News from National
Happy New Year!
As we open a new year, here are some of the things to look for in the next months. We hope you will mark your calendars, check our web site often, and read In the Vineyard and the emails we send about project updates and events. Together we are changing the Church!
Look for our new web site in late January! We’ve revised it for quicker reads, more video, and easier access to the many documents and projects we support.
Also in January, register early for our April 18 Assembly in Hartford for a chance to enjoy a surf & turf dinnerdelivered to your home.
Of course, in April, get yourself to Hartford CT if possible for our National Meeting, complete with workshops on a healing circle, the family life synod, financial accountability, survivor support, and much more!
There’s lots to do in the coming months, and many efforts that could use your input and support. We hope you will take time each week to check on what we are doing and how you can help.
Win a Fantastic Surf & Turf Dinner
Register NOW for VOTF’s 2015 National Assembly
VOTF’s 2015 National Assembly takes place on Saturday, April 18, at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.
Register for the assembly by midnight Jan. 31, 2015, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a delectable Legal Sea Foods dinner for two delivered to your door.
Click here for details …
Do We Have More Input into Bishop Selection?
VOTF has been encouraging lay input into the Bishop selection process for some time. In 2013 VOTF wrote to Pope Francis with a proposal for injecting broader-based lay input into the selection of bishops for local dioceses. (Letter to Pope Francis). Since that time, lay input into Bishop selection is beginning to emerge in a number of places. Although each approach may differ slightly, they all share in common the desire to increase lay participation in matters that directly affect their faith communities:
A group of Catholics in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, called the Ambrosians of Greensburg PA put together an online petition, which currently has more than 400 signatures:
Last year, Catholics in NY formed the Albany (N.Y.) Bishop Search committee, to help in the search for their new Bishop.
More recently, Concerned Catholics of Vermont worked to be included in the search for their Bishop. Bishop Coyne was recently installed.
This year, 6 bishops will turn 75, the mandatory retirement age for bishops. If your bishop is approaching retirement age and you would like to have some input into his successor, please take a look at the information VOTF’s Bishop Selection Working Grouphas put together before you start.
Parish Financial Accountability
Modest estimates put losses from financial theft in U.S. Catholic parishes and dioceses at more than $80 million per year. Despite Canon Law mandates for Finance Councils to ensure proper handling and procedures, the opportunities for theft by everyone from janitor to choir leader to secretary to priest abound in many if not most of the 17,000+ parishes and 195 dioceses.
A study by Villanova University in 2007 found that 85% of the dioceses responding to their survey had discovered losses and thefts within the previous five years, with 11% of them putting their losses at $500,000 or more. Often those losses were not reported to authorities or to parishioners.
VOTF’s Parish Financial Accountability project seeks to address that trend and help parishioners tighten security against theft. The Sunday collections provide the bulk of a parish’s revenue. Losses there significantly reduce opportunities to support charities, maintain facilities, administer pastoral programs, and carry out our Church’s mission. If you can ensure that the entire collection gets from the basket into the parish bank account, you have taken a significant step towards financial security.
Start by taking the Financial IQ Test: a simple yes/no assessment to see how secure your own parish’s collections are.
Continue by checking the guidelines available for improving security, talking to the finance council about better methods, becoming an advocate for securing parish collections.
From the Development Coordinator’s Desk
How can you help support Voice of the Faithful in 2015?
Let me count the ways! I hope that one or more resonate with you:
Monthly Partners: Join the club! Together, we can achieve more Mission and Goals success because we spend less time soliciting gifts. Bonus: You never receive requests from us for money. We only send you the VOTF updates. “How do I join?” you ask. It’s easy. Simply visitwww.votf.org, click DONATE, and then choose Monthly on the selection page and follow the instructions. Voila! You’re in.
Planned Giving: You can ensure that the good work of VOTF continues on as part of your legacy. Your bequest will generate a financial/or tax benefit and can be a specific dollar amount, property or a percentage of your estate. To learn more, click on “Planned Giving” in the left hand column of our home page.
Provide an Item From VOTF’s Wish List. You may choose to donate an item needed in the VOTF headquarters. Currently we need a dedicated desktop computer to host our Diocesan Financial Accountability project’s database. Cost: $1,200. Contact the office for more ideas.
Match Challenge: Consider proposing a monetary gift that is contingent on being filled if members match the amount of your donation. This truly becomes a group effort.
Consider an Affiliate Gift: Perhaps plan an event to raise money or earmark a portion of your affiliate’s treasury to be donated to national VOTF.
Make Online Purchases through Amazon: It’s so easy to shop in the comfort of your home. When you do, VOTF can benefit if you simply click on Amazon in the right hand column of our home page and shop to your heart’s content. And support VOTF’s great causes while you make your purchases.
VOTF National Assembly: Our upcoming April 18thassembly at the CT Convention Center in Hartford has some overhead costs associated with its presentation. Your contribution will defray audiovisual needs, printed assembly material, as well as transportation, lodging, meals and stipends for our speakers. For example, Marie Collins (link) is traveling from Ireland; be the first to contact us and you can be her sponsor!
Last, but certainly not least, you can hold us in prayer each day so that we all have the spiritual strength to continue on this amazing journey. Thank you.
Highlighting issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Editorial: Sisters deserve an apology for apostolic visitation
“Now that the quaintly named apostolic visitation of U.S. women religious is over and the current leadership of the Vatican agency that oversees religious orders has decided that the women are worthy of praise, admiration and gratitude, it is quite appropriate to ask: ‘What was that all about?’ The investigation can now be seen for the sham it was, and we as a church should be ashamed of the abuse these faithful women suffered because of it. They deserve an apology.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff
Kansas City Catholics divided over Vatican investigation of bishop
“A Catholic bishop normally governs pretty much unchecked in his diocese — only the pope can dislodge a bishop. And each time Catholics celebrate Mass in Kansas City, Mo., they pray for Bishop Robert Finn, right after they pray for Pope Francis. But some Catholics here, like Deacon David Biersmith, refuse to go along … Much of the discontent in Kansas City has to do with an incident four years ago. A computer technician found hundreds of lewd photos of young girls on a priest’s laptop.” By Frank Morris, National Public Radio
2014: the year in review in Catholicism
“Debate, diplomacy, and dynamism: 2014 was a headline-generating year for Pope Francis and the Catholic Church. The pope encouraged open debate about controversial topics, stepped up his diplomatic game on the world stage, and continued to shape the Church in his unpredictable yet wholly entertaining style.” By Michael O’Loughlin, Cruxnow.com
Francis chooses new cardinals from the margins
“If any other pope had produced a list of newly designated cardinals similar to the one Pope Francis unveiled Sunday (Jan. 4), the reaction would have been shock and disbelief. Instead, there was only momentary surprise … Welcome to the era of Pope Francis.” By Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter
— Parolin: Francis’ choice of cardinals reflects ‘an opening of heart and mind,’ By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
Vatican abuse commission gains second abuse survivor, several women
“Pope Francis has added members to the new Vatican commission advising him on safeguarding children from sexual abuse, appointing an additional eight people to the commission from diverse global backgrounds and professional experience. Among the new appointments, which the Vatican announced Wednesday (Dec. 17): an English survivor of clergy sexual abuse, a woman religious who serves as the secretary general of an pan-African episcopal conference, and several psychologists and psychotherapists from different parts of the world.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus …
And Finally …
Cardinal Burke set off a bit of a firestorm recently when he talked about how the lack of priests is caused by altar girls (among other things).
Many disagree. To get another viewpoint, here is an article fromAmerica Magazine.
Or if you’d enjoy a more irreverent (and funny) take, here’s one from a female Episcopalian in a Washington Post blog (hint: girls have cooties).
Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor, atVineyard@votf.org. Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.