In the Vineyard: March 8, 2024


In the Vineyard :: March 8, 2024 :: Volume 24, Issue 2

National News

Update from VOTF’s Working Group on Child Protection

By Patricia Gomez

During 2023 Voice of the Faithful reviewed U.S. Diocesan websites to determine the level of dioceses’ compliance with child protection and safe environment guidelines, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s 2018 Revised Charter and Essential Norms as well as the Centers for Disease Control Process and Procedures Manual: Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Within Youth-service Organizations. The Bishops’ Charter directs action on creating safe environments for children and young people within parishes, as well as requiring cooperation with civil authorities when abuse charges are filed, and the healing and reconciliation of victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

The 2023 VOTF Review looked for compliance with those directives as posted within policies and stated procedures on diocesan websites. The 2023 abuse prevention and safe environment accountability study is the second such website review undertaken by VOTF. Data analysis and the full report of the 2023 findings will be released prior to April 2024, National Child Abuse Prevention month. Child abuse prevention remains high among the priorities for VOTF. We are all charged with a most hallowed responsibility to care for our children and address any deficiencies in diocesan polices on child protection and safe environment programs.

Keep an Eye Out!

This summer VOTF will conduct our 8th annual review of diocesan online financial transparency. Letters will be sent to all US Bishops explaining the process and timeframe in mid March. Ask your Bishop if he has received his!

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Top Stories

From Clericalism to Communion: The Church’s Never-ending Conversion

Many women present at the synod on synodality this past October “expressed deep gratitude for the work of priests and bishops,” but also noted that clericalism continues to “scar the face of the Church and damage its communion.” The assembly stated in the synthesis report that a “profound spiritual conversion is needed” to meet the “desire to promote a Church in which men and women dialogue together… without subordination, exclusion, and competition.” The Global Sister’s Report asked a panel of nuns: What is the spiritual conversion needed in order for healing to take place? What would you hope to see? From Global Sisters Report. To read more, click here.

Prayerful Listening Combats Clericalism, Promotes Synodality, Speakers Say

The first assembly of the synod on synodality demonstrated that an effective way to break the chains of clericalism and highlight the voices and experience of women in the church is to begin by listening and praying together before discussing issues, said two synod participants.

Clericalism exists “because we do not listen to one another; the clergy do not listen to women or the laity,” said Momoko Nishimura, a consecrated laywoman from Japan who served as one of Pope Francis’ delegate presidents at the assembly in October.

Nishimura and Susan Pascoe, an Australian who served as an expert and facilitator at the synod, jointly inaugurated the English-language program of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations’ School for Synodality Feb. 29. Separate webinars were offered in Spanish and French as well. From Detroit Catholic. To read more, click here.

Forbes: Religious sister is one of most influential women

Forbes recently published its popular annual list 50 over 50: Europe, Middle East and Africa, where it highlights influential women in fields such as science, fashion, economics, and human rights, among others. In the 2024 edition, it included Sr. Nathalie Becquart, X.M.C.J., a Catholic sister who serves as undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

Pope Francis appointed Sr. Becquart to her undersecretary post in 2021. At the time, that made her the “the highest-ranking woman in the Vatican and is the first woman to gain a right to vote at such a high-level conference,” Forbes notes. This is one of several appointments of women to increasingly important positions at the Vatican by Pope Francis. From Alteia magazine. To read more, click here.  To read Forbes 50 over 50, click here.

Nun Who Advises the Pope Says He Wants Female Deacons

A Spanish nun who has participated in recent meetings of Pope Francis’s top advisory body has said that while women’s priestly ordination is currently off the table, the pontiff is supportive of the female diaconate.

Speaking to the news agency Europa Press, Spanish nun and theologian Linda Pocher said, “There is no reflection on the priestly ordination of women in the Catholic Church,” but the pope “is very much in favor of the female diaconate.” From Crux Magazine. Read more, here.

How Pope Francis is Looking at Ways to Feminize the Church

When Pope Francis met members of the International Theological Commission last November, he wasted no time telling them what was on his mind.

“There’s something I don’t like about you, excuse my frankness,” he said as he entered the small lounge adjacent to the Paul VI Audience Hall. “One, two, three, four women – poor women! They are alone! Ah, sorry, five,” the pope said. “On this point, we must move forward! Women have a capacity for theological reflection different from that of men,” Francis insisted, as he began to address the theologians. From LaCroix International. To read more here.

Looking for Something Interesting to Do?

Take a look at Sacred Heart University’s Bergoglio Lecture Series, which can be watched online. Topics include:

  • Pope Francis and the World Migration Crisis
  • The Enduring Legacy of Gaudium et Spes on Pope Francis’s Writings
  • Conversations in the Spirit:  Reflections on the Pre-Synod Meditations offered by Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, OP

Click here to learn more about these and other conversations.

Some Thoughts for Lent

Are you interested in exploring some new ideas this Lenten season? Then take a look at the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN). ISN is a lay-led  organization working in partnership with hundreds of Catholic universities, high schools, and parishes across the country, with a special affinity to institutions sponsored by the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits).

ISN provides social justice education grounded in Catholic Social Teaching, and works to mobilize its members to take action on timely issues related to migration, care for creation, racial justice, and economic justice.


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