In the Vineyard: November 30, 2018

In the Vineyard :: November 30, 2018 :: Volume 18, Issue 21

News from National

VOTF’s 2018 Advent Calendar

Click here or on the image below to go to a calendar of links for each day of Advent 2018. When you click a photo in the calendar, you will go to a page of reflections, liturgical readings, and photos of VOTF members’ crèche scenes for that day during Advent.

Missing a Window: Hartford’s Diocesan Finance Reporting

VOTF’s Finance Working Group conducts its annual review of diocesan financial transparency during the “summer months,” a time period we establish as June 1 through August 31. If a diocese makes changes to its online transparency past the start date, there’s a risk that our review has already occurred by the time those changes occur.

We will catch them in the next year’s review, of course, when they receive full value for the improvements (if they have been maintained). In 2018, however, there was one archdiocese—Hartford—where we wish the update had been in time for us to see it, because the financial report they now post provides a great example of how to help the faithful understand where their donation dollars go.

The gold standard for such transparency is, and remains, an independently audited financial report, like the one currently posted on Hartford’s web site.

A financial statement can be daunting to the non-financial person but it is absolutely essential for transparency and verification. For that reason, VOTF provides a how-to document to help the non-professional understand the details of an audited diocesan financial statement.

Numerous dioceses provide Annual Reports with splashy graphics, exciting outlooks, nice photos, and an overview of what they support with the donations from the faithful. It helps convey overall emphasis and results. But an annual report, no matter how complete, cannot substitute for the independent auditor’s report.

Hartford now combines both the appeal of the graphic displays in an annual report with the essential auditor’s report to give the faithful in their diocese an excellent opportunity to understand the finances.

You can check it out at the archdiocese web site, under the Ministries/Finance/annual report links. Or use this quick link to the PDF and scroll past page 18 to reach the audited financial report.

Have You Watched the Videos?

We hope those of you who missed our Oct. 6 conference in Providence, or those who would like to hear some of the speakers again, have taken the opportunity to watch the videos. The latest posted is Fr. Bill Clark’s–it provided a good completion to the ideas raised during the day by Prof. Massimo Faggioli, Marie Collins, Margaret Roylance, and Bill Casey. You can find links for most of these on our Speakers’ Page from the conference.

Here’s a note from someone who watched Prof. Faggioli’s video and then Fr. Clark’s back-to-back: “WOW! What fantastic talks. Thank you and VOTF for recording them. I am going to recommend them.”

Words of Advice

At the USCCB meeting last month, the bishops were given some advice from two notable figures: the past president of the LCWR and Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Sister Teresa May, and papal nuncio Christophe Pierre. Below are links to both speeches:

Sr. Teresa Maya (Past President of LCWR & Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word)

U.S. Papal Nuncio Christophe Pierre

Parish Model: Running a Survey on Married Priests

Parishioners in a Delaware parish conducted a Survey on the Future of the Catholic Priesthood late in October 2018. The effort was initiated by John D’Albora and Jeannie Bennett Fleming of the Delmarva affiliate and carried out by a coalition of VOTF and other concerned parishioners.

Spurred by concerns about access to the Eucharist, which is so central to our faith, they worked through the summer months to prepare their survey, which they administered “after the tourist season” in their region. They have generously shared both the results of their survey and documents they used to serve as templates for other parishes that may wish to run the same survey, or one on a different topic. We have posted the templates to the web site as well as in this issue.

Here’s a report from Skip Sullivan of Delmarva VOTF about the tools that were developed:

“To prepare they formed a group of about eight long-term parish leaders of a certain age (60’s into 90’s) and chose a date in late October after the tourist season. Desiring brevity and lots of responses, they designed a survey of five yes or no questions which could be done on paper in less than a minute. Teams of eight people each were formed for each of the five scheduled English masses and the one in Spanish. They approached folks as they arrived and left Mass. Though some folks were hurried or disinterested or OK with the status quo, by far most were grateful and relieved that finally the lay folks were taking some tangible action, and offering some possible solutions for the future which would go on to the hierarchy and also to the public. A team of more than 50 parishioners worked together to gather the sampling. There were over 850 respondents.”

After gathering the results, the team reported their findings to Bishop Malooly of the Diocese of Wilmington and sent additional letters to others in the hierarchy in positions to act on their recommendations.

A footnote to their work: “While our survey addressed only the topic of new models for ministry, the continuing horrific revelations of clergy abuse of the last few months were much on the mind of those responding to our questions. There were many comments showing the anger and frustration of parishioners about the abuse and the cover up.”

Here are the templates available thanks to their good work:

Parish Survey in English

Parish Survey in Spanish

Survey Protocol

Survey Results

What Happens When A Witness Becomes A Prosecutor?

David Hickton, a former U.S. Attorney who took on the Catholic church as an organized crime outfit, was witness to Catholic school abuse as a child. A student at St. Anne Catholic School, Hickton vividly recalls members of his basketball team victimized by the coach, and overseen by Rev. Charles Chatt.Chatt is one of nearly 100 Pittsburgh-area priests identified in the recent grand jury report, which says his misconduct spanned decades. The report included a record of Chatt being informed of the basketball coach’s shower room encounters with young players.

Hickton says these events of his childhood informed his decisions nearly a half-century later as the chief federal prosecutor in Pittsburgh when it came time to confront officials in 2016 about a similar scandal at the neighboring Catholic diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

Hickton took the unusual action of lifting the shroud of secrecy that typically shadows the early days of government investigations. He publicly disclosed it, arguing that it was warranted as “a matter of high public concern.”

Read his story and watch and interview with him here.

Don’t Forget: You Can Add Your Voice to a Sirius Podcast

Here’s yet another way to share your thoughts on the Catholic clergy abuse scandal and the way the bishops have handled it. The producers say, “We want to understand the roots of this problem, what the church has done effectively to prevent child sexual abuse since 2002, and what still needs to be done to ensure healing and justice within the church.”

Complete instructions, including the questions to consider and how to create a recording and then send it, are in a Catholic Community Voices document online.

We encourage everyone to consider responding.


Voice of the Faithful releases second annual diocesan finance report
“Is the glass half empty, or half full? When it comes to financial transparency among U.S. dioceses, there’s reason to think both. Last year, Voice of the Faithful, a group devoted to bishops’ accountability begun in response to the Boston Archdiocese sex abuse scandals of 2002, put out its first study on diocesan financial transparency. Titled “Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency,” the study charted 177 dioceses across the United States, and discovered that most were not open about their financial statements. This year’s 2.0 version, reports Margaret Roylance, chair of the committee that compiled an updated study, offers reason for optimism: 77 dioceses were found to have improved their transparency scores, meaning it became easier to find out information about how diocesan money was being collected and used.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Bishops meeting ends with no immediate action on abuse crisis
“On what was expected to be a climatic close to the U.S. bishops’ gathering on Wednesday (Nov. 14), the much-watched meeting ended without any immediate action on the Church’s response to clerical sexual abuse. Instead, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the conference, concluded with a vow of ‘strongest possible actions at the earliest possible moment’ in response to the crisis and a pledge of loyalty from the U.S. bishops to Pope Francis.” By Christopher White,

Pope Francis appoints Archbishop Scicluna to top role in addressing abuse crisis
“Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Charles Scicluna as secretary adjunct of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The pope’s decision gives the Maltese archbishop the lead role in the fight against abuse in the church and in the protection of minors … Adjunct secretary is the joint number two position in the C.D.F., a senior role which he shares with the Italian archbishop Giacomo Morandi under the prefect of that congregation, the Spanish born Jesuit, Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer. By appointing Scicluna to this important position, Pope Francis is assigning him the lead role in the Vatican in dealing with all matters relating to the abuse crisis, suggesting his determination to deal decisively with the scandal.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Open letter to U.S. Catholic bishops: It’s over
“Dear brothers in Christ, shepherds, fellow pilgrims: We address you as you approach this year’s national meeting in Baltimore because we know there is nowhere left to hide. It’s over. All the manipulations and contortions of the past 33 years, all the attempts to deflect and equivocate — all of it has brought the church, but especially you, to this moment. It’s over. Even the feds are now on the trail. They’ve ordered that you not destroy any documents. The Department of Justice is conducting a national criminal investigation of how you’ve handled the clergy sex abuse scandal. It is a point in our history without precedent. We want you to know that you aren’t alone in this moment, you’ve not been abandoned. But this time it must be different. This time it won’t be easy.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Vatican’s delay of U.S. bishops’ abuse measures leaves even some prelates confused
“A surprise Vatican request that the annual gathering of U.S. Catholic bishopsdelay planned votes on proposals to address clergy sexual abuse has evoked outcry, even leaving some of the prelates at the meeting confused. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the bishops’ conference, announced the request at the opening of the gathering Nov. 12. He told the some 250 prelates taking part that he was “disappointed” but said the Vatican asked for the delay because of Pope Francis’ upcoming February summit on child protection with the heads of all the global conferences.” By Heidi Schlumpf and Joshua McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

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


The Exercises of Saint Ignatius in the Context of Social Justice with Peter Gyves, SJ, MD, at the Saint Susanna Adult Faith Formation Monday, December 3, 2018 – 7:00 p.m., Parish Hall, 262 Needham Street, Dedham. There are no fees, there is no charge for refreshments, and there is no pre-registration requirement. Free will offering accepted.

Father Peter Gyves, himself a Jesuit, has devoted his time and ministry to Social Justice and will show us how the Ignatian Exercises can help us in the context of social justice. He is the founder of A Faith That Does Justice, an ecumenical program that seeks to raise consciousness about social issues that affect the most vulnerable among us and offers opportunities to walk in solidarity with those less fortunate than ourselves.

Father Peter is a board-certified pediatrician (1984) and pediatric endocrinologist (1986). He entered the Society of Jesus in 2003 and was ordained a priest in 2008. He has lived and worked in several countries outside the United States, both as physician and a priest, including El Salvador and Guatemala during their civil wars of the 1980’s and early 1990’s, and in several English and French-speaking African countries. He has degrees from Boston College (B.S., 1973, M.A.-Theology, 1994), Georgetown University (M.D., 1978), Johns Hopkins University (M.P.H., 2005), and Weston School of Theology (STL,2008).


Finding Crispina is a pilgrimage to archaeological sites and museums in Rome and Ostia, March 27 to April 3, 2019, led by Sr. Christine Schenk, CSJ, former executive director of FutureChurch and author of Crispina and Her Sisters: Women and Authority in Early Christianity. Details with itinerary and costs are on a website devoted to the trip. An optional additional trip to Naples and Pompeii runs from April 3 to April 5.

FutureChurch, which is sponsoring the trip, offers a 10% discount if you register and pay in full by Dec. 31, 2018. Learn moreabout the journey and registration at

Now That Thanksgiving Is Over …

As you begin your Christmas shopping, please consider starting at this link is external). Amazon will donate a portion of its profits to VOTF.

Letter to the Editor

Re: Short feedback re: sexual abuse and coverup

Address [the] difference between “shame” and guilt, apology and contrition.

Address the clothes/clerical attire that separate clergy and laity … clothes, homes, cars are outward signs of wealth, power (no more crowns, pointy hats … that look like royalty or Klu Klux Klan … no more gold and jewels, etc.)

Thanks for all your good work.


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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