News from National
VOTF 2015 National Assembly: Spotlight
Let’s Talk About It: Can Clergy & Laity Speak to Each Other As Equals?
Room 16 ― Facilitators: Bill Murphy, VOTF Winchester MA Affiliate; Fr. Leo Shea; Retired Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Carmody
Lasting Church reform will be possible only when clergy and laity can work together, recognizing each other’s gifts and perspectives. But clericalism pervades the Church at all levels. It’s not just bishops who insulate themselves from the voices of lay people and, sometimes, their own priests. It’s not just the priest or pastor who assumes license to overrule all other input and ignore parishioners’ voices. It’s also lay people with a “Father says” or “what will Father think” attitude.
All of us, in large ways and small, contribute to problems of clericalism.
How do we balance respect for each other without blocking the openness, and honest “plain speaking,” necessary for dialogue and learning to work together?
Let’s talk about it!
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month
Things to do during April
National Child Abuse Prevention Month
Revelation of child abuse in the Catholic Church and technological advances in the first decades of the 21st century demand more of parents and communities to keep our children safe.
In particular, Cyber Safety, School Bullying, and Safe Environments in our parishes are focus areas that require our active attention. Click here for helpful information on each area that can enhance our learning on how to keep children safe and click here for a list of websites dedicated to child safety.
You may also be aware that a pioneer in developing child protection policies in Ireland, Marie Collins, will be our featured speaker at the VOTF National Assembly in Hartford on April 18 (click here for information and registration). She is a clergy sexual abuse survivor and a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
Also, look for the "Blue Ribbons" at the Assembly and help raise awareness of National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
VOTF Initiative: Survivor Support & Child Protection
One of VOTF’s main initiatives is Survivor Support & Child Protection—We support survivors who wish to tell their stories, and those whose calls for truth and justice are even today under assault by some bishops who are determined not to answer. We look for ways to strengthen U.S. child protection guidelines which too many bishops and pastors—and sadly, too many lay people—no longer apply with vigilance. Fr. Tom Doyle, long-time advocate of clergy sexual abuse victims recently completed an extensive bibliography on clergy sexual abuse available by clicking here.
VOTF 2015 National Assembly -- Register NOW
VOTF's 2015 National Assembly takes place on Saturday, April 18, at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.
The featured speaker is a clergy sexual abuse survivor who pioneered child protection standards and is now an advisor to Pope Francis. Workshops range from a new process for healing the People of God from the clergy sexual abuse scandal, to a case study in the good, bad, and confusing in diocesan finances, to lay input options for the 2015 bishops "family life" synod.
We'll be at the same beautiful venue where we held last year's assembly, and discount hotel rooms are available. Spring is a special time in New England, and the picture above of springtime in Hartford really doesn't do the city justice.
Click here for more information, to register, and to reserve discount hotel rooms.
Come and greet old friends and make new ones. We trust we'll see you there!
Highlighting issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Angry protest over new bishop in Chile
“Hundreds of demonstrators dressed in black barged into a cathedral in a city in southern Chile on Saturday (Mar. 21) and interrupted the installation ceremony for the city’s new Roman Catholic bishop, Juan Barros, whom they accuse of complicity in a notorious case of clerical sexual abuse, blocking his passage and shouting, ‘Barros, get out of the city!” By Pascale Bonnefoy, The New York Times
-- Scuffles, protests as Chilean bishop is ordained despite alleged sex abuse cover-up, By Eva Vergara, Associated Press
-- Amid arrests and protests, bishop linked to abuse priest takes over in Chile, By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com
Convicted Minnesota priest removed from clerical state
“One of the primary priests that triggered the now more-than-yearlong clergy sex abuse scandal in the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese has been laicized. The archdiocese announced Wednesday (Mar. 11) afternoon that the Vatican has removed Curtis Wehmeyer from the clerical state.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter
Women speak up about equality in the church from the heart of the Vatican
“OK, I'm gobsmacked, as the Brits say (‘gobsmacked’: adjective, British, informal: utterly astonished; astounded). I spent four hours on International Women's Day watching a Voices of Faith event ‘from the heart of the Vatican’ in which women shared stories ‘for a creative exchange of ideas from a female perspective.’ There were some amazing narratives.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter
-- A Space for Women, By the Editors at Americamagazine
Archdiocese of St. Louis ordered to produce 20 years of documents on sexual abuse
“A judge has ordered the Archdiocese of St. Louis to produce two decades worth of internal documents on sexual abuse allegations. Thomas J. Prebil is only the second judge to attempt to compel the archdiocese to hand over such an extensive number of records. The order, released earlier this week (week of Mar. 9), is part of a civil lawsuit filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court involving the parents of a man from Florissant who sued the archdiocese over the suicide of their son.” By Lilly Fowler, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Jury again unable to reach verdict in Philadelphia priest’s sex-abuse trial
“For the second time in 12 months, a Philadelphia jury was unable to reach a verdict in the trial of a Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy almost 18 years ago in a Bridesburg parish.” By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Philadelphia Inquirer
Despite questionable local support, San Francisco archbishop lauded by conservatives
Support appears shallow in the San Francisco Bay Area for Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone's imperative that faculty handbooks of high schools under his jurisdictionunderscore church teaching on ‘hot-button’ issues and that employees not contradict church doctrine on or off campus. However, viaducts of encouragement are pouring into his office from multiple sources outside the archdiocese ...” By Dan Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter
Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus ...
Not Too Techy
"Give Us This Day," the wonderful daily prayer resource from Liturgical Press, is now available as an app for your iPhone or iPad or Android device. Here is the link to the app in the iPhones storehttps://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id904908265 and to the Google store for Android deviceshttps://play.google.com/store/apps/details...
Pope Francis and the Homeless Update from the Vatican and Twitter
March 26, 2015
From Twitter: "Pope Francis makes unscheduled stop to greet 150 homeless touring Sistine Chapel, allows no fotos or audio." @RNS (Religion News Service)
"Pope personally greeted 150 homeless people taking a tour of the Sistine Chapel this afternoon: 'This is your home.'" @FrancisXRocca (Vatican correspondent, Wall Street Journal)
"Reported words of @Pontifex to 150 homeless at #Vatican: 'Welcome. This is the house of all, your house. The doors are always open to all.'" @joshjmac (Josh McElwee, National Catholic Reporter)
"Pope asks 150 homeless persons, 'Pray for me. I need the prayers of people like you.' He prayed God to bless and care for them on life's journey." @GerryoRome (Gerard O'Connell, Rome correspondent, America Magazine)
"After meeting Pope Francis for 20 mins and getting a blessing, 150 homeless invited to tour Sistine Chapel are given dinner in Vatican" @DavidGibson, (Religion News Service)
Update from Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, the English-language assistant to Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, of the Holy See Press Office:
Information on the Meeting of Pope Francis with the homeless during their visit to the Sistine Chapel:
This evening 150 homeless persons were invited to visit the Vatican Museums by the Papal Almoner, Bishop Konrad Kraijewki. Following the visit to the museums, the group arrived in the Sistine Chapel at 5:00 where they were met by Pope Francis who was accompanied by one of his assistants. The Pope shook the hand of each homeless person and spoke these words: "Welcome. This is everyone's house, and your house. The doors are always open for all."
The Pope then thanked Bishop Kraijewki for having arranged the visit and described it as a “little caress” for each of the guests. Pope Francis then said: "Pray for me. I'm in need of prayers by people like you.” Blessing the group, the Pope said: “May the Lord protect and help you in the path of life and make you feel His tender love of a Father."
The Pope then greeted each one of homeless persons, spending at least 20 minutes conversing with them. Following the visit to the Sistine Chapel and the meeting with the Pope, the group was then invited to dinner in the restaurant area of the Vatican museums. They left the Vatican following dinner.
Pope Francis asked that no cameras or photographers be present during his meeting with the homeless persons.
Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor, atVineyard@votf.org. Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.