Please send comments and inquiries to

In this issue: Bishop Geoffrey Robinson is in the U.S. and speaking out – and so is his Archdiocesan leadership, followed by Cardinal Mahony in L.A., Bishop Robinson himself, and VOTF (see “The Bishop Confronts Power; the Magisterium Confronts the Bishop”); VOTF Priest Support Working Group made good company in Orlando FL (see PSWG follow-up); Sr. Mulkerrin has died – her legacy is the voice she used to sound the alarm on behalf of protecting children from clergy sexual abuse, six years before those crimes were revealed by the Boston Globe (see Commentary “Sister of Integrity”); Vermont’s recent clergy abuse jury verdict of $8.7 million in damages is a story that astonishes from beginning to end (see DIOCESE/State Watch); 10 easy things you can do to support survivors; Vineyard editorial change (see VOTF Office Notes).


VOTF SURVEY: Abusive priests still in our midst. In Boston, a news media investigation recently reported that more than 100 credibly accused pedophile priests removed from their ministerial duties live and work in local communities where no one has any way of knowing about their pasts. This is not a problem specific to Boston, but occurs in many dioceses.

Please tell us in our survey what you think dioceses should do about this problem.

DIOCESE/State Watch

The case for lay vigilance could not be made clearer than in this story behind Vermont’s recent $8.7 jury verdict in a recent clergy abuse trial. It is a story about one abuser priest and the ping-pong way various dioceses considered his “problem” until he finally wound up in Vermont as a practicing priest even after decades of allegations, admissions and sporadic treatment.

  • And yet, the diocese of Vermont is weighing an appeal. See SNAP’s reaction. Enter the judge in the case and a $10 million lien on diocesan property. That story is here.
  • The Bishop of the Burlington VT diocese, Salvatore Matano, wrote an open letter to parishioners.

The Rutland Herald “Opinion” page identified a stunning, common thread in these cases: “The most disquieting element of all was the lack of concern evidenced by the church hierarchy with the welfare of the children who were abused.”


Nashua VOTF Meeting with NH Attorney General
Pat Gomez, NRC representative Region 1, sent the following message:

On Monday May 19, 2008, at 7 PM, the New Hampshire Attorney General Kelley Ayotte addressed a public meeting sponsored by the Nashua Area VOTF. At the meeting AG Ayotte reviewed the third Independent Audit of the Dioceses of Manchester compliance program for the protection of its young people from sexual molestation. AG Ayotte also discussed future State audit plans for the Diocese, and answered questions pertaining to the audit findings and recommendations. [Watch for a more-detailed re-cap of this meeting in an upcoming Vineyard.]

SURVIVOR Support Notes

Olan Horne, a survivor who met with the Pope during the papal visit to the U.S., is available for speaking engagements at VOTF affiliates. Olan will be in Santa Barbara CA shortly. A New Englander, Olan has spoken to many VOTF affiliates in the region. If your affiliate would like to hear Olan, he can be reached at

SNAP Support Opportunity: Take out an ad in the SNAP Support Survivors Ad Book by June 15. The proceeds subsidize the upcoming national conference, allowing more survivors to attend and benefit from a wide range of speakers and breakout sessions at the best possible price. Contact Barbara Dorris at or visit

David Biersmith, VOTF Rep. Region 9, compiled the following easy actions to support survivors:

  1. Walk a line with a banner/ poster in support of our causes.
  2. Ask your pastor if you can be a member of the Finance Committee.
  3. Ask your Diocese who are the members of their oversight committee on sexual abuse.
  4. Ask if you can be a member of that committee.
  5. If you have a school connected to your parish, ask about their “no touch” policy.
  6. Ask the religious order that taught you in high school what policy is in place on behalf of the sexually abused.
  7. Write a letter to the Religious Editor of the local paper on your thoughts for a follow-up to the Papal visit.
  8. Call and/or conduct a VOTF meeting for your friends, neighbors, colleagues.
  9. Show one of the many films available about our causes.
  10. Invite the diocesan person handling sexual abuse to speak at a meeting.

PRIESTS Support Working Group Notes

Picking up from John Ryan’s report in the last issue, Svea Fraser continues coverage of the National Ministry Summit held in Orlando FL. See Priest Support Working Group.

SITE-Seeing, Etc.

July 22 is the Feast of the once-maligned/now-restored Mary Magdala. Communities all over the world have followed the lead of FutureChurch in commemorating this apostle. For information on organizing your own service, visit

  • While you’re there, consider taking a few seconds to send a postcard to the Vatican urging women’s participation in the upcoming Synod on the Word. You will find the postcard at You MAY have already sent a postcard to your bishop; this time, your post card will go to Rome.

So, is liberal Catholicism dead? Read one perspective here.

Victims Await Vatican Response
”It’s been almost a month since Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States. The most memorable moment of his tour came when the Pope met with victims of abuse by priests in Massachusetts. That unannounced meeting and Benedict’s comments on clergy abuse have raised hopes in the survivor community that the Vatican would change how it handles the issue.”

On the heels of a compassionate visit with survivors of clergy sexual abuse, Pope Benedict’s management style raises questions: “Pope Benedict XVI named St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke to two Vatican offices Tuesday, increasing Burke’s already prominent stature in Rome  Burke, a canon lawyer by training, was one of eight cardinals and archbishops worldwide who Benedict named to the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, which interprets canon, or church, law.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Most readers will be familiar with Abp. Burke, who is locked in a heated battle with Fr. Marek Bozek over the latter’s pastoral care of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish. But far fewer have heard of his alleged handling of clergy sexual abuse allegations. One wonders if the Pope is aware of what the Riverfront Times reports.

Company coming? The director of the Vatican Observatory, Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, S.J., says, “As Saint Francis would say, when we consider the earthly creatures to be our ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters,’ why couldn’t we also talk about an ‘extraterrestrial brother’? He would still be part of creation.” For the English translation of this interview with Osservatore Romano, click here.

QUOTE for our time: The statement of the Australian bishops is not unexpected, but it is disappointing. My book is about the response to the revelations of sexual abuse within the church. Sexual abuse is all about power and sex, so it is surely reasonable to ask questions about power and sex in the church.

In their statement, the bishops appear to be saying that, in seeking to respond to abuse, we may investigate all other factors contributing to abuse, but we may not ask questions concerning ways in which teachings, laws, and attitudes concerning power and sex within the church may have contributed.

This imposes impossible restrictions on any serious and objective study, and it is where I have broken from the Bishops Conference. We must be free to follow the argument wherever it leads.” Bishop Geoffrey Robinson replying to the Australian Bishops Conference statement against his book

In the Vineyard
May 22, 2008

Volume 7, Issue 10
Printer Friendly Version (PDF)

Page One

More on Bishop Robinson


VOTF Office Notes

Prayerful Voice

Survivor Support Working Group

Priest Support Working Group

Structural Change Working Group

Voice of Renewal/Lay Education

Protecting Our Children



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