In the Vineyard: March 14, 2022

In the Vineyard :: March 14, 2022 :: Volume 22, Issue 5

National News

Lenten Reflections

Lent is a season of preparation, introspection, and reflection. Voice of the Faithful has prepared the following list of links to resources, reflections, and readings to help you observe the season. Some of the links lead to online reflections, and others lead to places where you may purchase booklets or pamphlets for use during your 40-day journey toward Jesus’s suffering, death, and Resurrection.

Uppermost in our minds as this 2022 season of Lent begins is the war in Ukraine, so we start with Pope’s Francis’ request for peace and no more war.

Pope Francis’s “Asks for Peace” in Ukraine

I ask you to pray the Our Father for peace in Ukraine, now and throughout this Day.

Let us ask the Lord to grant that the country may grow in the spirit of brotherhood, and that all hurts, fears and divisions will be overcome.

We have spoken about the Holocaust. But let us think too that [in Ukraine] millions of people were killed [1932-1933].

They are a people who have suffered; they have suffered from hunger, suffered from much brutality and they deserve peace.

May the prayers and supplications that today rise up to heaven touch the minds and hearts of world leaders, so that dialogue may prevail and the common good be placed ahead of partisan interests.

Please, no more war.

If you have a favorite resource for Lenten reflections, let us know. You can email (link sends e-mail)(link sends e-mail), and we will review your resource for our list.

To see the list of Lenten resources we have compiled, click here.

VOTF Synod Activities Update

Check it out! We have a new video up, focusing on the Synod and our work on it. You can see it on our Vimeo space: The Synod: What Is It? And Why I Should Care. Help us spread the word about the importance, the opportunity, and your options for participation.

And have you participated in our Synod sessions yet? We invite every member, your friends, and all others to join us in our session Sets. Each Set consists of two sessions at the same day and time on two consecutive weeks. Each Set has multiple Groups, and each group is limited to 6 to 8 participants. We are holding Sets of sessions through June so you have plenty of opportunity if you have not signed up. Remember, we are listening to all voices so please take the opportunity to invite friends as well.

To date we have held nine Sets of sessions, each with several groups. Unfortunately, all the Sets through March have been filled already, but you can get early notification for the April registraions.

Just send an email to with your name and email address and type “Synod waiting list” as the Subject. We will give you first opportunity to sign up when the April dates are set.

Also be aware that VOTF is available to assist parishes, lay groups, religious orgaizations and others in their synod sessions. Our format and session structure can be adapted for those purposes. Send an email to if you would like more information.

International News

On International Women’s Day,Where Are the Women of the Church?

Earlier this month, on International Women’s Day (March 8th), Pope Francis spoke at a conference entitled “Women Doctors of the Church and Co-Patronesses of Europe,” hosted by Rome’s Pontifical University. These women doctors and co-patrons are examples of “the courage to face difficulties; the capacity for being practical; a natural desire to promote what is most beautiful and human according to God’s plan; and a far-sighted, prophetic vision of the world and of history, that made them sowers of hope and builders of the future,” he said.

This conference highlighted doctors of the church Sts. Teresa of Ávila, Catherine of Siena, Thérèse of Lisieux and Hildegard of Bingen, and co-patrons of Europe Sts. Bridget of Sweden, Edith Stein, and Catherine of Siena. In his remarks, he described how “the dignity and intrinsic worth with which the Creator endowed them [should] be restored to all women,” and explained that the Church recognizes that it needs the full involvement and gifts of women. He cited their experiences as an offering of “light and hope to our fragmented and fractious world,” each leading an example of a holy life. These women in the history of the Catholic Church offer examples of how to live, but there are also contemporary examples.

Carolyn Y. Woo, PhD, the former president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, is the author of Rising: Learning from Women’s Leadership in Catholic Ministries. She says that although women’s progress into leadership positions in the Church has not been even, “We are not talking about evenness, we are talking about progress, about rising. They have not risen totally, but they are rising.”

She continues, describing the current situation: “There’s work for the Church to do. There’s still sort of a lack of real hospitality to women. On the other hand, there’s also a lot which has been done,” and the higher objective that motivates women to continue to serve, despite, in many cases, a lack of recognition for their efforts: “You serve because you believe that is what God calls you to do, you believe that it is a privilege that connects the neighbor to God and that when you serve your neighbor, you are serving God.”

While Pope Francis has continued slowly appointing women to higher offices, including the most recent appointment of Emilce Cuda, the secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, on February 18, Woo wanted to set the record straight that women who lead Catholic charitable, social service, and healthcare ministries are involved in equally important tasks as the priests who celebrate Mass and the sacraments.

Nuns across the world are engaged in ministry to support and help their neighbors, contributing their skills, knowledge, and compassion. In Ukraine, nuns are rescuing foreign students and helping them flee the country. Sister Ligi Payyappilly said, “God is using me to save people from death in Ukraine,” as she and 17 other sisters of her congregation feed, shelter, and escort stranded students and other refugees fleeing the country.

In Ghana, Sisters of Mary Mother of the Church lead an education and awareness campaign to encourage thousands to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Less than 20% of Ghana is fully vaccinated, and myths about the vaccine are plentiful. Many Ghanians are grateful for the Sisters’ work, including Elijah Nayoo, who just received his first does of the Moderna vaccine, explaining, “I am thankful to the sisters for their key intervention towards containing the pandemic.” He described the education that they provided which helped him explain to his family members and friends why they should take the vaccine. Many of them have now taken the vaccine willingly without fear. He says, “The campaign messages changed my mind, and that of other people to avail themselves for the vaccine.” Their messages were vital in “demystifying the myth about the negative effects of the vaccines.” Sister Lucy Hometowu, superior general of the Sisters of Mary Mother of the Church, who is also an obstetrician and gynecologist, says they are using a toolkit from the Vatican in their campaigns to “combat misinformation and disinformation related to COVID-19 and ensure accurate information is distributed about life saving vaccines.”

In many ways, Catholic women are contributing their time, energy, and talents towards their ministries. These ministries take many forms, and all are valuable. Particularly on International Women’s Day, it is important that their contributions be recognized by the Catholic Church, and their leadership receive the equal regard it deserves.

For more information, please see here, here, here, and here.

For VOTF’s position on women’s roles, please see here

Argentine Cardinal Sentenced for Sexual Abuse

Retired Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison for sexually abusing two students at the St. John XXIII Seminary. He served as bishop in Orán from 2013-2017, where he was tried and convicted earlier this month. His judgment was that of “simple, continued, and aggravated sexual abuse,” and he was removed from the court immediately after the verdict was reached. Allegations of authoritarianism, financial mismanagement, and sexual abuse were lodged against Bishop Zanchetta by five priests in 2016, and local authorities began their investigation in 2019, when a local newspaper reported complaints about his actions as bishop.

Zanchetta did not speak during the sentencing; he denied all charges in the criminal trial. In a separate Vatican canon law investigation he also maintained his innocence, claiming that he had a “good and healthy relationship with seminarians. Critics of Pope Francis say this is a blow to his credibility: Francis initially rejected the accusations against Zanchetta and said Zanchetta “defended himself well” when initial allegations accused him of having pornographic images on his cell phone.

Victims’ rights groups and abuse tracking groups were pleased with the outcome of the trial., an abuse-tracking group based in the United States, said, “This is a stunning ruling from the Pope’s homeland. It’s a sign that even where the Catholic Church wields power, civil societies increasingly will not tolerate sexual abuse of young adults by powerful figures.” Carlos Lombardi, a member of the Network of Survivors of Ecclesiastical Abuse in Argentina who represents victims in the case, thinks this is “a strong blow” to Pope Francis “because of the public defense he has made in this case… they now have no arguments to protect these criminals in cassocks.”

Zanchetta’s prison term began directly after sentencing.

For more information, please see here, here, and here.

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

For survivor support resources, please see here.


Cardinal archbishop offers resignation on return from timeout
“A prominent Roman Catholic archbishop who faced strong criticism for his handling of the church’s sexual abuse scandal in Germany said Wednesday (Mar. 2) that he has offered his resignation to Pope Francis following a ‘spiritual timeout’ granted by the pontiff. Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, the archbishop of Cologne, marked his return to work with a lengthy letter to the faithful in which said he was ‘not returning unchanged, as if nothing had happened in this time.’” By Greg Moulson, Associated Press

Bishop barred from public ministry in former diocese
“The former bishop of the Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, Bishop Michael Hoeppner, will not return to do any ministry in the diocese and will have his retirement compensation cut, the diocese’s new shepherd announced on March 7. Hoeppner resigned on April 13, 2021 at the request of Pope Francis following a 20-month-long investigation into claims that he mishandled allegations of clergy sex abuse. He was 71 at the time – four years shy of the normal retirement age for bishops.” By John Levenburg,

Young Catholics say they need church leaders to listen, engage them more
“Catholic young people in the U.S. are leaving behind traditional models of learning about and living out their faith, and clergy, youth ministers and others will have to make some drastic changes to their ministry style if they want to keep them engaged. That’s the bottom line of ‘The State of Religion & Young People 2021 — Catholic Edition,’ a report released Feb. 23 by Springtide Research Institute, a Minnesota-based nonprofit sociological research institute dedicated to exploring the spiritual lives of young people. Its current research focuses on the demographic ages 13-25, also known as Generation Z.” By Christina Lee Knauss, Catholic News Service, on

Ex-bishop appointed by pope sentenced for sex abuse
“A retired Argentine bishop seen as close to Pope Francis was sentenced on Friday (Saturday, Mar. 5, in Manila) to four-and-a-half years in prison for sexually abusing two seminarians. A court in the northwestern town of Oran, where Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta was bishop from 2013 to 2017, ordered his immediate detention. The 57-year-old Zanchetta, who had traveled from the Vatican for the trial, was convicted of ‘simple, continued and aggravated sexual abuse,’ with his offense aggravated by his role as a clergyman.” By Agence France-Press in The Manila Times

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

Pope Francis Prays for Peace in Ukraine

“Dear brothers and sisters,

“Rivers of blood and tears are flowing in Ukraine. It is not merely a military operation, but a war, which sows death, destruction and misery. The number of victims is increasing, as are the people fleeing, especially mothers and children. The need for humanitarian assistance in that troubled country is growing dramatically by the hour.

“I make a heartfelt appeal for humanitarian corridors to be genuinely secured, and for aid to be guaranteed and access facilitated to the besieged areas, in order to offer vital relief to our brothers and sisters oppressed by bombs and fear.

I thank all those who are taking in refugees. Above all, I implore that the armed attacks cease and that negotiation – and common sense – prevail. And that international law be respected once again!

And I would also like to thank the journalists who put their lives at risk to provide information. Thank you, brothers and sisters, for this service! A service that allows us to be close to the tragedy of that population and enables us to assess the cruelty of a war. Thank you, brothers and sisters.

Let us pray together for Ukraine: we have its flags in front of us. Let us pray together, as brothers and sisters, to Our Lady, Queen of Ukraine. Hail Mary…

The Holy See is ready to do everything, to put itself at the service of this peace. In these days, two Cardinals went to Ukraine, to serve the people, to help. Cardinal Krajewski, the Almoner, to bring aid to the needy, and Cardinal Czerny, interim Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The presence of the two Cardinals there is the presence not only of the Pope, but of all the Christian people who want to get closer and say: “War is madness! Stop, please! Look at this cruelty!” “

This appeal was made on March 6th to St. Peter’s Square.

For those wishing to make a financial contribution to individuals on the ground assisting refugees in Ukraine, Catholic Relief Services is accepting donations. You also may wish to donate directly to organizations housing refugees in and near Ukraine. This list is from the recent newsletter of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests:

Donate to the OLA Conventual friars in Ukraine (providing direct relief) (food for Ukrainian refugees at border crossings) (health screenings & medical supplies for Ukraine and refugees)


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