In the Vineyard: October 26. 2020

In the Vineyard :: October 26, 2020 :: Volume 20, Issue 20

News from National

VOTF 2020 Virtual Conference Information

VOTF 2020 Virtual Conference Information

In case you missed it, VOTF 2020 Conference speakers, each offering their unique visions of a just Church, included Catholic studies scholar Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., and Fr. Richard Lennan, Boston College theologian.

In addition, VOTF leaders gave presentations, updating conference attendees on the work of our Protection of Children Working Group, Finance Working Group, and Women’s Roles Working Group. VOTF Executive Director Donna B. Doucette and Trustee Elia Marnik brought attendees up to speed on a new child protection initiative. VOTF Trustee and Vice President Margaret Roylance offered attendees highlights from our fourth annual review of diocesan online financial transparency and outlined a similar effort in Church governance that will be forthcoming. Former Trustee Svea Fraser’s presentation involved the promotion of women in the Church and synopsized a paper on which she collaborated with the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and others entitled, “Association of U.S. Catholic Priests’ Declaration on the Status of Women in the Church. See below for links to each speaker’s presentations.

Voice of the Faithful’s 2020 Conference: Visions of a Just Church took place as a Zoom gathering on Oct. 3. Here are links to video recordings of each of the major presentations as well as Q&A sessions at the 2020 Conference:

Please note that collateral material available also is available via our web site.

International News

Amid Arrests, Vatican Financial Watchdog Has New Role

Cecelia Marogna was arrested by Italian police earlier this month after a warrant was released for her arrest by the Vatican. She is suspected of embezzlement and misappropriation of funds, and she is an associate of Cardinal Beciui, who resigned last month at Pope Francis’s request. Marogna reportedly received half a million euros to assist in her role as a behind-the-scenes diplomat supporting missionaries. Becciu also has been accused of nepotism and directing funds earmarked for charity to a foundation run by his brother.

According to a statement released earlier this month, Vatican Law XVIII, a financial transparency law that covers the role of the Financial Information Authority and monitoring of financial transactions, was expanded. The newly updated law is a reflection of Pope Francis’s continued efforts to clear up the murky financial waters of the Vatican.

The updates bring the law in line with an anti-money laundering directive that concerns the access to information and limits anonymity when dealing with virtual currencies and digital wallets. The directive was adopted by the European Union in 2018. The update also included a two-week onsite inspection at the Vatican by Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism. Pope Francis’s financial inspector appointee, Carmelo Barbagallo, explained “prudent management and effective control are not only legal but also moral duties.” These steps are encouraging, and hopefully, at the local level, parishes and dioceses will take note.

For more information, please see here and here.

To read more about Becciu’s resignation, please see here. (“Surreal” Embezzlement Claims Lead to Becciu’s Resignation)

For VOTF’s statement on financial accountability, please see here. To read the VOTF 2019 Finance Working Group Report, please see here.

October Intentions Call for New Roles for Women

Pope Francis released a video earlier this month (the video can be seen here) setting an October intention that women be integrated into decision-making roles in the church – roles they are often denied. At the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, which normally sees hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in the October pilgrimage, less than 6,000 visitors attended the Mass on October 13th. Bishop Ornelas addressed the congregation and echoed Francis’s words, emphasizing the need to offer dynamic and new leadership roles to women in the church, rather than continuing to ask women to fulfill traditional roles.

These continued calls for women’s leadership roles by the Pope have faced some criticism. Prayers are beneficial, but concrete actions that seek to actually include women in leadership and decision-making roles have yet to be seen. “In addition to praying for women’s inclusion in church leadership, the hierarchy and clerics at all levels should commit to action that brings women into decision making roles […] at every level: the parish, the diocese, the national/regional bishops’ conferences, etc.” suggested Dr. Natalia Imperatori-Lee, a professor of religious studies at Manhattan College in New York.

For more information, please see here and here.

For VOTF’s statement on women’s roles, please see here.

To read more about women’s roles in the church as discussed in Visions of a Just Church, please see the recap here.

Two Priests Accused in Vatican’s First Sexual Abuse Trial

In a historic move, the Vatican’s first trial of alleged sexual abuse is underway. Marking the first time a case like this has been prosecuted in the Vatican, Gabriele Martinelli, currently a priest and a senior altar boy at the time, is accused of sexually assaulting a younger boy from 2007 to 2012 at the St. Pius X youth seminary. The rector of the seminary at the time, Rev. Enrico Radice, has been accused of covering up the abuse. Neither defendant has submitted a plea or made any public comment on the case.

Although reports of the abuse were published in Italian news outlets in 2017, the defendants were not indicted until 2019. The allegations were reported in 2012 by the victim’s roommate, who witnessed the abuse and was later kicked out of the seminary. Radice is accused of failing to block Martinelli’s ordination, despite having knowledge of the abuse allegations, as well as attempting to conceal the assault and prevent official investigations.

Critics claim that the trial is a farce, with defendants being brought to trial only after abuse allegations were published in news reports. In addition to Pope Francis’s public “zero tolerance” pledge for offenders, he has held meetings with bishops focused on the protection of minors and has issued laws and instructions to prevent abuse, but many say these measures are not enough.

The trial continues later this month, and both defendants are expected to take the stand.

For more information, please see here and here.

For advocacy and support resources, please see here.

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


Poland’s powerful Cardinal Dziwisz accused of covering up abuse case
“Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Polish bishops, and the Vatican’s ambassador in Poland are responsible for the case of Janusz Szymik, a long-time victim of the abusive priest Fr. Jan Wodniak. Why does the injured person have to fight for justice for over 25 years, and still waits … Szymik claims that between the years of 1984 and 1989 he was sexually abused almost 500 times by Wodniak in the village of Międzybrodzie Bialskie, about two hours southeast of Krakow.” By Szymon Piegza, National Catholic Reporter

Judge: Victims can sue Santa Fe Archdiocese over transfer
“A U.S. bankruptcy judge has ruled that lawyers for clergy sex abuse survivors can file lawsuits alleging the Archdiocese of Santa Fe fraudulently transferred millions to avoid bigger payouts to victims. The recent decision by Judge David T. Thuma in the Chapter 11 reorganization case opens the door to what could be a multimillion-dollar boon to hundreds of alleged victims, The Albuquerque Journal reports. Or it could set off protracted, costly legal appeals that would tap funds that could have paid valid abuse claims.” By Associated Press

Clergy shortage grows to more than 14k Catholics for every priest, Vatican data shows
“Catholic missions are struggling amid dwindling vocations and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released by the Vatican ahead of the World Mission Day this Sunday (Oct. 18). The number of priests and ordained leaders has dropped significantly, especially in Europe and America, according to the report issued on Friday (Oct. 16) by the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, charged with distributing clergy and coordinating missions around the world.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Justices review priest abuse lawsuit’s ruling on time limits
“Pennsylvania’s highest court on Tuesday (Oct. 20) grappled with whether a woman’s lawsuit on claims of sexual abuse by a priest decades ago should be allowed to proceed — a lower-court ruling that has launched many other lawsuits since it was issued a year ago. In oral argument, the justices focused questions on whether the plaintiff, Renee Rice, waited too long to sue the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Rice has argued that a 2016 grand jury report alerted her to allegations that church officials’ silence about a priest who she says molested her amounted to fraudulent concealment.” By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

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

Pope Francis Shares Message of Dignity For All

As part of the 5th anniversary of Laudato Si, Pope Francis shared a message about how all on earth are “a single human family” in an online meeting this week. The conference was part of a collaboration between “EcoOne,” an ecological initiative of the Focolare Movement and the dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the Global Catholic Climate Movement. Relating the theme back to his recent encyclical, Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis focused on solidarity with others and the importance of “combating the structural causes of poverty and working to protect the natural environment.” He called for introspection to center on “the practice of a sober, simple, and humble lifestyle,” a message that the whole world would do well to heed.

To read more about this meeting, please see here.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Mary Pat (Fox, VOTF’s president),

Jeannette and I are deeply saddened to learn of Ed’s (Wilson) passing. He was a wonderful man, committed to our church, determined to right the wrongs of clery sexual abuse. Ed and Anne were active in VOTF and brought sharp minds and passionate advocacy to the cause. Working with them is one of the highlights of my experience at VOTF.

Ed was a friend who will be missed and remembered in our thoughts and prayers,


Jim (VOTF’s first president) & Jeannette Post


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