In the Vineyard: March 14, 2020

In the Vineyard :: March 14, 2020 :: Volume 20, Issue 5

News from National

Getting to Mass During a Global Pandemic

Many parishes throughout the world are cancelling Mass this weekend (at least) in response to the rapid spread of the coronavirus. There are online resources for those who would like to watch Mass from home. For many of the churches, the online broadcasts will continue beyond the weekend.

Archbishop Nelson Perez from Philadelphia will be the principal celebrant and homilist at a Mass to be offered for all those affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, at 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 15 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.

The faithful are encouraged to participate by livestream through the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s website, or Facebook page, or through Archbishop Perez’s Facebook page (

Beginning March 15, the Sunday 11 a.m. Mass celebrated at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul will be streamed live through the above links.

These live streams will be provided on an ongoing basis and are being provided as an additional mode for individuals to participate in Sunday Mass remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local TV stations also will be broadcasting Mass where feasible, so check your listings both for daily and Sunday services.

Visions of a Just Church: 2020 VOTF Conference

The place to be on Saturday, Oct. 3, is the Boston Marriott Newton Hotel as Voice of the Faithful returns for its 2020 Conference: Visions of a Just Church. Mark your calendars and join us as we seek visions of what a Church that is just for all the faithful would look like.

Our featured speaker will be Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., an internationally recognized scholar in Catholic studies and women’s roles in the Church and an advocate for an ordained women’s diaconate. Author of nearly 20 books, Dr. Zagano 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. She is a member of the Papal Commission on the Diaconate of Women and senior research associate-in-residence and adjunct professor of religion at Hofstra University.

The cost for attending VOTF’s 2020 Conference is $150, but you can take advantage of a Two-for-$230 offer through Labor Day, Sept. 7.

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

Book your discounted group-rate room at our conference hotel, the Boston Marriott Newton, for only $159 per night …(link is external)

We will be at the same great venue as last year and will offer the same mix of interesting speakers, good food, and evocative conversation, so stay tuned for more information.

Catholic Women Protest for Equal Rites and Equal Rights

Despite lower-than-usual turnout due to COVID-19 fears, church attendance was especially low in Manhattan this week, as a band of protestors marched along the East River calling for “Equal Rites and Equal Rights” for women in the clergy. The small but determined group of just over a dozen men and women and a dog was frustrated with Pope Francis’ lack of support for women in the Church.

The grassroots protestors sang along to faith-themed suffragist songs as they marched toward St. Patrick’s Cathedral on March 8, International Women’s Day. In his post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Pope Francis had dismissed clerical roles for women, but left the door open to the idea of supporting community leadership roles that “reflect their womanhood.”

In a study on “Catholic Women in the United States,” nearly half of participants responded that Church teachings on women’s ordination were at least somewhat important to them, but more than 4 in 5 surveyed said they had not considered leaving the Catholic Church. Those marching in support of the cause highlighted that, despite their concerns, they were remaining in the Church in the hope of bringing reform from within, rather than finding another tradition that better matched their views on women clergy members.

Protesters marched with paper chains around their necks from the United Nations to the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. They broke the paper chains as a symbol of breaking free from their grievances, including sexism and clericalism. They also distributed flowers and flyers in support of their cause, chanting that “inclusion, equality, justice, transparency, and courage” must “bloom” from within.


Protestors seek female ordination during Women’s Day March in New York:

Pope Francis leaves the door open on married priests and women deacons

More coverage of the Women’s Day March in New York

To read VOTF’s position on women’s roles in the Church, please see here.

Confronting Clericalism

By Gene Scapanski, S.T.D. (Vice President and Professor [retired] at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota)

Prof. Scapanski received a copy of the document “Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism,” prepared jointly by the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, VOTF, and selected lay people. He sent these notes to Fr. Kevin Clinton, co-editor, and allowed its publication here.

I have been thinking about the white paper. I really like the format which alternates interviews with commentary, and I found the reflective pieces very effective!

Some further thoughts: Prior to the second Vatican Council the role of the laity (lay apostolate) officially was “to be helpers of the clergy in the mission of the church.” Laity saw what they did in the church as “volunteers,” assisting the pastor with his work.

Vatican II radically changed that identity. Article #33 of The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church says the laity, through their membership in the Christian community, participate directly in the mission of Jesus Christ.

“Through Baptism and Confirmation all are appointed to this apostolate (mission of the Church) by the Lord Himself. . . . Every lay person, through those gifts given to him (sic) is at once the witness and the living instrument of the Church itself.”*

That radically new identity is carried through in other documents. Said various ways, the “proper role” of the laity is advancing the reign of God in the secular sphere. In other words, they are the “first-line” ministers of the Gospel in the world, which, according to Matthew 25 & 28, is the commission of Christ to His church.

The most pernicious effect of clericalism, in my mind, is that it subsumes all roles in the church, making them subordinate to, and derivative of, the priest’s (Laity are “helpers of the clergy in their mission.”). That “second-class” status works against true identity of the baptized as “disciples of Jesus Christ.”

A derivative or second-class identity is not compelling. The idea that Christ may be “calling me,” then, is hard to perceive. I still hear laity today talking about “volunteering” or “helping-out” in the church.

The hierarchy have an essential role as leaders/servants of the mission. Clergy and lay ecclesial ministers are the “equipping” ministers who prepare and lead the People of God in Christ’s mission. But, as the Church in the Modern World says, it is the laity who are in the world and have the appropriate gifts to transform the secular sphere; they are “apostles,” if you will, to the world.

Is it any wonder that the Church seems to have so little impact on the world? How many full-time “ministers” does the local parish have? One—the pastor? A few—the staff? Or several hundred/thousand—the whole community/People of God? These are two radically different concepts of church.

This question of “identity,” self-perception, controls the behavior of all the baptized, both clergy and lay. How can the church expect to have an impact on the world if the mission is left solely to the clergy?

There are lots of evils that flow from a monarchical clericalism. The most serious of these is that it eviscerates the mission of the church.

As I read the paper, this is what came to mind. (I know it is not new to you!)

Abusers Flee South of the Border

Despite the Church’s attempts to root out abusers and seek justice for abuse victims, priests sent to parishes in Mexico remain unpunished. Some church leaders have continued to protect priests accused or known to be abusers by transferring them to parishes south of the border, where they continue regularly interacting with parishioners of all ages while statues of limitations on abuse in the US run out.

In one case, the Rev. Jose Antonio Pinal, originally from Mexico and newly appointed to his first parish in Northern California in 1980, befriended, groomed, and then abused a 15-year-old boy. Pinal denied sexually abusing the boy, but also claimed that “whatever happened was consensual .”

Despite the credible allegations, he maintained a warm relationship with officials in charge of Hispanic Ministry and the Bishop at the time. The former Bishop for the Sacramento area advised him to return home to Mexico and work for a “long period” (5-6 years) before coming back to the US. With the support of the former Bishop, Pinal settled into a new diocese and evaded justice.

Unfortunately, this is not a rare situation—reporters have found more than 50 clergy working internationally after abuse allegations, in countries from Ireland to Nigeria. At least 21 credibly accused clergy found refuge in Mexico. The Church has allowed, and in some cases aided, credibly accused clergy to continue working abroad.

In spite of promises to create transparency and efforts to develop a database of clergy accused of abusing children, the information is often inconsistent and incorrect. International borders complicate matters further, especially in Mexico, where no such list has been published yet. Even when warrants are issued for accused or even confirmed guilty priests, other governments can decline to extradite them back to the United States, further preventing victims from obtaining justice.


Catholic Leaders Promised Transparency About Child Abuse. They Haven’t Delivered.

Dozens of Catholic Priests Credibly Accused of Abuse Found Work Abroad, Some with the Church’s Blessing

AP Explains Vatican to Send Abuse Investigators to Mexico

Vatican officials investigating sex abuse cases to visit Mexico in ‘zero tolerance’ drive

Four Mexican bishops referred to superiors in sex abuse cases

For advocacy and support resources, please click here:

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


Papal task force to help bishops, religious write, revise abuse guidelines
“Pope Francis has set up a task force of qualified experts and canon lawyers to help bishops’ conferences and congregations of men and women religious with drawing up or revising guidelines for the protection of minors. The Vatican will also be releasing — at an ‘imminent,’ but unspecified date — a handbook or vademecum, prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to help bishops and religious superiors clearly understand their responsibilities and the procedures for handling allegations of abuse.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

L’Arche founder’s printed legacy damaged in sex-abuse report
“Revelations that Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche, sexually abused at least six women continues to reverberate throughout the Roman Catholic and wider church world. Vanier, who died in 2019 at age 90, wrote 30 books. Christian bookstores and publishers are among those dealing with the fallout of last month’s report on Vanier’s ‘manipulative sexual relationships.’ In Winnipeg, Stephanchew’s Church Goods took the only book by Vanier in the store off its shelves.” By John Longhurst, Winnipeg Free Press

West Virginia Catholics turn to ‘restorative justice’ I wake of bishop revelations
“More than one hundred West Virginians ranging from victim-survivors to key diocesan officials gathered at Wheeling University last week to learn how restorative justice practices might bring healing to their scandal-plagued Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Following Bishop Michael Bransfield’s resignation in September of 2018, West Virginians gradually learned about extensive allegations of sexual harassment and financial abuse during his thirteen-year tenure … Against that backdrop, participants at last week’s conference explored the theological and biblical foundations for the use of restorative justice.” By Nick Mayrand,

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

Pssst! Have you ever clicked that link above, the one that says “read the rest of this issue”? You should … You will find links for just about everything going on in our Catholic world that pertains to VOTF’s mission and goals.
Go ahead, click the link!


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