In the Vineyard: December 19, 2014

News From National

A Message from VOTF’s President
May this year ahead give us peace to all … hope to those who have been harmed … forgiveness to those of us who have harmed ourselves and others … and love to us ALL as we have received love from Jesus Christ.
Make this a blessed New Year!

Blessed Are the Peace Makers
It has been widely reported that Pope Francis played a “key role” in the historic normalization of relations, announced Wednesday, between the United States and Cuba. As the first Latin American pope, he had great credibility in the negotiations, said one official quoted in this story. As someone named after St. Francis of Assisi, he is also someone committed to working for peace.

Affiliate Meeting Model
Each of our affiliates develops a particular form of meeting that best matches their purposes and members’ preferences. From time to time, we share those models with others. Many are suitable not just for a VOTF affiliate meeting but also for a parish gathering, a faith-sharing group, a day of reflection.

This month we feature a model from the Coastal Delmarva affiliate based in Bethany Beach DE. Their meetings, and their “ministry of reconciliation,” include song, Scripture readings, prayerful silence, and shared reflections. We are sharing as a model the 2014 November meeting (you will recognize the autumn harvest graphic). Both are presented as PDFs: one designed to be folded twice to create a four-page booklet, and the other the guide for the meeting’s leader. Our thanks to Skip and John Sullivan for sharing the affiliate’s work with us.

Meeting handout
Leader’s guide

Catholic Moral Theologians Issue Statement on Race Relations in the US
With the recent re-examination of race relations in the United States, a group of North American Catholic moral theologians have put together a statement of commitment to racial justice, signed by more than 250 Catholic theologians.

“In the face of conflict, distrust, and division – in the wilderness – we are called to cry out for a different way …”

S-T-R-E-T-C-H Your Christmas Gift to VOTF!
If you are making a Christmas or year-end donation to Voice of the Faithful®, you have an opportunity to stretch your generosity by 3%. Just make your donation online between midnight EST on Dec. 17 and midnight EST on Dec. 21, and our Weblink vendor will match 3% of that gift.

Click here for complete details.

Come to the Stable this Advent
with Voice of the Faithful®

We hope you have joined us as we make our Advent journey to the stable where Christ was born. If we have your email address, you are receiving an email each day during Advent with a link that opens the “window” on our virtual Advent calendar for that day. Each window has a reflection and a selection from the liturgical calendar readings for that day.

If you do not receive emails from VOTF, click here and use the links to click through the calendar.

Spend this time with us reflecting on the type of Church that Jesus would want to call His. Meditate and pray for the healing and renewal of the Church that we love so much—and consider the programs and activities on VOTF’s 2014 Project Scorecard as potential sources of reform.


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

Vatican probe ends with an olive branch for American nuns
“An unprecedented and highly controversial Vatican investigation of every community of Catholic sisters in the United States that began with criticism of nuns as having a ‘secular mentality’ ended Tuesday (Dec. 16) with a report full of praise, and without any disciplinary measures or new controls.” By John L. Allen, Jr.,
Vatican report on U.S. nuns is conciliatory, By Philip Pullella, Reuters, in Hartford Courant
The ending should have been the beginning, By Joan Chittister, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter
American nuns, Vatican officials pledge ‘dialogue and communion,’ By Ines San Martin,
Vatican report calls U.S. women religious to continued dialogue, By Catholic News Service in The Pilot
Vatican report praises U.S. nuns but urges them to stick to doctrine, By Manya Brachear Pashman, Chicago Tribune
Visitation report takes mostly positive tone towards U.S. sisters, By Joshua J. McElwee, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter
Vatican report cites achievements and challenges of U.S. nuns, By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times
Women religious and others react to apostolic visitation report release, By Dan Stockman and Dawn Cherie Araujo, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter
The Vatican vs. the nuns: three takeaways from Tuesday’s (Dec. 16) report, By David Gibson, Religion News Service
Final Report on the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the United States of America, By
Pope names new members of child protection commission
“As anticipated, the Holy Father Pope Francis has named new members of the Commission for the Protection of Minors. The new members have been chosen from different parts of the world in order to have a full representation of diverse situations and cultures. The next plenary session of the Commission will take place in the Vatican from 6-8 February 2015.” By Vatican Radio
Curia reform: Congregation of the Laity
“The creation of a new Vatican Congregation for the Laityappears to be a likely first step in the reform of the Roman Curia. Many are welcoming this as a recognition that the laity have just as important a role in the church as bishops, clergy and religious, each of which has a congregation dedicated to their concerns.” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter
2014 in review: the ups and downs of child protection
“This year has been an interesting year if for no other reason than that child protection issues are now front and center in the media, and there have been developments (some forward, some backward) at the state, federal, and global levels. Why is this a big deal?” By Marci Hamilton,

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


On Tuesday, January 13, the Weymouth VOTF affiliate will show the Mary Fishman film “Band of Sisters.” It will be shown at St. Albert the Great Church, 1130 Washington Street (Route 53) in Weymouth at 7 PM in the church hall. All are welcomed. Refreshments will be served.
Snow date: Tuesday, February 10

Books Books Books
Looking for a good book to give for Christmas? Read Father James Martin, SJ’s review of “The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope,” by Austin Ivereigh.

Subscribe to VOTF Blog
If you’re interested in reading news relevant to VOTF practically when it happens, subscribe to the Voice of the Faithful® blog. Every day we monitor stories from around the world to keep tabs on VOTF issues. Then we post the most enlightening stories to the blog. We also post all news releases, statements, and other important information coming from the national office and affiliates, and commentary written by VOTF leaders and members.

To subscribe, go to, scroll down the page until you see SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG in the right-hand menu, click the link and follow the directions.
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See you in cyberspace!

Help VOTF and Do Your Christmas Shopping at the Same
Thinking of starting your Christmas shopping? Want to do it online? If so, please consider going to VOTF’s website and following the link to A small percentage of each sale will go to support VOTF (although you will not pay any higher price). An easy way to help VOTF!

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.