In the Vineyard   ::    November 19, 2008   ::    Volume 7, Issue 21

News from National

VOTF Member Survey, Part II
Last Spring, Voice of the Faithful began conducting a member survey in which we asked for feedback on how VOTF was doing in terms of living up to our potential as a voice for change within the Catholic Church.

In the last issue of In the Vineyard, we presented strengths and weaknesses of VOTF that came out of that survey. In this issue, we will discuss the criteria we used to filter through the many responses received. Most importantly, Part II contains what emerged as VOTF’s core values. The next issue of In the Vineyard will contain the final installment of VOTF’s strategic plan. Read more.

Today is your Last Day to Win a Turkey!
Today is the last day to donate to Voice of the Faithful and have your name included in our turkey drawing!

Donate $25 to Voice of the Faithful today and as a thank you, your name will be added to a raffle for a Thanksgiving dinner for 6-10 people.  Winners will receive a turkey and sides from Hickory Farms, deliverable in the continental United States.  Orders will be guaranteed by provider for a November 27th delivery date.

Your turkey raffle donation will support VOTF's new Strategic Plan– which includes projects for reviewing mandated celibacy, monitoring diocesan pastoral and financial accountability, organizing an American Catholic Council meeting, and much more.

To make your gift online at our website, use this link. Donations must be received by midnight, November 19.

News from Affiliates

Rebuilding a Ship at Sea: the Challenge of Changing the Church
On November 10, sociologists Dr. Patricia Ewick (Clark University) and Dr. Marc Steinberg (Smith College) presented the preliminary findings of their year long study of the Winchester VOTF to the local Winchester MA affiliate. They wondered, can you be both challenger and faithful?
Read more.

The Chicagoland Voice of the Faithful recently sent a letter to former principal Barbara Westrick commending her on her work protecting children. Barbara Westrick was the Principal of Our Lady of the Westside who was fired from her job several months after warning the Chicago Archdiocese about sexual abuse allegations from one of her students against Father Daniel McCormack (currently serving jail time for pedophilia). Despite working as a Catholic school principal in Ohio and Illinois for her entire career, Barbara now finds herself without a job.
Read the letter.

Thought from Prayerful Voice
This Thanksgiving remember to give thanks for all the priests and religious who remain faithful to their vows and promises.

Survivor Support News

The Audacity of Hope or a Fool’s Errand:
The Criminal Prosecution of Cardinal Francis George and/or the Archdiocese of Chicago
The following was submitted by Carolyn Disco, survivor support chairman for NH Voice of the Faithful since 2002. Disco was involved until this year in the national Survivor Support Working Group. She holds strongly to the need to hold Cardinal Francis George accountable for a record of negligence, arrogance and dissembling about the sexual abuse of minors under his care. Unfortunately, she feels the only consequence to date has been his election to high office. Read more.

Site Seeing

Illinois VOTF affiliate demands action over Priest allowed back with children after settling out of court.

NY Times write Peter Steinfels wonders if the big losers in the last election were Roman Catholic Bishops

Bishops urged to confront Obama over social issues

Father Roy Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest for 36 years, must renounce his support for the ordination of women or be excommunicated, says the Vatican. Father Roy, a peace activist, recently gave the homily at the ordination of a woman in Louisiana. The speed with which the Vatican acted stands in stark contrast to their often delayed actions on priests who sexually abuse children.

If you plan to do any online shopping at, please go to the VOTF website first and access Amazon through VOTF. will then donate a small percentage of whatever you buy (including gift certificates!)  to VOTF. You won’t be charged any extra and VOTF will be able to raise some money! Please visit
As always, thank you for your support – both spiritual and financial!

Letters to the Editor

I see many good things happening for the future church.  Most of it by the small “c” catholic church, the People of God.  It seems that the synod of bishops should be more open to dialogue with those who have come from afar to contribute.   Lack of dialogue limits the opportunities for the Holy Spirit's voice and actions.  I tend to agree with Andrew Greeley's article in the August "Commonweal".  It will be a 100 years before there is significant change. The structure can't openly accept change so it will come despite the structure.  Thanks to VOTF for being a catalyst for the change.
Charlie Young
Bend, OR

Everywhere there is conversation on “Accountability" and "Transparency".  For good reason, people are hungry for open and fair systems of governance in our institutions especially in our church, our representative government; and yes also, within healthcare, military procurement, and immigration policies to name more.  The self serving "insider" can function best within secrecy and obscurity.  Systematic abuse of any type, can thrive best within bureaucratic moats or walls.  Please keep up your valiant efforts with the Vineyard to be a voice for change/conversion of the faithful in our Church.  Accountability and Transparency in the Church is not just for us in the church but is the beacon of light that precedes Civil change.  If we want a better world then we must fight for just, moral, clear & responsible change that sponsors the Kingdom of God on earth.  

Tim Brennan
North Carolina

Book Corner

The Church: The Evolution of Catholicism (Hardcover)
by Richard P. Mcbrien (Author)  HarperOne (September 2, 2008)
submitted by Gaile Pohlhaus

Although this book promises a history it focuses intensely on the Second Council of the Vatican.  The thirty pages devoted to the development of the Church give the reader the background and the scope to follow the directions of the Council.  McBrien is, as always, lucid in style and careful with facts.  This book would make an excellent Christmas present for persons seriously interested in the Catholic Church and its expressions throughout the world.  It is available on Amazon so don’t forget to order it through

VOTF Looking for Web Marketing Geniuses!

We’re looking for volunteers who want to use their web 2.0 skills to help Voice of the Faithful change the Catholic Church. If you (or a son, daughter, grandchild or friend) has the knowledge to put together the kinds of online tools and campaigns we see now from political campaigns and online marketers, please contact us. We’ve got the opportunity of a lifetime for you.

People with knowledge and experience with social networking applications, search engine optimization, buying online advertising, developing Facebook pages, and devising campaigns using YouTube, email, text-messaging and a host of other low-cost online techniques are all being sought. Our goal is to put together a team of high-tech and web-marketing volunteers who will work together with other VOTF members and staff to mobilize more and more people for bringing about change we can believe in – in the Catholic Church. 

Our ultimate goals are to bring about greater accountability and financial transparency in parishes and dioceses; to support survivors of the clergy sexual abuse scandal and protect children from abuse in the future; to educate the laity about their rights and responsibilities; and to encourage greater lay involvement in the management of the Church through such potential changes as the election of bishops by the laity or making celibacy optional for priests.

If any of these issues interests you – or if you’d just like to see if your web organizing skills can change a 2000-year-old institution for the better – please send a resume and brief note describing your skills and interests to

Questions, Comments?

Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor at Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.

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News from Affiliates

Site Seeing

Survivor Support

Letters to the Editor

VOTF relies solely on the contributions of people like you to support its work.





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

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