In the Vineyard   ::    November 6, 2008   ::    Volume 7, Issue 20

News from National

Responding to Our Members: Building a Powerful Future Together
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.

We received feedback from the Board of Trustees, the new officers, the National Representative Council, and the Working Groups as well as more than 500 members who took the time to fill out a fairly extensive analysis of VOTF’s strengths and weaknesses.

Beginning with this issue, In the Vineyard will be running a three-part series on the results of this membership survey, culminating in a new strategic plan for VOTF. Here is Part 1 of the series, on results of the Membership Survey.

Win a Turkey Dinner and Support VOTF! Donate $25 to Voice of the Faithful between October 20, 2008 – November 19th and as a thank you, your name will be added to a raffle for a Thanksgiving dinner that feeds 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 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. Or mail your donation to:

Post Office Box 423
Newton, MA 02464.

News from the Working Groups

Priest of Integrity: Father Michael O’Connell
Submitted by Suzanne Severson
Twin Cities Voice of the Faithful presented its 2007-2008 Twin Cities Priest of Integrity Award to Fr. Michael O’Connell at the Basilica of St Mary on October 26, 2008. The award was given for Fr. O'Connell's work as Vicar General of this archdiocese early on in the abuse crisis. Father O’Connell established safeguards for children and a policy for education of church leaders. The award was also presented symbolically for all priests of integrity who had to refocus their ministry to deal with the burgeoning abuse crisis. Judge Michael Merz, Chair of the USCCB's National Review Board, gave the keynote address. Judge Merz addressed the American bishops’ compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and the impact of the Pope's recent visit to the US.
Read more about Father O’Connell.

News from Survivor Support Working Group
Senate Bill 1738, “PROTECT Our Children Act” – Passed the U.S. Senate!!

On September 25, the PROTECT Our Children Act passed the Senate unanimously.  Thanks to all of you who contacted your senators. 

The PROTECT Our Children Act will:

  • Authorize over $320 million over the next five years in desperately needed funding for law enforcement to investigate child exploitation.

  • Mandate that child rescue be a top priority for law enforcement receiving federal funding.

  • Allocate funds for high-tech computer software that can track down Internet predators.

The next step to making this a federal law is passage by the House of Representatives. Now is the time to contact your Congressional Representative(s) in support U.S. Senate Bill 1738, called the PROTECT our Children Act.  You can contact your Congressional Representative(s) directly via: 

Site Seeing

Thoughts from Judge Michael Merz
In a heartfelt and wide ranging interview given last June and featured in the November issue of Saint Anthony’s Messenger, Judge Michael Merz, chairman of the National Review Board, discussed the Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. He was remarkably candid about the report findings, what has been accomplished and what still needs to be done.

Review of Mandatory Celibacy?
The Priest Support Working Group recently sent a letter to Cardinal O’Malley hoping to open a dialogue about mandatory celibacy. See the correspondence between VOTF and Cardinal O’Malley. also covered VOTF’s correspondence with Cardinal O’Malley

Official Recommendations from the Synod
Last week at the Vatican, the Synod on the Word ended. There were some surprises, including a recommendation that women be officially admitted to the ministry of “lector,” as well as strong support for the role of laity – endorsing lay-led liturgies of the Word in the absence of a priest.

For a more complete report:

Thoughts on Cincinnati’s New Bishop
Bishop Dennis Schnurr won’t be taking office for several more months, but he’s already giving interviews and traveling through the diocese to introduce himself.

Quotes of Note

Archbishop Paul Cremona O.P., of Malta, President of the Maltese Episcopal Conference, speaks of why Catholics must let go of the nostalgia of the old church and embrace a new Model of “Being Church.” Read more.


If you have something you would like to include in the calendar section, please send it to
View the calendar of events.

Thinking About Christmas Shopping?

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!

Letter to the Editor

I felt the same way as Ms. Ferraro (see In the Vineyard, October 23 issue) after reading a statement by the Bishops about the economy.  Are they blind that they didn't see the similarity?????  I think they are.  I think they are the ones Jesus talked about, the ones who are blind.  They had better put on glasses because their people are ignoring them. 
B. Kishler

Book Corner

AN IRISH TRAGEDY: How Sex Abuse by Irish Priests Helped Cripple the Catholic Church
By Joe Rigert
Baltimore, Crossland Press, 2008, available at for $10.99
Reviewed by Thomas Doyle

A number of books have been written about sexual abuse by Catholic clerics.  Some are the gut-wrenching stories of victims themselves, told in their own words or through another.  Some are polemical in that they confront the official Church for its hypocritical response while demanding both recognition and action to help solve the problem.  Still others are scholarly ventures into the mysterious depths of this unique socio-cultural phenomenon by academics from a variety of disciplines.  All are seeking answers as to “why.”  The answers are much more complex and elusive than simply saying “celibate priests are sexually dysfunctional” or “bishops only want to protect their turf.”  Both are true statements but there are many more “whys.”

Read more of Thomas Doyle’s review.

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.

Page One

News from the Working Groups

Site Seeing


Letters to the Editor

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