In the Vineyard: June 4, 2016

In the Vineyard :: June 4, 2016 :: Volume 16, Issue 11

News from National

Child Victims Act Expires // Annual Bishops’ Compliance Report
Recent heightened public scrutiny of Catholic clergy sexual abuse has reinforced the need for the Church to address the scandal adequately. Last month the “window” in the Minnesota Child Victims act expired even as the U.S. Catholic bishops made their annual abuse report.

On May 24, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the three-year window created by the 2013 Minnesota Child Victims Act for reporting old claims of child sex abuse would expire May 25. During the three-year period, more than 500 claims were made against Minnesota Catholic clergy, according to the Star Tribune, which said, “In the three years since the law’s passage, the local church has witnessed an archbishop’s resignation, two bankruptcies and the public naming of more than 100 priests credibly accused of child sex abuse.”

The same day, the Associated Press reported that lawyers for abuse victims were accusing the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese of hiding more than $1 billion in assets “to avoid big payouts to abuse survivors as part of the church’s bankruptcy case.”

On May 20, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released its 2015 annual audit report on the implementation of its Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The report was not entirely complimentary of the Church’s efforts.

The report showed …

Pope Francis’ Prayer Intention for June
In his June prayer intention, Pope Francis asks that we reach out to the elderly and sick and foster a community of caring. He asks for solidarity with the aged, the poor and the marginalized in the big cities. Pray for their needs, meet them, and accompany them. You can watch the YouTube video here:

Pope Francis Speaks to Priests During Jubilee
Speaking to priests in June during the Jubilee of Priests, Pope Francis encouraged them to look to the Prodigal Son as a way to overcome the scandal of sin and celebrate God’s mercy and forgiveness in their lives and their ministry. In a later sermon, the Pope told the priests, “God keeps forgiving, even though he sees how hard it is for his grace to take root in the parched and rocky soil of our hearts. He never stops sowing his mercy and his forgiveness.”

To read more:

Phyllis Zagano on Ordaining Women
Catholic women deacons? “Dr. Phyllis Zagano, the author or editor of 20 books in religious studies, including ground-breaking work on the history and theology of women ordained as deacons, talks with Matt Malone, S.J., and Tim Reidy in America Magazine about the pope’s recent comments on commissioning a study of the role of women deacons in the church.”

Dr. Zagano also will be speaking on a Holland River Cruise next year (April 2-10, 2017), indicating the widening interest in restoring women deacons, a lost tradition in the Church.
The Harvard Divinity Bulletin last year also published Dr. Zagano’s overview of this history.

You can also download a PDF about the cruise from Dr. Zagano’s website

Affiliate News

First Friday Vigil
VOTF of Greater Philadelphia moved the vigil location to Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, at 1723 Race Street, Philadelphia.

VOTF of Greater Philadelphia has maintained a prayerful vigil; first at the Archdiocesan office building, now at the Cathedral Basilica, nearly every First Friday at noon for over 9 years. We carry signs asking for more support for the survivors, financial transparency, and parish audits. We find that our presence serves as a reminder that this issue has not gone away. We stand with survivors and parents, hand out flyers, and pray together. Passersby stop and tell us their stories.

Two New Auxiliaries in Boston
Boston-area VOTF members noted that Pope Francis has named Father Robert P. Reed and Father Mark O’Connell, JCD as Auxiliary Bishops in the Archdiocese of Boston.

Bishop-elect Reed is President and CEO of iCatholic Media and Cabinet Secretary for Catholic Media. Bishop-elect O’Connell currently serves as Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Boston. To read more about the men:

Bishop-Elect O’Connell biography

Bishop-elect Reed biography


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

Audit of U.S. Catholic church shows sharp spike in sex abuse reports
“An annual audit of reports of sexual abuse by members of the U.S. Roman Catholic clergy released on Friday showed sharp increases in the number of new claims and in the value of settlements to victims. The audit showed that 838 people came forward from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015, to say they had been sexually abused by priests, deacons or members of religions orders while they were children, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said.” By Scott Malone, Reuters
Number of U.S. priests accused of sexually abusing children and numbers of persons alleging abuse, By

Francis to create commission to study female deacons in the Catholic church
“Pope Francis has announced he will create a commission to study the possibility of allowing women to serve as deacons in the Catholic church, signaling an historic openness to the possibility of ending the global institution’s practice of an all-male clergy. The pontiff indicated he would create such a commission during a meeting at the Vatican Thursday (May 12) with some 900 leaders of the world’s congregations of Catholic women religious, who asked him during a question-and-answer session why the church excludes women from serving as deacons.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Bishop McElroy’s synod
“Yesterday’s (May 11) news that Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego is convoking a diocesan synod to consider how to embrace the Holy Father’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia is both good news and important news. It is good, because too many bishops have sought to minimize or relativize the pope’s exhortation. McElroy, like Washington’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl, whose talk on Amoris Laetitia I discussed last week, does not seek to minimize the text but to embrace it, to take it seriously, and to respond to the invitations it contains. And, this call for a synod is important because Bishop McElroy is charting a path that I suspect more bishops will follow in the years ahead.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Sins of the system: ‘Immediate need’ in seminary database faces years of delays
“… That investigation (by 10TV) revealed a widespread problem resulting in substandard screening of incoming seminarians. Those problems allowed Joel Wright, now convicted of attempted child rape, to gain a position of trust as a Josephinum seminarian. Nearly two months after that news conference, 10 Investigates attempted to find what progress was made on the pledges by Columbus Catholic leaders.” By Nathan Baca, WBNS-TV10, Columbus, Ohio

More than 800 sex abuse claims filed under Minnesota law
More than 850 child sex abuse claims, including about 500 against Minnesota Catholic clergy, have been made in the past three years under a landmark Minnesota law sunsetting this week that allowed victims of older abuse cases to have their day in court. The Minnesota Child Victims Act, which rocked the Catholic Church to its core, set a May 25, 2016, deadline for filing older claims. Victims’ lawyers are rushing to the finish line, expecting a last-minute surge in claims.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

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

Book Review

Moral Choices
Sasha Chanoff was a young field worker for a refugee organization when he was sent to the Congo to rescue 112 Tutsi refugees from the massacres there. What do you do when there are hundreds of others desperately seeking escape as well?

How Sasha answered that question, the conversations he later held with his father David about those choices, and interviews with others who faced their own difficult choices led to this volume: From Crisis to Calling: Finding Your Moral Center in the Toughest Decisions. Jim Post, first president of VOTF, is one of those profiled in the second part of the book.

David and Sasha first focus on the life-and-death choices Sasha faced in the Congo and how he and co-workers in their choices illustrate the five principles they deem critical for confronting such decisions. Part 2 uses profiles of eight other leaders—in the business world, in government, in nonprofit organizations, in the military—to show how each applied the principles when faced with difficult decisions.

Not every choice was as extreme as in the Congo, of course. But each involved a crucible, with an option “we are reluctant to entertain, which we’d like to dismiss or disregard, one that challenges our innate resistance to taking risks, yet nevertheless calls to something inside us.”

Jim and Jeannette Post describe that “calling” as they reflect on the early days of VOTF. “I had no idea that I was about to step into a new world,” Jim says.

Jeannette notes that as a woman in the Catholic Church she knew her voice, alone, was “not one that would fall on open ears.” But it was time for those voices to be heard.

The authors write engagingly of the options Jim, Jeannette and the other subjects in their profiles faced. They also offer a clear framework for developing the capacity to meet such choices. It’s a good read.

You can purchase the book via—if you do, please use the “Amazon Shop” link of the VOTF website to designate a percentage of your purchase for VOTF.

And if you’d like to know what happened after Sasha’s Congo experiences, he founded the nonprofit RefugePoint to rescue at-risk refugees like the 32 women and orphans he and his co-worker Sheikha managed to bring out with the other 112.


Telling Stories About Women
Eighth annual Mary of Magdala Celebration
Amy-Jill Levine
Friday, July 22 12:00-3:00 P.M.
Boston College Chestnut Hill Campus

A woman hides yeast; a widow threatens a judge; a woman seeks a coin; wise and foolish virgins await a bridegroom… These parables can be read as universal teachings about theology or salvation. They should also correct erroneous stereotypes of Jewish women, prompt necessary questions about gender, and offer provocative insights into ancient and modern relationships. This celebration of the feast day of St. Mary of Magdala begins with Mass, followed by lunch and this lecture.

Amy-Jill Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies and E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University.

FREE of charge and open to the public.

Early registration recommended.
Click here for more information, including directions and parking.

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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