News from National
Register NOW and You Could Win 1 Room-Night
Early registration is one key to a successful conference, and we have two reasons you should do so now: our early-bird price of $150 per person, and a chance to win one free room-night at the Boston Marriott Copley Place Hotel! You can register easily, by using our online donation form (complete the first page and choose the Conference options on the second page) or our mail-in form.
It's just as easy to get a reduced-rate hotel room for the conference--the page already has our Group Code prefilled.
Even better, anyone who registers by April 20 is eligible for a FREE ROOM-NIGHT during the conference. We will draw 2 winners. If you register now, you could be one of the lucky recipients.
To learn more about the conference, please check out our Conference web page.
Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke to Speak at VOTF 10th Year Conference
Throughout her long career in public service as a children’s advocate and legal professional, Justice Anne M. Burke of the Illinois Supreme Court’s First District has endeavored to provide a voice to society’s most fragile citizens. This tireless protector of children will be a keynote speaker during VOTF’s 10th Year Conference in Boston. She will address attendees during dinner on Friday, Sept. 14, which is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Marriott Boston Copley Place Hotel. (Click here for a conference agenda.)
After serving on the Illinois Appellate Court, Justice Burke was appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court in 2006 and then elected in 2008. Before serving on the Appellate Court, she provided key leadership in reshaping and improving the Illinois juvenile justice system. Her judicial career began in 1987 when she became the first woman appointed to the Illinois Court of Claims.
VOTF Disappointed at Elevation of Bridgeport, Conn., Bishop William Lori to Archbishop of Baltimore
Although Bishop Lori in many ways has acted to shore up child-protection policies and institute reforms in those policies, on the question of transparency he has fallen short.
Bishop Lori has supported measures to protect children from clergy sexual abuse, has instituted child protection measures in his Bridgeport diocese and was a key participant in the drafting in 2002 of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ national Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. He also has apologized to those abused by priests.
Despite this, Lori for years opposed disclosure of diocesan documents alleging clergy sexual abuse, refused to remove priests from ministry who lost civil suits in which the diocese paid settlements to victims and has been taken to task by SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) for not honoring his promises of full transparency about priests and deacons removed from ministry up to date.
“We will never rid our Church of the clergy sexual abuse scandal and all its effects until we have complete and total transparency and accountability,” said Mark Mullaney, VOTF president. “We do not think elevating clerics whose actions demonstrate a preference for secrecy is the proper road toward healing.”
E-Mail Thank You Letters?
You may be wondering why you are receiving e-mail letters thanking you for your financial support, rather than the postal letters we used to send. We have a couple of reasons. First, our e-mail letters don’t kill any trees, so we’re going “Green,” and second the e-mails eliminate our printing and postage costs so that more of your donation dollars support actual VOTF programs. If you have not received a “thank you” e-mail that you were expecting, we may have an incorrect e-mail address for you. The only way we know if your e-mail address has changed is if you tell us, so keep us up-to-date by letting us know whenever you change your e-mail address.
Note that this change affects those who donate by mail—our online donors already receive automatic thank-you’s as soon as the donation is submitted.
VOTF Stands with SNAP to Fight Against Forceful Disclosure of Confidential Information About Sexual Abuse Victims.
Earlier this month, VOTF representatives stood with SNAP at a press conference to express the view that the Church’s recent legal attacks, in the words of SNAP, “are crippling our work to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.”
Catholic Church lawyers defending clergy in child sexual abuse cases in Kansas City and St. Louis are demanding that SNAP hand over 23 years’ worth of confidential information, even though SNAP is not a party to the law suits.
VOTF agrees with law professor and victims’ advocate Marci Hamilton, as quoted in the New York Times: “If there is one group that the higher-ups, the bishops, would like to see silenced, it definitely would be SNAP. And that’s what they’re after. They’re trying to silence SNAP.”
Earlier this year, VOTF joined nine other victims’ advocacy groups and the Missouri Press Association in a friend of the court brief asking the court to deny defendants’ requests to compel SNAP to turn over confidential information.
The brief argued that anonymity and confidentiality are vital to the well-being of any sexual abuse victims’ group in order to work successfully with victims. SNAP executive director David Clohessy has since been deposed in an apparent “fishing expedition” for information beneficial to the defense. A Kansas City court hearing April 20 will determine whether SNAP will be compelled to turn over subpoenaed documents.
“The Church, whether in the guise of a couple of bishops or several, seems to be bent on continuing its protection of the institution rather than emphasizing compassion for child victims who speak out as adults about how devastating abuse is, not only in their own lives, but also in lives of all around them,” said Mark Mullaney, VOTF president. “The Church’s assets are important to its mission and many charitable activities, but not at the expense of atonement for the perpetration and cover-up of crimes against children. We need to get to a constructive way of healing.”
Voice of the Faithful Focus,
March 22, 2012
Highlighting issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church.
Pope Mexico Trip Clouded by Documents
That Show Vatican Knew of Legion Founder’s Abuse
Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Mexico this week to a very public reminder of one of the Catholic Church’s most egregious sex abuse scandals: A new book says internal Vatican documents show the Holy See knew decades ago of allegations that the Mexican founder of the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order was a drug addict and pedophile.
Belleville Diocese Settles 3 Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Involving 2 Priests
Three lawsuits settled on Tuesday in St. Clair County Court involving two priests of the Catholic Diocese of Belleville brings to at least five the number of victims of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest of the diocese that have resulted in monetary damages.
Dutch Church Is Accused of Castrating Young Men
The Dutch Church has been accused of some of the worst sexual abuse that can be performed on young men. Decades ago, while in the care of the Roman Catholic Church, at least 10 boys were surgically castrated because they either had complained about sexual abuse or they were being protected from homosexuality. This recent discovery only adds to the scandal engulfing the church there.
Read the rest of this issue of Focus here…
VOTF Bridgeport Annual Conference Featuring Bishop Robinson for Keynote
Voice of the Faithful in the Diocese of Bridgeport proudly announces its 10th annual conference on Saturday, March 24, 2012, at Fairfield University's Oak Room.
The conference, entitled "Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church," features Bishop Geoffrey Robinson of Australia as keynote speaker. His topic is "Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus."
Co-sponsored by Fairfield University Center for Catholic Studies, the conference will open for registration at 8:30 a.m., be called to order at 9 a.m., and close at 1:00 p.m. The cost is $35, which includes brunch.
To make reservations, send a check made out to "VOTF March 24 Conference." Please include your name, address, and email, and send to VOTF-Bridgeport, 191C Main St., New Canaan CT 06840.
For further information, please see the Bridgeport website, www.votfbpt.org or call Jamie Dance at 203-801-9532.
Chicagoland - Voice Of The Faithful Presents Dr. Pauline Viviano:
What Vatican II Means Today
Sunday, April 22 at 1:30 pm
St. James in Arlington Heights
(at the O’Brien room in facility across from the church)
Dr. Viviano is one of the most popular progressive Catholic speakers in the country. She is a Professor of Theology at Loyola University Chicago. She received her doctorate from St. Louis University, and is author of numerous scholarly articles and books. She is currently working on a volume about the Books of Jeremiah.
Beloved for her captivating speeches, Dr. Viviano has been the keynote speaker at many national events and has a unique way of explaining why the Old Testament is still relevant to Vatican-II Catholics. Dr. Viviano gave a different talk last year at a C-VOTF event, and affiliate members are delighted to have her return as part of their 2012 speaker series!
Conversations with My Molester: A Journey of Faith
St. Paul Parish in Cambridge will host a play about reconciliation and the power of healing, written by Michael Mack, on Thursday, March 29, at 7 p.m.
Mr. Mack, who was molested by a priest as a young man, wrote the play after meeting his molester many years later.
The presentation is part of Lenten reflections at the parish, 10 years ago after investigative reporting by The Boston Globe revealed the problems of sexual abuse and cover-ups in the Boston Catholic Church. Barbara Thorp, from the Boston Archdiocese's Pastoral Outreach & Child Protection Office, will serve as commentator in the discussion that follows the performance.
Three groups in the parish are sponsoring the production: The St. Paul Artist Group, Caring for the Soul: Faith in Recovery, and The St. Paul Laity Group.
For more information, contact Carol at 617-666-2855 or visit www.michaelmacklive.com on the web.
The suggested good-will donation for the event is $15,
to help cover production costs.
Address: St. Paul Catholic Church, Harvard Square, 29 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge MA 02138 (in the DiGiovanni Hall).
Supported by VOTF members in the Cambridge area.
Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor at Vineyard@votf.org. Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.