In the Vineyard: July 18, 2017

In the Vineyard :: July 18, 2017 :: Volume 17, Issue 12

News from National

What Role Should Young People Play in the Church?

US Catholic recently ran an article asking “What can happen when the church brings young Catholics into real positions of leadership?” The author points out that young people bring an increased digital presence; ground-level understanding of evangelization to “millennials” and the next generation; a revitalized commitment to justice and equality; and new and varied perspectives. What do you think? Answer US Catholic’s survey and let your voice be heard.

Presentations from the AUSCP Assembly

Last issue Executive Director Donna B. Doucette provided a personal reflection on the annual Assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP). Here’s a summary of the presentations, theme, and resolutions approved at the meeting.

Each year AUSCP organizes its keynotes around a central theme that can be informed by Church teaching and touches on the problems faced both in the worldwide Church and the faith communities where priests minister. This year’s theme, Peacemaking in Our Fractured Society, for example, connects not only with general political and social issues but also with the demands of a well-informed Catholic conscience.

Highlights were the presentations by Fr. Bryan Massingale, who also received the AUSCP Pope John XXIII Award, on redeeming the soul of America, and Jack Jezreel, founder of JustFaith ministry on a new paradigm for parishes; a visit to the Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Martin Luther King burial site and childhood home; and Mass in Our Lady of Lourdes, the 100-year-old African-American Catholic Church financed by St. Katharine Drexler.

Highlights were the presentations by Fr. Bryan Massingale, who also received the AUSCP Pope John XXIII Award, on redeeming the soul of America, and Jack Jezreel, founder of JustFaith ministry on a new paradigm for parishes; a visit to the Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Martin Luther King burial site and childhood home; and Mass in Our Lady of Lourdes, the 100-year-old African-American Catholic Church financed by St. Katharine Drexler. I cannot do justice to some of these events, especially the Mass music and liturgical dancing — anyone who participates in liturgical dance should visit Our Lady of Lourdes to experience the powerful prayer evoked by these dancers.

Fortunately, for the presentations, there are YouTube videos we all can watch. Here are the links, along with other clips and reports from those who attended.

Fr. Bryan Massingale, “To Redeem the Soul of America: Martin Luther King’s Vision and Its Challenge to American Catholics” — Note: All presentations include Q&A from the attendees. Pay special attention in that session when Fr. Massingale describes the Monopoly game he plays with his theology students. It struck me, as I listened to his description of the too-often-invisible world of institutionalized white privilege, that in Church reform we often face a similarly embedded and invisible-to-recipients world of clerical privilege.

Jack Jezreel, “Pope Francis and the New Paradigm for Parishes

Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Peace Not As the World Gives” — Note: Again, let me suggest you listen to the Q&A session (it starts around the 17 minute 54 second mark on the video). Pointed questions. You can judge the answers.

For a look at other reactions and reports on the Assembly, here are some additional links:

By the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus

By Sister Jeannine Gramick in a column for National Catholic Reporter

By Deb Rose-Milavec, Executive Director of FutureChurch (scroll to mid-point on page 2)

Resolutions adopted at AUSCP focused on immigration reform, health care reform, and a nationwide policy on the use of pastoral leaders for priest-less parishes:

  • Support for USCCB’s campaign for immigration reform and creation of a culture of welcome
  • Joining with Faith Communities and Washingtion Interreligious Staff Community (WISC) to urge enactment of health care reform based on 10 priorities
  • Call for a nationwide policy or plan to institute pastoral leaders for parishes without a priest

The Association also will focus on three goals as their top priorities for 2017-2018: immigration, seminary formation, and odaination of married men:

  • IMMIGRATION – Assist in the development of support systems for comprehensive immigration reform. Facilitator – Robert Gloudeman,
  • SEMINARY FORMATION – Establish an AUSCP work group to contribute to the USCCB’s current project of reviewing the Program of Priestly Formation (Fifth Edition). Facilitator – Marty Marren,
  • ORDAINING MARRIED MEN – Encourage our Bishops and the USCCB to engage in an open discussion in considering the ordination of married men (viri probati). Facilitator – Gerry Bechard,

Additional working groups focus on Clericalism, Re-Commitment to Gospel Non-Violence, Youth Synod, Church and Labor, and Emerging Pastoral Issues.

AUSCP also presented two of its Pope John XXIII Awards. One was presented to Fr. Bryan Massingale “for his tireless efforts to create a world where the dignity of each person is respected and protected.” Fr. Massingale is a professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University in New York and wrote Racial Justice and the Catholic Church (Orbis, 2010).

The award also was presented to Fr. Richard Rento, “for his dedication to priestly life and pastoral service, and for the pastoral wisdom he has embodied and exercised in his ministry, preaching and writing.” Fr. Rento is a priest of the Diocese of Paterson. Over 58 years, he has ministered as pastor, administrator, educator, hospital chaplain, radio broadcaster, lecturer, and retreat-giver. He has written a book on faith titled It’s Not Necessarily So.

Cardinal Pell Returns Home to Face Charges

Earlier this month, Australian cardinal and aide to Pope Francis, Cardinal George Pell returned home to face charges of sexual assault. Pell is the highest ranking Vatican official to face criminal charges under Pope Francis’ new initiative to hold the clergy more accountable.

Read more about this story below.

“Cardinal George Pell returned on Monday (Jul. 10) to his native Australia, where he has been charged with sexual offenses, as a commission released a new trove of documents from its investigation into the Roman Catholic Church’s past response to abuse allegations in the country. Cardinal Pell, 76, one of the highest-ranking figures in the church’s global hierarchy, was met by the Australian Federal Police at Sydney’s international airport, where his flight from Singapore landed just before 6 a.m.” By Adam Baidawi, The New York Times

Cardinal’s sex abuse charges raise questions about pope’s record, By Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service

Prominent cardinal returns to Australia to face sex abuse charges, By Camila Domonoske, National Public Radio

Remarks by Marie Collins, clergy abuse survivor and former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, on Cardinal Pell charges

Pope Francis’ July Prayer Intentions

This month the Pope focuses on those who have distanced themselves from God and how we can help – watch here.

Let us never forget that our joy is Jesus Christ — his faithful and inexhaustible love. When a Christian becomes sad, it means that he has distanced himself from Jesus. But then we must not leave him alone! We should offer him Christian hope — with our words, yes, but more with our testimony, with our freedom, with our joy. Let us pray that our brothers and sisters who have strayed from the faith, through our prayer and witness to the Gospel, may rediscover the beauty of the Christian life.


Pope Francis defrocks Italian priest convicted of child sex abuse
“Pope Francis has defrocked an Italian priest who was found guilty of child sex abuse, three years after overturning predecessor Benedict XVI’s decision to do the same after allegations against the priest first came to light. Mauro Inzoli, 67, was initially defrocked in 2012 after he was first accused of abusing minors, but Francis reversed that decision in 2014 … On June 28, the priest’s diocese of Crema in northern Italy released a statement saying the pope had made a ‘definitive ruling’ that Inzoli, also known as Don Mauro, should be dismissed from clerical duties.” — By Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

The Vatican’s failure in the abuse scandal
“For all of Pope Francis’ deserved acclaim in leading the Roman Catholic Church to new directions, he is failing badly on his promise to address the child abuse scandal at the crucial level where ranking churchmen systematically protected priests who raped and molested children.” — Editorial in The New York Times

The Catholic Church and sex abuse, By Marci Hamilton, Letter to the Editor, The New York Times

More power for Catholic bishops? Not so fast
“A lot has been written about Pope Francis’s goal of making the church more democratic, with less control by the Vatican and more power to individual bishops … However, unless the institutional church actually reaches that goal, and power truly devolves to the grassroots, giving more autonomy to Catholic bishops might make things worse, not better, at least for progressive Catholics.” — By Celia Wexler, Contributor, Huffington Post

Francis replaces Cardinal Muller with deputy Ladaria as head of doctrinal congregation
“Pope Francis has decided not to renew the expiring term of Vatican doctrinal chief Cardinal Gerhard Muller, choosing instead to replace the German prelate with his deputy, a Spanish Jesuit theologian known for keeping a relatively low public profile. The pontiff has appointed Archbishop Luis Ladaria, 73, as the new prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He had previously served as the office’s secretary.” — By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

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

Book Corner

The New York Times recently ran an article, “Cardinals on Opposite Sides of the Hudson Reflect Two Paths of Catholicism,” that offers a fascinating look at two powerful men who approach their power very differently and who, in the words of writer Sharon Otterman, “appeal to two very different constituencies” within the Church.

Ms. Otterman opens the analysis by noting the Cardinals’ endorsements of two very different books on LGBTQ Catholics. Cardinal Tobin endorsed Building a Bridge by Jesuit Fr. James Martin, subtitled “how the Catholic Church and the LGBT communty can enter into a relationship of respect.” He called it “brave, prophetic, and inspiring.”

Cardinal Dolan endorsed Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay, subtitled “how I reclaimed my sexual reality and found peace.” He called it an “honest account of the genuine struggles faced by those with same-sex attraction” that details how its author came to “understand and accept God’s loving plan for his life.”

If you are interested in reading the books cited, please click the Amazon badge in the right-hand column; VOTF will receive a portion of your purchase price.

Questions, Comments?

Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor, at Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.

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