In the Vineyard :: August 6, 2010 :: Volume 9, Issue 15

National News

Ten Steps Toward Reforming the Catholic Church
It seems like every time you turn around these days, someone has another suggestion about how to reform the Catholic Church. So Voice of the Faithful has decided to put forward our best thinking on what the People of God need to do in order to ‘keep the faith and change the Church.’ In the wake of the devastating disclosures of this year, our list of “10 Steps” is a small start toward answering the question, “What happens now?” Think of it as a blueprint for change. We Catholics have never been known as quick to change, but perhaps that too is something that ought to…change.

Following is a list of 10 reforms proposed by Voice of the Faithful that would help heal our Church.
1. Protect children
2. Support Survivors of abuse
3. Identify Abusers
4. Hold accountable all who facilitated abuse
5. Conduct independent investigations of abuse
6. Inquire into the causes of the crisis
7. Empower the laity
8. Develop inclusive governance structures
9. Require financial transparency
10. Host a representative global council of the Church

To read more about these proposals

Is it Theology or Philosophy?
Submitted by Kevin Connors
The Vatican recently issued rules that include ordination of women among a list of grave crimes against the Church. The penalty for anyone who knowingly participates in a woman’s ordination is automatic excommunication. If that isn’t shocking by itself, consider that the penalty for participating in a woman’s ordination is greater than the penalty that applies to clerics who are guilty of abusing children, or bishops who cover up clerical abuse of children by clerics.

So the baffling question that many Catholics are asking themselves is: why is the ordination of women such a terrible thing?  On July 27, Archbishop Dolan of New York responded to this question.

Read more

Letter to the Editor

Following is a letter from one of VOTF’s members. She posted the letter as part of a conversation some members were having about the outrage they felt about the Pope’s decision to include the ordination of women as a sin on par with the pedophilia practiced by some priests. I am sharing the letter with her permission.

Over the past few years, I have tried not to be a skeptic about the possibility of changing the church. After the latest salvo from the Vatican, I am trying not to be a cynic.  On July 20, 2002, I was the only 8 ½ month pregnant women at VOTF’s conference in Boston. I spent that day and a few more weeks after soul-searching the decision to baptize my daughter. We made our decision to baptize her despite the turmoil and loss of trust; we focused on our faith and parish, which brings so much joy and light into our lives.  

Fast forward seven years… my daughter recently celebrated a beautiful First Communion day but as the European news and Vatican messaging hit our papers, we found many reasons to not attend Sunday mass (Denial + Avoidance!). As a volunteer teacher in our parish CCD program, I have become aware of how families interact (or don’t) with our parish. Many of my students do not attend mass regularly and some don’t even know our priest. If one definition of a leader is a person with followers, what happens when priests (bishops, popes, etc.) turn around and find no one there?  Perhaps we should look to our youngest members to find our path forward?

For starters, I would like church officials to provide an explanation of the “grave sin” of ordination of women that will make sense to the vibrant, intelligent third grade girls I will see this September.  In 2002, I thought the church was so shamed and shocked that a major change was unavoidable. I reasoned that by the time my daughters were of confirmation age, the church would be closer to genuinely, consistently living the Gospel because of the crisis of abuse and cover-up.

Will this church ever be worthy of my children’s profession of faith? A far graver sin than ‘ordination of women’ is a mother giving her children to an organization that would devalue or abuse them. I took a leap of faith in 2002, but eight years on, I fear I am guilty of not acting in the best interests of my daughters… but to whom should I confess?  I truly hope this ongoing dialogue provides seeds for lasting change. I applaud the writing, organizing, and praying everyone in VOTF does so passionately. I am blessed my faith hasn’t wavered but as I grow more doubtful about keeping with this church, I thank you all for giving me a reason to hang on. Perhaps instead of having women stop donating or attending services in October as one writer suggested, parish donations could be used to send parishioners to Rome to ask (again and again) just what it is about women that the church can’t abide. At least this way, people might enjoy the art and architecture even if their words fell on mere stone.

 J. Lambkin


Save the date,  SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2010
Listen to “Bless me Father for I have sinned!”
Priestly sexual abuse in the Diocese of Bridgeport
A dramatic presentation of court documents.
Also FR. TOM DOYLE, O.P., the canon lawyer who alerted the American bishops
to the problem of priestly sexual abuse in the 1980s
Norwalk Concert Hall, Norwalk City Hall, East Avenue, Norwalk
12:30-4:30 p.m.

The Responsibilities and Rights of the Laity
There has been much conversation among Catholics lately about whether or not we have the “right” to have our voices heard, and if, as some believe, it is our responsibility to speak out against injustice, even if it is within our own Church.  Voice of Renewal/Lay Education, a VOTF working group, has posted a document that outlines the responsibilities and rights of the laity.

“According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which [the laity] possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.”
(Canon 212 §3)

To learn more, go to

Site Seeing

A plan is in the works to form an independent association of Irish priests. The aim is to make hierarchy more accountable.

Are women religious being asked to return to a 19th century way of life?

Misogyny as Church Policy

Members in the News

Sandra Stilling Seehausen’s letter in the Daily Herald

Cardinal Held Accountable
Well, Cardinal George, once again the person you placed at St. Agatha's and failed to remove even when more allegations were made against Daniel McCormack is in the news. You, the review board, Jimmy Lago, and all the others who were aware that Daniel McCormack had a history of abuse should have your names right up there in the headlines, for you are more guilty than McCormack even for endangering children with sexual abuse.

Read more



Come and hear FR. TOM DOYLE, O.P., the canon lawyer who alerted the American bishops to the problem of priestly sexual abuse in the 1980s.

Saturday, November 13, 2010 Norwalk Concert Hall, Norwalk City Hall, East Avenue, Norwalk.

Registration. See Send form and check for $40 to VOTF in the Diocese of Bridgeport, 191-C Main Street, New Canaan, CT 06840
A box lunch will be provided.

Book Corner

Looking for something good to read? How about The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin, S.J. published by Harper Collins (Mar. 2010).
Following is a review by Gaile M. Polhaus Ph.D.

If you have read any of James Martin’s books you already know that his writing style is conversational and interesting.  The fourteen chapters of his latest book are no exception.  Having just completed teaching a course on spirituality I only regret that I did not have this book on the required reading list.  And it is available in three formats: hardback, paperback, and e-book.  Since you are reading this on your computer I suggest you go to Amazon (through VOTF of course) and order it. (By going to Amazon through VOTF, VOTF gets a portion of the purchase price. )

The important thing about spirituality is the link between prayer and care.  Chapter ten sums this up nicely in a way that is helpful for all, both single and married.  Chapter thirteen exhorts you to “Be who you is.”  Something I, at least, need to be reminded of occasionally.  But the chapter I found most helpful was chapter four “Beautiful Yesterdays” in which Martin gives a wonderful teaching on the examination of conscience.  He warns against “good old Catholic Guilt” and writes, with many examples, of ways to do the examen and what can be gained.

This book is a keeper and I will surely put it on my next book order for class.

Questions, Comments?

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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