News from National
First Conviction of Hierarch Who Covered Up Abuse
Although the conviction of Msgr. William Lynn last week in Philadelphia of child endangerment is a sad day for the Church, the conviction imposes at least a measure of accountability on the Church hierarchy for covering up the sexual abuse of children by clergy.
For years, VOTF and other advocates have called on the Church to hold accountable bishops and other officials who abetted abuse by keeping it secret. Lynn is the first, and thus far the only, member of the Church hierarchy who has been held accountable for covering up abuse, and it took civil authorities to force that accountability.
The Catholic Church cannot hope to heal the deep wounds to victims, their families, faithful Catholics and the Church itself until the hierarchy is completely honest about this scandal and demonstrates a commitment to justice and accountability at least equal to that displayed by the court in Philadelphia.
VOTF once again calls on the Vatican and the bishops to hold accountable those among them who knowingly failed to remove child sex abusers from the clerical ranks.
Rev. Donald Cozzens, Ph.D.,
Writer in Residence, John Carroll University,
To Speak at VOTF 10th Year Conference
Best-selling author and teacher Rev. Donald Cozzens, Ph.D., a noted national and international commentator and lecturer on religious and cultural issues, especially on the Church’s sexual and financial crises, will speak at VOTF’s 10th Year Conference in Boston Sept. 14 and 15, 2012, at the Marriott Boston Copley Place Hotel. Fr. Cozzens will address the conference on Saturday, Sept. 15. Click here for a conference agenda.
Before accepting an appointment as writer in residence in the theology department at John Carroll University, Father Donald Cozzens was president-rector of Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in Cleveland, Ohio.
During his tenure at Saint Mary Seminary, he published the controversial, award-winning book, The Changing Face of the Priesthood. It was both broadly acclaimed and fiercely critiqued—and changed the direction of his ministry as a priest. In addition to his teaching and writing, he now travels widely, lecturing on the crisis engulfing the Catholic Church and leading retreats for priests and religious.
Father Cozzens is also the author of Sacred Silence: Denial and the Crisis in the Church; Faith That Dares to Speak; and Freeing Celibacy; and the editor of The Spirituality of the Diocesan Priest. His best-selling and award winning books have been translated into seven languages.
In addition, Fr. Cozzens is the 2009 recipient of Voice of the Faithful’s Priest of Integrity Award. The Award recognizes courage and dedication in addressing the abuse crisis and its cover-up in the Catholic Church. It honors priests who fulfill their calling from God by living their lives in the service of others; who are marked by a sincere faith, loyal to the vows and promises of the priesthood; who speak and act their consciences, proclaiming the truth with humility, courage and compassion without regard for their own future security; who model servant-leadership, both in the context of their lives and in their ministries; who give credible witness to the truth in both speech and action; and who strive to promote Christian dignity and the rightful position of the laity in the Church.
Election Results: VOTF Board of Trustees
The election for four new members to VOTF's Board of Trustees has been completed. Two hundred fifty-three members voted in this election. The results are as follows:
Pat Gomez -- 202
Edward Greenan -- 191
Phil Megna -- 189
Margaret Roylance -- 188
Gaile Pohlhaus -- 114
(Note that fewer than the maximum 1,008 total votes were accumulated because some voters selected fewer than the four allowed per voter.)
The top four vote getters joined the board at its meeting on June 26, 2012.
If you wish to review the statements these candidates presented prior to the election, they will remain posted for a few weeks. These new board members will join the other seven (7) members of the board. They will serve a term of three years.
We wish to thank all the candidates who volunteered to run as well as the 253 members who took the opportunity to vote.
The Election Committee
Update on Bishop Selection Initiative in Chicago
Chicago VOTF affiliates are encouraging the lay members of the Archdiocese of Chicago to recommend candidates to succeed Cardinal George as their archbishop. The Cardinal submitted his resignation to the Pope on his 75th birthday in January.
Via the Internet at www.votf.org/bishop, lay men and women in the archdiocese may express 1) their views on current needs and opportunities in the archdiocese, 2) present their thoughts on the qualifications and qualities they think a new archbishop should possess, and 3) suggest particular priests they believe would make excellent candidates for their archbishop. The project will run throughout July and August.
At its conclusion, the recommendations submitted by the laity will be analyzed and transmitted to the Apostolic Nuncio in a consolidated report, asking him to take it into consideration as he develops the Ternum (recommendation of candidates) for the Pope, who will appoint a new Archbishop of Chicago in the near future.
This local Church effort was launched under the national VOTF Bishop Selection Initiative, whose team members have been meeting monthly with the Chicago VOTF members via conference calls to assist them to plan and carry out their pioneering project.
Voice of the Faithful FOCUS,
June 28, 2012
Highlighting issues we face working together
to Keep the Faith, Change the Church.
The Verdict in Philadelphia
The jury in the trial of Msgr. William Lynn took 13 days to reach its verdict, and the verdict was clear: Those charged with oversight of clergy and who did not use that charge to protect children will be found guilty of criminal behavior -- in this case, child endangerment.
-- Highlights from Trial
-- Shock and Grief in Msgr. William J. Lynn's Parish after His Conviction
-- Catholics Have Rendered a Verdict
Guilty Verdict Is a Victory for Children and Catholics
Every single victim who has ever come forward, even if not involved in the trial, has kept our children protected, kept them safer than they ever would have been had the truth not been revealed. There is no amount of justice that could ever be served to the victims in the Philly AD for the years of horror that occurred, but your efforts have kept this generation of children safer from child predators.
Priest Takes Bishops To Task in Remarks to Parishioners
Many local Catholics have struggled for years with their faith and loyalty to the church in the face of sexual abuse allegations and cover ups. While it is often the topic of discussion at the dinner table, around the water cooler or on social media sites like Facebook, it is rarely addressed at the altar.
New Priests’ Group Hopes to Preserve Vision of Vatican II
This week, about 240 priests from around the country are meeting at Saint Leo University in St. Leo for the inaugural assembly of the newly formed Association of U.S. Catholic Priests. Among its goals: To be a "voice of hope" and to "celebrate and implement the visionary concepts of Vatican Council II."
Church Battles Efforts to Ease Sex Abuse Suits
While the first criminal trial of a Roman Catholic church official accused of covering up child sexual abuse has drawn national attention to Philadelphia, the church has been quietly engaged in equally consequential battles over abuse, not in courtrooms but in state legislatures around the country.
Read the rest of this issue of Focus here...
A Priest Speaks From the Heart—Outside the Clericalism Boundaries
Reviewed by Bill Casey, Co-Chair VOTF Conference
The Long Dark Winter’s Night by Patrick Bergquist reveals the voice of priest, prophet and poet. He writes as a simple parish priest who struggles to make sense of the clergy sexual abuse scandal while ministering to parishioners and native peoples in the Missionary Diocese of Northern Alaska. He draws upon the haunting experience and metaphor of the long dark Alaskan winters to confront his own identity as priest as well as the ideals, realities and culture of the Catholic priesthood.
With the archetype of the Dark Night of the Soul in mind, Bergquist writes: “When the road ahead disappears into darkness and all the familiar signs and symbols to which we have clung for security and familiarity are denied us, then and only then will we be ready to receive God’s self-communication to our souls and perhaps to the soul of the priesthood.” His voice resonates from the depths of 20 years of priestly life as he calls upon fellow priests to engage this scandal on a visceral level—to find the callings of a God who understands the full scope of human suffering through the wounds of his crucified son.