News from National
Wear the Blue Ribbon!
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a recognition especially significant for those of us working to redress the harms inflicted by clergy sexual abuse. During the past 17 years, the blue ribbon has become a national symbol of child sexual abuse awareness and education.
By wearing the blue ribbon, we can break the silence that often surrounds this reality. Wearing the blue ribbon also can encourage discussion that educates others about child sexual abuse and prevention. It reflects our awareness and willingness to be part of the solution.
As a concerned Catholic and member of VOTF, you can help parishes and communities create and maintain child safe environments and empower them with new tools to help protect children and youth. We ask you to join us next month: by wearing a blue ribbon, by speaking to others about how to guard against child sex abuse, by asking your parish to insert notes in the bulletin about how to help.
Start by learning the five steps to protect all children and youth.
Spotlight on Spotlight: March 19
We hope to see many of you tomorrow at this special event, featuring a panel Q&A with reporters from The Boston Globe Spotlight Team and a reception—with a screening of the Picture and Best Original Screenplay Oscar-winning film prior to the Q&A.
It all takes place at the spectacular Shalin Liu Performance Center(link is external) in Rockport MA.
Read more ...
Pope Francis – A prayer of intention
Pope Francis’ prayer of intention for the month of March is for children and families. He asks us to pray for them – and then work to help them. See his video message here.
Since the late-1960s, clergy in the U.S. have become increasingly involved in the political arena. Some offer opinions on legislation. Some declare which politicians may be “suitable” for a Catholic to support. Some have even threatened church sanctions for politicians who carry out their civic responsibilities in a manner the cleric dislikes. Does all that effort translate into an influence on YOUR votes? Click here to tell us.
A space for different voices to speak on topics of importance in church reform
Patience and Prayer
By Mary Freeman, Board of Trustees, Rhode Island VOTF member
Disbelief and anger were the reactions of Catholics and non Catholics alike when in 2002 The Boston Globe Spotlight team broke its story of sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church. Almost immediately hundreds of the faithful gathered in Wellesley to try to understand this and to discern what could be done to keep this from happening again.
Thus began the work of VOTF.
How long would it take? God must have smiled at the hope and optimism of some who thought that our proposals to solve the systemic problems that caused this scandal would be listened to, negotiated, and enacted.
I think that I held hope for that too, but after 14 years of being in working groups and serving as an officer and board member, I know that we still have our work cut out for us. So we continue to work as if everything depends on us, knowing that God’s grace is working in all of us.
Patience, persistence, and prayer are needed. We cannot ease up. We must continue to make our presence known. I offer the following prayer (by Pierre Teihard de Chardin, S.J.) to remind us that we are in this together, all of us: God, VOTF, and the faithful.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient
in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it will take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
what time will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
For the Lenten Season, VOTF is running daily reflections, which you can access from the “carousel” at the top of the home page. Below is today’s Reflection.
The scripture reading from today’s evening prayer is from John: “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.”
If we center ourselves in love, then compassion, forgiveness, joy and gratitude will abide in us and be our gift to others.
Readings for Mar. 18, 2016, Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Reading 1 -- Jeremiah 20:10-13
Responsorial Psalm -- Psalm 18:2-3A, 3BC-4, 5-6, 7
Verse Before The Gospel -- John 6:63C, 68C
Gospel -- John 10:31-42
To see today's readings, click here for USCCB's Daily Readings ...(link is external)
Click here to go to Mar. 17 Reflection ...
Click here to go to Mar. 19 Reflection ...
Highlighting issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Pope’s abuse accountability tribunal going nowhere fast
“Pope Francis' proposed Vatican tribunal to judge bishops who covered up for pedophile priests is going nowhere fast. Despite fresh focus from the Oscar-winning film ‘Spotlight’ on how Catholic bishops protected priests who raped children, Francis' most significant sex abuse-related initiative to date has stalled.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press
Law officers, clergy forged ties stymieing prosecutions
“In January, a deputy attorney general and two agents walked into a judge's chambers here with questions. They wanted to discuss a meeting decades earlier that had ended with a ‘monster’ priest being allowed to go free ... (Bishop) Hogan didn't dispute the claims about the Rev. Francis McCaa that day. But nothing happened.” By Caitlin McCabe and Maria Panaritis, Philly.com
Muller on ‘Spotlight’ cover-up: Most priests ‘bitterly wronged’ by abuse generalizations
“Questioned on his reaction to the unveiling of systematic cover-up of priestly sexual abuse in the Oscar-winning film ‘Spotlight,’ the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, said that only a number of individuals not motivated by their priestly office but instead ‘disturbed or immature,’ have been proven guilty of sexually abusing minors ... Jesuit Fr. Klaus Mertes ... has called for Müller to step down.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, National Catholic Reporter
The pedophile-blind cardinal who could bring down Pope Francis
“An Australian royal commission on clerical crimes finds damning evidence that one of the Vatican’s most senior cardinal's turned a blind eye to sex abuse. So why doesn’t the pope fire him ... But in what is really an unfathomable disconnect, accolades for breaking the silence and exposing serious clerical sex abuse in the United States seemed completely lost in Rome.” By Barbie Latza Nadeau, Newsweek Daily Beast
‘Payout chart’ for molestation: Secret archive held chilling details of clergy abuse
“A Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania announced Thursday (Mar. 3) that it will post the names online of priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children, a decision that came two days after a dramatic grand jury report alleged a decades-long cover-up. Advocates hope that the grand jury report ... will lead to new legislation permitting more prosecutions of abusive priests and those who supervised them.” By Michelle Boorstein and Julle Zauzmer, The Washington Post
Kane: Three clergy leaders enabled predator friar
“State prosecutors on Tuesday (Mar. 15) accused three former leaders of an Altoona-area Franciscan order of enabling a friar to sexually abuse scores of children during years of work at a Catholic high school and in the community. The felony conspiracy and child endangerment charges against Giles A. Schinelli, 73, Robert J. D'Aversa, 69, and Anthony M. Criscitelli, 61, mark the second prong of a longstanding investigation by the Attorney General's office into clergy sex abuse in the Altoona-Johnstown area.” By Maria Panaritis, Philly.com
-- Pennsylvania charges ex-leaders of Catholic order with aiding sexual predator, By Dave Philipps, The New York Times
Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus ...
Before Spotlight – Some Background Memories
By Thomas P. Doyle
Part 2 of a 2-part series
Cardinal Law knew about the opposition from the Bishops’ Conference. It was not “the bishops” in general who were stone-walling, but the key players in the conference leadership. I always maintained that had there been some strong leaders from the body of bishops who were more concerned about the victims than their image the whole history would have been different.
Ray, Mike and I had planned to meet with then Archbishop Law in May 1985 at a Marriott hotel near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. The purpose was to iron out details with the manual and the action plan. Law was the chairman of the bishops standing committee on Research and Pastoral Practices (I think I recall the name correctly). His plan was to set up a subcommittee off the standing committee and that would be the one that handled the sex abuse issue. Law had just been named a cardinal in May and had to bow out of the meeting at the last minute but sent Bishop William Levada, the committee secretary, in his place. Levada showed up and the four of us had a very cordial and productive session. He was positive about the proposed plan, the proposed budget and the content of the manual. By the time he left that evening we were confident that there would be real action on the part of the bishops.
Read the rest of Tom’s recollections
By Pat McSweeney
Thank God for whistle blowers! They reveal their innate courage by speaking truth to power.
Whistleblower Fr. Tim Stier’s Crying Out for Justice Full-Throated and Unsparingly, provides details about his 25 years as a parish priest in California and the reason he now calls himself a “priest in exile.”
Fr. Tim Stier was as incredulous and horrified as the rest of us to discover that priests were abusing children. “Some of these criminal priests were once my heroes and their falls from grace brought me feelings of disillusionment, sadness, anger and betrayal.”
Even worse, he was bewildered and appalled when bishops and colleagues were afraid to join him in addressing the soul-searing problem. Their reluctance made it clear they believed it was more important to protect themselves and Mother Church than children.
Over a period of time, Tim asked himself whether he could continue to represent an institution that “systematically enabled and covered up the sexual abuse of children.” He met with Bishop Vigneron of Oakland and requested that they dialogue publicly on various church issues, but the bishop saw no need for that.
“People often ask if I have left the priesthood. I have not left the priesthood but I have chosen to be in exile.”
For the past five years, Tim Stier has stood outside the Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland holding a sign about structural reform in the Church. Sometimes, supporters stand with him. Sometimes he stands alone.
His thoroughly engaging story evoked this reader’s profound admiration and gratitude.
St. Susanna’s Adult Education (Dedham MA)
The following events are held Monday evenings, 7 to 9 pm, in the Parish Hall, 262 Needham Street, Dedham. There is no pre-registration requirement and there are no fees, although voluntary donations are gratefully accepted to cover our speakers' honoraria and our refreshments. Free refreshments are served.
APRIL 4, 2016
Women and the Church: Rome’s Stained Glass Ceilings, Faithful Dissent and Prophetic Vision.
Presenter: Prof. Catherine Mooney, Associate Professor of Church History at Boston College. She will re-acquaint us with some well known women through the ages who had significant disagreements with church authorities. Today many are canonized as saints and/or recognized as Doctors of the Church. In recent times, a new narrative has taken root among some Catholics, one that suggests that criticism and debate have no place in the church.
This presentation will demonstrate how the church can only advance when people of good will faithfully take positions (often unpopular) that lead others in the church forward. Attendees will gain new perspective on Catholic women in the past and learn how today’s women leaders and their collaborators continue to challenge the church on key issues. There will be time to discuss how the experiences of the past inform today’s efforts, how the current Church leadership and landscape may present new opportunities, and more broadly, the role of faithful dissent in creating positive change in the Church.
Prof.Mooney’s teaching and research interests include women and gender in Christian history. She has served on the boards of the Society for Medieval Feminist Studies and Monastic Matrix. While living in rural Argentina during its military dictatorship and “Dirty War,” she worked as a human rights advocate and taught in a seminary for campesino catechists and base community leaders. In addition to teaching and lecturing in universities and at scholarly conferences, she offers presentations and workshops in various pastoral venues and is active in several human rights efforts.
April 11, 2016
Pope Francis: A look at our current pope, important influences on his life and his impact so far on the Catholic Church. Presenter: Prof. Richard Gaillardetz, The Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology, Boston College and a published author on Pope Francis.
Prof. Gaillardetz’s research interests include ecclesiology, Vatican II, ecumenism, authority and ministry. In 2000 he received the Sophia Award from the faculty of the Washington Theological Union in recognition of “theological excellence in service to ministry,” and he has received numerous awards from the Catholic Press Association for his occasional pieces. Dr. Gaillardetz was a delegate on the U.S. Catholic—Methodist Ecumenical Dialogue from 2001 to 2005. He is a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America.
Boston College’s Church in the 21st Century
The following events will be held on campus. For more information, visit the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry website or call 617-552-6501 or 800-487-1167.
The Spirit at Work: St. Teresa of Avila in Life
Thursday, March 31, 5:30 p.m.
Presenter: André Brouillette, S.J., STM assistant professor of systematic and spiritual theology
Cosponsored by the School of Theology and Ministry and the Institute of Carmelite Studies
Día de Formacíon para Sacerdotes, Religiosas y Laicos de Habla Hispana (completamente en español)
Monday, April 4, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Presentador: P. Carlo María Galli, teólogo argentino, Profesor Ordinario Titular en la Facultad de Teología de la Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina y Asesor teológico del Papa Francisco
Copatrocinado por STM y The Church in the 21st Century Center
Latin American Intellectual Roots of Pope Francis’s Pontificate
Monday, April 4, 6:00 p.m.
Presenter: Rev. Carlos Maria Galli, professor of theology, Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, and advisor to Pope Francis
Cosponsored by the School of Theology and Ministry and The Church in the 21st Century Center
The Challenge of Interreligious Dialogue in the Age of Laudato Si'
Thursday, April 7, 5:00 p.m.
Presenter: Mary Evelyn Tucker, senior lecturer and research scholar, and co-director of the Forum on Religion and Ecology, Yale University
Cosponsored by the Boston College Department of Theology, the School of Theology and Ministry, and The Church in the 21st Century Center
Theology of Pope Francis: Real Reform or Window Dressing?
Wednesday, April 20, 5:30 p.m.
Panelists: James Bretzke, S.J., STM professor of moral theology; Kristin E. Heyer, professor of theology, Boston College Theology Department; Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College; Thomas Reese, S.J., senior analyst, National Catholic Reporter; and Michael Sean Winters, visiting fellow, Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, The Catholic University of America. Moderated by Mark Massa, S.J.
Sponsored by the School of Theology and Ministry
Letter to the Editor
The following letter is from a VOTF member and is in response to Why Catholics should be grateful for ‘Spotlight’ and the media’s exposing abuses within the church
Yes, Catholics are “grateful for ‘Spotlight’”, but the Church’s response is not as rosy as Mr. White proclaims. A few bishops have “resigned,” but many more are not being held accountable. Pope Francis states ... ‘I promise that those responsible will be held to account,’ but when? His committee “tasked with both pastoral care and maintaining accountability for those in authority” seems to be making little or no progress. One member resigned.
Just this month we learn of abuse cover-up in the Altoona-Johnstown diocese in PA. The Church sets up many road blocks so that statute of limitation laws (SOL laws) are not changed. What makes legislators fail to pass laws that would bring justice to those abused? What is the lawmakers’ conflict? Kudos to Delaware legislators for changing the DE SOL law; PA and NY legislators are having a difficult time trying to do the same.
Although the Church now seems to be safer for children, the abused are not seeing accountability from the hierarchy. Let us have less talk and more action!
Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor, at Vineyard@votf.org. Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.