In the Vineyard :: May 17, 2013 :: Volume 13, Issue 10

News from National

Primacy of Conscience Event a Success

Although Voice of the Faithful as an organization holds no position on women priests, we support freedom of conscience within the Catholic Church, and we work towards the restoration of the female diaconate.

That said, our thanks to the members of Voice of the Faithful New York for their hard work to put together an event focusing on the primacy of conscience in the Catholic Church. On Saturday, May 4th, they hosted Roy Bourgeois and Sr. Chris Schenk at Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village. 

The program focused on what justice demands and what our conscience calls us to do. Both Roy and Sr. Chris addressed the primacy of conscience in their remarks. 

VOTF NY has prepared highlight videos of each presentation for those who were not able to attend.

Link to Highlights Video of Roy Bourgeois:

Link to Highlights Video of Sr. Chris Schenk, CSJ:

A special thanks also to all our good friends at Call to Action Metro NY, co-sponsor of the event, and at FutureChurch, where Chris Schenk is executive director.

Finally, a special thanks to all members of the VOTF NY Leadership Team who worked long and hard to make this event successful, and who took the lead in developing the 2013 Lenten initiative for VOTF. 

VOTF President and Development Coordinator Visit Affiliate Members in Northern VA

VOTF president Mark Mullaney and Development Coordinator Jayne O’Donnell recently visited VOTF members from northern Virginia, Delaware, Maryland and Washington, D.C.,in Arlington, Virginia. Their purpose was to hear, first hand, what our members in this area think about in terms of Church reform. Mark and Jayne were pleasantly surprised to be welcomed at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, perhaps the only Catholic Church in the area that permits VOTF to meet on parish property.

The list of topics that sparked conversation was long and varied: bishops who ban VOTF members and speakers from meeting on parish property; having more say in 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 the legacy of Vatican II; optional celibacy for priests; and financial accountability/transparency of priests and bishops.

The gathering also viewed VOTF’s recent ad campaign that is appearing on many online secular and Catholic news outlets. It stresses the importance and the critical need for the involvement of individual Catholics in restoring and rebuilding our broken Church.

Mark and Jayne listened to, and took notes on, the many ideas, thoughts, reflections and suggestions that the group 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 committee. Several friends signed on to help.

On behalf of National VOTF, Mark and Jayne would like to thank the affiliates for their warm welcome and hospitality. Together, they took another step toward ensuring the ongoing success of VOTF’s Mission and Goals to Keep the Faith and Change the Church.

VOTF Welcomes New Board Member

Mary Pat Fox is one of VOTF’s newest members of the board and is an active member of Voice of The Faithful, having joined in 2002 when the NYC affiliate at St. Ignatius was formed.  Mary Pat was elected President of Voice of the Faithful in 2006, served one term and was a member of the VOTF Board of Trustees from 2006 thru 2011 in her role as President and President Emeritus.

Mary Pat strongly believes that this is our Church, and it is our responsibility to make it a nurturing place that is transparent and accountable for its actions.  

Mary Pat spent 19 years with IBM in a variety of sales and management positions before moving into incentive planning and executive compensation.  She worked as a consultant at Towers Perrin and as Director of Compensation in ADP’s brokerage division. In 2009, she moved to the Washington, D.C., area to take the position of Senior Executive Compensation Specialist in the office of the Financial Stability overseeing executive compensation for those companies that borrowed the most money from the American taxpayer: AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, and the auto companies. She worked on the Lehman Bankruptcy Fee Committee project and the BP oil spill administration team negotiating and settling claims. 

Mary Pat is currently employed at a federal agency overseeing executive compensation at a group of financial institutions.

She lives in Arlington, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. 


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


USCCB Audit Shows Major Weaknesses Remain in Child Protection Process
The Catholic Church’s process for protecting children from clergy sexual abuse still has major weaknesses. Annual audits assessing compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People still do not allow fully independent auditors complete access to all information. And auditors still are discovering weaknesses in compliance at the parish level. Everyone knows it, and no one is doing anything about it.
-- Annual Compliance Audit Shows Decline in Abuse Allegations, Victims, Offenders
-- $2.62 Billion is Abuse Scandal’s Total Cost in America since 2004

Voice of the Faithful® Expects Pope Francis to ‘Act Decisively’ in New Jersey Clergy Sexual Abuse Case
The Roman Catholic archbishop of Newark has allowed an admitted child molester to continue contact with young people, and Voice of the Faithful® expects Pope Francis to “act decisively” as he has said the Church must do in cases of clergy sexual abuse. Will Pope Francis hold the archbishop accountable?
-- Pope Francis on Sexual Abuse by Priests: Catholic Church Must ‘Act Decisively’
-- Sexual Abuse by Catholic Clergy Demands Disclosure, Exposure, Prosecution and Explanation
-- Newark Archbishop John Myers Must Go: Editorial
-- New Jersey Catholics Have Anger, Disgust for Abuser Priest in Ministry
-- Newark Archbishop Is Criticized for His Handling of an Abuse Case
-- Assemblywoman: Newark Archbishop John Myers’ Priorities are Appalling: Opinion
-- Newark Archbishop Shielded at Least Four Priests Accused of Sexual Abuse

After Rebuke by Archbishop, Cardinal Mahony Takes Higher Profile
When Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez stripped his predecessor Cardinal Roger Mahony of public duties for mishandling clergy sex abuse cases, a church spokesman said the retired prelate's life would remain largely the same except that Mahony would no longer preside at confirmations. But three months later, Mahony is back doing confirmations.
-- Mahony Unbound

No Room for ‘Careerists’ or ‘Social Climbers’ among Clergy, Pope Says
Pope Francis said May 8 that clergy who were “careerists” or “social climbers” were doing serious damage to the Catholic Church, his latest utterance aimed at instilling a sense of frugality and service in the Vatican and beyond.

Pope Francis Expresses Gratitude for Global Sisters, Stresses Obedience
Pope Francis met May 8 with leaders of orders of Catholic sisters and nuns from around the globe, focusing on three themes, to keep their lives centered on Christ, to think of authority in terms of service, and to hold a "feeling with the church that finds its filial expression in fidelity to the magisterium."
-- Pope Francis to Nuns: Don’t Be Old Maids

Read the rest of this issue of Focus here ...

VOTF’s Voices book available now—Buy through Amazon

Only a courageous person would want to try reforming the Roman Catholic Church, a 2,000-year-old institution that practiced its liturgy in a dead language as recently as 50 years ago – and only a persistently courageous person would want to keep trying for more than a decade.

A new book, Voices: Telling Our Stories, offers a look at some who exhibit such courage. It captures the voices of the reformers who discuss why and how Catholics who are firm in their faith, but disenchanted with their Church, turn to advocacy as a way to remain whole.

After a decade of media reports, sociological analyses and citations in thousands of news stories and books, Voices provides the words of VOTF’s members themselves. These are voices of individual members who are full of hope and who continue working to break the Church’s silence, hold the perpetrators of scandal accountable and foster justice and healing for the Church.

These Voices are from faithful Catholics who, in many cases, are former or present parish Eucharistic ministers, religious education leaders and pastoral council members, or who otherwise serve centrally in parish life. They refuse to remain silent while their Church hierarchy protects itself instead of the weak and innocent.

Voices: Telling Our Stories reveals personally who VOTF’s members are, why they joined and remain a part of the movement, what being Catholic means to them, what they look for in their Church today and what they see in a reformed and renewed Church of tomorrow.

Voices: Telling Our Stories may be purchased directly from VOTF by clicking here or from through’s Book Page by clicking here. Use the link on the Book Page, and part of the price of the book will be donated to VOTF.


Please join NJ VOTF at their next Eucharistic Liturgy
Sunday, May 19, 2013

St. Mark's Lutheran Church
100 Harter Rd.
Morristown, NJ

Presider: Fr. Dick Rento

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

If God had wished that only the males of the human race be given pride of place in both religious and secular areas, he could have evolved us as only one gender. There are various animals that can reproduce without a member of an opposite sex; God must therefore have seen that not only in reproduction but in all walks of life, there should be two complementary halves, each with its special spiritual, intellectual, and emotional gifts. One is incomplete without the other when humanity is looked at as a whole. If the nature and gifts of one are ignored, valued less or not at all, treated as inferior, then serious distortion occurs, whether we are talking about the clergy of the Catholic Church, the legal rights of women in certain cultures, or any other similar situation.

It is no exaggeration to say that most of the scandals, the tragedies, the mistakes that seem to be increasing in the Church and the world can be traced back eventually to the willful refusal to embrace the spiritual completeness of Creation. It is as if we are trying to function with only half of our soul, and many of us are afraid that this is getting worse.

I have written various letters and editorials on women in the Church, and I am always shocked to the depths of my soul at some of the responses that go far beyond simple arguments to the contrary. There is, even in a society such as we live in—and not too far beneath the surface—a virulent fear and contempt with regard to women "putting themselves forward.” And it doesn't come only from some men—I was recently lectured by a prominent nun who insists that “creation is a male act,” and therefore “it is not helpful” for a woman to try to see her image reflected in any way in the Trinity.

If we cannot include, honor, and respect all of God’s Creation, I am afraid that there is little chance for the healing that our Church needs so desperately.

Dorothy Carter
Lexington KY

Dear Siobhan,

VOTF is doing such a great job of summarizing the news of the pope's doings and commenting on it.

Below I'm sharing some thoughts on Copley Square that I sent to family and friends. I worked on Boylston St. a little way down from the finish line; the week after the Marathon we moved to a building on St. James Ave. (You put my poem on Newtown in the January 4 letter.)

Now that my office has moved to our other building a few streets away, with a different open workspace plan, I feel strongly that I need to get out of there every day at my lunch break, so I've been going to Copley Square—to go to the library there, to walk around. The memorial for the victims of the Boston Marathon is in the square now, covering a large area bordered with police barricades eloquently covered with running shoes hanging by their laces. A few small trees growing out of squares in the pavement are hung with mementoes and wishes—strings of origami birds made out of white paper, crosses, plastic rosaries. I think each tree is dedicated to a particular victim. One tree that I thought was for Lingzi had some paperback books lying around it, like a Scott Turow novel, as if they were examples of what she liked to read. Plenty of candles in holders nestled among the objects arranged on the ground, some of them the tall decorated ones that Latinos like, which I've seen for sale in our supermarket.

Yesterday I felt the need for a place to sit quietly so I turned into Trinity Church there, a historic Episcopal church much visited by tourists, and found that the Friday lunchtime organ concert was in progress. I waited with others for a break in the program and slipped into a back seat.

The sun shone through the high stained glass windows lighting the gilt covering of the walls and the gold lettering along the wall behind the altar, GOD IS LOVE. A lot of people were there, mostly gray- and white-headed. The music rippled softly then built to towering heights, vibrating in the floor and the back of the wooden pew and the cushioned seat under me, making golden chains and links of melody in the air, crossing and underscoring each other, "a joyful noise unto the Lord." And the source of all this tremendous music was one man in shirtsleeves, hands moving over the keyboard and feet sliding this way and that over the pedals, a woman in a black suit beside him to turn the pages.

As the music built I suddenly pictured too being at the circus with the music swelling out, the curtains parting to reveal the elephants emerging with their ponderous steps. Among our responsibilities to care for each other and the world, there is still the consolation of the beauty of art and of nature. After the fear and panic, love reigns here.

M. Annette Joseph

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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