News From National
A Thanksgiving Prayer
“This Thanksgiving let those of us who have much and those who have little gather at the welcoming table of the Lord. At this blessed feast, may rich and poor alike remember that we are called to serve one another and to walk together in God's gracious world. With thankful hearts we praise our God who like a loving parent denies us no good thing.”
From Songs of Our Hearts, Meditations of Our Souls: Prayers for Black Catholics, edited by Cecilia A. Moor, Ph.D., C. Vanessa White, D.Min., and Paul M. Marshall, S.M.
VOTF Partners with Restorative Justice
to Conduct Healing Circle
On November 1, 2014, VOTF partnered with a group of Restorative Justice (RJ) advocates in Boston to conduct a Healing Circle for 20 participants who are wounded by the Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal. The circle provided them an opportunity to begin or to continue a journey of healing. They experienced a deep sense of connection, validation, and mutual support as they shared their stories and listened to each other’s in a sacred space of trust and affirmation.
What prompted the partners to offer a circle was the positive impact of a panel presentation at the 2014 VOTF Assembly describing the potential for an RJ model to address the wounds of the sexual abuse scandal within the Body of Christ—a need largely unaddressed in the life of the Church during the 12 years since the revelations unfolded across the U.S. and beyond.
The 20 participants were a diverse group [continue reading]
Notes on “The Way of the Cross: In and Out of Our Lives”:
A Morning with Joan Chittister and Janet McKenzie
By Fran Vozzella, Concord Area (MA) VOTF affiliate
Using the art work of Janet McKenzie, Sr. Joan walked us through the 15 Stations of the Cross, showing how they can teach us ways to live through the ups, downs, and sufferings of everyday life here and now. She did this by looking at each Station in four ways: 1) What is the common element being portrayed that we all share (i.e., powerlessness, compassion, despair)? 2) Who is modeling this behavior for us ... Jesus, Mary, Veronica? 3) What is the hopeful (resurrection) message we can take from it (i.e., “mercy makes the vision of justice real”)? 4) What are the questions it asks us to consider that will bring us closer to God (i.e., "for whom and what do we show support?")?
I was impressed by the depth with which Sr. Joan looked at each of Janet McKenzie's beautiful paintings, and I will never look at the Stations of the Cross the same as I did before. She asked some profound questions about how we are called to live our lives in faithfulness and hope, and challenged us to step out of our comfort zones—for example, by having the courage to speak out without fear of what others may think.
Jesus through the Stations offers us an example of how to live through the tough times with courage and hope.
It was a truly wonderful day.
Fran Vozzella and Sister Joan Chittister
Bishop Murphy’s Comments on SOL Reform
The Catholic Church has long sought to deny victims of clergy sexual abuse one of their only means of seeking justice: civil lawsuits. By fighting reform of state statute of limitations (SOL) laws, the Church helps prevent survivors from bringing suit against perpetrators and those who cover up the abuse.
Rockville Centre, N.Y., Diocese Bishop William Murphy’s comments in a letter to Long Island parishioners earlier this month are only the latest salvo by the Church against SOL reform.
In fact, the Catholic Church, “through its bishops and state Catholic conferences, is the most powerful institution opposing better child protection legislation in the country, bar none,” according to educator and reform advocate Sister Maureen Turlish.
Murphy’s letter, reprinted in many parish bulletins, [continue reading]
Highlighting issues we face working together
to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Cardinal O’Malley: Pope recognizes need to address Bishop Finn situation
“Boston Cardinal Seán O'Malley, a key advisor to Pope Francis, has said the pontiff recognizes the need to address the situation in Kansas City, Mo., where Bishop Robert Finn was found guilty in 2012 of a criminal misdemeanor count of shielding a priest who was a threat to children.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
-- Cardinal O’Malley: If I started a church, I’d love to have women priests, By Teresa Hanafin, Cruxnow.com
-- O’Malley talks LCWR, sex abuse, women’s ordination, By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
-- Cardinal Sean on “60 Minutes,” By CBS News
Francis codifies pope’s ability to fire bishops
“Pope Francis has codified his ability to effectively fire Catholic bishops, saying that in some circumstances, he ‘can consider it necessary’ to ask them to resign their offices. The move, which the Vatican announced Wednesday (Nov. 5), seems to be an attempt by Francis to clear up any ambiguity about the pontiff's power to replace prelates around the world.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
-- Pope Francis revises resignation norms for bishops and cardinals, By Gerard O’Connell, America
-- New norms encourage bishops in difficult situations to resign, By Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency
Chicago archdiocese releasing child sex abuse files on 36 more priests
“Cardinal Francis George on Thursday (Nov. 6) said the public release of the internal files of 36 priests accused of sexually abusing children shows the church’s ‘commitment to transparency’ in one of the most disturbing chapters in the Roman Catholic Church’s history.” By Christy Gutowski, Todd Lighty, Chicago Tribune
-- Chicago archdiocese releases more abuse records, By Don Babwin and Tammy Webber, Associated Press, in The Boston Globe
-- Chicago archdiocese offers sex abuse data, By Mitch Smith and Michael Paulson, The New York Times
Long Island bishop claims proposed bill penalizes ‘only the Catholic church’
“Bishop William Murphy of the diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y., has written a letter to Catholics on Long Island advising them that a proposed bill in the New York State Assembly, called The Child Victims Act, ‘seeks to penalize only the Catholic Churchfor past crimes of child sex abuse must also be recognized for what it is.” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter
Pope demotes U.S. cardinal critical of his reform agenda
“Pope Francis on Saturday (Nov. 8) sidelined a powerful American cardinal who has emerged as an unabashed conservative critic of the reform agenda and the leadership style that the Argentine pontiff has brought to the Roman Catholic Church. In an expected move, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke was officially removed as head of the Vatican’s highest judicial authority, known as the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.” By Jim Yardley, The New York Times
-- Cardinal Burke loses another Vatican job, By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, in Huffington Post
-- Pope makes it official: U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke is demoted, By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com
-- When it comes to vocal minority, the tail must no longer wag the dog, By Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter
Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus ...
Christmas Shopping Already?
Thinking of starting your Christmas shopping? Want to do it online? If so, please consider going to VOTF’s website and following the link to Amazon.com. A small percentage of each sale will go to support VOTF (although you will not pay any higher price). An easy way to help VOTF!
A Visit to the Coastal Delmarva VOTF Affiliate
On November 11, Jayne O’Donnell, VOTF Development Coordinator, Mark Mullaney, VOTF president, and Bill Casey, past VOTF trustee and former Board chair spoke at a Coastal Delmarva affiliate meeting. They were welcomed by Skip and John Sullivan who are the affiliate leaders.
The group of approximately 45 began the meeting in St. Ann’s Church, as they always do, with meditation music and extensive prayer. One of the members breaks open the Word and, after a period of silence, invites the group to share their reflection.
Following a brief update on business matters, Skip introduced Jayne, Mark, and Bill. Mark spoke about the April 2014 Assembly and emphasized the event’s theme of “Turning Talk into Action” and how we are now accomplishing that aim in each of VOTF’s initiatives. Mark spoke in particular about the work conducted by the Financial Working Group on financial accountability and transparency.
He noted that VOTF’s new web site will include the Working Group’s database on diocesan finances so that members—and all other Catholics—can review online what the dioceses report publicly to the faithful. There also will be reports on whether a diocese complies fully with Canon law requirements, and links to other information to help monitor financial accountability both at the parish and the diocesan levels.
Bill, who is also a Restorative Justice practitioner in northern Virginia, gave an excellent overview of Restorative Justice and an explanation of how the Healing Circle model is used in the R.J. effort. He shared a summary of the first VOTF-sponsored Healing Circle that held in Boston 10/31 – 11/1. It was the direct outcome of the formation of a Restorative Justice committee that developed from the panel discussion “Pathways to Healing” presented at the 2014 Assembly.
Continuing on the topic of the Healing Circle, Jayne shared some of the individual experiences anonymously. She said that two additional circles are being planned in Virginia and Wisconsin prior to the 2015 Assembly.
Jayne extended a personal invitation to each person at the meeting to join us on April 18 in Hartford CT for the next Assembly. She briefly discussed the four tentatively scheduled workshops covering Survivor Support, Financial Accountability and Transparency, R.J. and women’s roles.
Jayne thanked the Delmarva group for their past support of VOTF Assemblies. Delmarva co-sponsored Fr. Patrick Berquist’s trip from Alaska to Boston for the 10th Anniversary Conference where he received the Priest of Integrity award. The group also sponsored Tom Doyle, who gave a Survivor Support workshop at the 2014 Assembly and will lead a similar workshop in the April 2015 Assembly.
Mark, Jayne, and Bill then fielded many questions and listened to input from the members. It was an honor to spend time with this amazing group of VOTF friends. National is anxious to spend more time with affiliate members because it is so important to hear what’s on people’s minds.
The meeting closed with prayer and bittersweet goodbyes to new friends.
Adult Education, Saint Susanna Parish Hall, 262 Needham St., Dedham.
As always, all are invited, and there is no pre-registration and no fee. Free will offerings will be gratefully accepted to cover our costs. Class will run from 7:00 to 9:00
December 1 – `Divorce and Remarriage – Gay Marriage – How Does The Church Promote Jesus’ Ideal of Covenantal/Sacramental Marriage?
Our theme this evening will be to explore the relationship between Jesus’ and Paul’s teachings on marriage and contemporary patterns of marriage and to ask how the Church might advance these ideals in the contemporary context.
Speaker: Michael Hartwig, Ph.D., is an adjunct faculty member at Emmanuel College and Northeastern University. He holds the Ph.D. in religious ethics from Southern Methodist University. His specialty and expertise lie in the area of applied ethics— taking ethical theory and applying it to health care, business, environment, social justice and sexuality.
His areas of publication have centered on sexual ethics. His current research is focused on the foundations of monotheistic ethics, namely how Jews, Christians and Muslims develop positions on controversial moral issues, particularly models of marriage, single adult sexuality, and same-gender sexual relationships.
Hartwig serves as the in-house scholar at the Illume organization, a Boston-based organization the collaborates with schools, colleges, parishes and religious institutions to create group programs that involve travel to places of great historical and religious significance – such as Israel, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain and other destinations.
Letter to the Editor
Hi! Just wanted to let you know that I am an 84 yr old woman living in Dominican Village in Amityville, LI. I am not able to do very much for you, but want you to know that I care. Was at all meetings when new and able to send some money to help. Can't do very much now, but, want you to know that I love what you do and my prayers are very often with you and yours!!!! God bless you all. I will send what I can, when I can. Keep up the very good and holy work. God bless!!!!
Peace and love, R. Cochrane
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.