In the Vineyard: December 21, 2020

In the Vineyard :: December 21, 2020 :: Volume 20, Issue 24

News from National

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

(Luke 1:26-38 NRSV)

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Christmas Mass Online

Many of us will be watching Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Mass online this year and while it is nowhere nearly as beautiful as worshipping with loved ones, there are many wonderful options open for online viewing–in addition to the services in your own faith community. Below are just a few:

The Washington National Cathedral has music and services. Click here for more information.

Pope Francis will celebrate Midnight Mass at 7:30 pm. For more information, click here.

To find online services at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC, click here.

And finally, here is a prayer for all of those who are taking part in online worship:

My Jesus,
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.


A Little Night Music … Or During the Day

In this year of Covid, parishes have taken to YouTube and Zoom to conduct services, host meetings, and continue their work. As Christmas nears, many of those who traditionally hold Advent or Christmas concerts cope with the same restrictions that limit in-person gatherings on Sundays.

At the Paulist Center in Boston MA, where every Mass throughout the year includes music (and vigorous communal singing during non-Covid times), the Advent concert went on, virtually, through a compilation of selections from the 2017, 2018, and 2019 concerts. The concert first aired Dec. 20, but you can enjoy the music at any time until Dec. 27 by using this link.

How Was Your Advent?

Hoping. Anticipating. Praying. Gathering. Worshiping. How have these or other aspects of Advent changed for you during this COVID-19 pandemic? What are you doing differently this Advent to maintain the spirit of the season? We can draw more closely together this Advent, even if we’re not seeing each other in person, by sharing our thoughts and plans with others.

So, tell us how you’re observing Advent this year. Email We’ll publish edited excerpts from your emails in In the Vineyard and on our website at Also, let us know your name and hometown.

May this Advent season bring you hope, peace, joy, and love.

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


The People Should Choose Their Bishops Again
“There are a number of conclusions one could draw from reading the Vatican report on former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. For example: that the clerical sex-abuse crisis in the Church is worse than we thought and extends to vulnerable adults. Also, that position and influence in our Church are easily bought, and that bishops lie, even to the pope, to protect other bishops. But the conclusion that encompasses all of the above is that the way we choose our bishops is deeply flawed, producing bishops who are, in turn, deeply flawed. How did things get this way, and what can be done about it?” By Nicholas P. Cafardi, Commonweal

Action plan missing from McCarrick Report can be found Down Under
“The entire Church should take seriously the proposals for ecclesial reform coming from Catholics in Australia. The solution to the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church hangs in the balance between these two questions: What happened? and What needs to happen? The so-called ‘McCarrick Report,’ which was compiled by the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and published on November 10, is an example of unprecedented transparency under pressure. It represents a fundamental step towards a better comprehension of what happened … But other parts of the global Catholic Church are addressing this problem with concrete proposals. The Church in Australia is one of the best examples.” By Massimo Faggioli, Catholic Outlook

Annual Report: Some U.S. dioceses improve financial transparency, others remain secretive
More U.S. dioceses published audited financial documents in 2020 than before, but more than a quarter still did not publish any audited financial reports, according to an annual financial transparency report by the lay organization Voice of the Faithful. About 70% of dioceses posted audited financial reports on their websites in 2020, up from 65% in 2019 and from 56% in 2017, according to the review. Margaret Roylance, chair of the organization’s finance working group, said she was heartened to see that many dioceses published these reports on time despite delays due to COVID-19.” By Madeleine Davison, National Catholic Reporter

Inter-American Human Rights Commission to look into clerical sexual abuse
“For the first time in its history, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission promised to defend victims of clerical sexual abuse, with cases being reported in at least 19 countries in Latin America … The Washington, D.C.-based commission is an autonomous part of the Organization of American States and is the main human rights body in the Americas. Thursday’s (Dec. 3) hearing was held via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The commission said it was committed to using its power to demand information on cases that are not being resolved by member states.” By Inés San Martín,

DOJ probe of Catholic church abuse goes quiet 2 years later
“Two years ago, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia joined the long line of ambitious prosecutors investigating the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of priest-abuse complaints. The Justice Department had never brought a conspiracy case against the church, despite exhaustive reports that showed its long history of burying abuse complaints in secret archives, transferring problem priests to new parishes, silencing accusers and fighting laws to benefit child sex assault victims. U.S. Attorney William McSwain sent subpoenas to bishops across Pennsylvania asking them to turn over their files and submit to grand jury testimony if asked. The FBI interviewed at least six accused priests, court files show.” By Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press, in The Charlotte Observer

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

George Pell Keeps Talking: Prison Diary Released,Questions About Motives for his Removal

Australian Cardinal George Pell, formerly imprisoned after being convicted of child sexual abuse but since acquitted, has released journals from his first five months in prison. In 2017, when he held the position of prefect of the Vatican’s economy ministry, he faced charges of sexually molesting two 13-year-old boys in Melbourne, Australia in 1996. After two trials, the first of which saw a deadlocked jury and the second which unanimously convicted him, he was sentenced to six years in prison. Earlier this year, in April, his conviction was overturned by Australia’s High Court after finding reasonable doubt in his accuser’s testimony. Pell reported that staff in Barwon Prison, where he was held, were generally “courteous and decent,” but that his time was marked by “petty humiliations.”

Witness J, the credible accuser and former choirboy, shared through his lawyer that he was relieved that the case was over and accepted the High Court judgement. He expressed that he wished all who followed the case over the long and arduous process was also doing well, despite the “stress of the legal process and public controversy.”

In addition to the sexual abuse scandal for which he is mainly known, Pell is also linked to the Vatican’s more recent financial crisis scandal. Serving for three years in the budgeting, accounting, and finance bureaucracy of the Holy See, he attempted to impose order and strict standards on the notoriously secretive financial culture. Former Cardinal Becciu, who recently resigned under investigation of financial mis-dealings, clashed with Cardinal Pell during a more-than yearlong investigation. In 2014, Pell “boasted” about discovering hundreds of millions of dollars that did not appear on balance sheets other than Becciu’s. Becciu has yet to be charged in the corruption investigation.

Pell and his lawyers have alleged that there is a connection between his attempts at financial reform and his removal from Rome to face charges back in his home country of Australia, but they have not released any evidence in support of this theory. Pell has said “…some Australian people, my own family, said to me: ‘Well if the Mafia is going after you or somebody else is going after you, that’s one thing. It’s a little bit worse if it comes from within the church.’ But I think we will find out, whether there is or there isn’t. Certainly the party’s not over.”

Pell had a private audience with Pope Francis after his return to Rome last month, and says the Pope acknowledged what he was trying to do in terms of financial reform before he was sent to prison.

Cardinal Pell is one of the most divisive figures of the modern Church: to those who support him, his experience has been a perversion of justice. To those who oppose him, his trial, conviction, and acquittal have been a heinous miscarriage of justice. Although Prison Journal may be an interesting insight into his time behind bars, it is unlikely to change minds in either group.

For more information, please see here, here, here, and here.

To read more about VOTF’s position on child protection, please see here.

For survivor support resources, please see here.

Pope Francis’s Year in Review

This has been a productive and innovative year for Pope Francis, with his actions continuing to support his belief that Catholic social teachings show the answers to many of the world’s most pressing problems.

Through the course of the Coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis has not wavered in his commitment to the poor and vulnerable. On March 27, during the height of the first wave of infections in Italy, he spoke, standing alone in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, and reminded the world that “no one is saved alone” and calling for united work to protect the world. More recently, he created a special task force aimed at reshaping the world after the pandemic ends to better serve those at highest risk: the poor, marginalized, and those at the edges of society.

Pope Francis has not slowed down on his publications, despite what everyone else has experienced in terms of “unprecedented” changes this year. He published two magisterial texts, Querida Amazonia, an apostolic exhortation written after the Pan-Amazonian synod, and Fratelli Tutti, an exploration of Catholic social teaching as tools for building a better world. He also published a book, Let Us Dream, along with his English-language biographer, Austen Ivereigh. In his book, he touches on several hot-button issues, including racial justice, the persecution of the Uighurs, and universal basic income. Let Us Dream is a memoir of what he calls his “personal Covids” or times in his life where he has reconsidered his life course, which is what he explains the pandemic has forced everyone to do.

In the past year, he has also seen two scandals occur in areas he has committed to overhauling and instituting transparency, accountability, and honesty: Vatican and church finances, and the ongoing sexual abuse trials.

Pope Francis has also used this year to empower lay women to have decision-making roles within the church that do not require ordination. Early in the year, he appointed Francesca Di Giovanni as second undersecretary with specific responsibility for the multilateral sector, a senior managerial post in the Secretariat of State. In August, he made seven appointments to the board of the Vatican’s council for the economy, including six women.

Finally, Francis is set to participate in a Netflix series about perspectives of the elderly, based in his book “Sharing the Wisdom of Time.” The series will be four episodes long and will include interviews of elders of various countries and backgrounds, with commentary and an exclusive interview with Pope Francis. As part of his continuing commitment to eradicate “throwaway culture,” he continues to emphasize the importance of recognizing the young and the old as sources of wisdom, memory, and importance.

Looking to the year ahead, Pope Francis shared a message of peace with world leaders, urging them to use spending marked for military needs to support and help those experiencing poverty and in need of healthcare. For the World Day of Peace, he released his message, explaining that many “can no longer remember a time when they dwelt in security and peace,” and urging world leaders to make peaceful change a priority.

While the year has certainly been unprecedented, Pope Francis continues on with the same messages of hope, transparency, and love for one another, and hopes that these values will be strengthened in the New Year, a consistent and heartfelt message.

For more information, please see here, here, and here.

Eager to Keep Learning?

Join Boston College’s C21 online course in January titled Grace And Commitment: The Laity. This 3-Week course provides guided discussion on the laity’s roles in the mission of the Church. Discussion is based on the Fall 2010 issue of C21 Resources, a publication of Boston College’s Church in the 21st Century Center. This issue, “The Vocations of the Laity,” edited by Dr. Edward P. Hahnenberg, contains fourteen short, informative articles and excerpts from relevant Church documents. Join the conversation about how family life, participation in the faith community, activities in the public square and the workplace, and leadership in Catholic institutions such as hospitals and schools are all locations for the vocations of the laity in today’s Church. The class begins January 27.

To learn more, click here.


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