In the Vineyard: April 29, 2016

In the Vineyard :: April 29, 2016 :: Volume 16, Issue 9

News from National

Francis denounces clericalism again
Using the opportunity of a letter he wrote to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Pope Francis has again denounced clericalism as “one of the greatest deformations” the global Catholic community must confront. Baptism is the “fundamental consecration,” he said, “No one is baptized a priest or a bishop. They baptized us as laypeople and it [Baptism] is the indelible sign that no one can ever wipe away.”

The implications of that baptism must not be diminished or undervalued, Francis says. “The Church is not an elite of priests, of consecrated people, of bishops … everyone forms the Holy Faithful People of God.”

In support of this communion, the Pope cites clericalism as the failure that “turns off, little by little, the prophetic fire from which the entire Church is called to give testimony … Clericalism forgets that the visibility and sacramentality of the Church belongs to all the People of God and not only an elect or illuminated few.”

Francis also tells priests to stop thinking that a “committed layperson” is only the one who works for the parish or diocese. “We have created a lay elite believing that only those who work in things of priests are committed laypersons,” he warns, and then says it is illogical, perhaps even impossible, for pastors to think they know answers to all the challenges of modern life. It is the faithful in their own family and work settings who may have better answers, he adds.

For analysis and additional excerpts from the letter, see the article by Joshua J. McElwee in National Catholic Reporter or the report by Vatican Radio. Or, the story in Cruxnow, Pope blasts clericalism, says clock has stopped on ‘hour of laity,’ By Ines San Martin,

If you would like to read the letter yourself, here is the link on the Vatican website in Spanish. There may be an English translation by the time you check. If not, you can use the Google translation feature for a basic conversion of Spanish to English, but be aware that the automated Google translation will omit context, idioms, and other factors that go into a “real” translation.

Finally, if you would like to know more about clericalism, please check our web site.

In the Potter’s Hands
A poem by Jayne O’Donnell, VOTF member and co-chair of the Broken Vessels Healing Circles program

I begin as a lump of clay
soft, pliable and earthy
in the Potter’s hands.
I am exhilarated by the infinite possibilities
of what I will become
as I am thrown on His wheel.
I whirl around and around
dizzy with excitement
and anticipation.
What will my purpose be?
It is revealed at last!
I am a vessel.
Into the kiln I go
to complete my transformation.
But something goes terribly wrong
during the journey from kiln to table.
I crack!
I am not a worthy vessel
admired and useful.
I am rejected and tossed on a pile
of clay shards
that have met a similar fate.
Instead of being filled
with fine wine or honey
I am filled with sadness and shame.
Weeks and months pass
as I sit in this graveyard
of the unworthy.
Then one day
a woman enters the shop
and beholds me
and takes me home with her.
I am resurrected.
Of what possible use
could she have for me?
A votive candle
is lowered inside me
and I am placed upon a low table
atop a vibrantly patterned cloth.
A match is struck
igniting the wick
and I am filled with light.
It flickers, dances and shines
through my cracked form.
Soon, I am surrounded
by a circle of friends
who share deeply
and listen deeply
to each others stories of pain.
After many hours together
we come to understand
that but for our fractured lives
our light could not shine through
as a sign of hope to each other.
And a truth is revealed:
we are all broken vessels.

Copyright 2016 Jayne O’Donnell

Poll Results
In our last issue we asked you about a passage on conjugal love in Chapter 4 of Amoris Laetitia, the Apostolic letter Pope Francis issued in response to the reports presented by the bishops from the Family Life synod.

We wondered whether the commentary about married life mirrored the reality in your own experiences. Here’s what you said:

  • 53% said this section in Chapter 4 matched your reality and experiences; 18% said no, it did not; and 29% said it partially matched what you experience in “real life.”

  • When we asked if anything in this section on conjugal love surprised you, 40% of you said yes and 60% said no.

We also asked you to tell us, for each question, the one or two reasons you answered as you did. Here are some selections from those comments.

Report on “Faith in the Future: Religion in Ireland in the 21st Century”
By Anne Southwood, VOTF trustee

A lot of Irishmen (and women) packed into a big classroom for this all-day event on April 16, which was organized by the Irish Center at Boston College (Boston MA). It included perspectives from Irish visitors as well as American perspectives by B.C. Jesuit moral theologian James Keenan, Margaret Steinfels (former Commonweal editor), and B.C. professor Lisa Cahill.

The Irish contingent included Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Pontifical Commission member Marie Collins, Irish Timesjournalist Patsy McGarry, and Baroness Nuala O’Loan, a member of the British House of Lords and Chair of the Maynooth University Board.

Lady O’Loan opened the presentations, noting that 59% of weddings in Ireland were conducted during a Catholic service.

Dr. Mulligan, a young female theologian at Maynooth, followed with a plea for more co-responsibility in a faith community, though she cited the lack of a process for that. “We are called to be less comfortable,” she said. The Irish now expect accountability and justice and students are now required to take theology. She said a closer relationship with other academic disciplines can only be positive: “Social justice is no longer an optional exercise for a Christian.”

This was a segue to comments by Archbishop Jackson, Church of Ireland prelate, who could be summarized as a friend of the Dublin Archbishop who will walk with his friend to the margins, where the Pope has called us—as an example, in dealing with 900 homeless families in Dublin. He called for an economy of grace and biblical servant leadership. “We need bold prophetic gestures combined with follow-through for those with no voice,” said Archbishop Jackson.

Margaret Steinfels reminded the audience of the difference in American Catholicism at its peak and now. She said there were 5.5 million children in Catholic schools in 1960 with 80% of Catholics receiving some kind of formation: “a miracle of ingenuity and sacrifice.”

Professor Cahill stressed the importance of Catholic intellectuals and noted that 200 Catholic schools are not under direct ecclesiastical control.

Fr. Keenan said trust in clergy-lay relations was a major American issue. He mentioned the priest forum and the founding of Voice of the Faithful as The Boston Globe generated awareness of the abuse crisis and the lay call for transparency and accountability. He cited lack of robust imagination at the parish level, however, and a continuing perception of clericalism. He insisted that the matter of accompanying lay people was very important to discernment … a theme throughout the event during audience question periods and with speakers themselves.

As a personal note, it is interesting that “accompany” is a recent theme of Pope Paul in a letter written to Cardinal Ouellet a few weeks before this event. Said Pope Francis, “We have reflected little on how to accompany a baptized person … It is illogical…to think that we as pastors should have a monopoly on the solutions to the challenges contemporary life presents. We must stay on the side of our people … this means discerning with our people, not for our people or without our people”.

Journalist McGarry hit all the hot points in his presentation: 15% attendance at Church, the shortage of priests, and lack of recovery from the shock of abuse and cover-up. “Take responsibility,” he said, “an apology should come from the heart.” With quite a distance between McGarry and Baroness O’Loan, McGarry had come to the microphone naming himself the “barbarian at the gates.”

Dublin Archbishop Martin, while acknowledging the problems discussed all day, also called for movement “from monument to heart-driven.”

Marie Collins pointed to the lack of clerical feeling that people are owed an answer to their anger-driven questions. Many Irish children are still baptized but actually absent until First Communion. In her opinion, we need to experience “we are the Church,” find the way back to the simplicity of the early Church and live the gospel with people in a new way, or the long-term future of the Irish Church might be in jeopardy. She noted the formation of small-faith communities as well.

Religion Sociologist Michele Dillon finished her excellent summary comparing the Irish and American Church with the admonition “stop whining about secularism.” As she surveyed the clerics in the audience, she quipped, “You do realize that these people want to help?” Ireland is changing; only 35% of women attend Mass on Sunday. She said pluralism must be accepted and religious-based beliefs must be translated into secular language. Yes, God is in history, but also in the present, secular or not.


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

Top Vatican cardinals aren’t commenting on pope’s exhortation
“Two of the Vatican’s most senior prelates, both known for taking a strong stand for the Church’s tradition at the Synod on the Family, are declining interviews on Pope Francis’ controversial apostolic exhortation.” By John-Henry Westen and Claire Chretien,

Fr. Hans Kung says Francis responded to request for free discussion on infallibility dogma
“On March 9, my appeal to Pope Francis to give room to a free, unprejudiced and open-ended discussion on the problem of infallibility appeared in the leading journals of several countries. I was thus overjoyed to receive a personal reply from Francis immediately after Easter.” By Hans Kung, National Catholic Reporter

Sex abuse and the Catholic Church: Why is it still a story?
“I have interviewed many survivors of child sexual abuse over many years, but this was the first time I had ever interviewed a survivor who was also a politician. State Representative Mark Rozzi sat behind his office desk at the State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. … (Answer to questions) Why does the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church never seem to go away?Why is it still a story?” By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times
Reporting on abuse in the church: What’s new? Plenty, By Susan Lehman, The New York Times

The Catholic Church’s defiance and obstruction on child sex abuse
“In three years at the helm of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has been a source of inspiration for millions of faithful around the world. In one critical respect, however, he has fallen short of his own promise: to come fully to terms with decades of child sex abuse by clergymen and the institutional cover granted to them by bishops and cardinals.” By The Washington Post Editorial Board

Three religious leaders enabled friar to be predator
“Records from a Franciscan religious order show three former leaders knew a friar had been accused of child sex abuse before he was allowed to work at a high school and other jobs where he was later accused of molesting more than 100 children.” By Associated Press

Catholic sex abuse scandal hits unlikely country
“The Roman Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal has stretched into one of the least Catholic countries: Japan, where former students at a prestigious all-boys parochial school allege they were molested or raped by religious brothers who taught there decades ago.” By Associated Press on

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


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!

Dick Rento will lead a discussion of his upcoming book, It’s Not Necessarily So, Sunday, May 1, 2016 at 3:30 followed by our next Liturgy at 4:30 pm. At St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 100 Harter Road, Morristown, NJ. All are welcome!

More from VOTF NJ
As a celebration of our past year’s work and an extension of our exploration of Laudato Si (“On the Care of our Common Home”), we will be taking to the road for some fresh air and sunshine. VOTFNJ will be traveling to Genesis Farm, 41A Silver Lake Rd., Blairstown, NJ on Sunday, May 22, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM.

Sister Miriam Therese MacGillis O.P. will begin the day with a presentation on Laudato Si. Sister Miriam Therese, who has lectured internationally, co-founded Genesis Farm in 1980, which has become one of the main prototypes for 50 ecological farms, earth learning and retreat centers in the U.S. and Canada.

After Sister’s talk, we will enjoy a picnic (bring your own bag lunch), and a walking tour of the farm. For non-walkers there is a lovely library where you can spend your time browsing their collection.

If convenient for you, we have arranged for bus transportation to leave for the farm at 9 AM from the Kohl’s Shopping Center Parking Lot, Routes 10 & 202, Morris Plains, and to head back from the farm around 3 PM. Genesis Farm is approximately 45 minutes from the Morristown area.

To properly arrange for transportation, we ask that you pre-register by April 30. Your registration fee will help defray the costs of transportation and a donation to Genesis Farm.

It would be great to have you join us for this day of celebration!

Registration form is available for download here.

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.

Page One

Shop at Amazon, Support VOTF

VOTF relies solely on the contributions of people like you to support its work.




© Voice of the Faithful 2016. All Rights Reserved.