In the Vineyard: October 29, 2018

In the Vineyard :: October 29, 2018 :: Volume 18, Issue 19

News from National

Conference Follow-ups

Prof. Massimo Faggioli: Legacy and Potential

Did you miss Professor Faggioli’s address to VOTF or want to see it again? Watch it here.

Massimo Faggioli, Ph.D., professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University in Philadelphia, opened his remarks at VOTF’s conference earlier this month noting that when he was invited, about one year ago, he could not have imagined how timely his visit would be. We are in a “new kind of crisis” in the Church, he said.

“This is a vertical crisis, a totally new moment … There is a vacuum of authority.” The crisis also presents opportunities for lay people, but there are limits and problems. One problem, he explained, is the assumption that Vatican II opened doors for laity. While it focused on such potential, however, the “theology of the lay people” from Vatican II was outdated almost as soon as it was expressed.

That theology also is defined in terms of a lack of something, he added. It is defined canonically as “not ordained,” the least important in the Church. The documents related to the laity from the Council bounce back and forth between a 1950s definition of lay people and an even older one. It’s also a list of wishes rather than in laws and specifics. Check out the video of the entire talk.

For more from Professor Faggioli, here’s a recent piece he wrote for Foreign Affairs magazine that discusses the recent Pennsylvania abuse crisis.

Marie Collins: Why I Left and What Can We See in the Future?

Did you miss Marie’s address to VOTF or want to see it again? Watch it here.

Marie Collins, one of the original members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told attendees about the many frustrations and disappointments the Commission members encountered. There was no budget, she reported, although other commissions had budgets, and every request for a purchase was delayed for weeks before a response. No member was allowed access to the Commission’s office in Vatican City because they were not allowed to have entrance passes—again, even though others with offices there had passes. They were not allowed to read the policy documents of Curial offices related to sex abuse—they were told such documents were secret … but they could read them on the internet if they wished.

Marie finally resigned last year, citing Curial intransigence as the major reason. “The hierarchy has shown itself to be incapable of responsibility,” she concluded. But one light on the horizon is that civil authorities are abandoning their reluctance to pursue claims of sexual abuse.

You can hear the rest of Marie’s remarks here.

For more comments from the lunch-time Listening Sessions at the 2018 Conference, check the VOICES column in this issue.

Read more about VOTF’s conference here. Later this week we will have more videos from the speakers along with summaries of their presentations. Also keep your eye on this page, where we will post additional news about the Conference, photos, and other links.

Villanova Task Force Challenges Bishops

“An Open Letter to to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Eve of Its Meeting to Discuss the Sexual Abuse Crisis in the American Catholic Church,” written by the Villanova Task Force on the Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Church, has called on the bishops who will assemble at the semi-annual meeting in November to address their own behavior.

The meeting “could inaugurate a new era in the American Church, one characterized by honesty, accountability, generosity, and love, the Task Force says. Its members include Prof. Massimo Faggioli, who spoke at the recent VOTF Conference in Providence RI.

In addition to the 13 Task Force members, almost 200 other Villanova faculty signed the letter.

The letter cites several steps needed:

  • Close up loopholes in reporting by requiring the U.S. bishops to become mandatory reporters of suspected sexual abuse.
  • Launch and fund a long-term and multi-faceted study on this crisis, one that examines the systemic causes.
  • Begin the healing process by facilitating conversations about this crisis in an action “akin to a truth and reconciliation commission. [See VOTF document on truth commissions.]

You can read the full text of the Villanova letter here.

VOTF Welcomes Federal Probe of Clergy Sex Abuse in PA

VOTF welcomes the U.S. Justice Department’s investigation into the decades-long coverup of clergy sexual abuse in Pennsylvania dioceses and hopes that such investigations expand nationwide.

The Church’s hierarchy has too long hidden crimes of abuse behind secret financial settlements and non-disclosure agreements, treating young victims as throwaway objects and sources of scandal rather than as God’s and society’s most vulnerable. They have violated God’s law, their own canon law and civil law in an attempt to portray the institution of the Church as above reproach and themselves as “handling the problem.”

“The priests who commit these crimes are criminals and sick, but the bishops who moved them around committed the bigger crime by exposing more and more children to abuse,” said VOTF president Mary Pat Fox. “They must be held accountable. The actions of the hierarchy not only caused additional harm to children, but also cast shadows on good priests doing good work and on Catholics everywhere. … Continue reading …

We sent out this statement to members and news media on October 19; hope you saw it in your emails. If not, here is a link to the full text.

Voices from the Conference

On the agenda for lunch at VOTF’s 2018 Conference were mini-listening sessions, so attendees could express their reactions, feelings, and needs in light of revelations about former Cardinal McCarrick, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, and other news.

Facilitators at each table moderated the discussion, which focused on four questions. Here are a few of the remarks collected on October 6 in reference to Questions 1 and 2

Question 1: What is heaviest on your heart about the recent revelations?

I have been struck by the differences in the various listening sessions I have participated in over the past few months at St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s. A 3-hour session with plenty of time to talk with clergy in the front of the room, laity in attendance. Format showed that folks are still dealing with two-tiered level.

I am not hearing prayer for the victims like we should be.

We are the church – the laity. I am a little bit hopeful – I try to be a little bit hopeful.

It is not just a problem in the USA. We are painfully aware that the problem is global.

The powerlessness of the people of the church is painful to witness. As a lay minister in the church I am restrained.

[There was a] parish panel last Sunday night – no processes in place for accountability – but asking for reconciliation – asking for action. More hopeless than I ever dreamed. I am both an outsider and an insider as chair of committee.

The Church has a long history of covering up sex abuse; there is a shared collective guilt.

The Bishop must not be investigating; he is part of the systemic problem.

Heaviest in my heart is the numbers, the pain of these children & their parents, the impact on their relationships with God, “soul murdere.”

As a mother, I believe I have a right that must be exercised. How can I be part of the solution?

Question 2: What do you want each other/clergy/bishops to know from you​?

Expressing the deep flaws in the church but there are a lot of beautiful things in the church.

The bishops have lost their presumption of innocence.

Demanding [info from] bishops, i.e. finances. Diocese – have laity involved in selecting pastors, bishops. Term limits on bishops.

How can you call yourself Christians when you fail to feel and heal the pain of the victims and offer support and forgiveness of the abusers?

Bishops and priests need to confess and ask for forgiveness – do not expect us to trust you in the confessional until you do.

The “old boys club” has got to go. Change needs to happen in the clerical structure/culture.

Priests and bishops are misogynists. Seminaries need to teach respect for women and their worth in the church.

Get women involved – must listen to women.

Accountability/credibility is in question. We need transparency.

We are not going away; It’s not their church.

We will continue publishing excerpts in the next issues.

Pssst: If you are shopping online this week …

Through Nov 2, AmazonSmile is donating 5% (ten times the usual amount) to Voice of the Faithful Inc. when you shop at #AmazonSmile #StartWithaSmile

Sexual Scandal in the Church: Need for Broader Reform

By Josef Klee, Ph.D., Former Deputy Director, Office of Internal Oversight of the United Nations, New York City. Dr. Klee outlines some reforms based on his experience in the office of Internal Oversight Services.

The latest sex scandals involving bishops and cardinals in several countries and the horrific report of the Grand Jury in Pennsylvania alleging long-term Catholic clergy abuse and its cover-up are extremely painful and destructive for faithful Catholics. In 2002, the US bishops and also the Vatican implemented a zero-policy regarding sexual offenses as a justice system to deal swiftly with cases of sexual abuse. It is now clear, however, that the 2002 policies and reform programs failed or were not properly applied. Both the public and the Catholic community feel a sense of betrayal and have experienced a crisis of confidence. In the words of Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, the latest cases “have shaken our Church to its core.”

The purpose of this letter is not only to express profound disillusion but also to suggest steps as to how the Church should deal with this crisis. … But it is not enough to focus only on measures to investigate the sex abuse cases, punishment of perpetrators, and support and compensation for victims of sex abuse. Rather, the issue must be seen in a broader context. We now recognize that the Church is lacking an effective governance system and a leadership culture that promotes responsibility and accountability for good administrative practices. READ MORE …


Feds open clergy abuse probe in Pennsylvania
“The U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation of child sexual abuse inside the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, using subpoenas to demand confidential files and testimony from church leaders, according to two people familiar with the probe. The subpoenas, served last week, follow a scathing state grand jury report over the summer that found that 301 ‘predator priests’ in Pennsylvania had molested more than 1,000 children over seven decades and that church leaders had covered up for the offenders.” By Maryclaire Dale and Eric Tucker

Facing scandal and division, U.S. Catholic bishops to hold unprecedented retreat
“The Catholic bishops of the U.S. announced Oct. 23 that at the behest of Pope Francis they will meet for a weeklong retreat in Chicago in January. The unprecedented move reflects the depth of the crisis they are facing with the sexual abuse scandal and the long-standing divisions within their ranks over the broader direction of American Catholicism. The pope is even sending an elderly and revered Franciscan priest, the Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, who holds the title of Preacher of the Papal Household, to lead the retreat — just as he does each year at Lent for the pontiff and the Roman Curia.” By David Gibson, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Voice of the Faithful convenes to discuss church reform in abuse, finances
“While held amidst crisis, the date for the Voice of the Faithful conference here (Providence, R.I.) Oct. 6 couldn’t have been better. ‘Who knew how timely this would be?’ Mary Pat Fox, the group’s president, said in welcoming some 300 participants. Voice of the Faithful, founded in 2002 in the wake of the Boston Archdiocese sex abuse scandal disclosures, is dedicated to reforming the church’s response to that issue as well as to finances. ‘We have found ourselves in another Earth-shattering moment,’ said Fox, noting the onslaught of news about sex abuse and cover-ups revealed this year in Chile, via the Pennsylvania grand jury report, and accusations lodged against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. ‘Our trust is broken. We have been betrayed,’ she said.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

The Catholic Church’s biggest crisis since the reformation
“The Catholic Church is facing its most serious crisis in 500 years. In these last few months, a new wave of clerical sexual abuse revelations left the world in shock. From Australia to Chile to Germany to the United States, horrifying reports revealed thousands of cases of child molestation by members of the clergy. One U.S. grand jury report documented 1,000 children abused by 300 priests in the state of Pennsylvania alone over seven decades.” By Massimo Faggioli in Foreign Affairs

Cupich says bishops must cede authority, allow lay oversight of accusations
“Individual Catholic bishops across the United States must renounce some of the supreme authority they have over their dioceses to allow for the creation of a new national body to investigate misconduct allegations, Chicago Cardinal Cupich said. When the U.S. bishops meet in November to consider the continuing clergy sexual abuse crisis, Cupich said the prelates ‘have to be very clear about an accountability procedure for accusations about bishops.’” By Joshua J. McElwee and Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Pope accepts resignation of Cardinal Wuerl amid abuse cover-up scandal
“Pope Francis accepted the resignation Friday (Oct. 12) of Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl after he became entangled in two major sexual abuse and cover-up scandals and lost the support of many in his flock. But in a letter released by Wuerl’s office, Francis praised his longtime ally and suggested Wuerl had unfairly become a scapegoat, having made some ‘mistakes’ in handling sex abuse cases, but not having covered them up.” By David Crary and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in The Boston Globe

O’Malley broadens review of sexual misconduct allegations at seminaries; hires outside law firm
“Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley is expanding a review of sexual misconduct allegations at a Brighton seminary to include two other seminaries, and he’s bringing in a new team of investigators with no current ties to the Boston Archdiocese, he said Thursday (Oct. 11) … Former US Attorney Donald K. Stern will lead a group of investigators from the firm of Yurko, Salvesen & Remz in a review of the allegations that surfaced over the summer regarding St. John’s Seminary, as well as a probe of Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston and Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Chestnut Hill.” By Travis Anderson, The Boston Globe

Cardinal O’Malley asks Vatican to review reports on Buffalo sex abuse
“Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley wants Vatican officials to read a series of investigative reports chronicling alleged mismanagement in the Diocese of Buffalo, where Bishop Richard Malone, a former auxiliary bishop in Boston, is facing calls to step down over his handling cases of clergy sexual abuse. An investigative reporter for WKBW, Charlie Specht, sent his three-part series about Bishop Malone to Cardinal O’Malley, who heads the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

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

The Pope’s Prayer Intention for October

This month the Pope asks us to pray for the those who have chosen the religious life – may they continue to help the poor and marginalized.

Watch here.

The Struggle to Raise Children in the Catholic Church

Abuse survivors who remain Catholic face difficult decisions when they choose to raise their children in the Catholic Church. The Chicago Tribune profiled a man, abused as a child, who has chosen to stay in the Church and raise his children Catholic – read it here.

50 Faces of the Holy Land

The 50 Faces of the Holy Land project is a photographic and audio exhibition commissioned to highlight and promote the lives of the faithful in Israel, Gaza, and the Occupied Territories.

Stories were told by people of all ages. Through their experiences; we learn what it is to live in a land that is known by so many to be holy.

See the 50 faces here.

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.

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