In the Vineyard: June 12, 2024


In the Vineyard :: June 12, 2024 :: Volume 24, Issue 6

VOTF Spring Appeal

Once again, VOTF has had a busy year! Supporting the Synod, raising women’s voices and reviewing diocesan financial transparency efforts are only a small slice of what we have been working on.

Our work only continues due to your generous support. Every contribution, big or small, makes a difference. With your help, we can continue to do the work that is needed to help our Church.

Please donate Today!

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    Voice of the Faithful
    P.O. Box 920408
    Needham MA 02492

Together, we can build a brighter future for our Church.

VOTF Members Speak Out

VOTF received quite a bit of positive feedback for its response to the 60 Minutes Interview with Pope Francis (You can read VOTF’s response here.) Our members were both shocked and saddened by the Pope’s words, with many feeling that these words were contradictory to the work of the Synod.  Following are only a few:

“It was heartbreaking. It seems so out of sync with his theology and heart, I can’t help but wonder if it is somehow strategic? He is working within an extremely difficult, dysfunctional and destructive system. Maybe he thought, whatever his personal views, it is current doctrine and might keep some closing hearts open to dialogue on other issues. I hope anyway.”

“Thank you for your mindful response.”

“Thank you VOTF for responding to the Pope’s 60 Minutes interview. Your response was both empathetic and firm. Well done.”

Thank you for writing this and for sending it to me.  Well said! Pls keep on doing the work you do.”

“Thank you for this statement.  The NO was truly shocking.”

“Excellent response.  Factual and professionally stated. Thank you.”

What’s So Bad About Being a Girl?

In her letter to Pope Francis, long time VOTF member seeks answers from Pope Francis.

Your Holiness Pope Francis,

At the inauguration of the Synod on Synods in 2021, you invited us to respond to two questions: “What gives you joy?” and “What hurts you?”

Thank you for asking. Never in the history of the Church has a pope asked his people what they thought. With the utmost respect, I offer my answers to you.

I have been filled with great joy ever since the beginning of your papacy, when you stepped out on the balcony and humbly asked for our prayers. Your leadership is an inspiration as a Shepherd who knows his flock.  I strongly agree with your statements during the 60 Minutes interview regarding the multiple cultural scourges of clericalism; sexual abuse; the suicidal attitude of viewing the world as closed to change; raging wars; immigration; and same-sex blessings. 

When Norah O’Donnell asked if a little girl growing up Catholic today would ever have the opportunity to be a deacon and participate as a clergy member in the church, I held my breath. Your stunning one word “No” in response sucked the air from my lungs and hurt my heart.  It came as a shock to many of us, and especially to the women who discern a vocational call to the permanent diaconate.

The impact of your negative answer affects our children, too. The fact that they have never seen a woman baptize, witness a marriage, or preach after the Gospel is not lost on them. One day at church my young granddaughter asked, “What’s so bad about being a girl?” I wonder how you would respond to her today.

We are in the interim stage of the Synod and your answer seems premature and inconsistent with the synodal process.  We are confused and discouraged, but we will continue to walk with you in faith and hope and continue to actively engage in synodal listening sessions leading to the Synod in October.

I am most respectfully yours in Christ,

Mrs. Svea Fraser, MDiv

(Pope Saint John XXIII National Seminary, Class of 1989)

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

First Millennial Saint: Francis cleared the way for Carlo Acutis, an Italian teenager often called the patron saint of the internet who died of leukemia, to become the first millennial saint. The New York Times, Alexandra E. Petri

New Orleans Investigation Expands: In April 2024, authorities in Louisiana widened their investigation into clergy sexual abuse in the New Orleans Archdiocese. This expansion now targets senior church officials suspected of protecting abusive priests and failing to report crimes (

California Lawsuit Surge: In March 2024, a new wave of lawsuits hit the Catholic Church in California due to a recent law allowing survivors to sue regardless of when the abuse happened. Over 1,500 people have sued Northern California institutions, with some accusations against priests still working today (

Pope Francis has defrocked a notorious Belgian bishop who admitted 14 years ago that he sexually abused his nephew but faced no Vatican punishment. The case of Roger Vangheluwe, the emeritus bishop of Bruges, long ago became a symbol of the Catholic Church’s hypocrisy and dysfunction in dealing with cases of abuse. Not only was he allowed to quietly retire after the scandal broke in 2010, but his superior, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, was caught on tape asking one of his victims to keep his abuse secret until the bishop left office. The Independent, Nicole Winfield


Remembering Mike Ryan

Mike was on the Board of Trustees when I became known to VOTF more than 10 years ago. Looking back, it wasn’t serendipity that brought us all together. At that time, VOTF was talking about financial malfeasance, and Mike’s knowledge about collection security and the Church’s apathetic attitude about it blended nicely with my parishes’ situation, which we later dubbed the Montana Hustle. 

After the FWG’s discussing the idea of doing a financial review and working on the worksheet for what seemed to be eons, our first financial review was done in the summer of 2017. (If memory serves me correctly, folks at Villanova were skeptical that something like this could done). Mike and I were not deterred, and decided to present to the FWG our suggestion that the two of us would be willing to volunteer our time to take the plunge and just  ‘do it’. And, as they say, the rest is history.

Mike was a fantastic reviewer. He was focused, paid attention to detail, and valued accuracy. Although he had had less than positive interactions with some of the dioceses about collection malfeasance, he always remained objective, which I believe, to this day, is the hallmark of our reviews. I know there have been times when I’ve been unrelenting in defending #10 of our finance review, but it is because of Mike that I do it, and I always will. 

Mike was a man of faith and a true gentleman. As soon as I met him, I felt we were kindred spirits, and it saddened me that we were not in closer proximity. Both he and his wife,  Shirley, were gracious to me when I met them at the two conferences I attended. I knew he was probably not doing well when he was slow to respond to my Easter message. He always responded promptly with a kind word and update, and an electronic greeting card if applicable (: 

I found a link to an interview that Mike did with NCR in Jan. 2016 in the VOTF’s blog archives, which might be of help:

Sandra Guynn


Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor, at Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.

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