In the Vineyard: February 19, 2016

In the Vineyard :: February 19, 2016 :: Volume 16, Issue 4

News from National

What does zero tolerance of clergy sexual abuse really mean?

On the heels of complaints that the Curia is blocking child protection policy reforms already approved by Pope Francis, comes word that a priest convicted of child sexual abuse has been reinstated in India and that new bishops have been told they are not required to report child sex abuse to civil authorities. Neither situation conforms to the declarations Pope Francis has made –that there must be zero tolerance for child sex abuse. Read more.

For the Lenten Season, VOTF is running daily reflections, which you can access from the “carousel” at the top of the home page. Below is today’s Reflection.

“Whoever is angry … will be liable to judgment … and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna … go first and be reconciled … Settle with your opponent quickly …” (from today’s Gospel)

These are very high standards. Is there someone you have hurt, insulted, put down? Did you say that he/she will get over it? You cannot be certain of this. Jesus tells us to go to that person and ask for forgiveness. God has forgiven you for your actions. His mercy will also be shown to you by the forgiveness of the person whom you offended.

Readings for Feb. 19, Friday of the First Week of Lent
Reading 1 — Ezekiel 18:21-28
Responsorial Psalm — Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-7A, 7BC-8
Verse Before The Gospel — Ezekiel 18:31
Gospel — Matthew 5:20-26

To see today’s readings, click here for USCCB Daily Readings
Click here to go to Feb. 18 Reflection
Click here to go to Feb. 20 Reflection

A space for different voices to speak on topics of importance in church reform—beginning with assessments of Adaptive Change

The Bend in the Road
By Priscilla Deck

Helen Keller famously stated “A bend in the road is not the end of the road – unless you fail to make the turn.” All of us who drive motorized vehicles know that you can’t rush full tilt up to a sharp turn – you must gradually reduce speed and analyze the effect of a change of direction on your moving vehicle. A combination of braking and acceleration accomplishes the safe and complete manoeuver.

Similarly in organizational change, there are times for vigorous forward momentum and times for a slower, more reflective pace. Voice of the Faithful wrestles with this daily. There are wounds to heal – we rush forward. There is a huge bureaucracy of clericalism that requires an insistent but slower pace. If a car requires modulation of speed to accomplish a change of direction, think how much more a battleship or freight train must adjust its speed in order to turn. And the change of direction does not happen immediately. It is a slow process.

Adaptive changes are different from fighting a fire – they are much more difficult to identify and demand that we examine – and in some cases, relinquish – our own beliefs, assumptions and paradigms. This is often painful and resistance to attacking the status quo will come both from within us and from without.

We are grateful to our membership – for their support and for their understanding of the nature of the tasks we undertake together as a community of faith. Novelist Barbara Kingsolver puts it beautifully” “The changes we dread most may contain our salvation.”

Save the Date: MARCH 19!!
If you live near or will be in the area March 19, along the North Shore above Boston, we are hosting a panel discussion featuring Walter Robinson and Michael Rezendes, key members of The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team and featured characters in the award-winning Spotlight movie. We’re also showing the movie again, prior to the panel discussion. You don’t want to miss this key fundraiser, or the opportunity to hear and talk with Mr. Robinson and Mr. Rezendes.

Details are coming soon … but mark your calendars now! We will tell you where and exactly when early next week. And we’ll have suggestions for arranging carpools or other transportation to the event.

MA Schools Poor at Tracking Abuse

Although Catholic schools have declined in both popularity and numbers, they remain a strong focus in almost every U.S. diocese. But teachers and staff probably are not passing the background checks that would offer some measure of protection against child abuse. Neither are the public schools and other private schools. Massachusetts in particular fails in its investigations and reporting of sex abuse, and lawmakers in the state have proposed several bills to close loopholes and require background checks. It’s not specific to Catholic schools—but then, neither is child sex abuse. Closing any loopholes and tightening any standards, in after-school religious education courses and daily classrooms, are essential to protecting our children.


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


Papal commission: Bishops must report sex abuse charges
“A commission created by Pope Francis to advise him in the fight against child sexual abuse has reiterated that Catholic bishops have “a moral and ethical responsibility” to report suspected abuse to civil authorities. The statement comes amid controversy over a Vatican training course for new Catholic bishops around the world held in September 2015, in which French Monsignor Tony Anatrella, a psychologist known for his views on homosexuality and ‘gender theory,’ told bishops they had no obligation to report abuse charges to law enforcement.” By Crux Staff at
Statement of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors
What new Catholic bishops are, and aren’t being told on sex abuse, By John L. Allen, Jr.,
Catholic bishops not obliged to report clerical child abuse, Vatican says, by Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian

Priest convicted of sexual assault on teenage girl has suspension lifted by church
“An Indian priest convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in the United States more than 10 years ago has had his suspension lifted by the Roman Catholic church. Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, 61, had the suspension lifted by the bishop of the Ootacamund Diocese in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state after he was instructed to do so by authorities at the Vatican, spokesman for the diocese Rev. Sebastian Selvanathan told CBS News.” By Chloe Farand, London Independent
Church lifts ban of Indian priest convicted of sexually abusing Minnesota girl, By Associated Press in Star Tribune
Church lifts ban of Indian priest convicted of U.S. sexual assault, By CBS News

Abuse survivor on Vatican committee frustrated at Roman Curia on clergy abuse reforms
“The Curia is blocking improvements in the handling of abuse cases, according to a member of the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors. Marie Collins … has been a member of the abuse commission for two years. In an interview with the Irish Times, she has expressed her frustration that little is being done by the Curia to push through proposals made by the commission, despite Pope Francis’s support for action.” By David V. Barrett, Catholic Herald
Roman Curia ‘not co-operating’ with child abuse commission, By Patsy McGary, The Irish Times
Challenging Pope Francis on clerical child abuse, Editorial in The Irish Times

Vatican abuse commission member responds to leave of absence controversy
“As a survivor of child clerical sexual abuse I spent many years silent, then many years speaking out to expose the way the Catholic Church had protected itself and abandoned children to the abusers in its midst … Then came the Pope’s decision in 2013 to set up the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and my own appointment to that body … I had to decide if there was any hope that this Commission, through its advice to the Pope, would bring about permanent change within the universal Church or would it be a wasted effort, just a PR exercise. In the end I decided that if there was any hope at all, of protecting children in the future better than in the past, then I should take part.” By Marie Collins, National Catholic Reporter

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

The Pope’s Trip to Mexico

A young cancer patient sang “Ave Maria” to Pope Francis on his trip through Mexico. Listen here.

And, he had these words of wisdom for Mexican Bishops (and the rest of us!), “Do not lose time or energy in secondary things, in gossip or intrigue, in conceited schemes of careerism, in empty plans for superiority, in unproductive groups that seek benefits or common interests. Do not allow yourselves to be dragged into gossip and slander.”

To read more of his comments to Mexican Bishops, read 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.

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