In the Vineyard :: July 27, 2012 :: Volume 12, Issue 12

News from National

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II
We are excited to share with you our decision to name Blessed John XXIII as the Patron Saint of VOTF’s 10th Year Conference. John XXIII called forth the spirit of the Ecumenical Council, fifty years ago. Now, we ask John XXIII and his spirit to be with us as we “Celebrate; Rejuvenate and Accelerate” the work that was begun in that historic Council, as well as VOTF’s ongoing work. And we are, after all, a Vatican II people. For more information on the conference

VOTF 10th Year Conference Hotel Reservation Deadline
Please keep in mind while planning your attendance at VOTF’s 10th Year Conference that our discount on hotel rooms won’t last forever. The Marriott Boston Copley Place, our conference hotel, will release our discounted room block on Aug. 16. After that, the cost of a double occupancy room for a night will go from $199 to $259 (as of now). Staying right at the same hotel where the conference takes place, and at a discount, obviously is a smart choice for anyone attending the conference, and some of the best Boston restaurants, shopping and attractions also are nearby.

News from National

Lynn’s Sentencing Illustrates Contrasts between Church & Penn State Scandals
The highest ranking Roman Catholic official to be found guilty of covering up crimes against children was sentenced today in a Philadelphia court. Msgr. William Lynn, former head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia office, was sentenced to up to six years in prison for child endangerment for secretly transferring pedophile priests.

Lynn's trial was a textbook example of how the Church has fought to maintain its reputation and treasure at the expense of innocence. It is also a clear illustration of the destructive effects of child abuse. With Lynn's conviction and sentencing, concerned Catholics and others can only hope for more accountability. Also with Lynn’s conviction, the contrasts between the handling of the sex abuse scandals by the Church and Pennsylvania State University, a secular institution, stand out sharply. One glaring disparity between the two is that children abused by clergy most often must seek justice through civil trials, while the Church keeps perpetrators and abettors in their clerical positions. The cases are very similar:

  • sexual abuse of children and cover-up by hierarchical officials;

  • callous disregard for the harm done to vulnerable children in favor of protecting the image, reputation and honors of the institution; and

  • shifting the story from the lifelong wounds and needs of the actual victims to the "victimhood" of the perpetrators and others who get caught in the consequences.


The Difference between the Church and Penn State
By Bill Casey, former Voice of the Faithful Trustee and a  member of VOTF Northern Virginia

If there is any clearer evidence that hierarchical officials of the Catholic Church see themselves in a separate realm of reality, compare the following two statements. The first is from the Board of Trustees of Penn State University. It was issued in response to the University-instigated independent investigation of the failures by its highest ranking officials that allowed sexual abuse of children and cover-up to take place. It is an unambiguous acknowledgement of failures, acceptance of responsibility, and concrete commitments to prevent reoccurrence not only at Penn State but in the wider community. It is an unqualified acknowledgement of the victims’ harms with no attempt to shift the focus of victimhood towards Penn State or its officials. It is a commitment to healing in the community that has also been harmed.

The second statement is from the Philadelphia Archdiocese in response to the sentencing of Msgr. William Lynn for endangering children through his assignment of abuser priests to new places where they continued their pattern of abuse known to him (and others). It conveys a very different perspective. It impersonally states that it understands the gravity of abuse, the pain of victims, and the need to be vigilant. Despite two devastating Grand Jury reports in the last 10 years, the Archdiocese then trumpets all that it has done during that time to protect children.

I wondered, have they read the grand jury reports?

The statement goes on to say the true victims are the clergy, especially the hierarchy. The statement’s main concern is the severity of the heavy sentence imposed on Msgr. Lynn—which they explicitly say that all fair-minded people will acknowledge as too severe and hope that an objective review should lessen it.

This is the best that a reformed archdiocese has to offer to the victims, Church members and the community at large? The archdiocese can only issue such a statement by holding to their belief that they are separate, above, and exempt from the norms that apply to everyone else—and that they should be accommodated accordingly.

Here are the two statements.

Voice of the Faithful FOCUS,
July 27, 2012

Highlighting issues we face working together
                        to Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Philadelphia Priest Guilty of Child Endangerment to Serve Up to Six Years in Prison
For failing to protect children from a known predator priest, Msgr. William J. Lynn will spend three to six years in prison. Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina read the former secretary of clergy for the Philadelphia archdiocese her sentence July 24 before a standing-room-only courtroom. "You knew full well what was right, Msgr. Lynn, but you chose wrong," Sarmina said, according to The Associated Press.
 -- Church Official in Philadelphia Gets Prison in Abuse Case
 -- Archdiocese Issues Absurd and Enraging Response to Lynn Sentence

Top Boss at Fordham University's Westchester Campus, Brother James Liguori, Resigns Amid Allegations He Sexually Abused A Boy More Than 42 Years Ago
A top administrator at Fordham University resigned Friday amid allegations he sexually abused a boy more than 42 years ago. James Liguori, executive director of Fordham’s Westchester campus, who previously was president of Iona College, stepped down one day after a lawsuit by his alleged victim was made public. “Brother Liguori passed a criminal background check in fall 2011, when he was hired by Fordham,” the university said in a statement. “University officials began investigating immediately, and on Friday [he] submitted his resignation, effective immediately.”

What Would Mary Magdalene Do?
Once a pope trashes you, it's pretty much downhill from there. So once Pope Gregory the Great in 591 declared that the "sinful" woman in Luke's Gospel who anointed Jesus' feet was Mary Magdalene, a whole industry developed to discredit her. That's big stuff. I mean, she is the one who announced the Resurrection. Or have they changed that, too? I can't help but wonder what Mary Magdalene would have done if she heard -- even got a copy of -- old Gregory's homily on Luke 7:36-50 erasing all she had done, all she had said, all she had been.

Psychologist: Bishops' Lashing Out at Sisters Is a Distraction
Since the Vatican's public release April 18 of the results of the doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, many American Catholics have been confused and angry. These women, who work tirelessly with the poor and marginalized, whom many of us see as embodying Christ's love, are being accused of doing grave harm to the church. In conversation after conversation, I have heard, "Why so much anger directed at women religious?", "What is this about?" and "It just seems ... abusive." As I pondered this last observation, I recognized a familiar dynamic.

Mediation: A New Model for Settling Sex Abuse Cases
The Spokane, Wash., diocese recently announced that a new settlement had been reached with respect to current, pending claims of sexual abuse. The settlement culminates almost a decade of complex litigation and a 2004 bankruptcy filing that cost the diocese $48 million. A critical issue
post-bankruptcy was how to fund future claims against the diocese and, specifically, some two-dozen unresolved claims filed by former Morning Star Boys’ Ranch residents.

A New Conversation about Church Sex Abuse
Since my ordination to the priesthood 12 years ago, the millstone of sexual abuse revelations within the Catholic Church has weighed heavily. Indeed, such is the extent of the crisis, that in some circles priest and paedophile have become interchangeable words. It is as if we have moved from an unhealthy 'A priest would never do that' to an equally unhealthy 'He's a priest, so he probably did do that'.

Read the rest of this issue of Focus here...

A Prophetic Voice?
“I believe that the Gospel and the richness of our Catholic tradition have something to offer our post-modern world. I don’t want to see it collapse under the weight of structures that maintain power relationships that no longer serve. I believe that the faith that is waiting to be offered to the 21st century is one that comes from a stance of openness and understanding of the changes that our evolutionary development has brought us. It cannot be a faith that comes from a position of condemning modernity. It will be a faith that has been tested in the crucible of our time and has emerged with new insights and new interpretations of how we can love one another as Jesus did. In difficult and chaotic times we can come to a greater awareness that we are more alike than different, more one than separate.”

From American Magazine, July 16, 2012
Nancy Sylvester, I.H.M., is founder and president of the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue. She served in the presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious from 1998-2001 and was the NETWORK National Coordinator from 1982-1992.

Tired of Being Called a Heretic?

Almost every Catholic who points out the failures and flaws of the institutional Church hears accusations about our faithfulness, our doctrinal purity, our purported heresies. Often we recognize there is no point in arguing with the accuser, given that a reply could require recitation of more than half of Church history not to mention dozens of Church documents and Scripture references.

But sometimes a reply is necessary. Recently Joe O'Callaghan of the Bridgeport CT VOTF affiliate encountered one such instance, after an editorial he wrote was printed in The Connecticut Post. A letter writer took broad exception of the editorial. We think Joe's response is an excellent summation of why such accusations are misplaced. You can read it here.

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