In the Vineyard: April 9, 2018

In the Vineyard :: April 9, 2018 :: Volume 18, Issue 7

News from National

April Is Child Abuse Prevention Month

In 1983, a presidential proclamation declared April to be Child Abuse Prevention Month nationwide. As a result, child abuse awareness activities are promoted across the country during April of each year. The U.S. Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) within the Children’s Bureau coordinates Child Abuse Prevention Month activities at the Federal level, providing information and releasing updated national statistics about child abuse and neglect. But YOU are needed to help raise awareness at the local level.

Visit Voice of the Faithful’s Child Protection program page for more information.

Long-time Brooklyn VOTF member selectedfor “Lunch with Our Conference Speakers”

A long-time Brooklyn VOTF member’s name, Anne Wilson, has been drawn in our 2018 Conference Lunch with Our Speakers promotion.

Anne and her guest will have lunch during our 2018 Conference: Progress & Promise on Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Providence Marriott Downtown (lobby shown at left), with our Conference speakers and VOTF trustees.

Featured Conference speakers will be Marie Collins and Prof. Massimo Faggioli. Collins, who spoke at our 2015 Assembly, is a forceful voice for clergy sexual abuse

Featured Conference speakers will be Marie Collins and Prof. Massimo Faggioli. Collins, who spoke at our 2015 Assembly, is a forceful voice for clergy sexual abuse survivors and former lay member of the initial Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. She has consulted worldwide on child protection issues and is sure to offer interesting updates on the progress in Rome toward accountability in the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

Faggioli, an internationally known theologian, is Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University. A highly sought-after speaker, he also is the author of books on Vatican II and Catholic movements and a columnist for Commonweal magazine. His specialties include Vatican II’s legacy for the laity.

Join us to discuss how we will continue to raise Spirit-led voices for our Church.

The reduced-price Early Bird Special registration for our 2018 Conference is still in effect, so register now by clicking here.

Cost per person: $85 for Early Bird Special (Full-price registration will be $125/person.)
Click here to register.
Date: Oct. 6, 2018
Time: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Location: Providence Marriott Downtown
(Click here for the City of Providence’s GoProvidence website, where you can learn all about this great city’s attractions.)

Also, make your hotel reservation now at a reduced rate by using this link to go to Marriott’s Voice of the Faithful reservations page. VOTF’s 2018 Conference takes place at one of the most popular times of the year for visitors to New England — Columbus Day weekend — so book your hotel room now. (NOTE: We already sold out two blocks of rooms and have a limited number of additional rooms but those also are going fast.)

Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad)

Pope Francis’ new papal letter, titled Gaudete et Exsultate and released April 9, is a reflection on the great criterion Jesus said will be used at the final judgment: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

Watch as Father James Martin explains his top 5 takeaways from Pope Francis’ new letter.

An Easier Antidote

VOTF Finance Working Group member Joseph E. Finn, Jr., wrote this Letter to the Editor in the April 13 issue of Commonweal magazine.

William M. Shea’s article (“Imagine There’s No Clergy,” January 26) is, of course, provocative and intriguing. His assertion that clericalism has led to “rolling waves of disappointment” such as the Reformation, the silence of the hierarchy during the Nazi persecution of WWII, the anti-modern crusade of nineteenth-century popes, etc., is compelling. It leads him to his remedies which are, among other things, ending the ontological sign of ordination, editing the accoutrements of sacred office, and ending Christendom.

I would suggest to Shea that he read Yves Congar’s book Good and Bad Reform in the Catholic Church, which outlines four major criteria for good church reform. Maybe you could square-peg-round-hole Shea’s reforms into Congar’s criteria, but you would probably bang your thumb in the process.

More importantly, Peter Steinfels’s areas of reform outlined in an article he wrote for Commonweal in 2012 (“What We’ve Learned,” August 2012) are easier to understand and implement. They are the areas of governance, accountability, and transparency. The Canon Law Society of America, for instance, addressed the area of governance in its October 2014 Survey of the (Arch)Diocesan/Eparchiel Finance Councils.

Similarly, the Finance Working Group of Voice of the Faithful published a survey of the (Arch)dioceses of the United States in November 2017 with regard to financial transparency. It ranked the dioceses based on ten questions that were assigned numerical weights. The total weight dioceses could achieve was sixty. The dioceses were then ranked from highest to lowest.

We need only look as far as Canons 492, 493, and 494 to see that had the dioceses followed canon law with regard to full disclosure of financial information, to include the (undisclosed) settlement payments to survivors, and had the bishops followed canon law with regard to obtaining “consent” from their finance councils for those “extraordinary” payments, according to canon law, the scandal and sin and sickness of abuse of children would not have persisted as long as it did.

VOTF Supports AUSCP Letter on Seminary Education

Voice of the Faithful released a sattement supporting the recent letter sent by the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests calling for revisions in the training of men for ordination to the priesthood so as to ensure greater adherence to the tenets of the Second Vatican Council and teachings of Pope Francis.

The impetus for AUSCP’s statement comes from the 2016 mandate of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy that each bishop’s conference update its Program for Priestly Formation.

“Our study and reflection persuade us that a new Program of Priestly Formation needs more than minimal editing … It needs in-depth revisions,” the priests said in a letter to Cardinal Joseph Tobin, who leads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on the Consecrated Life and Vocations. “Our comments are made in response to the significant challenges facing the Church in the United States.”

For the entire AUSCP letter and the full report from its Working Group on Priestly Formation, visit the AUSCP web site.

To read the statement by VOTF, click here.

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


Vatican verdict against Guam archbishop likely not for sexual abuse, say canon lawyers
“A Vatican tribunal’s guilty verdict last month against a Guam archbishop, hailed by some as the first instance of the Catholic Church successfully prosecuting a bishop accused of abusing minors, appears likely not to have been made in direct relation to allegations of sexual abuse by the prelate. A number of prominent canon lawyers say the punishment announced for Agana Archbishop Anthony Apuron — removal from office and a prohibition from living on the U.S. island territory — simply seems too lax to indicate the bishop was found guilty of abuse.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Police search Michigan bishop’s home; cite lack of cooperation in sex abuse investigation
“On Thursday (Mar. 22), police in Saginaw, Michigan, raided the home of Bishop Joseph Cistone, as well as the diocesan chancery and its cathedral rectory, as part of an ongoing investigation into sex abuse allegations against several diocesan priests. CNA has reached out to the Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan for comment but did not receive a response by press time.” By Mary Rezac, Catholic News Agency

Youth want bishops to face sex abuse, women in the Church
“Since Pope Francis called a summit of Catholic bishops on youth and discernment two years ago, fixing it for this October, speculation has swirled about which topics would loom largest during the meeting, given that its themes seem vast enough to embrace almost everything under the sun. We won’t really know until the Synod of Bishops gets underway, but if 300 young people from around the world who met in Rome this week (Mar. 25) to provide input to the bishops have anything to do with it, two tough subjects will be unavoidable: The Church’s sexual abuse scandals, and the role of women in Catholicism.” By John L. Allen, Jr.,

Pope Francis accepts resignation of Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey and the former Bishop of Raphoe, Philip Boyce, has been appointed administrator. McAreavey announced his resignation on 1 March in wake of concerns raised by parents of children whose Confirmation he was due to preside over later this year. It was reported earlier this year by the BBC Spotlight programm that McAreavey had officiated at the funeral mass of a priest accused by 12 people of sexual abuse.” By The Journal

Jesuit ‘man on a mission’ sees change happening on sexual abuse
“Father Hans Zollner, an earnest 51-year-old Bavarian Jesuit psychologist and vice-rector at Rome’s prestigious Gregorian University, who’s considered perhaps Catholicism’s leading expert on sexual abuse and child protection, is a man on a mission … Zollner is, in other words, the other face of the Catholic Church when it comes to the sexual abuse scandals – the face not of dysfunction and denial, but of reform and hope.” By John L. Allen, Jr.,

Priest accused of embezzling $5 million from his church for lavish estate
“A Catholic priest accused of embezzling more than $5 million from his central Michigan church spent about $100,000 on an indoor swimming pool and stained glass windows for his six-bedroom, 12-bathroom home, according to a lawsuit seeking to recoup some of the money.”
By Associated Press in Money

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

Affiliate News

New Jersey VOTF held a discussion in January exlporing options for an ordained ministry in the 21st century. Context for the panel was “reading the signs of the times.” Among those signs are the pressures on today’s priests and parishioners:

1. Seminaries are increasingly empty.

2. Multiple parishes once served by one or two priests are now amalgamated and have no sense of community. Anonymous parishioners result.

3. There are shortages of priests everywhere.

4. Foreign-born clergy are used with generally poor results in the U.S.: They are out of touch with American culture and language. The countries from which we recruit (Africa, India, Latin America) are themselves short of clergy.

5. Multiple parishes are served by one priest especially in the Midwest and western dioceses. Burnout and lack of availability result for the few priests left.

6. Spiritually and theologically prepared women are not allowed to serve… For additional details on the discussion and outcome, see the link on the NJ affiliate’s web site.


VOTF North Shore Seacoast Affiliate Day of Recollection: April 21 (Beverly Farms MA)

On Saturday, April 21, 2018, Sr. Barbara Quinn, RSCJ, will facilitate a Day of Recollection at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Beverly Farms from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm. The topic is “Everyone Leads.” Barbara will offer a general profile of the challenges of our Church today, particularly in the U.S., as well as inviting reflection on all the gifts members of VOTF and others have to offer in the revitalization of our Church. Our own experiences will be infused into this interactive session.

Barbara is a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart. She has been Associate Director of Spiritual Formation at the Boston College School of Theology & Ministry (STM) since 2011. She earned a Master of Divinity from Weston Jesuit School of Theology in 1981 and a Doctor of Ministry (spirituality concentration) from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago in 1998.

Bring your own brown bag lunch. Coffee, tea, & water will be provided.

Everyone is invited! Good will offering deeply appreciated.

For further information please call Barbara and John Gould 978-535-2321.

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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