send comments and inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Church governance is not about shared power but about
mutual empowerment in the Holy Spirit." Fr. Patrick
Collins, VOTF Cleveland, OH from his essay on "Thomas Merton
on Ecclesial Reform and Renewal" in Commentary.
a final plea to his fellow bishops before his death
in August 2003, Msgr. Philip Murnion called for "dialogue, dialogue, dialogue." Go
to www.nplc.org for more information about Msgr. Murnion.
president Mary Pat Fox delivered a petition signed by over 8,000 Catholics to
the Most Reverend
Gregory Aymond, Bishop of the Diocese of Austin
and Chair of the Committee for the Protection
of Children and Young People for the United
States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The meeting
was described as positive by Mary Pat who was
encouraged by the bishops’ concern for
survivors and the protection of children. They
discussed the need to make the victim assistance
coordinator information easily accessible and
the importance of safe environment training.
The meeting took place in Baltimore on Friday,
November 10, 2006. See the VOTF press
release. See more National news in NATIONAL
Pat Fox and national secretary Gaile Pohlhaus
met with Patricia Ewers, chair of the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
(USCCB) National Review Board on Monday
Nov. 13 at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront
site of the USCCB meeting. They discussed
the review board’s plans for more complete
audits starting next year once the initial compliance
issues were complete. Dr. Ewers also expressed
the willingness of board members to speak to
affiliates in their area.
- All the U.S. bishops received an open invitation
to meet with the two attending national officers,
Mary Pat and Gaile, on Monday of the USCCB meeting.
While no bishop was able to accept the invitation,
there were several opportunities to engage with
bishops in the lobby. Affiliate leaders also
noted their own communications with local bishops.
- On Monday of the USCCB meeting the bishops voted
unanimously to release funds earmarked for the
causes and context of sexual abuse by clergy.
Meanwhile VOTF will continue to push for full funding and the Vineyard will keep you up to
date on the preliminary results of the study,
which are expected sometime next year.
VOTF National organized a screening of the new
documentary “Deliver Us From Evil” held
on Monday of the USCCB meeting at a local theater
in Baltimore. About 60 people attended the screening
which was followed by a lively panel discussion
with Barbara Blaine, President of SNAP and John
Moynihan from the VOTF national office.
The Washington, DC area affiliates gathered for
the third consecutive year on the eve of the
US bishops meeting to view the new documentary “Hand
of God” – read the affiliate report
in AFFILIATE Highlight under DIOCESE/State
- For a recap of the U.S. bishops'
meeting in Baltimore, click here.
National Representative Council (NRC) welcomed Lisa Kendzior, from Ft. Worth,
TX. Lisa was recently
elected Representative to the NRC from Region
10 (TX, OK, AR). NRC met last weekend in St.
Louis, MO for their third in-person gathering.
A report on the Council’s St. Louis bi-annual
meeting will be in the Nov. 30 Vineyard.
Campaign Plans for Advent: See Letter
to Readers – An
an Accountability Campaign? Another Catholic
priest has been deemed credibly
an internal Church investigation. The Archdiocese
of Chicago removed Rev. Robert Stepek from St.
Albert the Great Catholic Church in Burbank IL
on Saturday after finding the allegations of
sexual abuse of two former altar boys during
the 1980s were credible. Unfortunately, criminal
charges cannot be filed because Illinois’ three
year statute of limitations law has long since
here for more information on this
here to get more involved in our Protect Our Children
effort to reform these antiquated sexual abuse
laws and ensure justice for survivors.
VOTF National’s Goal #2 – to
support priests of integrity – is under new leadership
with representation across the US. See chair
John Ryan’s update on our web site. John
has also reviewed Freeing Celibacy by Donald
Cozzens – see Book Review in this issue.
EYES on Erie, PA: Closed to the public, the Church
trial of Msgr. Charles Kavanagh, accused in 2002
of sexual abuse that took place 20 years ago, began
this week in Erie, PA. VOTF, SNAP and CTA have
asked that some part of the trial be open to the
public. Msgr. Kavanagh was once a prominent fundraiser
in the Archdiocese of New York. In 2004, the archdiocesan
response to the accusation brought a rare public
confrontation with Cardinal Egan from Msgr. Kavanagh.
The trial was moved to Erie, PA to reduce media
coverage. Some background and an update on this
WA – A church divided, a diocese in bankruptcy
proceedings, and priests are looking for hope; Brooklyn,
NY – VOTF appealed to their bishop as he headed
to last week’s USCCB meeting; Palm Beach,
FL – another
blow to another parish; AFFILIATE Highlight – the
VOTF Washington, DC area affiliates gathered to view “Hand
of God” on the eve of the bishops’ meeting.
Commentary: Fr. Patrick Collins’ commentary studies Thomas
Merton’s attitude toward reforming the Church – giving
primacy to spiritual renewal out of which the external
reforms would flow. See
Commentary for “Thomas
Merton on Ecclesial Reform and Renewal”; also,
see your invitation in Letter to Readers.
Tom Doyle walks us through the controversial
Vatican instruction “Crimen Sollicitationis” of March
16, 1962. “The document is essentially a set of
procedural norms for processing cases of accusations
against priests for soliciting sex while in the act of
sacramental confession…. It has come under discussion
by canon lawyers and Vatican officials on several occasions
in the past few years. Nevertheless the secrecy under
which the document was originally distributed has possibly
resulted in restricted awareness. Though some have claimed
that “Crimen Sollicitationis” applies only
to solicitation in the confessional, and not to other
sexual crimes perpetrated by clerics, the opposite is
true. The very words of the document itself clearly establish
that those acts included under the classification of ‘the
worst crime’ (de crimine pessimo) are to be processed
according to the norms set forth for the crime of solicitation.” Read
the Doyle study on the VOTF
Sr. Christine Schenk of FutureChurch wrote an illuminating
commentary in the Nov. 3 issue of National
Catholic Reporter. “Vatican
shows a new openness to women”.
Also note: Pilgrimage to Archaeological Sites
of Women Officeholders in the Early Church. Rome-Ostia (plus an
optional day in Assisi, Florence or Pompeii)
March 13, 2007 to March 22, 2007. For details, click
An editorial decision at National Catholic Reporter speaks
volumes to all Catholics. Editor Tom Roberts said, “This
is going to be a longer than usual Inside NCR column
I think it
is essential to talk about this crisis, where it
is today, why we will keep covering it, and what
it could mean
for us and the church at large in the future.”
Saints Are Us? Read the Nov.
1 editorial in the New
York Times “Saints That Weren’t” by
Jesuit priest James Martin who wrote, in part: “But,
as some saints knew firsthand, a sincere intention
guarantee that everybody in the church will listen
-- even today. Members of Voice of the Faithful,
organization founded in response to the sexual abuse
scandals, are sometimes barred from meeting in Catholic
parishes. Local chapters often gather in nearby Protestant
church halls. Who knows which future saints are lurking
there?” Read more.
from Maine’s Paul Kendrick of the Ignatius
Group to Donna Doucette’s Commentary in the last
Vineyard “Conflict/Confrontation as Tactics” directed
readers to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter
from a Birmingham Jail.” The full letter is available
for our time: Speaking of the Donald Cozzens book Freeing
Celibacy, John Ryan made this comment
that is true
of many other issues we face as reform-minded Catholics: “It
is also a ‘must read’ for those of us who need
to understand the deeper theological, cultural and historical
issues in the Church if we are to bring intelligence and
compassion to our efforts at reform.” Bottom line – history