In the Vineyard: December 5, 2015

News from National

Healing Circles Featured at BC Lecture
Thursday, Dec. 3rd, The Church in the 21st Century Center at Boston College sponsored the lecture “Storytelling for Healing,” featuring Bill Casey, Director of the Restorative Justice Program for the Northern Virginia Mediation Service and VOTF facilitator for Healing Circles.


Bill explained the power of deep listening and safe storytelling to an attentive audience of BC theology students, VOTF members, abuse survivors, and other interested members of the community. After describing the procedures that ensure a safe place for each participant to tell his or her story, he quoted testimonials from people who had found that their participation in a Healing Circle had started them on a path of healing, or nurtured the healing they were beginning to experience.

Questions from the audience made it clear that the concept of restorative justice on which Healing Circles are based is not an easy perspective for us in the 21st century First World. In addition, Bill pointed out that the injury caused by clergy abuse spills over into families and friends of survivors, and onto all people of faith whose trust is shaken by such betrayal.


All affected by the breach in trust are welcomed into a Healing Circle. Responses also pointed out that nowhere else is such a healing response available to those affected by clergy abuse, and several people expressed their gratitude that VOTF was taking the lead by responding to survivor needs.

For more information on Healing Circles, see our Programs web page.

Did you know?
If you would like to support VOTF as you do your online Christmas shopping, please start your shopping at the VOTF website and click on the AMAZON link. Amazon donates a portion of your shopping to VOTF—it’s a painless way to support your favorite charity!

NOTE too, please, that when you click by starting from our link, we get a larger percentage than if you simply use Amazon’s “smile foundation” link.


Parish Finance Poll Results
Half of you (51.6%) told us in the latest poll that your parishes provide regular reports on finances to those who support them. It would be great if the other half did as well. You can be a part of that change, by asking for regular reports, by serving on a parish finance council, by paying attention when reports are provided.


Why you should care: The parish is where your support goes directly to needed repairs and maintenance of parish buildings, to personnel working directly for your benefit, to the charities your parish supports. So that’s the first place to ensure good accounting and reporting on the dollars you drop in the collection basket. It may not be a full financial statement—those happen at the diocesan level—but it should be regular reports on funds collected and expenses paid, and at least once a year a more-complete report on the major expense categories for the parish.

We would like to hear from more of you whether your parish provides at least basic financial reports. If you already responded to the poll last month, thank you, but if you did not, please respond now. It takes only 3 minutes, maximum, and that includes the time to open the link and read the question. We’d love to hear about 1,000 or more parishes.

This poll will remain open for another 2 weeks:

And then we will take a break until January when a new poll question comes out.

Don’t Miss the Advent Calendar!
Each day you receive in your email our Reflection for the day, part of our Advent Calendar for the season. You will be in good company reading it—Prof. Tom Groome cited the reflections last night, when he introduced Bill Casey at the Storytelling for Healing lecture, as he described the work we do at VOTF.


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

Editorial: U.S. church leadership is in transition
“In Florence, Italy, last month, Pope Francis addressed the Italian church and gave a bracing, 50-minute exhortation on how integral change is to a healthy life of the church. ‘Before the problems of the church, it is not useful to search for solutions in conservatism or fundamentalism, in the restoration of obsolete conduct and forms that no longer have the capacity of being significant culturally,’ he told the gathered clerics and laypeople.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff
Catholic Church corruption: Pope Francis orders Vatican audit amid mismanagement allegations
Pope Francis has ordered an audit of the Catholic Church’s wealth in what is being described as an ‘unprecedented’ look into its finances and high spending, Bloomberg reported Tuesday (Dec. 1). The Working-Party for the Economic Future was established with the Secretariat of State, the Vatican Bank and other agencies to examine corruption and mismanagement.” By Lydia Tomkiw, International Business Times

Vatican trial begins over leaked documents
“Five people, including two Italian journalists, went on trial in a Vatican courtroom on Tuesday (Nov. 24) on charges of illegally procuring and circulating confidential documents that were used to write two tell-all books detailing suspected mismanagement and corruption at the Vatican. The Vatican claims that by taking the documents, the defendants violated the ‘fundamental interests of the Holy See and the State,’ language it used in a formal indictment.” By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times
Vatican indicts five for leaks, By Ines San Martin,
Africa trip captured the ‘Pope of the Peripheries’ at his boldest
“Pope Francis has taken 11 foreign trips to date, and while each has reflected his priorities and outlook in some way, his Nov. 25-30 outing to Africa may be remembered as the single journey that best captured his entire agenda in miniature. In effect, the trip allowed Francis to deliver on arguably his two most keenly felt personal ambitions: Making the word’s peripheries the center of the Church, and centering the Church on God’s mercy.” By Ines San Martin,
Pope ends African trip with visit to a mosque, By Somini Sengupta, The New York Times
Re-Jesusing the Catholic Church
How can a church whose officialdom is worldly and corrupt present Jesus to the world? Pope Francis thinks it cannot. He once told people at the morning mass in his small chapel, ‘To be believable, the Church has to be poor.’ He has spoken of personal revulsion at seeing a priest drive an expensive car. When he spoke of money as ‘the devil’s dung’ (he was quoting a church father, Saint Basil), some took this as an attack on Western capitalism. But it was a more general message, part of his apology in Bolivia for the church’s role in colonialism. And when Francis looks around the Vatican, he finds the same devil-stench.’” By Garry Wills, The Boston Globe
Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus …

Affiliate News

Spotlight Movie in Cincinnati
Greater Cincinnati VOTF made 30 free tickets available for the 11:30 a.m. showing of Spotlight on Saturday December 5, 2015, at the Esquire Theater there. After the movie, VOTF members will meet for a group discussion of Spotlight and a brief VOTF annual members meeting at Biagos Bistro, next door to the Esquire Theater (308 Ludlow St).

Upcoming VOTFNJ Events
Sunday, December 6, 2015, at 3:30 p.m., the affiliate will host the first of three sessions on Pope Francis’s Laudato Si.The discussion will be facilitated by Beatrice (Bunny) Mondare at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church,100 Harter Rd. Morristown NJ.

You can download the Reader’s Guide and the entire chapter by chapter from Crux.

In this first discussion, Beatrice will concentrate on the Introduction and chapters 1, 2, and 3 of the encyclical using questions from Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J.’s A Readers’ Guide to Laudato Si with Study Questions to Help in Reading the Encyclical, which was published in the National Catholic Reporte” and can be downloaded free from their website.

Sexual and Spiritual Abuse by the Clergy: The Wound That Will Not Heal
A talk by Thomas P. Doyle, J.C.D., C.A.D.C.
Tom delivered this speech at a conference titled Stop Naduzyciom Seksualnym (Stop Sexual Abuse) in Poznan, Poland, held November 13 to 15, 2015.

The sexual violation of innocent, vulnerable boys and girls is considered to be one of the most hideous and despicable crimes known to secular society. It is so contrary to human decency that even in prisons, those who sexually molest children are considered the lowest of the low and often treated accordingly.

The reality of sexual violation of children and young people by deacons, priests, bishops and even cardinals, the most trusted and esteemed members of the Catholic Church, is something that remains incomprehensible. When we step back and distance ourselves from the Church and look at this horrific tragedy in its complete context, the dissonance between what the Catholic Church claims to be and what the leaders of this Church have not only allowed to happen but [also] enabled, is impossible to grasp.

Read more:

Book Corner

VOTF Ireland member Sean O’Conaill’s The Chain That Binds the Earth has garnered a positive review in the Irish Times. The book discussesthe relationships between Protestants and Catholics, the shadow of Northern Ireland’s past, and the search for meaning in life with all the implications that holds for Christian faith.
To read the review in the Irish Times click here.

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.