In the Vineyard: May 21, 2017

In the Vineyard :: May 21, 2017 :: Volume 17, Issue 9

News from National

Bishop Gumbleton on the Community of Church

In Father Gumbleton’s most recent homily, he talks about early Christian communities and how they shared everything – “no one was in need because everyone was willing to share with the rest.” He discusses how Pope Francis is willing to visit areas where there are problems and become part of the solution.

He goes on to say, “But I think it’s most of all important to realize how the disciples, the leaders, resolved those problems by depending on the people themselves. That’s because they had this high regard for all of us who are the people of God. Listen again just briefly to part of this section of St. Peter’s letter where he describes what the community is: ‘Living stones, rejected by people, but chosen by God, precious to God.’ That’s who the church is.”

Editor Comment: Bishop Gumbleton’s words called to mind VOTF’s Healing Circle project and how we address this most grievous problem “from the ground up,” because the hierarchy failed to make healing and justice its priority when confronted with the crimes of sex abuse.

To hear the rest of Bishop Gumbleton’s homily – Listen to the Gospel message and become a disciple.

Would You Leave Your Parish …. ?

Last issue we reported on a U.S. Catholic magazine survey that asked “Would you leave your parish because of the priest?” We wondered what you might think of that question, and whether you had experiences to share. Here are notes from some who did.

A. Thomas says, “Yes I would leave my parish because of the priest. But I have the luxury of convenient choices nearby.”

S. Travers writes, “Absolutely, positively.”

And T. O’Reilly tells the following hopeful story:

“The long time Pastor of our Parish, an older man whom I respected, tended to rule in the old-fashioned manner–I’m the Pastor and this is the way we will do it. He and I had some respectful disagreements over the years; he once told me I was ‘…a stubborn Kerryman….’ to which I replied, ‘… it takes one to know one…’ (we are both Irish, with antecedents from Kerry).

“He instituted a policy that there would be no Eulogy from family or friends at funerals, saying they were sometimes not appropriately respectful of the deceased, or not appropriate to the solemnity of the service. All other parishes in our community had no such policy.

“A close friend died; she was beloved in our community, the church was overflowing, with many non-Catholics. Her service was sterile; many non-parishioners expressed their disappointment at the lack of a personal Eulogy.

“I met with the pastor shortly afterward to try to convince him to change his policy. When I mentioned the poor impression it left with non-Catholics he became angry, saying it was none of their business. We parted with my telling him that after over 50 years, and despite my respect for him, I was leaving the Parish.

“Within two years, a number of others defected from the Parish and donations were impacted negatively, confirmed by a friend on the Parish Council. Finally, the policy was changed and the Pastor had the courage and humility to seek me and others out who had left the Parish over that issue, to tell us he had been wrong and the policy was rescinded.

“I’m now back in the Parish, the Pastor has retired and is now Emeritus. We are friends and play golf together though we are both aging and only good for nine holes at a round these days.”

Affiliate News

From Ray Barta of the mid-Michigan affiliate

Every year in October each parish in our diocese takes a head count at the weekend Masses to determine attendance. Over the last 10 years, Mass attendance in the Saginaw diocese has decreased from approximately 50,000 to 32,000. Alarmed by this trend, in 2016 our affiliate hosted an open session to ask “Why are Catholics Leaving the Church?” and a second session on “What Can We Do About It?”

We shared the results of both sessions with our bishop, who suggested that we consult with a representative of the diocese to put these statistics in perspective. The chancellor of the diocese attended our April meeting and made a thoroughly researched presentation on how the breakdown of the family, population decline, transient careers, changes in personal expectations, and many other factors affect mass attendance.

At the May meeting members will hold further discussion on this issue.



Abuse survivor wants papal panel to push back on Vatican resistance
“On Saturday (May 13), Pope Francis called Marie Collins, an abuse survivor who recently quit his Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors citing Vatican resistance to reform, a ‘great woman’ and said she’s ‘right on some things.’ In a Crux interview, Collins expressed gratitude but also said that the Church still needs uniform global standards and a way to hold bishops accountable.”
By John Allen, Ines San Martin and Claire Giangrave,

Lawsuit accuses Minnesota bishop of coercion in clergy abuse case
“Ron Vasek said all he wanted was to become a church deacon and support his son, a Catholic priest. But in a lawsuit filed this week (May 9), Vasek claims that Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner threatened to undermine his religious work and his son’s if he didn’t retract a clergy abuse claim. It’s among the allegations in an unusual lawsuit that, for the first time, accuses a U.S. bishop of coercion in a clergy abuse case, said Vasek’s attorney Jeff Anderson.”
By Jean Hopfensperger, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Minnesota bishop sued for coercion, blackmail over sex abuse accusation
By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Deacon candidate accuses Minnesota bishop of blackmail to keep abuse allegations quiet
By Steve Karnowski, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review

Attorney: Suit to allege Minnesota bishop threatened retaliation against victim
By Paul Walsh, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Hartford Archdiocese announces parish consolidations, church closings
“The Hartford Archdiocese announced May 7 that its 212 Connecticut parishes will be consolidated into 127 by June 29, downsizing the archdiocese by about 40 percent. It may be the most massive effort of its kind in a series of consolidations that have taken place in dioceses in the Northeast and the Midwest over the past decade as the number of priests and Catholic Massgoers in those regions decline.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

After reorganization, a look at the future of the Catholic Church in Connecticut
By Catie Talarski, WNPR, Connecticut Public Radio

What did Cardinal George Pell know about allegations of child sex abuse within the church?
“New allegations of alleged conspiracies, cover-ups and broken lives have emerged, with questions about what Pell knew about pedophilia in the Catholic Church before he became Archbishop of Melbourne.” By Louise Milligan, Canberra Times

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

Knock Knock!Who’s There?Pope Francis!

Pope Francis went door-to-door in an apartment complex outside Rome to visit families, a practice he would like to continue one Friday each month. Watch here.


Saint Susanna’s (Dedham MA) Adult Faith Formation Monday evening series has come the end of its 2016-2017 season and is hard at work building a new schedule for the 2017-2018 season. The schedule will also be posted on their web page (, Faith Formation, Adult). If you would like to receive an advance copy of the Season Schedule as well as updates during the season, and have not signed up as yet, feel free to sign up for our email list by following the instructions on the web page.

Father James Martin, SJ, is returning to Saint Cecilia Parish (Boston MA) on Monday, June 19. for “A Conversation with James Martin on LGBT Catholics.” Father Martin’s presentation will begin at 7:30 and the church will be open at 6:30.

Topic will be Fr. Martin’s his latest book, Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity. Adapted from an address he gave to New Ways Ministry, a group that ministers to and advocates for LGBT Catholics, Building a Bridge provides a roadmap for repairing and strengthening the bonds that unite all of us as God’s children. Father Martin uses the image of a two-way bridge as a model for how Church leaders and LGBT Catholics can move together toward reconciliation and love.

Copies of Building a Bridge will be on sale before and after Father Martin’s presentation. Following his presentation, Father Martin will be available to sign books. This event is free and open to the public.

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.

P.S. For Calendar, we are “top heavy” on events in the Boston area — because those folks are most faithful in sending us notices! But we are happy to publish YOUR event too, as long as you send it in time. Email Siobhan, the Vineyard editor.

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