In the Vineyard: June 5, 2023


In the Vineyard :: June 5, 2023 :: Volume 23, Issue 10

National News

Pope’s Changes to Synod Voting Underscore VOTF’s Mission

By giving lay people votes in the Catholic Church Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis changed the Roman Catholic Church.

“Our excitement at Pope Francis’ inclusion of the laity in such an important way today cannot be overstated,” says Mary Pat Fox, Voice of the Faithful president. “Since shortly after Pope Francis’ election, when it began to become evident that his leadership approach would differ from his predecessors, we have watched him gradually elevate attention on the role of the laity in the Church. We pray that the pastoral orientation, openness, and inclusivity he promotes will continue beyond his pontificate. This is the same mission VOTF has promoted since our beginning.”

For more than 20 years, Voice of the Faithful has addressed the laity’s involvement in Church structure. VOTF’s very mission is “to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church.” By including lay people, and calling for half of these delegates to by women, Pope Francis is welcoming such participation.

VOTF also has called for reforms in Church structure. Over the years, these efforts have included educating the laity and equipping them with the means to address responsibly issues of vital importance within the Church. Examples include annual nationwide reviews of diocesan financial transparency and accountability, lay involvement in diocesan finance councils, and diocesan compliance with child protection and safe environment guidelines.

In addition, VOTF has worked to promote lay involvement in the selection of bishops; the creation and support of parish and diocesan pastoral councils, finance councils, and safety committees; the eradication of clericalism, which is perhaps the greatest threat undermining lay input in the Church; and the establishment of an ordained women’s diaconate in the church.

VOTF performs this work with the conviction that the whole Church must respect the dignity and intelligence of all its members and “acknowledge the right and responsibility of the laity, flowing from their baptism, to use their God-given gifts for the good of the Church.”

Top Stories

Sex abuse in Catholic Church: More Than 1,900 minors abused in Illinois, state says
“More than 450 credibly accused child sex abusers have ministered in the Catholic Church in Illinois over almost seven decades, the office of the state’s attorney general, Kwame Raoul, said Tuesday (May 23) in an investigative report. That is more than four times the number that the church had publicly disclosed before 2018, when the state began its investigation. The 696-page report found that clergy members and lay religious brothers had abused at least 1,997 children since 1950 in the state’s six dioceses, including the prominent Archdiocese of Chicago.” By Ruth Graham, The New York Times

Pope sends Vatican official to Bolivia as abuse allegations escalate
Pope Francis has sent one of his top sex crimes investigators to Bolivia at a time when the Andean nation is being shaken by an escalating pedophilia scandal involving priests. Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu, a leading member of the church’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, arrived in Bolivia on the same day as a former Jesuit seminarian landed in the country vowing to reveal more information about alleged cases of abuse.” By Carlos Valdez, Associated Press, in The Journal

Archdiocese of Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley is sued by three alleged sexual abuse victims who claim Arlington Catholic’s former vice principal assaulted them
“Archdiocese of Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley has been sued by three alleged sexual abuse victims who claim that Arlington Catholic High School’s former vice principal assaulted the teens last decade. Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented clergy sexual abuse victims for decades, on Monday (May 22) said he filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of the three alleged childhood sexual abuse victims against O’Malley, Bishop Robert Deeley, and Bishop Peter Uglietto. The three victims allege that they were sexually abused by Steven Biagioni while he was vice principal and an administrator at Arlington Catholic.” By Rick Sobey, Boston Herald

Catholic Church in California grapples with more than 3,000 lawsuits, alleging child sex abuse
“At least a third of the 12 Roman Catholic dioceses in California have either filed for bankruptcy or are contemplating doing so to deal with an influx of lawsuits filed by survivors of childhood sexual abuse after a state law opened a three-year window in which cases were exempted from age limits. More than 3,000 lawsuits have been filed against the Catholic Church in California under a 2019 state law that allowed alleged victims to sue up to the age of 40.” By Alejandra Molina, Religion News Service

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

Former VOTF Award Winner Releases New Documentary

Jason Berry, author, investigative journalist, and documentary producer, who was awarded the Saint Catherine of Siena Distinguished Lay Person Award in 2009, will be in Boston this month to present his new documentary film and give talks after two showings of “City of A Million Dreams.” The first will be at The Somerville Theatre and the second will be at Martha’s Vineyard Film society on Tuesday, June 20 and Friday, June 23. Both events will occur at 7:30 pm. Both showings will be followed by an in-depth discussion with audience participation followed by a book signing of his acclaimed history of New Orleans, City of A Million Dreams

Harvard Square Books has partnered with the event in Somerville while Edgartown Books will partner with the Martha’s Vineyard showing and talk. The Somerville Theatre is located at 55 Davis Square in Somerville, MA 02144. Tickets are $14.00 and $10.00 for Seniors. They can be purchased here. This venue has a full liquor license and the theatre plans to offer some neat and tasty New Orleans cocktails for purchase by attendees. 

The Martha’s Vineyard Film Society is located at 79 Beach Road in Vineyard Haven, MA 02568. Tickets to that showing and talk are $15 General Admission, $12 for Members and $10 for children 14 and younger. Vineyard tickets can be purchased here.

The film “City of A Million Dream – Parading for The Dead In New Orleans” explores the origins and creation of the New Orleans jazz funeral — a passionate and fiery display at once of grief and joy, sadness and elation, weeping and dancing, feathers and sequins with hope for the living and so much more. 

The film follows two navigational figures. Deb “Big Red Cotton,” a blogger and videographer, leaves “hard hearted Hollywood” and plunges into the world of New Orleans funerals and street parades. Dr. Michael White, a professor, clarinetist and esteemed jazz composer searching for the story of an ancestor at the birth of jazz, loses everything in Hurricane Katrina. As Deb and Michael meet, their intertwined quest takes this film deep into the soul of New Orleans and its history. 

The film is a sequel to the book City of A Million Dreams – A History of New Orleans at Year 300, which is being taught at courses at University of California Berkeley, Georgetown, Tulane, Loyola New Orleans and several other schools. 

Pope Francis – June Prayer Intention – Abolish Torture

We pray that the international community may commit in a concrete way to ensuring the abolition of torture and guarantee support to victims and their families.

Click here to watch the message from Pope Francis.

Torture. Oh my God – torture!

Torture is not past history. Unfortunately, it’s part of our history today.

How is it possible that the human capacity for cruelty is so huge?

There are extremely violent forms of torture. Others are more sophisticated, such as degrading someone, dulling the senses, or mass detentions in conditions so inhumane that they take away the dignity of the person.

But this is not something new. Let’s think of how Jesus himself was tortured and crucified.

Let us put a stop to this horror of torture. It is essential to put the dignity of the person above all else.

Otherwise, the victims are not persons, they are “things,” and can be mistreated mercilessly, causing death or permanent psychological and physical harm lasting a lifetime.

Let us pray that the international community commit itself concretely to abolish torture, guaranteeing support to victims and their families.


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