In the Vineyard :: November 12, 2009 :: Volume 8, Issue 20

National News

Long Island Conference – A Great Success!!
More than 500 Voice of the Faithful members from across the country gathered at the Hilton Hotel on Long Island for the 2009 National Conference on October 30 and 31. The successful event featured inspiring talks Saturday from Sr. Joan Chittister and Fr. Tom Reese, each of whom encouraged VOTF to continue seeking reform. Equally important, we were encouraged to lead the way we wish to follow, and to begin transformation by first changing ourselves.

Also on Saturday, Voice of the Faithful presented National Priest of Integrity Awards to Fr. Joseph Fowler and Fr. Donald Cozzens, and the St. Catherine of Siena Distinguished Lay Person award to author and journalist Jason Berry. VOTF also honored founder and former VOTF President Jim Post with a special award.

Friday night’s program included insightful presentations by the Voices in Action campaign teams and moving testimony from a survivor, Dick Regan. Mr. Regan shared part of his story, and that of his siblings, who were abused. He was preceded by reports from a devoted group of vigilers in Long Island who have been standing in front of the cathedral for years as a reminder of the harm done to victims and the failure of the Church to hold accountable all those who abused who enabled abusers.

Coming soon: VOTF is working with the vendor who taped the conference to prepare DVDs of the various presentations. Keep an eye on the VOTF web site for more information, text excerpts, and video clips as they become available—and to review the reports already posted there.

Your Help Needed for Study
At the VOTF Conference, Margaret L. Smith of John Jay College described the current status of the Causes and Context Study commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. She urged VOTF attendees to help researchers examine the question of whether the information we now possess about sexual abuse of youths in the Church has prompted reflections about the past—what events did you perhaps observe or hear about in the past and can your reflections on those help them understand how to ask questions about such events? The researchers are trying to understand how so many people somehow did not perceive such actions and relationships as abusive when they occurred. To share your ideas, please email

Nominations for National Officer Positions
It is time for the election of Voice of the Faithful's national officers for 2010-11. We invite you to take part in the governance of VOTF by nominating qualified candidates for the positions of President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary.

All nominations must be completed online and received by midnight EST on December 7, 2009—a firm deadline. Nominations will be acknowledged by email within 2 business days. Please contact Bob Ott if an acknowledgement is not received in that time.

For more details on eligibility and requirements

Priests of Integrity Awards
The Priest of Integrity Award is the highest form of public recognition Voice of the Faithful gives to priests. Reverend Thomas Doyle was the first recipient, in 2002. Since then only six other priests have been so honored at the National level. This year, 2009, two other remarkable priests were given the Priest of Integrity Award: Reverend Donald Cozzens of Cleveland, Ohio, and Reverend Joseph Fowler of Louisville, Kentucky.

The following profiles describe two priests who “walk the walk” side-by-side with Voice of the Faithful members and with all others who strongly support those who are abused, who support (and challenge) priests and bishops, and who work tirelessly to change our church. However, we think you will see that both of these priests approach their ministry in very different and unique ways, based on their own personal gifts and experiences.  


Opinion Piece

Do You Know Where Your Money Is Going?
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia recently announced that it is closing two of its high schools, only months after announcing a five year, $200 million fundraising campaign. At the time that campaign commenced, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph McFadden was quoted as saying, “Right now, we’re making ends meet.” To me, that comment, juxtaposed with the high school closings, sounds inconsistent with a $50,000 contribution by the Archdiocese to the effort sponsored by the Diocese of Portland, Maine, to nullify marriage for same-sex couples in that state.

But Philadelphia was hardly alone. Records required to be filed under the government ethics and election practices laws of the state of Maine reveal that as of October 20th, Catholic archdioceses and dioceses throughout the United States had contributed over $200,000 to the Ballot Question Committee (“BQC”) organized by the Diocese of Portland to overturn a statute passed by the Maine legislature and signed by its governor, a Catholic, authorizing same sex partners to marry. On last November 3, the initiative was approved. Those same records indicate that the Diocese reported that more than $250,000 raised by the BQC was categorized as “General Treasury Transfers”, which seems to indicate that those funds came directly from the Diocese of Portland.


A Theologian Looks at How Portland Spent Its Money
We asked a Catholic theologian, Dr. Anthony T. Padovano, about the Portland diocese's fundraising for activity that addresses civil legislation, and the channeling of funds from one diocese to another for that purpose. While noting that the Catholic Church, like any church in America, has a right to address civil laws related to its doctrines and its moral teachings, Dr. Padovano suggested that Catholics should consider these aspects:

There a number of issues which need to be taken into account:

  1. When people donate money to the Church, do they want that money to  be used in legal battles over sex abuse disclosure or settlement or over legal resistance to homosexual marriage?

  2. The Church hierarchy has the right to define moral teaching on  contraception, homosexual marriage or divorce; that teaching should be  consultative with the sensus fidelium and lay experience at large; Church administrators must be attentive to respecting the consciences of all those in a pluralistic society and not coercing their compliance by legal means in areas where people of good will differ;  moral persuasion and theological argument are always better in these  instances, less counter- productive and more in line with the Gospel; if the Church's position is correct, it will prevail.

Dr. Anthony T. Padovano, Catholic Theologian

Update on Bridgeport Decision

After more than seven years of litigation, including two adverse decisions by the Connecticut Supreme Court, the effort by the Diocese of Bridgeport to keep secret more than 12,000 pages of documents pertaining to the abuse of children by priests of the Diocese has been effectively ended by the United States Supreme Court. In a ruling issued last week, the Court denied the petition for certiorari filed by the Diocese, meaning that the Court will not hear the appeal of the Diocese.

On Tuesday, a Superior Court judge ordered the Catholic Church to turn over documents related to sex abuse allegations involving priests by Dec. 1.

Following is a link to the article in the Hartford Courant.,0,2031841.story

Christmas Shopping Already?

Thinking of starting on your Christmas shopping? Want to do it online? If so, please consider going to VOTF’s website and following the link to A small percentage of each sale will go to support VOTF (although you will not pay any higher price). Last year, VOTF raised close to $800 dollars during the Christmas season in this way. Painless!

Site Seeing

A judge denies a request from McCormack, a convicted former priest to seal records in commitment battle.

VOTF’s Priest of Integrity, Father Fowler, speaks out against a convicted sex offender being ordained as a minister.
A dedicated few remain vigilant to protect children after sex ...

John Allen discusses the differences young Catholics bring to Catholicism.

Bishop Gumbleton prevented from speaking at a Catholic Church on peace or nuclear disarmament. Bishop Sample not allowed to open a Pax Christi meeting on Church property.

Delaware agreement - trials against diocese will be postponed but files released.


Boston College Church in the 21st Century
November 13, 2009, 9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
Called to Become an Adult Church
Presenters:  Jane E. Regan and John J. Shea, O.S.A.
Co-sponsored by The Church in the 21st Century Center
Location: Gasson Hall 100, Chestnut Hill Middle Campus
Free of charge, including lunch. Registration required
More Information

North Shore/Seacoast and Lynn affiliates of VOTF
Fr. Robert Imbelli's talk, previously scheduled in our brochure for Oct. 21 has been postponed.  The new date, is May 23, 2010.

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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