In the Vineyard: October 9, 2015

In the Vineyard :: October 9, 2015 :: Volume 15, Issue 19

News from National

President Mark Mullaney in Rome as Synod Opens
President Mark Mullaney brought your voices to Rome, reporting on your responses to our two family-related survey questions and on our key projects. His first task, navigating Rome’s traffic to get to the Vatican. His second: delivering the letter to Pope Francis describing our work and inviting him to ask for details. That’s the Pope’s mailbox at his Vatican office:

Mark left the same letter and additional information in the offices he visited. And here’s a note Mark sent from his observations at the first day of the Synod:

“The Pope opened the Synod with a dual message that seemed to have something for everyone! But I believe the proceedings will be more controlled than last year’s synod. And there seems to be very little chatter about the synod, at least where I am. There is great hope that the comments from the Synod participants will leave the Pope room at the end to make his statements reflect how real people live. Time will tell!”

Prayer for the Synod from Mid-Michigan Affiliate
VOTF’s affiliate in Michigan prepared a Synod prayer and distributed it in their parishes. The prayer was printed in parish bulletins and Joe Schoren, affiliate president, included it in an editorial he wrote for the diocesan newspaper.

Here’s the message the affiliate included with the prayer: We encourage you to recite this prayer daily during October. Our bishops are meeting in Rome for the special Synod on the Family, to develop global guidelines for the pastoral care of individuals and the family. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will guide each Synod member as they develop these guidelines.

Click here for the prayer.

Synod Asked to Reflect on Allowing Female Deacons
“Canadian Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, said the synod should reflect on the possibility of allowing for female deacons as it seeks ways to open up more opportunities for women in church life … ‘I think we should really start looking seriously at the possibility of ordaining women deacons because the diaconate in the church’s tradition has been defined as not being ordered toward priesthood but toward ministry.”

Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., in an interview for the Pray Tell Worship Blog, said Durocher “made two very important and interrelated comments: 1) women should be included in Church governance; 2) women should be restored to the ordained diaconate. As a matter of fact, the only persons who can share governance or jurisdiction in the church are clerics, and the ordinary way of entering the clerical state is by ordination to the diaconate.” To read the full text of Zagano’s interview, click here.

FutureChurch launched a petition in support of Archbishop Durocher’s call that the Synod discuss options for greater roles for women in the Church, including ordaining women deacons.
For more on the topic visit VOTF’s blog:
Archbishop urges Pope Francis’s synod on the family: Consider allowing female deacons, By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post

We Want Your Crèche Photos!

We’re reprising our popular Advent reflections calendar again this year, and you’re invited to participate.
As in the past, each day’s reflection will feature crèche photos. Unlike our past Advent calendars, however, we want to use your crèche photos instead of ours.
Please go to your attic, cellar, garage, or other Christmas storage area and take out your crèche. Set it up and take a photo of the whole scene, or the Holy Family, or parts of the set, or individual pieces (like sheep, shepherds, angels, wise men, stars, and the like). You can send us as many photos as you want.

At our house, we have at least five Nativity sets, ranging from Fontanini®, to Playmobil® (the granddaughters are 9 and 14, but they still set it up), and including the crèche my wife and I bought at Sears 45 years ago on our first Christmas.

The point is, we don’t care how fancy, common, large, or small your Nativity set is, just so it’s yours, replete with memories of Christmases past.

You can take the photo with your camera, phone, tablet, or other device and then email it to me at Please include your first and last name, city or town, and state, so we can identify the photo online. If you have the ability, set the photo size to medium, but if not, don’t worry about it. We can handle any size or format (jpeg, gif, bmp) you send to us.
You may think we’re starting a bit early on this. After all, it’s not even Halloween yet. But the first Sunday of Advent is Nov. 29, and we have to set up everything in advance and make sure it works.

So, the deadline for sending us your crèche photos is Friday, Nov. 13. But the earlier you send them to us the better.
The incarnated Christ child lying in a manger attended by his mother and earthly father embodies our faith. And we aspire throughout our lives to possess the peace and promise represented by the Holy Family, set at the center of every crèche scene. 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.

VOTF Bishop Selection Chair Writes Cardinal O’Malley
Jack Doyle, co-chair of VOTF’s Bishop Selection Committee, was prompted by reports from the most recent meeting of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals to remind Cardinal O’Malley about VOTF’s proposed bishop selection test.

During the meeting, the group of nine cardinals discussed procedures for appointing new bishops. This gave Jack a good opportunity to again present VOTF’s proposal “Furthering the New Evangelization: Consulting the Laity on Candidates for the Episcopacy” and our Bishop Selection Portal, As mentioned in the letter, we plan to use language similar to Jack’s in a letter to each of the other members of the C9 in time for them to receive it before their next meeting in February 2016.

Letter to Cardinal O’Malley

SAVE THE DATE: Story Telling for Healing

What: “Story Telling for Healing,” a talk presented by Bill Casey

A time-honored practice of Restorative Justice relies on story telling and story listening to foster healing for those who suffer from serious harm. This talk will explore how a Restorative Justice model known as a Healing Circle can open a pathway toward healing for those harmed in any way by the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church.

Bill Casey, Voice of the Faithful member, former VOTF trustee, member/facilitator of the VOTF Restorative Justice Healing Circle Initiative, and coordinator of the Restorative Justice Program for the Northern Virginia Mediation Service

When: Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Boston College Church in the 21st Century, Gasson Hall, Room 100
Admission: FREE and open to all.

Click here (link is external) to register for this talk.


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


National Catholic Reporter Feature Series on Family Synod
Click here for National Catholic Reporter’s webpage with links to feature stories on Synod.
Pope Francis faces an uphill climb to get the synod he wants
“In the wake of bitter controversy surrounding a private meeting with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis during his trip to the United States last week, Pope Francis has a chance beginning Sunday to get back “on message” with the opening of a Synod of Bishops on the family in Rome. By John L. Allen, Jr.,
Circles make safe spaces for victims
“ … They’ve all been participants in a healing circle, a pilot program launched in Boston a year ago by the Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), an organization of progressive Catholics formed in 2002 in response to the priest sex abuse scandal. Based on a restorative justice model, the circles allow those who have suffered harm to meet in a small group and tell their stories.” By Bella English, The Boston Globe
Pope promises Church trial against alleged Spanish sex abuser
“In a handwritten letter by Pope Francis to a survivor of sexual abuse in a Catholic school in Spain that surfaced on Friday (Oct. 2), the pontiff said he requested a Church trial against the teacher who allegedly committed the abuse eight years ago.” By Ines San Martin,
Pope Francis condemns abuse
“At St. Charles Borromeo Seminary near Philadelphia on Sunday (Sept. 27), Pope Francis condemned child abuse and promised to take action against perpetrators in the Roman Catholic Church. By Associated Press in on
The strange disconnect between Pope Francis’ words and actions about sex abuse, By Kieran Tapsell, National Catholic Reporter
Marie Collins, member of pope’s abuse panel criticizes his response to Chile scandal
“Perhaps the best-known sexual abuse survivor on a panel created by Pope Francis to lead the Church on a path of reform has criticized the pontiff’s comments on an abuse case in Chile, saying she is ‘discouraged and saddened’ by his response.” By John L. Allen, Jr.,
Francis blasts critics of Chilean bishop tied to abuser priest, By Ines San Martin,

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

Letters to the Editor

Members of the Winchester Area VOTF are remembering their founder, Bob Morris, who died on October 4th after suffering from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Bob, with faith and fervor, led the affiliate from May of 2002 until November 2007, when he moved with his wife Eileen, a Congregational minister, to her new ministry in Rhode Island.

The month before he left, we asked him to give us a list of what he did to keep our affiliate active. The list was so long—everything from coordinating with the parish; setting up the church hall for meetings; sending publicity notices to members, church bulletins and newspapers; preparing flyers, agenda and event calendars; making copies of pertinent newspaper articles; overseeing the hunt for speakers; coordinating with VOTF National—it took at least six of us to take on these task sand to continue with our weekly meetings.

Bob was diagnosed seven years ago with ALS. He continued to live life as fully and faithfully as this severe illness allowed, being an inspiration to all who visited him.

A lover of animals, he died peacefully on St Francis’ Day. He was 55 years old.
Frances Shawcross

I just learned of Bob Morris’ passing. Bob was true VOTF hero for his magnificent work with Winchester Area VOTF. We have lost a wonderful friend, colleague and hero in the fight against clergy abuse.

Bob’s fight against ALS was heroic. He maintained a keen interest in events and developments. I will never hear the words “ALS” and not be reminded of Bob’s difficult, valiant journey.

Jim Post
Bob’s obituary can be read here.

A Note from the Editor

VOTF is a small organization with a big mission, helping to heal and transform our Church.

If you have already responded to our recent appeals to help us meet the demand for Healing Circles, we thank you — on behalf of those who have participated, those planning on attending the upcoming Circles, and all who wait for this opportunity.

If you have not yet stepped up to partner with us in offering this experience, please do so now! The only thing holding back the momentum of this work is funding. Even though many volunteer professional services, we have inevitable costs. But we are committed to providing Healing Circles free of charge for participants.

If you wish to learn more about the Healing Circles, contact Bill Casey at

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