In the Vineyard: February 5, 2016

In the Vineyard :: February 5, 2016 :: Volume 16, Issue 3

News from National

Please Pray for Our Next Healing Circle

lentOn Saturday, Feb. 6, VOTF and the Greater Philadelphia affiliate will host another healing circle. Please join us in praying for those who will attend.

Philippians 4:6-7: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Holy Spirit, please be present with us to help bring about the healing, justice, and peace that we seek.

Meditations in the Wilderness

VOTF offers daily guidance during Lent
40 years in the wilderness, 40 days of Lent

Just as the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, God sent them to roam in the wilderness for 40 years. God was not punishing them, but rather refining them by their trials, so they would learn what really matters, God’s faithful love and word. They were to become vessels

“for lofty use, dedicated, beneficial for the master of the house, ready for every good work.” (2 Tim. 2:21)

The 40-day Lenten season is our wilderness, and Voice of the Faithful has prepared a reflection for each day. You will find the links to each reflection on a single webpage. We will send out the first few reflections by email, as we did with the Advent Reflections, but to avoid cluttering your email box, after the first week of Lent you will find the Reflections on our web site.

You can bookmark the link below:
Just click here.

Or you can find the same link on VOTF’s website homepage (, so it will always be easy to find.

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

Is the System Broken?
By Priscilla Deck

Last Sunday, I attended church in Honolulu, Hawaii. On Saturday, the primary Island newspaper had carried the story of 40 local lawsuits against the Catholic Church for sexual abuse which were entering mediation. The former Bishop, now deceased, was implicated (along with others) both in a cover-up and as an abuser himself. The current Bishop calls for “compassionate resolution.” The lawyer for the group of survivors calls for “a reckoning.” In church, however, tired Japanese businessmen, Chinese tourists, Filipino laborers, and mainland visitors worshiped side by side, repeating the ancient words, re-living the ancient sacrament.

It was a microcosm of the pain of adaptive change.

To say “the system is broken” raises fears that we may lose everything, the good with the bad.

But to say “the system is NOT broken” is to allow abusive behaviors to continue, be hidden, and by default, supported.

The truth is not easy. The system works just fine for some as it protects privilege, maintains centralized power, and supports a culture of secrecy. The system is broken for others, too many others, whose trust is violated along with their persons.

Voice of the Faithful seeks change in the Catholic Church that will protect the community of faith both in its ties to the early Church, which transcend time, and in its practice in present time. But we call for a process of adaptive change—one that saves the faith while changing the structures that have damaged it so grievously.

The process of this adaptive change requires struggle, commitment to truth, acceptance of certain losses, and the courage to acknowledge our human weakness by putting in place measures to prevent exploitation of the innocent and betrayal of the trusting.

The Church reflects the state of humans—flawed but capable of redemption. We make up the Church. We can change it for the better. Indeed, if we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, as we have been taught, we are called to name wrong-doing and to work for change, all while we keep the faith.

Quick Thoughts Survey
Poll Questions: Would married women become deacons if they could? Would married men become priests?

The Answers Are Surprising!
Last issue our poll focused on two changes that could be instituted tomorrow in the Church if a diocesan bishop asked for the change and Rome approved. Based on the invitations Pope Francis has issued to bishops to consider such steps, we assume the answer might well be “yes.”

But would women seek ordination as deacons and would married men wish to be priests (assuming that all other factors such as age, physical condition, etc., were favorable)?

So we asked. Most women would not, and even those who said Yes or Maybe had reservations. “As long as preaching is allowed for all of us!” said one respondent. Another said it depended on “vision and possibilities,” and another said, “If women were treated with equal dignity and respect without oppressive practices being specifically imposed because of gender.” Other responses echoed similar concerns. Much depends, it would seem, on how welcoming and supportive the local diocese would be.

Married men, by an even greater margin, said No, they don’t want to be priests. Again, the welcome one feels in a parish or diocese had much to do with the response. But one pointed to a current practice that perhaps should be revised: the provision that if one’s spouse dies, the priest could never remarry.

Check back next issue for a new poll question.

Last Poll’s Results

The Black Wall of Silence: A Synopsis
By Bill Casey, Northern Virginia Affiliate

VOTF has identified clericalism as a primary underpinning of the clergy sexual abuse scandal—the belief that those ordained are categorically different (separate and above) from those not ordained and are thereby exempt from the norms and laws applicable to everyone else in society. The Black Wall of Silence, a recently published novel by Paul Morrissey, O.S.A., explores the dimensions of clericalism through a protagonist who finds himself caught in the tension between truth and institutional loyalty.

The search for truth and intimacy is at the heart of the novel, and it illuminates a struggle for the soul of the Catholic Church, which is being torn apart by the sexual abuse scandals. It also shows readers the link between the cover up of sexual abuse and the closet where its gay priests must hide if they wish to serve in the church. Here’s a synopsis.


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


Former diocesan leader alleges Muller thwarted investigation of choir boy abuse
“A former chairman of the lay diocesan council in Regensburg, Germany, has alleged that Vatican Cardinal Gerhard Müller ‘systematically’ prevented the investigation of abuse in Germany’s famous ‘Regensburger Domspatzen’ boys’ choir during his time as Bishop of Regensburg. The allegations against Müller, who is now the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, coincided with 60 further alleged abuse victims …” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, National Catholic Reporter

Archbishop controversy shows blind spots remain in Catholic hierarchy
What were they thinking? Did the officials in Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo really see it as no big deal to bring in John Nienstedt, the former St. Paul and Minneapolis archbishop, as a visiting priest at St. Philip parish in Battle Creek? They truly didn’t anticipate this would blow up into a big controversy, one likely to end badly? Nobody considered whether this would underscore — once again — the inexplicable obtuseness of Church officials in regards to issues around clergy sex abuse?” By Julie Mack,

Sexual abuse at St. John’s Abbey revealed in 15,000-page disclosure
“St. John’s Abbey, one of the largest Benedictine monasteries in the U.S., released more than 15,000 pages of documents Tuesday (Jan. 19) related to 18 priests it said ‘likely offended’ sexually against minors dating back to the 1960s. The disclosure comes as the latest chapter in the jagged history for the Benedictine community in Collegeville, Minn., on the issue of clergy sexual abuse, one that at times has seen it attempt to lead in understanding the epidemic but at others fall ill to the plague of its horrors.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Similarities between Boston, Seattle priest abuse are ‘striking’
“When the Seattle Archdiocese released names of 77 abusive clergy last week, many Catholics heralded a new era of transparency. But attorney Michael Pfau raised an eyebrow. He knew something that wasn’t noted in the press release – or the flurry of news stories that followed. A major trial for a notorious pedophile priest was scheduled for June, and Pfau was interviewing victims.” By Bill Radke and Matt Martin,

Tyrone priest says he was ‘frozen out by church” for informing on colleague
“Father John A. Gallagher is living in a friend’s home after locks at his parochial house were changed and he was placed on medical leave by his bishop in the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida. The 48-year-old claims he was told by a church official to put a pedophile priest on a plane rather than co-operate with police. A local police chief, so concerned at the Irish cleric’s treatment, wrote to church leaders to complain about how the whistleblower is being treated.” By Greg Harkin, Belfast Telegraph
Whistleblower priest claims church ostracizing him, By Al Pefley,
Palm Beach diocese denies demoting priest for reporting another priest’s abuse-related activities, By Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter

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


James Carroll at St. Cecilia’s in Boston
Award-winning author James Carroll will be speaking at St. Cecilia’s in Boston on February 10 at 7:30 PM (right after the 6:00 p.m. Ash Wednesday liturgy).

St. Cecilia is in the Back Bay adjacent to the Boston Hilton Hotel and is less than one block from the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Boylston Street, which is also where the Hynes Auditorium T (Green Lines) stop is located.

If you park in the garage at the Hilton Hotel—right next door to the church—please bring your ticket to be validated. Parking will then be $5.

Espousal Retreat Center Offers Series on Pope Francis
The Espousal Center in Waltham MA invites you to a series of talks on Wednesday evenings in March: “Listening to Pope Francis This Lent.”

In less than three years, Pope Francis has already said and done so much that spending some time reflecting on what he has said could prove to be a very productive activity this Lent. For this reason, the Espousal of Mary and Joseph Retreat Center in Waltham has asked a number of faculty members from Boston College to present their understanding of several of the Pope’s key messages. The program will be offered on three Wednesday evenings in March.

1. March 2: Pope Francis’s message of mercy, Father James Keenan, S.J.

2. March 9: Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, Daniel DiLeo, BC doctoral student in theology

3. March 16: The Ignatian spirituality that fuels Pope Francis, Father Joseph O’Keefe, S.J.

In addition to the talks, each evening will provide some time for prayer and sharing to help those in need to experience God’s personal love poured out as Divine Mercy. We hope that these talks can provide an opportunity for people to come together informally and possibly to start planning future retreats, environmental action, or Ignatian spirituality groups in keeping with the Pope’s Gospel message of mercy.

All Programs are held from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm, at the Espousal Retreat Center in Waltham, conveniently located close to Routes 2 and 128 with plenty of free parking.

The program is free but advanced registration is required.

Letter to the Editor

Our church (St. Timothy’s, Norwood, MA.) has more female altar servers than male at this moment. I think we aren’t alone. It would seem a small step to elevate them to be Deacons.
J. Schmidt

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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