In the Vineyard: January 10, 2021

In the Vineyard :: January 10, 2021 :: Volume 21, Issue 1

News from National

A Prayer for the New Year

Consult not your fears, but your hopes and your dreams.
Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential.
Concern not yourself with what you tried and failed in, but what it is still possible to do.
Now is the time to put aside past and present setbacks and failures and look with confidence to the new day called tomorrow. — St. Pope John XXIII

The Pastoral Need for Women Deacons

Dr. Phyllis Zagano, an internationally recognized scholar in Catholic studies and women’s roles in the Church and an advocate of an ordained women’s diaconate, will speak Tuesday, Jan. 12, at 7:30 pm on the pastoral need for women deacons. Sr. Colleen Gibson, SSJ, will host the Zoom meeting.

You must register in advance for this meeting. Click this link and enter the required information. (Note that VOTF distributes this announcement but does not handle the registrations directly; you must use the link above.)

After registration, you will receive a confirmation email about joining the meeting.

Fall River MA Diocese Releases List of Accused Clergy

Earlier this week, after reviewing records and accusations beginning in the 1950s, another diocese finally posted the names of clerics who have been accused of sex abuse. The Diocese of Fall River released the names of 75 clergy members who have been credibly or publicly accused of sexually abusing a minor. Bishop Edgar da Cunha said the report was done “for the victims, the survivors, to bring a sense of justice and healing for them.”

Although the process took longer than anticipated and the Diocese has been criticized for not releasing the list sooner, Bishop da Cunha hopes that publicizing the list will help “the church, the survivors, their families [and] our parishioners move forward.”

The list includes 44 priests within the diocese, 28 of whom have since died, including some who have not previously been named. None of the credibly accused priests remain in ministry.

Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis reviewed the Church’s process, saying that “the [D]iocese’s investigative and review process was thorough and balanced and was fair to those making an accusation as well as to the accused.” The review process was further examined by independent agencies.

The two-year investigation and review revealed that approximately 7% of the 650 priests who have served in Fall River since its founding in 1904 have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor. Many of the allegations relate to conduct that occurred in the 1960s-1980s.

The list includes seven religious order priests or brothers, and two priests incardinated in other dioceses for conduct that occurred within the Diocese of Fall River. It also includes 19 clergy or other religious who ministered in the Diocese, mentioned in previous public announcements by other entities although the Diocese does not have sufficient information to make a determination of credibility. Additionally, it includes the names of three priests in the Diocese who are living and have been publicly accused, although there has not yet been a determination of credibility. In total, 53 members were credibly accused, 19 were publicly accused, and 3 cases are currently in process as a result of the review.

Along with the names in the list are the year of birth for each clergy member, year of ordination, diocese of incardination, assignment history in Fall River, and status: deceased, laicized, or faculties restricted or removed. The Diocese did not release the year or location of the instances of abuse, nor did it include the number of victims associated with each member, or the identities of any of the victims.

The Diocese said that it wanted to strike a balance between providing information about the priests to survivors and others who may not have come forward, but also be cognizant and respectful of privacy concerns. However, one criticism from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is that the Diocese did not release the date at which Catholic officials were first made aware of each allegation and the steps taken to respond. Mitchell Garabedian, who represents 10 victims in the Diocese of Fall River, called on Bishop da Cunha to release archived documents containing that information. Jim Scanlan, an abuse survivor, says “As far as I’m concerned [the bishops who knew are] just as guilty as the pedophiles and the rapists.”

When further information becomes available, the diocese says it will update the list, as well as if the publication causes other survivors to come forward.

For more information, please see here, here, and here, including the list.

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

For survivor support resources, please see here.

Mysterious Vatican Transfers to Australia Under Investigation

Australian financial intelligence AUSTRAC is currently investigating $1.8 billion US sent to Australia from the Vatican or Vatican-related entities since 2014 in nearly 50,000 separate transfers.

Both Vatican officials and Australian Catholic Bishops denied knowledge of the transfers and have no information on any Catholic dioceses, charities, or organizations who reportedly received the funds. Vatican officials have expressed their concern at these reports, as the amount exceeds the official finances of the Holy See for an entire year: the annual budget of the Holy See is approximately 300 million euros, or $368.2 million US dollars. The total client assets of the Vatican City State are 5.1b euros or $6.3 billion US, much of which belongs to religious orders, Vatican employees, Holy See offices, and embassies worldwide.

Some members of the media have speculated that the money helped influence the trial of Cardinal George Pell, who was convicted, imprisoned, and then later acquitted of sexual abuse. However, in response to The Associated Press, AUSTRAC explained it was reviewing the transfers in detail.

AUSTRAC’s data on the transfers from the Vatican are apparently drawn from a chart published by the agency in response to a question leveled under Australia’s Freedom of Information Act, listing all incoming and outgoing money in Australia from and to other countries, including remittances, which shows billions of dollars of exchanges each year. The question and chart were published last year.

Other reports clarify that Australian bishops are appealing directly to Pope Francis and asking him to investigate the origin and intended destinations of these transfers. Approximately $829,000 was allegedly transferred to Australia from the Vatican during George Pell’s trial, although Cardinal Becciu reportedly denies any attempt to influence the trial. Becciu is the center of several financial scandals and was asked to resign in September of 2019 by Pope Francis.

An Italian newspaper reported that one or several of the transfers was part of evidence being compiled against Cardinal Becciu by Vatican prosecutors and investigators, although this has not been confirmed.

Cardinal Pell has suggested that his prosecution and conviction, which has since been overturned, was related to his attempts to “clean up” the Vatican’s financial dealings, although there is no evidence of this, nor of the resistance he reports facing.

AUSTRAC is tasked with monitoring financial transactions in and through Australia to identify illegal activities including money laundering, organized crime, tax evasion, welfare fraud, and terrorism financing. It has been working with Vatican officials to identify details about these transfers.

For more information, please see here and here.

For VOTF’s statement on financial accountability, please see here.

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


Event series’ proposals aim to raise women’s voices in San Diego Diocese
“The 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sex abuse sent shock waves through the U.S. Catholic Church. For Bridget Gramme, the moment felt like a ‘call to women’ to improve the church. ‘I’m a cradle Catholic, it’s my community and my identity and my kids go to Catholic schools,’ Gramme said. ‘It’s something we really believe in and the community is so important to us. Maybe it’s time we step it up and not just sit around and let these things happen.’ Gramme is an attorney and member of the advisory board of the Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture at the University of San Diego.” By Sophie Vodvarka, National Catholic Reporter

Podcast: How 2020 changed the Vatican
“The coronavirus pandemic upended everyone’s plans for 2020—including the Vatican’s. From the first weeks of the pandemic when Pope Francis prayed in the rain in St. Peter’s Square to the London finance scandal to the new standards of transparency ushered in by the McCarrick report, it has been an unprecedented year in every way. On ‘Inside the Vatican,’ host Colleen Dulle and Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell recap the biggest Vatican moments of 2020. The hosts focus on three areas of change in the Vatican: transparency, missionary work and solidarity with the poor.” By Colleen Dulle and Gerard O’Connell, Inside the Vatican, America: The Jesuit Review

Australia’s Catholic bishops seek answers about mystery billions linked to Vatican
“Australia’s Catholic bishops are considering raising questions with the country’s financial watchdog authority about whether any Catholic organizations were among the recipients of billions of Australian dollars in transfers reputedly from the Vatican. AUSTRAC, Australia’s financial intelligence agency, revealed in December that the equivalent of around US$1.8 billion had been sent to Australia from the Vatican or Vatican-related entities since 2014.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Looking ahead to 2021 in the life of the church in the U.S.
What will the new year bring in the life of the church in the United States? As we learned last year, we never know what unforeseen events will enlighten or becloud all else. We can discern three major themes that will largely shape the year ahead: the relationship between the United States bishops and the Biden administration, the Year of the Family, the appointments of new bishops in some significant sees, and how the church will continue to cope with COVID-19. Then, just before the end of the year, a new major theme emerged, arguably the most explosive: significant upheaval at EWTN.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican reforms finances following London property scandal
“Pope Francis has stripped the Vatican’s powerful central administration office of an investment portfolio worth hundreds of millions of euros following a scandal linked to luxury London real estate development in Chelsea. The Vatican said that all of the financial assets of the Secretariat of State, the Holy See’s state bureaucracy, would be placed under the control of APSA, the Vatican’s existing centralized asset manager, from the start of the new year.” By Miles Johnson, Financial Times

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