In the Vineyard: August 28, 2015

In the Vineyard :: August 28, 2015 :: Volume 15, Issue 16

Late-Breaking News

Just in: Ex-Vatican Diplomat Found Dead Before Trial on Child Sex Abuse

News from National

An Invitation
The Philadelphia region is honored to host the World Meeting of Families, Sept. 22-25, and the visit of Pope Francis, Sept. 26-27.

VOTF/Greater Philadelphia is pleased to welcome members of Voice of the Faithful to Philadelphia for this historic week. We are looking forward to the opportunity to visit with old friends and the chance to make new friends.

For those VOTF members planning to be in Philadelphia the evening of Sept. 24, we hope you will join VOTF/Greater Philadelphia for a reception. Please see details below:

VOTF Reception
Sept. 24, 4-7 p.m.
R.S.V.P. by Sept. 20

Reply to Marita Green,, with your plans and for directions.

What VOTF is Working On
• Attended Association of U.S. Catholic Priests Assembly in June in St. Louis at AUSCP’s request
• Completed initial population of Diocesan Finances Database and began continuous updating
• Continuing to collect responses to Family Synod questionnaire that VOTF President Mark Mullaney will take to Rome to present at the October 2015 Ordinary Synod
• Planning participation and attendance at World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September 2015
• Proceeding with Healing Circles work

Affiliate News

More News from the Winchester Affiliate
In the last issue of In the Vineyard, we had a report from the Winchester affiliate on how they ran meetings when where there is no specific speaker. This update, from Clare Keane, contains ideas they have used for speakers and programs. Does your affiliate do anything that might inspire other affiliates? If so, please let us know affiliates are always looking for ideas!

Winchester VOTF held our annual Potluck for Priests on July 13. We have been doing this for more than 10 years and now we have a larger group of priests attending than ever. This year we had 11, 3 of whom had not previously attended. Twenty-five VOTF members also attended. One of the priests wrote an amazing letter afterwards noting the priests who “never attend anything with other priests” and how relaxed they all feel around us now and comfortable being themselves; he called it a tribute to our hospitality. Needless to say, we were all delighted with the turnout and strongly recommend it to other affiliates. Don’t be discouraged if the first couple of times you get a lot of refusals. Word gets around!

Earlier this year we had a great talk from Fr. Raymond Helmick on his book Crisis of Confidence in the Catholic Church. During Lent we prayed the Stations of the Cross using meditations and prayers written by Sr. Joan Chittister.

Those of us who attended the Hartford Assembly brought back handouts and notes and spent several meetings keeping the rest of the membership in the loop about the various sessions in Hartford.

For our annual anniversary meeting in May, we had a marvelous guest speaker, Fr. John Higgins, a La Salette priest residing in Winchester, who spoke without notes on his ministry in South America (where he is currently).

One of our members obtained a copy of the movie “Band of Sisters,” which was outstanding. Since it lasted the entire 1 1/2 hours of our meeting time we spent the following meeting discussing it.

Finally, Fr. Bryan Hehir spoke to us on June 29 on the Topic “Pope Francis and His Impact on the Church”: 70+ people attended and were fully engaged, asking good questions, and Fr. Hehir responded to them all.

Report: A Boston Healing Circle
On June 7, 2015, VOTF and the Restorative Justice Committee held its third Healing Circle, the second in Boston, Massachusetts. This Healing Circle took place in a meeting room made available by the Franciscan friars at the St. Anthony Shrine and Ministry Center.

As with previous Healing Circles, the 10 participants all continue to suffer harm in their own unique experiences of the Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal. They included victims/survivors; the parents of and advocates for victims/survivors; lay people who have left the pews and others who have stayed in the pews as they struggled to respond to the harm; and church workers who were caught in the middle of the scandal.

The participants engaged in a “deep process” of speaking, and listening to, the stories each shared. They drew much welcome support from commonalities in their own experiences but also shared hierarchical malfeasance in response to them. They left the nearly eight-hour conversation with a strong sense of validation about their stories, a great relief to have found a safe and nurturing space to hold the pain from their harm, and a renewed hope in their own journeys towards healing.

VOTF and its partners remain convinced that Healing Circles can fill a void that has existed in the life of the people of God since the sexual abuse scandal broke into public consciousness in Boston in 2002. Another Healing Circle in New York City is planned, and plans are under way to hold Healing Circles in Chicago, Seattle, Toronto, and Ireland.

If you know of individuals, perhaps in your own faith communities, for whom a Healing Circle might be a good fit, please ask them to contact Bill Casey (703-568-3438;, or Jayne O’Donnell (860-335-4259;


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


George Pell criticized by Catholic bishop as ‘destroyer of unity’ on child sex abuse
“Cardinal George Pell ‘destroyed the unity’ of the Catholic church’s response to child sex abuse, an Australian bishop has told the royal commission. Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, who played a key role in developing the Australian church’s response to child sex abuse, also said Pope Francis was yet to show strong leadership on the issue and one of his predecessors, John Paul II, responded ‘poorly’ to revelations of child abuse.” By Bridie Jabour, The Guardian
Australian bishop faults papal leadership on clerical abuse, ByScottish Catholic Observer
Activists urge Pope Francis to address sex abuse by clergy during U.S. visit
“John Salveson didn’t give up his obsession with the Catholic Church easily … Prompted by Pope Francis’s trip to Philadelphia this fall, Salveson has renewed his activism toward the church, calling for the pontiff and other participants in a global Catholic meeting on family issues to discuss child sex abuse by clergy members and wear black ribbons to represent ‘the darkness that infects the souls of survivors,’ he said.” By Michelle Boorstein,The Washington Post
Victim advocates decry Milwaukee archdiocese settlement plan
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee would pay $21 million to more than 300 victims of clergy abuse in a settlement plan decried by advocates for those abused by clergy as paltry, but praised by the archbishop as a ‘rebirth.’” By Scott Bauer, Associated Press, on
Questions and answers about the archdiocese (of Milwaukee) abuse settlement, By Annysa Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
LCWR president: a new era of communion with Vatican closes ‘cultural chasm’
“The controversial investigations of U.S. women religious by the Vatican — and resulting tensions — stemmed largely from a ‘cultural chasm,’ the group’s president said Wednesday (Aug. 12). But that chasm is closing, she said, and a new era of communion seems to have begun.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report
Scottish Church needs to start over
“If anybody ever doubted the necessity for an independent review into child protection procedures inside the Catholic Church in Scotland, every page of the McLellan Report published this week (week of Aug. 17) will correct that impression. Thereport is, in effect, a vote of no confidence in the Scottish bishops’ safeguarding procedures … The Scottish Catholic Church for years paid lip service to the need for child protection while the manner in which it treated survivors amounted to further abuse.” Editorial in The Tablet
Silence in the Catholic church may be its weapon of self-destruction
“In a day of remarkable evidence before the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson offered damning assessments of the most senior Catholic clerics on the planet … But his most chilling and telling statement about the Catholic church was the one he made about the church hierarchy’s response to revelations about child sexual abuse: ‘What we got was silence, so bishops were loyal to the silence.’” Commentary by Kristina Keneally inThe Guardian
Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus …


Saint Susanna’s Scripture Study community is pleased to announce the start of a 10 week in-depth look at St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. This lay-led exploration will begin onTuesday, September 15th from 7 to 9 PM in the parish hall and continue each consecutive Tuesday evening for 10 weeks . Each person will be given a commentary and a workbook to help us keep track of our progress and maintain our focus. Each session concludes with a DVD presentation by a Scripture scholar to summarize and enhance the lesson for the week. NO PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE WITH SCRIPTURE STUDY IS NECESSARY.

What we call Paul’s first letter to the church he founded in Corinth provides us with a fuller insight into the life of a first generation Christian community than any other book of the New Testament. Through it we can glimpse the strengths and weaknesses of this small group in a great cosmopolitan city of the ancient world and how these men and women who had accepted the Good News of Christ are now trying to realize in their lives the implications of their new found faith.

If this interests you, please consider joining our group and either contact the rectory at 781-329-9575 or Tim Sullivan a 781-326-2834, or Come and see!

Book Look

Looking for a good book? So are we! If you have any recommendations, please send them along with a short review (if possible). Your fellow VOTF members are always looking for something good to read!

From Celibate Catholic Priest to Married Protestant Minister: Shepherding in Greener Pastures
By Stephen Joseph Fichter

From Celibate Catholic Priest to Married Protestant Minister: Shepherding in Greener Pastures describes a previously unstudied population of celibate Catholic priests who left the priesthood and eventually became married Protestant ministers. Stephen Fichter alternates from narrative to descriptive as he follows the lives of three of his study participants before, during, and after their dual transition.

The descriptive sections include a history of religiously motivated celibacy and a review of the four leading forerunners in the field of Catholic clergy research. This scholarly study is the first time that these transitional clerics have candidly explained their difficult journeys of discernment. Religion, love, loss, and commitment are all analyzed in the context of this unique group of men, and the profiles in this book are memorable not only for the richness of their content, but also—and maybe most importantly—for their humanity.
Lessons can be drawn for all people, especially those who have ever suffered a mid-life crisis.

(This description was taken from the book jacket – if you read it, please let us know what you think of it).

Letter to the Editor

For about two years or so, quite a number of churches have started using Latin for the “Holy, Holy” and “The Lamb of God” in their Sunday liturgies. Why?

Even the election of Pope Francis has not stopped this trend. Is any group watching the liturgy and addressing apparent attempt to bring back Latin?
P. Hardiman

Questions, Comments?

Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor, Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.

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