In the Vineyard: April 15, 2019

In the Vineyard :: April 15, 2019 :: Volume 19, Issue 7

News from National

Happy Easter

Earlier this month, Pope Francis expressed his desire that this year’s Lenten season “help all Christians to keep their eyes and hearts open so that they can see in their most needy brothers and sisters the ‘flesh of Christ’ that is waiting to ‘be recognized, touched and assisted with care…’” As we prepare for Easter with our own families, remember to “recognize, touch and assist” each other – and have a blessed Easter.

In Case You Missed It

On Saturday, April 13, VOTF President Mary Pat Fox and Trustee Margaret Roylance, Finance Working Group chair, were interviewed on the iHeart Radio program “Something More.”

The program’s host, Chris Boyd, a long-time VOTF member, spoke with Mary Pat and Margaret about the clergy abuse scandal, diocesan financial transparency, and other VOTF initiatives.

To listen to the Podcast, click here.

What Was He Thinking??

That was the reaction of many when former Pope Benedict XVII published a letter blaming clergy sex abuse and the scandalous hierarchical coverup of crimes on the “sexual revolution” of the ’60s and theologians he dislikes.

Tom Reese, S.J., in his column for the National Catholic Reporter, says the letter shows why it was a good idea for Benedict to resign as Pope. “Fundamentally, Benedict lives in a Platonic world of ideas where facts don’t matter.”

Michael Sean Winters in his column calls the letter a “regrettable text” and says he thought at first it must be a hoax. It’s not, he notes, “so we must search for other reasons why it gets so much wrong — and so much that the retired pope would know is wrong.”

A Washington Post article sees the letter as disturbing: “Rather than seeing events like Vatican II and cultural revolutions as creating the conditions to reveal and perhaps treat the hidden cancer of sexual abuse of children by clergy, the letter seems to see them as the actual causes of a problem that did not exist before. It evokes a nostalgia for those vaguely defined ‘good old days’ as if all was well before.”

Joshua McElwee, who covers the Vatican for the National Catholic Reporter, notes that theologians were quick to refute details in the lettter and note that “it does not address structural issues that abetted abuse cover-up, or Benedict’s own contested 24-year role as head of the Vatican’s powerful doctrinal office.”

Mr. McElwee also reported April 15 on the letter sent by a group of German theologians: who called the former pope’s analysis faulty: “The analysis of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI is based on a number of false assumptions,” said the German Association of Moral Theologians, which represents about 40 prominent academics. “It is assessed by us as a failed and improper contribution to the resolution of the abuse crisis.” McElwee says, “In a blunt two-page letter released April 15, the theologians said the former pontiff ignored scientific research on the causes of abuse, neglected evidence of the centuries-long history of the problem, and did not speak from the perspective of victim-survivors.”

Early Bird Special for VOTF Conference

Mark your calendars for Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, for Voice of the Faithful’s 2019 Conference. Early Bird Special Registration Pricing, $95, before April 30. We will be at the Boston Marriott Newton, a suburban location with amenities of a downtown Boston hotel

Our special return guest speaker will be the Honorable Anne M. Burke, Illinois Supreme Court Justice, who spoke to us at our 10th Anniversary Conference in 2012. She served for two years as the interim chair of the USCCB’s National Review Board after the resignation of the first chair. Much has happened in the clergy abuse scandal since then, and she is now involved with a group advocating accountability for bishops who have covered up abuse.

A second featured speaker will be Fr. Richard Lennan, professor of systematic theology at Boston College. He presently directs Boston College’s sacred theology licenture program.

Together with Boston College theology professors Theodore Groome and Richard Gaillardetz, Prof. Lennan wrote “To Serve the People of God: Renewing the Conversation on Priesthood and Ministry(link is external),” which calls for reexamining the formation process for diocesan priests and eradicating the priesthood’s embedded clerical culture. The paper resulted from a seminar begun in 2016 and composed of lay and ordained women and men and theologians and ministers working in pastoral and academic settings. (Click here to read a statement(link is external) from Boston College with links to additional information).

In addition, the conference will feature a panel discussion during which parishioners from the Cincinnati, Ohio, Washington, D.C., and Buffalo, New York, areas will discuss actions they are taking at the grassroots level to help create a just Church. The panel presentations and Q&A will segue into our lunch period when attendees can continue the panel members’ discussion.

Finally, you will hear about our 2019 Diocesan Financial Transparency report and our new project aimed at monitoring diocesan Child Protection measures.

Set aside Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, and stay tuned for updates!

Click here to register online …

Click here to download a printable 2019 Conference mail-in registration form …

Click here to reserve your discounted hotel room …

Remembering a Friend

By friends of Susan Troy

It is with sadness that we share the news that Susan Troy died on April 9, 2019, after a hard-fought battle against cancer. One of the original founders of VOTF, Susan was instrumental in articulating the Mission Statement and Goals. She never shied from speaking truth to power.

Her greatest contribution, however, was the prayers she wrote for liturgies, prayer services, intercessory prayers and litanies of lamentation. These prayers continue in our hearts (and on our website). But most of all, Susan will be remembered for the opening prayer of VOTF meetings. It concludes:

We are the Church; we are the Body of Christ.
Strengthen us, fill us with wisdom,
Lead us to holy action in building up your reign.
Help us to respect our voice and the voices of all the faithful.
Response: We are your Church; we are the Body of Christ.
Hear us, Christ our true life and salvation. Amen.

Ordain Married Men

Pope Francis has indicated that he would favor the ordination of married men is areas of the world where a serious lack of priests jeopardizes the faithful’s access to the Eucharist. VOTF has long supported a new pastoral provision that would allow married Catholic men in the United States to be ordained priests. The present pastoral provision applies to male ministers from other faith traditions who wish to become priests. Such ministers can be ordained, and remain married, while married men born Catholic are denied the same opportunity. VOTF supports a new pastoral provision that would extend this opportunity to married Catholics.

Click here to read more, including a history of celibacy, and how you can help …


Pope issues law, with penalties, for Vatican City to address sexual abuse
“Pope Francis has issued a highly anticipated law for Vatican City officials and diplomats overseas to tackle sexual abuse, setting up what is intended to be a model for the Roman Catholic Church worldwide by requiring, for the first time, that accusations be immediately reported to Vatican prosecutors. The Vatican characterized the law — and accompanying pastoral guidelines — as a reflection of the most advanced thinking on preventing and addressing sexual abuse in the church.” By Jason Horowitz and Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

Francis says he may reconsider convicted cardinal’s resignation after appeal
“Pope Francis has indicated he will reconsider his decision not to accept the resignation of a French cardinal convicted of covering up sexual abuseafter the prelate’s appeal is heard. In a press conference aboard the papal flight back to Rome after a two-day visit to Morocco, the pontiff also admitted that Lyon Cardinal Philippe Barbarin may be guilty, but asked for the continued observation of presumption of innocence during the appeal.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Pope challenges U.S. bishops on clerical sex abuse
“Pope Francis has challenged the United States bishops conference on their strategy for dealing with clerical sexual abuse. The Pope suggested the US bishops had adopted a mentality of a self-governing congregationalist church detached from Rome. ‘The Church is not congregationalist, it is the Catholic Church where the bishop must take control of this as the pastor,’ the Pope told journalists on board the papal plane from Morocco.” By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet

Taking stock of the clergy sexual abuse crisis: Transparency
Catholic theology affirms that confession is good for the soul, so it’s a bit of paradox that the last thing the American Roman Catholic bishops or the Vatican want to do is publicly confess everything they know about clergy sex abuse. The bishops now understand the need to protect children by removing abusive priests from ministry. Most even grasp the need to hold bishops accountable for allowing bad priests to continue in ministry. But as a body they really do not want to expose their dirty laundry to public view. Public confession, they fear, will scandalize the faithful and bring the church into further disrepute. It’s this that led many bishops in the past to attempt to cover up.” By Thomas Reese, S.J. Religion News Service

Rejecting appeal, Vatican hands down final ruling against Guam bishop
“The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has rejected an appeal by the now-former Archbishop Anthony S. Apuronof Agana, Guam, upholding its judgment of finding him guilty of abuse against minors. The doctrinal tribunal’s decision is final and no further appeals are possible, it said in a communique published April 4.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on

Catholic leaders in Japan to conduct survey on sexual abuse
“Catholic bishops in Japan plan to conduct a nationwide survey on sexual abuse of children by members of the clergy, church officials said Monday (Apr. 8). Archbishop Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki, the leader of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, shared the plan on Sunday during a gathering in Tokyo where a man spoke of being abused as a young boy at the hands of a German priest.” By Makiko Inoue and Mike Ives, The New York Times

What do the Church’s victims deserve?
“Like many Catholics, I wonder whether this story will ever be over and whether things will ever be set right. Often called a crisis, the problem is more enduring and more comprehensive than that. Social scientists report that the gravest period of priestly sexual abuse was the sixties and seventies, and the problem has been in public view for the past three and a half decades. For most American Catholics, then, the fact of sexual abuse by priests and its coverup by bishops has long been an everyday reality.” By Paul Elie, The New Yorker

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

Mary Magdalene – a Fierce, Feminist Parable

Interested in the life of Mary Magdalene? You are in luck. A new movie about her life is hitting theaters shortly. John Anderson, Wall Street Journal television and film critic says, “Mary Magdalene” is in many ways an act of love, an effort to tell its story both freshly and honestly, with fidelity to Scripture.”


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