In the Vineyard: January 14, 2019

In the Vineyard :: January 14, 2019 :: Volume 19, Issue 1

News from National

Investigations into the Catholic Church

In August of last year, the Pennsylvania Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, released a report on the Grand Jury investigation into the Catholic Church’s history of abuse in the Commonwealth. That report detailed horrific crimes by more than 300 priests who were alleged to have abused over 1,000 victims over more than half a century.

Since that time, Attorney General Shapiro says his office has been contacted by law enforcement officials from up to 45 states seeking assistance in conducting their own investigations. According to USA Today, 14 state attorneys general have publicly acknowledged launching their own abuse inquires.

There is one prominent religion writer who thinks the grand jury made conclusions that are misleading. In “The PA Grand-Jury Report: Not What It Seems — It’s Inaccurate, Unfair & Misleading,” published in Commonweal magazine, former New York Times religion reporter and noted author Peter Steinfels acknowledges the grand jury’s ugly charges about the “predator priests, their many victims and their unspeakable acts.” But he takes issue with separate charges that the victims of such acts “were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institutions above all.” The grand jury, he says, failed to distinguish between pre-2002 abuse responses and those that came after 2002 and the Dallas charter.

Many may read the article title and simply disregard the story as yet another full-throated defense by an apologist for the Catholic hierarchy. This is perhaps understandable given the history of denial and deception by Church leaders when confronted with evidence of abuse. But Steinfels is no apologist. In a 1993 New York Times article, he wrote that “[r]eports of sexual abuse by priests of children and teenagers have taken on the dimensions of a biblical plague.”

“The Future of Women Deacons”: An Update from Papal Commission Members

Fordham University hosted a symposium January 15 on women deacons past, present, and future. Two members of the Papal Study Commission on the Diaconate of Women spoke publicly for the first time since Pope Francis created the commission in 2016. They were joined by an American woman religious who has done research on how women deacons would be received in U.S. parishes. The speakers were:

  • Commission member Dr. Phyllis Zagano, senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University and author of several books on women deacons.
  • Commission member Fr. Bernard Pottier, S.J., faculty member at the Institute D’Etudes Théologiques in Brussels
  • Sr. Donna Cangio, O.P., Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Newark and Principal and Founder of Church Leadership Consultation

If you missed it, check the Salt + Light web site in the coming weeks to see if there is a later re-showing of the symposium. Also, you can listen to Dr. Zagano directly Jan. 17 in a phone-in conference you can join from a Mac, PC, or Android device. Pre-registration is required–seats are limited to 100 and more than 90 already have been reserved:

Thursday, Jan. 17, 2018, 8 p.m. Eastern Time (U.S. & Canada)

Zoom Internet meeting:

The ‘Pope’s Priest’ Speaks to US Bishops

The National Catholic Reporter recently published the texts of the talks Capuchin Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, gave to the U.S. bishops during their Jan. 2-8 retreat at Mundelein Seminary outside Chicago.

His talks show a heavy emphasis on traditional themes, a robust defense of celibacy, a severe criticism of attachment to money and an endorsement of new lay movements as a replacement for declining numbers of clerics. NCR obtained the texts, 84 single-spaced pages, and they can be read in their entirety here.

News from Affiliates

Mid-Michigan VOTF Reaches Out to All Lay Catholics

Mid-Michigan Voice of the Faithful is supporting efforts to engage lay Catholics in ending the sex abuse crisis in the Church. This Fall they shared the stories of four survivors and showed the movie, Spotlight. For their next three meetings, in 2019, they continue the effort:

  • Thursday, January 24, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., Jim Kosinski will present an overview of the sex abuse crisis over the last six months, especially the case of Cardinal McCarrick. If you are in the area, head to St. Brigid’s parish for the event.
  • Thursday, February 21, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., at Assumption parish, Norbert Bufka will talk about clericalism, which Pope Francis said is one of the major causes of the sex abuse crisis. He will share what clericalism is, examples of it, where it comes from, its impact on the Church, and how to end it. There will be ample time for discussion.
  • Tuesday, March 19, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Blessed Sacrament parish, Sister Janet Fulgenzi will give a shortened version of the VIRTUS presentation given to employees and volunteers in the Diocese who work with children. Attendees will learn how to recognize potential improper behavior and what to do about it when they see it. (This is the presentation that had to be cancelled in October.)

Mid-Michigan VOTF also suggests further reading on the topic:

Pope Francis summons world’s bishop presidents to Rome for meeting on clergy abuse on February 21. No pope has ever called a meeting of all the Presidents of national Bishops’ Conferences for any reason.

National Catholic Reporter (NCR) had this article of interest:The crisis and the role of the laity.


Where do the biggest Vatican stories of 2018 stand now?
“This week before Inside the Vatican goes on break, we are giving you a round-up of this year’s top Vatican news—and digging into the questions that remain about these stories going into the new year. We examine whether Pope Francis’ document on holiness ‘Gaudete et Exsultate’ has had an impact beyond its short appearance in the news cycle. We also look at the open questions from this year’s sexual abuse scandals in both the United States in Chile—and ask when those questions might finally be answered.” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

More than 500 priests accused of sexual abuse not yet publicly identified by Catholic Church, Illinois attorney general finds
“A scathing report from Attorney General Lisa Madigan finds the number of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse against children in Illinois is much higher than previously acknowledged. The report said accusations have been leveled against 690 priests, while Catholic officials have publicly identified only 185 clergy with credible allegations against them …The report says Illinois dioceses “have lost sight of both a key tenet” of policies laid out by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as ‘the most obvious human need as a result of these abhorrent acts of abuse: the healing and reconciliation of survivors.’” By Elvia Lalagon, Chicago Tribune

U.S. Jesuit provinces release names of priests accused of abuse
All U.S.-based provinces of the Society of Jesus are releasing the names of clerics they say are credibly accused of child sex abuse, joining other Catholic institutions that are embracing increased transparency as they rush to respond to the resurgence of the Catholic sex abuse crisis. The revelations are seen as an important step by the Society of Jesus, which claims more than 16,000 members worldwide, including the pope. Although it does not represent the whole of Catholicism, the group is deeply influential both inside and outside the church …” By Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

A reckoning is underway in U.S. Catholic Church
“Over the past four months, Roman Catholic dioceses across the U.S. have released the names of more than 1,000 priests and others accused of sexually abusing children in an unprecedented public reckoning spurred at least in part by a shocking grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania, an Associated Press review has found. Nearly 50 dioceses and religious orders have publicly identified child-molesting priests in the wake of the Pennsylvania report issued in mid-August, and 55 more have announced plans to do the same over the next few months, the AP found. Together they account for more than half of the nation’s 187 dioceses.” By Claudia Lauer, The Associated Press

Catholic cardinal on trial in France’s biggest church sex abuse trial
“A Catholic cardinal and five other people went on trial Monday (Jan. 7) accused of covering up for a pedophile priest who abused Boy Scouts — France’s most important church sex abuse case to date. The case poses a new challenge to the Vatican, amid growing demands in overwhelmingly Catholic France for a reckoning with decades of sexual abuse by the clergy.” By Nicholas Vaux-Montagny, The Associated Press, in The Salt Lake Tribune

Pope Francis accepts the resignation of L.A. auxiliary bishop accused of abuse
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Auxiliary Bishop Alexander Salazar of the archdiocese of Los Angeles, after an allegation of his misconduct with a minor in the 1990s was deemed credible by the archdiocese’s independent Clergy Misconduct Oversight Board. Pope Francis’ decision to accept the resignation is in line with his zero-tolerance policy in cases of abuse.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Catholic bishops told to act on sex abuse or lose all credibility
“The Roman Catholic Church’s leading experts on sexual abuse told bishops on Tuesday (Dec. 18) finally to take responsibility for a global clerical abuse scandal and go and speak personally to victims, or risk seeing the Church lose its credibility worldwide. Pope Francis has summoned the heads of some 110 national Catholic bishops’ conferences and dozens of experts and leaders of religious orders to the Vatican on Feb. 21-24 for an extraordinary gathering dedicated to the sexual abuse crisis.”
By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Long history of nuns abused by priests in India
“The nuns talk of Catholic priests who pushed into their bedrooms and of priests who pressured them to turn close friendships into sex. Across India, they talk about being groped and kissed, of hands pressed against them by men they were raised to believe were representatives of Jesus Christ. At its most grim, nuns speak of repeated rapes, and of a Catholic hierarchy that did little to protect them.” By Tim Sullivan, Associated Press, in The Seattle Times

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

Go Where the Joy Is​

Looking for something uplifting to start off this year? Listen to Father Gregory Boyle, Founder of Homeboy Industries,the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world, as he talks about going where love has not yet arrived and loving what you find.


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