News from National
Now is not the time for complacency
Most of us agree that Pope Francis is ushering in much needed reforms, but we must continue constantly to emphasize his message. Recently, for example, the Pope established a new Vatican tribunal for judicial review of allegations against bishops involved in clergy sexual abuse. But we know that, without continued vigilance of the Faithful, such action could soon be moot. Unless we continue to push the hierarchy, we may lose the opportunities Pope Francis affords. At the end of May, VOTF closed its fiscal year, but it’s never too late to speak up bysupporting VOTF, financially and prayerfully. Please take a moment to reflect on how much our Church has enriched our lives and the ways it continues to need reform and healing and consider a gift to help VOTF continue speaking up.
VOTF hopes Nienstedt resignation is a signal for the Church
In a recent statement, VOTF voiced its hope that the resignation of St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt signals the Church is continuing to turn the corner on holding bishops accountable for covering up clergy sexual abuse.
His resignation came just 10 days after St. Paul-Minneapolis prosecutors brought criminal charges against the archdiocese for failing to protect children; five days after Pope Francis set up a Vatican tribunal to judge allegations against bishops involved in the clergy sexual abuse; less than two months after the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, who was convicted of covering up abuse; and the same day the Vatican announced former papal nuncio Jozef Wesolowski would stand trial at the Vatican for sexual abuse of children.
Pope Francis already has accepted Nienstedt’s resignation and the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché and appointed another archbishop there to administer the diocese.
VOTF has long called for accountability for bishops who have covered up abuse, and for Nienstedt in particular, given longstanding revelations of his mishandling local clergy sexual abuse.
We only wish Nienstedt would have admitted his wrongdoing, instead of standing by his previous actions, but his resignation no doubt is for the good of the Church and the faithful of his diocese, which he said in his statement was the reason for his resignation.
Raise Your Voices!
Although Pope Francis continues to call for more inclusive leadership, we saw only a miniscule number of lay people speaking briefly at the 2014 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family last October. In October 2015, the Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family takes place, and we want lay voices, unfiltered, to be heard on family issues.
Your voice should be one of these.
As announced at the VOTF 2015 National Assembly last April, VOTF President Mark Mullaney will be in Rome during the bishop's Synod on Family Life this fall. He will deliver YOURwords on what family means in the “real world” — the world outside clerical walls and the approximations constructed by people who have never lived family life.
To take your messages, we need your voices. During this summer, we are collecting input on the two questions, which were debuted at the Assembly. Just click the link below, complete the short questionnaire, and then click Submit.
After entering your response, copy the link and email it to others who also may want the bishops to understand better what family life is like.
For centuries the bishops have told us what they think family life should be.
Now it's time they hear from us what family life really is.
Report from the Final General Session of the Fourth Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport
May 30, 2015
By Jamie Dance, Bridgeport Affiliate
Bishop Frank Caggiano called the session to order and led us in Morning Prayer. Patrick Turner, Associate Director of the Synod was introduced and spoke on “Our Path So Far,” giving a history of the sessions that finally produced the four major themes of the Synod: Empowering the Young Church, Building up Communities of Faith, Evangelical Outreach, and Promoting Works of Charity and Justice. Synod delegates began this journey with formation sessions in August, followed by the First Synod Session in September that dealt with where we stood as a diocese, identifying the issues and underlying themes that had been revealed during the vicariate listening sessions and feedback from those sessions. Seven study committees were formed from these considerations, and Bishop Caggiano held further consultations with Catholic youth and Hispanic representatives. The spring sessions pivoted toward finding solutions to the identified issues both from without and within the Diocese. After study and discernment, we arrived at our final session with a set of proposals designed to move the Diocese forward toward a more vibrant tomorrow. Read more
Highlighting issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Catholic archbishop and aide resign in Minnesota over sexual abuse scandal
“The Roman Catholic archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis and a deputy bishop resigned on Monday (June 15) after prosecutors recently charged the archdiocese with having failed to protect youths from abuse by pedophile priests. In statements released Monday morning, the archbishop, John C. Nienstedt, and an auxiliary bishop, Lee A. Piché, said they were resigning to help the archdiocese heal.” By Mark S. Getzfred and Mitch Smith,The New York Times
-- Twin Cities archbishop resigns after charges of abuse coverup, By Jean Hopfensperger and Chao Xiong, Star Tribune
-- Nienstedt resignation: a first step toward healing, By Star Tribune Editorial Board
-- Archbishop Nienstedt resigns after sex abuse coverup charges against archdiocese, By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com
-- Archbishop Nienstedt resigns after Twin Cities archdiocese charged with failing children, By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
-- U.S. archbishop quits after archdiocese charged with cover-up, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press
-- Two Catholic U.S. bishops resign in child sex abuse scandal, By Isla Binnie, Reuters
-- Twin resignations in Twin Cities called ‘prudent move,’ ‘a painful process,’ By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter
Vatican orders former Dominican Republic archbishop to stand trial on child abuse charges
“In an unprecedented move, the Vatican on Monday (June 15) announced its former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Jozef Wesolowski, would stand trial on charges he paid for sex with children. Wesolowski, 66, who had the title archbishop during his five-year post in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic capital, was recalled to the Vatican in 2013. He was later the first person to be arrested inside the Vatican on child abuse charges.” By Rosie Scammell, Religion News Service
-- Vatican sets trial for ex-ambassador accused of sexual abuse, By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times
Editorial: Tribunal a new phase in abuse crisis
“Never before has the language describing the mishandling of these cases by bishops been so strong. It has been slow in coming and the steps taken are incremental, but there is little doubt that the Catholic Church has entered a new phase in the decades-long crisis and scandal of clergy sexually abusing children. For the first time, there is clear evidence that the people's cry for justice and action has reached the pope and his closest advisers. For the first time, there is clear evidence that bishops who perpetuated and extended this scandal by covering up, dismissing or ignoring abuse are going to be held accountable.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff
Vatican lays groundwork for discussions on family
“A working paper released on Tuesday (June 23) by the Vatican for a much-anticipated fall gathering of the world’s bishops laid the groundwork for fresh discussions on issues like the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on same-sex unions and the sacrament of communion for divorced Catholics who have remarried outside the church. By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times
Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus...
What VOTF is Working On
Ordination of Married Catholics—Why won’t the Church ordain married Catholic men? Pastoral provisions allow ordination of married ministers who convert from other faith traditions. Why shouldn’t we offer the same option to Catholic men? Returning to the ordination of married men is especially critical when vocations to the celibate priesthood are declining and our parishes are closing. VOTF prepared a petition requesting the U.S. Conference of Bishops to seek a "Pastoral Provision" allowing married Catholic men to be ordained in similar fashion to ordination of converted married Protestant ministers. Get all the ingredients you need to take action by clicking here.
Some Discussion of Laudato Si
Following is the prayer with which Pope Francis ends Laudato Si, his encyclical on the environment:
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one. O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light. We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.
Father James Martin breaks down the top 10 messages of this new encyclical here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_lqFTYLc_4.
For a more in-depth understanding of the encyclical – here is a panel discussion with some learned theologianshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdAJO-anDmY.
And if you’d like to read some comprehensive coverage:
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.