Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

In the Vineyard: April 29, 2019

In the Vineyard :: April 29, 2019 :: Volume 19, Issue 8



News from National

Dioceses Continue Posting Names of Abusers

The Archdioceses of New York, one of the largest U.S. dioceses, finally published a list of clerics accused of child sex abuse last week, on April 26. They joined the dozens of dioceses that began posting such lists these past few months, or updating lists that previously had been published.

Although some U.S. dioceses had published such lists years ago, the recent "flood" appears to be related to the February synod in Rome and new emphasis on admitting the particulars of abuse. New York identified 115 priests and five deacons who have been accused of sexually abusing a child, according to Rick Rojas of the New York Times

One byproduct of the postings is that it's now easier to track how abusers were moved around within a diocese and shipped off to other dioceses. 

Summaries of records on abuser priests at bishopaccountability.org also allow this sort of tracking.


Featured Speaker: Justice Anne Burke

We're highlighting the speakers you can expect to see at our Oct. 19 Conference. This week the spotlight is on State Supreme Court Justice and former Interim USCCB NRB Chair Anne M. Burke.

The Honorable Anne M. Burke, Illinois Supreme Court Justice, who spoke to us at our 10th Anniversary Conference in 2012, will be a featured speaker at Voice of the Faithful’s 2019 Conference: Creating a Just Church.

For more than two years, Justice Burke served as the interim chair of the USCCB’s National Review Board, directing its efforts to investigate the causes and effects of the clerical sexual abuse scandal and helping to establish guidelines and policies for effectively responding to the scandal. Much has happened in the clergy abuse scandal since then, and we have asked her to consider whether much has changed since then as well as offer ideas for what should come next.

In addition to her judicial responsibilities, Justice Burke has devoted much of her career to ensuring that children have every opportunity to thrive.

Before serving on the Illinois Appellate Court, she provided in-depth leadership in reshaping and improving the Illinois juvenile justice system. Then-Governor Jim Edgar appointed her Special Counsel for Child Welfare Services and made her a member of his Legislative Committee on Juvenile Justice.

Before her judicial career, Justice Burke was a physical education teacher with the Chicago Park District, where she worked with children with learning differences. Having recognized the positive impact that sports competition had on her students, she championed the idea of a citywide competition.

This led ultimately to the creation of the Chicago Special Olympics in 1968, which grew to become the International Special Olympics, reaching tens of millions of children in 192 nations. She presently serves on the Executive Steering Committee of the Kennedy Forum Illinois, which works toward lasting change in the way mental health and addictions are considered and treated.

As a member of the Illinois Supreme Court, Justice Burke is a frequent speaker and panelist before many civic and bar associations. Voice of the Faithful is honored to have her as a featured speaker at a conference appropriately subtitled Creating a Just Church.

Click here for information and to register …

Click here to download a printable 2019 Conference mail-in registration form ...

Click here to reserve your discounted hotel room ...


Washington State Reforms SOLs

VOTF members Lisa and Keith Blume worked with others to gain reform of statute of limitations laws that in the past had shielded child sex abusers from prosecution. Here is Lisa's joyful report when the reform finally became law this month.

Governor Jay Inslee signed a new statutes of limitations reform bill into law that eliminates criminal statutes of limitations for child rape, molestation, and other crimes of sexual abuse yesterday.

The signing event was the top of the television news programs, with Seattle CBS station KIRO featuring it as the lead twice in primetime.  

I was featured in the above story along with others. In addition to the governor, my friend and fellow survivor Dinah Griffey (who inspired the bill); her husband, Dan, who started the bill in the House and worked for it for so long; Senator Manka Dhingra who led the final bill through the Senate (and whom I last testified before); and another fellow survivor who also testified, Christina-Marie Wright, appear in the piece. There are many other people who deserve enormous credit for their work over the years--too many to list here and I might leave someone out if I tried.


Photo © Washington State Legislative Support Services​

A few of us above and a couple of others met privately with Governor Jay just before the signing. HIs wife, Trudi, was there—she called it “a good day.” (I'm the one shaking the governor's hand.)

The bill had overwhelming bipartisan support. All the above and many others clapped and cheered and hugged and cried together—a lot.

The law was signed on Good Friday, the start of the Easter weekend, and the start of Passover—a little symbolism perhaps.

For me, this journey has unfolded during the last part of my writing Little Girl Leaving: A Novel Based On A True Story, and its publication this year.

Note: Little Girl Leaving won The Bill Fisher Silver Award for the Best First Book Fiction from the Independent Book Publishers’s Association's Ben Franklin Awards for 2019 and has been nominated for several other awards.


A SNAP Conference Note on Their Keynote Speaker

SNAP has announced that Siobhan O'Connor, the whistleblower who helped expose an ongoing cover-up in the Diocese of Buffalo, will be their Saturday morning keynote speaker at their 2019 Conference. Ms. O'Connor was featured on "60 Minutes" and in other news media in the summer of 2018. After sharing pertinent Chancery documents with multiple media outlets, Siobhan provided them to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. She now focuses on advocacy for survivors of clerical sexual abuse and the reform of the Church to which she still belongs. 

You can learn more about Ms. O'Connor and the upcoming SNAP conference, to be held July 26 - 28 at the Westin in Alexandria VA, by visiting the SNAP web site.


Spreading the Word on Women Deacons 

Drs. Phyllis Zagano and Gary Macy visited the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim last month to speak about their decades of work on the topic of women deacons in the Church. In case you missed their conversation wih Fr. Paul Crowley at Santa Clara University in California, you still can see it in a video the university posted: Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future.

You might also consider hosting a study group using the book of that title, written by Phyllis, Gary, and William T. Ditewig. There's a reflection and study guide available for a four-session study group; it was prepared by Donna L. Ciangio, OP, D. Min. and Sandra De Masi, SSJ, D. Min.

Dr. Zagano also invites all those interested to join her for a Zoom webinar meeting about women deacons. The host will be Sister Colleen Gibson, S.S.J. The webinar takes place on Tuesday, May 14, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time (U.S. and Canada). You may register by clicking here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information aabout joining the meeting.


TOP STORIES

Catholic diocese, Movement to Restore Trust launch new methods for abuse claims
“The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo is taking a new approach to handling alleged sex abuse cases. The diocese now is working with the Movement to Restore Trust, an independent group of Catholics. The group first met with officials from the diocese last Thursday Apr. 11). They discussed new ways to improve the church’s response to accusations of abuse made against members of the clergy. One idea would be for Bishop Richard Malone to reserve time in his schedule regularly for one-on-one meetings with victims. Additionally, there would be diocese-wide listening sessions over the next few months to hear directly from Catholics about the scandal and other matters of importance to churchgoers.” By Spectrum News Staff

With letter on sex abuse, Pope Benedict returns to the public eye
“In his retirement, Pope Benedict XVI is apparently tired of hiding. The former pontiff, who declared he would ‘remain hidden to the world’ when he became the first pope in six centuries to abdicate in 2013, has released a 6,000-word letter that puts the blame for the clerical sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church on the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the disappearance of God from public discourse in the West and what he considers dangerously liberal theological ideas that eroded morality after the church reforms of the Second Vatican Council.” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

Inside the fight for compensation for clergy sex abuse survivors
“For attorney Ken Feinberg and his longtime associate Camille Biros, their work overseeing compensation funds for survivors of clergy sex abuse is familiar: They represented the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the Deepwater Horizon spill. In order to determine what type of compensation is appropriate, Biros says they look at written documentation of the abuse, such as journal entries, or sometimes the survivor will tell their story in person.” By Robin Young, National Public Radio

We’re waiting on decision about women deacons
“Will he or won't he? That's the question being asked in some circles as the date approaches for the pope's appearance at this year's May 6-10 meeting of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), the leaders of the world's congregations of Catholic women religious. Every three years the group meets in Rome, and during the last gathering, in answer to a question from the group, Pope Francis agreed that it would be good to appoint a commission to study the history of women deacons. The commission was formed within three months, in August 2016, and last summer, having completed its work, the commission sent a paper to the pope. So the big question this year is: What's Francis going to say about women deacons?” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

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


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