In the Vineyard :: March 8, 2013 :: Volume 13, Issue 5

News from National

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
How can you help spread the message about Child Abuse Prevention Month in your parish?  How about placing Bulletin Announcements in your parish? Ask your parish secretary or whoever prepares weekly bulletin notices to create a “Safety Corner” space in the weekly March and April bulletins. Prepare and submit postings with information on how to prevent abuse, how to recognize predator grooming behavior, and resources in your local area for reporting abuse.

Click here for suggested sample announcements. 

Papal Election
Among the candidates recently mentioned as papabile by the media is Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston. Boston TV stations asked VOTF to comment on the upcoming conclave but zeroed in on the O’Malley potential (These are videos, so they're going to take some time to download after you click the link.):

You may use VOTF's statement or the statement from FutureChurch to develop a list of qualities you would like to see in a new Pope and then put them in a letter to the U.S. cardinal electors. Add your voice to the chorus surrounding each of these men as they think about their choice to lead our Church through the troubling times ahead. 

Description: Cross of PalmsLent 2013:
What Can You Do? 

This year, along with our weekly reflections on Scripture posted to our website homepage, we ask you to take steps that can foster the reforms needed within the Church:

  • Review Church teachings on conscience, a theme consistent with Lenten penitence

  • Engage in an examination of conscience on the issue of justice for women in the church

  • Sign a petition supporting respect for the primacy of conscience and calling for open dialogue on women's roles within the church

To read and sign the petition, click here.
To gather information and review resources about women in the Church and Church teachings on conscience, visit our Lent 2013 webpage.

We thank our New York City affiliate for drafting and organizing the petition and resources.

VOTF’s Gaile Pohlhaus Mary Magdalene Award Winner
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Women’s Ordination Conference is awarding Gaile Pohlhaus this year’s 2013 Mary Magdalene Award. The award recognizes courage and leadership for women in the church. Congratulations Gaile!  

VOTF President and Trustee Visit Affiliate Members in Florida
VOTF president Mark Mullaney and trustee Jayne O’Donnell recently visited VOTF members in Naples and Sarasota. Their purpose was to hear first hand what our members down there are thinking about in terms of Church reform.

Their list was long and varied: bishops who ban VOTF members and speakers from meeting on church property; having more say into who their next bishop will be; the Pope’s resignation/the next pope; protecting children and supporting survivors; supporting the sisters; ordaining women as deacons; preserving Vatican II; optional celibacy for priests; and financial accountability/transparency of priests and bishops.

Mark and Jayne listened to, and took notes on, the many ideas, thoughts, reflections and suggestions that the 100 or more members shared. They also gained insight into how National VOTF can better serve the affiliates, in general.

*Mark and Jayne addressed the bold new initiatives that VOTF is pursuing in 2013. They also emphasized that the committees forming around these projects need resources: both people-power and funding. With current technology, anyone in any state can be a part of a committees. Several friends signed on to help.

On behalf of National VOTF, Mark and Jayne would like to thank the Naples, Sun City, Venice and Sarasota affiliates for their warm welcome and hospitality. Together, we took another step toward ensuring the ongoing success of VOTF’s Mission and Goals.

P.S. Mark and Jayne will try to stay longer than 36 hours, if they have another chance to visit FL!


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


U.S. Catholics See Sex Abuse as the Church’s Most Important Problem
As the Catholic Church prepares for a conclave to elect a new pope, Catholics in the United States tend to view the scandal over sex abuse by clergy as the most important problem facing their church today. The Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life has a variety of resources on Catholicism and Pope Benedict XVI, including public opinion polls, research studies, event transcripts and interviews.

U.S. Catholics in Poll See a Church Out of Touch
Roman Catholics in the United States say that their church and bishops are out of touch, and that the next pope should lead the church in a more modern direction on issues like birth control and ordaining women and married men as priests, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
-- Catholics’ Views on Pope Benedict XVI and the Church

Strong Policies on Abusive Priests Vital, O’Malley Says

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, said Mar. 5 that the next pope must make sure the Roman Catholic Church adopts measures to deal with bishops whose “malfeasance” allowed abusive priests to remain in ministry, which should include disciplining bishops who protect abusive priests.

Vatican Could Learn a Thing or Two about Renewal From Women Religious
We are about to elect a new pope who will face serious 21st-century issues using 19th-century structures to resolve them, and women religious may have something to teach the church about the process of conversion and development at this very important moment.

Pope Conclave Tainted by Abuse Scandal
The full list of cardinals who abetted the child abuse scandal that has dogged the church for more than a decade is longer than Mahony, Brady, Danneels and Rigali, but for coverups and allowing abuse to flourish, these four are among the worst offenders. The four are heading for the conclave, apparently ready to indulge their self-interest at the expense of the church.

U.S. Cardinal Forcefully Addresses Sex Abuse Scandal
The next pope must commit himself to ‘‘zero tolerance’’ of the sexual abuse of minors by clergymen, Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, a senior US cardinal said Mar. 4 about the qualities and attributes the cardinals desire in the man who will succeed Benedict XVI.

The Vatican Bank and Money Laundering
Situated in a country ruled by men who consider themselves above the law and with close to zero transparency, the IOR (Institute for Religious Works, commonly referred to as the Vatican Bank) is the perfect institution for laundering money but you have to know someone in order to open an account.

Lawyers Question New York Cardinal in Milwaukee Suits
A week before Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan is set to leave New York for Rome, where his name is being floated as a candidate for pope, he was questioned in behind closed doors in a legal deposition concerning the sexual abuse of children by priests.

Leading Dissident Priest Slams Covert Pope Selection Process
A leading dissident Austrian priest whose call to disobey some Roman Catholic teachings drew a rebuke from Pope Benedict last year urged Church leaders to throw off their secrecy and canvass churchgoers on who should lead them next.

Now Gathering in Rome, a Conclave of Fallible Cardinals
The sudden resignation of the most senior Roman Catholic cardinal in Britain showed that the taint of scandal could force a cardinal from participating in the selection of a new pope. His exit came as at least a dozen other cardinals tarnished with accusations that they had failed to remove priests accused of sexually abusing minors were among those gathering in Rome to prepare for the conclave to select a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

U.N. Body Says U.S. Lax on Clerical sex Abuse Cases
A U.N. committee has accused U.S. legal authorities of failing to fully pursue cases of child sex abuse in religious groups, an issue especially troubling the Roman Catholic Church.

Read the rest of this issue of Focus here …


VOTF-Bridgeport Announces Its Annual Conference
For the eleventh straight year, Voice of the Faithful in the Diocese of Bridgeport is convening our annual conference on Saturday, March 23. Co-sponsored by Fairfield University Center for Catholic Studies, this year’s event will feature Francis C. Oakley as keynote speaker. The title of his presentation is “The Conciliar Heritage and the Politics of Oblivion”. Dr. Oakley is President Emeritus and Edward Dorr Griffin Professor of History of Ideas Emeritus of Williams College. Winner of the 2012 Newberry Library Award for his outstanding contributions to the humanities, he has authored many books and articles. Among them are The Conciliarist Tradition: Constitutionalism in the Catholic Church and The Crisis of Authority in Catholic Modernity.

The conference will be held from 8:30 am until 1:00 pm in the Oak Room on the Fairfield University campus. Reservations may be made by sending a check for $35/person to: VOTF-Bpt., 191 C Main Street, New Canaan, CT, 06840.  Please see our website for further details: <>

VOTF of Greater Philadelphia
Transformation in a Time of Uncertainty
An Intelligent Reflection and Action Plan on How to Practice our Faith in the Present Age
Sr. Nancy Sylvester

Saturday, March 16, 2013  9-3:30pm
Chestnut Hill College - Sugar Loaf Campus 
VOTF will sponsor a presentation on where we are coming from, and where we are going. It will begin with an historical overview in the understanding of Catholicism, church and spirituality before, during and after Vatican II. It will collect this understanding within the context of our time, illustrate and project directives to be embodied personally and communally.   
Sister Nancy Sylvester will present and facilitate the day. She is a nun who is intellectually credentialed, and a seasoned traveler through the theological landscape, and social justice lobbying in Washington D.C. 

In the afternoon, attendees will gather into groups for a spirited, spiritual discussion of what they have heard, and to explore how to shape new directions.

We can't keep doing what we have done in the past. We need to commit to new ways.

CONSIDER THIS YOUR LENTEN INITIATIVE - SUPPORT THE EVENT - Make it interesting and exciting. Mix and engage with others who also resonate with different approaches to our faith and church.

Chestnut Hill College, PA - Sugar Loaf Campus, 9230 Germantown Ave. Please send your check in the amount of $25 to Joseph Boyle 3445 W Branch Lane, Garnet Valley, Pa. 19060. You can also register on the day of the event. For further information, call 484-480-8311 or email Visit Lunch is included in the fee.

NJ VOTF invites you to our next Liturgy
Sunday, March 3, 2013
St. Mark's Lutheran Church,  100 Harter Rd., Morristown, NJ
Presider: Mike Corso
Book talk continues at 3pm.
Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time by Marcus Borg

Sacred Threads invites you to Lenten Evenings of Reflections: Women's Voices
Bethlehem Chapel, 
Brandeis University
7:30 – 8:45 pm
$25 early registration fee; 
$30 at the door and 
$70 for the series
71 Walnut Park, 
Newton, MA 02458

March 4th - In Her Footsteps... 
Walking the Paths of Women of Scripture

March 11th - In Your Voice - Who Am I Becoming?

March 18th - “Her Voices in Our Voices”

Books Books Books
Sunday Donations Don’t Always Make It to Your Parish Bank
As Voice of the Faithful® continues its focus in 2013 on financial accountability in the Church, Nonfeasance: The Remarkable Failure of the Catholic Church to Protect Its Primary Source of Income is available from Michael W. Ryan.

Nonfeasance is a detailed examination of the Church’s stunning failure to protect its Sunday collections. Ryan, a retired federal law enforcement official experienced in financial audits and security investigations, is interested in Church security. He has developed procedures that would virtually guarantee every dollar placed in collections gets deposited in parish bank accounts. He will be assisting our Financial Accountability team as we strive to improve both diocesan and parish accountability.

Nonfeasance is available from by clicking this BOOKS link and then clicking the Nonfeasance icon (it's on the top row at the right). You'll also support VOTF by using our website to buy Nonfeasance from Amazon, which donates a small portion of book sales to us.

You can find additional readings and information on Mr. Ryan's church security site.

Members Speak Out

Jane Hubbell Merchant, Naples and Kennebunkport, Maine

Following is a letter VOTF member Jane Merchant sent the Naples Daily News:

Father Michael Orsi’s essay seems to suggest that “bishops and cardinals continued to transfer priests who abused children,” they still hold a power that’s intrinsic to their ‘office.’ It is unfortunate when our leaders let us down.”

That explanation is difficult to accept. Christ said: “How you treat the least among you is how you treat me,” and that one who scandalized a child, “it would be better if a millstone were put about his neck and he were drowned in the bottom of the sea.” “Unfortunate” doesn’t seem the right word.

Since the sex abuse scandal became known, we look at hierarchs in a different light. How could we not?

When children were abused by clergy who claim to be our spiritual leaders, the church protected priests rather than the children; the abuse continued.

When we look at the all-male hierarchs, operating in secret, draped in satins as medieval princes in crowns of gold and jewels, it’s difficult to see Christ! Christ lived among the people. His only crown was of thorns, and that was in mockery.
There’s hope. We hear priests, bishops, even cardinals, calling for change. These prophetic voices from around the world are shamed by the scandal, can no longer accept the system created in the Middle Ages.

Christ scolded hierarchs of His day for their “yoke of too many rules” and “too long tassels” — their sign of authority. Christ had two laws: “Love God and your neighbor as yourself.”
The Catholic Church is the oldest institution on earth. It will continue, but not in its present form.

The Spirit is moving among us, as promised. Let us pray for guidance.

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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