News from National
Prepping for Pope’s U.S. Visit
The “buzz” that accompanies Pope Francis already is building for this autumn’s U.S. trip. We aim to cut through the buzz to deliver important messages about the need for healing, the need for reform, and the needs of lay Catholics.
Key to that effort is a special invitation we’re extending to Pope Francis. You can get a sneak peek at the invitation here—we hope to place the ad in the National Catholic Reporter special edition for the Pope’s visit.
But the placement depends on YOU. So do the expenses for the teams we will send to promote VOTF’s message with the media in Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington, D.C.
Help us raise the funds needed for the ad and for key actions related to the Pope’s visit, as well as for the presentation in Rome of our Family Synod responses.
VOTF President Mark Mullaney is carrying our messages to Rome this October where in addition to our comments on families, he will describe key components of our work to help renew and reform the Church:
Healing Circles to address the wounds from the clergy sexual abuse crisis experienced by survivors/victims, families, and our faith communities;
Financial Accountability web portal to help every Catholic see how and where their donated dollars go and eliminate the secret funding that allows theft, fraud—and payoffs to sex abusers—to go unchecked; and
Wider lay input into bishop selection, support for a married priesthood, return of female deacons, enhanced child protection policies, and much more—all aimed at increasing our voices in the governance of the Church.
Only you can make it happen.
We can write, edit, and publish our stories, but only with your support. We can follow the Pope’s U.S. tour, but only as far as your support takes us. We can bring our Healing Circles to the Midwest, the West, Canada and Ireland, but not without your help …
Let’s start by asking Pope Francis to join one of our Healing Circles. Click here to donate today, or send your check to VOTF, P.O. Box 423, Newton, MA 02464.
Priest Association Meeting
The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests gathered in St. Louis June 29-July 2 for their annual meeting. Voice of the Faithful hosted an exhibit table there and Executive Director Donna B. Doucette accepted formal thanks from the AUSCP Board for our assistance with their national Family Synod survey.
The gathering featured speakers Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J., of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles; Fr. Thomas Rosica of Canada’s Salt & Light Catholic Media Foundation; Sr. Simone Campbell, director of the social-justice lobby Network (and organizer of Nuns on the Bus tours); Fr. Michael Joncas, liturgist and composer; and Fr. Don Cozzens who along with Sr. Simone received the Association’s Pope John XXIII Award.
Attendees also received updates and provided input on projects from 2014 and 2015: support for ordination of married men to the priesthood; ordaining women deacons; improved relationships with bishops, lay organizations, and women religious; an immigration task force; a labor caucus; concerns about the new translations of the Roman missal; broader consultations for the bishop selection process; study of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment; meetings in Rome related to the Family Synod; and others.
Many of these efforts are similar to projects VOTF supports. Sadly, as noted in reports on issues like the married priesthood and request for observer status at USCCB meetings, too often the U.S. bishops ignore the requests, reply that the reform is “not necessary,” or decline to meet with the priests. That makes it a trio of constituencies too many bishops decline to hear: their own clergy, religious women, and lay people.
Check out the AUSCP web site for details on their national meeting and the work they plan for the coming year.
Summer Thoughts: Agreeing on Clericalism
Fr. Don Cozzens, recipient of VOTF’s Priest of Integrity award in 2009, has posted an essay about the difference between a clerical culture, which is potentially a healthy environment, and clericalism, which instead cripples the Church’s pastoral mission. You will find his essay on the U.S. Catholic web site(link is external), and there’s a short survey at the end where you can weigh in on the topic yourself.
If you take the survey, don’t be shy about mentioning our own work on the topics Fr. Cozzens identifies. Voice of the Faithful has long called for an end to clericalism and its negative impacts, and we also have examined the need to end mandatory celibacy.
2015 Family Synod
The Synod on the Family will be held this upcoming October 4-25 in Rome. Several hundred bishops are expected to be in attendance. The United States is to be represented at the synod by Louisville’s Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference; Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, vice president of the conference; Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput; and Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez. Metropolitan William Skurla of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh is also to attend.
VOTF at the Synod
As announced at the VOTF 2015 National Assembly last April, VOTF President Mark Mullaney will be in Rome during the bishop’s Synod on Family Life this fall. He will deliverYOUR words on what family means in the “real world” — the world outside clerical walls and the approximations constructed by people who have never lived family life.
To take your messages, we need your voices. During this summer, we are collecting input on the two questions, which were debuted at the Assembly. Just click this link, complete the short questionnaire, and then click Submit.
After entering your response, copy this link —https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VOTF-FAMSYNOD — and email it to others who also may want the bishops to understand better what family life is like.
Following is a prayer for the Synod:
Lord God, we seek to follow the example of your Word, your Son and our Brother, Jesus.
We know from Him that your Holy Spirit is with us when we gather together in Your Name.
Therefore it is important to us that the community gathered in Your Name–Your Church–remains strong. That it engages with the world, your marvelous creation, and through that engagement inspires us and our children, grandchildren, and all generations that follow.
We believe that this is only possible for a Church that defines itself by what it stands for, rather than by what it stands against. A Church that measures itself by who it includes, rather than by who it excludes. A Church that shuns actions taken in darkness and exposes all of its actions, even its shortcomings, to the light.
We long for a Church which acknowledges the full value of all its people and bases its judgments on Your Word.
Please help us become that Church. Amen.
Highlighting issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle meets with members of pontifical commission on sex abuse
“One of the most severe critics of the church’s handling of the sex abuse scandal spent several days last month briefing members of the Vatican commission appointed to advise Pope Francis on the issue. In a phone interview Monday (July 20), Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle confirmed that he met with four members of the commission in London after he was approached to consult with the group by commission member Marie Collins of Ireland, who was raped by a priest as a youngster.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter
Pope Francis dumps two more bishops as house cleaning continues
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a Mexican bishopwho reportedly shielded a priest accused of sexually molesting an 11-year-old boy, and on Wednesday the Vatican announced that a Brazilian archbishop who spent $600,000 on renovations to his home and offices had been dismissed.” By David Gibson, Religion News Service
Let’s end clericalism in the church
“Finally, there appears an issue that our divided church can agree on. Catholics of all stripes—conservatives and liberals and in-betweens—are declaring a pox on clericalism. From Pope Francis to the back pew widow, from seminary rectors to lay ecclesial ministers, it’s agreed that clericalism is crippling the pastoral mission of the church.” Commentary by Fr. Donald Cozzens, a writer in residence and teacher at John Carroll University and recipient of a VOTF Priest of Integrity Award, inU.S. Catholic, along with an online survey
Milwaukee archdiocese asks Supreme Court to consider ruling on cemetery fund
“Lawyers for Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider a federal appellate court ruling that a $55 million-plus cemetery trust fund is not shielded in bankruptcy court by the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the First Amendment.” By Marie Rohde, National Catholic Reporter
Sex abuse trial of ex-Vatican envoy is delayed
“The trial of a former Vatican ambassador accused of sexually abusing boys while stationed in the Dominican Republic and of possessing child pornography was adjourned indefinitely on Saturday (July 11) after he fell ill and was hospitalized. The defendant, Jozef Wesolowski, 66, was taken to an Italian hospital for an ‘unexpected illness’ on Friday, the Vatican said in a statement. The trial will resume when Mr. Wesolowski recovers, it said.” By Gaia Pianigiani, The New York Times
— Former ambassador hospitalized ahead of child abuse trial, By Crispian Balmer, Reuters
Twelve years in, sex abuse charter faces ongoing challenges
“Because the ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People’ is a ‘living document’ open to differing interpretations, those in charge of implementing the charter at the diocesan level face a variety of challenges, according to the head of the bishops’ national office.” By Nancy Frazier O’Brien, Catholic News Service
Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus …
Letter to the Editor
Question–There seems to be no one pursuing the religious orders concerning priestly abuse. I understand the orders are an “entity unto themselves” but the Pope or someone should be able to get that information, maybe by embarrassment??? The survivors have done a magnificent job pursuing priestly abuse matters to a criminal conclusion in many cases–now if all states would only rescind the statutes of limitation law! Many thanks for all the hard work!
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.