In the Vineyard: February 17, 2020

In the Vineyard :: February 17, 2020 :: Volume 20, Issue 3

News from National

Lent: A Time to Prepare

Lent is a season of preparation, introspection, and reflection. This Lent, Voice of the Faithful is offering the following links to reflections and readings to help you observe the season. Some of the links lead to online reflections, and others lead to places where you may purchase booklets or pamphlets for use during your 40-day journey toward Easter and Jesus’s Resurrection.

If you have a favorite resource for Lenten reflections, let us know at, and we will review it for our list.

Return to Me: Lenten Reflections from Holy Cross, offer by College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts, by tradition and choice, a Jesuit liberal arts college serving the Catholic community, American society, and the wider world, where participants in college life to join in dialogue about basic human questions: What is the moral character of learning and teaching? How do we find meaning in life and history? What are our obligations to one another? What is our special responsibility to the world’s poor and powerless?

A Time to Weep Lent 2020, by Joan Chisttister, an outspoken advocate of justice, peace and equality—especially for women world-wide—and one of America’s visionary spiritual voices for more than 30 years.

The Crucified Is My Love: Morning & Evening Devotions for the Holy Season of Lent, by Johann Ernst von Holst, translated by Kathleen Hasenberg, offered by Plough Quarterly, a magazine of stories, ideas, and culture to inspire faith and action.

Sacred Silence: Daily Meditations for Lent, by Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., an internationally acclaimed Catholic scholar and lecturer on contemporary spirituality and women’s issues in the Church, and senior research associate-in-residence and adjunct professor of religion at Hofstra University.

Not by Bread Alone: Daily Reflections for Lent 2020, by Michelle Franci-Donnay, a writer, teacher, wife, mother of two college-aged sons, professor of chemistry at Bryn Mawr College, and adjunct scholar of the Vatican Observatory. Her regular column, “Catholic Spirituality,” appears on She is a regular contributor to Give Us This Day, published by Liturgical Press.

Sacred Space for Lent 2020, by Irish Jesuits, offered by Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry, a daily prayer experience from Sacred Space (, the internationally known online prayer guide.

Lent Resources, from Ave Maria Press, a ministry of the United States Province of Holy Cross.

Lent and Easter Reflections, daily devotional offering reflections on the Gospel of the day in practical, faithful, and down-to-earth ways from My Catholic Life’s daily reflections series.

Lenten Resources, from Loyola Press based on Ignatian Spirituality, to encourage contemplation and reflective prayer during the season of Lent.

Lent: A time to be broken? Fr. Robert McTeigue., S.J., offers reflections on poetry for Lent on Aleteia, an online publication distributed in eight languages.

Lenten Reflections, essays and podcasts by Boston College’s Church in the 21st Century Center. Also from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Lent 2020: Reflecting Together, an online course of reading and reflection during the first five Sundays of Lent.

Lenten Meditations, sign up to receive a Lenten meditation each morning during Lent from the clergy of the Washington National Cathedral.

Wondrous Encounters, Lent meditations on daily scripture readings from Richard Rohr, Franciscan priest and globally recognized ecumenical teacher who founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico (Using this link to order Rohr’s booklet through Amazon will support Voice of the Faithful with a small percentage of the purchase price).

Lent: The Way of Ignatius of Loyola, a 2019 Lent retreat on Sacred Spaces’ (Jesuits) website that is still timely for 2020

Your 40-Day Journey, full of amazing possibilities from Dynamic Catholic, “It’s not what you give up. It’s who you become.”

A Concord Pastor Comments, a daily reflection/prayer from Fr. Austin Fleming of Holy Family and St. Irene Parishes in Concord, Massachusetts

No Ruling on Married Priests?

Despite many hopes, Pope Francis has for now rejected a recommendation by bishops to allow the ordination of married men in remote areas. The recommendation last year was the first time a group of bishops had endorsed such a proposal. It seemed a sensible response to the scarcity of priests in isolated Amazon regions, in particular, where Catholic priests may visit only once a year – thus denying many Catholics the opportunity to receive Communion.

The hope by many that Pope Francis would see this as an opportunity to allow married priests, loosen the strictures of celibacy, or give more roles to women were all dashed as Francis “shelved” the discussion for another time. If Francis had allowed the ordination of married men, many conservatives warned it would set the Roman Catholic Church on a slippery slope toward lifting priestly celibacy and weakening church traditions.

Francis’ decision, in a papal letter made public on Wednesday (Feb. 12), surprised many given the openness he had displayed on the subject and his frequently expressed desire for a more collegial and less top-down church. Cardinal Michael Czerny of Canada, a close adviser to Francis, said in a news conference on Wednesday that specific proposals in the final October document “remain on the table” and characterized the process as a “journey.”

To read VOTF’s position on married priests, click here.

A Log in Your Eye?

A Rhode Island priest has sparked outrage by publicly announcing that he will deny communion to lawmakers who publicly support access to abortion and then claiming that his ban was justified because abortion was a more serious issue than pedophilia. Rev. Richard Bucci also posted his “ban list” in the parish bulletin of the Sacred Heart Church in West Warwick. The lawmakers were targeted because of their support of a bill in the Rhode Island legislature “codifying the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.” ( (See also .)

Bucci’s decision evidently was not vetted by the Diocese of Providence. Nor is it an official policy of the Church. When former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate who is both pro-choice and Catholic, was denied communion at mass last November by a priest in South Carolina (…) some prominent American Catholics such as Cardinal Timothy Dolan responded to the issue, with Dolan stating that he would not have denied communion to former Vice President Biden. More recently Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego wrote an essay warning Catholics against overlooking equally significant moral issues in favor of a single, narrowly drawn focus on one issue.

Regardless of the propriety of Bucci’s decision, his subsequent statement on pedophilia, considering the Church’s stance in clergy abuse cases, has shocked many. Among the many causes of the continuing sexual abuse scandal is the willingness of many in the Catholic hierarchy to minimize or deny the seriousness of the problem, to shield those who abused children and young adults, and in some cases to elevate to bishop those who were suspected of such abuse. Bucci’s statement repeats this behavior and reflects a broader tendency on the part of some clerics to preach outwards without looking inward. Or, to quote Matthew 7:3-5, “How can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye?”

Diocese of Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin wrote Wednesday on Twitter that “no one has an absolute right to receive Holy Communion.” Then on Thursday, he issued this statement: “It is important to affirm that both the sexual abuse of minors and abortion are horrific, immoral actions that have very serious, harmful consequences.”

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


Nonprofit created for Diocese of Fort Worth donations to avoid bishop intervention
“Those who spearheaded a petition asking for Bishop Michael Olson’s removal have formed a nonprofit organization to financially support Diocese of Fort Worth parishes, clergy and charities without the intervention of the bishop. ‘We don’t trust where the bishop is spending money, but we still want the church to exist,’ said Stephen Knobbe, a founding member of the Laity in Unity Foundation. Pat Svacina, a spokesman for the diocese, said the bishop could not comment on the foundation because he had not been made aware of it.” By Nichole Manna, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

We’ve gotten a lot of questions about our database of credibly accused priests. Here are a few answers
“We published a database in January of Catholic clergy who have been deemed ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse or misconduct by nearly 180 dioceses and religious orders around the country. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have searched the database. A number of those people have reached out with questions about the project. Many have shared personal stories as survivors of abuse. And although the officially released lists total more than 5,800 unique names, dozens of people have written in to suggest names of clergy who they believe have been left off. We’re glad to hear from readers, and we wanted to provide answers to several of the most common questions we’ve received.”By Ellis Simani, Pro Publica

Landmark priest abuse retrial now missing its key witness
“The first US church official ever imprisoned over priest abuse complaints will soon be retried in court without a single victim. A landmark 2011 case first began the trial of Monsignor William Lynn, 69, who was eventually convicted of ‘felony child endangerment’ for his time working as a secretary for the clergy at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”By Allie Miller, Philly Voice

Suzanne Healy named chair of U.S. Bishops’ National Review Board
“Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has appointed Mrs. Suzanne Healy, the former Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as the next chair of the National Review Board. Mrs. Healy succeeds Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D., who concludes his term as chair after the bishops’ June 2020 meeting.The National Review Board advises the bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and works closely with the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection in accordance with the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People, which the bishops adopted in 2002.” By U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

States use Catholic clergy abuse lists to screen applicants
“In the wake of revelations that scores of Roman Catholic priests and religious workers credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living unsupervised in communities across the country, state officials face a quandary: Should they screen former clergy members who seek licenses for jobs that put them in contact with children? And, if so, how? An Associated Press investigation last fall found nearly 200 accused clergy members had been granted teaching, mental health or social work licenses, with roughly six dozen still holding valid licenses to work in those fields in 2019.” By Claudia Lauer and Meghan Hoyer, The Associated Press

Abuse victim advocates, laity suffer from ‘vicarious trauma’
“The past two decades have been traumatic ones for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and for the Catholic Church as whole. Waves of scandals, financial crises and closures of parishes and schools have battered the faithful, leaving many discouraged and disgusted. In particular, the ongoing clerical sexual abuse crisis has profoundly wounded scores of victims within the archdiocese, while also scarring loved ones, counselors, advocates and rank-and-file Catholics.” By Gina Christian,

Martinsville priest refuces to sign order to silence from the Catholic Diocese of Richmond
“That truce reached last week in a dispute between a Martinsville priest and a Richmond bishop that preserved the priest’s job now appears to have been short-lived. About 24 hours after that meeting last Wednesday (Feb.5), Father Mark White, priest of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rocky Mount, was visited in Rocky Mount by officials of the Diocese of Richmond and again was threatened with the loss of his position.” By Bill Wyatt, Martinsville Bulletin

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

Pope Francis asks us to hear the prayers of migrants

For the month of February, Pope Francis asks us to hear the prayers of migrants.

“We cannot be silent accomplices of the organized criminal phenomenon of human trafficking. Much less can we be protagonists of it, even indirectly. Faced with those who live off the misfortune of others and who take advantage of their desperation, let us work to overcome the inequalities that make it possible for one person to enslave another. Migrants are often victims of criminal human smuggling and human trafficking. Among other causes, this happens because of corruption on the part of people willing to do anything for financial gain. The money from their dirty, underhanded business is blood money. I’m not exaggerating: it’s blood money. We pray that the cries of our migrant brothers and sisters, victims of criminal human smuggling and human trafficking, may be heard and considered.”

To watch the video – click here.

Save the Date: Oct. 3, 2020

Our conferences are well known for great speakers, lots of news, and helpful tips for making your voice heard locally, regionally, and nationally.

2020 will be the same, and we’ll be back at the popular Boston Marriott Newton Hotel with a much reduced overnight room rate.

Don’t miss it! Mark your calendars now for Saturday, Oct. 3, in Newton MA. See you there!


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