In the Vineyard :: September 7, 2012 :: Volume 12, Issue 15

News from National

What Can You Do for the Church?

In about a week, Voice of the Faithful members and supporters from across the country will gather in Boston for the 10th Year Conference. Because healing our Church will be uppermost in our minds, we can be encouraged and challenged by prophetic words like these:

“The church is 200 years behind the times. Why doesn't it stir? Are we afraid? Is it fear rather than courage?” These were the words of progressive Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, Archbishop of Milan, who died recently at 85, and was once considered a candidate for pope. “The church is tired, in Europe of well-being and in America,” he said. “Our culture has become old, our churches and our religious houses are big and empty, the bureaucratic apparatus of the church grows, our rites and our dress are pompous ... In any event, the faith is the foundation of the church. Faith, trust, courage. I'm old and sick, and I depend on the help of others. Good people around me make me feel their love. This love is stronger than the sentiment of distrust that I feel every now and then with regard to the church in Europe. Only love defeats exhaustion. God is love. Now I have a question for you: What can you do for the church?”

If you want to help discover how we might answer that question, register at for VOTF’s 10th Year conference, Sept. 14-15, Boston’s Marriott Copley Place Hotel.

Alaskan Priest to Receive Priest of Integrity Award During VOTF’s 10th Year Conference
A priest from a missionary diocese in northern Alaska will receive VOTF’s® Priest of Integrity Award during the 10th Year Conference in Boston next week.

The recipient is Fr. Patrick Bergquist, a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks, Alaska, the largest in the country, spreading across 410,000 sq. mi. of northern Alaska.

The Priest of Integrity Award, while recognizing that most priests work faithfully and often anonymously in their ministries, acknowledges specific actions demonstrating the leadership needed in the Catholic Church. Criteria for candidates to be considered for a Priest of Integrity Award include:

  • Speaking and acting his conscience, proclaiming the truth with humility, courage and compassion without regard for his own future security;

  • Being a model of servant-leadership, both in the context of his life and of his ministry; and

  • Giving credible witness to the truth in both speech and action.

Fr. Bergquist is the author of The Long Dark Winter’s Night, Reflections of a Priest in a Time of Pain and Privilege. Continued:

By Mark Mullaney, VOTF president

This 10th year Conference is an extraordinary opportunity for VOTF to explain why we are still here...why we still care and what we hope to accomplish going forward. 

We are still here because the Clergy Sexual Abuse crisis in not yet resolved. We still care that survivors and innocent priests still need our support!

We will accomplish the following by efforts of the members of VOTF and other Catholics who are tired of waiting for change in the church!

We need to identify the elements of clericalism and bring the light of day on that system that stifles our church and enables the hierarchy and allows the hierarchy to work outside the law.

We need to correct the long overdue inequality of women in the church and recognize the values that women have brought to this church and could better bring to this church if given equal status.
We need to advocate for married priests and identify the failed policies of the hierarchy allowing some priests to be married and others not.

We need to hold the hierarchy accountable for financial transparency, accountability and laity involvement in the governance of this church in matters where they have experience while the hierarchy does not.  We need to understand and agree with how our money is being spent.

Finally, but importantly, we need to have a voice in how important positions are being filled in the church and in particular how the bishops and pastors are selected. 
Our goal for this conference and the upcoming year is to engage our membership to Celebrate, Rejuvenate and Accelerate our plans with significant participation from concerned Catholics who feel that this church has lost its way!  This is our challenge and this opportunity for change has never been better!   My question to you all is ...are you with us?

Thoughts on First VOTF convention 10 years ago, Boston
By Anne Southwood

As usual, singing brought something home to me loud and clear, pun intended.

We had a choir rehearsal in Wellesley prior to the convention. There was an instant connection between us, all sure we could learn the music and sing it loud enough to fill the cavernous hall ... no problem. A joke was made over the fact that there were, after all, 8 O'Briens in the volunteer choir!

This bond held as we lined up in red shirts to mount the steps to sing ... no jitters, tuck your red shirt in ... no problem. Before we all had a realistic sense of what it meant to be Voice of the Faithful, we were willing voices. But, looking out on the massive assembly of Catholics from many states briefly brought us up short, even at least one of the O'Briens.

After collecting ourselves, a few of us felt like flying off the stand in awed gratitude. Some of the speakers conveyed this same feeling. To my eye the liturgy was so very moving because it was highly participatory. We were looking at people who proudly sat under parish signs, claiming their Catholicism and the right to use their voices. I also felt very grateful to the presider and priests who did come to show their own concern and support.

As all took part in the liturgy, filling the big hall with sound, the size of the hall seemed to shrink to the size of the eye of a needle any of us could pass problem.

Voice of the Faithful FOCUS,
September 7, 2012

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

Bishop Finn found guilty on one charge of failure to report
The first U.S. Catholic bishop criminally charged in the decades-long clergy sex abuse crisis was found guilty Thursday of one misdemeanor count of failing to report a priest known to be in possession of lewd images of children. Here’s an earlier story on the steps that allowed the bishop to go before a single judge instead of before a jury of 12.

Cardinal Called Church ‘200 Years Out of Date’ Soon Before Death
ROME - The former archbishop of Milan and papal candidate Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini said the Roman Catholic Church was “200 years out of date” in his final interview before his death, published Saturday. Cardinal Martini, once favored by Vatican progressives to succeed Pope John Paul II and a prominent voice in the church until his death at 85 on Friday, gave his view of the church as a pompous and bureaucratic institution failing to move with the times. “Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up; our rituals and our cassocks are pompous,” Cardinal Martini said in the interview published in Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera.
-- Translated Final Interview with Martini
-- Milan Mourns Cardinal Who Dared to Challenge Rome

Father Groeschel Apologizes for Sex Abuse Comments
Father Benedict Groeschel and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal have apologized for his comments that appeared to blame sex abuse victims for their abuse while excusing their abusers, with his religious order calling the remarks “completely out of character.” “I did not intend to blame the victim,” Fr. Groeschel said in an apology posted on the National Catholic Register website. “A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and is always responsible.”
-- Priest Puts Blame on Some Victims of Sexual Abuse (Original comments.)
-- Rev. Benedict Groeschel Leaves Catholic Cable Show after Abuse Remarks

Some Church Leaders Still Don’t Get It
Comment on the Fr. Groeschel situation above.
A prominent priest has become the Todd Akin of Catholicism for voicing troubling views about sex abuse that were — and apparently still are — quietly held by some members of the clergy. The interview last week in the National Catholic Register, in which the Rev. Benedict Groeschel called Jerry Sandusky a “poor guy” and suggests that priests can be victimized by seductive teens, was so disturbing that the magazine removed it from its website. It also shows that, a decade after the clergy abuse scandal exploded on the front page of The Boston Globe, some church leaders still haven't learned the right lessons.

They Do It to Themselves
I've learned recently that San Francisco's archbishop-in-waiting was arrested for drunken driving, a Hartford pastor assisted at a gay wedding in New York, and, according to a priest-preacher on Long Island, Augustine is the father of Western monasticism. Good thing the Vatican is watching the nuns.

Vatican II: “Have A Little Patience, Fifty Years Is Nothing”
"Vatican Insider" interviews Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, a Church historian and scholar of the Second Vatican Council, on the Golden Jubilee of Vatican II.

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

Joseph F. O'CallaghanTwo to Receive St. Catherine of Siena Distinguished Layperson Award During Conference in Boston
Two Roman Catholic lay people will receive Voice of the Faithful’s® St. Catherine of Siena Distinguished Layperson of the Year Award during VOTF’s 10th Year Conference in Boston next week. This recognition represents only the fourth and fifth times in its 10-year history VOTF has presented the award.

The recipients are authors and educators Joseph F. O’Callaghan, Ph.D., Norwalk, Conn., and Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., Hempstead, N.Y.

The St. Catherine of Siena award recognizes exemplary lay leaders who enthusiastically use their gifts in the Church’s service and whose example encourages all Catholics to use their talents for the betterment of the Church.



Paul Lakeland, Director of Catholic Studies at Fairfield University, will speak on “The Second Vatican Council: Does It Still Matter?” on Thursday, September 13, at 7:30 p.m. at the First Congregational Church on the Green in Norwalk. His talk will inaugurate the series, sponsored by Voice of the Faithful in the Diocese of Bridgeport, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Pope John XXIII’s convocation of the Second Vatican Council. Professor Lakeland is author of Catholicism at the Crossroads and The Liberation of the Laity.

Subsequent speakers include: John Thiel, Fairfield University; Madeleine Boucher, Fordham University; Kathleen Deignan and Elena Procario-Foley, Iona College; Ellen Umansky, Fairfield University; Brian Stiltner, Sacred Heart University; and Nancy Dallavalle, Fairfield University.

All sessions are free and everyone is invited to attend.
Voice of the Faithful wishes to be a prayerful voice, attentive to the Holy Spirit, through which God's Faithful People can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. For further information see

Boston College Symposia on Interreligious Dialogue
Women in Interreligious Dialogue
SEPTEMBER 20–22, 2012
Even though women are still often absent from dialogues between official representatives of different religions and bypassed for high level appointments in dialogue organizations, they have contributed significantly and in different ways to advancing interreligious dialogue and interfaith or comparative theology. At this conference, we both look back and look forward to the voices of women in interreligious dialogue. Looking back, papers focus on how women have shaped the dialogue between religions, and/or how interreligious dialogue has shaped the self-understanding of women in a particular religion. What are some of the topics or themes in interreligious dialogue which have caught the imagination of women in particular religious traditions? What have been some of the main contributions of particular women to the theological or systematic dialogue between religions? Looking forward, papers may reflect on challenges and promises for women’s contribution to interreligious dialogue. Does it still make sense to speak of a distinctive role for women in dialogue in light of contemporary gender theories? If so, what might be the contents and/or the nature of such dialogue? What are some of the pressing issues in interreligious dialogue which might profit from the input from women or from gender studies?

Opening Plenary, September 20, 2012
"Women and Interfaith Dialogue: Toward a Transnational Feminism"
Rosemary Radford Ruether, Pacific School of Religion and the Graduate Theological Union
5:00 p.m.
Heights Room, Corcoran Commons, Boston College
Free and open to the public

Are you going to VOTF’s 10th Anniversary Conference?
If you are, please send us your thoughts on how it went! Those members who can’t attend will really appreciate it!
Please send your thoughts to


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