In the Vineyard :: June 7, 2013 :: Volume 13, Issue 11

News from National

VOTF Focuses on Church’s Clerical Culture in New Study
Judging by some of what he has said and done in the early days of his papacy, it looks as though Pope Francis may target the Church’s clerical culture. VOTF has long opposed clericalism in our Church and over the next six weeks will publish several documents highlighting the clericalism problem.

VOTF has named clericalism as among the principal causes of clergy sexual abuse and its cover-up, and has defined it as an overriding set of beliefs and behaviors in which the clergy view themselves as different, separate, and exempt from the norms, rules, and consequences that apply to everyone else in society.
In our first study paper, click here, we draw from two recent books on clericalism by priests from the United States: Clericalism: Clerical Culture: Contradiction and Transformation by Fr. Michael L. Papesh (a volume the committee especially recommends), and The Death of the Priesthood by Fr. George B. Wilson.

This initial paper will be followed by two papers on celibacy, a key element of clericalism. The first will talk about the role the laity can play in approaching celibacy, and the second will provide a history of celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church.

Standing Up for the Priesthood
The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) began organizing quietly a little more than two years ago. Those of us aware of their startup prayed and hoped for their success as an independent, grass-roots, pastoral gathering—one that could speak "from the pews" of the priesthood, i.e., the parish rectories where too often the dictates of the hierarchy landed with little concern for priests and pastors. 

Since their modest beginning with 27 priests representing 15 dioceses in 11 states and 1 religious order, AUSCP now numbers 935 members from 121 dioceses and 35 religious communities. They will host their second major assembly, "Lumen Gentium: God's Pilgrim People," in Seattle WA June 24-27. Truly AUSCP is on its way to fulfilling one of its hopes: "Our hope is that US priests will join in this effort so that the initiative of a group that began with 'Vatican II Priests' can be helpful for its members by being a VOICE FOR PRIESTS."

We urge you to visit their web site, to encourage your own pastors to consider participating if they do not already do so, and to pray for their success. 

Equally important, please read the 15 resolutions that will be presented at the upcoming assembly. You will see in these resolutions—none of which are yet "official"—an  echo of much of what VOTF and other lay-organized reform groups seek: collegial decision-making, greater input into bishop selection and selection from within the diocese (rather than the roving bishopric we now have), a return to the 1974 Mass translation where desired, ordination of women to the permanent diaconate, open discussion about ordination of women and married men … and more . 

It may not yet be the "perfect storm," but the work of the Spirit is growing ever larger and more insistent.

VOTF Welcomes Another Board Member
VOTF is pleased to announce the addition of Larry Mulligan to the VOTF Board of Directors. Larry has been an attorney with the Grand Rapids, Michigan, law firm of Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge since 1968.  He has served “of counsel” since 2002, and currently limits his work to pro bono matters. Upon graduation from Boys Town High School, Nebraska, in 1961, Larry attended Creighton University, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Virginia Law School.

Upon his semi-retirement from the practice of law, Larry volunteered with the Diocese of Grand Rapids and, as coordinator of its “protecting God’s Children” program, implemented the Dallas Charter of 2002 in the diocese. He drafted the diocese’s ministerial standards for working with children and young people. 

For many years Larry served on the Diocese’s Secretariat for Social Justice, participating on committees and serving a term as its Chairperson. Larry has also served on the advisory committees of God’s Kitchen, and the education commissions of Grand Rapids Right to Life, St. Stephen Parish and the Catholic Information Center.

In 2002, Larry completed a three-year diocesan adult leadership program, Called to Serve, and in 2005 the diocesan program for candidacy to the deaconate. Bishop Walter Hurley declined to ordain him because of his involvement with the West Michigan Chapter of VOTF.

Larry is a widower with four sons, three daughters-in-law, and two grandchildren.

Pre-order HBO Clergy Sexual Abuse Documentary "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God" Roman Catholic Church's clergy sexual abuse scandal continues, and The New York Times has called Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God “a clear and unblinking recitation of facts." The film looks at abuse of power in the Church and a cover-up that winds its way from the streets of Milwaukee, through Ireland, and all the way to the Vatican.

Investigating the secret crimes of a charismatic priest who abused more than 200 deaf children, the film documents the first known public protest against clerical sex abuse in the U.S., long before the crisis in Boston. To pre-order MEA MEXIMA CULPA from, click here.

LCWR: 'Radical Feminism' or 'Living the Gospel'
With no shift in policy, Pope Francis has reaffirmed the Vatican mandate against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Here are several VOTF blog posts citing recent news stories to bring you up to date:

Click here to go to the Nuns Justice website to see how you can continue to support our Sisters.


New Lay Catholic Association Set Up to Stem “Crisis” within the Church
Some 150 people turned up June 1 to launch formally launch a new lay organization for Irish Catholics, the Association of Catholics in Ireland, which is committed to reform and renewal in the Church. The organization, which has been planned for a year, aims to provide a voice for lay Catholics in the same way that the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland does for the clergy.

Australian Catholic Bishops Launch Appeal to Church for Action on Child Abuse
A group of Australian Catholic bishops have launched a petition to tell the people at the top - the Pope and the Vatican - to act to stop the abuse of children within the church. Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, Emeritus Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney said the national royal commission into institutionalized child sex abuse could bring healing and change laws but could not force the church hierarchy to make fundamental changes.
-- Australian Bishop Launches Petition for Council on Sex Abuse
-- Crusader Recruits Catholics to Force Vatican Rethink about Sexual Abuse
-- Sydney Bishop Calls for Vatican Reform


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


Voice of the Faithful Urges Pope Francis to “Act Decisively”
Regarding Bishops, Clergy Sexual Abuse & His Message to Vatican Congregation
Pope Francis has recommended that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Catholic Church’s child sexual abuse prosecutorial arm, “act decisively” with regard to cases of sexual abuse. If he wishes to demonstrate that the Church will, at last, “act decisively” in matters of child sexual abuse, there are clear instances where he can hold accountable the bishops who fail to act in such cases.

Editorial: Newark Shows Need for Transparency
Five people have resigned in New Jersey in the wake of revelations that a priest who was supposedly on a supervised lifetime ban from ministering to minors was indeed ministering to youth and wasn't being monitored. The events surrounding this case raise serious questions about accountability and transparency in Newark.
 -- Newark Monsignor Loses Job for Failing to Stop Priest’s Work with Children
 -- Newark Vicar General Quits in Wake of Mismanaged Abuse Case
 -- New Jersey Catholic Church Official Resigns in Sex Abuse Case
 -- Archbishop John J. Myers Addresses Fugee Scandal, Demotes His Second-in-Command
 -- Some Cry Scapegoat, Others Satisfied as Archbishop Demotes Deputy in Wake of Priest Scandal
 -- Fugee Case Isn’t an Anomaly in the Catholic Church
 -- Another Bishop Fails to Put Children First in Dealing with Abusive Priest

Priests & Nuns Who Are ‘Whistle-Blowers’ Join Forces on Abuse
They call themselves Catholic Whistleblowers, a newly formed cadre of priests and nuns who say the Roman Catholic Church is still protecting sexual predators. Although they know they could face repercussions, they have banded together to push the new pope to clean house and the American bishops to enforce the zero-tolerance policies they adopted more than a decade ago.
 -- Catholic Whistleblowers Urge Greater Accountability on Sex Abuse Crisis
 -- Catholic Priests and Nuns Unite to Fight Church’s Abuse Problem
 -- In Praise of Catholic Whistleblowers

Fr. Andrew Greeley, Sociologist and Priest-Novelist, Dies at 85
Fr. Andrew Greeley, an eminent sociologist of religion who also happened to be probably the best-selling priest-novelist of all time and the Catholic church's most prominent in-house critic, died Wednesday in Chicago. He was 85.
 -- Andrew Greeley, Outspoken Priest and writer, Dies at 85

Read the rest of this issue of Focus here …

The History of Women’s Ministry in the Early Church
Last month Dr. Gary Macy gave a talk on women’s ministry in the early Church, to Elephants in the Living Room, an organization of priests of the Archdiocese of Detroit. Dr. Macy is the John Nobili Professor of Theology at St. Clare University.  In his lecture, Dr. Macy talks about

  • What prevents women from being ordained?
  • Were women ever ordained in the Church?
  • What do the epistles of Paul mean when he refers to women as leaders of churches he founded?

Macy’s talk, which was presented on May 3 at St. Blasé in Sterling Heights, MI, can be accessed here .

Book Corner

Voices: Telling Our Stories -- Written by VOTF Members years after VOTF's founding, Voices: Telling Our Stories offers a glimpse into the ideals and ideas of individual Voice of the Faithful® members, told in their own voices. They continue to seek ways to break the Church's silence, hold perpetrators of scandal accountable, afford justice and healing, and ensure a responsible lay voice in Church governance.

Voices: Telling Our Stories discusses why and how Catholics firm in their faith, and often serving in roles central to parish life, but disenchanted with their Church governance, turn to advocacy as a way to remain whole.

As a preview, you may read the book's preface here, the author-by-last name index here, and the author-by-first name index here.

To order your copy of Voices: Telling Our Stories, and copies for your friends, click here. Or, if you prefer, send your check for $25 to VOTF, P.O. Box 423, Newton, MA 02464, and put "Voices Book" on the memo line.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:
 Kudos to Dorothy Carter for her beautiful and thoughtful letter about women and their place in the Church(world). Her points are well taken.
J. Buzbee

Dear Editor,
This is just the seed of an idea. I think more lay women in the church need to learn leadership skills. 
It occurred to me that perhaps a few women could attend this conference and brainstorm how to apply the skills to their roles in church groups.
The Healthcare Business Women's Association ( is sponsoring a Leadership Conference:
                Art and Science of Leadership
                November 13-15, 2013
                Boston, MA
My husband and I recently attended a luncheon at the Hilton in NY, where a friend of ours was honored by this nation-wide group as Mentor of the Year.  I was very impressed by the inspirational talks given as well as by their commitment to mentoring.
As I said, it's only a seed of an idea.
Peggy Hardiman

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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