Focus is now included in each issue of In the Vineyard. Last issue published as a standalone was Sept. 29, 2011. To see the archived issues, click More (below).

Voice of the Faithful Focus, Sept. 29, 2011

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

Focus Moves to In the Vineyard
As mentioned in Focus last time, beginning Oct. 6, Focus will move to the "Site Seeing" column of In the Vineyard. We're making the change in consideration of your time and the number of e-mails we expect you to read. "Site Seeing," like Focus, gathers important news for you from around the world. We'll still highlight issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church, and you'll have two fewer e-mails to read each month. We hope you like the change.

Amnesty International Slams Irish Catholic Church 
A new report by the Irish branch of Amnesty International says the sexual abuse of children by Ireland's Roman Catholic priests "included acts that amounted to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment." The 430-page report on this "human rights failure" was released this past Monday, Sept. 26.

Primacy of Conscience & Women's Ordination 
An organization promoting Catholic social justice and dialogue around primacy of conscience, The 8th Day Center for Justice, has been chastised by Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, for screening the film "Pink Smoke over the Vatican" and a talk by Fr. Roy Bourgeois. The documentary expresses support for women's ordination in the Roman Catholic Church.

More Clergy Sexual Abuse Comes to Light
Among the places where clergy sexual abuse of minors continues to come to light is Montana, where 45 Native American men and women recently claimed they suffered sexual, physical and emotional abuse at the hands of the Catholic clergy. And... 

Catholic Laity Must Work for Different Church 
The Church is not perfect. The Church comprises more than priests, bishops and pope. The Holy Spirit works equally well through all the People of God, including lay men and women. And who will give us a different Church more responsive to the needs of the faithful? Lay men and women.

Massachusetts Statute of Limitations Reform
Murder presently is the only crime in Massachusetts without a statute of limitations, but a bill now in the state legislature would eliminate the statute of limitations on sex crimes against children.

Pope Visits Germany Amidst Protest & Praise
The pope's visit to his home country of Germany, which wrapped up earlier this week, created much media coverage. During his visit, prominent Swiss theologian Hans Kung compared the pope to Russia's Vladimir Putin; the pope met with sex abuse victims; and the pope admitted the Church today has a questionable reputation.

Pope Appoints New Bishop in Manchester, N.H.
The pope has accepted the resignation of Bishop John McCormack of Manchester, New Hampshire, and has named the Most Rev. Peter Libasci, auxiliary bishop of Rockville Centre, New York, as his successor.

Is the Church at Turning Point on Celibacy
In a new autobiography, Fr. Eduard Daly, former bishop of Derry and the handkerchief-waving priest of the famous Bloody Sunday photograph, has called for an end to the celibacy rule for Catholic priests.

Two Steps Ahead of the Spirit
Anthony Esolen, Providence College professor of Renaissance English literature and the development of western civilization, talks in this essay about the differences between the actual Vatican II documents and the commentary on the Vatican II documents as being "inspired" or "guided" by the Holy Spirit.



Voice of the Faithful Focus, Sept. 15, 2011

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

Canon Lawyer Advocates for Fr. Bourgeois
Canon lawyer Fr. Tom Doyle has argued extensively for Fr. Roy Bourgeois' right to conscience. The Maryknoll, threatened with excommunication for taking part in a women's ordination ceremony, has requested that his superiors ask theologians to reconsider issues stemming from his support for women's ordination.

Hague Is Asked to Investigate Vatican Over Abuse

Human rights lawyers and victims clergy sexual abuse victims have filed a complaint urging the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute the pope and three Vatican officials. The complaint charges that the widespread sexual abuse by priests and the handling of those cases by bishops and Vatican authorities constitute human rights abuses. The Vatican's U.S. lawyer called the complaint a "ludicrous publicity stunt."

The Catholic Church's Secret Sex Crime Files

"The five co-defendants sit close enough to shake hands in the Philadelphia courtroom," begins a graphic Rolling Stone expose of Philadelphia's clergy sexual abuse scandal. As the report ticks off the familiar charges of child rape and coverup, we're sickened, saddened and more committed than ever to changing the church. A commentary in Commonweal reinforces the gravity of Rolling Stone's report.

Philadelphia Urgently Needs Truth, Compassion & Healing

What is Most Rev. Charles Chaput, Philadelphia's new archbishop, up to with his installation homily? National Catholic Reporter and we want to know.

Priest Urges Women to Protest Missal's 'Sexist Language'
As if the antiphon translations in the new English-language missal aren't bad enough, the blatant patriarchal bias in the translators' penchant for male pronouns is worse. One of the founders of Ireland's Association of Catholic Priests wants Catholic women to write to bishops nationwide to protest sexist language. The significantly altered missal may surprise many.


End Celibacy & Help Save the Church
Retired Derry bishop Fr. Edward Daly is confronting the Vatican over compulsory celibacy for priests. He is one of a lengthening list of priests and bishops who, once they retire, begin to speak out on celibacy and the church's treatment of women.

The Policy Myth versus 'Accountability with Teeth'

Earlier this year, Voice of the Faithful charged that the U.S. bishop's Dallas Charter "lacks teeth," and made specific recommendations to make the charter more effective, among them disciplinary action for bishops who violate the charter. Now, National Catholic Reporter, in studying how the Vatican's policies don't necessarily lead to accountability, says some clerics are calling for "accountability with teeth."

Vatican II 50th Anniversary Celebrated

National Catholic Reporter columnist Richard McBrien has finished his series exploring Vatican II's major ecclesiological themes or principles. Here are the six titles, wich links: 
     -- The Church as an Eschatological Community
     -- The Church is Ecumenical
     -- The Church as Communion
     -- The Church as Mystery, or Sacrament
     -- The People of God
     -- The Church as Servant

Voice of the Faithful Focus, August 18, 2011

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

Vatican Posts Accused Priest's Files Online
chink has appeared in the Vatican's clergy sexual abuse armor. As a result of a judge's order in an Oregon lawsuit, the Vatican has posted on Vatican Radio's website some internal files in the case of John Doe v. Rev. Andrew Ronan. Doe's and the Vatican's lawyers continue to spar. You can read the original documents, but you'd better brush up on your Latin.

USCCB Official for Doctrine Rips Theologians
Capuchin Fr. Thomas Weinandy, the U.S. bishop's executive director of the Secretariat for Doctrine, evidently thinks theologians can be a "curse and affliction upon the church" and promote "doctrinal and moral error."

Another Irish Report of Hundreds Abused by Priests
Still another report from Ireland, this time from the Diocese of Raphoe, reveals that 20 priests sexually abused hundreds of children over a period of 40 years.

Dublin Diocese May Collapse Financially
As if Raphoe and Cloyne aren't enough recent trouble for Ireland, now the Dublin archdiocese is reportedly on the verge of financial ruin from paying sexual abuse cases.

Bishops Must Answer Questions Under Oath
bankruptcy judge has ordered retired Archbishop Rembert Weakland and retired Bishop Richard Sklba to answer questions under oath about clergy sexual abuse and its coverup in the Milwaukee archdiocese, which faces more than a dozen civil sex abuse suits and declared bankruptcy in January.

Bevilacqua May Testify
court has ordered a competency hearing for former Philadelphia archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua. Grand jurors reported earlier this year they had "no doubt" he had endangered children, and lawyers want the ailing cardinal to testify on videotape about clergy sexual abuse under his leadership.

Philly Post blog which reviews Bevilacqua's earlier grand jury testimony concludes Philadelphia may not fare any better under its new archbishop Charles Chaput because the Church still doesn't get it.

Lisbon Patriarch Summoned to Vatican
Remember the Lisbon Partriarch Jose da Cruz Policarpo who said he saw no fundamental theological obstacle to ordaining women? Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Cardinal William Levada summoned him to Rome for a talk.

Vatican II 50th Anniversary Celebrated
National Catholic Reporter columnist Richard McBrien has published two more episodes in his series exploring Vatican's II major ecclesiological themes or principles. Here's the list, so far:
     -- The Church is Ecumenical
     -- The Church as Communion
     -- The Church as Mystery, or Sacrament
     -- The People of God
     -- The Church as Servant

In the Aug. 4, 2011, issue of Focus, we incorrectly reported that Fr. Roy Bourgeois had ordained women priests, which he has not. That, of course, would require a bishop. 


Voice of the Faithful Focus, Aug. 4, 2011

Voice of the Faithful Focus highlights issues we face in working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church

Philadelphia Scandal Rolls On
The Philadelphia grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse in February continues to garner attention. Now a judge has ruled the 2003 grand jury testimony cannot be made public. However, testimony of then Philadelphia archbishop Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua already has became public. His words especially upset this Philadelphia Magazine blogger, and Bevilacqua's testimony seems especially damning. For example, Bevilacqua tried to deflect prosecutors' questions in part by saying he couldn't take action because an accused priest might take action against the Church.

Also in Philadelphia, a judge has ruled Msgr. William Lynn, former head of the archdiocese's clergy office, will stand trial for conspiracy to endanger the welfare of children and will be tried alongside three priests and a lay school teacher charged with rape. The man at the center of these rape charges also has filed a civil suit charging the Church allowed the rape to occur.


Cloyne Report Backlash Continues 
As reported in part by In the Vineyard last week
Following Ireland's Cloyne Report, Prime Minister Enda Kenny blasted the Vatican in a speech in parliament, and in a shocking move, the Vatican recalled Irish Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza. The Vatican called for objective debate, leaving some to wonder what it all meant. The world now awaits the Vatican's response, as some priests express outrage at what other priests have done. Speculation about Leanza's next assignment has him reassigned to the Czech Republic.


Cloyne Report News Shifts to Editorials
Across the pond, commentators continue to hash out Ireland's Cloyne Report. A National Catholic Reporter commentator chimed in on the Irish PM's description of the Vatican as narcissistic. Long-time Catholic observer George Weigel wondered if what Ireland has lost to the scandal could be regained. Time Magazine looked at why this historically Catholic country's relationship with the Holy See is at an all-time low.

The list goes on: The Economist thought the Irish PM scored some palpable hits against the Vatican; the Irish Times asked why the Vatican was so upset at Cloyne Report reaction; a New York Times columnist saw the ordeal as the end of awe of the Vatican; an Irish Times editorial wanted Cloyne Bishop John Magee to be arrested; and in an Irish Times column, outspoken clergy sexual abuse victims' advocate Fr. Tom Doyle declared Cloyne Report facts expose the pathology of the Church.


Braxton Battles on in Belleville
Even after the Illinois Supreme Court for the second time denied his request to appeal the $5 million jury award to a sexually abused former altar boy, Belleville, Illinois, Bishop Edward Braxton refused to give up. The award now totals $6.5 million as $1,250-per-day interest piles up while he battles on. Abuse and coverup in Belleville has been documented over 30 years and three bishops.


Women's Ordination Issue Gets Airing
The issue of whether to ordain women to the priesthood is not new but has received recent widespread attention. More than 150 U.S. priests signed a petition supporting Fr. Roy Bourgeois, who has ordained women priests. Priests also have organized in Austria and Australia to support women's ordination. Some asked if the Church is facing a revolt over the issue.


Vatican II 50th Anniversary Celebrated
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's opening sessions. National Catholic Reporter columnist Richard McBrien is exploring Vatican's II major ecclesiological themes or principles in a series of columns. Here are the first three: 
     -- The Church as Mystery, or Sacrament
     -- The People of God
     -- The Church as Servant


Voice of the Faithful Focus, July 21, 2011

Voice of the Faithful's Focus highlights issues we face as we work together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church

Cardinal Rigali Resigns - Archbishop Chaput Appointed in Philadelphia
     On July 19, Pope Benedict XVI accepted Cardinal Justin Rigali's resignation as archbishop of Philadelphia, and the archdiocese announced Archbishop Charles Chaput's installation as Philadelphia Catholic's new bishop. Rigali leaves as Philadelphia's clergy sexual abuse scandal continues. Voice of the Faithful stated July 20 Rigali's resignation was accepted now because the Vatican heard the voices of Church reform. Some point out he reportedly was to retire soon anyway, but in fact, he left amid scandal before he intended. Chaput has been archbishop of Denver since 1997. He is described as a staunchly conservative and evangelical bishop. He has been criticized and applauded, as people try to understand his views.

Abuse Files Become Available in Germany
     In Germany, the Catholic Church will open to investigators priest and employee personnel files across the country. In nine dioceses, investigators will have access to records back to 1945. In 18 other dioceses, they will review records between 2000 and 2010. This promises to be Germany's equivalent of the U.S. bishops' John Jay Report. The Lower Saxony Criminological Research Institute will conduct statistical studies on the nine dioceses, and the University of Essen-Duisburg psychiatric institute will research predator priests' behavior to help determine how to prevent abuse.

From NCR: Has Catholicism Become Merely Set Decoration
& What Will Vatican Summit Reveal

     In National Catholic Reporter, Eugene Cullen Kennedy offers a two-part commentary portraying Church leadership as using props from the past to set the stage for the next decade of Catholic life instead of paying attention to real issues. Will people come to the Church simply because the clerics build it? Also in NCR, John L. Allen, Jr., again approaches the controversy over clergy sexual abuse in light of the Vatican's planned February 2012 summit.

Catholics Tell Pope, Bishops Church No Longer Inspires
     In Australia, Catholics for Renewal has railed at the pope and bishops to be more accountable reject discrimination and do more listening to their flock. In a scathing open letter, the group says the church no longer adequately inspires people.

Cloyne Report Fallout Continues
& Irish Government Attacks Vatican
     In Ireland, the government officials, including the prime minister, have lashed out at the Vatican over clergy sexual abuses, some as recently as 2009, brought out by the Cloyne Report. The prime minister has decried the "dysfunction, disconnection and elitism" of the Church and described the Vatican's position as "calculated and withering." Vatican spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi counters the Vatican's actions have been misconstrued, and the Vatican has not received appropriate credit for what has been done regarding clergy sexual abuse. The Cloyne Report has caused great consternation and the pope may cancel this year's Ireland visit:
Ireland denounces Vatican role in abuse cover-ups
      - Irish priests refuse to break seal of confession
      - All dioceses my face probe by State
      - Martin calls on bishop to take responsibility
      - Papal visit now looks doomed after backlash hits Church
Irish child abuse report attacks Vatican/powerful bishop
Ireland Confronts the Vatican
      - Irish summon Vatican diplomat over abuse cover-up
      - Irish Report Finds Abuse Persisting in Catholic Church
      - 'Inadequate. Inappropriate. Ineffective. Entirely unhelpful
      - Magee 'created one false and one accurate account
      - Clerical abuse - an international timeline

Sr. Joan Chittister ACC Address Gets Rave Reviews
At the American Catholic Council last month, Sr. Joan Chittister presented a remarkable this-is-the-best-of-times, this-is-the-worst-of-times appraisal of the Church that unfortunately most of you were not present to hear. "Every age that is dying," she quoted a Fifth Century philosopher, "is simply another age coming to life." Here are excerpts from her talk .

Justice4PAKids Lobbies for Statute of Limitations Reform
     In Pennsylvania, a group of citizens including Voice of the Faithful and Catholics4Change members is launching an Internet Blog to help them lobby the state legislature to reform the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse to benefit victims. Voice of the Faithful National endorses Justice4PAKids and prays that God blesses their endeavors. 

Voice of the Faithful Focus -- July 7, 2011

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

The Good News—Changing Attitudes
Voice of the Faithful continually rails against Church abuses while working within the faith to effect substantive change. We know such change will be a long time coming, but we also know that, as attitudes change, so eventually will the Church. And we find evidence of changing attitudes:

In Rome, Msgr. Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s sex crimes prosecutor, warns bishops that ignoring expert advice and disregarding Vatican instruction is “unwise.”

The Bad News—Crisis, Coverups & Causes Continue
A recurrent theme in Church reform borne out in practically every Focus issue is that, despite some progress, much work still needs to be done. The Church remains in crisis, the coverups continue and the causes have yet to be corrected:

VOTF Says Erring Bishops Must be Held Accountable
In a news release reported in National Catholic Reporter following the mid-June USCCB meeting that failed to make substantive changes in the Dallas Charter, VOTF said U.S. bishops must finally institute strong measures of fraternal correction when their brothers fail to follow their own Charter.

What’s the Vatican Up To?
The Vatican is turning to Social Media as a weapon against child abuse. The pope used a Twitter post to launch a news website to be used in part to disseminate best practices on handling clergy sexual abuse. The Vatican also may publish a document on the relationship between the clergy and laity that seems in addition to refer to a reorganization of American dioceses. In its inscrutability, could Rome be trying to co-opt reformers who want priests to be shepherds, not governors?

SNAP awarded Carolyn Disco, VOTF New Hampshire leader, with its Layperson of the Year Award during its national conference earlier this month. VOTF in St. Louis honored Father Joseph Starman as a “brave and caring man and a humble hero” for helping abuse victims despite Church opposition.

Keeping an Eye on the John Jay Report
Shortly after the “causes and context” portion of the John Jay Report on sex abuse in the Catholic Church was published in May, The Revealer blog, created by journalists to report on religion in the media, began posting commentary from a variety of people and will continue to do so. One commentator not listed so far is Karen Terry, principal investigator for the John Jay research. All offer in-depth analysis.

Anticipating the New Liturgy
Later this year during Advent, a new translation of the Roman Missal will be introduced in Catholic churches throughout the English-speaking world. Not everyone is pleased with the changes.

Voice of the Faithful Focus -- June 23, 2011

An update highlighting issues we face as we work together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

American Catholic Council Media Coverage
Nearly 2,000 Catholics from across the United States and from several foreign countries descended on Detroit’s Cobo Center this past weekend for the American Catholic Council: Celebrating the Spirit of Vatican II. The Council was widely covered in the media from several points of view. Here are several stories, commentary and a YouTube video: 

Bishops’ Meeting Yields Only Minor Dallas Charter Changes
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops met in Seattle June 16, and clergy sexual abuse was at the top of the bishops’ agenda. But the bishops did little more than tweak the Dallas Charter, missing an opportunity to make the Charter more effective in protecting children. Here is VOTF’s response.

Dioceses Are Lagging Behind in Commitment to Thwart Clergy Sexual Abuse
Nicholas Cafardi was a member of the USCCB’s National Review Board in 2003 when proposals were requested for research into the clergy sexual abuse scandal that eventually became the John Jay Reports. He wrote in Commonweal earlier this month about how dioceses are “Lagging Behind: The Second John Jay Report & the Vatican’s Letter to Bishops.” Here’s a pertinent quote from his commentary, “That leaves one other factor that helped cause the epidemic: the bishops themselves. As did the National Review Board’s 2004 report, the John Jay Report (released last month) clearly identifies the bishops’ inadequate response to reports of child sexual abuse as one of the major factors in the crisis.”

Legal Action Taken Against K.C.-St. Joe Diocese
In a situation that has roiled the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, Diocese for months, a law firm has alleged the diocese broke binding legal commitments by not reporting cases of allegations of sexual misconduct by clergy to authorities. In December 2010, child pornography was found on the computer of local pastor Fr. Shawn Ratigan, who was arrested May 19. The Kansas City Star reports that Ratigan raised red flags long before the present furor.

Is Vatican Attitude Toward Child Sexual Abuse Changing?
During a press conference announcing a symposium on sexual abuse to be held in Rome next February and an Internet learning center on responding to the scandal, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s promoter of justice Msgr. Charles Scicluna made several interesting points. He said the sexual abuse of minors within the Church requires a strong response that is “not inertia, a culture of silence or repression.” He also claimed the lay faithful “must know that they can turn to the nuncio when there are issues that have repercussions in the pastoral ministry of bishops.” And he said bishops have a duty to address the abuse crisis. He also referred to the Vatican’s letter to bishops on guidelines for dealing with clergy sexual abuse. Here’s a link to the letter. When will we see concrete changes? In case you haven’t realized by now that Rome moves with glacial speed, the Vatican announced this past Tuesday its long-overdue report on its treatment of children would be submitted to the United Nations this fall, 14 years after the U.N. requested it.

Here are a couple of recent editorials from Massachusetts newspapers, the Attleboro Sun and Quincy Patriot Ledger, that show, like others we’ve featured in Focus, how more and more people are “getting it” with regard to the Church’s clergy sexual abuse crisis and its need for reform.

“Social Media” Sharing Is a Wonderful Thing, But
As usual, you will notice a “Share” bar accompanying your Focus. Those buttons allow you to share your Focus on your Twitter, Facebook and other Social Media accounts, which we encourage you to do. When you’re sharing Focus with friends by e-mailing it to them, however, please use Constant Contact’s “Forward e-mail to a Friend” button at the bottom of the e-mail. We know you’re so enthusiastic about Focus you want to e-mail it to hundreds of your friends at the same time, but if one of those friends is not as enthusiastic as you and unsubscribes using the e-mail’s unsubscribe link, you’ll be unsubscribed from our Constant Contact list, and we won’t know about it until you complain about not receiving your next issue. We’d prefer you to unsubscribe yourself if you don’t want our e-mailings and tell us why. Thanks.

Voice of the Faithful Focus -- May 26, 2011

Voice of the Faithful Focus highlights issues we face as we work together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church 

Two Important Documents Released Last Week

Two important documents were released last week. Even if judged only by the length of their titles, they will long be important to the Church's clergy sexual abuse scandal -- Circular Letter to Bishops to Assist Bishops' Conferences in Developing Guidelines for Dealing with Cases of Sexual Abuses of Minors Perpetrated by Clergy and The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010, the so-called John Jay Report.

Although Voice of the Faithful is pleased that the John Jay researchers at least recognized the need for accountability and transparency, we believe -- as do others - that both documents are flawed.

The New York Times called the guidelines "flimsy." The Los Angeles Times debunked the '60s and '70s counterculture excuse for the abuse scandal, which was featured during the press conference presenting the report's findings. The report also failed to highlight review board failures. The editor of the Boston Globe's Pulitzer-winning spotlight team, which broke the clergy abuse crisis in Boston, called the report "seriously flawed." The National Catholic Reporter summed up its limitations, and America magazine called the U.S. bishops' response to the scandal "ineffective or even negligent." 

A glimmer of light -- one bishop has admitted to failing to handle a priest child pornography case properly.

Amnesty International Criticizes Vatican & Ireland

International human rights watchdog Amnesty International took the Vatican and Ireland to task for insufficiently protecting children. The Vatican even made the group's human rights list. In Ireland, however, bishops made themselves answerable for their failures following a distressing report from the country's National Board for Safeguarding Children.

Emily & Rosemary Fund Grant Goes to Wisconsin Woman

A woman who was fired from her job as a pastoral associate apparently because of a dispute with her bishop over the contents of her master's thesis recently received a $10,000 grant from VOTF's Emily & Rosemary Fund for Women in the Church. Ruth Kolpack will use the grant to make a documentary about her experience.

Abuse Crisis Is Not Over

Should anyone believe everyone in the Church's hierarchy sees the clergy child sex abuse crisis as over, an Italian cardinal called it "a wicked emergency not yet overcome." Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, made his remarks at the conference's opening session.

VOTF National Meeting & American Catholic Council

VOTF's National Meeting, June 10, and American Catholic Council, June 10-12, both in Detroit, are now only a couple of weeks away. There's no registration or cost for the VOTF meeting, so join us at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel for a Voices in Action update and lively panel discussion with Tom Doyle and Jason Berry. For ACC, you can get more information and register here.

Voice of the Faithful Focus -- May 12, 2011

Voice of the Faithful Focus
An update highlighting issues we face as we work together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

In Ireland, Philadelphia Relived,
As 272 New Abuse Claims Are Reported

Distressing reports from Ireland revealing 272 new abuse claims during the past year, accompanied by lack of accountability and transparency, are reminiscent of the continuing Philadelphia scandal. The Catholic Church's child protection watchdog in Ireland apparently was prevented from undertaking a review of protection practices in the Church for legal reasons.

An Irish minister proclaimed that Church inaction would not be tolerated. Furious victims of clergy child sexual abuse demanded an immediate national probe of every Irish diocese, while bishops remained silent on which dioceses are being investigated. The Irish Times lamented that these latest actions show the Church cannot be reformed.

In a statement, VOTF Ireland said, "The bishops especially must understand that the events of Wednesday, 11 May, severely undermine their claims that a corner has been decisively turned with the setting up of the NBSCCCI (National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland). Its chairman's reiteration of the need for changes in church governance is now emphatically justified.

"We call on church leaders to realize that the collapse of trust in their leadership is now critical and to remove all obstacles to the immediate publication of NBSCCCI reviews of child safeguarding practice."

Can the bishops ever be trusted?

Speaking about bishops' credibility, an Illinois Supreme Court justice who is also a former interim chairwoman of the USCCB National Review Board has some definite opinions. Her remarks were precipitated by the Philadelphia abuse scandal. Also, in Philadelphia, a VOTF affiliate leader talked with an Inquirer reporter about Priestly Vows of 'No'.

But We Shouldn't Let Bishops Drive Us from Our Church

"Well-informed U.S. Catholics are acutely aware of the arrogance, paternalism, flawed logic, inflammatory rhetoric, failure of personal accountability, and lack of pastoral sensitivity of many of our church leaders," says Brian Cahill in National Catholic Reporter. Here's why he thinks we should not let them drive us from the Church we love-even as an Australian bishop was driven from his diocese.

Monday, May 16, Vatican
Releases New Child Abuse Guidelines

Watch Monday, May 16, for the release of a circular letter to bishops' conferences around the world from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on preparing policies and guidelines for dealing with cases of clerical sexual abuse of minors. Some think this could be the result of a U.S. civil court examining the Vatican's role as "employer" of a priest accused of child sexual abuse.

Theologian Says Only Radical Reform Can Save the Church

"The Catholic Church is seriously, possibly terminally ill and only an honest diagnosis and radical therapy will cure it," according to Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Kung. Kung will deliver the keynote address via video at the American Catholic Council in Detroit on Pentecost weekend in June.

VOTF National Meeting & American Catholic Council

VOTF's National Meeting, June 10, and American Catholic Council, June 10-12, both in Detroit, are now only about a month away. There's no registration or cost for the VOTF meeting, but so that we can get an idea of how many people to expect, please click here to take our very brief survey. You can get more information and register here for ACC. Also, National Catholic Reporter recently ran a story with details about ACC, American Catholic Council to convene in Detroit in June. The story points out that ACC "has already drawn fire from the hierarchy for parts of its platform."