In the Vineyard: August 9, 2021

In the Vineyard :: August 8, 2021 :: Volume 21, Issue 15

National News

Join the Virtual Prayer Service on Feast of St. Phoebe

Discerning Deacons invites all to a virtual prayer service on Sept. 3 for the feast of St. Phoebe. The evening will include testimonials from Catholic women already engaged in diaconal ministry, to pray for St. Phoebe’s help in discernment, and to express hope that the Church will “receive [these women] in the Lord” just as St. Paul asked the Church in Rome to receive Phoebe, the diakanos. (Romans 16:1-2) The liturgy will take place in both English and Spanish.

The results of of the conversations will be brought to Pope Francis and the Pontifical Commission in October 2021.

Register here for the event: Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, 7:00 to 8:30 pm.

Discerning Deacons Cites Svea Fraser (VOTF)

Founding VOTF member Svea Fraser is the focus of this week’s Discerning Deacon’s blog post – “Standing with our courageous mothers.” Discerning Deacons is a group dedicated to exploring roles of women in the Catholic Church.

Read about Svea’s work with Discerning Deacons, here.

Overdue Justice for Sexual Abuse Survivors

Two dozen state legislatures have opened “windows” so victims can sue any person who molested them no matter when the abuse occurred. In some of the states, the windows are nearing the end, after which filings for past abuse would be limited by each state’s statutes of limitation. Read more here.

Abuse Cover-up in Albany Admitted by Bishop Hubbard

Bishop Howard Hubbard, the former head of the Albany Diocese, admitted last week to covering up sexual abuse by priests by sending priests and clergy to “private treatment” instead of reporting their actions to the police. Bishop Hubbard is also the subject of abuse allegations, all of which he denies. He issued his statement explaining the coverup through his lawyer to the Albany Times-Union on July 31st.

“When an allegation of sexual misconduct against a priest was received in the 1970s and 1980s, the common practice in the Albany Diocese and elsewhere was to remove the priest from ministry temporarily and send him for counseling and treatment,” he explained. “Only when a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist determined the priest was capable of returning to ministry without reoffending did we consider placing the priest back in ministry.”

Hubbard said this was based on “professional advice” that was “well-intended but flawed” and that he regrets following it. His lawyer maintains this does not constitute a coverup because Hubbard never overlooked or failed to respond to abuse; he supported background checks and other similar policies and led the fight to prevent sexual abuse in the church.

This statement appeared during a period set out in New York state law, the Child Victims Act, allowing individuals until the 14th of August to sue over childhood sexual abuse endured sometimes decades earlier. Under this law, individuals who were abused as children are able to sue both the individuals and institutions responsible for the abuse, including public and private institutions. Approximately 300 lawsuits against 200 individuals have been filed under this law.

Regarding the abuse allegations against himself, Hubbard reported “I have never sexually abused anyone in my life. I have trust in the canonical and civil legal processes and believe my name will be cleared in due course” in a 2019 statement. His statement this July was not sanctioned by the Diocese of Albany.

For more information, please see here, here, and here.

For VOTF’s statement on child protection, please see here.

For survivor support resources, please see here.

We Need YOU, and your voice!

Our VOTF Board is seeking additional Trustees for appointment.

During this serious and difficult time, not only in our Church but also in our Country, we are seeking a diverse number of candidates who will further the Mission of VOTF and be dedicated to the advancement of the Catholic laity.

Our Board seeks Candidates to be diverse in geographical areas and dioceses, ages, interests, ethnicity, experiences and present or former occupations.

Board meetings are held both virtually and in person, about 10 annually, an hour to 90 minutes in length. Time zones with be taken into serious consideration.

To begin this process of participating as an integral part of our VOTF organization, please provide a resume and brief position statement to Elia Marnik.

Board responsibilities and VOTF By-Laws are available on our website.

We welcome your application!

Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick Charged with Sexual Abuse

Theodore McCarrick was charged earlier this week with sexually assaulting a teenage boy repeatedly at a wedding reception in June of 1974, making him the highest-ranking Catholic official to be charged in the United States with a sexual assault.

Almost 50 years later, the 91-year-old former archbishop of Washington, defrocked after a Vatican trial that found him guilty of sexually abusing minors and adults over many years, is finally facing charges in Dedham, Massachusetts. It has been particularly challenging to prosecute his abuse due to the statute of limitations expiring in many states.

McCarrick could be charged in Massachusetts because of a particular feature in Massachusetts law: because he is not a Massachusetts resident, the clock on the statute of limitations paused when he was not in the state. He currently lives in Missouri and has been charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person age 14 or over. His arraignment is scheduled for September 3. Each of thee charges would carry a penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment and require him to register as a sex offender.

The sexual assaults for which McCarrick is charged were against a boy who at the time was 16 years old. The man is now in his 60s and alleges that McCarrick twice sexually assaulted him at his brother’s wedding reception in Massachusetts. He says Mr. McCarrick then told him to pray to be redeemed of his sins, and that later his father, a family friend of McCarrick’s, told him he should listen to Mr. McCarrick and do what he told him. He also alleged that the abuse continued for many years and also took place in California, New York, and New Jersey, and continued into adulthood.

Mr. McCarrick is also the subject of many civil suits in New York and New Jersey by men who accuse him of abusing them as minors. He was removed from ministry in 2018 after church investigators found him credibly accused of sexually abusing a teenage altar boy in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1971, and expelled from the priesthood in 2019. His removal from the priesthood was the first time a cardinal, the highest ranked position after the pope, was removed from his position due to sexual abuse.

McCarrick was able to remain in power due to his personal connections, failures to report and investigate allegations against him, and his own protestations of his innocence. Pope John Paul II named him as archbishop of Washington in 2000 and made him a cardinal, and then Pope Benedict XVI removed him from that position without investigating him. Pope Francis previously assumed the issues with McCarrick had been appropriately resolved.

For more information, please see here and here.

For VOTF’s statement on child protection, please see here.

For survivor support resources, please see here.

International News

Cardinal Becciu’s Trial Tests Pope Francis’s Financial Reforms

On July 27, Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu’s criminal trial began in the Vatican. Charged with embezzlement and other crimes related to a situation in 2013 involving a real estate investment in London, Becciu and nine other defendants deny wrongdoing. Cardinal Becciu is the most senior cleric to be tried for financial misdeeds, and the results of this trial will speak to the success or failure of Pope Francis’s financial reform attempts.

Atwo-year investigation showed that millions of euros had been funnelled through a real estate transaction Becciu headed that involved buying a property in Chelsea. The purchase resulted in huge losses. One of the charges against him relates to allegedly channelling some of the funds to businesses owned by his brothers. The new Vatican finance chief, Juan Antonio Guerrero, claims the Vatican is now being more transparent about its financial situation, including publishing details on property ownership in Italy and other European countries.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis decreed that clerics (including bishops and cardinals) accused of criminal activity could be tried by lay judges, rather than other cardinals, as had previously been the custom. His decision to try Becciu not under Canon law but as a criminal is a major step in showcasing the transparency for which Pope Francis would like to be known.

This trial also serves to put cardinals on notice: the position of cardinal is no longer sufficient protection against the consequences of illegal actions. While in the past, cardinals who committed misdeeds would have been reassigned to a different job, now such leniency may not be available.

For more information, please see here, here, and here.

For VOTF’s statement on financial accountability, please see here.

Don’t Forget to Register!

Join us on October 23 as we examine the body of the Church to see how structure, power, participation, and accountability can be brought together within the Church to fulfill its mission of bringing Christ to the world.

Two featured speakers at the conference will offer their views on re–membering the Church. Speaking first on the morning of Oct. 23 will be Sister Carol Zinn, S.S.J. Ph.D. She is Leadership Conference of Women Religious executive director and serves as Saint John Vianney Center consultant for women religious community health and transition. Formerly, she served as United Nations Economic and Social Council consultant.

Prof. Massimo Faggioli, Ph.D., will address the conference. Prof. Faggioli spoke at VOTF’s 2018 Conference, and his return is highly anticipated. He is a professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University, a prolific author, and a leading international authority on Catholic Church history and ecclesiology, the inner workings of the Church.

Also during VOTF’s 2021 Conference, a panel comprising women liturgy leaders from the Paulist Center Boston (link is external) faith community will discuss lay-led liturgies, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and VOTF leaders will offer presentations on VOTF projects in diocesan financial transparency, Church governance by and through lay involvement in Diocesan Financial Councils, adherence to protection of children guidelines in parishes and dioceses, and women’s emerging voices in the Catholic Church.

Click here to register … (link is external)

Click here to download a registration form you can fill out and mail to VOTF …

Click here to register as an undergraduate student for FREE … (link is external)

Click here to see an agenda for the conference …


Bishop: Albany diocese covered up priest abuse for decades
“The longtime former head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany says the diocese covered up sexual abuse by priests for decades and protected clergy by sending them to private treatment instead of calling police. Bishop Howard Hubbard, who ran the diocese in New York’s Capital District from 1977 to 2014 and has himself been accused of sexual abuse, made the admission in a statement issued through his lawyer to the Albany Times-Union in response to questions from the newspaper.” By Associated Press

Defrocked cardinal Theodore McCarrick charged with sexually assaulting teenager in 1970s
“Defrocked former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was charged Wednesday (Jul. 28) with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy during a wedding reception at Wellesley College in the 1970s, making him the highest-ranking Roman Catholic official in the United States to face criminal charges in the clergy sexual abuse scandal. McCarrick, 91, a former archbishop of Washington, D.C., who fraternized with popes and presidents before he was expelled from the priesthood over sexual abuse allegations, is charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 in a criminal complaint filed by Wellesley Police in Dedham District Court.” By Shelley Murphy, The Boston Globe

Vatican trial opens into financial scandal rocking papacy
“A cardinal who allegedly induced an underling to lie to prosecutors. Brokers and lawyers who pulled a fast one over the Vatican No. 2 to get him to approve a disastrous real estate deal. A self-styled intelligence analyst who bought Prada and Louis Vuitton items with the Vatican money that she was supposed to send to rebels holding a Catholic nun hostage. Vatican prosecutors have alleged a jaw-dropping series of scandals in the biggest criminal trial in the Vatican’s modern history, which opens Tuesday (Jul. 27) in a modified courtroom in the Vatican Museums. The once-powerful cardinal and nine other people are accused of bleeding the Holy See of tens of millions of dollars in donations through bad investments, deals with shady money managers and apparent favors to friends and family. They face prison sentences, fines or both if convicted.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

The Vatican revealed its real estate portfolio for the first time – and it includes over 5,000 properties
“On the eve of a trial for financial malfeasance connected to the Vatican’s purchase of a property in London, the office that handles most of the Vatican’s investment portfolio, including real estate, made public a summary of its annual budget for the first time. The Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, known by its Italian initials APSA, released its budget synthesis July 24, and its president, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, described it as ‘a step forward in the direction of transparency and sharing.’ APSA directly administers 4,051 properties in Italy and entrusts to outside companies the administration of some 1,200 properties in London, Paris, Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland, the report said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus …

Commonweal Magazine Offers Discussion Resource

Each year Commonweal’s editors and writers curate and write comprehensive discussion materials for eight timely topics that span the breadth of political, religious, cultural, and artistic concerns. The materials are adaptable to fit discussion groups whether you are a parishioner, a community leader, or an instructor.

The 2021-2022 guides will include some of today’s most pressing concerns: Paul Moses on right-wing Catholic media, Carmen M. Nanko-Fernández on Fratelli tutti, and John Gehring on Joe Biden & U.S. Catholicism. For a full roster of topics, visit

Each guide includes an introduction to the issue’s history and current relevance, reading materials to deepen familiarity with the topic, discussion questions to help unpack the readings, and suggestions for additional readings if the group or individual wants to know more.


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