Please send comments and inquiries to

“The Spirit sent Jesus out toward the desert. He stayed in the wasteland forty days, put to the test there by Satan.” First Sunday of Lent, Mark 1:12-15; see Lenten Reflections in Vineyard 2/23

NATIONAL VOTF anniversary: Four years ago today, twelve members of the new Voice of the Faithful group attended the Archdiocese of Boston’s annual convocation for parish leaders in Boston. This was the meeting held by Archdiocesan leadership (Cardinal Law) with the various regions and parish representatives of the archdiocese. The original agenda had been derailed by the insistence of priests and parish administrators to focus on the newly emerged clergy sexual abuse crisis. At the diocesan-wide meeting, VOTF read a statement that for the first time publicly identified the organization by name, as well as our new group’s goals. Read the 2002 statement and let us know what you think of those words today. Write to


Highlights in this issue:

NEWS FOCUS – Eyes on Chicago, Il
Protecting our children in Chicago failed after four years of talk and commitment by US bishops. VOTF Chicago affiliates wrote a letter to Cardinal George and discerned their way to consensus on a response to the failure of Cardinal George to protect children. Read the letter and VOTF Chicago in Discernment” under Commentary and More.

  • If you’re just catching up on the Chicago situation, go to NCR for Robert McClory’s March 3 story “Abuse scandal erupts in Chicago”; see VOTF president Jim Post’s letter to Dr. Patricia Ewers of the National Review Board.
  • As VOTF members discerned the breakdown of the USCCB Charter to Protect Children and Young People in Chicago, National secretary Gaile Pohlhaus wrote and distributed a timely prayer. See “Discernment in Chicago” under Commentary.
  • According to the Boston Globe, Boston isn’t where it should be, either – on protecting children. Read Survivor Community News.
  • Another failure to protect a minor in New Mexico is reported. Begin at the National Catholic Reporter’s (NCR) Abuse Tracker page.

Campaign 2006 Update – VOTF ads for the 2006 campaigns for accountability and protecting our children have begun to appear in National Catholic Reporter, which also features two articles about VOTF. Subscribers can visit

  • The evolving campaign web page is ready for visitors; to view our ads for the campaigns, click on the campaigns; to use these ads locally, contact John Moynihan at Please put Campaign Ads in your subject line.
  • Reminder: Area coordinators, affiliate and affiliate members’ training weekend is coming up – deadline for registering is March 10. Check the VOTF web site at Campaign for Accountability and contact Susanna Gregory at 617-558-5252 or by email at

NATIONAL Representative Council Notes – Confused about statutes of limitations and “windows”? NRC representative Frank Douglas has identified an outstanding reference tool adding, “It’s well organized and written in understandable, straightforward English. It has information about civil statutes of limitations (SOLs), criminal SOLs, tips for talking to legislators, phone scripts for talking to legislators, easy questions and answers (FAQs), links to editorials and columns, etc.”

  • Another excellent resource is
  • National Catholic Reporter: March 3 editorial – “Of Business Practices and Accountability” and cover story “Churches for sale.”
  • Don’t forget the Protect Children Through Legislation Yahoogroup website/listserv. See the Feb. 23 Vineyard for details.

Working Group Updates
SURVIVOR Community News – with thanks to Steve Sheehan for survivor-related news and developments.

  • AFFILIATE ALERT: Help SNAP help survivors and place an ad in the SNAP Support Survivors Ad Book. Go to for details.
  • How does it happen that priests have hurt so many children? Experts will say that access to young people is a first. One victim’s suit against the diocese where the priest allegedly abused him highlights this particular priest’s access. Go to Survivor Community News in this issue – “One priest’s resume”.
  • Joliet, IL: A painful and graphic story to tell and to read comes from columnist Tim Placher of the Daily Southtown, following the deposition of Joliet Bishop Imesch. It is re-printed with permission of the author in Commentary – “Bless me father, for you have sinned”; a follow-up article calling for the resignation of Bishop Imesch is here.
  • As they have done at Christmas time, VOTF Winchester, MA is selling note cards. These are designed by affiliate members Harvey D. Cote and Francis I. Baratta, both of Arlington. All proceeds will benefit clergy abuse survivors. The cost is $10 for a package of 8 cards, with two cards each of four different designs. To view the cards and order, go to their web site. Print the order form and mail in with your check.

Goal #3: STRUCTURAL CHANGE Working Group – Independent Judicial Review of Actions by a Diocesan Bishop? Diocesan Mutual Visitation as a Mechanism for Renewal? See “Structural Change, Anyone?” in Working Group Updates.

LENT – Click here for current readings and reflection (Feb. 23 In the Vineyard). Be sure to share your own Lenten reflections at

  • Retreats – Graymoor Spiritual Life Center, Garrison, NY/March 24-26. Go to
  • VOTF Prayerful Voice retreat
  • March 6 America magazine is the “Lenten Spirituality Issue”; the Feb. 27 issue takes another look at laypeople and parish leadership in “A Prediction Fulfilled.” To visit their site, go to


Dublin, Ireland - Washington Post - "Wide Abuse Disclosed in Dublin Church"

Denver, CO: A Denver Post story “Child protection has to take precedence” said, “It's astonishing when a champion of morality protects those who have violated our most sacred trust, caring for our children. Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput delights in chastising Catholic politicians who disagree with him on moral issues, claiming they must be held accountable for disobeying church doctrine.”

  • Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput is striking back – at Senate Bill 143; SNAP’s David Clohessy says, "There's no state in the union where the bishop has been as hard- nosed and vicious as in Colorado. None. I wouldn't even be able to name the second-worst." Go to for additional details; the Denver Post reports, “The Colorado Catholic Conference has hired a high-powered lobbying firm with ties to Gov. Bill Owens in an effort to defeat bills that would give victims of childhood sex abuse more time to file lawsuits.”
  • Rocky Mountain News reported on March 2: “A sex-abuse bill in the legislature was endorsed Wednesday by Colorado's three Catholic bishops. HB 1088 gained their approval after Rep. Rosemary Marshall, D-Denver, axed a provision that lengthened the statute of limitations for filing civil cases against sexual predators of children and their nonprofit or church employers. Now, the amended bill addresses only the issue of lifting the statute of limitations on crimes against children committed on or after July 1, 1996.” The National Catholic Reporter Abuse Tracker is following this story.
  • The Denver archdiocesan web site is

Joliet, IL– The stunning story of one victim’s abuse has riveted attention on Joliet’s Bishop Imesch. Read Tim Placher (Daily Southtown of the Chicago Sun-Times) “Bless me father, for you have sinned” – reprinted in Commentary with permission of the author. See more in Survivor Community News.

New York, NY: Signs of the times among in-the-pew Catholics – A Scarsdale, NY parish withheld enough money from Sunday collections to draw Archdiocesan attention and a subsequent re-assignment for their pastor. The parish “crisis committee” had concerns over the pastor’s alleged financial mismanagement and alienation of staff. Read more in the Journal News.

  • The New York Times reported, “New York's highest court refused yesterday to waive the statute of limitations and allow dozens of old sexual abuse claims against the Roman Catholic Church to go to trial.” Subscribers can access this Feb. 22 story at

Boston, MA: Statute of Limitations: “State House Hearing Tuesday, March 14th – On Tuesday, March 14th, at the State House, there will be a hearing on Statutes of Limitations repeal bills. It is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. in Room B1. Let’s get those bills out of the State House Judiciary Committee and moving. For details, contact Dorothy Kennedy for the VOTF Boston newsletter –

Des Moines, Iowa – Earlier optimism after an “unprecedented” meeting between Iowa bishops and survivors’ groups is waning. The meeting concerned questions about now-retired Bishop Soens. See the March 3 National Catholic Reporter.

Peter Davey of VOTF Oakland, CA alerts us to the results of a “Survey of the laity” conducted in June and September 2005 by VOTF East Bay, CA. Go to

  • Another survey currently in the works invites your participation. See Site-Seeing, Etc. below.

Also, visit the outstanding web site of VOTF Atlanta, GA at and check out other affiliate web sites under the Parish Voice directory on our National web site at; see VOTF Winchester, MA’s survivor fundraiser initiative in Survivor Community News.


  • Envisioning the Church we want to be has been engaging Catholic interest for decades. Recently, programs such as Boston College’s Church in the 21st Century Center (C21) (“Envisioning the Church Women Want”) are being replicated in a variety of ways and settings. If you are new to this kind of consideration, an excellent starting point is the FutureChurch survey. Click here.
  • VOW – Voices of Women: This is a small group of VOTF women and men interested in exploring ways to educate ourselves on the role of women in our Church. If you would like to be part of the conversation, please write to Peggie Thorp at and please put VOW in your subject line.
  • Fr. Tony Ercolano’s commentary “Letter to my family and friends” in the Vineyard (Oct. 20, 2005 issue) drew dozens of appreciative responses. Readers might want to visit Tony’s new web site at
  • BOOK WATCH: Good Catholic Girls by Angela Bonavoglia is now available in paperback. Check and your bookstores. See Vineyard review (March 2005) and check Angela’s web site at
  • Keep an eye on US Catholic magazine at

Quote for our time: "The great need today is for Christians who are active and critical, who don't accept situations without analyzing them inwardly and deeply... We want persons like fruitful fig trees, who can say yes to justice and no to injustice and can make use of the precious gift of life, regardless of their circumstances." Archbishop Oscar Romero

In the Vineyard
March 9, 2006
Volume 5, Issue 5
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