In the Vineyard: May 8, 2017

In the Vineyard :: May 8, 2017 :: Volume 17, Issue 8

News from National

Fundraiser Supports Work of Healing Circles

On a sun-drenched spring evening in April, 30 or so people gathered at a home in Omaha NE to learn more about the Healing Circle initiative of VOTF and to support it financially. Their generous contributions raised more than $2,000.

The gathering came about from the generous hospitality of Jack Hosking, who is deeply committed to addressing the wounds from the clergy sexual abuse scandal among the people of God, especially in the Omaha area. Jack earlier led a successful campaign to extend the statutes of limitation on civil actions in the Nebraska legislature. He is now leading a second campaign to eliminate the limitations and provide an opportunity for civil review of abuse that was previously barred by the limitations then in place.

Jack’s efforts to gain the support of the Omaha diocese has not surprisingly met with dismissal and rebuff by the bishop. However, the bill is moving forward through the legislative process and has a good chance to become law.

Jack also hosted a Healing Circle at his home last September in which 10 friends and acquaintances participated—most of the attendees were family members of victims/survivors. It was the seventh circle facilitated under VOTF’s sponsorship. As with other circles, it was a profound experience for all.

All of this led Jack to host the recent orientation and fundraiser in his home. Bill Casey, who facilitated the Healing Circle in Omaha, explained the Circle process, its history, its successes and challenges, and he answered questions in a lively exchange thereafter.

Included in the audience was a former Nebraska state senator who sponsored the original extension of the statutes of limitation and is serving as an advisor on the current legislation. Others expressed a keen interest in the healing circle experience. Jack hopes to schedule a second one in the future.

VOTF invites others to host similar events so that the crucial work of healing can continue within the faith communities of our deeply wounded Church. If you are interested, contact the VOTF office at 781-559-3360.


Broken Vessels Healing Circles are for anyone harmed by the Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal: survivors, family members, friends, community members. (See Ripple Effect)

Join the upcoming Voice of the Faithful Broken Vessels™ Healing Circle in Northern Virginia, May 20th.

Broken Vessels Healing Circles can open a pathway towards healing, and Voice of the Faithful invites you to participate in this powerfully restorative experience. Our next Broken VesselsTM Healing Circle will be held:

9 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, May 20, 2017
George Mason University
School for Conflict Resolution
3434 N. Washington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

Total confidentiality is always honored at all Broken Vessels™ Healing Circles, and there is never any charge for participants.

To register for this Healing Circle, please contact Bill Casey, either by email at sends e-mail) or by phone at (703) 568-3438.

A Need to Be Heard

Gerard Weigel, an 89-year-old deacon in Somerset KY, remarried six years after his wife of 56 years died. But first he had to wait to be “laicized,” and he was also told to avoid his long-time parish. Here in his own words is why Dr. Weigel, a VOTF supporter, sees his experience as part of a larger problem in the Church: the failure to listen.

If the last election taught a lesson, it is that people have a real need to be heard. While they realize that all their needs will not be met, they want to feel that at least someone was listening. Not having that happen can change the face of many things, as well demonstrated.

In much the same way, the seeming unwillingness to acknowledge that need to be heard is a real failing in our beloved Church, in big ways and in small. Sadly, it is turning thoughtful people away, and no one seems to care. There are few forums that invite dialogue for different outlooks on legitimately controversial issues in the Catholic Church. Most people do not want a democracy [in the Church], but they do seek benevolent and caring leadership.

Pope Francis is at least able to raise such questions as ordaining women to the Permanent Diaconate because he is the Pope, bless his soul. Others raise issues and support thinkers, but even those often seem voices crying in the wilderness.

On a more personal level, the wife of one of our grandsons left the RCIA group in which she had participated because she was told it was not the place to discuss the role of women in the Church. She only wanted to talk about it. Should it always be that people are left with a sense of “take it or leave it”?

Some of those issues affect large groups, others lesser numbers, and they are unlikely to garner attention unless someone at a higher level champions them, and that is a rare circumstance. I suggest as an example my own experience as a Permanent Deacon of 35 years who chose to be laicized in order to remarry.



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


Evidence likely sufficient for Vatican to decide on Apuron by late July
“Minnesota-based canon lawyer and former priest Patrick J. Wall said there appears to be more than sufficient evidence for a Vatican tribunal to come to a decision on Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron’s canonical penal trial, after two accusers provided testimony in March. ‘In short, the Roman Pontiff can step in and make a decision since he is the supervisor of Apuron,” said Wall.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

U.S. priests’ group calls Vatican vocations document ‘insulting’
“Declarations in the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy’s recent document ‘The Gift of the Priestly Vocation’ have been called ‘disrespectful,’ ‘ambiguous’ and ‘insulting’ by the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests. In a statement released April 19, the 1,200-member Ohio-based organization charged that ‘the terms ‘homosexual tendencies’ and ‘deep-seated homosexual tendencies’ are ambiguous and disrespectful of the personhood of those who identify with a homosexual orientation.’ The terms appear in the Dec. 8, 2016, document’s section titled ‘Persons with Homosexual Tendencies.’” By Dan Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter

Montana Catholic officials say bankruptcy ‘best and only way’ to compensate abused
“The recent bankruptcy filing by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings was the ‘best and only way’ it could meet its obligations to all victims with sexual abuse claims and continue its ministry, church officials said … The bankruptcy is likely to be complicated and take time. How it could affect the diocese’s operations, along with parishes, schools and other church programs, is not yet clear.” By Clair Johnson, Billings Gazette

Catholic bishops urged to renew celibacy rules amid shortage of priests
“Catholic bishops in England and Wales are facing a fresh call for a national commission on the ordination of married men amid mounting concern that the church’s celibacy requirement is contributing to a shortage of priests … The Movement for Married Clergy (MMaC) is renewing its call for a national commission of bishops, clergy and laity to discuss ways of tackling the shortage of priests. ‘We’re asking bishops to recognize the issue and examine possible solutions in good faith,’ said the MMaC secretary, Chris McDonnell.” By Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian

Council of Cardinal speaks about decentralizing authority in the church
“The group of cardinals advising Pope Francis on reforming the Vatican bureaucracy spoke in their latest meeting about how to decentralize authority in the Catholic church and improve relationships between the Vatican and local bishops’ conferences. The nine member Council of Cardinals spoke in their April 24-26 meeting about how the Vatican can ‘be more at the service of local bishops’ spokesman Greg Burke said.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Child sex abuse survivors visit Wall Street’s fearless girl, urge to fix child-rape law
“The ‘Fearless Girl’ has nothing on child sex abuse survivors Bridie Farrell and Steve Jimenez. The unflinching pair came to Wall Street, urging passage of a long-rejected proposal that would finally give a full voice to the victims of sexual predators. They stood behind the ‘Fearless Girl’ statue in the Financial District to recount their own stories of abuse — and support the 11-year-old ‘Child Victims Act.’” By Micah Danney and Larry McShane, New York Daily News

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

Pope Francis’ Prayer Intention in May

In his May prayer intention, Pope Francis asks us to pray for the people of Africa, that they may receive justice and peace.

Would You Leave Your Parish Because of the Priest?

US Catholic magazine recently surveyed 410 Catholics and the results may surprise you. 76% of Catholics surveyed said they had seen a priest come in and completely change the culture and community of a Parish. 38% left their parish because of a priest. To read more about the results of the survey, click here.

And let us know too: Would you leave your Parish because of a priest? Send your thoughts to


And Justice for All? The Promise of Religious Liberty in a Pluralistic World

May 16, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm; Pope Auditorium, Fordham University, New York City​

Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture (CRC) Russo Family Lecture focuses this year on “the contentious issue of religious liberty and its intersection with immigration, health care, same-sex marriage, and other issues.” Panelists will consider, at a time when human rights and human lives are at risk in America and abroad, how we can reconcile conflicting views of how religious beliefs relate to public policy. Is religious freedom a veil for bigotry or an essential protection against sectarian persecution?

Panelists include Vincent D. Rougeau, Dean of Boston College Law School; Thomas Berg,
Professor of Law at St. Thomas University; Carol Keehan, CEO, Catholic Health Association; Asma Uddin, Director of Strategy, Center for Islam and Religious Freedom; and ​Ani Sarkissian, Political Scientist and author of The Varieties of Religious Repression: Why Governments Restrict Religion.

This event is free and open to the public. For additional information, please visit

Book Review

Missed Opportunities: Rethinking the Catholic Tradition by Gabriel Moran is a book that is almost “a set of recommendations offered not in anger or in frustration, but out of a deep love for the Catholic Church.” The review by Charles J. Reid, Jr., a law professor at the University of St. Thomas with degrees in canon law and civil law from the Catholic University of America and a Ph.D. in medieval history from Cornell University, can be found here: A Recovery Plan For the Catholic Church,

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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