"I don't know where we go from here, but we will muddle through this, together." Fr. Bob McLaughlin, St. Basil’s Church, Philadelphia Archdiocese, speaking to his congregation after the grand jury released their findings.

VOTF at Work in the World

[Reminder: THIS Sunday, October 23 at Boston College: “Findings from a Study of Voice of the Faithful” will be presented. Come see what this study found out about us!]

Fault lines clearer than ever. Details from personnel files of 126 priests accused of sexual misconduct with minors were released by the Los Angeles archdiocese last week. VOTF’s response is on our web site. VOTF Santa Barbara also released a statement. (PDF) The full released report is available at NCR Online. For additional coverage, go to the Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune. (A subscription is required to view some of theses articles.)

Several dioceses continue to maneuver around bankruptcies: The diocese of Spokane, WA, having filed for bankruptcy last December, is appealing a court ruling over the use of parish and church assets in the settlement of sexual abuse cases. The diocese claims it does not own those assets. To fend off their parishes’ liquidation, the diocese of Tucson, AZ (also in bankruptcy) plans to separately incorporate its parishes. According to US Catholic magazine, Tucson is joining the dioceses of New York; Milwaukee; Rhode Island; Davenport, Iowa; Stockton, CA; Lincoln, NE; and Baker, OR.

Working toward resolution of the Church’s financial management issues, members of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management met last week. VOTF president Jim Post reports.

Priests’ Courage and Pain – both seem on the increase: Philadelphia is still reeling from release of documents three weeks ago (see Oct. 6 issue of the Vineyard) – a catalogue of crimes against the innocent, yet there’s good news in the Philadelphia diocese? His name is Fr. Bob McLaughlin of St. Basil’s Church and he’s as hurt and angry as his parishioners. Significantly, he is saying so. Reported by Ronnie Polaneczky for the Philadelphia News, we reprint with permission in Commentary Duped priest assails church leaders.”

  • John Allen reports in NCR that a ban on gays is unlikely
  • VOTF Greater Philadelphia will hold a forum on 10/26 on the grand jury report and a prayer vigil at Cardinal Rigali’s residence on 11/5. Jim Post will participate on a panel discussion of the grand jury report at Villanova Law School on 11/1. For more information on these events, as well as a link to the grand jury report, go to the VOTF Greater Philadelphia web site.
  • A priest for 30 years, Fr. Ercolano is taking a leave. His message is painfully familiar. Read Commentary – “Dear Family and Friends”
  • Another priest in a NY diocese spoke out in September. “And if they are truly looking for the root causes of the scandal then perhaps they should dissect a dysfunctional and top-heavy organization that has tried to protect its reputation more than it tried to protect its children. Not an easy reality to face but one that has to be addressed.” His remarks were published in the parish bulletin and on their web site. See the full text in Commentary – “They Still Don’t Get It”
  • A gay priest speaks. The problem is not his celibate homosexuality. The problem is his Church. Read More.
  • A priest and his conscience – trying to honor both: “The popular, 55-year-old pastor of St. Michael’s Parish in Cobourg, Ont. is simply the latest to feel the episcopal lash and swift dispatch from his parish.” Read about Fr. Ed Cachia.
  • Reactions to the forced resignation of Walter Cuenin in the Boston Archdiocese continue to reverberate throughout the diocese. Vigils, marches, and rallies are only the beginning. For updates on actions being taken at Our Lady Help of Christians, check their web site or email ourladysfriends@yahoo.com. For coverage of the Our Lady’s rally, go to NCR. (Subscription required)

SURVIVOR SUPPORT: Fr. Robert Hoatson’s name is on the short list of survivors and survivor support organizations for his tireless work on their behalf. Read about his new outreach to survivors in “Welcome these, the little ones.”

A great voice is gone. Monika Hellwig, theologian, writer, educator and outstanding model of Catholic intellectual life, died on Sept. 30. For coverage, click here. (Subscription required)

Affiliate Spotlight on VOTF Brooklyn, NY - Dialogue with Bishop DiMarzio and good results for all; VOTF Northern CA successful 10/9 gathering to discern the selection of their new bishop; VOTF Chicagoland event with Dr. Eugene Kennedy on Oct. 29.

USCCB Watch – watch our web site for VOTF’s witness to the November USCCB meeting in Washington, DC. Not only is our Rep Council meeting nearby in the same time frame (see National Representative Council Update), but VOTF’s national interim communications manager John Moynihan and executive director Ray Joyce will be present alongside VOTF leaders, as the bishops gather.

For excellent Synod coverage, updates on the ouster of Fr. Cuenin in the Boston Archdiocese, and commentary on the release of information regarding the Los Angeles personnel files of priest abusers, go to National Catholic Reporter and use the Search box by topic. For the editorial behind this statement, “Contemporary bishops are painfully learning that they can either function hierarchically or they can exercise healthy authority but that they cannot do both,” click here.

A Concert to Benefit Those Adversely Affected by the Recent Hurricanes Four well-know artists will perform at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross, 1400 Washington Street, Boston, MA on October 22, 2005, 7 pm. (617) 542-5682. Suggested offerings: $20 for students, $25 for adults. Additional details: 781-641-1117 or email Regina at rpontes@endzonepad.com; call Bonnie at 781-721-2285; and/or visit the web site. Featured artists: Jeanne Cotter, Marty Haugen, Donna Pena, and Jojo David. All proceeds derived from this concert and t-shirt sales go directly to Catholic Charities USA for Hurricane Relief Victims & Efforts. For more information on Catholic Charities, visit their web site. Mark your calendar, bring a non-perishable with you, enjoy a wonderful night of music and help the helpless!

Letters to the editor – Last month, the great majority of correspondents agreed on two aspects of Eucharist: 1) It is a Gift - for EVERYone and 2) the Gift is from God. Read some of your responses. Send comments to pthorp.ed@votf.org

Quote for our time: From George Bouchey, VOTF member, Camden, NJ diocese

Yesterday, during Yom Kippur services, I found in the prayers the statement that exactly expresses my feelings about why I am still a practicing Catholic:

"Help us, then, to fulfill the promise that is in each of us, and so to conduct ourselves that, generations hence, it will be true to say of us: The world is better because, for a brief space, they lived in it."

Coming up in November issues of In the Vineyard: Retired University of Texas professor Joseph Heffernan will review The Catholic Challenge by Thomas W. Rezanka; a review of The Priesthood of the Faithful by Paul Philibert, O.P., S.T.D.; interview with Dick Taylor of VOTF Greater Philadelphia. His book-in-progress is Love in Action; and a look at the Catholic understanding of acceptance and authority.

In the Vineyard
October 20, 2005
Volume 4, Issue 14
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