In the Vineyard: November 18, 2016

In the Vineyard :: November 18, 2016 :: Volume 16, Issue 21

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Francis Addresses Critics Advent Calendar AUSCP to Bishops
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Happy Thanksgiving!


May an abundance of gratitude burst forth as you reflect upon what you have received.

May thanksgiving overflow in your heart, and often be proclaimed in your prayer.

May you gather around the table of your heart the ardent faithfulness, kindness, and goodness of each person who is true to you. May the harvest of your good actions bring forth plentiful fruit every day. May you discover a cache of hidden wisdom among the people and events that have brought you distress and sorrow. May you always be open, willing, and ready to share your blessings with others.

May you never forget the Generous One who loves you lavishly and unconditionally.

Adaptation; original by Sr. Joyce Rupp, OSM, “A Thanksgiving Blessing,” from “Out of the Ordinary”

Pope Francis and “Bad Faith”

Perhaps Pope Francis is tiring of the push to return to 1950’s (or even earlier) Catholicism? He does not couch it as such, of course. But it is notable that for a pope who displays so much patience and insists on the pastoral approach for Church leaders, his directive-type comments typically address those who demand a return to rigidity and claim they are confused by mercy and openness.

The latest example follows the challenge by four cardinals—including Raymond Cardinal Burke—who claim that the “The Joy of Love” (Amoris Laetitia) undermines the faith and teachings of the Church. Their own undermining of Vatican II teachings seems not to bother them. But it may have proved too much for Francis’s patience.

In an interview summarized by David Gibson (Religion News Service) in the National Catholic Reporter, Pope Francis said he “doesn’t lose any sleep” over critics who claim he is “protestantizing” the Church. He elaborates on how one is to assess the opinions of others. If given in good faith, such criticism is a way forward. But, he says, when “critics pick bits from here and there to justify a pre-existing viewpoint; they are not honest, they are acting in bad faith to foment divisions.”

The interview was published in Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian hierarchy. The link on the NCR pages also includes a report from Carol Glatz of Catholic News Service, with additional thoughts from the Pope regarding those who oppose Vatican II reforms. In Lumen Gentium, he said, the Church “returned to the source of her nature—the Gospel. This shifted the axis of Christian understanding from a kind of legalism, which can be ideological, to the person of God, who became mercy in the incarnation of the son.”

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Don’t Forget!! We Need Your Help for the Advent Calendar

We have received some of your crèche photos (like this one) since we first asked you to help “decorate” our 2016 online Advent calendar. But we still need more!


Thank you very much if you have already sent a photo — but we need more so we can cover all 28 days of Advent.

The online Advent Calendar repeats a feature popular with many. Four of our VOTF members write Reflections for each day, we add your photos, and we send out an email each day in Advent with prayers, Scripture readings, and the day’s reflection.

Click here for more information about how to take your photos. Email them to Please include your first and last name, city or town, and state, so we can identify the photo online, or you can be anonymous. And don’t forget your crèche’s story.

P.S. This year’s reflections are bring prepared by Priscilla Deck, Svea Fraser, Mary Freeman, and Margaret Roylance. Their thoughts, and photos of your crèches also will be shared to our Facebook page.

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Priests Asked USCCB to Examine 4 Questions

Prior to the U.S. Catholic bishops’ meeting Nov, 14, the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) asked them to discuss four issues confronting the Church and society: racism, non-violence, ordination of women deacons, and the ordination of married men to the priesthood.

The request letter, dated October 25, went to each of the bishops on behalf of the Leadership Team and the 1,000+ members of AUSCP.

There is no indication from reports that emerged after the USCCB meeting that much advance was made in any of the requested topics. As Fr. Tom Reese remarked in his column for the National Catholic Reporter, it was a boring meeting devoted to bureaucratic business instead of key pastoral issues.The bureaucratic approach is in contrast to the actions AUSCP pursues to address such concerns. Here’s what they had requested.

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National Roundtable Standards Available Free

The Leadership Roundatable (formerly the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management) is offering three of its Catholic Standards for Excellence guidebooks free of charge for a limited time. You do have to pay shipping for the books (around $5 depending on where you live).

The three “cookbooks” address parish standards, diocesan standard, and Catholic non-profits. All three are also available in Spanish. Just go to the Leadership Roundtable’s online store and choose the ones you want.


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


Four cardinals openly challenge Francis over ‘Amoris Laetitia’
“Four semi-retired cardinals have publicly questioned Pope Francis’ most recent teachings on family life, issuing an open letter to the pontiff with five yes or no questions about how he understands church teaching following the publication of his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia … Publication of such an open challenge to a Catholic pontiff from some of his cardinals, who normally act as the pope’s staunchest defenders, is exceedingly rare.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

In troubled Newark archdiocese, hoping its new leader is a pastor, not a prince
“… But Archbishop Tobin will face other challenges in Newark, where he will succeed Archbishop John J. Myers, the leader of the archdiocese’s 1.5 million Catholics for the past 15 years. Archbishop Myers—who in July turned 75, the age at which bishops routinely submit their resignations to the Vatican—has been faulted for the archdiocese’s handling of a case involving a priest convicted of sexual abuse.” By James Barron, The New York Times

Papal administrator of Guam archdiocese: Vatican preparing trial for accused archbishop
“The papal appointee given authority to take charge of a Guam archdiocese rocked by allegations of sexual abuse against its archbishop has said the Vatican is preparing to put the prelate on trial. Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai, who Pope Francis appointed in June to step-in over Agana Archbishop Anthony Apuron, told reporters Tuesday (Nov. 1) that ‘they just formed all the conditions for the trial.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

DiNardo says it’s ‘crazy’ to see his election as anti-Francis vote
“The election of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, self-described as a ‘traditional priest’ who leads the immigrant-heavy diocese of Galveston-Houston, as president of the U.S. Bishops Conference was quickly defined by church-watchers and pundits as either a rejection by the American bishops of Pope Francis’s more ‘progressive’ agenda, a warning to Donald Trump, or both. Speaking to Crux on Tuesday (Nov. 15) hours after the voting, DiNardo firmly rejected the first premise, while acknowledging there’s truth in the second …” By Ines San Martin,

The Catholic Church has a plan to compensate sexual-abuse victims; many will get nothing
“Neal Gumpel, a 59-year-old screenwriter, said he was elated when he heard in October that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, announced that the church was setting up a fund to compensate sexual-abuse victims … But then he heard the bad news. Gumpel’s claims would not be covered and he would not receive a public acknowledgement from the church.” By Sonam Sheth, Business Insider

Twin Cities archdiocese puts forth amended bankruptcy plan
“An amended bankruptcy plan for the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese would potentially double the funds set aside for its creditors to the tune of as much as $133 million. Despite that increase, attorneys representing the 440 claimants say that the archdiocese’s contribution to the trust falls well short of its total assets, which they estimate above $1 billion, as does the per-person payout when compared to past similar settlements.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

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

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Pope Francis’ Prayer Intention for November

This month, Pope Francis asks us to prayer for those who are forced to migrate. They could be you or me and Pope Francis asks us to remember them, and those who care for them, in our prayers. See his prayer here.


Women’s Voices

Web Discussion: Deacons, Women and the Call to Serve

The Vatican commission Pope Francis appointed to consider the possibility of restoring the female diaconate has raised questions about the role of women in the church. As ordained ministers who are neither priests nor lay people, the actual role of deacons in the parishes where they minister remains unclear to many Catholics. What are deacons, and how has their role changed over history?

That is one of the questions to be explored in the roundtable hosted by America Media and The Fordham Center on Religion and Culture. Other questions: Could women deacons revolutionize pastoral ministry and transform the church? How can the diaconate better meet the changing needs of the faithful today? Featured speakers are:

  • Nancy Dallavalle, theologian and vice president for mission and identity at Fairfield University
  • Deacon Greg Kandra, blogger at Aleteia’s “The Deacon’s Bench,” multimedia editor at Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
  • Rita Ferrone, contributing editor at Commonweal and blogger at “Pray Tell Blog”
  • George Demacopoulos, theologian and founding co-director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University
  • James Martin, S.J., moderator, author and editor-at-large for America Media

All videos will be posted at (and remain available once they debut):

Nov. 28: Segment 1: The Diaconate—History and Present Practice

Dec. 5: Segment 2: Women Deacons and the Papal Commission

Dec. 12: Segment 3: The Diaconate and the Future of Ministry

Voice of the Faithful also has presented its views on women deacons in a paper commissioned from Carolyn Johnson, Ed.D. Click here to read “Women Deacons: How Long Will It Take the Catholic Church to Open This Door,” and click here to see a bibliography of suggested readings on women in the Church that VOTF compiled for its 10th Year Conference.

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Questions, Comments?

Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor, at sends e-mail). Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.

© Voice of the Faithful 2016. All Rights Reserved.