In the Vineyard :: February 7, 2014 :: Volume 14, Issue 3

News from National

U.N. Sex Abuse Report Calls for Holding Bishops Accountable"In an unprecedented report critical of the Catholic church’s handling of the clergy sexual abuse scandal, the United Nations demanded Wednesday (Feb. 5) the Vatican immediately remove all clergy known or suspected to be child abusers, turn them over to civil authorities, and hold ‘those who concealed their crimes’ accountable."National Catholic Reporter

VOTF has always advocated for accountability for bishops who covered up the crimes of clergy sexual abuse, enabling those crimes to continue to be perpetrated for many years. The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child is now saying what VOTF and other victims’ rights groups worldwide have always insisted. Under Pope Francis, there is hope that such accountability will become standard, rather than the grievous omission it now is.

The U.N. report also criticized some aspects of Church teachings, a tactic that has allowed some to try downplaying the entire U.N. report. Whatever the merits of the U.N. comments on legitimate Church teachings, however, there are no doctrines that would exonerate clergy guilty of sex abuse or excuse the bishops who hid those crimes.  

See more on VOTF Blog post.

VOTF 2014 Assembly Workshop: Focus on Female Voices Francis says he suffers when seeing "that woman's role of service slips into a role of servitude." Yet he insists, still, that women cannot be ordained, and instead of speaking about a "theology of humans" calls for developing a "theology of women."

Can women hope for equal opportunity in ministry from a male hierarchy trapped in a patriarchal mindset? How do women answer the call to ministry when so much in Church tradition and ecclesiology seem to thwart female opportunity?

Click here to read more about VOTF’s four Conversation Starters, which explore experiences, hopes, and possibilities within today's Church.

Join us in Hartford April 5 at the Female Voices workshop to consider these questions and others.


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

UN Sex Abuse Report Holds Bishops Accountable
“In an unprecedented report critical of the Catholic church’s handling of the clergy sexual abuse scandal, the United Nations demanded Wednesday (Feb. 5) the Vatican immediately remove all clergy known or suspected to be child abusers, turn them over to civil authorities, and hold ‘those who concealed their crimes’ accountable. The report by the U.N. watchdog for children's rights targets bishops for enabling the abuse over decades. Church child sex abuse watchdogs maintain many hundreds of bishops have enabled and covered up abuse but have never been held accountable by authorities inside or outside the church. The UN report called on the Vatican to turn over tens of thousands of potentially incriminating documents held in its archives, according to various news reports.” By Thomas C. Fox, National Catholic Reporter
 -- U.N. Panel Assails Vatican Over Sexual Abuse by Priests, By Nick Cumming-Bruce, The New York Times
 -- U.N. Committee Blasts Vatican on Sex Abuse, Abortion, By Associated Press in Journal Sentinel

D.A. Appeals Overturning of Lynn’s Conviction
“Citing its ‘great importance as a matter of public policy,’ Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams formally asked the state Supreme Court on Tuesday (Jan. 28) to reinstate the conviction of Msgr. William J. Lynn, the first Catholic Church official convicted for his supervisory role over a sexually abusive priest. The petition says the state's highest court should hear the appeal because the Dec. 26 opinion by a three-judge Superior Court panel that reversed Lynn's conviction was ‘serially erroneous,’ potentially precedent-setting, ‘and the subject of national attention.’ By Joseph Slobodzian, Philadelphia Inquirer
-- Philadelphia Prosecutor Appeals to Restore Church Official’s Conviction in Landmark Abuse Case, By Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press, in The Republic

Cardinal George Revises History
“On Tuesday (Jan.21), the Archdiocese of Chicago released six thousand pages of documents related to the cases of thirty priests credibly accused of sexual abuse. The files, made public as part of a settlement with victims' attorneys, offer a predictably depressing view of archdiocesan failures over the past several decades … ‘Publishing for all to read the actual records of these crimes,’ (Cardinal Francis George) wrote in a letter warning Chicagoans about the document dump, ‘raises transparency to a new level.’ Perhaps. But he didn't volunteer these files. They wouldn't have come out if it hadn't been for victims who pressed for their release as part of a legal settlement. Still, it's difficult to take seriously Cardinal George's brief for transparency when he seems so intent on obfuscating his own role in the scandal.” By Grant Gallicho, Commonweal

Pope Won’t Be Lenient on Predator Priests
Pope Francis will not show leniency towards pedophile priests because truth and justice are more important than protecting the Church, the Vatican's former sex crimes prosecutor said on Saturday (Jan. 18). Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the most authoritative Catholic official on the Church's abuse crisis, also told Reuters that the number of clerics defrocked by the Vatican was likely to have fallen to about 100 in 2013 from about 125 in 2012. By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Read the rest of this issue of Focus by clicking here …

More Assembly News: Catholics and Clericalism
Clericalism is a principal cause of clergy sex abuse and cover-up. And lay people are part of the problem. What is clericalism, and how do we recognize the signs and remove this primary obstruction to collegial lay participation in our church?

You can find out at the workshop on Clericalism during the VOTF 2014 Assembly on April 5 in Hartford, Connecticut. Click here to register online.

Pope Francis has decried clericalism. In his Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel, he says, "... a clear awareness of this responsibility of the laity, grounded in their baptism and confirmation, does not appear in the same way in all places ... In others, it is because in their particular Churches room has not been made for them to speak and to act, due to an excessive clericalism which keeps them away from decision-making."

And VOTF believes the time to root out Clericalism is NOW.
Clericalism is one of six workshops offered at the VOTF 2014 Assembly. Just click here to register online for the 2014 Assembly and sign up for Clericalism and one other workshop.
Additional workshops include Diocesan Financial Accountability, Parish Finances: Tools for Securing Collections, Priestless Parishes: There IS An Answer, Female Voices, and Survivor Support: Spirituality & Trauma, which will be facilitated by long-time clergy sexual abuse survivor supporter Fr. Thomas Doyle.
Visit our website homepage for links to additional VOTF 2014 Assembly information.

The Pope’s Lenten Message
Pope Francis's Lenten Message for 2014 focuses on poverty and sacrifice: "We Christians are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it."
Read more…

VOTF Members Share Their Creativity
Prophet, priest and king
Baptismal gifts for all -
So how did the voice of a prophet
Get muted into a sacrificial lamb?
And how did the voice of a priest
Avoid shrieking out
At the sacriligious defilement of their children?
How could the voice of a king
Be so obsequious as to modulate a roar
To a whimpering pray, pay, and obey?
We tried silence, we tried diplomacy,
It didn’t prevent the outrage;
It nurtured the flame,
Which burst forth  full-throated
in 2002
No mas! NO MORE
-bzm  1/19/14

Help VOTF Get FREE Advertising
In The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe recently launched a program called GRANT that allows subscribers to select the non-profit group that they believe most deserves free advertising space in the paper.
Naturally, we hope you'll choose VOTF.

The Globe began sending subscribers vouchers on Jan. 20 and will continue through February. When you receive your Globe voucher in the mail, we would be gratified if you would apply it to VOTF. The organizations with the highest voucher donations will earn free advertising in The Boston Globe.

This is a great opportunity to spread the word about VOTF, so please keep us in mind. Your can make a difference.
For more information on this promotion, click here.

Keep the Faith, Change the Church 

CORPUS (the national organization for an inclusive priesthood) has announced that its annual conference will be held at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel and Conference Center, in Framingham MA June 7-8, 2014.   The topic will be The Way We Were and Are; the Church in the House.   Major speakers will be Rev. Raymond Collins, Scripture scholar, author of the recently published book, Accompanied by a Believing Wife, Anthony Padovano, theologian, author,  and  the first President of CORPUS,  and Linda Pinto, co-editor of Corpus Reports.  For more  information go to  

Letter to the Editor

After the recent Prof. Lakeland lecture, someone in the audience asked, "Where do we find collegiality in the church?"
The answer is collegiality is found alive and well in the Leadership Conference of Religious Women, the LCWR.  My sister is one of these religious women, so I have seen that for forty years, these sisters have trained all their members to live and conduct all matters in a collegial manner. They have been living this way for these past forty years. I believe they are the group in the church, because they have all been doing this for so long, best prepared to lead our church into the future.  
In their interactions with the representatives of the institutional church, they respond from this perspective, thus leading by example.

In her remarks on May 19, 2009, in Cincinnati at the opening of the four year traveling Museum Exhibit, Women and Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America about the contributions of religious women in America, Nancy Seruto, the president of the company that mounted the exhibit said, “We thought we knew what collegiality was; we learned from these women.” She referred to the ten sisters, from ten different communities, who met with the museum people once a month for four years, to discuss what should be included and why. Then she added, “We have already incorporated into our business model what we have learned from these women.”

P. Hardiman

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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