In the Vineyard: February 15, 2019

In the Vineyard :: February 15, 2019 :: Volume 19, Issue 3

News from National

Message from a Survivor: Wear Blue Feb. 17

Olan Horne, a survivor of clergy sex abuse who has spent years supporting other survivors and seeking justice, is urging us to wear blue ribbons Sunday, as a message before the bishop summit in Rome. Here is his note:

A group of survivors, loved ones and supporters will be assembling in Huntington MA at Holy Family Church in Russell to show support for Deacon David Baillargeon on Feb. 17 as he prepares to depart for Rome. This group will be attending Mass and wearing blue ribbons to show their support of truth, transparency, and accountability. I ask the same from everyone in your parishes and your diocese. Please wear a blue Ribbon on Sunday Feb. 17th. — Olan




Send an open message to our bishops, cardinals, and all the ordained.

Show that we all support truth, transparency, and sccountability as the cornerstones for addressing sexual abuse in our Church, live, and society!

We ask our bishops, cardinals, deacons and all the ordained to wear ribbons too in advance of the upcoming summit.

Bishops’ Summit: Key Steps Needed

By Marie Collins

Marie Collins, noted survivor of clergy abuse and an honored speaker at two of our VOTF conferences, gave the following speech last month at a We Are Church meeting. Marie has kindly allowed us to post it here.

“We Are Church” called for a meeting between myself and Pope Francis in advance of his visit here to Dublin last year. As you know, I did meet him along with five other survivors and I will speak a little about that meeting this evening. Particularly what I learned from it about the church, so many decades into the crisis around the sexual abuse of children by clergy.

I will also look at where are we now in Ireland, what should we expect from the upcoming meeting of principals of episcopal conference in Rome in February on the Protection of Minors and is there anything we in the laity should be doing to ensure our Church is making all the changes needed to ensure that children are safe within it.

Sadly, I see a complacency in Ireland gaining ground. An attitude that the crisis is behind us—everything is fine now we have good safeguarding in the Church—“we see more abuse in society anyway, why concentrate on the Church”.

It is true that better safeguarding has been put in place by church and state, and the Church guidelines include auditing of internal processes, which is positive. However, this only came about because of the outrage among the people and the pressure due to horrific revelations of abuse and its deliberate cover up by the institution.

It is the same mechanism which we have seen in other countries where survivors have come forward and where the scandals have been exposed: America, Australia, etc. We see the Church reacting with improved processes because they had to be seenas doing something.

The problem is that while in these countries there may be improvement, there is still a long way to go and we need to realise this. But more important is to realise that any improvement, despite what has happened in these specific places, is not universal. The Church has not acted proactively, only reactively. The experience from those countries where the abuse crisis has been faced is not being used to bring universal policies into place for the countries where it has yet to occur. Continue reading …

Bearing Witness

Last week, VOTF’s Bill Casey joined SNAP outside the Papal Nuncio’s residence in Washington, D.C. for a news conference and to deliver a letter from SNAP to the Pope regarding upcoming expectations for the Vatican Summit this month.

Becky Ianni of SNAP asked Bill to speak for a few minutes about expectations of Catholics for the summit. He described them as low, particularly as long as bishops and clergy meet among themselves to “fix” the problems (even with the understanding there will be some lay participation).

Reporters covering the event came from two local stations (NBC and Fox), from NPR, and from France 24 (a “CNN-like” station broadcast in English in France, according to Bill).

Bill did offer to visit France to appear live for the France-24, but he hasn’t yet heard from them!!

Save the Date!

Mark your calendars now for Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, for Voice of the Faithful’s 2019 Conference. We will gather near Boston at the Boston Marriott Newton, conveniently located at the intersection of I-95 (Rte. 128) and Rte. 30 on the Charles River, a suburban location with all the amenities of a downtown Boston hotel.

Saturday, October 19, 2019
Boston Marriott Newton
2345 Commonwealth Avenue, Newton, Massachusetts 02466

Our special return guest speaker will be the Honorable Anne M. Burke,Illinois Supreme Court Justice, who last spoke to us during our 10th Anniversary Conference in 2012. She served as only the second chair of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ National Review Board, charged with auditing dioceses’ adherence to the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Much has happened in the clergy sexual abuse scandal since she last talked with us, and she is now involved with a group that is promoting accountability for bishops who have covered up abuse.

Our 2019 Conference committee is hard at work talking with potenial additional speakers and developing other program highlights. So, mark your calendars for Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Stay tuned for updates.

See you in October!

Conversations with My Molester

The Paulist Center, 5 Park St., Boston MA is presenting Michael Mack’s one-man play “Conversations with My Molester: A Journey of Faith” on Feb. 16 and 23, dates coinciding with the Vatican’s extraordinary worldwide summit on clergy sexual abuse.

Mr. Mack’s prize-winning show is his spiritual autobiography, a true story of trespass, grace, and the odyssey of healing that led him back to the Catholic Church. The play has been called “powerful” (Washington Post) and “magnificent” (New York Theatre), and it tells how Mack’s boyhood dream of becoming a Catholic priest ended when his pastor first invited him to the rectory.

Post-show discussion follows, with Michael and clergy. 7:30pm Saturday, February 16, and Saturday, February 23. Requested donation is $10 (but don’t let finances keep you from coming!) Open to all. More at

Pope Francis Acknowledges Abuse of Nuns

In an interview on his flight back from the United Arab Emirates, the Pope was asked about reports of abuse of women religious by priests and bushops. A story on NPR noted that “for the first time, the pope acknowledged what has long been an open secret.” The pope said that he believes it is still happening “because something doesn’t stop just because you have become aware of it.”

The Washington Post, in relating the same interview, went on to provide examples of such allegations of abuse, including a story about nuns in India who marched carrying signs accusing the local bishop in the state of Kerala of raping a nun between 2014 and 2016.

Texas Catholic Dioceses Release Names of Accused Priests While A South Carolina Diocese Delays

The 15 Roman Catholic dioceses in Texas released the names of almost 300 priests who were credibly accused of child sex abuse since 1940. In a New York Times story, a spokesman for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) questioned whether the number was accurate: “I am skeptical,” Paul Petersen said. “I am not trying to make it bigger than it is, but I think the number 300 is crazy low.”

Meanwhile, the Diocese of Charlestown, South Carolina, is delaying the release of names, originally scheduled for mid-February, for more than a month. Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone said that he wants the list to be as accurate as possible, according to the Charlestown based Post and Courier.


New York Senate votes to give victims of child sex abuse more years to sue
“The long and bitter battle for legislation that would allow New York sex abuse victims to sue the Roman Catholic Church and other organizations for monetary damages ended with victory Monday (Jan. 28) when the state Senate passed the Child Victims Act. The vote was 63 to nothing, a spokeswoman for one of the bill’s sponsors, state Sen. Brad Hoylman, said. The new law does away with the statutes of limitations that have prevented some alleged abuse victims from going to court to seek damages. And it includes a one-year ‘look-back window’ that will allow others who weren’t able to sue in the past to file fresh claims.” By Corky Siemaszko, NBC News

Catholic leaders in Texas name 286 accused of abusing children
“Catholic leaders in Texas on Thursday Jan. 31) identified 286 priests and others accused of sexually abusing children. The number represents one of the largest collections of names to be released since an explosive grand jury report last year in Pennsylvania. Fourteen dioceses in Texas named those credibly accused of abuse. The only diocese on Thursday not to provide names, Fort Worth, had done so more than a decade ago and then provided an updated accounting in October.” By CBS News

Vatican summit to create task force to aid bishops in safeguarding
“Since the work of child protection must continue after the February meeting at the Vatican on safeguarding, one organizer said they plan on creating a ‘task force’ with teams on every continent. The task force would be just one of a number of ‘concrete measures that we want to offer the bishops of the world,’ Jesuit Father Hans Zollner told the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano Jan. 24.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

Church historian says sex abuse poses biggest threat to church in 500 years
“A month before the start of a global summit in Rome on the sex abuse crisis, a prominent church historian and theologian said last week that the issue poses the biggest challenge to the church in 500 years. ‘This is not like the Protestant Reformation; it’s not,’ Massimo Faggioli, a Villanova University professor, said in a talk at Immaculate Conception Church in Hampton, Virginia. ‘But in my opinion, it’s the most serious crisis in the Catholic Church since the Protestant Reformation.’” By Robert McCabe, National Catholic Reporter

Francis expresses openness to married priests in places of ‘pastoral necessity’
“Pope Francis closed the door Jan. 27 on his making celibacy optional for all Catholic priests, but also expressed openness to allowing older married men to be ordained to the priesthood where there is a ‘pastoral necessity.’ In a press conference aboard the papal flight back to Rome after a five-day visit to Panama, the pontiff first stated firmly: ‘I am not in agreement with making celibacy optional.’ But the pope then noted that there are areas of the world where Catholics are deprived of the Eucharist.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Pope acknowledges nuns were sexually abused by priests and bishops
“Pope Francis said on Tuesday (Feb. 5) that the Roman Catholic Church had faced a persistent problem of sexual abuse of nuns by priests and even bishops, the first time he has publicly acknowledged the issue. Catholic nuns have accused clerics of sexual abuse in recent years in India, Africa, Latin America and in Italy, and a Vatican magazine last week mentioned nuns having abortions or giving birth to the children of priests. But Francis has never raised the issue until he was asked to comment during a news conference aboard the papal plane returning to Rome from his trip to the United Arab Emirates.” By Jason Horowitz and Elizabeth Dias, The New York Times

Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus …

Pope’s Video for February

This month, Pope Francis calls on us to acknowledge the crime against humanity that is slavery and to pray for a generous welcome to those fleeing human trafficking.

A Drop in Collections?

A VOTF member wrote that his parish has seen a drop in collections between October and January. Are other parishes seeing this same trend?

Please let us know. Email us at


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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