In the Vineyard: May 8, 2023


In the Vineyard :: May 8, 2023 :: Volume 23, Issue 8

National News

Women in the Diaconate

In her reflection on women and ministerial service in the Church at a Loyola Institute symposium: “A Servant Church on the Synodal Way”, Dr. Phyllis Zagano said, “Women can receive the sacrament of order as deacons, just as they did for hundreds of years in the early Church.”

Other speakers at the symposium included Dr Bernard Pottier SJ, theologian and member of the International Theological Commission and the Commission on the Female Diaconate instituted by Pope Francis, as well as Dr Margit Eckholt, Professor of Dogmatics and Fundamental Theology at the Institute of Catholic Theology in University of Osnabrück, who spoke about developments at the German Synodal Way.

To read more about the symposium, click here.

A Celebration of Women’s Wisdom

Emerging from the ground-breaking website Catholic Women Preach comes a new collection of reflections on the readings for Sundays and other feast days. The volume offers an invaluable resource for weekly meditation, an inspiration for homilists, and an aid to enriching the church with diverse voices and experiences. Published by Orbis Books, this first of three volumes opens with an energizing foreword by Sr. Barbara Reid, OP, one of the world’s leading scholars in feminist interpretation of the Scriptures. Together, the 64 contributors represent an extraordinary range of voices: religious and lay, scholars, activists, and pastoral leaders of every age and ethnicity.

The book launch event will be hosted by The Church of The Ascension (221 W. 107th Street, New York City) on Thursday, May 11, 2023, at 7:30PM Eastern Time. A book signing and reception will follow in the rectory.

You can also join the event online. It will be livestreamed on YouTube at 7:30 on May 11, 2023. You can access the livestream here.

You can purchase the book here.

Ultimately, Catholic Women Preach hopes to publish reflections for the three annual cycles of Scripture readings used in Catholic Masses. While waiting, you may like to sample some of the many homilies recorded so far, including this one by VOTF trustee Svea Fraser.

Catholic Women Preach: Raising Voices, Renewing the Church, Elizabeth Donnelly and Russ Petrus, Eds.; Orbis Books. Available at Orbis or on Amazon.

Another Book Launch in NYC

Join Phyllis Zagano, an internationally acclaimed Catholic scholar and lecturer on contemporary spirituality and women’s issues in the Church, for a book launch event in New York City May 16, 2023. In her latest book, Just Church, Dr. Zagano reviews Catholic social teaching and modern synods in relation to current and prospective ministry by women. With an eye to the intersection of synodality and women’s concerns, Dr. Zagano argues for an increased presence of women in the apostolic, liturgical, and governance sectors of the Church, and in this vein the ordination of women to the diaconate.

The event begins at 7 p.m. in Wallace Hall at St. Ignatius Loyola Church, 980 Park Avenue, New York.

Unity Through Synodality

Cardinal Robert W. McElroy will welcome the 2023 Assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests to San Diego, on the theme, Unity through Synodality. The 2023 Assembly will be held June 12-15 at the University of San Diego, a private Catholic university. McElroy will welcome participants Monday afternoon, June 12, and then travel to the USCCB Spring Assembly. 

Assembly Overview

 The 2023 Assembly will begin with a one-day retreat on Monday, June 12, led by Sister Nancy Sylvester, IHM, a former president of LCWR and currently the founder and President of the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue. The retreat is titled, “Responding from a Contemplative Heart: Living Synodality in a Polarized World.” Sister Nancy will also facilitate contemplative preparation and response to the keynotes. Cardinal McElroy will welcome Assembly attendees during opening ceremonies on Monday at 4 p.m. No stranger to the AUSCP, then-Bishop McElroy was a keynoter in Albuquerque five years ago. 

Assembly speakers include Massimo Faggioli, Professor of Theology and Religious studies, Villanova University; Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, Professor of Theological Studies, Loyola Marymount University; and Brian Flanagan, Associate Professor of Theology at Marymount University.

VOTF’s Executive Director, Donna Doucette will introduce Dr. Massimo Faggioli, who has spoken several times at VOTF conferences. Dr. Faggioli will speak Monday evening, June 12, on The “Synodal Process” in the USA and in the Global Church: A Geography of Hope. He plans to “address the similarities and differences between the USA and other synodal processes in the global Church.” 

Prayer Service for April 2024

As National Child Abuse Prevention month drew to a close, the Diocese of Fall River held a Prayer Service for Healing on April 25, 2023. Patricia Gomez, co-chair of VOTF’s Protecting Our Children Working Group, notes that the service could serve as a model for your own parish or diocese, at any time but perhaps especially during the next National Child Abuse Prevention month.

  • As we honor April as both Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., led this Prayer Service for Healing in Holy Name Church in Fall River. The service includes a reflection on video from a survivor of sexual abuse. While no single statement or event can make up for the painful abuse of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters, as believers we know that in Christ’s suffering, death, and Resurrection, we find hope beyond measure as we move towards a brighter future.
  • The survivor testimony begins around minute 17…deeply moving and quite remarkable!  Here is the link to the service:

Top Stories

For first time in history, Pope Francis gives women right to vote at synod
“For the first time in the history of the synod, Pope Francis has given women the right to vote and has also made a radical change to the membership of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality. At the synod, which opens in October, between 21 and 25 percent of the members with a right to vote will not be bishops. These members will include consecrated women and men as well as lay women and men. All those who are members of the synod will have a right to vote.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Sex abuse in Baltimore Archdiocese highlights an institutional problem
“Back in 2001, the Boston Globe started an investigation that would reveal one of the largest sexual assault scandals by Catholic priests anywhere in the U.S. The investigation into the Boston Archdiocese was the inspiration for the 2015 Oscar-winning film ‘Spotlight,’ which was also the name of the Globe’s investigative report. And now, a new report on the Baltimore Archdiocese by Maryland Attorney General Anthony G. Brown revealed 600 cases of child sex abuse over the past 60 years by 156 current or former Catholic clergy, seminarians, deacons, members of Catholic religious orders, teachers at Catholic schools and other employees.” By Elina Tarkazikis, Scripps News

North American synod document hits all the right notes
“The U.S. and Canadian bishops’ conferences released the ‘North American Final Document for the Continental Stage of the 2021-2024 Synod’ last week. It is remarkable both for what it says and for what it does not say, especially the absence of any conclusions or statements of finality. The awareness that synodality is a change in the way we function as a church, not a process with a particular end point, runs through the text, and that is its single most important contribution.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Top anti-abuse expert sets record straight on resignation from Vatican body
“German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, one of the church’s leading protagonists in the fight against clerical sexual abuse, has sought to clarify his reasons for stepping down from a Vatican safeguarding commission after nearly 10 years on the job. Speaking to journalists Monday (Apr. 17), Zollner denied that he was targeting anyone individually or that he resigned as part of an internal power struggle, but said he had ongoing concerns regarding how the commission operated that went unanswered, despite several attempts to engage his superiors on the issues.” By Elise Ann Allen,

Washington State House passes bill requiring clergy to violate the seal of confession
“After the Washington State House failed to pass an amendment to a bill that would require clergy to violate the seal of confession, Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane reminded legislators that throughout history ‘all’ such attempts by ‘kings, queens, dictators, potentates, and legislators’ have failed, and that even if it passed, clergy wouldn’t capitulate … The bill then went to the Washington House for a vote. However, the House added an amendment to the Senate version that removed the clergy-penitent exemption. That version of the bill passed the House on April 11. The vote was 75-20.” By John Lavenburg,

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

Letter to the Editor

For a number of years, the pastor at my local Catholic parish, would talk during his Sunday homilies about the sins that parishioners had confessed to him on Saturday. At one time, I confronted him about this practice violating the Seal of Confession, and he said that as long as he did not divulge the identity of the penitent he had done nothing wrong. At that time I was part of a group who made music for the Saturday evening Mass, and while we were preparing for Mass I had a clear view of everyone who was going to Confession. It would not have taken me much to put two and two together if I had cared to, and there were not a whole lot of people going to Confession which would have made it much easier. I would like to know if that priest violated the Seal of Confession.

Not surprisingly, I no longer am a member of that parish.

J.T. Hanlon

Note from VOTF: We think you should ask your bishop this question!


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