In the Vineyard: January 12, 2017

In the Vineyard :: January 12, 2017 :: Volume 17, Issue 1

News from National

Who Gets a Say in Appointment of Catholic Bishops?

Four U.S. Catholic bishops have reached retirement age and five more will in 2017, and their dioceses await word about who their next bishop will be. The stakes are high. Bishops rule in their dioceses.

VOTF has long advocated for the widest possible input in selecting local bishops. Catholic lay people have the right and responsibility to comment and an expectation of being heard on issues important to the church. Not much is more important than who leads the local diocese. But papal nuncios (ambassadors), who recommend bishop candidates to the pope, listen only to a few influential clerics and even fewer lay people.

Pope Francis has made clear his desire for casting the widest possible net for bishop candidates. Most recently, the pontiff told his nuncios, “You cannot be content to fish in aquaria, in the reserve or in the breeding grounds of ‘friends of friends,’” he said.

To help ensure the laity is heard, VOTF provides a website,, where lay people can become involved in the process. They can easily express their concerns and recommendations in three areas: 1.) outstanding needs and opportunities in the diocese; 2.) candidates’ ideal qualities and qualifications; and 3.) priests who would be excellent candidates for their bishop.

More than 500 Catholics in nearly a dozen dioceses from New England to Alaska have submitted their comments on the website. Recommendations made on the website go directly to Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the present U.S. apostolic nuncio.

U.S. bishops who already have submitted letters of resignation to the Pope, required at age 75, are:

  • Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.;
  • Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona;
  • Bishop Martin Amos of Davenport, Iowa; and
  • Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California.

U.S. bishops who turn 75 this year are:

  • Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of Richmond, Virginia;
  • Bishop Ronald Herzog of Alexandria, Louisiana;
  • Bishop Alvaro Corrada Del Rio, S.J., of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico;
  • Bishop Joseph Pepe of Las Vegas, Nevada; and
  • Bishop Robert Meunch of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Several dioceses where the Pope has accepted the bishops’ resignations also await replacements. They are:

  • Allentown, Pennsylvania, former bishop John Barres now bishop of Rockville Centre, New York;
  • Cheyenne, Wyoming, former bishop Paul Etienne now archbishop of Anchorage, Alaska;
  • Cleveland, Ohio, former bishop Richard Lennon resigned for health reasons;
  • Indianapolis, Indiana, former archbishop Joseph Tobin now archbishop of Newark, New Jersey
  • Juneau, Alaska, former bishop Edward Burns now bishop of Dallas, Texan;
  • Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, former bishop Gregory Parkes now bishop of St. Petersburg, Florida;
  • Raleigh, North Carolina, former bishop Michael Burbidge now bishop of Alexandria, Virginia.

Catholics in any of these dioceses can use to send their input about their next bishop to the U.S. apostolic nuncio.

The Full Advent Calendar

If you did not get a chance to join Voice of the Faithful as we made our Advent journey toward the Incarnation of Jesus during the 2016 Christmas season, you can re-visit our Advent reflections.

Throughout Advent, we sent out emails with links to our virtual Advent calendar. The calendar page for each day showed a reflection, a crèche image, and a link to readings from the liturgical calendar to help you prepare for the birth of Jesus.

Now you can re-visit our Advent pages. Click here for our 2016 Advent Calendar page. Clicking each day on the calendar will bring you to that day’s image, reflection, and readings.

We hope these images and reflections help you think about the type of church that Jesus would want to call His. Meditate and pray for the healing and renewal of the Church that we love so much

The Latest from VOTF’s Blog

In this first month of a new year, Voice of the Faithful reflects on our “faithful revolution”:

As a community of Roman Catholics committed to service and reform, VOTF has always sought to “Keep the Faith, Change the Church.” We are faithful Catholics seeking to change those Church structures and processes that impede lay voices and change Church cultures that exhibit a clericalism that separates the clerical from the lay rather than binding them pastorally and collegially.

Such clericalism often stifles the people of God. Pope Francis has said as much and condemned clericalism repeatedly, recently saying that “the spirit of clericalism is an evil that is present in the Church today, and the victim of this spirit is the people, who feel discarded and abused.”

The story of Voice of the Faithful’s founding is well documented. The movement exploded onto the scene in 2002 along with the burgeoning visibility of Church scandal, specifically clergy sexual abuse of children in the Archdiocese of Boston, chronicled most effectively by The Boston Globe in 2002 and 2003.

To continue reading, click here.


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


Hundreds of church sex abuse victims continue to come forward
Fifteen years after the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston broke into public view, hundreds of victims around the world continue to come forward, including some who say they were attacked as recently as 2001, advocates said Thursday. Two victims’ support groups and a lawyer who has represented more than 2,000 survivors worldwide denounced church officials for doing too little to help those who were abused and to protect children from harm, despite ongoing revelations about the scope of the crisis.” By Laura Crimaldi, The Boston Globe

Our Faithful Revolution, By Voice of the Faithful

Pope tells bishops to have zero tolerance for sexual abuse
“Pope Francis has told bishops around the world they must adhere to a policy of zero tolerance for clergy who sexually abuse children and begged forgiveness for ‘a sin that shames us.’ In a letter sent on Dec. 28 but released by the Vatican only on Monday (Jan. 2), Francis said: ‘I would like us to renew our complete commitment to ensuring that these atrocities will no longer take place in our midst.’” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Pope tells clergy to maintain ‘zero tolerance’ for child abuse, By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, on

Pope Francis might allow married Catholic priests, says top theologian
“A leading Catholic theologian has revealed that Pope Francis could soon relax the rules on priestly celibacy and allow Catholic priests to marry. Leonardo Boff, from Brazil, a prominent liberation theologian who himself resigned as a priest after his liberal views put him at odds with the hierarchy, said the Brazilian bishops had explicitly asked Pope Francis to allow men who had left the ministry to marry to serve as priests again.” By Ruth Gledhill, Christian Today

Pope vows Vatican reform is real despite resistance
“In his annual speech to the Roman Curia on Thursday (Dec. 22), Pope Francis presented a sweeping vision of reform for the Vatican’s central administration, outlining the values he wants that reform to embody and insisting that old bureaucratic patterns such as ‘promoting to remove’ must come to an end. Pulling no punches, Francis also conceded his efforts at reform have attracted opposition … Yet even resistance for bad motives, he said, ‘is necessary and merits being heard, listened to and encouraged to express itself.’” By John L. Allen, Jr.,

Pope in Christmas speech blasts Vatican resistance to reform, By Associated Press

Argentina investigates alleged sex abuse at school
“The children told prosecutors the two Roman Catholic priests repeatedly raped them by an image of the Virgin Mary inside the small school chapel in remote northwestern Argentina. Only their tormenters would have heard their cries because the other children at the school were deaf.” By Almudena Calatrava and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in San Francisco Chronicle

Priests at Argentinian school for deaf youngsters ‘would choose their victims to sexually abuse knowing other children would not hear them scream, By Jennifer Newton, Daily Mail

Scores of sex abuse victims apply to Cardinal Dolan’s program for compensation
More than 60 victims have applied to a program founded by Timothy Cardinal Dolan to compensate people sexually abused as children by clergy in the New York Archdiocese. With still more time to apply, 65 people have provided accounts of abuse by priests when they were minors.” By Stephen Rex Brown, New York Daily News

The biggest Catholic stories of 2016
“Below are some of the biggest Catholic stories of 2016. What stories do you think should have made the list? Leave your comments below. 1. Catholics from the pope on down played a role in U.S. presidential politics …” By Michael O’Loughlin, America: The National Catholic Review

At year’s end, the Top Ten Crux stories of 2016, By John L. Allen, Jr.,

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

More National News

News from the Jesuit Refugee Center

This week, the Catholic Church in the United States celebrates National Migration Week, an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, and victims and survivors of human trafficking.

On January 15, we commemorate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees by placing a special focus on the most vulnerable who are displaced from their homes: children. Pope Francis says, “I ask everyone to help those who, for various reasons, are forced to live far from their homeland and are separated from their families.”

As the U.S. prepares to usher in a new Administration and Congress, please send a message to your policymakers today letting them know that we must uphold the dignity of all migrants and refugees, both here in the U.S. and abroad.

With more than 65 million people displaced from their homes, we are currently witnessing the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Children and adults are fleeing violence around the globe — in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and closer to home in Central America.

In the U.S., immigrants who have been part of our communities for years experience the threat of detention, deportation, and family separation. It is imperative that our communities continue to provide a warm and welcoming presence to newcomers, so that they know they belong and can contribute to our communities’ ongoing prosperity.

Urge your elected officials to support humane reforms that affirm the dignity of all migrants and recognize the contributions of immigrants and refugees in our communities.

Pope Francis Highlights Role of Mary

In 2017 Pope Francis plans to highlight the role of Mary. “Mothers are the strongest antidote to our individualistic and egotistic tendencies. To our lack of openness and our indifference,” said the Pope. To see the video, click here.

Questions, Comments?

Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor, at (link sends e-mail). Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.

© Voice of the Faithful 2017. All Rights Reserved.