In the Vineyard  ::    July 24, 2009   ::    Volume 8, Issue 14

National News

VOTF Members Respond to Emergency Appeal
On July 13, Dan Bartley and I called on VOTF members to meet a financial emergency regarding cash reserves.  We asked for $60,000 by the end of July to meet operating expenses in July and August.  By time of press, you contributed almost $86,000.  More importantly, you re-affirmed VOTF's raison d'etre and renewed our collective commitment to achieve VOTF's foundational mission and goals.  And you shared your generosity in the midst of one of the worst economic crises in our nation's history.  With contributions still coming in, we are in a position to meet operating expenses through the end of September.  Speaking on behalf of the Officers, the Board of Trustees and the national office staff, we applaud VOTF's collective response as we shed tears of gratitude.

Although we are out of the emergency room, we remain in the critical care unit.  In order to remain a voice of conscience in the public square, to keep members connected through emerging developments, and to support and coordinate initiatives in the Strategic Plan, we need to maintain a base of national operations with a predictable source of income.  In light of financial realities affecting not only VOTF but virtually every major corporation and nonprofit organization, the Board of Trustees and Officers are currently assessing our national operations and costs (already reduced by 35% in FY 09) to identify baseline needs and efficiencies.  We will adjust our annual budget to meet what our members pledge to commit on an annual basis and continue to seek additional revenue from appeals or other sources such as foundations or grants.

All of us knew the pursuit of a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church would not be a quick or easy mission to accomplish, but we can all renew our hope in the gracious response of our members' treasures during the past 10 days.

Bill Casey
Chair, Board of Trustees

To read the latest press release about VOTF’s financial situation go to

Register Now for Long Island Conference
Making our Voices Heard
Hosted by the Long Island Voice of the Faithful

Featuring SR. JOAN CHITTISTER, O.S.B., and

Join in lively discussions as we come together to reflect on the state of our church and how we can be part of the changes that will renew our faith. For registration info, check the additional info here.

We are asking affiliates, members and supporters to make their presence known at VOTF's conference on Long Island in October. Please consider taking an ad in our conference program book. It's easy, just fill out the ad reservation form and return it to the address on the form by September 15, 2009.

CALL for NOMINATIONS for the Priest of Integrity Award
The Year of the Priest offers VOTF an exceptional opportunity to honor those faithful priests among us who have exemplified the leadership needed in our church. In proclaiming this special year, Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged that... “there are...situations which can never be sufficiently deplored where the Church herself suffers as a consequence of infidelity on the part of some of her ministers.  Then it is the world which finds ground for scandal and rejection.  What is most helpful to the Church in such cases is not only a frank and complete acknowledgment of the weaknesses of her ministers but also a joyful and renewed realization of the greatness of God’s gift, embodied in the splendid example of generous pastors, religious afire with love for God and for souls, and insightful, patient spiritual guides."


News from the Platform Committees

Networking and Partnership Platform
Submitted by Sheila Peiffer

The Networking and Partnership Platform is in the business of forming relationships and making connections with other organizations in order to accomplish the overall goals of VOTF in the best way possible.  Our platform mission statement says, “While faithfully maintaining our allegiance to the mission, goals, and identity statement of VOTF, we propose to develop collaborative actions with other Catholic groups in order to effectively nurture meaningful reform in the spirit of Vatican II.”


News from members

Child Victim’s Act
Dear Friends of VOTF: 
This morning's Wilmington News Journal features an article on the closing of the two-year look-back window provided for by the Child Victim's Act. It is significant in that it reports on the number of abuse suits filed and for noting that while the majority of them are against Catholic priests, there are also suits pending against public schools and the state--a fact that opponents of the bill continue to deny.


SNAP National Conference
Dear Members:
Having attended two of the SNAP national conferences myself, I know the rich information to be gained by attending.  The speakers are regularly outstanding and they offer stimulating ideas for prevention, legislation and activism.  This year's conference will be in Washington, DC on August 7-9 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City--close to the national mall, museums, and free shuttle services to and from DC National airport.  The weekend pass is $135 and a one day is $120.  Room rates have been garnered for $99 a night if you mention you are reserving a room for the SNAP conference.  To understand Goal #1, it is essential to understand the issues that underpin it.  I encourage as many as possible to attend. 
Janet Hauter

A VOTF Year of Penance?
By Susan Vogt
Many of you probably saw last week’s NCR article (July 10, 2009) by Paul Wilkes, “A modest proposal to (finally) put abuse crisis behind us.” The proposal is that the US bishops should embark upon a Year of Penance in personal and public reparation for the clergy sexual abuse scandal. This is not a new idea. I remember it being floated about five years ago. I thought it was a good idea then but no bishops seemed to bite. I suggested to several lay ministry groups that I was part of that perhaps even if the bishops didn’t undertake some form of public penance, maybe we should – not because we personally sexually abused or abetted the abuse of anyone, but rather because the Church is a community and there is such a thing as “social sin.” 


Letter to Cardinal George Asking for “Openness”
July 22, 2009
His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago
835 N. Rush Street
Chicago, IL 60611-2030

Dear Cardinal George 

We are representatives of five organizations including, SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a self-help support group for victims, Call To Action, a Catholic movement of 25,000 people working for equality and justice in the Church and society, VOTF, Voice of the Faithful, a group calling for the systemic reform of the Church so that all abuses end (sexual, financial, clerical power,) Coalition of Concerned Catholics, a group dedicated to supporting victims and working to remedy hierarchical abuses which put children at risk, Companions in Hope, an advocacy group of Catholics and former Catholics working to bring healing, protection and better understanding to the issue of various forms of abuse.


Site Seeing

Vermont Diocese faces more lawsuits...

A thoughtful article on Jimmy Carter’s decision to leave the Southern Baptist Church.

Professor Thomas Groome of Boston College speaks to NPR about VOTF’s future.

Letters to the Editor

In response to your update on the Catholic League including the words of their director, Susan Fani we have made a $50.00 donation online.
We also wrote to the Catholic League to let them know how Susan's words were such an encouragement for us to do so! How ironic that they present their organization as a response to anti-Catholic behavior. Ms.Fani's words were cruel, heartless. As we pointed out however, her taunting of her Catholic sisters and brothers managed to do God's work in the end. 

Blessings on the courage and persistence of VOTF,
Ann and Paul Staudt

I am interested in tracking the duel investigations of nuns noticed in today’s news.  In the “Year of the Priest” announced from the Vatican, the “transgressions” stated as the basis for investigating nuns in the USA appalls me.  Can VOTF track this and keep us informed?

Jack Reinholt

From the Editor: VOTF is also interested in the investigation of the US nuns. We will continue to provide links to whatever coverage we find on this issue.

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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News from Members

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