In the Vineyard: August 24, 2020

In the Vineyard :: August 24, 2020 :: Volume 20, Issue 16

News from National

Need Something to Look Forward to?

Then join Voice of the Faithful for our online Zoom conference: Visions of a Just Church, which will take place Oct. 3. Mark your calendars! We will be exploring visions of what a Church that is just for all the faithful would look like. Join a conversation that will cover VOTF’s projects and initiatives and also hear two well known Catholic scholars, Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D, and Fr. Richard Lennan.

The cost for attending VOTF’s online Zoom 2020 Conference is just $50. Plus, because it’s online, it’s a great way to get there without the hassle of transportation connections.

For those of you overseas and in other time zones, we start at 9 a.m. Eastern U.S. time Saturday. You can set your local time accordingly or, if the time is inconvenient, note that all registrants will be able to open and run the videos as soon as the “live” meeting ends. Your code will be valid for a couple of weeks.

Another plus–we are organizing Friday night (Oct. 2) small-group Zoom gatherings closer to or in your own time zone so that you can meet some of your VOTF neighbors ahead of time.

Register for the online Zoom VOTF 2020 Conference by clicking here …

If you prefer to mail us your registration, download this form …

German Synodal Journey Open to Future Findings

German Archbishop Stefan Hesse claims to be have an open mind as the forum “Women in Ministries and Offices in the Church” begins in Germany. Proposed as a forum for open debate on women’s ordination, Archbishop Hesse says that new arguments have emerged, explaining that “the historical perspective is one thing—but it isn’t everything.”

Naturally, simply discussing the topic has proved to be too much for some would-be participants, who have removed themselves from their roles in the synod, who say they have concerns that the group “endorses or is fixated on changing church teachings.” International Theological Commission member Marianne Schlosser and an auxiliary bishop of Cologne are two of those unwilling to discuss the issue. Participants include laypeople from Germany’s lay organization, the Central Committee of German Catholics, as well as German bishops.

The overall goal of the synodal journey in Germany is to discuss a range of controversial topics, including sexuality, priestly celibacy, and women’s roles. Members of the lay committee have already openly supported ordaining women as both deacons and priests. Archbishop Hesse hopes that the reform discussions will help resolve lingering questions about these topics, but understands that the decisions reached by the group will not be canonically binding. According to a letter from Pope Francis, “any reforms must follow Catholic teaching.”

There has been some controversy over the degree to which these decisions are legally understood, but Bishop Georg Batzing, new president of the German church, has indicated that he believes a church-wide synod should be held in Rome, following the end of the German synodal journey, to discuss the conclusions. After legal review, including deliberation by Cardinal Marc Ouellet and Cardinal Reinhard Marx, it was resolved that despite earlier concerns, the synodal journey would not plan to reach binding decisions.

The development of the synod was a direct response to the 2018 report on sexual abuse in the German church and will discuss a variety of topics currently being discussed in the Catholic Church today.

For further information, please see here.

For VOTF’s position on women’s roles in the church, please see here.

Pope Francis Considers “Life After the Pandemic”

The Vatican has gathered eight papal addresses together in a book titled Life After the Pandemic. Filled with Pope Francis’s thoughts and messages from March and April, the essays offers hope and direction for future life after the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are familiar, having been directed at the city of Rome and the world, while others are directed at individuals and specific groups.

The Pope has discussed fears that a small minority of economically and politically wealthy and powerful will continue to move forward while the vast majority will still be struggling with the aftereffects of the pandemic. He warns against the experience of a second, “even worse virus, that of selfish indifference. A virus spread by the thought that life is better if it is better for me, and that everything will be fine if it is fine for me.”

As is the message in many of Pope Francis’s teachings, other epidemics the human race faces include hunger, “wars fueled by desires for domination and power,” and “lifestyles that cause so many to suffer poverty,” as well as an environment that humans have polluted, despoiled, and destroyed.

Pope Francis hopes that we will recognize the inequities, injustice, and suffering faced by many that are “undermining the health of the entire human family.” He warns against returning to business as usual and encourages “political leaders to work actively for the common good, to provide the means and resources needed to enable everyone to lead a dignified life and, when circumstances allow, to assist them in resuming their normal daily activities.”

Looking forward, the Pope advises Catholics to embrace the Lord “in order to embrace hope,” and act with “justice, charity and solidarity.” Mourning those who have lost their lives to COVID-19 while turning to the Lord to look for a better future, he reminds us to live as a civilization of love.

To read more about this publication, which is available via Amazon, see here.

To learn more about the book, see here.

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


Explainer: What the church has done to fight clergy sex abuse since 2018’s ‘summer of shame’
“It has been two years since the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report was published on Aug. 14, 2018, documenting in at times disturbing detail at least 1,000 cases of abuse by 300 predator priests spanning seven decades. Within two months, 13 more states and the District of Columbia had launched similar investigations, and Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, then-archbishop of Washington, who was named in the report as failing to deal adequately with abuse when he was bishop of Pittsburgh.” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

Francis names six women to group that oversees Vatican’s finances
“Pope Francis named six women to the high-level group that oversees the Vatican’s finances Aug. 6, in what may represent the most senior appointments yet of women among the Catholic Church’s exclusively male leadership structure. The six women, all Europeans with backgrounds in finance, will join eight cardinals and one layman as members of the Council for the Economy, which Francis created in 2014 to supervise the financial activities of both the Vatican city-state and the offices of the Holy See.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Editorial: It’s past time for Vatican report on McCarrick’s shameful rise
“As we publish this, it has been one year, 10 months, and six days since Pope Francis ordered a report on the Vatican’s documentation about how Theodore McCarrick was promoted through the ranks of the Catholic hierarchy for decades, despite multiple, then-secret reports of his sexual misconduct with seminarians. And it has been six months and six days since a Vatican official last gave a public update on the status of the report, when Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin told the Reuters news agency that work on the text was done, awaiting only a final ‘go’ order for publication from Francis.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Polish Cleric Retires in Face of Cover-Up Accusations. It’s Not Enough, Critics Say.
“Pope Francis this week accepted the resignation of the archbishop of Gdansk, Poland, who has been accused of protecting priests facing allegations of child abuse, a step seen as a subtle rebuke but also criticized as inadequate. The archbishop, Slawoj Leszek Glodz, had offered his resignation upon reaching the retirement age of 75, as protocol demands, but bishops are typically allowed to keep their positions past that time. The pope’s decision to accept Archbishop Glodz’s resignation on his birthday was interpreted by many as an admonishment of the church hierarchy in Poland, which has long been accused of putting the institution’s image above the rights of abuse victims.” By Elisabetta Povoledo and Anatol Magdziarz, The New York Times

Report show emergence of child safe culture
“Audits of Catholic dioceses and religious institutes have revealed a ‘consistent commitment of leaders and an emerging and strengthening child-safe culture,’ according to Catholic Professional Standards Ltd. Since its establishment in 2016, CPSL has developed and rolled out the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, provided safeguarding capacity-building to Church entities through training, support, advice and guidance, and developed an audit framework to measure compliance with the Standards.” By

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

Looking for an Interesting Podcast?

Sister Helen Prejean was interviewed on National Public Radio on her work with death row inmates.

Sister Prejean wrote Dead Man Walking, a book that decribed how she became an activist against the death penalty. It was adapted into a film of the same name in 1995, starring Susan Sarandon.

In 1982, Sister Helen became a spiritual adviser to a convicted killer on death row. She’s since accompanied six people to their executions, and her latest memoir, River of Fire, recounts her overall spiritual journey and her awakening to social justice movements.

River of Fire was published in 2019, the same year Attorney General William Barr announced the resumption of federal executions after a 17-year moratorium. Last month, three federal inmates were executed within one week.

River of Fire ends with Sister Helen’s letter to Pope Francis, which she personally delivered to him, in which she shares her concern about the wound she believes infects every aspect of church life: the way the church treats women.

Listen to Sister Helen Prejean on Witnessing Executions: ‘I Couldn’t Let Them Die Alone’


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