In the Vineyard :: May 4, 2012 :: Volume 12, Issue 7

News from National

Meet the Speakers:
John Morgan, Chairman, National Board,
For Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland,
Will Speak at VOTF 10th Year Conference

John Morgan was appointed a director of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland on its establishment in 2007 and named Chairman in 2009. Prior to these appointments, he served as chairperson of the Bishops’ Committee on Child Protection from 2002-2006, and as a member of committees established by the bishops dealing with child protection since the first formal Bishops’ Committee on Child Abuse in 1999.

Morgan has had an extensive career in business, primarily as a corporate lawyer. He served as Group Counsel and Group Corporate Secretary for the worldwide Waterford Wedgwood Group in the period 1985-1999.

His main pro bono work has been as Board Chair of Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, a major Catholic Voluntary Acute Hospital in Dublin under the patronage of the Sisters of Mercy, from 2002 to date. In 2009, he was appointed vice-chairman of The Dublin Academic Medical Centre.

Morgan was awarded the theology degree of Bachelor of Divinity (First Class Honours) from the Pontifical Faculty of Theology of the Milltown Institute, Dublin, in 2005.

More Conference Info:

Nominations Sought for Catherine of Siena Distinguished Lay Person Award
The 2012 Convention Committee is seeking nominations for this year's Catherine of Siena Distinguished Lay Person Award.

VOTF established the award in 2005 and named it after Catherine of Siena because Catherine encountered corruption and crisis in the Church and took noble and effective action to end it. Grieved by scandal and undeterred by rank, she was spurred on to reform the Lord's Church. Catherine of Siena went directly to Pope Gregory XI and through determined and courageous efforts became the catalyst for ending the crisis of the Avignon captivity of the papacy.

Catherine of Siena's deep faith propelled her to care for those labeled as least in her society. Neither hardship nor schism, war or persecution detained her from carrying out the Lord's work. Catherine of Siena was an innovator led by the Spirit and an agent of change in the tumultuous events of her lifetime. The Church ultimately recognized her contribution by proclaiming her both a saint and a Doctor of the Church.

Models of exemplary lay leadership are needed as torchbearers of light in our Church. The laity have many gifts that are willingly used for the Church's service. VOTF seeks to light the lamps of recognition of the laity and call forth the talents of all members of the body of Christ.

All members of VOTF are encouraged to submit the name of a lay person who has exhibited the faith, courage, and aptitude for unprecedented action, and the outspokenness of Catherine in his/her own arena in the past few years.

Deadline for nominations is June 15

For more information

Nominate a Priest of Integrity
All affiliates and individual members of VOTF are invited to nominate priests whose actions exemplify the gospel imperatives of honesty, openness, courage and compassion. While most priests work faithfully and often anonymously in their ministries, we encourage acknowledgment of specific acts that demonstrate the leadership needed in our church. 

Nominations must be postmarked by June 30, 2012, or emailed no later than 10 p.m. June 30, 2012.

For more information:

Affiliate News

VOTF Orange County Affiliate Leader Asks Members to Write to USCCB
Affiliate leader Steve Dzida sent the following letter to VOTF Orange County members

You may have heard in the press that the Vatican has criticized harshly the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) for what the Vatican terms “serious doctrinal problems.”  The LCWR says it represents 80 percent of America's 57,000 Catholic nuns. It is influential both in the United States and globally.

Apparently the Vatican believes the LCWR focuses too much attention on poverty and social justice concerns and not enough on abortion and gay marriage.  Published reports say the Vatican (i) said the LCWR had been "silent on the right to life" and had failed to make the "Biblical view of family life and human sexuality" a central plank in its agenda, (ii) accused the group of promoting "certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith," and (iii) criticized American nuns for expressing, from time to time, positions on political issues that differed from views held by American bishops because such disagreement with the bishops, “the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals," is unacceptable.

Voice of the Faithful FOCUS,
May 3, 2012

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

The Vatican and the LCWR
What's left to say?  By now the whole world has heard the Vatican is going to take care of those uppity, radical feminist nuns. Except they're not that uppity. They're not radical feminists. Which is where the problem begins.
-- Vatican Orders LCWR to Revise, Appoints Archbishop to Oversee Group
-- The Instructive Timing of the Crackdown on Nuns
-- Options Facing LCWR Stark, Canon Lawyers Say
-- We Are All Nuns
-- Bishops Play Church Queens as Pawns
-- Twitter Drive “What Sisters Mean To Me” Supports US Nuns
-- Who Will Watch the Watchmen of America's Women Religious?
-- In LCWR Oversight, Key Questions Remain
-- Notes on The LCWR Overhaul
-- LCWR Annual Assembly to Go Forward
-- The Vatican Should Exalt Catholic Nuns, Not Upbraid Them
-- Read Them and Weep
-- Rome and Women Religious

BBC Program Cites New Revelations over Irish Primate’s
Failure to ‘Act on Sex Abuse Claims’
New revelations about the failure of the Catholic primate of all-Ireland to protect children from abuse have been uncovered by the BBC's This World show. It found Cardinal Sean Brady had the names and addresses of those being abused by pedophile priest Brendan Smyth, but did not ensure their safety.

Vigilance on Sex Abuse Must Continue
Publication of the annual audit of dioceses and eparchies to determine how they are complying with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is intended to assure the Catholic faithful and the wider society that church leaders remain vigilant in their efforts to combat sex abuse of children by priests and other ministers. While the audits represent a degree of transparency and accountability that Catholics of previous eras could hardly have imagined, the surveys also have serious limits. Continued vigilance of audits is warranted.

Bishop Morlino Warns Dissenters to Stop — or Else
Madison Catholic Bishop Robert Morlino has moved to quell a backlash against a group of conservative priests in Platteville by warning parishioners they risk formal church censure unless they stop spreading "rumors and gossip."

Accuser in Philadelphia Priests’ Trial Unleashes Fury at Catholic Church
A 47-year-old man unleashed his fury at the Roman Catholic Church, staring down a church official in a Philadelphia courtroom as he described being forced as a child to engage in sex acts with a priest.

SNAP Ordered to Hand over Wide Range of Abuse Documents
Group’s director also has been ordered to undergo second deposition. A Missouri judge this afternoon (Friday, 4/20) ordered the director of the leading advocacy group for victims of clergy sex abuse to give a second deposition and to turn over more documents to lawyers representing priests accused of sexual misconduct in the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese.

Is Benedict Becoming a Papal Enforcer?
As Pope Benedict XVI marked his seventh anniversary as pope on Thursday (April 19), many Catholics were wondering if the pontiff is finally becoming the papal enforcer that some feared — and others hoped — he would be when he was elected to lead the church in 2005. The questions were prompted by this week’s announcement that Benedict had signed off on a crackdown on the organization representing most of the 57,000 nuns in the United States.
-- Has The 'Real Ratzinger' Come Out to Play?

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

Pondering Mystery
The Harvard Divinity Bulletin in its Winter/Spring 2012 edition reprinted an excerpt from the 1991 Convocation address by Gordon Dester Kaufman, Professor of Divinity Emeritus at Harvard, who died in 2011. The address considered the meaning of mystery in a theological context ... and whether the presence of “mystery” allows unilateral declarations of what is “right and true.” Here’s the excerpt.  

Intemperate Rhetoric
 In Intemperate Episcopal Rhetoric and a Church of Honest Discourse, Jesuit John Coleman says “ When our best, practicing and well-informed Catholics feel that honest discourse is not allowed in the church (they continue to think on their own, of course) we have lost our pastoral mooring. The American bishops, too, need to approach this growing and serious pastoral perception if they want, in a true sense, to lead.“


Boston Area VOTF

Lisa Kessler, nationally known photographer/documentarian to be guest speaker in Weymouth
"Voice of the Faithful" will meet next Tuesday, May 8 at 7 PM downstairs in St. Albert's church hall.  Our guest speaker will be Lisa Kessler.  She is a nationally known photographer and documentarian who currently teaches at Endicott College.  She produced the short film "Heart in the Wound" about clergy abuse through the voices of survivors Phil Saviano, Kathy Dwyer and Olan Horne.  Kathy and Olan have been speakers at St. Albert's.  A discussion will follow.  All are welcome.  Refreshments will be served.

Address:  1130 Washington St. Weymouth, MA
From north of Weymouth take Route 3 towards the Cape.
Exit 16A-Route 18
Right onto Route 53 (Washington St.) at end of Rte 18 (18 "t's" into 53)
Drive approximately 7-10 minutes, go through major intersection with Stop & Shop and Shaws on each side of Washington St.
St. Albert's is on the left, tan brick building.

To the Editor:
I am more saddened than I can tell at the recent Vatican attempt to silence the good nuns of the USA.  It has been clear for some time that the elderly male hierarchy is more frightened of women than they are of anything else, including pedophile priests and bishops who cover up their crimes.  How can these "shepherds" have such contempt for half of their flock?  Are we not equal souls, equal in our baptism?  Throughout the years, the Vatican has come up with a ludicrous variety of reasons why women cannot be ordained, or--for that matter--hold positions of real leadership among the laity.  Beginning with the "we are daughters of Eve" belief of the early Fathers, through "we do not accurately reflect Christ" (I thought that all of us were supposed to see Christ in each other), through "Jesus never ordained any women", through "there were no women at the Last Supper", the reasons come in a different form every time the topic is broached.  Giving too many different reasons reflects the lack of a true argument.  Trying to forbid any talk of women's roles in the Church is another clear sign that the hierarchy has not got a leg to stand on.  Why cannot they begin an open discussion of just how they think women's souls and women's baptism is, in their eyes, inferior?  We would then see what they really believe about us, and it would be a real eye-opener.  Many of us would love to see a "Vatican III Council" centered on the identity of women in Catholicism.  In any case, the powers that be can't continue forever to downgrade half of the human race.

Dorothy Carter
Lexington KY 40502

To the Editor:

Thank you for your thoughtful and (hopefully) thought provoking comment on the recent Vatican pronouncement re; American nuns. The quote from the Gospel according to Luke is perfect and we can only hope the "powers that be" might hear the Word and live it themselves.


Marguerite Heenehan

To the Editor:

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! for VOTF's support of the Sisters!!!!

Thank you,
Brother Benilde Montgomery, O.S.F.

To the Editor:

In reference to your "VOTF Supports the Nuns" article you have not included any facts.  More specifically, who (exactly) criticized the nuns and is there a reference to any official statement that we might read and evaluate?
Too many times people make decisions and form opinions on based on hearsay and anecdotal information e.g. "My friend told me that he heard..."

We greatly enhance our credibility when our decisions are informed by a direct evaluation of facts and not by second or third hand opinions.

Dave Wallan
Wilmington, DE

To the Editor:

Many thanks for putting so many timely and inspiring articles  -  literally  -  at my fingertips!

POWER CORRUPTS  -  the leadership of our Church, and our country, are irrefutable examples.

It's so encouraging to read the words of grassroots Catholics, religious and lay, from around the world. Thanks a million for gathering them for us.

I just returned from Maryknoll where I attended a two-day Hearts on Fire Symposium marking the 100th anniversary of the Maryknoll Sisters, who modeled the teachings of Christ around the world. It was a JOYFUL experience I wish everyone could have experienced.

Pat McSweeney


It is not enough to say VOTF supports the nuns.  What are you going to do about it???

I’m sure I’m not typical of contacts with nuns, but I think my admiration for them is typical.

  • One aunt was a Maryknoller, worked for 40 years in the Philippines and is buried there

  • Another aunt was a Mother Seton Sister of Charity

  • Many friends, my wife included, are former nuns

  • A close, dear friend of many years was caught up in the Immaculate Heart Order dissolution over its fight with Cardinal MacIntyre and had to give up the life she cherished as a nun

  • Another dear friend teaches theology to Hispanic seminarians in San Antonio

  • And many dear friends at a Benedictine Monastery here in Idaho, where I have on occasion presided over a retreat


The nuns are just amazing.  Average age 65+ at the Monastery, yet they develop 5-year plans, construct new buildings for spiritual centers, and take in Oblates to carry on their work.

I urge VOTF to make this your highest priority.  It is the perfect reason to have a “Catholic Tahrir Square” with a massive turn-out of Catholics in the streets outside the next USCCB meeting.

It would be a selfless gathering . . . with each organization forgoing its own agenda simply to back the nuns.  And yet, backing the nuns would itself serve to put forward your own agenda . . . since the hierarchy’s attack on the nuns is all about POWER:  How dare anyone support a bill that brings health care to 40 million Americans (which is what this is really all about – payback time for the nuns’ support of Obamacare)?  How dare anyone – especially women – challenge the bishops and their stand against contraception rights and gay rights??

The bishops lay claim to religious freedom and freedom of conscience, as though those were rights of organizations and not of individuals.  The Vatican Council’s “Declaration on Religious Liberty” (Dignitatis Humanae) states:  “The Vatican Council declares that THE HUMAN PERSON has a right to religious freedom.”

The bishops would deny to nuns that right of religious liberty:  the right to read the law and disagree with the bishops’ political attack on health care . . . the right to listen to speakers of their own choosing at their annual conferences . . . the right to support the 90+% of Catholic married couples who support and use birth control.

In short, it is time for VOTF to stop passing resolutions and signing petitions and to take to the streets and finally make itself heard.

John J. McMahon


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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