In the Vineyard: July 16, 2018

In the Vineyard :: July 16, 2018 :: Volume 18, Issue 13

News from National

AUSCP Assembly: Calls for Reform and Moral Actions

Justice for immigrants and the clarity of the Gospel messages about social justice took much of the attention at the late June assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) in Albuquerque NM. Many of the priests in attendance as well as Archbishop John Wester, whose diocese hosted the assembly, and Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, a keynote speaker, highlighted basic Gospel messages and the requirements for moral actions in today’s political and religious environment.

Justice for immigrants and the clarity of the Gospel messages about social justice took much of the attention at the late June assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) in Albuquerque NM. Many of the priests in attendance as well as Archbishop John Wester, whose diocese hosted the assembly, and Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, a keynote speaker, highlighted basic Gospel messages and the requirements for moral actions in today’s political and religious environment.
[Image at right was hung above the altar during the outdoor Mass at the Assembly.]

The keynote addresses focused on millennials and religion, pastoral theology, and discipleship in a secular age. But each speaker included an introduction or comments throughout their presentations about current U.S. immigration policies and economic practices.

They reiterated that Catholic social justice teachings, the demands of the Gospel, and the words of Pope Francis leave no doubt that conscientious Catholics cannot support current policies. Nor should they engage in the so-called “religious wars” that seek to support Church practices from the age of the Reformation and medieval times rather than the practices of the early Church and the renewals fostered since Vatican Council II. Attendees also participated in an outdoor Mass, officiated by Archbishop Wester, that included a traditional Eagle Dance prayer performed by members of the local Pueblo communities.

During the Assembly, AUSCP members considered and then approved eight resolutions and several goals to further their work. Among those goals, which will be priorities for AUSCP action in the coming year, was the call to address problems of clericalism within the Church—a problem VOTF has identified as a major need for reform.

Additional priority goals for the coming year of interest to VOTF: development of a white paper on the status of women in the Church and seminary formation. A third goal—climate change action—affects all people:

  • Analysis of the ontological/theological status of women in the Church will focus the efforts on this goal, which was a top vote-getter in the assembly.
  • The seminary formation goal extends work initiated last year, a white paper that was sent to the USCCB in January 2018. AUSCP aims to build support for including their recommendations in the revision of seminary formation programs.
  • The climate change goal includes public statements and support for action to mitigate the effects of climate change, which threatens “our common home”and disproportionately affects the poor and the vulnerable.

The eight resolutions approved by AUSCP members covered these topics: border separation of families; LGBT ministry; gospel non-violence and gun control; support of Parkland students’ initiative; better translation of texts for Mass and sacraments; continued support for ordaining married men; just handling of Church pension plans; and the Importance of dialogue in the Church.

In addition, AUSCP will pursue a grant from the Catholic Bible Association to promote biblical literacy, and organize a trip to Rome for the canonizations Pope Paul VI and Bishop Oscar Romero.

Click here for additional notes from the Assembly.

Snapshots from the Eagle Prayer:

Calls Increase for Release of PennsylvaniaClergy Abuse Grand Jury Report

The release of an 800-plus-page grand jury report into clergy sexual abuse of minors in six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, which is rumored to be the most explosive ever, has been held up by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court since its completion in late June. Clergy abuse survivors are crying foul, but the six bishops involved (Pittsburgh, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Allentown, and Scranton) have said they did not requested blocking the report. Rather, about two dozen clergy and others named in the report are claiming they were denied due process during the grand jury proceedings. The court is staying the report’s release until the merits of these claims have been resolved. Now, several victims and news outlets are suing to get the report released. Click here to read the Catholic News Agency’s story on this latest development and see the Focus News Roundup column in this issue of In the Vineyard for more stories on the issue.

Affiliate News

What We Hear from the Mid-Michigan VOTF Affiliate

As gleaned from VOTF’s Mid-Michigan Affiliate’s June meeting minutes, its members are working diligently toward their vision for “the laity to share fully in the leadership and ministry of their diocese.”

The meeting was held at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Midland. After song and prayer, members discussed local, state, national, and international efforts to stop clergy abuse, including:

  • Michigan Senate Bill 872 – Having been passed and signed into law, the bill allows abused children to sue until they are 28 years old or up to three years after first realizing they had been abused. The bill included no look-back provision, but broadened the list of “mandated reporters” and increased some penalties for sharing child pornography and penalties for medical providers lying about “necessary” treatment which is actually CSC (Criminal Sexual Conduct).
  • Letter on diocesan letterhead from Hon. Michael Talbot of the Michigan State Appeals Court, who now has authority over all matters of alleged sexual abuse of minors and sexual misconduct for the Saginaw Diocese, that purports to cover his independence, goals, and responsibilities, while requesting that everyone report any abuse allegations to police and diocese.
  • Recent Pennsylvania Grand Jury investigation report, which covers allegations of abuse in six dioceses (57 credibly accused clergy and staff) and is presently being blocked by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. State Rep. Mark Rosek (an abuse survivor) said new laws may result.
  • The Pope’s response to Chilean bishops and broader meaning for the church. The Pope admitted cover-up and wrongs, asked for forgiveness, and asked the laity to hold the hierarchy accountable. Affiliate member Jerry Willing encouraged reading the book, “The Unhealed Wound,” by Eugene Kennedy. Written 20 years ago but still timely, the book suggests that the Church refuses to address “why” these abuses occurred in such great numbers and how this has hurt us all.
  • Retired archbishop of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, is the highest church official to be told to be removed from ministry after abuse allegations from 1971 were deemed credible. This makes it hard for the hierarchy to ignore their involvement and makes us question their responses and “conspiracy of silence.”

In other business:

  • The Affiliate is planning on showing an award winning movie about sex abuse in September but the details have not yet been worked out.
  • A speaker for the next meeting could be an abuse survivor. Also, from now on, the terminology sex abuse survivor will be used instead of victim. A motion was made at the meeting to change the word “victims” in affiliate printed pieces to the word “survivors” and to encourage striving to make this correction in conversation. This was unanimously passed and accepted.
  • Regarding having an abuse survivor as a speaker, members decided that, although there are many options to hear stories, all agreed to watch the video of “The Bishop’s Dallas Conference of 2002,” suggested by Jerry Willing. He said this video contains stories of three survivors, is about 15 minutes long, and is very powerful. Members planned to ask Sister Janet Fulgenzi to present the “Virtus Training” from the diocese after the video and follow her presentation with discussion.

Mid-Michigan Affiliate members next meet in August and are planning three events for September and October, as they continue to keep the faith, change the Church.

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


Archbishop Philip Wilson sentenced to 12 months’ detention for child abuse cover-up
“The most senior clergyman in the world to be convicted of concealing child sex abuse, Adelaide’s Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson, has been sentenced to 12 months’ detention. Magistrate Robert Stone adjourned the matter to August 14 while Wilson is assessed for home detention. He will be eligible for parole after six months. In May, the 67-year-old was found guilty of concealing the sexual abuse of children between 2004 and 2006 at the hands of paedophile priest Jim Fletcher in the 1970s.” By Nancy Notzon Australian Broadcasting Company News

Australian bishop sentenced to year’s detention for cover-up, By Associated Press in

The ‘healing bishop’: how Archbishop Philip Wilson rose to prominence in the Catholic Church, By Rebecca Brice, Australian Broadcasting Corporation News

Cardinal McCarrick’s removal shows the Catholic Church may be taking sexual abuse more seriously
“‘Credible and substantiated.’ That was the finding of a Catholic Church investigation into allegations that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a former archbishop of Washington, sexually abused a minor almost 50 years ago. That it took nearly a half-century for these allegations to be dealt with illustrates the church’s wretched track record in combating clerical sex abuse. At the same time, even this belated reckoning shows the church is making some progress in facing up to its problems rather than, as had been its wont, covering them up.” By The Washington Post Editoral Board

What’s next for Cardinal McCarrick? How the Church addresses sex abuse allegations,
By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency

Cardinal McCarrick’s removal shows that Catholic Church may be taking sexual abuse more seriously, By The Washington Post Editorial Board

McCarrick verdict is the latest marker on the road to conversion, By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Cheyenne Diocese: abuse allegations against retired bishop ‘credible’
“A recent investigation by the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming, found that allegations of sexual abuse of minors against retired Bishop Joseph Hart are ‘credible and require disciplinary action,’ challenging a past inquiry by a local district attorney that has now been called ‘flawed.’ Hart, who served as Cheyenne bishop from 1976 to 2001, has been restricted from public ministry since September 2015. He has faced allegations of sexual abuse dating back to his time as a priest (1956-1976) in the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, Diocese.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican convicts ex-diplomat of child porn distribution
“The Vatican tribunal Saturday (Jun. 23) convicted a former papal diplomat and sentenced him to five years in prison for possessing and distributing child pornography in the first such trial of its kind inside the Vatican. Monsignor Carlo Capella admitted to viewing the images during what he called a period of ‘fragility’ and interior crisis sparked by a job transfer to the Vatican embassy in Washington … Tribunal President Giuseppe Dalla Torre read out the verdict after a two-day trial and sentenced Capella to five years in prison and a fine of about $6,000. Capella will serve the sentence in the Vatican barracks, where he has been held since his arrest earlier this year.”
By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in The Boston Globe

Two more Chilean bishops are out as pope cleans house
“Pope Francis on Thursday (Jun. 28) accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops(bringing to five the total number of resignations accepted), the latest fallout from a sex abuse scandal whose scope and gravity were initially underestimated by the pontiff. Last month all 31 of Chile’s active bishops offered to quit for collectively failing to protect children from pedophile priests.” By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press

Pope removes two Chilean bishops accused of abuse cover-ups, By Inés San Martin,

Francis accepts two more Chilean bishops’ resignations in continuing abuse fallout,
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Newspapers, victims sue for release of Pennsylvania grand jury’s clergy sex abuse report
“Several Pennsylvania news outlets and victims of clergy sex abuse sued Friday (Jul. 6) for the release of a grand jury report which details cases of abuse in six of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses. The state supreme court had blocked the release. Todd Frey, who testified to the grand jury about having been abused by a priest, filed a petition with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court July 6 … Nine news outlets argued that Pennsylvania law requires that the more-than-800-page report, a ‘matter of extraordinary public importance,’ be released publicly.” By Catholic News Agency

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

Catholics and the Supreme Court

Did you know that there are currently 6 Catholics on the Supreme Court and 3 Jews? According to John Fea, professor of American history at Messiah College, it may have something to do with the value the two minority faiths place on higher education and the religions’ openness to intellectual inquiry.

“Unlike evangelicals who base their entire worldview on the teachings of the Bible, Catholics and Jews seem much more open to engaging in larger principles that will affect not only their own community, but the common good of the republic or of a nation beyond the needs of their particular religious tradition,” Fea said.

Read more here in this NCR report…

Pope Francis’ July Prayer Intention

For the month of July, Pope Francis asks that we remember priests in our prayers. “That priests, who experience fatigue and loneliness in their pastoral work, may find help and comfort in their intimacy with the Lord and in their friendship with their fellow priests.” Watch here.

Did You Register Yet for the October Conference?

With a theme promoting Progress & Promise, Voice of the Faithful’s 2018 Conference will feature three speakers on topics such as lay leadership, recent developments in the papal commission on clergy sex abuse, and the progress of key VOTF initiatives: Broken Vessel Healing Circles, and diocesan financial transparency.

Register for the conference at this link to take advantage of the Early Bird Special reduced price of $85/person. Don’t delay! Full-price registration will be $125 per person.

Questions, Comments?

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