RI diocese
Their purpose was two-fold; to participate in a memorial tribute to the many victims of clergy abuse who are no longer with us; and to call upon the assembled members of the clergy to acknowledge the culpability of the hierarchy in its failure to address this tragedy as it unfolded and take the necessary action to protect children.
Survivors and survivor
supporters outside the church
Kellen of "People of Conscience" read the names and brief histories of
some of the survivors who have died.
Kendrick, of VOTF, Maine, is working vigorously to get Bishop Malone
to release documents pertaining to numerous priests. Maine’s AG released
files of 21 priests, now deceased, but accused of sexual abuse. The evidence
and documents are not all present. The diocese has held back some of
the papers. Unless all of the evidence is released and the perpetrators
named, it will remain difficult for other victims to come forward.
Paul Kellen closed the program with the following remarks:
"We wish to conclude with a few messages. One, for our brother and sister Catholics, “business as usual” means
more abused children.
for BishopTobin, lofty words and phrases about healing are ‘business as usual.’ We
will know you seriously heed the counsel of Jesus if you seek justice
for Mary Ryan. (Mary is a survivor who for years has been refusing to take a cash settlement and continues to challenge the diocese in court to obtain the release of all documents pertaining to her abuse.) We ask you to call off the legal attack hounds. Open the files and reveal the truth. For as Pope Leo XIII told the world there can be no healing without justice.
for the hierarchs, your splendid display in the procession here is ‘business as usual.’ We ask you to hear your fellow Catholics in Voice of the Faithful speaking in their inspiring resolution, passed on Saturday, September 18, 2004.” The
The U.S. bishops in 2002 adopted, and the Vatican approved, a policy of permanently removing from ministry any priest for even a single act of sexual abuse of a minor.
The harm done by
predator priests was often greatly magnified by the actions of bishops
reassigned such priests, covered up
their offenses, and placed the avoidance of “scandal” above the protection
The gross failure of leadership of such bishops is at least as morally culpable as the crimes of abuser priests.
Justice demands and the manifest need for healing in the Catholic Church in the United States and elsewhere requires that such bishops be held accountable for their betrayal of the people of God.
Just as priests who have exploited their priestly ministries to abuse children are precluded from continuing in such ministry, those bishops who have failed to exercise their ministry of leadership in the service of the People of God should be precluded from continuing in any ministry of leadership in the Church.
The maintenance of
such bishops in positions of leadership — exemplified by the appointment of Bernard Law to the position of the Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome and his continued service on important Vatican congregations — scandalizes
the faithful, diminishes the moral authority of the episcopal office,
and suggests to the Church and to the world that the Catholic Church
to hold its leaders accountable.
The Voice of the Faithful hereby resolves that no bishop or other hierarch who, knowing of the sexual abuse of minors by any priest, has failed to remove the priest from any exposure to minors or to take any other effective step to protect the people of God, or who has concealed the risk of abuse presented by such priests from the people to whom such priest was assigned to minister, should be permitted to hold any position of ecclesiastical leadership in the Church. The Voice of the Faithful directs the officers of the organization to advocate for the implementation of this policy in the Church and to take such steps as they consider advisable to secure that goal.
suspect that if this resolution were adopted today's procession would be
a significantly shorter."
From VOTF New York City - Preparing for Change in the Archdiocese of New York
Submitted by Mary Pat Fox
Acts of the Apostles 1:15, which is the reading immediately preceding the
reading when Matthias was welcomed into the apostles’ midst, we read: "One day Peter stood up to speak to the brothers - there were about 120 people in the congregation...." Fast
forward to 2005 on the eve of Pentecost when about 120 representatives of
41 parishes in the Archdiocese of New York gathered in the basement of St.
Ignatius Church to address the upcoming church closings. The symbolic significance
of our number was not lost on anyone.
The day was focused on the Laity and Clergy working together and taking on more responsibility to ensure that prospective closings in their areas would respect those faith communities in as smooth a transition as possible. The attendees included ten priests. We had experts discuss the spirituality of a parish; the future of the parish and the role laity must play; current lay ministry education; best practices on church closings and reorganizations; and some training on how to work with your pastor. We also had a panel discussion of parishioners in the Archdiocese who have experienced closings/mergers; some experiences were very bad and some were very positive. The difference in the two could be summed up under communications, involvement and respect.
attendees broke up into neighborhoods or vicariates and formulated recommendations
for the Archdiocese on what they felt they needed to have done prior to the
announcement of the closings and what needed to be done after the announcement
- the announcement is slated for September. These recommendations are being
presented to Bishop Sullivan who is in charge of the "realignment." All of the attendees completed "commitment cards" in
which they agreed to request a meeting with their pastor to discuss what
collective action they can take. The day was a HUGE success.
Anyone wanting to hear more about this day and the next steps the NYC strategy team is taking can contact Mary Pat Fox
from VOTF New York City – an invitation to sign a petition
J. Reese, S.J. was recently forced to resign as editor of America magazine.
If you are as outraged as we are, join us in signing
a petition of
protest and signing it online.
can also print out a copy of the petition in order to gather signatures,
here: (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be
obtained for free
will post the results of the petition on our web
site. The petition and
signatures will be presented to Archbishop William J. Levada, head of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in early July.
here and follow the instructions there about how to send
out your own email invitation.
We have found that many people are willing to sign this petition but they may not have access to email. A group of us gathered over 500 signatures one Sunday after Masses at our Parish. To sign the petition the signatories do not have to be VOTF members. This petition provides an avenue for all to express their concern and objections on this matter. Please mail the signed petitions to us at the address on the bottom of the petition page prior to June 30th so they can be included in the presentation to Archbishop Levada at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in early July.
From VOTF Cleveland, OH
Submitted by Fred McGunagle
of Cleveland ordained only one priest in May as the priestly roster continued
At the same ceremony, it ordained nine permanent deacons, bringing the total
to 192 in a diocese that didn’t have any at all in 1971. There are now 18,000
deacons worldwide, Ken Piechowski, director of the diocesan deacon program,
told the St. Christopher Parish Voice on May 3. Of those, nearly 14,000 are
in the United States.
the Cleveland deacons, 38 are full-time diocesan employees. The others
are unpaid “weekend warriors” at parishes. But that doesn’t mean they’re
part-time deacons. They are deacons on the same weekdays that they are
plumbers, opticians, teachers, accountants, salespeople, doctors and
“There’s a great deal of ministry that takes place,” Piechowski said. “There’s some really good witness in living that particular lifestyle and being a sign of the Church in those areas. I think that’s
one of the unsung virtues of the diaconate.”
was in insurance before and after he felt the call to ministry. He attended
night and weekend seminary classes. Though single men may be ordained, all
the current Cleveland deacons are married; his wife also took classes. When
he was asked to work full time for the church, he and his wife prayed before
accepting the cut in pay. He still does double duty; besides his work at
the diocese, he is administrator of the small Polish parish where he grew
up. Still, he misses the opportunity to be church to people in the workplace. “Deacons minister 24 hours a day,” he
VOTF Rockford, IL – What Happened On Pentecost Sunday?
Vineyard readers learned last month that VOTF Rockford, IL members determined after two years of requests for permission to meet on Church property and repeated requests for a meeting with Bishop Doran that they would remain in the church following Mass on Pentecost Sunday and hold a meeting.
75 people attended a Mass at St. Peter Cathedral in Rockford, IL (Rockford
with support from many VOTF affiliates in the Chicagoland area. Aimee Haraimani
(Boston) VOTF National was in attendance, as was Janet Hauter, acting Regional
Coordinator of a three-state region (IL, IN, WI). Attendees all wore red
recognizing the Pentecost theme and wore VOTF buttons. A “pre meeting” in
the parking lot in advance of Mass helped organize the many who were unfamiliar
with the Church and the plan for the morning.
Mass en masse: The
readings were clearly inspired as they spoke about the Church being One
Body and how we must act from our gifts to follow the lead of the Spirit.
The day’s theme coupled with the readings reaffirmed our purpose and
clarified why Pentecost was the day we were to be present.
Target/s: The target of this action was twofold:
Bishop Doran for his inability to recognize his role in relation to the people he was chosen to serve, and
Attendees and invitees
to give them a “taste” of a successful action
not seen as an isolated event but rather seen contextually.
The local ABC affiliate television station and the Chicago Tribune were there. The T.V. station interviewed Mike, Janet, Aimee, Geneva representatives, and Don Bondick, from Rockford.
Additional Notes from Mike Mastrioanni:
Mastroianni, Rockford regional coordinator, asked participants to sign up
to make a call
to the bishop on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, asking him for a time
to meet either in person or on the phone. Mike and Pat LaSalle, other local
coordinators, had prepared what to say when calling with a summarized list
of concerns, should a meeting take place. Mike also mentioned that a “Letter to the Editor” action
would be good, and that another recommendation was to email the Pope and
tell him what is going on in our area.
and Janet spoke about the upcoming national convocation, the upcoming
Regional Representative elections, the Bishop’s conference in Chicago
in June, and other business. We adjourned at 1:45.
Father David Beauvais, a VOTF member, and the only vocally supportive clergyman in the city, along with all those who spoke out in the media, are hopeful that good will come of so much faith-filled commitment.
Boise, Idaho is struggling with recent news about their Bishop. For the story, go to
The Idaho Statesman on
A 5/28 article noting SNAP's
of Covington, KY agreed to the largest settlement to date for victims
of abuse by clergy and other church employees. For New York Times (AP)
story, click here.
In Orange County, CA, thousands of once-confidential Church documents were released. The documents detail sexual abuse by priests and expose the extent to which clergy members, one now a bishop, concealed the accusations of abuse. The story appeared in the New York Times on May 19, 2005. Go to bishop-accountability.org for additional details and the Los Angeles Times story.
Milwaukee diocese rescinded
its intention to do unannounced searches of priests' rooms
after a deluge of protests from laity and religious. Read
VOTF Palm Beach County, FL
Submitted by Ed Hill
from the March 19th Healing Program in recognition of, and
compassion for, victims of sexual abuse
by the clergy:
Letters to the Editor
[Send your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org]
“ What I think is that I plan to continue to think for myself with your help
and advice. I plan on continuing to attend church and worship in my faith,
there is nothing that Rome or my parish can do to keep me away. I disagree
with many things and will continue to do so. This is my right and duty, but
has nothing to do with my faith in the God whose daughter I became when I
was baptized 87 years ago. Sorry if you guys in Rome are inviting me out,
I don't plan to help you make our Church smaller and more easily managed.
will miss Father Reese's opinions but have a feeling we will be hearing
from him again and I will keep my eyes and ears open. I will be interested
to see what happens now. Thank you Voice of the Faithful for what you
From Sally Beers
“ I am appalled and not a little frightened by the dismissal of Fr. Reese.
I have been a church-loving Catholic through Pius XII, Vatican II and
John Paul II. I fear I will be stranded in my dotage, attached to my
beloved Church by the single, mighty tie of the Eucharist brought to
me be strangers. God bless us all.”
From Henry A. Smith, Yorba Linda, CA
“… there is more to life than preserving. We--the Body of Christ--now find
ourselves in the rough beginnings of a non-hierarchical Catholic Church.”
From retired United Methodist minister Rev. Frank A. Halse, Jr.
“ I want you to know how deeply I feel about your effort at renewal. I
was thrilled back when it started, and I remain so to this moment.
then that I continue to hold you all in my daily prayers, and that
I want you to know that it is when you are most discouraged that
you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing.”
From Paul Kendrick, Maine
“ If I'm not mistaken, the Episcopal Accountability Resolution passed
on September 18, 2004 states that the worldwide membership of Voice
of the Faithful is calling for all bishops who placed children at
risk of sexual abuse to step down from any leadership position in
the Church. Period.
According to news reports, two-thirds plus of all U.S. bishops would fall into this category. Yet, we certainly don't hear that most VOTF affiliates across the country are calling for the resignation of their bishops. And even more importantly, while our officers may talk about this subject in their speeches, VOTF is not identified or perceived by the public or the press as an organization that is calling for most bishops to resign.
Some say that the recent ad placed in America reflects the intent of the Resolution. Not really. The ad didn't specifically say that VOTF members want all bishops who placed kids at risk of abuse to resign, to step down, to no longer serve as bishop.
We didn't explain in the ad that this is one of the only means by which our Church can move forward. No, instead, we asked the same bishops who put kids at risk of abuse to discern what they should do to help heal our church. The last thing they're going to do is resign.
I hear more and more about the need to create better dialogue with these same bishops. Who could argue with that? Getting together, face to face, with our bishops is good business. Collaboration, after all, is our goal.
But we can't have it both ways. If we can't have it both ways, which way are we going?
summary, will VOTF begin to implement the terms of the Resolution
in a highly visible manner? Will our print ads, national speeches,
press and media interviews always include a call for the resignation
of bishops who placed kids at risk?”
From Anita Schepkler
“I believe that we must get much more active on a grassroots and local level
about all the issues that face us today in the Church. I am worried that our
children will leave and find a Christian community that is less punishing, less
demeaning and more welcoming. Who can blame them?
should have a communications and a letter writing campaign to all Bishops
before they head off to their June meeting where several issues need our
careful watching, especially if they try to weaken the document on sexual
abuse and reporting. I encouraged our local VOTF to get this message in as
many church bulletins as possible. I would personally volunteer to get up
and speak at masses about these grass-roots campaigns if it were possible.
We need to stop the possible attempt to weaken this document. If anything,
we should have Bishops at the meeting trying to make it stronger.”
From Deborah Doyle
“ I am the product of a large Catholic family and 12 years of Catholic education.
I will not allow the Vatican or the Catholic Church to tell me that I cannot
debate a topic of have an opinion about the issues confronting the Catholic
Church today. I do not want a smaller leaner church but a larger and much
more inclusive one.”
From Lois Hatten, Boise, ID
“ The recent removal of Father Thomas Reese as Editor-In-Chief of America magazine brings me sadness and apprehension. I have long been a subscriber to America. I
applaud and admire the magazine's efforts to be timely, fair, scholarly and
spiritual in its content. Both (or more) sides of an issue are addressed.
Does the removal of Father Reese mean censorship is alive and well and in
the future nothing controversial will be published? Surely our Catholic faith
is big enough and strong enough and universal enough for dialogue including
different opinions and more than one side of an issue.”
From B. Cleary
“ Our title, ‘Voice of the Faithful,’ means to me that we have decided to speak (voice) of what in our hearts we believe (the faith-full). It does not mean that we will be forever ‘faithful’ to or uncritical of any once-upon-a-time set of beliefs like the Baltimore Catechism or the decrees of Vatican One (1869). It does mean that we pledge and claim to be faithful to our interior sense of things and honest experience. Our honest experience, for instance, of the funeral of the former pope may well have been negative – with all its extravagant praise for a flawed, theatrical, sometimes arrogant and narrow-minded man, as well as our experience of the bizarre gathering of hand-picked and subservient cardinals as they elected to the papacy one of their own, a man so isolated he can never really lead the whole church. The whole church: what a concept! Ask Jesus what it is and he'd say it's the world, everyone in the world – with
all its indescribable diversity, where love overwhelms despair, and violence,
and even gender. It's everywhere, that church, and most of us believe in
it. That's what we are faithful to, and give our voice to in VOTF.”
[What do you think? Write to email@example.com]
“Communicating with Bishops” – Part
II: This is a concluding installment from Thomas P. Doyle, O.P., J.C.D. (Part
I appeared in the May issue of In the Vineyard)
is tragic that it took a nightmare such as the clergy abuse scandal to cause
to awaken from the spiritual coma induced by clericalism and to realize that
they must be adults in Church as well as in their homes, their places of
work and in secular society in general. The results have been predictable.
Lay men and women who have confronted and questioned have been accused of
everything from misunderstanding to heresy. Some, when asking for discussion
and dialogue, have been told that there will be none unless the hierarchic
authority is acknowledged. In other words, dress like a grown-up for the
meeting, but! act like a docile, obedient and fearful child. Communicating
with bishops on a level playing field is, by tradition, theologically and
canonically impossible. Yet it is essential if the Church is to really be
the Body of Christ and if the leaders hope to be seen as pastors and not
bureaucrats in medieval dress. Catholic lay men and women are forced to acknowledge
the irrational fears that always caused them to bow in deference before “father” much less “His Excellency.” They must meet these fears head on, acknowledge them and move past them. Too much is at stake.
The lay people must forge
the new set of rules for communicating with the hierarchs. Heretofore there
have been two basic behavior patterns from the pre-abuse days, and an additional
pattern born of the scandal. In the days when all lived the reality of the
Church as a stratified society, the lay people deferred to the bishops and
generally believed that their assessments, conclusions and action plans were
always right. This was almost always true in direct dealings with bishops.
When out of earshot, however, some lay persons often expressed disagreement,
disappointment or even anger! at bishops and their actions. Yet none would
ever confront or question them. That simply wasn’t done. They were, after
all, the divinely appointed successors of the apostles.
the scandal came a third way of communicating and that was through direct
and often angry confrontation. Forced by the media and the courts to
face the issues, the bishops could hardly retreat to the security of
their offices, confident that the clamor would dissipate in time and
all would return to normal. The deference, respect and trust that had
been seared into Catholic souls quickly evaporated and replaced by anger
and disdain. In general, irrational anger has not served to persuade
the bishops of the validity and urgency of the survivors’ complaints.
However, the angry encounters with bishops, including the vociferous
demonstrations that have taken place at chanceries and cathedrals, have
not been without impact. Though the bishops have tried to give the impression
of being above the fray and immune from the anger and emotion, it remains
painfully true that this form of communication has shocked many bishops
into the realization that they can no longer presume deference and respect.
sides of the conversation have been hardened. Some bishops won’t allow VOTF to meet on Church property, mindlessly accusing them of having “agendas,” being “anti-Catholic,” “fostering dissent” or,
worst of all, failing to respect the bishops. Clerics openly associated
with VOTF, SNAP or other organizations deemed unacceptable by some
bishops, have been criticized, shunned or, in the case of some priests
or deacons, unjustly penalized. Since there is no valid basis for
accusing either group of being heretical, anti-Catholic or dissenting,
they are vilified, not because their message is heretical or dissenting,
but because their anger and confrontational tactics are more than
the bishops can handle. What is being lost in all of this is the
path to mutual understanding.
The victims and many lay people believe the bishops not only will not, but cannot get it. The bishops, for their part, are probably convinced that in their anger, the victims and their supporters will never be able to see and accept their side nor the honest and sincere concern many have for the victims. The goal should not be beating one or the other side into submission. The goal should be to arrive at a minimal degree of mutual respect so as to begin to listen to one another rather than talking at one another. Disagreement need not always be covered in anger.
The time for confrontation that is predominantly angry and irrational is past. In most cases the anger and rage have been amply justified. Yet it has caused many bishops to become hardened in their attitudes towards all victims and survivors and towards all lay people whom they believe have had the temerity to question them. The time for confrontation on a level playing field is not past and never will be. There is much to confront and many hard questions yet to be answered. Name calling and verbal abuse are as much a barrier to needed answers as is the infantile deference that has enabled clericalism to flourish and control. Fear must be banished.
Bishops who refuse to include lay people and survivors on every level of discussion and decision making about the response to the clergy abuse scandal must be confronted and, in a rational, firm yet respectful manner, asked to explain such an exclusion. Those who have accused VOTF, SNAP or other groups of having hidden agendas, of being dissenters, of heresy, or anti-Catholicism must be confronted and asked to explain in detail the reasons for these accusations and the sources of their information. Those who have refused to reveal the names of verified sex abusers or who have secretly reassigned known offenders must be confronted and asked to provide an explanation to the people of God!
There is no longer room for fear, secrecy or arrogance. Far too much is at stake and far too many souls have been devastated.
It is possible to confront the contradictions between the spirit of Vatican II and spirit of clerical mistrust. In doing so it is essential to understand the clerical context from which the opposition arises. The bishop is essential to the institutional structure of the Church. The theological and structural tradition teaches that the Church is founded on the bishops who are therefore essential for its very existence. The chain of authority in the three-fold office of the bishop is believed to be the divinely directed means whereby God communicates with mortals. Consequently, challenges! to bishops are perceived as much more than personal attacks or manifestations of disrespect. Such challenges are expressions of disbelief in an essential tenet of faith.
the other side, the victims and others who challenge the bishops’ autocratic
exercise of authority do not see such challenges as an affront
to a doctrinal issue.
Rather they see them as a reaction to the reality of authority either misused
or abused. The bishops see themselves as divinely appointed leaders and their
critics see them as flawed administrators.
differences are not solely about power. The differences are about a variety
of issues that are far more serious than ownership of power. Soul murder,
rape, sexual assault, character assassination, slander and financial
mismanagement are some of the known abuses that many are up in arms about.
These issues will not go away nor will they be rectified unless drastic
attitudinal changes take place, primarily on the part of the Church’s
Building bridges and opening lines of true communication between the bishops and lay people is a noble goal for members of the Christian community but it will never happen without integrity and trust. Trust will not happen until the traditional secrecy and its sibling, fear, are eradicated. Lay people should not fear honest confrontation with bishops or other Church leaders. This is an essential step in the search for truth and accountability. Banishing the fear that always lurked in the background is the beginning of authentic Christian empowerment. Searching for plausible answers does not equal disrespect nor is it a sign of dissent. Above all it is a sign that one has accepted the sometimes painful and challenging responsibility of adult membership in the Body of Christ.
Confrontation need not equal fanaticism. Working together begins with dialogue and dialogue cannot begin with capitulation. Lay persons have been nurtured by an ecclesial culture that made true dialogue impossible. The duplicity revealed by the sex abuse scandal led to the subsequent erosion of trust and respect for clerics and especially bishops. This will be reversed when both sides move beyond roles and see one another as Christians. This will be much more difficult for bishops but this does not mean that lay men and women can or should retreat to mindless deference.
In conclusion, I believe that authentic dialogue is essential and possible. This means calling the issues in truth with first concern for those harmed. Confrontation however does not mean irrational anger nor can it be productive if minds and hearts are closed to the possibility of good will.
But, No Thanks”
David Clohessy, National Director of SNAP
Roger Mahony set up a chapel for us. Others pen apologies for the past. Some
meet face-to-face with victims. A few others hold "healing masses" for us
(often, however, neglecting to invite us). Others are talking about erecting
statues or monuments in memory of what was done to us.
the risk of seeming ungrateful, many abuse survivors say "thanks but
of my favorite Biblical passages comes from Matthew: "And what parent,
when his child asks for bread, would give that child a stone?"
For years now, abuse victims and caring Catholics have sought real nourishment from
bishops - real openness about past crimes and effective steps to prevent future ones. Yet
increasingly, bishops give us stones - policies, procedures, and worse, symbols. These
might make us feel better today, now, but are really illusory and leave all of us hungry.
We can heal with or without the bishop's help. We can conduct our own services and
erect our own statutes. Others can apologize or meet with us.
But only a bishop can:
name the known, admitted and credibly accused abusive clerics
in his diocese, thereby warning parents and protecting kids;
discipline church employees who refuse to be fingerprinted, or an
accused priest who plays legal hardball and sues his accuser;
marshal an entire diocese's resources to lobby for tougher laws against child sexual abuse.
Which is a more effective way to reduce suffering? A one-time foot-washing ceremony, or on-going parish bulletin announcements urging witnesses and victims of sex crimes to call the police or SNAP (and include the phone numbers)?
the months ahead, shrewd public relations firms employed by bishops will
no doubt come
up with other "innovative" steps allegedly intended to "bring healing."
When evaluating such moves, we recommend a two part litmus test.
First, where'd the idea come from? Is it something many victims and Catholics have long sought?
Second, does this action reduce a bishop's power in sex abuse cases or increase the power of police, prosecutors or the victims themselves?
If the answer to either question is no, then it's not reform. It may be well-intentioned even, but it is a symbol. It is not substance. And symbolism protects no one.
Why is this second question - lessening bishops' power - so crucial? Because one reason we're in this mess is that bishops have, and have had, too much power.
For decades, any bishop has had the power to play police, prosecutor, defense lawyer, forensics expert, judge, jury, and social worker - in other words, to handle the investigation and adjudication of crimes himself (usually with no training in any of
these areas). At the same time, he's assessing risk in the victimizer and damage to the victim. But no one person can play all these roles. Nor should any one person try.
why SNAP so vigorously supports enlarging the role of the unbiased, experienced
and independent professionals in law enforcement, and reducing the role of
biased, untrained Church officials and volunteers. That's why we back legislative
reforms like expanding the dangerously rigid and restrictive statutes of
limitations. Those arbitrary and archaic time limits force victims to turn
to secretive, untested internal Church processes, instead of what they really
need – open, time-tested external judicial processes that have successfully
evolved over more than 200 years of American jurisprudence.
So we're asking for bread, but getting stones.
we're getting continued secrecy and more molesters. We’re seeing cover
ups exposed only when forced by determined prosecutors and dogged journalists
pattern we've seen for years).
we're told that "half a loaf is better than none at all." This is only
true, however, when it's real bread, not something that looks like bread.
At best, such symbolism is often a waste of energy. At worst, it's a
distraction from the real remedy - substantive change. Such symbolism
may enable some to feel less guilty or less inept. But it may also dissipate
drives for genuine reform.
We want, need, and have repeatedly asked for the bread that only bishops have
names of perpetrators and names of enablers (and secret files)
the power to discipline either
access to parish bulletins (for outreach notices begging victims to step forward)
Church records that could shed light
Victims and Catholics have sought all of this and more. Instead we get PR stunts (like Orange County Bishop Tod Brown's shameless nailing of his promises to his own cathedral door, a la Martin Luther at Wittenberg), We get carefully crafted
apologies (pre-emptively posted on web sites just before Church documents are disclosed, like Boise Bishop Michael Driscoll).
something that's supposedly "better than nothing" really isn't.
Kung and the Church We Want to Be”
I was touched by your editorial in the current issue of In the Vineyard, with
its beautiful concluding words from Rilke. As to the question of what kind
of Church ours should be, it would be hard to improve on Hans Küng's formulation in a 1981 talk, “The Church from Above and the Church from Below.” Here
is the relevant passage:
first thing we have to tell ourselves again and again is that we are
the People of God. And the Church at its origin for all its weaknesses
and defects regards itself essentially as God's community, God's people.
The Church therefore can never be merely a particular class or caste,
or a clique within the community of believers. And we have to abolish
this use of the word 'Church' just for some people in the church.
The Church can only be the whole People of God, the whole ecclesia, assembly, community of believers. According to the New Testament, all are called by God, all are justified by Christ, all are sanctified in the Spirit, we are all invited to faith and active love. Consequently, we are all the chosen race, the royal priesthood, the holy people. And in this sense, in principle, we are all equal in the Church. And this basic equality is infinitely more important than all differences which obviously exist and have existed.
There are a lot of differences but all of this must not be made a system of domination. The Church from Below is also not merely the application of modern, enlightened understanding of democracy to the structures of the church. I have nothing against democracy, and, as a matter of fact, if anything would be nearer to the New Testament constitution of the churches, then certainly it will be democracy, not monarchy. But that is not the main point.
main point is that the Church from Below is rooted in the New Testament
of the church itself. It is a very primitive and Christian requirement. In
as far as the Church is essentially God's people, charismatic community,
fellowship of believers in Christ, it is essentially a Church from Below.
The Church from Below therefore does not usurp power but exists on its legitimate
right before the present rulers of the Church from Above."
think of Küng's remarks when I hear Acts being read to us from the pulpit, as it is each Sunday at this season of the year. The kind of Church we emphatically don't want is the sort that tries to silence people like Küng
or Leonardo Boff or, for that matter, Tom Reese or Roger Haight. It doesn't
matter whether one agrees with their views or not. That's for each of us,
in the freedom of his or her own mind and conscience, to determine. What
matters is that we have the kind of conversation they seek to initiate.
from Ray Joyce, VOTF Executive Director – “One of the Many Voices”
only been on the job for a couple of weeks but I want to start out with
of thanks. VOTF is for all intents and purposes a volunteer organization;
affiliates, regional affiliates and coordinators, working groups, steering
committees, subcommittees, national representative council, officers, and
trustees are all volunteers along with nearly all the help at the national
office. In addition the few paid staff/consultants, also regularly volunteer
additional time and/or donate resources. This movement simply could not exist
without the time and talent of so many dedicated volunteers. Thank you.
also like to thank those of you who have contributed your financial resources,
your treasure, to VOTF. Despite the ingenuity of our volunteers, there
are only so many items we can barter. Your continued donations allow
us to help expand this movement in order to meet our goals and honor
our mission statement.
I’d also like to thank the many related organizations with whom we collaborate on a host of issues including supporting survivors and their loved ones, supporting the many good priests in their ministry and assisting in our efforts to reclaim and renew the Church through greater participation of the laity. Please know that everyone’s
dedication to and support of for this movement, large and small,
visible and not so visible, are very much appreciated.
look forward to meeting many of you at our Convocation over the
weekend of July 8-10th in Indianapolis. If you’re unable to attend
please keep Voice of the Faithful in your prayers.