In the Vineyard   ::    March 26, 2009   ::    Volume 8, Issue 6

National News

VOTF National Conference to Feature
Sr. Joan Chittister and Fr. Tom Reese

Our biannual conference will be in Long Island this year, and we’ll be presenting two main speakers: Sr. Joan Chittister, O.S.B., and Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J. Scheduled for Oct. 30-31, 2009, the conference will include discussions with these two modern-day prophets as we gather to reflect on the state of our church and how we can be part of the changes that will renew our faith.

The Long Island Voice of the Faithful is hosting the event, to be held at the Huntington Hilton in Melville, Long Island, NY. Registration information will be posted soon.

Furor Over CT Bill 1098
If you have been following the story on our web site (, you know that the recent introduction of a Connecticut bill aimed at changing corporate structures of Roman Catholic parishes led to some unsubstantiated claims in various media outlets. Some writers claimed that VOTF had initiated the legislation, supported the legislation, or sought doctrinal changes within the Church, all without ever asking VOTF if, in fact, we had. We obtained corrections for those misstatements from the more responsible media outlets but you may continue seeing versions of the false reports on the Internet and by writers who are not interested in the facts.

To read the correction that ran in the Hartford Courant,0,364749.story

Wisconsin Lay Minister Terminated by Bishop
Submitted by Jim Beyers

The powerlessness of parish employees was again demonstrated on March 12, 2009, when Ruth Kolpack, Pastoral Associate at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Beloit, Wisconsin, was fired by Robert Morlino, Bishop of Madison. Kolpack, active in her parish for 35 years and an employee since 1995, was given only 10 minutes with Bishop Morlino before the termination.
To read more:

National Catholic Reporter wrote about the story and also contains a link to Kolpack’s thesis.

International News

Irish Bishop Steps Down
Bishop John Magee, who found himself in the center of controversy over his handling clergy sex abuse allegations in the Diocese of Cloyne, has stepped aside. Pope Benedict has appointed Archbishop Dermot Clifford to assume the powers and duties of the Archdiocese. Voice of the Faithful in Ireland and the United States hope these events will mark the beginning of a new era of accountability.

Read the VOTF press release on the departure of Bishop Magee of Cloyne.The Irish Times credits VOTF with keeping pressure on in Ireland.

News from the Affiliates

Progress in Cincinnati
Submitted by Dick Okenfuss, Secretary, Cincinnati VOTF

The Cincinnati area VOTF has been active in several aspects of Child Protection. After the furor that resulted last fall from the revision of the Child Protection Program in the Cleveland, Ohio Diocese, we were asked to comment on the revision proposed for the Cincinnati Archdiocese. A team reviewed the document in detail and we submitted it to the Chancellor. A few of our suggestions for better wording of policies regarding reporting and prevention education requirements were accepted. Our suggestions for changes to the membership and workings of the local review board were not.

We also explored various programs for child protection training that we believe are superior to the current program in the archdiocese. We have identified "Stewards of Children" as an excellent program, and at a reasonable cost. "Stewards of Children" was developed by Darkness to Light, a non-profit organization in Charleston, SC. It is available in our area from Care House, a child advocacy center for victims of abuse, located in Dayton, OH. The prevention specialist from Care House has facilitated “Stewards of Children” in one parish in Cincinnati, and in several school and church venues in Dayton. We have established a VOTF subcommittee that is implementing this initiative to bring “Stewards of Children” into our local parish communities. We have three members scheduled to complete training as facilitators this spring. We are looking for donations to cover at least part of the cost of the handbooks, and applied to the Archdiocesan Family Life Office for a grant. We did not get it, but they did encourage us to apply again next year.

NY Legislature Debates SOL Proposal
NY is currently in the midst of a heated debate over an amendment to the Statute of Limitations. This amendment would extend the criminal and civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse by five years. It also would open a one-year window of opportunity for child sex abuse victims to go to court even if their statute of limitations already had expired. Many Catholic Bishops seek to deny this legislation.

VOTF president Dan Bartley, a member of the Long Island affiliate, submitted the following letter to NY Newsday supporting the legislation.

Marci Hamilton, the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and a columnist for FindLaw, wrote the following article on the NY legislation:
“Civil Liberties and Uncivil Lies: What the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights Have in Common – An Agenda to Keep Child Predator Identities Secret.”

To read the article:

Please note, the NY Times ran a correction about the NYCLU's position on this saying, “The organization (NYCLU) has taken no stance on the bill; it has not opposed it."

The following letter supporting the legislation came from VOTF member Carolyn Disco and appeared on the New York Times website. Text of the letter is here:

And finally, to read a heartfelt letter from a survivor that was sent to New York’s Newsday and is reprinted with permission,

Site Seeing

National Catholic Reporter’s Joe Feuerherd exposes hypocrisy in the Cardinal Newman Society in Catholic academic ayatollah shows true colors -- Cardinal Newman Society uses McCarthyite tactics to promote a fundamentalist agenda

“The Church’s new age of dissent” by Marco Politi discusses the challenges the Pope is facing following the reversal of recent decisions.

How sharing fish Friday brings together all different types of Catholics

A federal court of appeals raises the hopes of clergy sex abuse victims nationwide this week as a ruling allows an Oregon man to take steps to pursue a civil lawsuit against the Holy See.  The lawsuit seeks money damages for “personal injury in this country caused by the deliberate act of an official or employee of a foreign state while acting within the scope of his office or employment.” According to the judge this makes a case for liability of the Holy See.,0,4725649.story

Doing any shopping lately? If so, please shop at! Anything you purchase from by following a link to their site from VOTF means a small donation to VOTF! And we get that donation on books, DVDs, CDs, electronic equipment, apparel, toys and more, even gift certificates.


Bridgeport Area VOTF ‘s conference “Do This in Memory of Me: The Future of the Eucharist” will be held on Saturday, March 28, 2009, at Fairfield University. The conference will begin at 9:30am with registration and close at 4:00pm with a liturgy of reconciliation, “Healing the Wound in the Body of Christ.”
For more information:

Save the Date – A VOTF Conference will be held October 30-31 2009 at the Huntington Hilton in Melville, Long Island, NY.  The speakers will be Sr. Joan Chittister, O.S.B. and Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J.
For more information:

Scituate Affiliate of Voice of the Faithful
Thursday, April 2, 7:00-9:00 p.m.; The Scituate Affiliate of Voice of the Faithful invites you to a talk by Ronald DuBois, Ph.D. entitled “THE EUCHARIST: ORIGINS IN JEWISH AND EARLY CHRISTIAN PRACTICE”.  For directions: Location:  Saint Mary of the Nativity Parish Hall, 1 Kent Street, Scituate Harbor, MA.  The hall is across the street from the church.
For more information,

Falmouth VOTF Affiliate
Sunday, April 26, 2:00-4:00 p.m., presents JAMES CARROLL, author of “PRACTICING CATHOLIC”.  Location: Morse Pond School, 323 Jones Road, Falmouth, MA.  For more information or for questions, call Anne Hart at 508-457-7565.

Carroll's new book is a portrayal of American Catholicism during his lifetime.  Carroll deals at length with Vatican II, the struggle to confront anti-Semitism in the church, the various issues concerned with sexuality and gender, why he became a priest and why he resigned holy orders, the sexual abuse scandal and its attempted cover-up by diocesan authorities, and the role of the church in global issues. 
For more information:

Theater Review

Review of Richard N. Goodwin’s “Two Men of Florence”
Submitted by Patricia McCarron

Richard N. Goodwin is one of Boston’s own, so, when, on Tuesday, March 10th, at the Huntington Theatre, Voice of the Faithful presented a dual opportunity, to view Goodwin’s play, “Two Men of Florence,” and meet the playwright himself, in a prior question and answer forum, it was an exciting prospect. Predictably, Goodwin’s electrifying persona paved the way for theatre goers to build up a stirring sense of what was to come. They were not disappointed.

To read the rest of Patricia’s review:

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.

Page One

Affiliate News

Site Seeing


Shop at Amazon, Support VOTF

VOTF relies solely on the contributions of people like you to support its work.





For an overview of press coverage of VOTF, click here.
©Voice of the Faithful 2008. All Rights Reserved