In the Vineyard :: January 13, 2012 :: Volume 12, Issue 1

VOTF's 10th Anniversary Conference – Save the Date!
Voice of the Faithful is hosting a ten year birthday celebration and conference on Friday and Saturday September 14-15, 2012 at the Marriott Boston Copley Place in Boston's Back Bay. We look forward to seeing all of you at this historic event. Registration details should be on the website by the end of January. Or, you may send your name, address, email and a check for the reduced early registration of $150.00 (which includes a reception and dinner) to
ATTN: 2012 Conference, VOTF, P.O. Box 423, Newton MA 02464.

We are still firming up our agenda, but, are pleased to announce that Fr. Jim Connell and Justice Ann Burke will be among those speaking at the conference.

Fr. Jim Connell is pastor of two parishes in Sheboygan, WI, where he is Vice Chancellor of the Archdiocese. He wrote an open letter to all Catholic priests regarding the need for the "revelation of truth" concerning the priest sexual abuse scandal. Fr. Jim has been publicly every vocal, regarding the scandal, in support of finding out the truth; doing justice based on the truth; allowing healing over time; granting forgiveness that releases from bondage and welcoming the peace that flows from healing. The truth, Fr. Jim believes, will provide the energy to generate necessary changes in the Church. 

Anne Burke, is a justice for the Illinois State Supreme Court and former head of the review board of lay people established by the U.S. bishops to oversee their policies set forth in the Charter for the Protection of children in 2002.  Justice Burke was the very first recipient of VOTF's Catherine of Sienna Award for a Distinguished Lay Person.  Justice Burke has a long and outsanding record of working for the safety of children. She has put forth a solution to the ongoing sexual abuse problem: truthfulness. The Justice has suggested that,  "perhaps a council on Truthfulness might help..." She further believes that we "must exercise good judgement and courage...that we must be blunt with the Holy Father.....who continue by ..."business as usual or misguided loyalty to permit the unspeakable to occur."

So, mark your calendars, register early and Keep the Faith and Change the Church.

Deadline Approaches 10 Years Later -- Bishops Worldwide to Submit New Child Protection Guidelines to Vatican by May 12, 2012
Little noticed so far by major media outlets, there is a significant date looming. The Vatican has given bishops worldwide until May 2012 to come up with new guidelines for dealing with clergy child sex abuse cases. The deadline was announced last May 3 in a letter to bishops from Cardinal William Levada, the head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

According to Fr. Frederico Lombardi, SJ, Vatican spokesman, the letter and time frame will give bishops a common denominator for guidelines appropriate to each country’s culture and laws. He suggested nine recommendations for bishops and episcopal conferences to consider ...

National Statement -- After 10 Years of Clergy Sexual Abuse Headlines VOTF Sees No Certainty Children Are Safe
NEWTON, Mass., Jan. 5, 2012 – More than 130 people had come forward to tell their stories of childhood sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priest Fr. John Geoghan, reported The Boston Globe on Jan. 6, 2002. Over the next decade, around the world and as recently as last month in The Netherlands, came revelations that thousands of Catholic priests had abused tens of thousands of children in the last half of the 20th Century.

Voice of the Faithful, comprising thousands of concerned mainstream Catholics, has dedicated the last decade to supporting survivors and conscientious priests and trying to change Church structure and governance to help prevent scandals like child sexual abuse.

“Sadly, in spite of the Church hierarchy’s numerous apologies to survivors and wide variety of mandated programs, we cannot be sure our children are safe,” says Mark Mullaney, incoming president during VOTF’s 10th anniversary year.

More on the SOL Battle in Pennsylvania
Two bills introduced in 2011 remain blocked from democratic deliberations in the Pennsylvania legislature due to the legislative privilege of a committee chairman to place a hold on bills that come before his committee. House Bills 878 and 832 would remove the statute of limitations on crimes of sexual abuse of children and provide a one-time 2-year window for those barred by current SOL periods to seek justice in the judicial system. Despite the horrific evidence of systemic abuse of children in the Philadelphia Archdiocese that was revealed in two Grand Jury Reports, as well as in the shocking revelations at Pennsylvania State University just weeks ago, Committee Chair Ron Marsico continues to block elected representatives from debating the merits of these two bills. The principal opposition to them, particularly the two-year window on past cases, is from the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference. Even other legislators have begun to openly challenge the decision of Representative Marsico.
Submitted by Bill Casey, Virginia VOTF Affiliate
For more

Voice of the Faithful Focus,
January 13, 2012

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

Spotlight Shone on Clergy Sexual Abuse 10 Years Ago This Month
On Jan. 6, 2002, The Boston Globe reported how Roman Catholic priest Fr. John Geoghan had sexually abused at least 130 children. VOTF started only a short time later. Subsequent stories that year implicated Cardinal Bernard Law, then archbishop of Boston, in keeping Geoghan’s crimes secret and approving his transfer from one unsuspecting parish to another. Over the following 10 years, came revelations that thousands of Catholic priests had abused tens of thousands of children, and high churchmen had covered up the abuse. A decade later, the Church clings to the clericalism VOTF and others have identified as a root cause of the scandal, and we still seek accountability, which mandates that VOTF’s work continue. The Boston Globe, Associated Press and New England Cable News were among many media outlets offering Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s views on the abuse scandal at the 10-year mark. Also interesting are the 10-year retrospectives of Bishop John D’Arcy, who was an auxiliary bishop of Boston at the time the scandal broke, and Deacon Bernard Nojadera, executive director of USCCB’s Secretariat for the Protection of Children and Young People.

SNAP Documents Subpoenaed
VOTF is on record as party to an amicus curiae brief supporting SNAP in its fight of subpoenas requesting records on clergy sexual abuse victims dating back 25 years. Release of these confidential records could jeopardize victims’ privacy, among other effects, and make abuse victims reluctant to tell their stories. The organization is facing two subpoenas and a third may be on the way. SNAP, of course, will continue to work with survivors.

Priests Come Out in Support Abuse Survivors
The Rev. James Connell, vice chancellor of the Milwaukee archdiocese and pastor of two Wisconsin parishes, diocesan priest Rev. Richard Cerpich and several other Catholic priests have made the bold move publically to work with and help victims of clergy sexual abuse gives, recognizing that the Catholic Church needs to do more to reach out to abuse victims.

Statutes of Limitations Reform Pushed, Opposed
Stories of child sexual abuse continued to dominate headlines in 2011, but because alleged crimes happened so long ago, few victims were able to sue their abusers. Now, lawmakers around the country are pushing to reform their states' child sexual abuse statute of limitations, and opponents, including the Catholic Church, argue reform could unleash a torrent of lawsuits.

Disgraced Bishop Lahey May Face Vatican Discipline
Top Roman Catholic church officials are expected to discipline Raymond Lahey, a Canadian bishop who was sentenced recently after being convicted of importing child pornography.

Read the rest of this issue of Focus here...

 Affiliate News

An Invitation from VOTF NY
On Saturday, January 21st, VOTF NY is hosting a gathering at St. Bart's in NYC to welcome Roy Bourgeois to New York as part of an outstanding program, "Day of Justice for Women in the Church."

This important event is devoted to one of the foremost issues of social justice confronting the Catholic Church today... its treatment of women. The program will feature excerpts from the award-wining documentary, "Pink Smoke Over the Vatican," along with words from Roy and other presentations on justice for women.

To read more about this event, or Father Roy Bourgeois presentation later that weekend on Long Island ...

News from Chicagoland VOTF
Sandra Stilling-Seehausen, president  of the Chicagoland Voice of the Faithful, reports that Chicagoland members have recommitted themselves to survivors of sexual abuse, especially by clergy.  This is the third year they have pledged their commitment to work with and for survivors for justice. They have shared their pledge, below and urge any affiliate interested to adapt and use it as they see fit.


Today, in honor of our sexually abused brothers and sisters, those robbed of innocence and re-abused by the Church more interested in preserving its image than in protecting children from harm, we recommit ourselves to the goals of VOTF, especially that of standing with and for all victims of abuse. Our brothers and sisters have suffered great evil at the hands of trusted clergy and especially of enabling popes and bishops.  We pledge on this 9th day of January, 2012, to pursue justice for you, the victims, and to demand accountability from the hierarchy.

In our endeavors, we trust the power and the presence of the Spirit of God among and within us.  We believe that this Spirit desires the healing of all these victims.  We recognize that this same Spirit calls us to continue this work.  We pray now for continued hope and confidence that this same Spirit will grant us courage and strength to remain committed.

We dedicate this especially to the three members of our VOTF affiliate who are themselves victims of clergy sexual abuse.  We are honored to be in your presence and are most grateful for all you teach us.

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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