In the Vineyard: May 15, 2015

In the Vineyard :: May 15, 2015 :: Volume 15, Issue 9

News from National

This week VOTF wrote to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Review Board, which oversees the Church’s child protection policies, urging them to speak up about the choice of disgraced Bishop Robert Finn to preside at ordinations this month in his former diocese. In doing so, VOTF joins with SNAP and other organizations that believe public support for abuse survivors and endorsement of strong child protection policies is essential for the Church.

Read the text of the letter here.

Statutes for Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors
On May 8 the statutes governing the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors were officially published. VOTF considers this step significant because it ratifies the Commission’s independence from Curia-controlled offices and because the statutes were written by the Commission members themselves.

Click here to read the rest of VOTF’s statement.

Click the links below to view slides used by Commission member Marie Collins to describe the work the Commission conducted in drafting these statutes. The slides are part of her presentation during her keynote address at the VOTF 2015 National Assembly in Hartford, Connecticut, on April 18.

Reports from the April 2015 VOTF Assembly
Workshop on Diocesan Finance

At the 2015 National Assembly, Margaret Roylance and Mark Mullaney rolled out the new public web portal available for those who want to track diocesan finances. Their workshop demonstrated how to reach the portal and stepped through a sample demonstration using the Venice Florida diocese.

If you missed the workshop, you can still review the work presented there, including the handouts used to show how to read a diocesan finance statement and how to open the web portal.

Here’s the presentation from the workshop.

If you’d like to read along with Margaret’s NOTES on the presentation, use this link instead.

The simple how-to guide shows what to look for in a diocesan financial statement.

And here is how you open up the VOTF diocesan finances web portal.

Workshop on Lay Voices at the Synod
Small group discussions were held by Lay Voices for the Synod on the Family, which focused on the question “What is family for you?” and the status of current “Pastoral Ministry to Families”:

Following are some notes from the discussion

Session I:
Family described:

  • A unit that can expand and change over time

  • Provides sense of safety; security; legacy; compassion camaraderie; love; happiness; well-being and foundational teaching of our faith

Friends can become a family:

  • This is the ideal and the “traditional understanding” of the family as an entity

Non-Traditional families aspire to the same qualities as mentioned above.

Family – ideal definition:

  • People who live together in the bond of love

  • Commitment to each other provides hope for the future to become “better”

  • Provides mutual comfort and support

Pastoral ministry to families:

  • Minimal / non-existent due to pastors’ busy schedules

  • Current pastoral ministry to families not very effective

  • Should delegate pastoral care of the family to the laity and trained professionals

  • There is a need for the church to expand the definition of what constitutes families

  • ALL should be welcome in the parish family

Session II:
Family description:

  • Definition depends on perspective of member that determines their role, such as child / adult / parent / sibling / step child, etc.

  • Can be “traditional” in sense of opposite gender parents and non-traditional in make-up

  • Can be an intentional unit of people and/or an un-conventional unit

  • As providing support: psychological, material, economic, spiritual: all based on love

  • Can provide joy of companionship and security

  • As a set of relationships: birth, by choice, and can be self-defined

Pastoral ministry to families:

  • More ministering is provided from within families and from the laity rather than from pastors / pastoral teams.

  • Should provide acceptance and be more welcoming of non-traditional families

Taking into account the lived experience of the family is essential to provide the needed care.

Session III:

Family description:

  • “It takes a village:” all included in the unit, children / young adults / adults/ the elderly

  • As community / As church

    • To listen, serve and welcome

    • Blood and non-blood units who are committed to the unit

  • Should be inclusive and function with trust and love as basis of the relationships

  • A place “Where they have to take you in”

  • Parish can be understood as a family for a pastor

  • Fundamental considerations: a union that is based on love and mutual support and an environment that fosters growth in love: and this includes a broader meaning of family than the traditional “2 married people with children” model

    • Intentionally constant

    • Economic interdependence

    • Communal aspect

  • Ideal of marriage needs to be understood within the context of our humanity

Pastoral Ministry to Families:

  • Family as CHURCH, the People of God at Parish level

    • Listeners; welcoming; evangelizing based on social justice principles; share Eucharist with all

    • Intentional parish / community recognizing “who they are”

    • Outreach and support to all families and acceptance of all “where they are” including communion to all

    • Parish councils should have agenda items to address real concerns of families

  • Understanding of human sexuality lacking in clerical arenas that can harm families

Report on Religion
The Pew Research Center this week released a new survey of more than 35,000 Americans and found that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly 8 percentage points in just 7 years.

The drop in the Christian share of the population has been driven mainly by declines among mainline Protestants and Catholics. The total number of Catholics in the United States dropped by 3 million since 2007, and we comprise about 20 percent – or one-fifth – of the total population.

According to a story on Cruxnow, one of the biggest issues the church faces is that “for every one Catholic convert, more than six Catholics leave the church. Taken a step further, Catholicism loses more members than it gains at a higher rate than any other denomination, with nearly 13 percent of all Americans describing themselves as ‘former Catholics.’”

Pew’s study is on its web site


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


Vatican publishes statues for commission to protect minors
“The Holy See this morning (May 8) published thestatutes for the Commission for the Protection of Minors, giving that body canonical and juridical status within the Roman Curia. It may not seem like they are very earth-shattering or, in the event, Church-shattering, but they are.” By Michael Sean Winters,National Catholic Reporter
Vatican approves statutes for papal commission for protecting minors, By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
Archbishop Philip Wilson pleads not guilty to concealing child sex abuse
“Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson has pleaded not guilty to concealing child sex abuse in the Catholic church via his lawyer in Newcastle Local Court on Thursday (May 7)… Archbishop Wilson is the most senior Catholic clergyman in the world to be chargedwith concealing a child sex abuse allegation against another priest.” By Gabriel Wingate-Pearce, The Sydney Morning Herald
Adelaide Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson pleads not guilty to concealing child sex abuse, By Dan Cox, ABC News Australia
Are things looking up for women in the church?
“A plethora of conferences about women have popped up all over Rome in the last three months. The Vatican’s former hard-line freeze on discussing women’s rolesmay at last be thawing out.” By Christine Schenk,National Catholic Reporter
KC priest criticizes prosecution of Bishop Robert Finn, and prosecutor fires back
“As the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese tries to move past the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn, a priest has roiled the waters with a letter alleging that the criminal charges against Finn were politically motivated. The prosecutor who filed the case, Jean Peters Baker, this week (May 6) responded with a strongly worded letter of her own.” By Judy L. Thomas,The Kansas City Star
Editorial: Hierarchy’s flaws persist despite collegial end to LCWR investigation
“It seems, in what can be gleaned from the final report of the doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, that a certain reasonableness ultimately prevailed in an exercise that has rightfully been called ‘a disaster’ … TheCongregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s ‘assessment’ of LCWR was a disaster, an unnecessary sign of distrust. Keeping that assessment in mind should temper the celebration coming from some quarters of the church and commentariat acclaiming the success of ‘dialogue.’” Editorial by National Catholic Reporter
Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus …


C21 hosts Teresa of Avila production
Join Boston College’s Church in the 21st Century for a production of The Interior Castle.

Long before sainthood, Teresa of Avila sought inner peace amidst chaos, asking the ageless question of how does one live an interior life in an exterior world? Her questioning is just as profound today, at the 500th anniversary of her birth.

In this production, we follow the professional and spiritual journey of a female reporter in the 21st Century, as she seeks to uncover the mysteries of Santa Teresa and her relevance in the modern world. She explores the perspectives of Tomas Luis de Victoria and Gian Lorenzo Bernini among others, who were captivated by Teresa’s passion and vision. The reporter’s quest ultimately leads to reflections on the seven stages of prayer outlined in The Interior Castle, and are mirrored by seven musical movements in our production.

It takes many art forms to capture her immense impact, and Musica Aperta’s prismatic theatrical experience uses poetry, art, history, music and drama to celebrate Santa Teresa’s lifelong quest for union with God and how we all might follow her spiritual footsteps.

You have three chances to see the performance:
May 29, St. Ignatius Church; Boston College
May 30, Carmelite Monastery of Boston
May 31, St. Theresa of Avila Parish, Boston

Free and Open to the Public
For More Information go to

Questions, Comments?

Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor, Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.

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