Will Vatican's first criminal trial on charges of clergy sexual abuse signal new policy?

The arrest and initiation of criminal proceedings against a former papal nuncio for child sex abuse may signal the Vatican is ready to take substantive action on clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups instead of just talking about needed changes.

Click here to read the rest of this VOTF National statement.

Did You Know …

That our understanding of the Eucharist today emerges from the Shabbat meals shared by the disciples after the death of Jesus, and from the celebration of Passover?

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1363): “In the liturgical celebration of these events they become in a certain way present and real. This is how Israel understands its liberation from Egypt: every time Passover is celebrated, the Exodus events are made present to the memory of believers so that they may conform their lives to them.” 

To learn more about the origins of the Eucharistic meal, read Ron DuBois’s presentation on the Origins of the Eucharist. Ron is a long-time member of VOTF and has served on numerous working groups, from Lay Education to Priest Support to Prayerful Voice. Until recently, he also served on our Board of Trustees and as Vice President of VOTF.

In addition to the summary on the origins of the Eucharist, Ron also provided many of the materials we host on the Prayerful Voice pages of our web site.

Surprising Words on Clergy Sexual Abuse from Cardinal Dolan

“Providing ‘more precision … about putting some teeth’ into accountability for bishops who drop the ball on abuse allegations, beyond simply ‘spiritual and fraternal solutions.”

This is a quote from New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan in a recent column, “Getting to the crux of why Catholicism matters,” by The Boston Globe’s John L. Allen, Jr., associate editor for Catholic news. Among the interviews and stories Allen mentions is commentary on what Pope Francis’ recent bishop appointments might mean and a preview of an interview with Cardinal Dolan on fighting sex abuse in the Catholic Church, from which the above quote was taken.

The Voice of the Faithful® blog featured Allen’s column. Click here to see the post and a link to Allen’s column. While you’re there, scroll down the right-hand column and click the link to follow our blog. You can even sign up to receive an email every time we make a post.

You also can click here to read a preface to Allen's interview, which contains a link to the entire interview.

(Photo by Cy White, CreativeCommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

LCWR Wraps Up Its 2014 Assembly

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious concluded its 2014 Annual Assembly on Aug. 15.

Click here to read LCWR's wrap-up news release, "Leadership Conference of Women Religious Assembly Examines Key Challenges and Opportunities."

Voice of the Faithful's support for our sisters is unflagging.

Zero Tolerance?

The U.S. bishops’ zero tolerance policy for clergy sexual abuse, established with the 2002 Dallas Charter, remains an open question for Voice of the Faithful®. Among the reasons for our concern: (1) Minnesota Public Radio reports St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt made false statements under oath about his knowledge of a priest left for years in ministry after being credibly accused of sexual abuse. (2) Great Falls-Billings (MT) Bishop Michael Warfel returned a priest to ministry although a civil lawsuit against the diocese names this priest as one of the abusers the diocese failed to remove. (3) A priest in the Fresno (CA) diocese reportedly was named a pastor after a civil case declared him guilty of child sex abuse—he was even put in charge of a parish school. (4) Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn, previously convicted of failing to report suspected child abuse, attends USCCB semi-annual meetings with no hint of sanctions for his failures. Indeed, an arbitrator ruling recently against the KC diocese said "this Diocese as presently constituted will not mend its ways." 

In February, VOTF asked Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, USCCB president, about the specific case in Montana and whether Bishop Warfel’s actions conformed to the Dallas Charter. Copies went to the chair of the National Review Board, the director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection, and the Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S.

We received no answer.

We sent a follow-up letter (and copies) in April asking, again, why a priest in Montana still identified in a lawsuit as an abuser would be returned to ministry. Has “zero tolerance” been abandoned? We received no answer.

Yet the bishops claim in their semi-annual meetings that they are doing better than ever at addressing the problem of child predators in the Church. The gap between fact and "PR" looms large. So we ask again: Why are bishops not adhering to zero tolerance and why are they facing no penalties?

Sociologists Address VOTF Meeting

Dr. Patricia Ewick, professor of sociology at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Dr. Marc Steinberg, professor of sociology at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, recently shared some reflections on the work they have done studying VOTF over the last seven years. Both sociologists addressed an audience of VOTF members. Dr. Ewick's remarks are featured in the July 18 issue of VOTF's twice-montly e-newsletter In the Vineyard, and Dr. Steinberg's remarks are featrued in the Aug. 1 issue.

Click here to read excerpts from Dr. Ewick's remarks.

Click here to read excerpts from Dr. Steinberg's remarks.

Bridgeport VOTF Will Take Part in Diocesan Synod

Voice of the Faithful® in the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, in an extension of its contacts with Bishop Frank Caggiano, will send delegates to the diocesan synod to begin this fall and run through the diocese's next fiscal year. An article announcing the synod, which appeared in the July 15 Darien Times, said, "The process has already begun, with parishes and schools throughout Fairfield County that belong to the diocese choosing delegates to represent them during the spring ... Caggiano said approximately 300 to 400 delegates have been chosen and there will also be a group of young people who will parallel the synod. Other groups represented will include immigrants, ethnic groups and Voice of the Faithful. Caggiano broke the Diocese of Bridgeport's long-standing policy of rejecting Voice of the Faithful since its inception ... Diocese communications director Brian Wallace told The Darien Times earlier this year that 'one of the first things Bishop Caggiano did after arriving here was to reach out to the Voice of the Faithful, and in four months he has had several conversations with the VOTF leadership.'"

Click here to read the entire article in The Darien Times.