In the Vineyard: November 23, 2020

In the Vineyard :: November 23, 2020 :: Volume 20, Issue 22

News from National

A Message of Thanksgiving in Unsettled Times

As we gather in our households to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, our celebrations will look much different. Thanksgiving is a holiday to offer gratitude and pause, reflecting on who and what we are thankful for. Although we may not be eating with our extended families all crowded around one table, and we may be mourning some who have lost their lives to the coronavirus pandemic, we can still give thanks to and for God. We can celebrate solidarity and hospitality, giving what we can to support others. We can be thankful for family members who are still with us, for our health, and for our friendships, which look differently but are not diminished.

In Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis’s encyclical earlier this year, he imagines a “single human family,” where no one is forced to live in isolation. Although we may feel more isolated than past holidays, we can still give thanksgiving knowing we are working to prepare a better future, supporting one another as we all try to stay healthy and safe.

See also the Psalm in the right sidebar.

Shining a Light on Clericalism: The BridgeDialogues

The long-awaited (delayed) report on Theodore McCarrick and his ascent within the Church despite decades of behavior reported upon and whispered about within clerical ranks illustrates again the huge damage inflicted on the faithful as a result of clericalism.

It’s not just “the hierarchy” or “bishops and priests” at fault for this ongoing sin within the Church. It’s the people too, if we do not recognize clericalist behavior among the laity and attempt to breach the barriers it raises.

Fortunately, there is something you can do about it. Our Clericalism package in The BridgeDialogues provides several models you can use to begin learning about and addressing the issue. We urge all of you, even while you are figuring out how to have holiday spirits in the midst of a pandemic, to plan actions that can begin after Christmas. Maybe it’s a shared online viewing of Prof. Massimo Faggioli’s presentation on Clericalism, with Zoom discussions afterwards. Perhaps it’s a parish-wide program to read the Clericalism white paper and then hold virtual meetings to discuss it.

We can’t mimic the in-person experience with online connections, but we can still convey the thoughts and make a start towards overcoming the clericalism that hobbles the Church. Think about it.

As you digest your turkey and get ready for your Christmas shopping, don’t forget VOTF! If you start your shopping from the link below, VOTF will get a small share of the proceeds.

VOTF Benefits — Shop Amazon Smile Black Friday, Nov. 27​

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


Vatican’s explosive McCarrick report largely places blame on John Paul II
“In an explosive report that calls into question the decision-making of three Catholic popes, the Vatican has revealed a series of institutional failures that led to the repeated promotion of now disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick despite rumors of his alleged sexual misconduct with young men as early as the 1990s. The Vatican places an abundance of responsibility on Pope John Paul II, who appointed McCarrick as archbishop of Washington in 2000 and made him a cardinal in 2001. The report reveals that the late pontiff, now a Catholic saint, made those appointments despite being warned in 1999 by then-New York Cardinal John O’Connor that McCarrick had been the subject of anonymous allegations and was known to invite seminarians to sleep in the same bed as him.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican investigating Polish archbishop over alleged cover-up of sexual abuses
“The Vatican has ordered an investigation into the former archbishop of Gdansk on suspicion of negligence over sex abuse allegations, a month after the pope accepted the resignation of a bishop accused of shielding sexually abusive priests. The Vatican Embassy in Warsaw said in a statement that local Church officials would look into allegations against Archbishop Leszek Slawoj Glodz, who retired in August. The embassy said the archbishop of Warsaw would investigate Glodz for “reported negligence” that had led to the alleged “detriment of minors by some clergy of the Gdansk Archdiocese.” By Reuters Staff

Despite financial stress, many, but not all, U.S. dioceses post financial reports
“Despite financial stress from the COVID-19 pandemic and clergy sexual abuse settlements, the number of dioceses posting audited financial reports to their websites rose 5% in the past year, according to Voice of the Faithful’s® 2020 study of U.S. Catholic dioceses’ online financial transparency. However, 43 dioceses posted no financial information, and overall, diocesan transparency dropped from 65.11% in 2019 to 64.76% in 2020.” By Voice of the Faithful on PRNewswire

Buffalo Diocese’s legal bill in first six months of bankruptcy grows to $1.9 million
“Dozens of lawyers and other professionals have billed the Buffalo Diocese $1.9 million for their work so far on the diocese’s bankruptcy case. More than 30 attorneys in five law firms that charge from $150 to $843 per hour have worked on behalf of the diocese since its Chapter 11 filing on Feb. 28. In addition, the diocese is on the hook for U.S. trustee fees and for fees charged by two additional law firms that represent the committee of unsecured creditors, which consists of childhood victims of sex abuse. The diocese also hired a financial firm, a public relations firm and a research firm, each of which has submitted a bill for work over the past eight months.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

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


Sign up here — — to join St Susanna’s Catholic Church for the following Zoom events:

NOVEMBER 30 AND DECEMBER 7, The Emperor’s New Church with Cory Mork

Cory Mork is a scholar with a BA in Religious Studies from the University of Minnesota, a MTS from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, and a ThM from Boston College. His interests include eastern patristic theology, western intellectual history, and cultural analysis. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two children.

Week one, November 30, The Church: Pre-Constantine
The early Church, the Apostolic Church, the proto-orthodox Church, the proto-Nicene Church, the cult of Bishops — these are some of the many ways the early church is described by scholars and historians. This talk seeks to explore the origins and infancy of the Orthodox-Catholic Church from the Book of Acts to Emperor Diocletian’s purge at the dawn the fourth century. This talk explores relevant topics such as Christian identity and ecclesial structure; Christian, Jewish, and Pagan relations; the Church’s relationship to the State; intermittent persecution throughout the Roman Empire; early Christian heresies; and expressions of ecclesial worship — all while seeking to put to rest common misunderstandings and popular myths about these subjects of the Church’s adolescence.

Week two, December 7, The Church: Post-Constantine
Continuing the prior talk on the origins of the Church up to Diocletian’s purge, this talk begins with the vision and victory of the Emperor Constantine and the decriminalization of Christianity and will take us to Emperor Theodosius I’s Edict of Thessalonica in 380, heralding the ascendancy of a new age of Christendom. Explorations will include the mutual benefits and compromises of both Church and State in their new relationship; the rise of monasticism as a political reaction; ecclesial authority and charismatic elders; the Nicene Council and dogma as imperial stability; and Julian the Apostate as the last pagan emperor. As in the prior talk, this talk hopes to clear up common misunderstandings and popular myths about this period.

As with previous programs this season, this will be a virtual Event in Zoom format on your computer, tablet, or cell phone. St. Susanna recommends that you attend on your computer because the images on a cell phone are very small.

The Zoom Code needed for admission to the Event will be sent to all those on the Adult Ed email list shortly prior to the presentation date. Tthe Code is uniform for the entire season, so you may reuse it for each event.

International Events

Fratelli tutti Formation Session

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle led an online formation session on Fratelli tutti for participants from the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations (WUCWO), which hosted the webinar.

The online formation session, guided by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, was streamed live via the Facebook account of the women’s organization. Participation was open not only WUCWO member organizations around the world, but also to the general public. Read more here.

Vatican COVID-19 Commission Seeks to “Prepare the Future”

Pope Francis invited seven experts to join a Vatican COVID-19 commission to consider and shape the future of society after the coronavirus pandemic. Emphasizing globalcooperation and inclusions, the commission hopes to focus on supporting vulnerable members of society. Pope Francis tasked the group to “prepare the future” rather than “prepare for the future”; indicating his hope and goals to create a more caring and connected world, post-pandemic. He and his advisors hope that the pandemic will show global leaders where essentialfocus is needed: on families, on life, and on the environment.

Sr Alessandra Smerilli, a 46-year-old Salesian sister, economist, and advisor to the Pope, is coordinating the economy task force arm of the commission. She sees Catholic Social Teaching as a way to prepare a future in which people and purpose are prioritized over profit, especially in a world that has endured this pandemic.

Francis’s aim for the Vatican COVID-19 commission is to critically re-evaluate the parameters of human co-existence and societal structures through the lens of solidarity. By focusing on providing essentials to the most vulnerable in society, including food, and when available, a vaccine, rather than creating weapons, he envisions a more peaceful and just world.

Pope Francis called specifically on leaders in Latin America, asking they not politicize and weaponize the pandemic for their own ends, but seek the common good. He spoke on November 20 th to a virtual panel on the Catholic response to COVID-19 in Latin America, specifically adding that corruption is the “true leprosy that sickens and kills the Gospel.” As always, he advocated for solidarity, kindness, and grace, inviting participants and all who live in the modern world “to continue going out together with all people of goodwill in search of those who cry out for help, in the manner of the Good Samaritan, embracing the weakest.”

Francis’s coronavirus response has consistently supported social connectedness at times when people are physically distant, and this commission is a formalization of this position, hoping to improve the future while dealing with the challenging present.

For more information about Pope Francis’s COVID-19 commission and Latin American presentation, please see here, here,here, and here.


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