CONVOCATION Update Each of the Saturday afternoon breakouts in Indianapolis will run for just under three hours (with a break in the middle) – see why you will value every minute in “Breaking Up is Hard to Do”; Francine Cardman’s keynote address is “Re-membering the Church” – why the hyphen?; AND have you registered for the July 8-10 convocation?
Note: VOTF members will be receiving e-updates on Convocation news and progress, beginning 5/18. Greeters, lectors, singers and Eucharistic Ministers needed – if interested, please be in touch with Susan Troy at Women and men religious – we want you with us! See Update for details.

VOTF welcomes our new Executive Director Ray Joyce and his family; there are 50 candidates for 26 seats on the new National Representative Council – elections to be held by June 1; USCCB meeting is set for Chicago, IL June 16-18. EYES ON ROME: Pope Benedict XVI’s past, part progressive and part doctrinaire, raises interest in how much, and which part, of that past the pope has brought with him to the seat of Peter; America magazine editor Tom Reese “resigns”; be sure to read Kris Ward’s Rome journal covering her 12 days in Rome for VOTF; SNAP’s Board is offering a creative way to help SNAP members to finance their attendance at their June 10-12 Annual National Conference in Chicago, IL. Kris Ward identifies direct communication avenues to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.



The Long Island Press named the Long Island Voice of the Faithful as one of the fifty most influential organizations on Long Island. VOTF Boston is considering a fourth goal for their affiliate; VOTF Rockford, IL isn’t waiting for permission to use Church property; members of NH VOTF and other concerned Catholics in NH have spent eighteen months trying to arrive at a substantive reply from Rome with regard to their own bishop and his auxiliary. In the absence of that response, they have gone public and have posted on a web site the chronology of their efforts; VOTF-Maine is pleased with the high court ruling that allows the hierarchical staff of churches to be held accountable in Maine Courts for repeatedly delivering sexual predators into unsuspecting communities. Milwaukee priests may be subject to searches – what’s wrong with this picture? Click here for all Regional News.



SHOWTIME’s “Our Fathers” film based on David France’s book about the sexual abuse crisis premiered in Boston. Its schedule as well as the schedule for “Holy Water-Gate: Abuse Cover-up in the Catholic Church” is available; take the Boston College survey on the Church in the 21st Century initiative; Sr. Mary Aquin O’Neill, RSM, PhD on the April 24 “Meet the Press” program, was asked whether or not the ordained priesthood should be open to women. Her response broadens the discussion. Click here for all Events, etc.

In the Vineyard
May 2005
Volume 4, Issue 5
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Letter to Editor





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For an overview of press coverage of VOTF, click here.

" My real program of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole church." Pope Benedict XVI at his installation

“What the Church needs today, as always, are not adulators to extol the status quo, but men whose humility and obedience are no less than their passion for truth; men who brave every misunderstanding and attack as they bear witness; men who, in a word, love the Church more than ease and the unruffled course of their personal destiny.” Josef Ratzinger from "Free Expression and Obedience in the Church" during his work at Vatican II, 1963, later quoted at the beginning of Christianity and the Religions: From Confrontation to Dialogue by Jacques Dupuis, SJ, (2000).

In the plethora of media coverage of the new Pope, one finds a curious but familiar phenomenon. At the dawn of this new papacy, we hear repeated expressions of both gloom and relief from all quarters of Catholic America. Liberals are disappointed. Conservatives are jubilant. Centrists are taking a wait-and-see approach. Bottom line – this Pope and concerns over his past orthodoxy or prospects of his adopting an entirely new papal persona, are red herrings. The question Catholics should be asking today is the question all Catholics should have been asking for at least the last three years: What kind of Church do we want?

Readers know from coverage in these pages that parishes and many state legislatures are noisier with the sound of Catholics speaking out. During the revelations of sexual abuse by clergy and a hierarchical cover up, many saw the ailing Pope as the problem. Others cited bishops’ autonomy, clericalism, sexism, lack of collegiality – the list is truly endless. Again, the bottom line: The reasons for the Church’s failures are not going to disappear simply by identifying those reasons, so – what kind of Church do we want?

The world’s civilized minds are embarrassed by the routine of silencings and book “bannings” – even certain subjects are banned from discussion (which has only drawn attention to the folly of doing so.) All of this advances the reality of ferment. We ask: How long can the surface withstand the upheaval beneath? What can we hope for by way of dialogue if we factor in the recent dismissal of Tom Reese, editor of America magazine, following so quickly the “discipline” against Roger Haight?

Surprisingly, there is some quantifiable hope, if these last three years tell us anything. While most Catholics would no doubt welcome any initiatives our new Pope might take toward calming our rumbling landscape, there is a refreshing understanding among us that the Pope is not the Church. The message is getting out – the laity, too, are called to speak and to act and to do so in love and in all places.

Look around – things have changed. Our faith has found tens of thousands of us taking already challenged calendars and creating a space for the Church we want today and for our children. This issue of In the Vineyard is only one snapshot of who we are (voices of many faithful Catholics), what we are doing (bearing witness), and where we’re going (Indianapolis, for starters!)

What kind of Church do we want? Come to the VOTF Indianapolis convocation July 8-10. Voice of the Faithful will get specific about the Church we want, beginning with accountability, which, like charity, begins at home. Remember Rilke’s words: “All will come again into its strength … longing for what belongs to us and serving earth, lest we remain unused.”

Peggie L. Thorp


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