In the Vineyard: August 29, 2022


In the Vineyard :: August 29, 2022 :: Volume 22, Issue 16

National News

Join Us for VOTF’s 20th Year Commemoration

We’re 20 years young! And you’re invited to help us commemorate our two decades of working to keep the faith, change the Church!

What have we accomplished? From support for survivors to greater transparency and accountability to independent measurements of how well dioceses protect children and spend your dollars, a lot. Come hear the good news, meet friends new and old, and help us envision the next 20 years.

When? Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where? The Boston Marriott Hotel Newton MA

We’ll also have good food, comfortably spaced meeting accommodations, and a generous room discount.

Click here to register.
Click here to reserve hotel rooms.

Thomas H. Groome, Ed.D., Professor of Theology & Religious Education, Boston CollegeClick here to view an excerpt from Dr. Groome’s address sat VOTF’s 10th year Conference.

Prof. Thomas H. Groome, Ed.D., from Boston College will present an interactive keynote address called Putting Jesus at the Heart of Keeping the Faith and Changing Church. “I would like to spark people’s own thoughts about why Catholics often think of Church or Pope or Sacraments as the ‘heart’ of their faith and seldom Jesus,” Tom says. Dr. Groome’s work What Makes Education Catholic: Spiritual Foundations recently won the top award in the Religious Education category at the 2022 Catholic Media Association conference. In 2020, Tom received top place from the Catholic Press Association for his book Faith for the Heart: A Catholic Spirituality.

We will have our Synod update and report for you plus updates on the three major studies VOTF conducts: diocesan financial transparency and accountability, governance via Diocesan Finance Councils, and the first national analysis of all 177 dioceses and their child protection and Safe Environment practices–with plenty of time for questions and answers about what we have learned. You also don’t want to miss a report on women’s roles and our collaborative work for greater input from the centuries-neglected half (and more) of the Church.

Added attractions: Special appearance by Dr. Phyllis Zagano, recognized worldwide as the premiere scholar on women deacons, will lead us in Grace before the luncheon and serve as acolyte for the closing Mass with Fr. Bill Clark, who led the benediction during our virtual conferences, and the Paulist Center Community Choir with Normand Gouin, renowned pastoral musician and composer.

Event: Voice of the Faithful 20th Year Commemoration
Date: Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022
Time: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (Lunch included) P.S. It’s a delicious buffet.
Place: Boston Marriott Hotel Newton, 2345 Commonwealth Ave., Newton MA
A venue familiar to us for its good food, comfortable meeting
space and accommodations, and a generous room discount.

Click here for an agenda and more information.

Consider Hosting a Book Group

Did you know that study guides for Dr. Phyllis Zagano’s books on women deacons are available? Designed to help book clubs and parish groups learn more about women deacons, the guides are available for Women Deacons: Past, Present, and Future by Gary Macy, William T. Ditewig, and Phyllis Zagano and for Women: Icons of Christ Dr. Zagano. Use the link for Dr. Zagano’s page on the Hofstra University website and look in the left-hand column for the Study Guide for Women Deacons and for the Study Guide for Women: Icons of Christ.

For even more information about restoring ordained women deacons to the Roman Catholic Church, check out the Discerning Deacons website.

International News

Becciu, Still on Trial, Participates in Consistory

Cardinal Angelo Becciu, currently on trial for corruption and financial misdeeds, has said that Pope Francis invited him to the consistory held August 27: “On Saturday, the pope phoned me to tell me that I will be reinstated in my cardinal duties and to ask me to participate in a meeting with all the cardinals that will be held in the coming days in Rome.” The Vatican later clarified that there is no reinstatement, but confirmed that Cardinal Becciu was invited to the event.

The invitation to the consistory creating 21 new cardinals is the first time he has been invited to a function since September 2020, when this particular judicial process began. Prior to his resignation, Cardinal Becciu served as the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

According to a statement from the Vatican, “the rights of the cardinalate do not refer to participation in the life of the Church; Christians are called upon to take part in it, according to their state. In the case of cardinals, this may include an invitation–sometimes personal–to attend certain meetings reserved for them.”

When Cardinal Becciu offered his resignation from the position of head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which Pope Francis accepted, he was also stripped of his rights as a cardinal. That he is invited to the consistory does not necessarily mean these rights, notably the right to participate in a conclave to elect the next pope, are being restored. Becciu remains a cardinal in title only.

The 74-year-old Becciu is one of several defendants currently involved in an embezzlement and financial wrongdoing trial related to investments in London. The trial is ongoing, and is set to resume in September after the summer break. Cardinal Becciu has consistently maintained his innocence, speaking on his own behalf on the stand, maintaining that he is “a victim of a plot” and has not done anything wrong. 

Despite Becciu’s legal difficulties, Pope Francis has maintained his support for the cardinal even after accepting his resignation. He said Mass at Cardinal Becciu’s home on Holy Thursday in 2021, and in an interview last year, said “I hope with all my heart that he is innocent. Besides, he was a collaborator of mine and helped me a lot. He is a person whom I have a certain esteem for as a person, that is to say my wish is that he turns out well… In any case, justice will decide.” 

For more information, please see herehere, and here

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

Pope to Catholic legislators: Promote Better Society

Last week Pope Francis met with members of the International Catholic Legislators Network to urge them to work for a more just, fraternal, and peaceful world through legislative processes that promote the good of all and address situations of inequality in society.

Justice, said the Pope, is defined “as the will to give to each person what is his or her due,” though, according to the Biblical tradition, it also involves “concrete actions aimed at fostering right relationships with God and with others, so that the good of individuals as well as the community can flourish.”

“Yours is the challenge of working to safeguard and enhance within the public sphere those right relationships that allow each person to be treated with the respect, and indeed the love, that is due to him or her,” the Pope said. “A just society cannot exist without the bond of fraternity – without a sense of shared responsibility and concern for the integral development and well-being of each member of our human family,” Pope Francis stressed.

A global community of fraternity based on the practice of social friendship “calls for a better kind of politics, one truly at the service of the common good,” he continued. To heal the world from rivalries and violence that result from a desire to dominate rather than serve, we need not only responsible citizens but also “capable leaders inspired by a fraternal love directed especially towards those in the most precarious conditions of life.”

Peace, he added, “is not merely the absence of war.” Rather, the path to lasting peace calls for cooperation, especially on the part of those charged with greater responsibility, in pursuing goals that benefit everyone. Peace results from an “enduring commitment to mutual dialogue, a patient search for the truth, and the willingness to place the authentic good of the community before personal advantage.”

To achieve this, the Pope highlighted the importance of lawmakers and political leaders, noting that true peace can only be obtained through far-sighted political processes and legislation in order to build a social order founded on universal fraternity and justice for all.

Concluding, the Holy Father prayed that the Lord may enable the Catholic legislators to become “a leaven for the renewal of civil and political life and witnesses of political love for those most in need.”

He further prayed that their zeal for justice and peace, nourished by a spirit of fraternal solidarity, continue to guide them “in the noble pursuit of contributing to the advancement of God’s kingdom in our world.”

Cardinal Ouellet’s Alleged Abuses and the Vatican

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, a member of Pope Francis’s inner circle and long standing leader of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops, was accused of sexual misconduct in a class action lawsuit filed earlier in August in Canada. The filing is by 101 individuals who allege they were sexually assaulted by clerics or members of church staff between 1940 and the present. Ouellet is one of the 88 clerics facing these allegations.

The particular accusation by a woman identified as F. in the documents says that Cardinal Ouellet kissed and inappropriately touched her while she was working as a pastoral intern for the Archdiocese of Quebec between 2008 and 2010, when she was 23 years old. The incidents allegedly occurred at public events, and the victim said she felt “chased” by the cardinal due to his actions and the attention he paid to her. 

The lawsuit alleges that the victim reported the incident in January of 2021 to Pope Francis. She heard back via email the following month, and was informed that Father Jacques Servais was appointed to carry out an investigation. Unfortunately, as with similar allegations, the Church did not assign independent lay specialists in abuse to investigate the case. Instead they appointed not only a cleric but one who is acquainted with the accused.

Both Servais and Ouellet are members of a small, six-person group called the Lubac-Balthasar-Spreyr Association that promotes the work of two theologians, Jesuit Father Henri de Lubac and Swiss Father Hans Urs von Balthasar. This association, which began at least in 1991, would appear to violate Pope Francis’s 2019 motu proprio covering the appropriate protocols for handling abuse allegations against bishops. According to the text, Vos Estis Lux Mundi, those investigating the allegations “must be free of conflicts of interest.” 

There is some question as to whether Vos Estis Lux Mundi, initially set up for a three-year ad experimentum period that lapsed on June 1, 2022, is still in effect. Regardless, if the Vatican cannot appoint lay professionals experienced in the assessment of sex abuse, it could at the least name an independent cleric to investigate claims against a bishop.

A statement from the Vatican says that “there are insufficient grounds to open a canonical investigation for sexual assault by Cardinal Ouellet regarding person ‘F’.” Many people feel, however, that the results of an investigation by someone so close to the accused may not be trustworthy. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) explains that the problem with the handling of this case is that the Pope “passed up a perfect chance to demonstrate that even those closest to him… are not immune to investigation.”

In a separate statement, Cardinal Ouellet said, “Having learned of the false accusations made against me by the complainant (F.), I firmly deny having made any inappropriate gestures toward her and I consider defamatory the interpretation and dissemination of these allegations as sexual assault. Should a civil investigation be initiated, I will actively participate in it to ensure that the truth is established and that my innocence is recognized.”

For more information, please see herehereherehere, and here

To read more about VOTF’s position on child protection, please see here.

For survivor support resources, please see here.


Report: Catholic clergy’s unquestioned – and uneducated – power spurs abuse
“A new report based on interviews with some 300 Catholic priests, nuns and laypeople concludes that clergy aren’t adequately prepared to wield the power they exercise and need more education on questions of sex and gender. The report, ‘Beyond Bad Apples: Understanding Clericalism as a Structural Problem & Cultivating Strategies for Change,’ released Monday (Aug. 15), explores the links between clericalism — clergy’s focus on its authority — and clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse.” By Alejandra Molina, Religion News Service

In synod reports, U.S. Catholics call for women’s leadership, LGBTQ welcoming
“More than a half million U.S. Catholics have participated in synodal listening sessions over the past year as part of Pope Francis’ two-year process of grassroots listening ahead of the 2023 Synod of Bishops in Rome, and responses indicate that many Americans want a more welcoming church that reaches out to the marginalized, especially the LGBTQ community, and that allows women to serve in leadership positions, including ordained ministry. A review of more than a dozen synodal ‘synthesis’ reports, posted online by dioceses across the country, also indicates that most Catholics are tired of the polarization in the church; believe that clerics need to do a better job communicating and involving the laity in ecclesial governance; and appreciate the opportunity to be heard, even if they harbor misgivings about what the Synod on Synodality will ultimately accomplish.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

South African bishop supports ordaining married men to priesthood to increase access to sacraments
“The Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’ For at least one South African bishop, this teaching raises concerns about the global and local priest shortage that means some Catholics receive the Eucharist once a month or less. ‘This is where I would enter the debate,’ said Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of Mthatha Diocese, a rare voice among the African Catholic hierarchy to voice his support for ordaining ‘proven married men’ to the priesthood.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Prominent cardinal named in sexual assault lawsuit against archdiocese of Quebec
“The name of a prominent Vatican cardinal, who is regarded as a potential successor to Pope Francis, appears on a list made public as part of a new class action against the archdiocese of Quebec, Radio-Canada’s investigative program Enquête has found. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who was the archbishop of Quebec when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was taking place, is among some 88 members of the clergy who are facing allegations of sexual assault. It’s the first time Ouellet’s name appears in the legal proceedings.” By CBC News

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