In the Vineyard :: June 1, 2012 :: Volume 12, Issue 8

News from National

SNAP Executive Director David Clohessy to Speak at VOTF 10th Year Conference
Since 1991, David Clohessy has served as the national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, the nation’s largest and oldest self-help group for clergy molestation victims. This tireless advocate for abuse victims will address VOTF’s 10th Year Conference on Saturday morning, Sept. 15, at the Marriott Boston Copley Place Hotel. (Click here for a conference agenda.)

As SNAP’s executive director, Clohessy has travelled and spoken extensively, helping to set up local support groups in more than 50 cities. In 2002, Clohessy was one of only four abuse survivors to address all of America’s Catholic bishops at their historic meeting in Dallas, which resulted in the USCCB’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

He has decried the sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church and championed abuse survivors in television appearances on Sixty Minutes, the Oprah Winfrey Show, the Phil Donahue Show and Good Morning America, and he has been featured or quoted in dozens of newspapers around the world.

Clohessy's professional career has included working as a community organizer in low-income neighborhoods and as a union organizer representing low-wage workers. He has also served as a political and public relations consultant. Clohessy helped elect St. Louis' first African American mayor (Freeman Bosley, Jr.), and later joined his communications staff. He also helped elect the city’s first female prosecutor (Dee Joyce Hayes) and guided school districts and other public entities seeking tax and bond measures at the ballot box.

In 2007, Clohessy received the Lifetime Achievement in Advocacy Award from the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma (IVAT), which serves those who most need an ally during the most painful of times of their lives. This award is given to an individual who exemplifies compassion, wisdom and tirelessness, and honors and encourages the qualities of an advocate by recognizing outstanding life achievement on behalf of victims of family violence.

Clohessy is a 1978 graduate of Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. In June 2003, he received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the school.

Nominations Open for 2012 Priest of Integrity and Catherine of Siena Awards
VOTF members and affiliates are invited to submit names for the 2012 national Priest of Integrity Award and for the St. Catherine of Siena Distinguished Lay Person Award. Both awards will be presented at the Voice of the Faithful 10th Year Conference in September.

The Priest of Integrity Award honors a priest whose actions exemplify the gospel imperatives of honesty, openness, courage and compassion. For details, please see the nomination instructions. Note that deadline for submissions is June 30.

The Catherine of Siena Distinguished Lay Person Award deadline is sooner: June 15. This award honors a lay person who has exhibited the faith, courage, and aptitude for unprecedented action, and the outspokenness of Catherine in his/her own arena in the past few years. Please follow these nomination instructions when submitting a name.

For more information on our 10th Year Conference, visit the Conference pages.

NY VOTF Supports the Sisters
Following is an update from NY VOTF by Francis X. Piderit

The third of three vigils outside St. Patrick's attracted well over 100 people on Tuesday, May 29, as we showed our public support for the Leadership Conference of Religious Women and for all the religious women the LCWR represents.

(Here are the pictures from the May 29th NYC vigil:
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Thanks to Matt Rosenwasser for taking the photos and posting them for us all to enjoy.

The LCWR is meeting this week to decide on a response to the ‘doctrinal assessment’ from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. May our prayers be with the sisters as they seek to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit during this difficult time.

A special thanks to all the members of Voice of the Faithful and Call to Action New York who banded together for this important witness. We can take justifiable pride in the public statement we made on three successive Tuesdays in May, joining with vigilers in many cities across the US. May this action be an inspiration for more public actions in the future as we work to inspire Catholics across the US and around the world to stand in defense against those who reject the wisdom of the People of God.

How Can You Stay?

A reflection by Frank Desiderio, C.S.P. (Director, Paulist Center, Boston MA)

How can you stay cozied in a Church
that excludes and relegates?
How can you stay?
And don’t say, because of all the good works
when the good workers are the ones shunned.

The body of Christ shares its limbic brain
with all sorts of creatures
but the mind of Christ is an essential organism.
We are part of a mutation of the moral imagination;
enlightenment happens in sparks so I stay to be fuel.

Guest Column: Chaput’s top priority is to protect children
Published: Saturday, May 26, 2012, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, Daily Times

By Maureen Paul Turlish

One of the most egregious and telling examples of what has been happening in the institutional Roman Catholic Church worldwide is what has been happening in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia since the Boston, Mass., Archdiocese imploded in 2002.

In an article, “The crisis of credibility in Philadelphia,” published in the National Catholic Reporter on 10/28/2005,
I quoted Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua’s words to a CNN reporter. Bevilacqua said, “We are all agreed that no priest guilty of even one act of sexual abuse of a minor will function in any ecclesial ministry or any capacity in our diocese.”

Events following that April 2002 statement have shown in excruciating detail that Cardinal Bevilacqua’s words did not accurately describe the actions of the Philadelphia hierarchy then or during the ten years that followed.

Events since 2002 include: Continued

Voice of the Faithful FOCUS,
May 31, 2012

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

LCWR Move Is Puzzling Even to Those Outside the Church
Even Protestants are puzzled by the Vatican's condemnation of the largest organization representing Catholic nuns in the United States, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Although not of the same magnitude as the long-running story of sexual abuse and cover-up in the church, in its own way, it is needlessly damaging the church -- and not just the Catholic Church, but the church universal.

Priest Scandal, Bishop Scandal...and Church Reform
For Catholics who remained faithful throughout the pedophile priest scandal, this has been a dark and painful period. Every new revelation of abuse, every testimony by victims of a life ruined, is like another punch in the jaw or kick in the gut. The pain continues and we can expect an added shock. This time it will be a bishop scandal.

Battle among Catholic Bishops
There is a healthy struggle brewing among the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops. A previously silent group, upset over conservative colleagues defining the church’s public posture and eagerly picking fights with President Obama, has had enough.

Scandal Hits the Heart of The Roman Catholic Church
The Vatican faces a widening scandal that in one short week has seen Pope Benedict's butler arrested, the president of its bank unceremoniously dismissed and the publication of a new book alleging conspiracies among cardinals.

Penn State and Catholic Church Child Sex-Abuse Trials Divide Pennsylvania Public
Which side are you on? The parallel sex-abuse trials of Msgr. William Lynn and former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky are revealing deep differences among those who once revered both men. It’s been a bad year for Pennsylvania’s most revered institutions.

It’s Not an Attack on the Church – It’s an Attack on Women
Your parents spill a few secrets as they get older. One night at dinner with my mom, I ventured that the rhythm method had worked well for her, given that there were six years between my sister Peggy and my brother Kevin, and six more between Kevin and me. She arched an eyebrow. “Well, sometimes your father used something,” she said.

On Cardinal Levada's Right Hand, the Visionaries -- on His Left, Women Religious
I have pleasant enough memories of Cardinal William Levada who, as a young worker bee in the hive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, helped me find my way through the dim warrens of the old Holy Office when I was questioned there more moons ago than I can now count. I cannot erase my gratitude despite his persistent efforts, now that he runs the whole waxworks of the congregation, to make me, along with millions of others, wonder if he lets his right hand know what his left hand is doing.

Is The Catholic Church Sending A Message to Women?
I was a Girl Scout. My daughter is a Girl Scout. As Catholics, we are stunned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ decision to investigate an organization that we both deeply love. It is tempting to laugh off this news as further evidence of how profoundly out of touch many of our bishops are with the lives and concerns of the people who fill their pews. But...

Read all of this issue of Focus here...

Affiliate News

New Jersey has a newly minted VOTF affiliate! 
Facilitated by Eugene Phillips, it is located in Tinton Falls.  Eugene's phone number is 732-643-8615.  They are informed, enthusiastic and ready to act.  If you are in the area and would like to join them, let Eugene know. 


Letting Go of Grudge: The Spirituality of Forgiveness
Paulist Center, Boston MA

Everyone says let go, but nobody tells you how. Explore with Fr. Frank Desiderio the “how to” of forgiveness on Saturday, June 2nd.

Could you, should you forgive? We start to answer that question by looking at why we don't want to forgive others. The interrelationship of justice and forgiveness is examined and then we explore the feelings of anger, sadness and revenge. We look at what forgiveness is not and the theology of forgiveness.

The heart of the matter is a five-step process of forgiveness: L.E.T. G.O. The result is your next step along the spiritual path of forgiveness.

The workshop is Saturday, June 2, from 1 to 4:30 pm in the Paulist Center Library. Cost: $15 Registered Members of the Paulist Center / $30 General Public. Please RSVP to Marc Velasquez at 617-742-4460.

Panel Discussion on God and Prayer in the Muslim and Christian Tradition
Paulist Center, Boston MA
Imam Talal Eid and Fr. Frank Desiderio will conduct a discussion of the ways in which we can reach beyond our particular and distinctive theologies to develop a common social life. Discussion and conversation among participants will continue over refreshments after the panel. The panel will take place Thursday, June 7, from 7:00pm-8:30pm in the Paulist Center Chapel. A freewill offering of $10 is encouraged.

Letter to the editor
In 2002, our NYC chapter of VOTF asked individual nuns and orders of nuns to join us. They did not return e-mails, let alone join us at meetings. At our big conference in October 2003, where 1400 people showed up at Fordham University, I don't think there were a dozen nuns and sisters.

Religious women watched as Father Tom and Father Vince came into the classrooms and asked for Timmy, Johnny, and Mary to come outside with them. In many cases the nuns knew exactly what was happening to the youngsters back in the rectory.

And some nuns themselves were sexually abusing children. One of the lawyers at the Fordham conference said his worst case involved a nun.

So tell me, what's with the great outcry of support for this group that has not supported VOTF, or worse, not supported SNAP? I know I'm not marchin' anymore.

Ellen Vosbury

A Response to the Question
Dear Ellen, I am very sorry that your experience in NYC with nuns has been negative. It differs very much from our experiences here in the office and the experiences reported to us by most of our affiliates. We also count many nuns among our members. Often, however, I meet a member and am not aware that she is a nun because she wears ordinary clothing instead of ostentatiously declaring her “nun-hood” with a habit. Perhaps there are NY nuns at VOTF events who also are “out of habit”?

You are concerned about nuns who abuse or failed to report abuse. Like you, I too am deeply saddened that nuns who suspected abuse did not find the courage to step up and say STOP. I am also deeply saddened that many lay people as well as priests stood by and suspected abuse yet said and did nothing.

But I honor the many courageous nuns, lay people, and priests who did step up, did say stop, and did seek to protect the victims of clergy sex abuse. I honor the nuns, like Sister Maureen Turlish whose guest editorial appears in this issue, who work tirelessly on behalf of victims today—and I honor other lay people and priests who also work hard on these tasks.

That is the background for the answer to your question, “what’s with the great outcry of support?”

The answer itself is that our support for the nuns in the LCWR is like the support we express for other lay men and women and clergy who call for reform and renewal in our Church even though the hierarchy would prefer us all to be silent—just as they themselves continue to remain silent rather than call to account the bishops who hid pedophiles and covered up crimes.

We see women in an organization (the LCWR) that has consistently worked for justice, for ways to apply the Gospel message in the modern world, and for a shared, collegial approach to living as Church in the world. And we see women attacked by privileged males who ignore the good works of the women, overlook the lived Gospel message, and instead seek to find fault on the basis of who speaks at conferences and whether the LCWR supported stances on civil legislation the bishops favor politically.

In the face of the Vatican attacks on women—or anyone else who dares to live out the path Jesus set for us—VOTF raises our voices in support.

Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director


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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