In the Vineyard :: March 18, 2011 :: Volume 10, Issue 6

News from National

Prayer for Japan
The power of an earthquake and the moving mountain of water of a tsunami are greater than most of us can imagine. Nothing stands before it. As we view the devastation in Japan, we are driven to our knees, and we pray ... [PDF version of prayer for printout]

Crisis in Philadelphia

VOTF released a statement this week calling on Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic bishops, to investigate the clergy child sexual abuse scandal in Philadelphia and nationwide. Bishops are not following the USCCB’s guidelines for handling child sexual abuse cases and at least one church official is charged with covering up abuse. (read more in Site Seeing, below)

Read the entire statement by clicking here.

More Than Just Talk: the Fund for Women
Karen DeFilippis is a recent beneficiary of a grant from the Emily & Rosemary Fund for Women in the Church. VOTF recently received the following letter about Karen’s grant.

“The grant awarded to Karen DeFilippis is so well deserved and the sign so many have prayed for to give Karen the encouragement and tools she needs to move forward. Her extraordinary gifts will be developed by the education this grant will provide. We at the Good Shepherd Catholic Community miss her presence, pastoral care and guidance so very much. She was the heart of our parish and nothing is the same without her but we rejoice in God's hand acting through the generous gift of Lynette Petruska. When I announced this wonderful news in an Adult Faith Formation class this morning and said something to the effect that Karen would now finally have the funds to retrain that she hoped she would get from the Church in a departure package in recognition of her long years of faithful and remarkable service but didn't. My wise professor corrected me and said she was being gifted by the church; Lynette and VOTF ARE the Church. How very right he is! Gratefully, Diane Kruse”

The Emily & Rosemary Fund for Women in the Church was established by Lynette Petruska  in honor of her grandmothers. The Fund has already helped five women (Round 1, Round 2) who faced financial hardships as a result of unfair treatment by the Church of women in pastoral ministries.

Ultimately Lynette’s generous donation will run out. In fact, it is designed to run out, because we will continue to spend the funds directly on grants to women.

Your donation to the Fund can keep it going longer. If you donate by mail, just mark your check or include a note stating that the donation is for the Emily & Rosemary Fund for Women. If you donate online, there is a Comment section where you can type the words “For the Emily & Rosemary Fund.”

Help us keep the Fund strong.

The grant awarded to Karen

Book Review

Submitted by Laura Krawitt

The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse by Geoffrey Robertson QC, distinguished human rights lawyer and jurist member of the United Nations Justice Council. Published in the United States in 2010 by the Penguin Group, 228 pp.

Robertson examines, in a legal format of numbered paragraphs, evidence of “shameful and incontrovertible facts” regarding the sexual abuse crisis during Joseph Ratzinger’s tenure beginning in 1979 as archbishop, in 1981 as head of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and as Pope since 2005.

Thousands of Catholic clergy have sexually abused tens of thousands of children, crimes of global dimensions. Church leaders have long known of the danger from pedophilic clerics invested “with the power of spiritual guidance” and with ample opportunities to rape children. Yet they have routinely covered up such transgressions, moving pedophile or otherwise disordered priests to serve in different parishes with protected identities. Secrecy, imposed even on victims, has prevailed lest the Church suffer scandal; forgiveness under Canon Law has trumped civil criminal law lest the guilty face the transparency of public trials, with little concern for innocent victims.

Robertson points out that the International Criminal Court considers those in authority who overlook widespread rape as guilty of committing a crime against humanity, and notes that there is a strong case for the Pope to be so charged.

However, the Lateran Pacts of 1929, an alliance of Mussolini with Pope Pius XI, defined the Vatican as a national state, affording the Holy See’s leaders immunity from international criminal law. Without overriding this immunity through a civil action, Robertson indicates “there will be no court-ordered disclosure of CDF files and no full accounting for its failures.”

With discussions of documented abuse cases, secrecy and machinations of the hierarchy, Canon Law as obsolescent and events of historical interest, Robertson questions the Vatican on its record of human rights.

Site Seeing

Monsignor William Lynn is the first Roman Catholic church official ever charged with endangering children for allegedly transferring priest-predators to unsuspecting U.S. parishes.

Another long Lent – Nicholas Cafardi (formerly of the National Review Board) discusses the crisis in Philadelphia and the malfeasance of the Philadelphia archdiocese.

A local television news station in Philadelphia has obtained a document that appears to be a form used to prevent any archdiocesan officials from reporting sex abuse by clergy to civil authorities. The document, which is dated 10/03, was apparently crafted more than a year after the Dallas norms were adopted.

In 1976, a 16-year-old boy told the dean at what was then Bishop John Neumann Catholic High School in South Philadelphia that his religion teacher - Msgr. Michael Flood - had molested him on more than 16 occasions that year, according to a continuing civil suit. By Jeremy Roebuck and Kathleen Brady Shea, Philadelphia Inquirer

Why are Catholics so passive in response to the sex abuse crisis in the Church? Also, VOTF commended as a “great reform group.”

Affiliate News

Report from VOTF of Southwest Florida (Naples)  2011 Speaker’s Forum
Submitted by Diane Weighart

Father Tom Doyle, recipient of VOTF’s Priest of Integrity Award in 2002, updated an attentive audience on Feb. 28, 2011, concerning his mission as advocate for victims of clergy sex abuse. He insisted that clergy sex abuse continues to be the issue in the Roman Catholic Church. Not only is it not going away: There are 19 confirmed sexual abusers among U.S. bishops and 30 known world-wide and none has been called to accountability by the pope. There are recent revelations of grave, long-standing clergy sex abuse in several countries of Europe.



Boston Area VOTF Council presents:


Sr. Nancy Corcoran, CSJ, Catholic Chaplain at Wellesley College, leads a conversation on this critical topic.
Where: St. James the Great Church, Rte. 9, Wellesley
When: Tuesday, March 29, 2011, at 7:30 p.m.

For more information:

Distinguished theologian Anthony Padovano will be the keynote speaker at a conference on “The Second Vatican Council and the Future of the Church” on Saturday March 26 at Fairfield University. Dr. Padovano will speak on “Vatican II: What It Did and Why It’s Important.”

There will be two additional presentations: “Courageous Voices of Catholic Women Since Vatican II” and “Young Catholic Voices.”

Sponsored by the Center for Catholic Studies and Voice of the Faithful in the Diocese of Bridgeport, the conference will be held in the Oak Room of the Campus Center beginning with registration at 8:30 and ending at 1:30. 

Registration is $35. Checks made out to “VOTF March 26 Conference” may be sent to VOTF 191-C Main Street, New Canaan, CT 06840. See for further information

Letters to the Editor

I'm just an interested layperson. I believe it is [not], and probably never was, easy to be a bishop. But a conscientious fellow in that spot today certainly has a tough road to hoe.

So it could be that it was under pressure that the U.S. bishops ignored Bishop. Trautman’s plea to rethink the rollout of the GRIM. They probably hadn't the time to think ahead of the waste of time, effort and patience of the clergy, musicians, and laity that was to result. Or was it just plain poor judgment by the bishops, our teachers?

It is now March of 2011, with a great deal of clergy time being devoted to putting a brave face on the effort. I watched a video of two archbishops manfully attempting that task.

The canned explanatory releases promise a more fruitful experience for congregations. I sure cannot see that at all. And if it might be expected to deter defection from the pews, or bring returnees or new members in, someone has to be kidding!

I wonder what might have been done if all this effort had been directed instead at emphasizing the purpose and value of the Eucharist ... and the strengthening of faith that can come from actively worshipping together.

David Munroe
Montgomery, Ohio

I would like to respectfully disagree with J. McMahon of Boise ID asking that VOTF encourage Bishops to get involved in the Wisconsin debate on the side of the Unions. First, while there are, of course, many exceptions, I’m afraid that it is a Democrat/Republican issue. Democrats have for too long been supported lavishly by unions, and have supported union demands to the detriment of budgets in many states.

First, Governor Walker is by no means trying to eliminate unions, he just wants to at least temporarily suspend collective bargaining for pension and health benefits which have been doing them under, it would remain for salary. Secondly, we should note that Federal Employees are not unionized for pension/health, and the benefits in Wisconsin for those items would still be better than the Federal folks, but more in line with the private sector. This painful process is and will be necessarily going on in many other states. Speaking out on social issues does not necessarily go hand in hand with supporting union demands when those demands have an ill effect on taxpayers - this is one battle the Bishops should stay clear of.

Tom Paulus

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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