In the Vineyard: May 10, 2018

In the Vineyard :: May 10, 2018 :: Volume 18, Issue 9

News from National

VOTF Conference News

If you live in New England, or you’ll be in Boston Saturday, June 9, don’t miss our offer for Red Sox tickets!

How is that Conference news? A generous donor has made available two tickets to see the Boston Red Sox play the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park that day. We’re using them in a drawing to promote VOTF’s 2018 Conference: Progress & Promise.

If we draw your name, you and a guest will watch the best Major League Baseball has to offer in one of the nation’s premier iconic ball parks. Anyone who has already registed for VOTF’s 2018 Conference or who registers between now and Monday, June 4, will be entered in the drawing. The image above shows the view you’ll have for the game from your Field Box 68, Row M, Seats 1 & 2. Register by clicking here …

Don’t miss the drawing–or the Conference! Attendees will hear VOTF leaders talk about progress and promise in three major areas:

  1. Healing the wounds of clergy sexual abuse — The facilitators of our Broken Vessel™ Healing Circle program, former trustees Jayne O’Donnell and Bill Casey, will present an overview of Healing Circles and a progress update. By describing what a Healing Circle actually looks like, they will share with us how effective this restorative justice model can be in helping to heal those the clergy abuse scandal has harmed.
  2. Holding dioceses accountable for financial transparency — VOTF’s Financial Working Group, led by trustee Margaret Roylance, will announce the results of its second annual survey of diocesan online financial transparency. As in 2017, the FWG will study all 177 U.S. dioceses and rank them according to their degree of online financial transparency. The FWG’s initial 2017 study revealed a wide disparity in online financial transparency. Based on responses to the initial report, we anticipate some movement toward greater financial transparency to be shown in this second report.
  3. Developing resources for lay leadership — The issue of leadership in the Church, always a focus for VOTF, will become increasingly problematic as the U.S. clergy continues to shrink, making the substance of lay leadership increasingly important. VOTF has formed a Collaborative Inquiry Team, which includes one of our speakers, Fr. William Clark, to seek funding for a study to answer the question: What forms of lay spirituality will provide the basis for effective lay servant leadership in faith communities without a pastor? Members of the team will lead this discussion at our Conference.

Register for the conference at this link to take advantage of the Early Bird Special reduced price of $85/person (Full-price registration will be $125 per person at a later date). Students — please note the low-cost $25-per-person student registration. You may also download this registration form and mail your registration to VOTF, PO Box 423, Newton, MA 02464.

Date: Oct. 6, 2018
Time: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Location: Providence, RI, Marriott Downtown

Make your hotel reservation by clicking here …

P.S. We have three great guest speakers lined up too! Marie Collins, Prof. Massimo Faggioli, and Fr. Bill Clark check them out on our web site!

Why Are We FightingChild Victim Laws?

Anne Southwood, a VOTF member in Marshfield, MA, read news reports about the Catholic Conference in New York State spending hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to fight the Child Victims Act in that state. She wonders why.

Reading the Buffalo News story on continuing Church determination to obstruct the passage of proposed NY legislation Child Victims Act, my thought dropped back to my Nana restricting me to the house and banishing playmates for our “unbecoming” behavior. Having no clue what “unbecoming” meant, we were in an ethical quandary trying to determine which behavior had created the need to keep our heads down. As a Catholic, I felt the same kind of ethical questioning after reading about continuing efforts to stall passage of this type of legislation.

Why? The story was headed by a picture of my former MA South Region Bishop, now the bishop in Buffalo, NY, speaking to the NY Catholic Conference. The NY Catholic Conference has provided an annual $300,000 to a squadron of PR firms on lawyer-like retainer, all staged to prevent the passage of a bill allowing victims with older sexual abuse allegations a window of opportunity to access our American justice system. Of course, the Buffalo diocese has had more than 60 allegations of abuse and could possibly suffer a financial hit with passage of this type of legislation.

Bishop Malone, a seemingly relational man when in Massachusetts, has a background as a school chaplain and degrees in divinity, theology, and biblical studies. He was Cabinet Secretary of Education. Now he and other NY bishops are actively lobbying in the public square to prevent changes that would aid child victims of sex abuse. I can’t help wondering if a majority of NY Catholics are aware of their funding of PR firms in this particular public square. The legislative push has been going on for a decade, but the Buffalo News story points out that their diocese has been “an early line of defense.”

Against whom?

What are we doing here, and why are we doing it?

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


Cardinal George Pell to stand trial on historical sex offenses
“Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s third-highest-ranking official, must stand trial on several charges of sexual abuse, an Australian court ruled on Tuesday, promising to prolong a case that has already dragged on for months, and which many see as a moment of reckoning for a church racked by scandal.” By Adam Baidawi, The New York Times

Household names: Junia, Phoebe, & Prisca in early Christian Rome
“Paul’s letter to the Romans is arguably the most significant theological text in Christian history … Few readers focus on the end of the letter, where Paul greets almost thirty people in the nascent assemblies of Roman Christians. After all, it seems mostly like an ordinary exchange of pleasantries and commendations. But pay closer attention to whom Paul addresses and a surprise emerges: the status of womenin the early church in Rome.” By Michael Peppard, Commonweal

Chile victims of clergy sex abuse praise talks with Pope
“Men who were sexually abused by a priest in Chile described the private talks they’ve had so far with Pope Francis at the Vatican as very helpful and respectful Sunday. James Hamilton, one of three clergy abuse survivors the pope invited to Italy after he discounted some of their assertions, tweeted that his more than two hours of conversation with Francis were ‘enormously constructive.’” By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, on

In wake of abuse scandal, bishops of Chile talk resignation
“As the date for their upcoming meeting with Pope Francis approaches, several of the 32 Chilean bishops who will be in Rome to meet the pontiff May 14-17 are speaking up, some ready to resign, and others ready to demand the resignation of a bishop accused of covering up clerical sexual abuse.” By Inès San Martin,

Australian mining town breaks its silence about grim past of sexual abuse
“Rob Walsh was outside Melbourne Magistrates’ Court recently awaiting a pretrial hearing for Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s third-highest-ranking official, when, he said, he unexpectedly walked into the cardinal himself. The encounter wasn’t their first. They both were raised in the same old mining town, which could be why the cardinal extended his hand, inviting Mr. Walsh to shake it. Mr. Walsh declined — a gesture that signified the lasting impact of a decades-long sexual abuse scandalthat has rocked this town, Ballarat, and sent shock waves around the world.” By Jacqueline Williams, The New York Times

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

California Catholic Bishops Raise TheirVoices for Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness month and the California Catholic Bishops, an advocacy group that serves as the official voice of the state’s estimated 10 million Catholics—including some 1.2 million in Orange County, CA—have something to say. They have released a nearly 6,000-word pastoral letter urging Catholics to move beyond stigmatization of the mentally ill towards support for ministry and care.

The letter Hope and Healing: A Pastoral Letter from the Bishops of California on Caring for those who Suffer from Mental Illness Addressed to All Catholics and People of Goodwill, is available at

To read more about the group behind the letter, link here

Pope Francis: God Never Denies His Children

In a general audience this week in Rome, Pope Francis spoke of the power of Baptism. “The mark left by baptism can never be lost. ‘But Father, what if a person becomes a bandit, one of the most famous, kills people, and does wrongdoings? Is that mark lost?’ No. He continues to be a child of God. He might go against God, but God never denies His children. Do you understand this last part? God never denies His children. Let’s repeat it all together.”

Watch his address here.

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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