In the Vineyard :: May 10, 2020 :: Volume 20, Issue 9
News from National
Visions of a Just Church
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. (click here for Dr. Zagano’s bio), an internationally recognized scholar in Catholic studies and women’s roles in the Church and advocate for 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. She served as a member of the first Papal Commission on the Diaconate of Women, and she is a 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.
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.
Cardinal Pell Knew of Abuse But Did Not Act
Findings newly released by the Australian Royal Commission confirm that Cardinal George Pell was well aware of the abuses perpetrated against children and failed to act to protect them. Three unredacted reports published on Thursday indicated that Pell was aware of child sex abuse as early as 1973 and “considered measures of avoiding situations which might provoke gossip about it.” The findings are not a surprise in Australia, where Pell’s actions were known for decades.
The reports were originally redacted to avoid prejudicing jurors in Pell’s trial, where he was originally found guilty of sexual abuses in 1996, a result which was overturned last month. Pell failed to report priests suspected of abuse on multiple occasions, according to the Commission’s findings. Pell has repeatedly painted himself as a priest who was unaware of what was otherwise well-known by other clergy members – a bishop who didn’t know because he didn’t ask hard questions
In the aftermath of Pell’s release last month, survivors of clergy abuse took comfort in the release of the commission’s findings. The report detailed clergy sexual abuses in institutions across Australia, including schools and churches. The report can be found here.
Cardinal Pell continues to deny these allegations and claims that the “views of the Royal Commission” were not “supported by evidence.” Reports of sexual abuse in the Royal Commission’s findings include details about the location and dates of many of the abuses, and include survivors’ descriptions of how they reported the abuses. In ost cases, despite multiple reports, nothing was done under Pell’s reign.
Cardinal Pell’s failure to protect children from abuse after he was made aware, in addition to the allegations against him, indicate that he, along with so many other clergy leaders, have no intention of righting the wrongs of the past. Despite clear evidence that Pell was involved in decisions to transfer abusive priests to different parishes, he has yet to accept any responsibility for failing to report those abusers. Denial and cover-up continue to be the preferred strategies for navigating allegations of abuse.
For advocacy and support resources, please see here. https://www.votf.org/page/voices-action/7619
Covid-19 and the Changing Church
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Catholic Church has had to adjust to the changing times. In many ways, these changes have been difficult. Churches have had to cope with declining donations, as parishioners accustomed to donating at Mass every Sunday are now worshiping from home. Parishes have been applying for Paycheck Protection Program loans in order to keep people employed (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/catholic-churches-paycheck-protection-program-12000-applied-9000-got/), as are many other religious denominations.
With Sunday Masses no longer held in person, many are unable to engage in-person with their parish communities. Churches are using innovative methods to navigate the restrictions imposed by state governments and common-sense physical distancing, all designed to keep people safe. Many parishes are broadcasting or live-streaming their services, for example, and some, including a parish in Maine, have been celebrating “parking lot Masses.”
People also are devising interesting ways to connect those who might ordinarily be singing at weekly Masses. With business-as-usual temporarily on hold, the Self-Isolation Choir is bringing people together to sing, as they would normally be doing in rehearsals in choir lofts, from the comfort and safety of their homes. Globally. They aim to perform the Messiah via YouTube at the end of May. Currently they rehearse weekly, live and on-air but from individual homes.
What many of these new ways of faith-sharing have in common is the potential to expand Catholic life beyond the physical space of the church for those who are housebound or otherwise unable to congregate as usual.
Despite the challenge of staying safe in the age of COVID-19, innovative Catholics continue to grow their relationships with the Church and with one another as we all pray for health and security.
Pope Francis Calls for World Day of Prayer
Pope Francis has called for a day of prayer, fasting, and works of charity with believers of all religions on May 14 to end the pandemic (https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/05/02/pope-francis-joins-muslim-leaders-calling-world-day-prayer-end-coronavirus). Joining with Muslim leaders, this world day of prayer is to encourage international cooperation to end the crisis and emphasize the importance of scientific research to develop a vaccine.
Highlighting issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Pell knew of abuse by Australian pedophile priest
“Australian Cardinal George Pell knew a notorious pedophile priest had been moved decades ago because he had sexually abused children, and should have removed an unstable priest in another parish who was also a suspected pedophile, a government inquiry concluded. A report from the inquiry on child sexual abuse had been released in 2017, but findings concerning Pope Francis’ former finance minister had been redacted until Thursday to avoid prejudicing juries in any future prosecutions.” By Rod McGuirk, Cruxnow.com
The acquittal of Cardinal Pell
“In setting aside the guilty verdict against Cardinal George Pell on sexual-assault charges, Australia’s High Court effectively concluded the criminal-justice aspect of a case that has consumed the nation and the Catholic Church for years. But the April 7 ruling doesn’t really settle anything in the relationship between the church and the Australian state, nor is it likely to resolve the clash between the different ‘kinds’ of Catholicism in Australia and elsewhere. In fact, the decision will probably keep the contentious debates alive, perhaps for a long time to come.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal
- Cardinal Pell’s release stokes concerns about Australia’s plenary council, By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
Archdiocese of New Orleans to file bankruptcy; Aymond meets with area priests
The Archdiocese of New Orleans is preparing to file for bankruptcy, a source familiar with the matter said Thursday (Apr. 30) evening, as the mounting cost of unresolved clergy-abuse lawsuits and the shutdown of church services due to the coronavirus deliver crushing blows to church finances. The 227-year-old local institution serving half a million New Orleans-area Catholics will join 26 other American dioceses and Catholic religious orders that have sought financial protection from creditors and claimants since the clergy-abuse scandal reached a fever pitch in 2002.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com
German Catholic Church agrees to rules for investigating abuse cases
“The Catholic Church has become Germany’s first institution to agree to fixed and binding rules for investigating sexual abuse cases. The agreement, described as historic by the German government’s abuse commissioner, could become a blueprint for other institutions in the fight against abuse. The Protestant Church in Germany and churches in many other countries have yet to take that step, reported KNA, the German Catholic news agency.” By Catholic News Service on AngelusNews.com
Pope Francis’ May Prayer Intention: Permanent Deacons
Deacons, living their vocation in and with their families, are in the spotlight this month as Francis prays for permanent deacons and recently commissioned a second panel to study the role of women deacons. Unfortunately, he has yet to call for restoration of the female diaconate, which not only could increase the number of those formally designated deacons but also could inch the Church forward in providing more justice and participation for women.
Deacons are not second-level priests.
They are part of the clergy and live their vocation in and with their family.
They are dedicated to the service of the poor, who carry within them the face of the suffering Christ.
They are the guardians of service in the Church.
Let us pray that deacons, faithful in their service to the Word and the poor, may be an invigorating symbol for the entire Church.
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