News From National
VOTF President Mark Mullaney recently sent an email about the unexpectedly low financial position for Voice of the Faithful after a slow summer. In addition to maintaining VOTF’s everyday operating expenses, he emphasized the critical need for financial support to launch and pledge ongoing support for theFinancial Working Group’s project and the Healing Circle modelof Restorative Justice.
One member responded with a two-part challenge. First, the donor challenged the trustees to make substantial donations, which the donor would match. The trustees met that challenge.
Second, the donor challenged all VOTF members to match this generosity. Right now, thanks to the trustees and the donor, we have $13,000, and the donor/trustees are challenging the rest of us to match it with another $13,000 by Oct. 15.
Does VOTF’s work mean enough to you to meet this challenge? Keep in mind that every gift is important to reaching this goal. Click here to donate or mail your donation to VOTF/Challenge, P.O. Box 423, Newton, MA 02464.
Please consider this request prayerfully. We have until Oct. 15 to meet this challenge, and together, we can do it.
UPDATE: As of Oct. 9, we are about halfway to meeting the Match Challenge, with almost $6,000 donated in the last week. Let’s keep it going!
From bishops’ synods to bishops’ appointments, can we make Catholic lay input count?
As the extraordinary synod on the family plays out in Rome, and even before the Synod through the Vatican questionnaire distributed worldwide at Pope Francis’ urging, lay input into Catholic Church issues has become increasingly visible.
Pope Francis has said that he expects bishops to pay increasing attention to lay voices and “real life experiences” to become effective pastors. But bishops typically are accustomed to speaking to other clerics and to specially selected lay voices. The “ordinary person” has few opportunities for direct input into Church matters.
VOTF, long an advocate for greater lay input into the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church, provides opportunities to generate direct access, especially in the realm of bishop selection itself. VOTF’s bishop selection project has made it possible for the ordinary Catholic to communicate directly with the U.S. apostolic nuncio, who forwards bishop candidates to the Vatican.
VOTF developed an Internet portal at votf.org/bishop to allow Catholics to provide input to the apostolic nuncio. Their input goes directly to the nuncio’s email box when they click “Submit” on the questionnaire. Current U.S. Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Carlo M. Viganò has assured VOTF that all input reaching him from individual Catholics will be reviewed and that “serious observations may well be incorporated in the developed confidential process.”
The VOTF web portal allows Catholics to record their concerns and recommendations in three key areas: 1.) outstanding needs and opportunities in the diocese; 2.) candidates’ ideal qualities and qualifications; and 3.) priests who would be excellent candidates for their bishop.
Over the past two years, nearly 500 Catholics in nearly a dozen dioceses from New England to Alaska have submitted their comments through this portal or, in the case of Chicago, a related second survey. This process is one way to restore widespread lay input into the central question of who serves the faithful in a diocese as their bishop and to restore in the twenty-first century a lay-consultative process nearly as old as the Church itself.
For additional information on the bishop selection process and its history, see the VOTF web site.
News from VOTF’s Blog
Pope’s sex abuse panel makes progress / Associated Press
Pope Francis’ sex abuse commission has made new progress after languishing for much of the past year. It approved its legal statutes, proposed new members and divided up work to focus on reaching out to survivors, holding bishops accountable and keeping pedophiles out of the priesthood, The Associated Press has learned. The commission met over the past weekend (Oct. 4-5) for the third time since it was announced last December.”
By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press on abcnews.go.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Marie Collins, a clergy sexual abuse survivor from Ireland who is quoted in this story as a member of Pope Francis’ Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, will be the featured speaker at the Voice of the Faithful® 2015 National Assembly in Hartford, Connecticut, April 18, 2015. Click here to register for the VOTF 2015 National Assembly.
News from the Synod on the Family
Setting the stage for the 2014 Synod on the Family, in his opening remarks, Pope Francis urged participants to speak openly and clearly, without fear of censure. The Synod on the Family, which wraps up on October 19 has been covering a wide variety of topics, from “graduality” to language to sexuality and spirituality. Only the third time the Bishops have met with this agenda since 1969, they have covered quite a lot of ground.
Following are several reports from the Synod:
Married couples are stealing the show at synod,
Among first synod discussions: changing harsh language, trying ‘graduality,’
— At synod, bishops discuss changes to style, not substance,
— Synod shows potential to advance conversation,
— The synod’s key twist: the sudden return of gradualism,
— Family synod: full text of Pope Francis’s homily at opening Mass,
— The Synod could use a woman’s touch, by Fr. William Grimm,
— Pope and prelates get crash course in joys of sex,
— Discussion of the Synod with Cardinals Pell and Dolan,
Highlighting issues we face working together
to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Pope Francis calls for candor at meeting on family issues
“Setting the tone for a two-week meeting of Roman Catholic bishops, Pope Francis on Monday (Oct. 6) urged participants to speak openly and clearly, without fear of censure. He also called on the participants to listen to each other with humility and to respect differing opinions.” By Jim Yardley, The New York Times
— Married couples are stealing the show at synod, By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com
— Among first synod discussions: changing harsh language, trying ‘graduality,’ By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
— At synod, bishops discuss changes to style, not substance, By Michael O’Loughlin, Cruxnow.com
— Synod shows potential to advance conversation, By Vinnie Rotondaro, National Catholic Reporter
— The synod’s key twist: the sudden return of gradualism, By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com
— Family synod: full text of Pope Francis’s homily at opening Mass, In Catholic Herald
— The Synod could use a woman’s touch, by Fr. William Grimm, On ucanews.com
— Pope and prelates get crash course in joys of sex, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press
— Discussion of the Synod with Cardinals Pell and Dolan, On Cruxnow.com
Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn under Vatican investigation
“A Canadian archbishop visited the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese last week (week of Sept. 22) on behalf of the Vatican toinvestigate the leadership of Bishop Robert Finn, the first Catholic prelate to be found criminally guilty of shielding a priest in the ongoing clergy sexual abuse crisis … According to those who spoke with Prendergast, the main he question asked was: ‘Do you think [Finn] is fit to be a leader?’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
— Vatican investigates Missouri bishop who shielded pedophile priest, By Michael Paulson, The New York Times
— Kansas City priest sees Vatican investigation of Bishop Finn as ‘positive’, By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter
Paraguayan bishop who shielded priest abuser removed from office
“Pope Francis has removed a bishop from his diocese in eastern Paraguay following an apostolic visitation that found he had shielded a priest from accusations of sexual abuse of minors. Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano, 69, has been removed from heading the Ciudad del Este diocese, a statement from the Vatican press office said Thursday (Sept. 25).” By Dennis Coday,National Catholic Reporter
— Francis removes bishop under cloud in Paraguay, By Gaia Pianigiani and Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times
— Was Bishop Livieres sacked for abuse-related reasons or not?By Grant Gallicho, Commonweal
Vatican trial for abuse suspect undercuts zero-tolerance goal
“Pope Francis sounds genuinely contrite for the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy, and he has promised that those responsible will be called to account. Yet as an institution, the church still seems stuck in the habit of protecting clergy members from secular criminal justice systems.” Editorial byThe Boston Globe
Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus …
The Adult Faith Formation Commission of Saint Susanna Parish in Dedham, Massachusetts has posted its entire 2014-2015 schedule on the parish web site, www.saintsusanna.org. Please sign up online. Here is the October schedule:
October 13— Prophesy, Prophets and The Prophetic Imagination. An exploration of Old Testament Prophecy and the Prophets of Israel and their successors in the modern world. Working with the seminal writings of Heschel and Brueggemann, Peter Hartzel of the Saint Susanna Adult Faith Formation Commission, who has taught many church history courses over the years, clears away much of the misunderstanding about the roles of prophets (e.g., “fortune-tellers”), and brings their role up to the present date.
Sessions run from 7:00 to 9:00 PM at Saint Susanna Parish Hall, 262 Needham Street, Dedham. There is no pre-registration and no fee, although free will offerings are gratefully accepted to cover our costs. For more information, see our Adult Faith Formation Web Page at the parish web site,www.saintsusanna.org.
Ongoing Renewal and Reform in the Church: “To be perfect is to change often”
ANNUAL MINISTRY RENEWAL DAY (event at Boston College)
Friday, November 14, 1:00-4:00 p.m.
Presenters: Thomas H. Groome and Rev. Michael Himes
Corcoran Commons, Heights Room, Chestnut Hill Campus
Free of charge. Early registration recommended.
The Second Vatican Council was a great catalyst of renewal and reform, launched upon the Church and world by the Holy Spirit. Pope John XXIII called for a program ofaggiornamento, a process of both returning to the sources of faith and then developing it to be more credible and attractive in the modern world. This program would require significant “changes” for Catholic Christians that did not come easily, and yet have brought great new life to our faith. Now that we’ve made a start, the changes must continue; we are far from being the community of Jesus’s disciples that we should be. However, if we keep on changing—in the right direction—we will come to at least approximate the biblical sentiment that we be perfect as our God is perfect. This event will review the reasons for further change in the Church, and then how to go about making them.
Sponsored by the School of Theology and Ministry
Thomas H. Groome is STM professor of theology and religious education, and chair of the Department of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry.
Rev. Michael Himes is professor of theology, Boston College Department of Theology.
Register For This Event
Maps and directions
The Way of the Cross: In and Out of Our Lives
Joan Chittister and Janet McKenzie
Sponsored by Sacred Threads, Bethany House of Prayer & Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at Wellesley College
Saturday, November 15th
Doors open at 8:45
9:45 am – 12:00 pm
REGISTER BY OCTOBER 15 AND SAVE $10 ON YOUR REGISTRATION
Sister Joan takes us on an excursion through life-its challenges, its crosses and, from them, the rising to new life as shown to us in the life of Jesus. Through each experience she identifies the call that is being given, how Jesus models a response, and the grace-filled rebirth that is given to us through each experience.
Janet McKenzie, award wining artist, brings us into the mystery of transformation, illuminating the eternal in the present time.
All are welcome!
Joan Chittister, OSB
Well known author, speaker, key visionary voice
Joan is a world renowned lecturer, author, columnist and a prophetic voice on issues of justice and peace, human rights and women, and contemporary spirituality. She is the award-winning author ofIlluminated Life, for Everything a Season and numerous other books, including The Way of the Cross: The Path to New Life. She is a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania, and founder and executive director of Benetvision, a resource for contemporary spirituality.
Award winning artist
Janet is the award-winning artist whose Jesus of the People was chosen as the new image of Jesus for the third millennium by theNational Catholic Reporter. Her art has been featured at the Haggerty Museum in Milwaukee and the Loyola University Museum in Chicago. Her art is featured in Holiness and the Feminine Spirit: The Art of Janet McKenzie as well as in The Way of the Cross: The Path to New Life.
For those of you who grew up in the Church in the 70’s, or better yet, taught CCD in the Church in the 70’s, here is a defense from M. Cathleen Kaveny in Commonweal Magazine. Was that an unfairly maligned “silly season”? Or was it an exciting and vibrant time to be a Catholic? What do you think?
Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor, atVineyard@votf.org. Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.