In the Vineyard :: November 18, 2011 :: Volume 11, Issue 22

News from National

Child Sexual Abuse: Penn State & the Catholic Church
The churning Penn State child sexual abuse scandal involving university leaders and legendary head football coach Joe Paterno is familiar ground for all of us who have witnessed the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

The most glaring similarity between the university and the Church is the culture of elitism (we call it clericalism in the Church, see VOTF’s conclusions about the John Jay causes and context study), where leaders view themselves as different, separate and exempt from the norms, rules and consequences that apply to everyone else in society.

The most prominent difference between the two scandals is the board of trustees firing Paterno and the university’s president, while the Vatican has neither censured nor removed any bishop or other Church official involved in the abuse scandal and has even rewarded some of them with plumb assignments and cushy retirements.


And the Winner Is ...
Maurice Foley of Hingham is the lucky winner of VOTF’s Thanksgiving raffle! He won a complete Thanksgiving dinner for 16 people, including turkey, ham, gravy, stuffing, sweet potato soufflé, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole and cheesecake sampler. All he has to do is heat the food, pour the wine and start the coffee, and say grace, of course. Congratulations!

News from Child Protection and Survivor Support
We encourage all VOTF members, friends and supporters to take some time out of your day and take action—together we can make a difference!!  

Help your VOTF friends and other concerned citizens of Pennsylvania protect the children:

  • Make a phone call or send an email and then pass this request along to your family, friends, college alumni and others who reside in Pennsylvania.

  • Call AND email Rep. Ron Marsico’s office a brief one sentence email saying you support HB832 and HB878 and HB1876. Even if you live outside Pennsylvania, still make the call. Tell them the eyes of the nation are on their state and ask them to put these bills on the agenda for public hearings now. We ALL must work for the protection of children. Here are the phone number and email address to use: Hon. Ron Marisco, Republican Chair, 717-783-2014,

To learn more about the bills,

Do you need information about the child protection laws in your state? Look here:

VOTF Nominations Open
In 2012, Voice of the Faithful will celebrate its tenth anniversary. We have made significant progress in those ten years to fulfill our mission and three goals. It is important that we have the leadership to continue our efforts to transform our Church.

In February, 2012, we will elect Voice of the Faithful’s national officers for 2012-13. 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. Complete details are here.

An Update on Child Abuse Legislation
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey says all adults should be required to report child abuse and neglect to police or local child protective agencies.

The Pennsylvania Democrat said Wednesday he introduced the Speak Up to Protect Every Abused Kid Act in the wake of the child sexual abuse scandal for which former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky faces criminal charges.
Two Penn State administrators are charged with not properly reporting an eyewitness account that Sandusky allegedly attacked a child in the team showers. Sandusky has asserted his innocence and awaits trial on 40 counts.

Casey's bill requires states to mandate reporting or lose federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act funding.

Update on Vatican II Spirituality Today
To help celebrate Advent, VOTF is putting together a week-by-week guide for lively discussion on how Vatican II has affected us personally and as a church community. To see a general sample and an outline of the readings for the four weeks, click here.

To participate in the Advent series, please email your request to, or you can mail your request to Advent V-II, VOTF, PO Box 423, Newton, MA, 02464.

If you are planning to order Christmas gifts on Amazon, please consider accessing Amazon through Amazon donates a small portion of every sale to VOTF. A quick and painless way to support VOTF!

VOTF Establishes Repository for Reports on Clergy Sex Abuse
Media reports on clergy sex abuse cluster in time-specific periods primarily in the regions and countries where the abused and their supporters speak out. Academic analyses and government reports on the problem take a wider look at the problem, but they too focus on the region or country where the sponsoring organization (or legal authority) rests.

VOTF has dedicated a page on our website to post links to some of those academic and government reports, regardless of origin point.

There’s also a new entry in the left-hand “menu” frame of the Home Page, so you can quickly get to the same page any time; it’s labeled “Government & Academic Reports on Clergy Sex Abuse.”

More on the New Missal Translation
Pastors and scholars are doing their best to highlight some of the new translations that are expected to jar the sensibilities of those who first hear them on Nov. 27. This essay by Miska Vincze, a PhD candidate in Classical Studies at Boston University, puts in context the switch in the Apostles’ Creed from “descended to the dead” to “descended into hell.” Here's the essay.


Voice of the Faithful Focus, Nov. 3, 2011
Highlighting issues we face working together
To Keep the Faith, Change the Church

Penn State vis-à-vis the Catholic Church
If you have read or heard the news over the past few days, you could not escape the scandal in State College, Pennsylvania. After a grand jury brought to light child sexual abuse allegations at Pennsylvania State University, several men were arrested, and the university’s president and venerated head football coach Joe Paterno were fired. The Penn State scandal illuminates the tragedy of the Church’s clergy sexual abuse scandal, which the media has reported extensively. Here are some examples:

The Devil and Joe Paterno
What the Catholic Church Can Teach Us About the Penn State Scandal
Echoes of Catholic Church Scandal at Penn State
The Institutional Pass
A Priest’s View of Penn State
Penn State Should Coach the Catholic Church
Penn State, Catholic Church Share Tragic Parallels
Report Abuse to Police, Not Higher-Ups
Why Penn State Abuse Is (and Isn’t) like the Catholic Church
What Can the Church Learn from Penn State
Abuse and Cover-up: Penn State’s Catholic-Like Scandal
In Penn State, Some See Boston Scandal Parallels

KC’s Bishop Finn Avoids Second Criminal Indictment
But Is Sued for Conspiracy
To avoid a second criminal indictment for failing to report suspected child abuse, Kansas City’s Bishop Robert Finn has agreed to give a county prosecutor almost complete oversight over how the diocese handles clergy sexual abuse cases for next five years. His problems keep escalating, as for example, a new lawsuit has claimed his delay in reporting Fr. Shawn Ratigan’s possession of child pornography directly led to the abuse of a ten-year old girl, and qualifies as conspiracy to commit fraud.

Read all of this issue of Focus...

Book Corner

“There is a potential for alliance between concerned young people and their grandparents, working together to protect the future. It is worth remembering that the environmental movement of today was once dismissed as consisting only of ‘little old ladies in tennis shoes.’”

Bateson, Mary Catherine (2010-09-14). Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom (Kindle Locations 373-375). Knopf. Kindle Edition.

Recommended by VOTF member, Gaile M. Pohlhaus, PhD.Practical Theologian.

Buy this book on

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor:

Thank God justice is finally being done at Penn State. While the university will be negatively impacted for a short time by their sexual child abuse scandal, the arrest of the molester along with at least two enablers, and the firing of Joe Paterno sends a strong signal to the Penn State football culture that the protection of innocent children is paramount over the reputation of the individual or the institution.

Not true in the Catholic Church. Justice has not been served in this most sacred of institutions. Many bishops who shielded priest molesters and, by their inaction, caused the continued abuse of children, have not been prosecuted as they should be. As a member of the reform group, Voice of the Faithful, I pray that fair minded people will protest this miscarriage of justice so that, like Penn State, the church can be finally cleansed of this inequity.

E. Thompson,Sr. from Farmingdale NY

Dear Editor:

Despite preaching the Gospel of justice, Catholic hierarchy behave as though they are above the law. But recently, Bishop Finn was indicted in St. Louis for failure to report suspected child abuse and child pornography on a priest’s computer. Catholics have waited too long for such justice. Yet a former U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ spokesman said that the widespread calls for Finn’s removal are “terribly distasteful.”

Distasteful? No comment about the abuse itself? For too long, this double standard has thrived: never an apology for fiscal mismanagement; never a comment about why so many bishops support immoral behavior; never a call for justice.
Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.
Those Catholics who remain in the church are disgusted by leaders who don’t live the Gospel. We have found hope, however, in priests who have begun to find their voices — often at great cost to themselves. Most priests live in a bubble of fear, trapped within a medieval clerical culture. And when a priest follows his conscience and speaks out, the guillotine slams down.

We have recently witnessed such tyranny in the Archdiocese of Chicago, where several priests of integrity have been thrown under the guillotine: Frs. Larry McNally, Thomas McQuaid, Michael Pfleger, Patrick Brennan and Monsignor Ken Velo. The Cardinal has trumped their freedom of conscience.

Frs. McNally, McQuaid, Pfleger, Brennan and Velo love their ministry and their flocks, and they have confidently spoken out against injustice, knowing full well that it will damage their careers. We honor priests like these.

We urge Catholics to write letters to Cardinal George asking him to learn to be a conscientious leader of this archdiocese, where all Catholics should be able to respectfully dissent in the face of injustice.

Sandra Stilling Seehausen, President, Chicagoland Voice of the Faithful

Dear Editor:

It’s marvelous that the Pope has advice for oversight and accountability in the international financial system.

He could start by giving the world an example of same by implementing his recommendations for Vatican and diocesan finances.

Don't hold your breath.

E. Wilson, Brooklyn NY

Dear Editor:
The new missal is an attempt by the church to get us to focus on something rather than the very real problems that exist and changes that need to happen in the church.

I am not really encouraged by the attempt to “persuade” the church hierarchy to implement any changes of a substantive nature. The last time power was given up easily was when George Washington refused to run for a third term when it could easily have been his.

The church is still run like it was in the middle ages and no one in power is at all inclined to any democratic impulse. The changes in the missal are laughable. A word here. A phrase there. Chaff.

I don’t have to itemize the problems for you. I am sure you are well aware of them.

There is only one real power the laity have and it is green power. Money. I am seeing less people in the pews now. They used to be full.

The money that used to be given in the Christmas collection should be given to another charity of your choice. Put a note in the envelope if you wish or not. But it is our church and “they” have taken it away and made it a good old boys club.


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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