In the Vineyard: July 27, 2020

In the Vineyard :: July 27, 2020 :: Volume 20, Issue 14

News from National

Sign Up for Our Virtual Conference!

The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has affected Voice of the Faithful similarly to other organizations planning to hold events during 2020. Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the well-being of our members and supporters, Voice of the Faithful will present on online Zoom conference for 2020. The online Zoom 2020 VOTF Conference: Visions of a Just Church will take place Oct. 3. Mark your calendars and join us as we seek visions of what a Church that is just for all the faithful would look like.

Note: It’s also a great way to attend our conference from far away! Time zones may be tricky, if you want to watch “live,” but registrants will also receive access to the conference videos within 24 hours of the live broadcast. Those videos won’t be available to others for at least two weeks.

The cost for attending VOTF’s online Zoom 2020 Conference is just $50.

Register for the online Zoom VOTF 2020 Conference by clicking here …(link is external)

If you prefer to mail us your registration, download this form …

Featured at VOTF’s 2020 Conference: Two Great Speakers

Presently scheduled to speak are two well-known Catholic scholars.

Our featured speaker is Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., an internationally recognized scholar in Catholic studies and women’s roles in the Church and advocate of an ordained women’s diaconate. Author of nearly 20 books, she received Voice of the Faithful’s Catherine of Siena Distinguished Layperson Award during VOTF’s 10th Year Conference in Boston in 2012 and the Issac Hecker Award for Social Justice from the Paulist Center in Boston in 2014.

On August 2, 2016, Pope Francis appointed her to the inaugural Papal Commission for the Study of Women in the Diaconate, which convened in Rome November 2016. She also is senior research associate-in-residence and adjunct professor of religion at Hofstra University. You can watch a podcast review by Fr. Anthony Randazzo on Dr. Zagano’s most recent book–Women: Icons of Christ–at this link:

Our featured return speaker is Fr. Richard Lennan, professor of systematic theology and Professor Ordinarius in the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College. He will speak at the conference about Australia’s new draft Church governance document, which he helped develop and which promises to be a guide toward a more lay-participatory Church.

Prof. Lennan grew up in Newcastle, Australia, and has been a priest of the diocese of Maitland-Newcastle since 1983. Lennan has taught systematic theology in the Catholic Institute of Sydney and served as president of the Australian Catholic Theological Association. He began teaching at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in 2007 and continued teaching at Boston College after Weston became part of BC. He currently directs STM’s Sacred Theology Licensure program, serves on the editorial board of Theological Studies, and chairs the steering committee of the Karl Rahner Society.

Together with two BC colleagues, Lennan wrote “To Serve the People of God: Renewing the Conversation on Priesthood and Ministry,” about which he spoke at last year’s conference, calling for reexamining the formation process for diocesan priests and eradicating the priesthood’s embedded clerical culture. Lennan is the author of two books, and he has edited five others.

MORE 2020 Conference Plans

In addition to featured speakers, we have UPDATES planned on some VOTF key projects: diocesan financial transparency and a new look at diocesan financial accountability; monitoring child protection programs; and women’s roles in the Church. We’re also working to get a report on a new collaboration effort in a Midwest diocese.

PLUS, for those of you who will miss the great in-person opportunity to meet and talk with others at lunch periods and breaks during our conferences, we are replicating those connections with a pre-conference evening of small-group discussions. After you register, check your email for a follow-up survey that will help us make those group assignments.

Remember, cost for the virtual 2020 Conference is just $50. We will be offering the same mix of interesting speakers and evocative conversation as always, so stay tuned for more information.

For more information and to register for the online Zoom VOTF 2020 Conference, click here.

If you prefer to mail in your registration, click here and download the form.

Handbook for Abuse Allegations Released

Earlier this week, the Vatican released a handbook, published to assist clergy and church lawyers when dealing with investigations and reports of alleged sexual abuse by priests and other church members. “Ecclesiastical authorities should make a report to the competent civil authorities if this is considered necessary to protect the person involved or other minors from the danger of further criminal acts,” the manual states. The publication differed from previous statements in that it did not condition reporting on whether or not it is legally required, explaining that a report should be made “even in cases where there is no explicit legal obligation to do so.”

Another major guideline of the handbook urged investigators to refrain from settling cases by rehoming alleged perpetrators, whether to another parish or to another country, as has historically been done. This, the manual instructs, is not a “sufficient solution” for the problem. It also advised investigators not to dismiss anonymous reports off the bat, but rather consider the evidence at hand.

The publication reaffirms reports of sexual abuse discovered during confession are not reportable and must be kept confidential, but priests receiving confessions admitting abuse should “seek to convince the penitent to make that information known by other means.”

The language throughout the handbook toes a fine line, never requiring specific action, but rather instructing leaders on what “should” be done rather than what “must” be done. It does, however, warn that those who do not investigate such accusations could face consequences, including canonical proceedings for negligence. Some survivors and victims’ rights advocates feel that the language is not strong enough, but the handbook is a major step forward in codifying guidance for investigations and strengthening protections for victims. Only time will tell if it is strong enough.

To read more about VOTF’s position on child protection, please see here.

For survivor support resources, please see here.

Full text here.

Pope Francis Reaffirms Call for Inclusion of Children, the Elderly

Seven years after his appeal at World Youth Day in Brazil, Pope Francis called for inclusion of the young and the elderly in dialogue around the future of the Church. As COVID-19 continues across the globe, that message continues to echo in his actions. As the Pope said in a Mass in 2018, “if the young are called to open new doors, the elderly hold the keys.” A consistent advocate against “throwaway culture” of which the young and the elderly are often victims, he repeatedly calls for all to be included in new visions for the world. If young people are the “buds and foliage […] the elderly are the roots.” As pandemic realities separate many from their families, and elderly parishioners are more isolated, it is important to “find the courage to imagine what is possible, with the realism that only the Gospel can offer us.”

Throughout the pandemic, this inclusion has taken many forms, most recently in a book published by the Vatican containing Pope Francis’s “lockdown” homilies. Strong in the Face of Tribulation was first published as a PDF edition, but after feedback from readers, was made available in print.

Online and other transmissions of the Pope’s words were available throughout the pandemic, and parishes around the world have been streaming masses to keep parishioners engaged. Inclusion, even after the pandemic lessens in severity, could take the form of continued streamed services for those unable to leave their homes. Community can be built in many ways and including the young and the elderly will require creative planning. COVID-19 has only emphasized that fact and continues to indicate the need for inclusivity to be a cornerstone of parish life.

For information about the print edition of Strong in the Face of Tribulation, please see here.

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


Catholic Church lobbied for taxpayer funds, got $1.4B
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, the chair of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, reminded critics in a statement: “The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to protect the jobs of Americans from all walks of life, regardless of whether they work for for-profit or non-profit employers, faith-based or secular” and that the U.S. Catholic Church “is the largest non-governmental supplier of social services in the United States.” U.S. Catholic bishops respond to A.P. report on church use of Paycheck Protection loans, By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

Reporter’s notebook: clergy sex abuse accountability
“I interviewed Francesco Cesareo, the former chairman of the National Review Board, last week for Our Sunday Visitor on the completion of his eight years leading the committee that advises the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on clergy sex abuse matters. Cesareo, the president of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, also went into the progress made on holding bishops accountable, the changes that he believes still need to be made to the Dallas Charter, as well as the reasons he sees for why a culture of accountability may not yet have taken root in some parishes or schools.” By Brian Fraga, Our Sunday Visitor, on

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


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