Voice of the Faithful, In the Vineyard

Working Group News

Survivor Support Community announces Truth and Recognition initiative; Priests' Support Working Group preparing survey for distribution to priests nationwide; Christmas cards on sale - proceeds to benefit survivors. Read More.


Voice of the Faithful will again bear witness at the upcoming USCCB meeting in Washington, DC; VOTF 2005 Convention update; VOTF officer elections 2005 update (are you registered to vote?); Parish Voice announces three more affiliates (now 211!); updates on the fast-moving leadership training program; watch for the VOTF ad in the December 3 issue of Commonweal magazine. Read More

Regional and Affiliate News

New England Regional conference Nov. 13 - we're holding your ticket!; VOTF in British Columbia, Canada working with their area press; VOTF East Bay, CA honors an extraordinary survivor; Dayton, Ohio's newly appointed member of USCCB National Review Board to speak at VOTF meeting; VOTF Westford/Chelmsford reaching out to closing parishes; VOTF Louisville, KY meeting with priests councils; Parish Closings Watch - vigils and appeals are increasing and a visitor reflects; Gaile Pohlhaus has a message for Maine VOTF. Read More.

Prayer and Reflection

Kris Ward, VOTF vice president, wrote a "Prayer for Survivors"; VOTF Baton Rouge, LA artist Billie Bourgeois reflects on "Amazing Grace"; Recap of Dr. Anthony Padovano's address before October Council meeting - "Hope in the Church"; Jim Post at St. Joan of Arc, Minneapolis, MN; Two opportunities in December for spiritual development - see October In the Vineyard under Events, Etc. Read More.

The October 29, 2004 National Catholic Reporter editorial offered one perspective we share with readers in the spirit of thanksgiving for all our members worldwide. We quote excerpts here:

" there are some signs that Boston's awful ordeal could be the wider church's gain. No one knows what will grow in the wake of the turmoil that resulted in the Boston archdiocese being labeled the epicenter of arguably the most damaging episode in US Church history.

For starters, the wider church was given Voice of the Faithful, the lay group with the motto 'Keep the faith, change the church.'

The fact that you have experienced about the worst of it in terms of betrayal, in terms of victims and in terms of the consequences for your diocese means that you have a certain credibility before the rest of the church. So we watch as you continue to push for accountability in the sex abuse crisis, in the finances of the church and in the rational for closing parishes."

The editorial concluded with, "Boston, in the end, could be developing some needed models and wisdom for the church at large."


Letters to the Editor


  • Do you know the VOTF genesis story? Get your copy of Keep the Faith, Change the Church Donald Cozzens' book Faith That Dares To Speak has been published - it can be pre-ordered at amazon.com. Watch future Vineyard issues for review.
  • What Do You Think? VOTF president Jim Post wrote "When Churches Fail the Public Trust" for the Fall issue of Nonprofit Quarterly . In the article, Jim said, "There is too little discussion of how a religious institution ought to behave toward the community and the civic life of which it is a part." What do you think? Write to leaderpub@voiceofthefaithful.org.
  • What do you think of the new look for In the Vineyard? More/Less user-friendly? Let us know at leaderpub@voiceofthefaithful.org.
  • Give yourself the gift of voice and donate to Voice of the Faithful
  • JOIN Voice of the Faithful
  • The VOTF postal address is P.O. Box 423, Newton Upper Falls, MA 02464-0002
  • Please send comments and inquiries to leaderpub@voiceofthefaithful.org

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In the Vineyard
November 2004
Volume 4, Issue 10
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"Faith without works is dead." James 2:26

Within one week in this election year, we heard James 2:26 quoted by an archbishop (Denver, CO Archbishop Chaput) in the October 22, 2004 New York Times as well as a presidential candidate (Senator John Kerry) on national television during the presidential debates. That's a lot of press for James. What do we make of this?

Voice of the Faithful members and supporters are surely evidencing the work behind our lived faith; it is documented monthly in these pages and elsewhere ( the National Catholic Reporter has its editorial eye on Boston Catholics' faith at work - see boxed excerpt on this page). Our Church leadership also documents its many good works. However, James would be not a little disconcerted by the earthly judgment rendered by one against the other in our religious climate. He cautions against judging each other - "If you judge the law you are no observer of the law, you are its judge. There is but one Lawgiver and Judge . Who then are you to judge your neighbor?" Many American Catholics part ways on this very issue, from each other and from their bishops. Who should judge your works versus mine? Whose moral authority is so clear and how do we recognize that authority? How do we balance our obligation to defend against injustice and our obligation to love those we see as the perpetrators of injustices? If, as James says, "Faith without works is dead," what are we to do about faith WITH works, if those very works are questioned, challenged, dismissed, even banned?

Well, we "keep on keepin' on" - and bear witness again at the bishops' bi-annual meeting, where we are not invited.

We discern among each other - and learn from the teachers among us. And we look around for "extraordinary" help. Billie Bourgeois of the Baton Rouge, LA affiliate identifies one invaluable source of support on this journey - grace - and where to find it. Her reflection in this issue is our Thanksgiving prayer; the November 13 Worcester conference will offer, among many other opportunities for education and spiritual growth, a workshop on Lectio Divina ("divine reading") - it is the meditative reading of Scripture, much practiced in Christian communities into the Middle Ages; and the extraordinary support for the parishioners of closing parishes is its own spiritual nourishment.

In James, we also read, "The harvest of justice is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace." Thanksgiving brings Americans face to face with the twin acts of gratitude and sharing. It is a day that has brought the atheist and the believer, the child and the adult, the saint and the sinner, the wise and the foolish, the fed and the hungry, to the same table. We are thankful. Whether we bless ourselves and pray our thanks or just appreciate our "good luck," we are sharing bounty. Voice of the Faithful wishes all of our readers and supporters a peaceful harvest.

Peggie L. Thorp, ed.