Voice of the Faithful, In the Vineyard

In this Issue:

NATIONAL/International NEWS

  • Communications – As VOTF says “au revoir” to Steve Krueger, Jim Post announces the beginning of a nationwide search for a new, full-time Executive Director. A search committee is being formed, chaired by Mark Mullaney and will begin its work immediately. Read office news. Steve’s tenure as Executive Director of VOTF speaks for itself in his own words, as well as those of VOTF president Jim Post.
  • The USCCB General Assembly November meeting and the future of the National Review Board – Laity: Keeping Our Voice. See commentary from VOTF president Jim Post. Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse of the USCCB announced the beginning of the review process for the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which the bishops adopted in June, 2002. See the USCCB press release at www.usccb.org under Communications.
  • In this issue, we welcome our first ad. Commonweal magazine and VOTF are "trading spaces" in the mutual endeavor of reaching more Catholics. Since its founding in 1924, Commonweal has stood for an "America that has much to learn from Catholicism." We agree and welcome this experiment.
  • Elections for national officers: all registered VOTF members are invited to nominate qualified candidates. Read more in Election News. Are you registered to vote?
  • We have a site! The VOTF National Convention 2005 to be held in Indianapolis, IN. Read more.
  • Parish closings: questions and a need for creative thinking continue. VOTF member Julie Rafferty has identified a few telling web sites offering other perspectives on this painful issue. In rural Los Angeles County, a church is run by a nun, appointed by the Diocese. There are more parishes than you might think under the leadership of someone other than a priest. See Site-Seeing
  • Working Group report from Goal #2 – supporting our priests has been an education for all.
  • Affiliate News – VOTF NH want their say in court; VOTF NJ members invited to new bishop’s installation; Boise, ID VOTF are welcome and active in their diocese; and VOTF Atlanta is on the Web. Read more about our affiliates' activities.
  • VOTF now has 211 affiliates worldwide – newcomers are from Kentucky, Florida and Canada. LINK to Parish Voice News
  • Council minutes – Council representatives passed overwhelmingly the Episcopal Accountability resolution. Read more and let us know what you think at leaderpub@voiceofthefaithful.org
  • VOTF Christmas cards to go on sale - The Winchester, MA Area VOTF is again selling Christmas cards in packages of 12 for $12. There are four designs painted by artists in the VOTF group. All proceeds will benefit abuse survivors. The affiliate hopes to beat last year’s sales - $4100! Please visit www.votfwinchester.org to view the cards, and print an order form. Contact Bob Morris at rmorrisvotf@aol.com if you have any questions.
  • A CT friend has some advice worth pondering – availing ourselves of some guided reflection on incarnation theology. Read Something to Think About
  • Read the October 11 National Catholic Reporter review of Keep the Faith, Change the Church – the genesis story of Voice of the Faithful written by Jim Muller and Charles Kenny at Read the Review and THEN ORDER THE BOOK.


  • After weeks of parish sit-ins and a general public outcry regarding parish closings, Boston Archbishop O’Malley charges an External Review Committee to review the process. See VOTF reaction.
    • One of our steadiest survivor supporters brings all that he continues to learn from survivors to another population of hurting Catholics – parishioners whose churches are closing; Steve Sheehan’s remarks appear in Letters to the Editor. Another correspondent is concerned for the fate of lay employees of closing parishes.
  • Register now for the New England regional conference in Worcester, MA on November 13, 2004. View program details under Events, Etc. East Region. To register, click here.
    • Fr. James Scahill will receive a Priest of Integrity Award at the New England Regional Conference on Nov. 13. Bob Morris and John Bowen call Fr. Scahill “an example of personal decency and spiritual conviction” Read more.
  • Dick Ryan’s editorial in the Long Island section of Newsday said “Long Island Catholics hold the key to Reforming the Church.” The full article is archived via subscription at www.newsday.com. On September 19, the Long Island supplement of the New York Times also spoke on behalf of the laity in “Hear Their Voices” and it is archived at www.nytimes.com
  • The sad story of Bishop Dupre’s (Springfield, MA diocese) indictment is available here.
  • Bishop Howard Hubbard of the Albany diocese in NY will publish a diary of his recent ad limina visit with the Pope at www.evangelist.org/

Events, Etc.

  • Paulist Center Adult Education presentation on 10/19 “STRUGGLING TO STAY ALIVE IN THE CHURCH” with Joseph T. Kelley, Ph.D. on Tuesday, 7-8:30 in the Paulist Center Library, Boston, MA. For details click here.
  • John Allen is back! The NCR Vatican correspondent and CNN Vatican analyst will speak at the St. Eulalia’s VOTF on Sunday, October 17 at 7 pm. His talk: “The Sexual Abuse Crisis and the Role of the Laity: The View from Rome.” St. Eulalia’s is at 50 Ridge St., Winchester, MA. Contact Rmorrisvotf@aol.com for directions. If you can’t make this one, John is also speaking at Boston College on Monday evening. See Events, Etc. for details.
  • November 7 – A Faith Formation Program for Adult Christians continues. Sponsored by the Voice of the Faithful Affiliates of The North Shore, Lynn and Seacoast Areas in collaboration with Boston College, Weston Jesuit School of Theology. Read more in Events, Etc.
  • Sunday, November 14, 2004 - “Are the Wounds Healing?” VOTF president Jim Post will be a panelist at a Symposium sponsored by the Voice of the Faithful Affiliates of the Baltimore-Washington Region. See Events, Etc., for details.
  • December 11-12. The Mind/Body Institute offers VOTF members a substantial discount on an upcoming two-day event, “The Enhanced Importance of the Integration of Mind/Body Practices and Prayer.” Details at Events, Etc. VOTF members call Anne Coursey at 617-558-5252.
  • Sunday, December 12, 1-9:30. Come join Fr. Laurence Freeman, world renowned expert on the history and practice of contemplative prayer, for a day of quiet when you need it most! Location: Upper Noyes Hall, Andover Newton Theological School. This retreat is co-sponsored by The Empty Bell, Andover Newton Theological School, and the RUAH Spirituality Institute. For additional information, go to EVENTS.
  • Join Voice of the Faithful and make your voice count; donate to Voice of the Faithful and keep that voice alive.
  • 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
October 2004
Volume 3, Issue 9
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Third Anniversary of In the Vineyard and 1000 pages of documented voice! Thank you!

Next issue November 11

“The vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.” Habakkuk 2:3

For the past few months, this country has been inundated with the political scrim of truth-telling while the Catholic community grapples with many similar challenges – What do we want our country to be? is not so far from What do we want our Church to be? “See the world steady, and see it whole” is one of those aphorisms that appears to fit the moment. To see the world steady, and see it whole, C. P. Scott, founding editor of the Manchester Guardian, paraphrased Matthew Arnold’s sonnet to Sophocles. In doing so, he laid out the trust he was undertaking with the Guardian’s publication. It is a charge taken no less lightly in Voice of the Faithful while we balance our mission alongside day-to-day realities.

As the National Catholic Reporter book review of Keep the Faith, Change the Church said, “We must hope that Voice of the Faithful will have the endurance to keep speaking, even when it seems no one is listening.” Usually, VOTF can find evidence that someone is listening – what the other party is hearing depends on a mutual ability to speak honestly, clearly, often, and with love. Endurance is where we begin.

Consider the spectacle of vibrant parishes closing, in most, if not all, cases, without reasoned, collaborative understanding. After weeks of sit-ins, anguish and protests from parishioners and others in the communities affected, Boston Archbishop O’Malley has named a committee to review the process. The gesture alone is a positive development. While we cannot anticipate the outcome of the committee’s work, we are buoyed by the words in Habakkuk noted above, “The vision still has its time ….” Read VOTF press release.

Consider the growing concern for the future of the National Review Board – the lay board appointed by the USCCB to audit and report on incidents of sexual abuse by clergy. Justice Anne Burke, interim chair of the NRB, is one of five members whose terms have expired or will expire at year’s end. Burke has expressed understandable concern for the future of the board. Taken alone, the National Review Board was and remains a positive development for laity everywhere – keeping it that way is vital.

Consider that a second US diocese, that of Tucson, AZ has filed for bankruptcy as did Portland, OR a few months ago. These dioceses have crossed a line into the secular world most of us occupy – reality meets reality. Tragic as these situations are, they are not nearly as tragic as the road taken to get them there. Couple these developments with the Pope’s statement of September 11, 2004 to the bishops of Pennsylvania and New Jersey during their ad limina visits to Vatican City. The address is titled, “Every Act of Governance Must Be Aimed at Fostering Communion and Mission.” In that address, the Pope noted that ecclesial communion “presupposes the participation of every category of the faithful, inasmuch as they share responsibility for the good of the particular Church which they themselves form." (See text excerpt and link for the full statement under National News.) To see the world steady, and see it whole, Voice of the Faithful is committed to speaking even when it seems no one is listening. As the prophet said, “…if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.” It appears that the Pope agrees.

Peggie L. Thorp, ed