In the Vineyard: November 4, 2016

In the Vineyard :: November 4, 2016 :: Volume 16, Issue 20

Quick Links
International Meet Advent Calendar NY Survivors
New Beatitudes Focus Calendar Letters to the Editor


Harvard Scholar Discusses Leadership & Visionwith VOTF Audience

Voice of the Faithful can “provide the space for people to have conversations they are not allowed to have,” said Ronald Heifetz, a Harvard Kennedy School scholar, during a fundraising event Saturday, Oct. 29, in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Heifetz, who coined the term “adaptive leadership,” is a founder of the Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership and a co-founder of Cambridge Leadership Associates, which consults to corporate, nonprofit, and public sectors worldwide. He spoke to an audience of primarily VOTF members about how his idea of adaptive leadership can help organizations like VOTF make gradual yet meaningful progress during changing and often challenging times.

Leadership is “only interesting and relevant when you’re in a community facing a set of challenges,” Heifetz said. VOTF can advocate for change from within the larger Church community, but the Church, “a social structure” that “needs order to make the group work,” is constrained by the authority it believes is necessary to maintain order. As a result, the Church is constrained from making the changes necessary to address issues and solve problems.

This “can help us understand what went wrong in the Church” that led to scandal. Dr. Heifetz said. What is needed in response is to practice leadership without authority.

Svea Fraser of Wellesley, Massachusetts, one of VOTF’s founders, recalled Heifetz’s admonition that we “need to develop more capacity to meet challenges adaptively,” rather than default to technical solutions we already know, which usually leads to failure. The Church is not a business that will fail if it does not adapt, and so continues doing only what it knows how to do, repeating the same mistakes.

Read more about the discussion and attendees’ reactions …

VOTF Co-Sponsors International Conference

Thanks to your support, VOTF was one of three organizations co-sponsoring the Third Annual Conference of International Catholic Priest Movements and Reform Groups, Oct. 17-20, 2016, in Chicago.

Forty priests and lay persons from 10 countries (Argentina, Austria, Australia, England, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland and the United States) gathered to develop strategies supporting reform in the Catholic Church.

In a press release following the meeting, the group called for progress on full equality for women in the Church; rights for LGBT Catholics; fundamental rights for all Catholics; and developing models of parish ministry.

During the press conference following the meeting, Margaret Roylance, VOTF vice president and trustee, presented the following statement on the group’s Fundamental Rights Platform:

“One of the guiding principles of our assembly was unity in diversity and there were many aspects of diversity in our gathering. Envisioning and acting for change in the church means thinking internationally and appreciating our differences but not being paralyzed by them. In order to be effective, any actions must take into account what problems we have in common.

“One of the root problems in our church is named clericalism, but it reflects a deeper problem – failure to recognize the rights and responsibilities of each baptized person. There is a long history of trying to define and assert these rights in the church, but if there is no recourse when our rights are abridged, they do not exist in practice.

“In the absence of a right to be treated with respect, or the right to follow one’s own informed conscience, real injustice results and real pain is caused. Sexual abuse, closing active parish faith communities, mistreatment of divorced and remarried Catholics and many other injustices perpetrated in our church’s name spring from the denial of these fundamental rights.

“One international action this group will undertake is to link these painful manifestations of inequality with the dismissal of our rights. Once the connection is clearly demonstrated and articulated, we will work to define and assert these fundamental rights. We will move forward according to a path the group will discern, basing our work on existing documents and previous efforts including Lex Ecclesiae Fundamentalis and many others.”

Conference co-sponsors in addition to VOTF were FutureChurch and the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests. Click here (link is external) to view the press conference that followed the meeting.

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2016 Online Advent Calendar

VOTF is putting together our online Advent calendar and we need your help!

If you have taken part in the past, you may recall that we send you an email each day during Advent with a link to a page on our website featuring Advent-appropriate Scripture, prayers, and reflections.

If you have taken part in the past, you may recall that we send you an email each day during Advent with a link to a page on our website featuring Advent-appropriate Scripture, prayers, and reflections. 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.

We’ve offered these Advent calendars for several years now, and last year we included photos you took of your crèches. We want to use your crèche photos again this year, but we need new photos of different crèches. So, if you didn’t send us a picture last year, do so this year, and if you sent us a picture last year, see if you have other crèches or crèche figures you can photograph.

We know it’s early to be doing this, but we need to set up the Reflection pages ahead of time. So please go to your attic, cellar, garage, or other Christmas storage area and take out your crèche. Set it up and take a photo of the whole scene, or the Holy Family, or parts of the set, or individual pieces, like sheep, shepherds, angels, wise men, stars, and the like. You can send us as many photos as you want. We don’t care how fancy, common, large, or small your Nativity set is, just so it’s yours, replete with memories of Christmases past. And if your crèche has a story, tell us about it and we’ll use it in our captions.

You can take the photos with your camera, phone, tablet, or other device and then email them to Nick at Please include your first and last name, city or town, and state, so we can identify the photo online — or you may remain anonymous if you prefer — and don’t forget your crèche’s story.

Tips on taking the photo: Please get up close to your subject so it fills the frame, and if you have the ability, set the photo size to medium. But don’t worry if you can’t set the photo size. We can handle any size or format (jpeg, gif, bmp) you send to us.

The first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27, is actually is not that far away. As usual, the season will be upon us before you know it, and we have to set up everything in advance and make sure it works. So, the deadline for sending us your crèche photos is Friday, Nov. 18. But the earlier you send them to us the better.

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All Victim Survivors Deserve a Full Measure of Justice

Statement from the Catholic Coalition of Conscience on the
Archdiocese of NY Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program

The Catholic Coalition of Conscience and its participating groups welcome the announcement by the Archdiocese of New York of the formation of an “Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program” designed to help victim-survivors of clerical sexual abuse. Although such an initiative has been delayed for too long, as acknowledged by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the effective implementation of this program could bring much needed aid to victim-survivors who have been denied justice by New York State’s Statute of Limitations (SOL) restrictions governing sexual abuse of children.

Mr. Kenneth R. Feinberg, the independent mediator charged with reviewing cases and making monetary awards, said in the press conference announcing the program that it would be a “model.” Having worked for SOL reform over several years in New York State in the face of strenuous opposition from the Catholic Church, the Catholic Coalition of Conscience respectfully asserts that this program will only be a “model” if it reflects five key principles.

Please read full statement here.

The Catholic Coalition of Conscience calls on the Archdiocese of New York and Mr. Feinberg to revise the operation and procedures of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program immediately in accord with these principles, so that victim-survivors of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church receive the full measure of justice they deserve.

October 20, 2016
Call to Action Metro New York
Call to Action Upstate New York
Voice of the Faithful New York

Media Contact: Francis X. Piderit, Voice of the Faithful New York Leadership Team, 917-916-7575 (Cell Phone),

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Pope Francis Releases New Beatitudes

This week Pope Francis urged Catholics to reflect on six new Beatitudes pertinent to our time – watch the video. The new beatitudes:

  • Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others and forgive them from their heart.
  • Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized and show them their closeness.
  • Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him.
  • Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home.
  • Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.
  • Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.

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Saints in 60

Learn about a saint in 60 seconds. America magazine just started a new series called “Saints in 60″ that posts 60-second videos about saints. Click on the link and learn about the featured saint.


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


Pope Francis says ban on female priests is likely to endure
“The Roman Catholic Church’s teaching that women cannot be ordained as priests is likely to last forever, Pope Francis said on Tuesday (Nov. 1.) as he flew back to Rome from Sweden … According to reporters who were on the plane, Francis responded, ‘On the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the last word is clear.’ He cited an apostolic letter written in 1994 by Pope John Paul II, who has since been canonized as a saint. The letter said that ordaining women was not possible because Jesus chose only men as his apostles.” By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times

Pope Francis confirms the finality of ban on ordaining women priests, By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Editorial: The Church has earned our healthy skepticism
“New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan may have the purest of motives in designing the new compensation program for victims of clergy sex abuse. He must realize, however, that he is working against a history of activity, including his own, of members of the U.S. hierarchy that hardly inspires.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

N.Y. cardinals new compensation program for victims will keep sex abuse hidden, By Anne Barrett Doyle, National Catholic Reporter

Editorial: Cardinals herald church’s changing season
“Rarely is change in the church proclaimed with any fanfare … Catholics are left to discern newness in other ways, like noticing the first hint of a changing season in the subtle alteration of sunlight. The light’s angle just became a little clearer with Pope Francis’ appointment of 17 new cardinals from 11 different countries, including three from the United States.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

New cardinals are Francis pastors, but Venezuela’s is political too, By Ines San Martin,

Catholic priests, lay persons call for LGBT, women’s rights
“… On Oct 20, in Arlington Heights, representatives from Catholic priest movements and lay reform organizations based across the world gathered to lay out a series of direct challenges to the Catholic Church on everything from women’s equality to LGBT rights.” By Gretchen Rachel Hammond,

Reform groups call on Catholic church ‘to stand against violence’ toward LGBT people, By Kristen Whitney Daniels, National Catholic Reporter

Pell knew about abuse but failed to act, inquiry told
Cardinal George Pell had knowledge of serious allegations of sexual abuse by Ballarat Catholic clergy in the early 1970s, but failed to act, a royal commission has found. In their final submissions to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse released on Monday (Oct. 31), the counsel assisting the inquiry found Cardinal Pell was told of disgraced paedophile Christian Brother Edward Dowlan’s sexual misconduct with children by at least one student and two priests as early as 1973.” By Melissa Cunningham, The Courier

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

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The Francis Pontificate: Historical Anomaly or the Beginning
of a Postmodern Papacy?

Both supporters and critics have recognized the distinctive character of the pontificate of our first Jesuit and South American Pope. Some have been skeptical, however, as to whether the “newness” is a matter of style or substance. Is the Francis moment just that, a moment, one easily set aside by his successors, or are we seeing the beginning of a new ecclesial trajectory for the ministry of the Bishop of Rome?

Prof. Richard Gaillardetz, Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology & Chair, Boston College Department of Theology, considers the question in an event cosponsored by the School of Theology and Ministry and The Church in the 21st Century Center.

Thursday, November 10, 2016, 5:30 p.m.
Corcoran Commons, Heights Room, Chestnut Hill Campus
Free of Charge
Register For Event
Maps and directions

Programs at St. Susanna’s in Dedham MA

All three presentations will run from 7:00 to 9:00 PM at the Parish Hall, 262 Needham Street, Dedham. There is no pre-registration requirement, there is no fee, and the refreshments are free. Free Will Offerings are gratefully accepted to cover the costs of our program.

November 7, 2016: Biblical Literary Criticism – Is the Bible “True?” with Deacon Laurence J. Bloom

Why do different parts of the Bible say opposite things? Why do some parts sound like fables? How do we base our faith on what sometimes appear to be made-up stories? The main focus will be on how to read the Bible so it makes a lot more sense, by understanding literary forms and historical settings. The Catholic Church has been calling on its scholars to assist the believers with this effort since the 1940s, but beyond telling people that it’s OK to believe it took longer than six days to create the universe, little seems to have sunk in about what people should believe if they are not required to believe what is actually written. This evening will be a very brief introduction to what they have uncovered. Deacon Larry will keep it light and interesting.

November 14, 2016: Eileen Markey, author, on A Radical Faith: The Assassination of Sister Maura

On December 2, 1980, Sister Maura Clarke and three other women were stopped by El Salvador’s US-trained National Guard at a checkpoint set specifically for them. On that night the National Guardsmen kidnapped, raped and killed them. Their discarded bodies were left by the side of a remote dirt road.

Investigative journalist Eileen Markey breathes life back into one of these women in her biography of Maryknoll Sister Maura Clarke. She comes to Saint Susanna to tell us that story.

“Eileen Markey’s beautifully told narrative reminds us of Maura’s courage in the face of brutal dictators and shocking suffering. It’s an important story that has been forgotten for too long, and Markey’s book returns Maura to her deserved place in history.” – Martin Sheen

November 21, 2016: Jewish Mysticism and the Kabbalah, with Rabbi Jim Morgan

Mystical experiences have been a part of Jewish tradition from the earliest times. However, they have not always been at the center of Jewish practice, which often focused more on practical law (halakhah–the Jewish way). Mistrust and even disdain for mysticism grew during the 20th century, with its emphasis on rationality in all things, including religion. But as interest in spiritual experience across a variety of traditions grows now in the early 21st century, Jewish mysticism remains a rich vein of discovery for Jews and non-Jews alike. This session will present a short introduction to the Jewish mystical tradition, drawing on texts from the bible, rabbinic literature, and the medieval texts that form the corpus of Kabbalah. The emphasis will be on discovering the texts together rather than on a historical overview.

Rabbi Jim Morgan, an advisor at Harvard Hillel and Chaplain at Center Communities of Brookline, holds a Ph.D. from Yale University.

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New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s Offer


  1. He moved tens of millions of dollars into a cemetary fund in Milwaukee where the funds could not be used to compensate survivors.
  2. His successor invited survivors to contact the archdiocese, so the archdiocese could respond fairly to them, but then the archdiocese used legal tactics to deny compensation to the vast majority of survivors
  3. The New York Catholic Conference used substantial funds to defeat New York Assemblywoman Margaret Markey in the recent primary. She has sponsored SOL window legislation for years in New York.
  4. He says that his offer of compensation will be extrememly generous.
  5. He says he will not seek refuge under the civil statute of limitations.
  6. He says that former New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly will ‘guarantee’ the independence of the process but does not say how this will happen. Recall the fate of former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating guarantees of ‘independence’ at the National Review Board..


If his position on question five above is sincere, and if his prediction on question four is correct, then there is no need for the archdiocese to duplicate the avenue of resolution available through the court system. It will simply add cost. But the arcchdiocese has spent large amounts of money to stop legislation that would have given the courts the ability to hear these cases and then give out settlements Dolan says would have been inferior to what he is now willing to provide. What is going on?


Timely news articles predict that the democrats may gain control of the New York senate, and the Markey SOL proposal, or something like it, will prevail. In that case, Dolan will loose any control over the process, as he should. This looks like nothing less than a last ditch effort to keep control of a process he fears.


Let us applaud Dolan’s conversion to ignoring the statute of limitations. Let us applaud Dolan’s recognition that survivors deserve substantial compensation. But let us oppose Dolan’s effort to gain control over the process. His hands are dirty.


Fifteen years have passed since The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team articles. These years have been filled with with misinformation, excuses, lies, and legal maneuvering by the hierarchy. Should we expect this latest offer to be anything other than more of the same?

Paul Kellen
Medford, Massachusetts

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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.

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