In the Vineyard  ::    June 18, 2009   ::    Volume 8, Issue 12

National News

The following press release was sent out yesterday from VOTF.

June 17, 2009
Boston- As bishops gather in San Antonio for the spring meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Voice of the Faithful wonders what they will accomplish. Unfortunately, the agenda for this meeting reflects a lack of leadership that Catholics have come to expect from their bishops. Instead of addressing continued failures of transparency and accountability, the opening of records about clergy abuse and the availability of the sacraments for future generations, the U.S. bishops plan to discuss liturgical translations, marriage, and a liturgy of thanksgiving for human life.

The time to talk about liturgical translations will come, but the leadership needed in the Church today goes far beyond deciding which English word best matches a Latin word inserted centuries ago into the Mass.

Moral leadership begins with addressing continued cover-ups regarding clergy sexual abuse and finding ways to keep our faith communities alive, not closing parishes as an “answer” for declining numbers of celibate diocesan priests. Moral leadership does not fear collaboration with the laity on the many problems facing our Church today.

We pray that the bishops can take steps towards a transformed Church by beginning to address such problems.

2nd Request!  Let Your Voices Be Heard! We Need Your Input!
As a grassroots movement, ensuring that the voices of our members are heard is critical to our success. A task force committee has been formed to investigate and propose alternative models to the National Representative Council to best represent the grassroots voice of the VOTF membership. The committee has begun its work and will present proposals at the September meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Co-chairs are Elia Marnik and Mary Pat Fox.  Members also include Bill Casey, Ron DuBois, Svea Fraser, Anne Wilson, David Biersmith and Jim Beyers.  The committee is actively soliciting input from VOTF members. You can send your suggestions to Elia or Mary Pat at the email addresses below.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Elia Marnik    

Mary Pat Fox

Nominations for Priests of Integrity Awards
Presentation at the 2009 VOTF Conference

All affiliates and members of VOTF are invited to nominate priests whose actions exemplify the gospel imperatives of honesty, openness, courage and compassion. While many priests work faithfully and often anonymously in their ministries, we encourage acknowledgment of specific acts that demonstrate the leadership needed in our church.

Please Join Us!

2009 Voice of the Faithful National Conference
Making Our Voices Heard

Hosted by the Long Island Voice of the Faithful
October 30-31 2009

Featured Speakers:   Joan Chittister, O.S.B and  
Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J.
Location:   Huntington Hilton, Melville, Long Island

Click here for hotel information

Register for the Conference

Join us as we pray together as one voice, learn about VOTF’s current strategic plan and exciting new projects, and participate in stimulating conversations. It is a great chance to catch up with old friends and make some new ones as we convene some of the most active and committed Catholics to “make our voices heard.”

News from the Affiliates

VOTF Ireland Releases Statement
The failure of the Irish Bishops’ conference to respond adequately on June 10th to the Ryan report of May 20th means that there is now a complete leadership vacuum in the Irish Catholic Church.

While stating accurately that ‘the Ryan Report represents the most recent disturbing indictment of a culture that was prevalent’ in the church, the Irish bishops do not clearly accept that bishops themselves had any responsibility for this prevalent culture.    As all of the indicted institutions lay under the diocesan oversight of Irish bishops – who also clearly failed in their role as supreme guardians and teachers – this is inexcusable.

Nor do the bishops declare any intention to discover the origins and causes of that culture of cruelty - as called for by Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor on May 24th - or to involve the whole people of God in a process of discernment and renewal.
As this amounts to an evasion of their clear responsibility as leaders, the bishops’ offer of pastoral outreach to survivors is completely unconvincing.  Generations of Irish bishops have maintained a cruel culture of deadly secrecy, silence and denial in relation to clerical abuse, and have failed as guardians, teachers and pastors.  All survivors are owed an explanation and an apology for this.

Convinced that the culture of cruelty indicted in the Ryan report is directly related to the church’s aloof, secretive and unquestionable system of government; to the absence of structures of accountability in every diocese involving lay people as of right; and to the legacy of a distorted theology founded upon Fear rather than Love, we are satisfied that these problems and this culture continue to plague the church.   We therefore call upon the Irish Bishops Conference to accept the responsibility of bishops also for this culture, and to initiate an exhaustive inquiry. 

Nothing less than this can have any hope of re-establishing the moral authority of Catholic leadership in Ireland, or the lost confidence and trust of the people of God.

Chicagoland VOTF Presents Local Pastor with Priest of Integrity Award
Father Pat Brennan, long-time pastor of Holy Family Parish in Inverness IL received the first Priest of Integrity Award from Chicagoland Voice of the Faithful.  The Award cited Father Brennan as a gifted preacher, drawing parishioners from 90 surrounding communities, as the driving force behind the formation of small Christian communities, active social justice ministries, and as a man of deep faith who has spoken boldly about the hierarchy’s mishandling of the clergy sexual abuse scandal.


An Update from VOTF North Shore – Seacoast Affiliate
Submitted by Eleanora Paciulan

The North Shore and Seacoast Affiliates in Massachusetts decided to merge in May 2008. Members of the two affiliates and the Lynn Affiliate had worked collaboratively on the very successful Adult Education and Faith Formation Series for six years and at a joint meeting of the Steering Committee and Faith Formation Working Group (FFWG) the previous May, dialogue was initiated to see how members could grow together in addressing the three goals of VOTF more effectively.


A Plea for Honesty and An End to Secrecy
By Joe O’Callaghan

Everyone who believes that justice must be served will welcome the decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court to release court documents relating to sexual abuse by priests of the Diocese of Bridgeport. Depositions and other documents detail the efforts of Bishops Walter W. Curtis and Edward M. Egan and their subordinates to cover up the cruel exploitation of children by pedophile priests.


Site Seeing

National Catholic Reporter has come out with another installment in their fascinating series "In Search of the Emerging Church."

Midland Daily News -- Transparency called for in priest sexual abuse cases

The Voice of the Faithful chapter of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport heard a riveting account of priestly sexual abuse during its meeting this week.

VOTF’s Sean O’Conaill is quoted in this article and takes the Church to task for refusing to accept any responsibility in the “culture of cruelty” in the Church.

The Irish Times also covered Archbishop Martin’s response at the abuse scandal in the Irish Catholic Church.

Book Review

Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire
By William T. Cavanaugh, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008. $12.00 pb. ISBN-13 978-0-8028-4561-0.
Reviewed by Benjamin Brown, Lourdes College, Sylvania, OH 43560

Cavanaugh’s short and clear little book could not have come at a better time. As the United States and the world struggle with the current economic downturn, we are forced to face fundamental questions of the meaning and purpose of economic life. Dueling temptations exist, on the one hand to throw capitalism out as defunct; on the other to cling all the more tightly to the plethora of goods it has produced as we struggle to maintain our comfortable ways of life. Christians have long suggested a middle path, grounded in a deeper philosophical and theological worldview, and Cavanaugh reminds us of that wisdom.

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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