In the Vineyard: November 7, 2014

In the Vineyard :: November 7, 2014 :: Volume 14, Issue 21

News From National

In the spring of 2015 the VOTF Board of Directors will be electing members to the board. The roles and responsibilities of a board member can be found on the website.

The board meets monthly and members can come into the office for the meeting or call in on a conference call number. They also meet once or twice a year for a day and a half face to face meeting. This is usually in the New England area.

Board members are also active participants in one or more of the VOTF initiatives. A complete list of the initiatives is available at

This is a great opportunity to get more involved in VOTF. Our work is not complete, our goals are still valid. The Spirit is moving in the Church.

If you are interested in serving on the board, please send your contact information to, and we will call to discuss this further with you.

Thank you,
The Nominating Committee

Vermont Catholics can use a web portal to propose candidates for their next bishop as search process passes one-year mark
As the search process for Burlington’s new bishop passes the one-year mark, Catholics in the Diocese of Burlington, which includes the entire state of Vermont, can recommend candidates for their new bishop via a computer link to the pope’s representative in Washington.

Last year on Nov. 6, the Vatican announced that Burlington’s Bishop Salvatore Ronald Matano was appointed bishop of Rochester, N.Y. When Bishop Matano was re-assigned, the search for his successor began. The search process will continue until the Vatican appoints a new bishop. In the meantime, Apostolic Administrator Msgr. John J. McDermott has been administering the diocese.

U.S. Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Carlo M. Viganò, who advises the Vatican on bishop selection for the American Catholic Church, conducts confidential searches for new bishops. He speaks primarily to other bishops and to select lay people, most of whom are identified by the bishops.

Church law, however, encourages all Catholics to express their views on Church matters that concern them, and this includes who their new bishop may be.

According to Plymouth couple Bill and Anne Cherico, who are members of Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful®: “We feel that laity input on the selection of a new bishop would ultimately give greater credibility to that appointment. Also, the time frame in the selection process has been far too long with no explanation to the parishioners of the diocese on the reason for the delay.”
As the selection process for a new Burlington bishop continues, lay Catholic men and women can use an Internet link Voice of the Faithful® has developed,, to provide input directly to the apostolic nuncio via his email address.

The VOTF web portal allows Catholics in a diocese to record their concerns and recommendations in three key areas: 1.) outstanding needs and opportunities in the diocese; 2.) candidates’ ideal qualities and qualifications; and 3.) priests who would be excellent candidates for their bishop.

The portal brings into the 21st century a lay-consultative process as old as the Church itself. In the early Church, all members of a diocese, clergy and laity, elected their bishops, and only in 1917, did Church law reserve the appointment of bishops, with few exceptions, to the pope.
Archbishop Viganò has assured VOTF that all input reaching him from individual Catholics via the web portal will be reviewed and that “serious observations may well be incorporated in the developed confidential process.”


Highlighting issues we face working together
to Keep the Faith, Change the Church

Next Week’s USCCB Meeting, Part 1
“Next week (Nov. 10-13), the USCCB will gather for their annual fall plenary in Baltimore … The Holy Father has called the Church to become less self-referential, to go out to the peripheries of life, especially to the poor and the marginalized, so as to encounter Christ. His simplicity of life and the sheer authenticity of his words and gestures have electrified the world. Yet, the response to the exciting moment in the life of the Church from the staff at the USCCB might charitably be described as underwhelming.” By Michael Sean Winters,National Catholic Reporter

Next on Pope Francis’ agenda: curia reform, personnel moves, a revamped synod
“Pope Francis told bishops attending the recent Synod of Bishops on the family to speak their minds freely and boldly during the two-week-long assembly … This freedom of theological speech has been, until now, a faded memory in ecclesiastical Rome, and it opened quite a lively debate on issues that had long been closed off to candid discussion throughout the church. Now the debate has begun. And it will continue.” By Robert Mickens, Editor-in-Chief, Global Pulse, in National Catholic Reporter

Documents cast new doubt on Nienstedt testimony about abusive priest
“Hundreds of pages of legal documents released Monday (Oct. 27) provide more evidence that Archbishop John Nienstedt gave false testimony about a Twin Cities priest who pleaded guilty in 1983 to sexually assaulting a child.” By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio

The Catholic Church is changing – and the gates of reaction shall not prevail against it
“The answer is that, as the dust settles, what has become clear is that, for all the hoo-ha made by conservative cardinals, the overall outcome has been a remarkable advance for those who want the Catholic Church to be more compassionate and inclusive. The vociferous minority who tried to box the Pope into a corner, on gays and divorcees who remarry, may have won one small battle. But they are losing the wider war.” By Paul Vallely, The Independent

Lawyer’s deal with archdiocese arouses skepticism
“In a packed room at the Landmark Center in St. Paul last Monday (Oct. 13), one of the nation’s most aggressive critics of the Catholic Church’s handling of clergy sex abuse did something that stunned many abuse survivors and parishioners … At that news conference, he shook hands with officials from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis — the same organization he’d accused of engaging in a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice and protect priests who had raped children.” By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio
Religious orders told they must improve when dealing with abuse
“The way religious congregations respond to survivors of clerical sexual abuse needs to improve and become more compassionate and meaningful. That was one of the key findings of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) in its sixth tranche of safeguarding audits, which were published yesterday (Oct. 23).” By Sarah MacDonald, Irish Independent

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

VOTF Affiliate Works in Coalition on SOL Reform
The Catholic Coalition of Conscience, which includes Voice of the Faithful New York and Call to Action NYC along with other Catholic reform groups, responded early yesterday with a strong statement on the misleading letter from Bishop Murphy about the SOL Reform legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey.

NCR Reporter, Jamie Manson, wrote about the story in the National Catholic Reporter, and Assemblywoman Markey commented on it today.

Bishop Murphy claims the bill, “seeks to penalize only the Catholic Church for past crimes of child sex abuse.” In fact, the bill never specifically mentions the Catholic Church, but does say it covers ALL private institutions – prep schools, sports clubs, youth clubs, private daycare and early childhood centers, churches of all denominations, synagogues, mosques, as well as sexual abuse crimes committed against children in a home setting.
Below is the letter from Assemblywoman Markey that was sent to New Yorkers, and a link to the NCR article.

Dear Friends:
I want to share the article below with you from the National Catholic Reporter about an election-eve parish letter from a Long Island Bishop that is both inaccurate and inappropriate. Thank you to the Catholic Coalition of Conscience, Call to Action and Voice of the Faithful, for their strong response (SEE PDF ATTACHED) that sets the record straight about the Child Victims Act of New York (CVA). Please share this story with others who believe, as I do, that CVA will protect future generations of children by revealing pedophiles that have been hidden from exposure and provide justice for older survivors of past abuse.

Sincerely, Assemblywoman Margaret M. Markey,

VOTF Members Speak Out

Letter to the Editor in Florida Herald-Tribune
In response to Friday’s article about Bishop Frank Dewane in which Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, maligned Call to Action and Voice of the Faithful as “discredited” organizations whose claims should not be taken seriously:
Former Bishop John Nevins did not consider VOTF discredited.
In 2004, a group of Venice Catholics met for several months to study materials on The Voice of the Faithful, a new movement formed mainly to support victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse. Four members of the group sought a meeting with Bishop Nevins, who greeted them individually, shook their hands and said to them, “The church is always in need of reform.”

We were deeply moved by his statement and we met on church property until the arrival of Bishop Dewane, when we were no longer welcome. We relocated to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
VOTF members are faithful Catholics who serve various parish functions and volunteer for many ministries. The backlash against VOTF and Call to Action from the Diocese of Venice does not do the diocese any credit as it scrambles to defend the bishop and his negative actions.

Jeanne Durney

VOTF – In the News

“Groups like Voice of the Faithful have come together to try to challenge our church leaders to bring them to the kind of leadership that Jesus calls them to be.” So says Bishop Thomas Gumbleton in a homily given last week at St. Anselm Church in Sudbury, Mass. To read the complete homily go to


Presented by Voice of the Faithful New Jersey, on Thursday, November 20, 2014, at 7:30 PM at St. Mark Lutheran Church, 100 Harter Road, Morristown, NJ, David Gibson will speak onEvangelization as Revolution: How Pope Francis is Changing the Church.

Pope Francis is an enormously popular figure, but many people also want to know whether that popularity will translate into real change in the Catholic church. David Gibson, Catholic author and national reporter for Religious News Service, will look at how Francis is trying to reform the church and how his style really is substance. But will his style outlive his papacy?

An award-winning journalist, author, filmmaker and a convert to Catholicism, David Gibson specializes in writing about religion. He has covered the religion beat in his native New Jersey and written for leading magazines and newspapers including The New York Times, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, New Yorkmagazine, Commonweal, and America. The Coming Catholic Church: How the Faithful are Shaping the New American Catholicism is one of his two books on Catholicism. Gibson has won the Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year Award, the top honor for journalists covering religion in the secular press, and has twice won from the American Academy of Religion their top prize for writing on religion. A regular TV and radio commentator, he has appeared on ABC, NBC, and CNN News and PBS’ Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.

All are welcome. There is no charge for the program.
Information:, or 862-377-9914

VOTF Adult Education and Faith Formation Lecture
TOPIC: Eastern Catholic Churches: Unity & Collaboration 22 churches incommunion with Rome
DATE & TIME: Sunday, November 16, 2014 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM.
PLACE: Our Lady of Hope Church Hall, Ipswich, MA
SPEAKER: Jaisy Joseph, Ph.D. Student, Boston College
Recent events in the Middle East have led to a greater consciousness of our brothers& sisters of the Eastern Catholic Church. There are 22 Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with Rome. This presentation will discuss the relationship of “mutual nourishment” that Pope John Paul II asked us to experience with one another within the Catholic Communion of Churches. (Orientale Lumen 1995). Free will offering gratefully accepted. Refreshments served.
Barbara& John Gould

Letter to the Editor

Last night I listened to a priest of integrity speaking about his hopes and fears for the Church.

Fr. Tony Flannery spoke sincerely, fervently and with humor to an appreciative congregation at the
First Church of Dedham. His call for reform in the Church, particularly in the Vatican, resounded
with his audience who represented many reform groups.

However, there were very few VOTF people present – a missed opportunity for our members to be inspired by this advocate for church renewal.

I wish that VOTF had given this talk the same amount of publicity that is being given the Joan Chittister
event – we all need the inspiration which Tony Flannery generated last night.

Perhaps you can publish the transcript of his speech when he addresses Elephants in the Living Room on November 3rd.

Frances Shawcross

Questions, Comments?

Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor, Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.

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