In the Vineyard: November 9, 2020

In the Vineyard :: November 9, 2020 :: Volume 20, Issue 21

News from National

New Developments in Vatican Finance Reform Saga

Pope Francis has stripped the Secretariat of State of the ability to invest and manage funds, transferring this power to an office of the Roman Curia. As a part of his ongoing attempts at reforming the Vatican’s financial powers, he has been investigating suggestions of financial impropriety, mismanagement, and embezzlement. Earlier this year, in a scandal involving the purchase of a valuable property in London by the Secretariat and the resignation of a cardinal, the Pope made clear that he would not tolerate such actions damaging the reputation of the Vatican and tarnishing its evangelizing mission. The current head of this Secretariat is the cardinal secretary, Pietro Parolin.

The office to which Pope Francis reassigned the tasks and responsibilities of managing and administrating financial funds and real estate assets is an office serving as the treasury and central bank of the Vatican City and Holy See, as well as dealing with the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (A.P.S.A).

Pope Francis has been clear on his goals for Vatican finance reform, aiming for the organization to better serve the mission and improve the structure to make the Vatican’s financial and economic activities “more evangelical, transparent, and efficient.”

In light of this decision, Francis also directed that the Vatican “exit as soon as possible” from the Centurion Global Fund and London investments or at least dispose of them in a way that “eliminates all reputational risks.” He requested a single, complete balance sheet for the Holy See so that all of these investments would become transparent and clear, having thus far been unknown to the public.

The future of the Secretariat of State is unclear; Pope Francis has asked that it reevaluate the need to exist in light of these changes. He assigned control over the office of the Roman Curia handing over the Secretariat of State’s former role to the Secretariat for the Economy, led by Father Juan Antonio Guerrero.

Vatican police have been following the London investment deal for months at this point, even conducting a highly unusual raid last month of the Secretariat of State’s offices.

For more information, please see here, here, and here.

For VOTF’s statement on financial accountability, please see here.

McCarrick Report to Detail Stories of Abuse

The so-called “McCarrick Report” is scheduled to be released on November 10, prior to the virtual annual U.S. Bishops’ fall general assembly. While Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, in an update to the Archdiocese of New York, remarked that it could “be another black-eye for the church,” he also explained that it was necessary to confront the truth, to bring peace to the victims and survivors as well as serve as a lesson for preventing similar abuses in the future.

In February of 2019, Theodore McCarrick was dismissed by the Vatican after investigations of accusations of abuse of children as a cleric and of seminarians as a bishop. The report is said to detail the investigations into how he could have continued his rise to power, becoming one of the premier U.S. bishops and representing the church worldwide. Other members of the church are said to have been aware of his alleged abuses, and yet his career continued to thrive until 2018.

The report includes documents and witness accounts of McCarrick’s actions over the course of his 40-year career. In June 2018, it became public that he had been credibly accused of sexually assaulting a minor. Other abuse allegations, including serial sexual abuse of minors, seminarians, and priests, quickly followed. McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals after the initial allegation in June of 2018, and he was then laicized in February 2019.

This disturbing trend of credibly accused predators within the church continues, and in many U.S. states, attorneys general have initiated investigations into such clerical misconduct.

The publication of the report was delayed on the instructions of Pope Francis, but is still set to be released prior to the U.S. Bishops’ Conference meeting later in the month. The investigations in the report began in October 2018, and the report was initially expected to be released in late 2019 or early 2020. However, the body of evidence discovered was much larger than originally expected.

When the report is made public, Catholics can expect to see at least some evidence of who knew what, when, and how McCarrick was able to get away with such abuse for so long.

For more information, please see here and here.

To read more about VOTF’s position on child protection, please see here.

For survivor support resources, please see here.

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


Vatican court hears unprecedented sexual abuse criminal trial
“An unprecedented trial is underway this month at the Vatican, the result of a whistleblower going public. A young priest is charged with sexually abusing an altar boy over a five-year period inside Vatican City walls. An older priest is charged with covering up the abuse. It’s the first criminal trial for sexual abuse to take place in the Vatican court. The first hearing of the trial lasted just eight minutes — enough for the Vatican court to hear graphic descriptions of the charges. The alleged victim, identified by his initials, LG, was forced ‘to undergo carnal acts, acts of sodomy and masturbation at different times and in different places inside Vatican City,” according to charges read out by the court clerk.’” By Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio

The rise of Wilton Gregory, the first African-American cardinal
“Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., and a leader of the U.S. Roman Catholic Church’s response to its sexual abuse crisis, was among 13 new cardinals that Pope Francis announced on Sunday (Oct. 25). The move positions Archbishop Gregory, 72, to become the first African-American cardinal next month. He has been a national figure since 2002, when, as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, he presided over the adoption of a zero-tolerance policy toward priests guilty of sexual abuse. He was elevated from his position as the bishop of Belleville, Ill., to lead the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 2005 before Francis installed him in Washington last year.” By Christina Morales, The New York Times

Are women involved in a toxic relationship with the church?
“It’s not what they say; it’s the way that they say it. Documents and Scripture translations annoyingly border on gaslighting women. Not the big-league, drive-her-crazy gaslighting, just the subtle cognitive dissonance that slips into relationships large and small. You know, ‘He loves me, he loves me not …’ Cognitive dissonance includes saying one thing and meaning another. It exists, painfully enough, in the church. We know what the church says, but we know what it does. You have to wonder, are women involved in a toxic relationship with the church?” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

Australian state police rule out probe into Vatican money transfers during Pell trial
“Police in the Australian state of Victoria said Friday (Oct. 23) that they have no plans for a further investigation into reports of money transfers from the Vatican during the trial of Cardinal George Pell, while federal police have said the information they have received is under their review, and been shared with an anti-corruption commission. Victoria Police told journalists Oct. 23 that AUSTRAC, Australia’s financial intelligence agency, had shared information with the force regarding the transfers.” By Catholic News Agency

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

On Eagles Wings

While Catholics can argue ceaselessly over a number of issues, we hold a few unshakable truths in common: Jesus is present in the Eucharist, Mary was conceived without sin, and when “On Eagle’s Wings” plays, we cry. America Magazine reveals the origin of the hymn.

On Eagle’s Wings

Michael Joncas

You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord
Who abide in His shadow for life
Say to the Lord, “My refuge, my rock in whom I trust!”

And He will raise you up on eagles’ wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand

The snare of the fowler will never capture you
And famine will bring you no fear
Under His wings your refuge, His faithfulness your shield

And He will raise you up on eagles’ wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand

You need not fear the terror of the night
Nor the arrow that flies by day
Though thousands fall about you, near you it shall not come

And He will raise you up on eagles’ wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand

For to His angels He’s given a command
To guard you in all of your ways
Upon their hands they will bear you up
Lest you dash your foot against a stone

And He will raise you up on eagles’ wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand

And hold you, hold you in the palm of His hand.

Letter to the Editor

Perhaps, like me, you’ve discovered a hidden blessing within the Covid-19 quarantining we’re experiencing—time to view online presentations on a variety of topics.

I’ve recently watched a series of conversations on “Reimagining U. S. Catholicism Today” presented by Commonweal Magazine. The panelists of experts are insightful in their analysis of the issues confronting us as a church, and creative in their vision of how we can address them. They left me feeling inspired and hopeful, so I’d like to share these links with you too!

Keep the Faith, Change the Church!
Skip Sullivan

P. S. If you Google “Commonweal Conversations,” you’ll discover a list of other relevant webinars.
Prophetic Inclusion: Catholic Women in Church Leadership | Reimagining U.S. Catholicism Today:

A Reckoning of Catholic Institutions | Reimagining U.S. Catholicism Today:

Modern and Just Catholic Education and Formation | Reimagining U.S. Catholicism Today:

The Future of Community & Sacramental Life | Reimagining U.S. Catholicism Today:

A Feminist Spirituality

Benetvision has published a collection of writings by Sister Joan Chittister on a feminist, Gospel-based Christianity. Compiled by Jacqueline Sanchez-Small, Colleen Leathley, and Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB, the slim volume has short musings, an essay or two, and concepts aimed at encouraging women to address the continuing inability of the Church to confront and begin dismantling its discrimination against women. Some excerpts:

“Feminism recognizes the role of leadereship and the need for power. The difference is that genuine feminism commits itself to the distribution of power. It sets out to share and use power to make power possible for everyone else. Feminist power is a power true to the naming of twelve Apostles, the sending out of seventy-two disciples, the development of house churches and the commissioning of women ministers in the early Christian communities. It does not smack of medieval imperialism in the name of God or absolutism in the guise of the Holy Spirit.” (page 12)

“As the world changes and the church becomes more and more isolated in its sexism, the questions will only increase. The fact is that, until the full humanity of women (is recognized) in a church where the ministry of men is clearly in decline, the theology of a church whose mission is to proclaim the universal love and presence and power of God will become increasingly in doubt, both to women and to men.” (page 64)

The volume is a nice size for slipping in a bag and carrying during your day, with cues for thoughtful meditation whenever you have a break.

You can purchase the book via Benetvision store or purchase the Kindle version from Amazon. (Note: If you use and name VOTF as the recipient charity, Voice of the Faithful will receive a portion of the purchase price for any products you buy there.)


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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