Voice of the Faithful, In the Vineyard

Comments and inquiries are welcome at pthorp.ed@votf.org

In the Vineyard

March 2005

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" With exultant and sincere hearts they took their meals in common, praising God and winning the approval of all the people." Acts 2:47

Accountability is on the march - Two words used liberally by Voice of the Faithful since 2002 are now common coin in US media coverage of the abuse crisis in our Church - accountability and transparency. Conclusion? The July 9-10 Voice of the Faithful leadership meeting in Indianapolis, IN: "The Laity Speak: Accountability Now". VOTF president Jim Post announced the title of our leadership gathering in a letter distributed earlier this week. Here's how Jim defined "leader":

"When you made the commitment to speak up for change in our Church, you became a leader.

When you used your voice, along with those of so many others, you became a leader.

And when you attend meetings, make donations, send e-mail messages, and talk about the state of the Catholic Church with others, you are a leader."

Fr. Donald Cozzens said recently, ""We need the courage to be truthful, the courage to be faithful, the courage to be present." Be present with us in Indianapolis. Until then, follow developments in this publication under "On Our Way" through July.


Getting ready for Indianapolis in July: In this issue, the Structural Change Working Group recaps its nearly three years of work (did you know the Primer is now in its second edition?) In the April issue of In the Vineyard the group will identify its vision for the work to come.

Something else to talk about in Indianapolis: Priestless parishes are a fact of many US diocesan lives. Read Part 2 of Sr. Mary Mazza's experience as a Parish Life Director in Athens, NY. Sr. Mary was a guest speaker at the VOTF Seacoast, MA affiliate meeting.

We've also included some reading suggestions from our members. Please add your own and send the titles to pthorp.ed@votf.org


Calendar Watch - On March 9, 2002 the brand-new Voice of the Faithful group attends the Archdiocese of Boston's annual convocation, Cardinal Law presiding. Read the statement presented.

VOTF NATIONAL NEWS - Inside this issue

"Every step of this difficult way has been forced upon the bishops who, despite their rhetorical support for 'fraternal correction,' have taken no collective steps, none, to hold accountable those bishops who covered up crimes and knowingly transferred child molesters from parish to parish. The old boy network is alive and well."
National Catholic Reporter editorial March 4, 2005

The USCCB proposed revisions to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People raise additional concerns among Catholics everywhere.

VOTF affiliates were asked to comment on the USCCB proposed Charter revisions and VOTF's proposals as they appear in the bishops' Workbook (LINK); we wanted to provide some "on the ground" context for readers; Tulsa, OK identifies some cracks in their diocese' "full compliance"; VOTF Kris Ward notes, "In 2005 the Bishops will begin 'self-reporting' audits, which Voice of the Faithful opposes. The John Jay Study showed us 52 years of the failure of self audits by the Bishops"; check out additional coverage from National Catholic Reporter, SNAP, the Los Angeles Times, and Coalition of Catholics and Survivors; the value of access to the bishops' workbook cannot be overstated as we see in Paul Kendrick's memo about a Maine resident's request to her diocese for the workbook; Kris Ward also notes: "You may be puzzled by different sets of numbers surrounding the audits formally known as the 2004 Annual Report on Findings and Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People." See Kris' numbers breakout.

The Monitor - a regular newsletter published by bishopaccountability.org is yours for the asking. It's succinct and informative. Sign up at bishop-accountability.org.

VOTF moves to further ensure a commitment to broad representation: The resolution to re-constitute the Representative Council as a truly National Council based on 14 regions received an overwhelmingly favorable vote. See Representative Council updates. Identify your region and find out how to nominate candidates (including yourself) for your regional representation.

VOTF trustees elect new chairman of the board - Read More.

ALSO In the News

What a month! Another way to find yourself banned from Eucharist is to be a board member of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish in St. Louis, MO; another voice is under siege in the recent Vatican censure of theologian Roger Haight; MA Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly to support a bill to eliminate the 15-year statute of limitations for sexual abuse crimes against children.

VOTF Regional News - Inside this issue

Best Practice - All eight affiliates in VOTF Cincinnati, OH, inclusive of Dayton (the second largest city in the diocese), Cincinnati affiliates and Clayton, have spearheaded an immediate-action campaign around the annual diocesan appeal - it is this month's VOTF BEST PRACTICE. Read about "Your Choice, Your Voice"; Kris Ward reports some breaking news in Ohio around their statute of limitations.

Affiliate News includes: VOTF Brooklyn, NY is seeing structural change at work in their diocese; John Dearie of VOTF Atlanta, Georgia reports a listening Archbishop!; VOTF Natick, MA to sponsor a clergy and laity panel discussion. And More.

NOTE: VOTF Long Island, NY has an outstanding web site at www.votf-li.org and is holding their second Faith convention on March 19 with the peripatetic National Catholic Reporter Rome correspondent John Allen and VOTF's first Priest of Integrity Award recipient Fr. Tom Doyle. See details on their web site.

Parish Closings: the Chicago Tribune reports that the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago will shutter 23 schools and merge or consolidate four more by next school year; a VOTF member asked: What does an archdiocese do with money raised from property sales?; in the Boston, MA archdiocese, VOTF Trustee David Castaldi was asked to head the Parish Reconfiguration Fund Oversight Committee. Their first report was released.

Be sure to check out the lectures and events in the Boston College program "The Church in the 21st Century". The program includes a compilation of analyses and essays on the Church's crisis and search for renewal in C21 Resources, available free; an excellent resource for coverage of the larger nonprofit world is the Non-Profit Quarterly e-newsletter. The current issue focuses on "The Responsibility of Leadership."

VOTF On the Road - Jim Post, Kris Ward and Gaile Pohlhaus will be speaking in New Jersey, Florida and Kentucky. Find out who is speaking where and on what.

VOTF IN PRINT: Jim Post's essay on "Applying 21st Century Leadership to Our Church" was published by The National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers in their quarterly online journal.

Commentary -second installment of Jim Keenan's "Rights of Priests" paper published by the National Federation of Priests Council

Book Review - Good Catholic Girls - How Women Are Leading the Fight to Change the Church by Angela Bonavoglia, Harper Collins (Regan Books), 2005

LETTERS To the Editor - John Seryak, VOTF Cleveland, OH diocese steering committee wrote to the Akron Beacon Journal on behalf of S.E.S.A.M.E; a correspondent feels the Vineyard needs some humor (write to pthorp.ed@votf.org)

Prayer and Reflection - "Prayer for the Paschal Season" from Jack Rakosky and a suggestion from Gaile Pohlhaus, VOTF national secretary: As we begin the period of Lenten observance let us renew our pledge to recite the prayer of Prayerful Voice each noon - Jesus, Lord and Brother, help us with our faithfulness. Please hear our voice, and let our voice be heard. Amen.



On Our Way! - to Indianapolis, IN on July 9-10, 2005. See contact information in this issue and watch for updates on our web site.

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