In the Vineyard: October 23, 2015

In the Vineyard :: October 23, 2015 :: Volume 15, Issue 20

News from National

Report on the Synod
As the Synod on the Family wrapped up this week, opinions varied on what the long-term effects of this Synod will be. And, until Pope Francis releases his final report, we only have observations about how the process itself is working. Here are a few of those observations:

Father Thomas Reese—“The bishops are currently trapped in the old theology they learned in the seminary. They are afraid of new ideas and are not consulting with theological experts who could show them other options. As a result, it is unlikely that new pastoral approaches will be coming forth from this synod.

“Some progressives still hope that Pope Francis can somehow magically pull victory from the jaws of defeat. I don’t think so. Pope Francis is conflicted. His pastoral instincts are leading him in one direction, but his respect for collegiality is stopping him from getting too far out in front of the bishops.

Read more:

Quick Thoughts Survey
We are starting something new: a series of quick yes/no surveys to see where we stand on various questions. From time to time, in the Vineyard, we will ask for your opinion on something that is happening in the Catholic world. Typically it will be just one simple question. Then we will tally up the responses and report them in the next issue.

Here’s the first question: After three weeks of reading and hearing about the bishops’ work in the Family Synod, do you expect improvements in pastoral care for families who are non-traditional? Click this link to respond.

VOTF’s Social Media World
In this cyberspace era, Social Media is an important tool for communication. VOTF is no exception—we have a website, email newsletter, VOTF Blog, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. The thing about Social Media, though, is that you need to make the first move. So, here’s how to get engaged in VOTF’s Social Media world.

Our website is easy. Just open your favorite browser and type in the url address bar. You’re there. Click around and get to know us.

It’s also easy to get our twice monthly email newsletter, In the Vineyard, to stay up-to-date on what’s happening. To receive our newsletter, go to our website. In the right-hand column on the homepage is a button that says, Sign Up for Our E-Newsletter. Click it and follow the directions.

To subscribe to our blog, go to and scroll down the right-hand column. You’ll see a headline that says Subscribe. Type your email address into the box, hit enter, and follow the directions. You’ll also be able to sign up to receive an email every time we post a blog.

On Twitter, VOTF is at Copy this URL and paste it into your browser. Look for the Follow button and click it to follow our Tweets.

You need to be a Facebook user to Like our Facebook page. You can get to VOTF’s Facebook page by simply searching on Voice of the Faithful in Facebook’s search box. Or, you can use Once there, you can Like our page and then our posts will show up on your Facebook page.

To get the most out of Social Media and spread the word about VOTF, stay engaged:

  • Forward our blogs to friends if you get them by email, or re-blog them if you have your own blog. We also welcome your comments.

  • Forward our emails to friends using the button at the bottom of each email and share them using the share buttons at the top of each email.

  • Like and comment on our Facebook posts and re-Tweet our Tweets.

With everybody blogging and Face-booking and Tweeting and commenting, our voices will reverberate throughout cyberspace. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s free.

Send us pictures of your crèche – like the ones shown here.
We’re repeating our popular online calendar of Advent reflections this year, and we want to use your pictures instead of stock photos. As in the past, you’ll receive an email each day of Advent with a link to a page on our website featuring Advent-appropriate Scripture, prayers, and reflections.

And this year, we want to use your crèche photos.

Take photos of your whole nativity scene, or the Holy Family, or parts of the crèche 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 large, small, fancy, or common your crèche is, or whether it’s made by Fontanini® or Playmobil®, as long as it’s yours.

You can take photos with your camera, phone, tablet, or other device. Remember to get close enough to your subject to fill the frame. Then email your pictures to me at Please include your first and last name, city or town, and state, so we can identify the photo online, or you can remain anonymous if you prefer.

The deadline for sending us your crèche photos is Friday, Nov. 13 (Nov. 29 is the First Sunday of Advent). You may think it’s a bit early to be asking for your crèche pictures, but we have to set up everything in advance and make sure it works. Actually, the earlier you send us your pictures the better!

We pray throughout our lives to possess the peace and promise represented by the Holy Family, especially during Advent. So, we’re reaching out to our extended VOTF family and asking you to relive the nativity story with us this Advent by sending us your crèche photos.

Thank you, and we wish you an early Christmas blessing.


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


Fugitive Fathers: Two priests have been suspended since GlobalPost’s investigation
“One month ago, GlobalPost published a lengthy investigation into Catholic clergy who have been accused of sexual abuse in the United States or Europe, yet continue to work as priests in remote South American dioceses … We still haven’t received any response from either the Vatican or Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who heads up the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.” By Will Carless,

Francis faces a balancing act on sexual abuse reform
“A member of Pope Francis’ Vatican commission to fight child sexual abuse said Monday (Oct. 12) that when the pontiff praised the ‘courage’ of the American bishops in handling abuse during his recent trip to the United States, he was engaged in a delicate balancing act. That line stirred controversy among abuse survivors and their advocates, who argued that some US prelates have a less than exemplary record in terms of making the Church’s ‘zero tolerance’ standard stick.” By John L. Allen, Jr.,

Cardinals reportedly criticize synod in letter to Francis, but signatories disassociate
Disagreement at the highest levels of the Catholic church about the worldwide meeting of bishops on the family seemed to come to the fore Monday (Oct. 12) with publication of a private letter from several cardinals to Pope Francis, before a number of the prelates disassociated themselves from the document.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
Cardinal Dolan reveals background to the letter of the thirteen cardinals, By Gerard O’Connell, America magazine
Letter from Rome: Cardinals oppose Francis’ synod process, By Robert Mickens, Commonweal magazine
Uncertainty surrounds cardinals’ letter voicing doubts about the synod, By Ines San Martin,
Whose Synod is it, anyway? By Grant Gallicho, Commonweal magazine
The real Synod has yet to arrive, By Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter

Five reasons the synod is doomed to fail
“The synod on the family has created a lot of interest in the church and spilled a lot of ink (or electrons) in the media, but there are five reasons that it was doomed to fail before the bishops even gathered in Rome Oct. 4. Perhaps Pope Francis can perform a miracle and save it, but the odds are against him.” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis reminds the synod that he has the last word
“The synod journey culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome, (who is) called to speak authoritatively as ‘the Pastor and Teacher of all Christians,’ Pope Francis stated on October 17, on the eve of the final week of the synod on the family. In a keynote talk of the utmost importance delivered at the celebration for the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the synod of bishops, Francis spoke about ‘synodality in the church,’ the synod’s place within this, the relation between the synod and the Successor of Peter, and reminded the synod fathers that he has the last word.” By Gerard O’Connell, America magazine

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

Bishop Selection News:
Archbishop Schedules Listening Sessions

Archbishop Hebda, on leave from Newark NJ, where he has spent the last 2 years preparing to become the Archbishop of Newark, was appointed this summer to serve as the interim leader of the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis. Hebda was sent to the St. Paul/Minneapolis diocese to help sort things out when Bishop Nienstadt was encouraged to resign by the Vatican. VOTF members in the area have reported that Bishop Hebda has met with numerous Catholics in the diocese, including reform groups. He has now scheduled a series of Listening Sessions aimed at hearing from many more of the lay people there.

Details about the sessions can be found on the diocesan website.

According to the website, “Feedback gathered during these sessions will be shared with those responsible for advising Pope Francis as he makes this important choice and with the new Archbishop whenever he is named.”


Weymouth VOTF
Fr. Ron Coyne will be the guest speaker at the Weymouth VOTF meeting on Tuesday, November 10, 7:00 PM at St. Albert the Great Church in Weymouth. He will be speaking about his experience as pastor of the Three Parish Blue Hills Collaborative.

SNAP Conference
2016 SNAP annual conference will be in Chicago June 24-26
For details contact: Barb Dorris,

News from our Affiliates

NJ VOTF Postpones October 3rd Retreat
Sister Barbara Fiand SNDdeN, our speaker for our Retreat on “The True Self,” unfortunately has had to cancel coming to NJ due to weather-related travel issues.

The retreat has been rescheduled for Saturday, Nov. 21st.
The time 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM will remain the same but the venue will be changed as St. Mark Lutheran Church will not be available that day. We will send you information on the new venue as soon as it t is confirmed.

We regret any inconvenience this may cause you and ask for your understanding and flexibility.

We look forward to spending time with Sister Barbara on November 21st and learning more about our “True Selves.”

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.

Page One

Shop at Amazon, Support VOTF

VOTF relies solely on the contributions of people like you to support its work.




© Voice of the Faithful 2015. All Rights Reserved