In the Vineyard :: December 10, 2009 :: Volume 8, Issue 22

News from Ireland

Dublin Report: Clerical Sex Abuse in Ireland

Following is an update from Sean O’Conaill, VOTF-Ireland

We know now that the Vatican seems to be abandoning its “nothing to do with us” posture— probably because of the obvious tension between the Irish bishops. Friday's meeting [Dec. 11, 2009] will evidently be attended by whoever heads the “church” wing of the secretariat of state - as well as Cardinal Bertone and Cardinal Battista Re.

Some reports say the Vatican wants some kind of "final resolution” to prevent the slow drip feed of bad news from Ireland. But that would surely take the resignations of maybe 10 bishops.

Whether our plea for a papal inquiry will be heard is probably unlikely, but that in itself is likely to raise growing annoyance here at the role of the papacy in appointing lame bishops, and failing to take an interest in why they are so lame.

After months of delay, the government in Ireland finally released its report on sex abuse committed by Catholic clergy during a 35-year period (Jan. 1, 1975, through April 20, 2004). The long delay came with multiple warnings that the details would be appalling. They are.

On Dec. 7 it was decided that Pope Benedict will hold a summit with top Irish bishops on Friday Dec. 11 to discuss the findings of the Murphy Report on the Dublin Archdiocese.

Over the weekend, a small group from Voice of the Faithful Ireland delivered a letter to the Papal Nuncio there asking the pope to remove the bishops who enabled the abuse and bring an end to the culture of secrecy in the church.

VOTF members in Ireland and in the U.S. are calling for accountability as Pope Benedict prepares to meet with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, President of the Irish Bishop's conference, and Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, the papal nuncio in Ireland.
Please take a moment to view the video below that briefly recounts what we face in light of the Church's refusal to hold accountable those bishops who covered up initial sex abuse and still refuse to open all the records pertaining to such abuse.  We must spread the word so that together our “voice of the faithful” will be heard.

Below is more coverage of the scandal in Ireland:

Speculation about Bishop Murray resigning
as-pope-orders-leaders-to- rome-for-

Members of VOTF Ireland demonstrate

Pope to receive letter from VOTF

Will the Irish Bishop quit?

News from National

Roman Missal Controversy
Voice of the Faithful received a letter last week from Father Michael Ryan, pastor of St. James Cathedral in Seattle, Washington. Father Ryan is concerned about the controversial new translations of the Roman Missal.
He has published an article in the December 14 issue of America Magazine entitled “What if we just said wait? The case for a grassroots review of the new Roman Missal.” (
) Father Ryan has also set up a website for people to make comments that he hopes to bring to U.S. Bishops to encourage further thought on this issue.

The National Catholic Reporter also ran an article on this issue in October.

Priest of Integrity—Nominees

Two priests, Reverend Joseph Fowler and Reverend Donald Cozzens, were honored as Priests of Integrity at VOTF’s National Conference, “Making our Voices Heard,” held on Long Island NY on October 30-31, 2009.

Along with these two, four other priests were nominated for recognition. In this and following issues of In the Vineyard we will honor these priests (in alphabetical order) with articles about the work that they are doing for others and for the good of our church.

Reverend Roy Bourgeois was enthusiastically nominated by the New York City affiliate of VOTF. His is a name not unknown to many of us, and he has a broad base of support from the people he serves. Fr. Bourgeois is best known for his antiwar activities and for standing up for women’s roles in the Church. The following summary of his ministry over the years is a testament to his commitment to peace and justice.


Voices in Action

Affiliates around the country are using the conference DVD’s at their meetings to spread the word about the Voices in Action campaign and the possibilities for change spoken about at the conference. If you’re interested in buying a copy for your affiliate keep an eye on the website.

Advent Prayer

Prayer for the Third Week of Advent

Is 12:2-3
Cry out with joy and gladness:  for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.

Good and loving God; we rejoice in your love and graciousness; we thank you for the gift of yourself as we prepare to celebrate

Update from Universal Church Reform
Submitted by Nick Mazza

The Universal Church Reform team is working on three initiatives: Bishop Selection, Problems in the Priesthood, and Women in Leadership.

The goal of the Bishop Selection effort is to identify five dioceses by December 2010 where an Ordinary and/or Auxiliary Bishop is scheduled to reach normal retirement age. Current appointment processes for filling such vacancies have Rome making the ultimate appointment and the candidates coming from different and even remote dioceses. But in the early church, Bishops were selected or chosen from the local faith communities, and the new bishop had pastoral experiences within the local community. The team’s aim is to highlight this difference and work towards a process that better follows the original practices of the Church.

Recently, the Bishop Selection team under the leadership of Jack Doyle completed its first draft white paper. This paper will serve as the official document in communicating our initiative publicly. The final draft is being developed as well as four cover letters that will be sent to the Holy Father, Congregation for Bishops, U.S. Papal Nuncio and the President of NCCB. Additionally, some members will visit local bishops to solicit support. Jim Beyers is conducting a search of local dioceses, priest councils, parish councils and local affiliates that would be most receptive to our Bishop Selection proposal, especially if we receive negative responses from the church hierarchy.

The second initiative continues the effort sponsored by the Priest Support Working Group in its Goal II phase, which is well developed. John Ryan leads this phase, which focuses on drawing greater attention to the problems of the priesthood through grass root information dissemination, especially through local affiliates.

Women’s Leadership in the Church is the third important issue for the Universal Church Reform team. Our sisters in the Lord are suffering because the greatest injustice the church can impose on a person is to restrict that individual from being who God created them to be in their spiritual journey. Kathleen Kichline leads this initiative and is recruiting women to join her initiative. Kathleen is a perfect choice for this position since she has a great working knowledge and understanding of women in the history of salvation history and is author of the book Sisters in Scripture.

National Working Groups

Message from Voice of Renewal/Lay Education
The VOR/LE Working Group invites members of VOTF to join together in a “rolling” Advent candle lighting with a noon prayer modeled after the original VOTF noon prayer. Light your candle @ noon (whatever your time zone) on December 20—the fourth and last Sunday in Advent.

This invitation was inspired by a comment on VOR/LE’s Advent Sunday reflection with a theme of more light coming from multiple candles. One member even plans to place a battery-operated candle in her train window as she rolls across the country on the 20th.

Please join us in lighting your candle and saying this prayer at noon, which Gaile Polhaus modeled on the original VOTF noontime prayer:

Jesus, Lord and Brother, help us with our faithfulness. Please hear our voice, and let our voice be heard as we prepare for the celebration of your birth. Amen.

Affiliate News

LI VOTF Responds to Vatican’s Exoneration of Father Placa
Statement from the Long Island VOTF
Disturbing news came on Friday as the Diocese of Rockville Centre announced that the Vatican has cleared the name of Fr. Alan Placa, a formerly high-ranking priest in the diocese who was at the center of abuse allegations. 

Despite the Vatican’s action, members of the Voice of the Faithful cannot deem Fr. Placa to be a “priest in good standing.” The review process by the Vatican, at which the alleged victims of sexual abuse were not invited to testify, is not a definitive investigation. As a result, any conclusions it reached must be considered inconclusive at best.


URGENT Need: Readers for Bridgeport Documents
The Bridgeport affiliate is trying to review the thousands of document pages the courts forced the Bridgeport Diocese to release about sex abuse cases and reports. They need about 50 volunteers to help. They are asking each volunteer to review the PDF files and compile a log of what each document contains: its author, recipient (example: “Bishop X,”or “secretary to Y”), subject, names of any abusers mentioned and, of course, the identifying number and date for that document.

Volunteers must be detail-oriented and, although this is a relatively short-term project, you also must be available to review at least 500 pages and report each week on your findings.

Dan Sullivan is handling the organization of this “reading group.” Please send him your name, email address, and home address (he may need to mail you files). Send your info to

Site Seeing

Carolyn Disco from VOTF New Hampshire responded to Fr. Timothy Radcliffe’s assertion that English-speaking countries have more clerical sex abuse due to some “particular weakness” in those churches. Her response in the London Times can be read at
along with the link to Radcliffe’s original letter.

Demonstrations in Bridgeport ask for Criminal Investigation

Bridgeport VOTF members quoted in the following articles:

An opinion on the investigations of the sisters

Spirituality of women

Looking for a way to stay connected during the winter?
Learning at Home: Webcasts You Can Easily Play
Boston College's Church in the 21st Century Center makes all its webcasts available, on topics covering everything from Ignatian spirituality to the Jewishness of Jesus to Edwina Gately speaking on social justice. They even provide a list of their 10 most popular webcasts each year. You can watch the videos in high-band or low-band video (depending on your computer's capabilities) or just as an audio. It's an easy way to stay connected as the winter winds begin to howl. Check out all their listings here.

Christmas Shopping ONLINE?

Thinking of starting on your Christmas shopping? Want to do it online? If so, please consider going to VOTF’s website and following the link to A small percentage of each sale will go to support VOTF (although you will not pay any higher price). Last year, VOTF raised close to $800 dollars during the Christmas season in this way. Painless!

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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