News from National
What Happened at the Conference?
VOTF members from around the country gathered on April 18 in Hartford for the 2015 National Assembly.
One highlight was keynote speaker Marie Collins, who described her own personal experiences as a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and then described her work on the Vatican's Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
Marie is one of the original eight members of the Commission, and she spoke about the structure the members developed, the selection of additional members, and the plans for carrying out its work.
Commission members have operated independently, setting their own agenda and work parameters and reporting only to the Pope, she said. She also reported that despite this promise, the Vatican must demonstrate its support for the Commission by funding its work, a step the hierarchy has yet to take.
You can see the full video of Marie’s presentation using the link from our web site, and also see the Question & Answer period that followed.
During lunch, attendees watched the powerful documentary “A Matter of Conscience: Confronting Clergy Sexual Abuse,” by John & Susan Michalczyk of Boston College.We also welcomed the chance to applaud some of the brave men and women featured in the documentary who were present at the Assembly: Marie Collins, Fr. Jim Connell, Fr. Tom Doyle, Robert Hoatson, Fr. Ron Lemmert, and Sister Maureen Turlish. (If you missed the movie at the Assembly, you can purchase the DVD through Etoile Productions.)
Afternoon at the Assembly included workshops on financial accountability, lay input options for the 2015 bishops' "family life" synod, how the clergy and laity can talk to each other as equals, the healing circle model of restorative justice, and a survivor support discussion with Tom Doyle.
For a report on one of those workshops, Clergy/Lay Dialogue, check the article below and our web site. We will have reports from other workshops in the coming weeks (and later Vineyard issues). PLUS, you should check out our 2015 Assembly page on the web site—and don’t forget the photos page there!
Here’s a summary of links to additional information on the Assembly:
Workshop Report: Let’s Talk About It: Can Clergy and Laity Speak to Each Other as Equals?
Facilitators Mary Beth Carmody, Bill Murphy, and Fr. Leo Shea facilitated round table discussions aimed at developing some best practices for bridging barriers between clergy and laity. Some of the practices may not be appropriate for a specific situation, reports Bill Murphy from the Winchester (MA) affiliate. But if you can apply one, two, and hopefully more, of these suggestions, communications should improve.
The workshop participants developed best practices in 10 areas, from communications to methodology and research. Here’s the complete list in each category.
Their final thought: “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.”
Workshop Report: Towards Healing the People of God
Facilitators Bill Casey and Fr. Jim Connell provided an introductory experience for the Healing Circle model of restorative justice.
Fr. Jim reported, “These well-attended workshops introduced the Restorative Justice Healing Circle as a way to assist people who suffer in any way because of the Catholic clergy sexual abuse crisis and scandal. [It helps them] journey farther down their individual path toward healing. Moreover, the workshop participants engaged in a sample Healing Circle so as to feel the experience, not simply to have heard about it. Indeed, the participants left the workshop with some new-found hope that healing can be a reality.”
Bill Casey added his observations: “I counted 60 participants in the three circles [i.e., workshop sessions]. I expected people to share their thoughts in reaction to the question we posed, ‘What is the pain/harm that you believe needs healing regarding the clergy sexual abuse experience?’ However, I was pleasantly surprised how deeply many shared despite being asked to respond in only a couple of sentences. That part took up most of the hour available, and it demonstrated how powerful the circle can be—far more than what Jim and I could describe to them.”
Prolific and Controversial Author Garry Wills ... Again
At the recently concluded VOTF 2015 National Assembly, three lucky attendees won copies of Garry Wills new book The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis. Here is an excerpt of a review by Church historian Jay P. Dolan from America magazine:
In 1972 the book Bare Ruined Choirs: Doubt, Prophecy, and Radical Religion appeared. Written by Garry Wills, it was a provocative analysis of what happened to the church in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. The punch line of the book was Wills’s claim that the council “let out the dirty little secret...that the church changes.”
More than 40 years later Wills, who still prays the rosary and regularly attends Mass, is at it once again. In this book he wants to trace “how change—far from being the enemy of Catholicism—is its means of respiration, its way of breathing in and breathing out.” For him, change is the lifeblood of the church that he describes, taking a cue from Vatican II, as “the people of God ...”
The book concludes with a brief epilogue that celebrates Pope Francis as a pope who “does not see the church as changeless, as permanent, as predictable, but as a thing of surprises.” Wills, a historian, ends by reminding the reader that “welcoming change does not mean dismissing the past, as if it does not exist. It means re-inhabiting it with love, a sensus fidei, a reliance on the People of God.”
Click here to read the entire review. If you wish to purchase the book, go to votf.org and click the Amazon icon on the right side of the homepage. VOTF receives a small donation from every Amazon purchase of any item when using this button.
Catholics Speak Up in Preparation for the 2015 Family Synod
Catholics from 18 dioceses across 15 states gathered in February and March to engage in 51 listening sessions in preparation for the Synod on the Family being held in Rome October 5 – 24, 2015.
“While those who engaged in these discussions raised a great diversity of concerns about the intersection of family life and the Church, on whole, the responses focused on the Church’s need to be a model of unconditional love by being more accepting, inclusive and welcoming,” said Sheila Peiffer of the American Catholic Council. “One participant summed it up perfectly saying, ‘Either all are in the center of the heart of God, or none of us are.’”
Of the 781 who participated in the listening sessions, 82% identified as weekly mass-goers and 76% identified as laity.
“Like the many Catholics we work with on a daily basis, those who participated in these sessions cannot be easily dismissed as some fringe element. They are profoundly committed to building up the faith life in our communities,” said Deborah Rose-Milavec of FutureChurch. “They want a Church that is a field hospital willing to engage and honor the reality of people’s lives.”
Other pressing issues identified by the participants included a) the acceptance of women as equals in the Church and the need to include both lay women and men at the Synod; b) the recognition that opposition towards the LGBT community and women drives younger Catholics away; c) the need to show greater care for those who are single, elderly, without children, disabled, poor and victims of violence; and d) the need to educate Catholics about the primacy of conscience.
For the final report, seeourcatholicfamily.org/listening. The report was sent to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops in Rome; Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, U.S. Apostolic Nuncio; Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; and all the U.S. cardinals and bishops.
VOTF was one of the sponsors for this report, in addition to the American Catholic Council, Call to Action, Catholics Speak Out, CORPUS, DignityUSA, FCM/Roman Catholic Faith Community Council, FutureChurch, National Coalition of American Nuns, New Ways Ministry, RAPPORT, Roman Catholic Womenpriests, Southeastern Pennsylvania Women’s Ordination Conference, Women’s Ordination Conference.
Catholic Groups Praise U.S. Sister-Leaders in Resolution of Unjust Vatican Mandate
Statement from the Nun Justice Project:
The Nun Justice Project is glad to see that the Vatican has removed their mandate against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).
Today's joint statement is testimony to the dogged determination of LCWR sister-leaders to persevere in dialogue with those who unjustly maligned them. It is fitting that in the Year of Consecrated Life, Church officials have at last recognized the good works and impressive leadership of the sisters.
The Nun Justice Project believes that an apology should also have been given to the sisters, but the end of the investigation is a major step in itself. Since no previous Pope ever met with LCWR leadership it is hopeful that Pope Francis met personally with them today. May this meeting inaugurate new era of positive communication between the Vatican and women leaders in the Church.
"As usual, the living example of the women has inspired us," said Erin Saiz Hanna, a member of the coalition, "The nuns responded to this show of patriarchal abuse by finding ways to resist its intrusion and transformed the process by modeling inclusive dialogue."
"It is my hope that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will institute similar dialogic processes and procedures for addressing other disputed issues in the Church. said Francis DeBernardo, another coalition member.
Since the LCWR mandate was announced, thousands of Catholics have stood up to call for the end of this unnecessary and demeaning "investigation." We are gratified that the immense worth of the work of women religious is being recognized. However, we also remain watchful since some still-to-be-implemented aspects of the joint statement could be interpreted as restricting the conscience rights of sisters.
Over the past five years, the NunJustice project organized massive support for women religious. Tens of thousands of Catholics petitioned the Vatican and participated in hundreds of public demonstrations, prayer services, vigils, and media events. Their voices have been instrumental in advancing due process, raising up women's leadership voice and promoting justice in the Church.
Highlighting issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Bishop Robert Finn to preside over ordinations despite resignation
“Despite announcing his resignation a week ago (Apr. 21), Bishop Robert W. Finn will preside over the priestly ordinations of seven deacons next month in the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese. A diocese spokesman Monday (Apr. 27) cited a scheduling conflict that prevented the new temporary leader of the diocese, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, from ordaining the seven men on May 23 ...” By Rick Montgomery, The Kansas City Star
-- Despite resignation, Bishop Finn will preside at Kansas City ordinations, By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter
Pennsylvania top court reinstates monsignor’s conviction
“The state's highest court on Monday (Apr. 28)reinstated the landmark child-endangerment convictionof a Roman Catholic monsignor who was the first U.S. church official ever prosecuted over his handling of sex abuse complaints. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the 2012 felony conviction of Monsignor William Lynn for endangering an altar boy abused by a priest who had been transferred to his parish despite earlier complaints.” By Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press, on ABCNews.go.com
-- Monsignor headed back to prison, By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com
The CDF vs. the LCWR: postgame analysis
“Now that hostilities have ceased between the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, it is hard to resist the temptation to declare a winner. Certainly, the conclusion of the whole unfortunate episode, with this week’s release of a brief and anodyne ‘joint final report’ and follow-up meeting between LCWR leadership and the pope, has been as positive an ending, from the sisters’ perspective, as anyone could have hoped for.” By Mollie Wilson O’Reilly,Commonweal
O’Malley urges more accountability in sex-abuse cases
“Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston (who leads the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors) made a pitch to Pope Francis and his team of cardinal advisers Wednesday (Apr. 15) on the need to hold bishops who fail to report sexual abuse accountable. O’Malley’s talk came three days after two survivors of clerical sexual abuse met with him to protest the pope’s naming of a bishop in Chile linked to a notorious abuser.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com
-- Vatican: Council of Cardinals has bishop accountability ‘on the table,’ By Joshua J. McElwee,National Catholic Reporter
-- Vatican moves towards legal procedures to fight bishops who protect abusers, By Agence France-Press
-- Pope urged to deal with bishops who fail to protect kids, By Associated Press
‘You are committing a mortal sin’: Royal Commission hears horrific memories
“Queensland women have recalled gut-wrenching memories of abuse at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse today. Mary Adams sobbed through her statement, saying she remembered yelling ‘You are committing a mortal sin’ at a priest who abused her as a child. Another woman known only as AYB said she was repeatedly raped as a child by a Catholic priest, who then made her confess to her ‘sin.’” By 9News.com
Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus ...
Monday, May 4: St Susanna Parish (MA) Book Club
262 Needham Street
Dedham, MA 02026
COME TO FATHER STEVE'S BOOK GROUP, STARTING MAY 4! Our traditional last program of the season in Adult Faith Formation consists of reading and discussing a book selected by Father Steve Josoma.
The book this year is The Divine Magician by Peter Rollins, published by Howard Books of NYC (2015). Those who will be attending the Book Group should have read Pages 1 – 76 (Chapters 1, 2, and 3) by May 4, the first of the three sessions, to get the full value of the discussion. The book is not in inventory in the local bookstores, but can be ordered and available in a few days from any such store. It is also available for immediate shipment from Amazon, and can be downloaded from Amazon instantly to a Kindle. The Minuteman Library System reportedly has the book; Dedham and Needham are serviced by Minuteman.
Meetings will be on May 4, 11, and 18, at 7:00 PM, in the Parish Hall. There is no charge, and you don't need to register in advance. We do accept voluntary contributions to help cover the costs for our Adult Faith Formation Program, should you care to contribute.
Letter to the Editor
When is anyone going to ask for the Catholics, especially priests, to be sensitive to victims instead of avoiding us and telling us we are not welcomed and not a part of their congregations?
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.