In the Vineyard: April 15, 2016

In the Vineyard :: April 15, 2016 :: Volume 16, Issue 8

News from National

Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation
on family stresses grace over dogma

Pope Francis delivered his Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, on the Bishops’ Synod on the Family last week in Rome.

Pundits immediately began to parse every word of Francis’ 256-page letter (full text of Amoris Laetitia) and will continue to do so for some time, but Francis, while calling for pastoral change, is leaving the implementation of his letter to bishops.
Two themes expressed by Vatican II are reiterated in Francis’ letter: the place of the teaching authority of the Church (magisterium) and the place of individual conscience in deciding how to act.

Regarding the magisterium, Francis says in his letter, “… I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it.”

In addition, Vatican II defined the teaching authority of the Church as including all the faithful People of God, lay and cleric alike. Lay voices matter. In his Commonweal magazine article on Francis’ exhortation, Vatican pundit Massimo Faggioli says, “… the direction of this pontificate is toward a non-ideological magisterium, a more inclusive Church, a Church of mercy.”

Regarding conscience, the Pope says in his letter: “We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations. We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them.” And as Francis says elsewhere in his letter, “A pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in ‘irregular’ situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives.”

To read what is being said about Amoris Laetitia, click on the links below. There are more stories included in Focus.

Top ten takeaways from Amoris Laetitia
Pope Francis’s groundbreaking new document ‘Amoris Laetitia’(‘The Joy of Love’) asks the church to meet people where they are, to consider the complexities of people’s lives and to respect people’s consciences when it comes to moral decisions. The apostolic exhortation is mainly a document that reflects on family life and encourages families. But it is also the pope’s reminder that the church should avoid simply judging people and imposing rules on them without considering their struggles.” By James Martin, S.J., America

(See links to additional media coverage of the Pope’s letter on the family under the Synod of Bishops on the Family heading in this issue of Focus.)

Poll: What do YOU Think
Everyone’s talking about Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’ apostolic letter reflecting on the Family Synod. We hope you will read, or at least skim, as many passages in the “Joy of Love” as you can but the poll this week focuses only on part of Chapter 4 (page 71).

We wondered, as Fr. Tom Reese suggested, if you are tired of celibate men waxing idealistically about married life. And specifically whether the words of Pope Francis reflect the actual lives of families today.

To start, we ask two questions based on the passages about conjugal love (pages 90-105) in Chapter 4. Click this link to see the poll: is Child Abuse Prevention Month
Child sexual abuse can be prevented. The first step is: Raising Awareness that child sexual abuse exists and can exist anywhere. The second step: Build safety barriers around children and young people to keep them from harm. In parish communities, these barriers come in the form of codes of conduct, background evaluations, policies and procedures, and safety training programs. A third step: Take action in your community to prevent child sexual abuse: raise awareness and ensure that barriers are in place. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.


Highlighting issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church

Sex-abuse bill lobbying in Catholic Churches is over the top
“‘We were dismayed to find this letter inserted in our church bulletin this past Sunday,’ wrote a local Catholic who contacted me last week about a letter from Allentown Diocese Bishop John Barres. Barres’ letter outlined the diocese’s child sex-abuse prevention efforts — and then lobbied against state legislation that would change the statutes of limitations for such cases, asking parishioners to contact their legislators about its ‘detrimental effects’” By Bill White, The Morning Call

Boston-area priest dismissed for abusing minor, archdiocese says
“The Vatican has defrocked a priest after a church investigation found he was guilty of abuse of a minor, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston said Thursday. Thomas H. Maguire, who was ordained nearly 40 years ago, had in the past bemoaned the personal and spiritual effect the church sexual abuse scandal had taken on his colleagues and the archdiocese. Maguire had been removed from public ministry since 2012, when he faced an allegation of inappropriate sexual conduct in the presence of minors.” By Andy Rosen, The Boston Globe

Feds may seek racketeering suit for clergy abuse in diocese
“A federal prosecutor may file a racketeering lawsuit against a Roman Catholic diocese where a state grand jury found two former bishops helped cover up the sexual abuse of hundreds of children by more than 50 clergy over a 40-year period. The ongoing investigation of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese grew out of the prosecution of the Rev. Joseph Maurizio Jr., U.S. Attorney David Hickton said Friday (Apr. 1).” By Associated Press

Pennsylvania: Bill extending deadlines in abuse cases advances
(Apr. 5, 2016) “The State Legislature, under pressure after the release of a grand jury report documenting an extensive cover-up of clergy sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, took action on Tuesday (Apr. 5) to give victims more time to seek justice.” By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Time

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

Video Link: There is no saint without a past or a sinner without a future…
Pope Francis addresses a general audience and speaks of when Jesus chose Matthew as one of his disciples:


Tom Reese on The Theology of Pope Francis: Real Reform or Window Dressing?
While Pope Francis has opened eager ears among the Catholic faithful, his efforts to extend a compassionate message to those who have been alienated from the faith and bring them back to the Church have met with a surprising amount of resistance among the hierarchy. That is especially true of American bishops, who in many respects are his chief critics.
Our conversation addresses these issues, then opens up to include questions and comments from the audience.
Wednesday, April 20; 5:30-7 p.m.
Heights Room, Corcoran Commons, Chestnut Hill Campus, Boston College
This event is open to the public. Light refreshments will be served at 5:00 p.m.
RSVP at or call 617-552-6501. For directions and parking, please visit

Saint Susanna Adult Faith Formation Book Group
The Saint Susanna Adult Faith Formation Book Group is starting on Monday, May 2. Father Steve Josoma has picked this year’s book: Why the Catholic Church Must Change: A Necessary Conversation, by Margaret Nutting Ralph. It is available both in Kindle and print at Amazon and other on-line book dealers, and there are eight copies in the Minuteman Library System, which services Dedham and Needham public libraries. Other library systems and book dealers no doubt have the book as well, although we always suggest you check ahead to be sure the book is available before you go there.

As usual, book group meetings will be held on three consecutive Monday evenings at 7:00 in the Parish Hall, 262 Needham Street, Dedham (May 2, 9, 16). For the best experience it is recommended that you have already read the first third of the book at the first meeting, because we will dive right into the discussion. There is no pre-registration requirement and no fee for attendance, although a free will donation to cover program costs is always appreciated. Come and See!

Questions, Comments?

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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