In this issue: Membership Drive, Road to Recovery, Origins of the Eucharist, Focus, Calendar, Book Review, Synod on the Family—2 new comments …
News From National
VOTF Membership Drive
You are our best ambassadors, so we think your invitation would be the best way to grow our membership. Imagine how much greater our impact might be if each of you, among the thousands who read this newsletter, would invite just one friend to join VOTF. We have a short paper that can help you get started. It’s called “Why VOTF?” and you can open it by clicking here.
Your friend—and you—will help make the difference between a Church that:
meets 21st century problems with timeless Gospel teachings instead of medieval rhetoric;
practices equality for and values ALL the faithful, not just clerics it promotes within the hierarchy.
A Church that also:
demands its leaders be accountable when they fail to guard children against sex abuse;
reports openly on where your dollars go;
seeks justice and healing for abuse survivors rather than hiding behind lawyers and endless court procedures.
Of course, as a VOTF member, your friend also will receive:
our twice-monthly In the Vineyard email newsletter;
our twice-yearly Voice Matters printed newsletter;
periodic email updates on relevant issues;
access to online resources for spiritual growth, child protection, structural change in the Church and more.
Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do right now. Contact a friend and welcome them into the family. You can use the “Forward email” link below to send your friend this email as an invitation, or send your own email invitation.
If you compose your own email invitation, send along a couple of important Internet links, as well. Copy and paste the Internet url (from the address bar of your Web browser) for the “Why VOTF?” link and the url for the VOTF member registration page.
Thank you and may the Holy Spirit guide your efforts.
Survivor Resource: Road to Recovery, Inc.
Several groups offer support for those who suffer from the results of clergy sex abuse. Bob Hoatson helped found one such group and writes about it here.
By Robert M. Hoatson
In 2002, two of my students from the 1980s at a boys’ Catholic high school in Boston went public with reports of their sexual abuse by the school’s former chaplain, a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston. It struck a chord with me. Twenty years prior, as a member of the Irish Christian Brothers, I had complained to the headmaster of the school about the inappropriate behavior of the former priest chaplain, especially around members of the football team, and asked the headmaster to do something about the priest. The headmaster did nothing.
After reading about my two former students from the high school in Boston, I became involved with their recoveries beginning in 2002. By that time, after 23 years as a Christian Brother, I was a priest myself, ordained for the Archdiocese of Newark NJ in 1997, and I became concerned that victim/survivors were not being given the services and assistance they needed, particularly from the Catholic Church. I developed the idea of creating a non-profit organization that would assist victim/survivors of sexual abuse, many by clergy and religious.
Please continue reading Dr. Hoatson’s story
Did You Know …
That our understanding of the Eucharist today emerges from the Shabbat meals shared by the disciples after the death of Jesus, and from the celebration of Passover? From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1363): “In the liturgical celebration of these events they become in a certain way present and real. This is how Israel understands its liberation from Egypt: every time Passover is celebrated, the Exodus events are made present to the memory of believers so that they may conform their lives to them.”
Want to know more about the Eucharist and the origins of the Eucharistic meal? Read Ron DuBois’s presentation on the Origins of the Eucharist. Ron is a long-time member of VOTF and has served on almost every working group we have ever had, from Lay Education to Priest Support to Prayerful Voice, to serving until recently on our Board of Trustees and as Vice President of VOTF.
Highlighting issues we face working together
to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Pope Francis names two Americans to key posts on sex abuse reform
“Two priests from the United States, one with ties to Chicago and the other a veteran of the Boston archdiocese, have beennamed to key Vatican roles by Pope Francis in his clean-up effort with regard to the Church’s child sexual abuse scandals. At the same time, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston has also been confirmed as president of a new anti-abuse commission created by the pontiff in December 2013.” By John L. Allen, Jr., The Boston Globe
Minneapolis priest says Archbishop Nienstedt must resign if church if to heal
“The Rev. Patrick Kennedy of St. Olaf Catholic Church has called for the resignation of Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt, saying it would create a ‘collective sigh of relief’ from Twin Cities Catholics.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune
— Nienstedt should disclose findings of abuse investigation, Editorial by National Catholic Reporter
Getting to the crux of why Catholicism matters
The Boston Globe’s John L. Allen, Jr., associate editor for Catholic news rounds up his interviews and stories over the past week, including commentary on what Pope Francis’ recent bishop appointments might mean and a preview of an interview with New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan on fighting sex abuse in the Catholic Church. Click here to read Part 1 of “NY Cardinal says Pope Francis has given church a ‘facelift.’”
The Vatican’s defrocked diplomat
“Roman Catholics and much of the world have been closely watching for evidence that Pope Francis has the wherewithal to buck the resistance to reform from the Vatican’s powerful bureaucracy. An encouraging sign emerged last week (week of Aug. 25) with the announcement that the Vatican’s former ambassador to the Dominican Republic had been stripped of diplomatic immunity and could be tried there for his alleged soliciting of underage boys for sexual acts.” Editorial in The New York Times
— Venue debated for trial of former nuncio accused of abusing minors, By Donald Snyder, National Catholic Reporter
Vatican accepts resignation of Cardinal Sean Brady, leader of Catholic Church in Ireland
2010 lawsuit implicated him in suppressing information on child rapes in the 1970s
“The Vatican has announced that it has accepted the resignationof the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Seán Brady … His tenure had been beset by clerical child sex abuse scandals and claims that he helped to cover up one case.” By BBC News Northern Ireland
— Leader of Irish Catholic church retires, By Henry McDonald,The Guardian
— New Catholic primate of Ireland: Abusers found a safe haven in the church, By NewsTalk.ie
Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus …
What’s New with the Synod for the Family
In preparation for October’s Synod for the Family, Cardinal Walter Kasper has submitted a “modest proposal” for the way that the church ministers to divorced and remarried Catholics. And Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp has delivered a long letter to his fellow bishops asking that the Church align its teachings better with the real lives of the laity. And Fr. Tom Reese says the invitations to the Synod are a big disappointment.
Says Cardinal Kasper, “So the question is: If a person enters into a civil second marriage and … carries out as well as possible his new duties and does what he can for the Christian education of his children and has a serious desire for the sacraments, which he needs for strength in his difficult situation, can we after a time of new orientation and stabilization deny absolution and forgiveness?”
Read the Cardinal’s proposal,https://americamagazine.org/issue/message-mercy
Bishop Bonny posted his 22-page letter, in five languages, on the diocesan web site. The gap between “the moral teachings of the Church and the moral insights of the faithful” must be addressed, he says. There must be room for full and frank discussions. Further, he say, the Synod needs to “restore conscience to its rightful place in the teaching of the Church in line with Gaudium et Spes.” We’ve placed the English translation of Bishop Bonny’s letter on our web site.
Father Thomas Reese expresses his dismay with the makeup of the Synod https://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/makeup-synod-bishops-family-disappointing
Connecting to Faith and Spirituality in the Digital Age: A Franciscan Perspective
The Paulist Center Adult Education Committee explores how we connect to our faith and spirituality in an age marked by new social media, rapid advancement in technology, global travel, and near-instant communication. In this presentation Fr. Daniel P. Horan, OFM, discusses the challenges and the at times surprising blessings of Christian living in the digital age from a uniquely Franciscan perspective. Despite having lived 800 ago, St. Francis of Assisi and the spiritual and theological tradition rooted in his life and example offer con-temporary women and men helpful insights into how to approach these issues.
Fr. Horan is a Franciscan friar of Holy Name Province (The New York province), a columnist for America magazine, and the author of several books. Fr. Dan is currently completing a PhD in Systematic Theology in the Theology Department at Boston College, is the Catholic Chaplain at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., and serves on the Board of Directors of the International Thomas Merton Society.
Monday, September 22nd, 7 PM in the Paulist Center Library,5 Park St., Boston MA. A free will offering of $10 is suggested.
Women Deacons: A Promise of Vatican II
Don’t miss a lecture by Phyllis Zagano, part of the 10th Anniversary of the Bishop Joseph L. Imesch Women in the Church Lecture Series!
Thursday, September 17, 7 p.m., Moser Performing Arts Center, Sexton Auditorium, University of St. Francis, 500 Wilcox Street, Joliet, Illinois
To RSVP, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 815-740-2272. Click here for more information.
The Adult Faith Formation Commission of Saint Susanna Parish in Needham, Massachusetts has posted its entire 2014-2015 schedule on the Parish Web Site, www.saintsusanna.org. Please sign up online. Following are October’s offerings:
October 6 – Suicide, Speakers: Jan Brogan and Anne DiNoto
Suicide has been a topic that few people talk about, yet it is occurring and the prevalence is high. However, more and more people are now talking about suicide than ever before: the fact of suicide, suicide linked to psychological disorders or conditions like depression, suicide linked to sociological factors which range from economic to socialization are all discussed. As the “noise” regarding suicide rises in popular culture and not just by means of academic arenas, we begin to see suicide hit the main stream venues: radio shows, television, books written for the populace, and newspaper articles from reputable papers like the New York Times and the Boston Globe. Recently the Boston Globe featured the article, “Teen’s brains make them more vulnerable to suicide,” by Jan Brogan. This article seeks to develop an understanding as to the unique vulnerability a teenager could be at for suicide just because of their brain development at that time of life. Jan Brogan has been doing extensive research and has been in a working relationship with many of the top doctors in our local hospitals and universities regarding suicide.
Boston University is among those at the forefront of colleges with not only providing an infrastructure for institutional psychological care and socialization assistance programs, but also developing and hosting events like “International Survivors of Suicide Day,” which are developed and produced by dedicated college staff like Anne DiNoto.
Anne works at Boston University and has been involved in suicide prevention for a very long time. In her own words:
I have been touched personally by suicide loss. I am working to advocate for improved mental health and suicide prevention because I have experienced the trauma of suicide loss two times. I lost my (maternal) uncles Tony in 1981 and Michael in 2006. They were only 33 and 48 years old and were a very important part of my childhood. I was only 14 years old when Tony died and saw history repeat itself when my cousin Anthony was the same age when his father killed himself 25 years later.
Both Jan and Anne know of each other and will present together. They have personal and professional angles on this topic that are similar and yet very different.
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.
October 20 – Becoming Disciples of Christ Jesus, Presenter: Rev. Darrell Minnich
Rev. Minnich’s presentation will focus on the primary characteristics necessary for being a successful disciple of Christ Jesus. That is, living in a manner that reflects Christ’s glory and nature. The study will also highlight some of the battles that hinder one’s intention to follow Christ in a discipled way. Due to the brevity of the evening, the presentation will only “touch the surface” of this marvelous topic! There will be time for Q & A.
Rev. Minnich has served as the senior minister of the Good Shepherd Christian Fellowship (in Needham) since the summer of 1994. Prior to this assignment he began and established a new Church in Hartford, CT (there for eight years) among Laotian refugees. Before that he served (for four years) as the associate minister with an evangelical Church in the Cleveland, OH area. Darrell and his wife recently celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary. They have two married sons and four grandchildren (with the fifth soon to be born)! Their older son lives in Newton with his family; their second son lives in southeast Asia with his family where they serve as “secret servants” (because the country is Communist and does not allow traditional church workers).
Primary text: The Holy Scriptures.
October 27 – Veterans for Peace – Pat Scanlon will make a presentation. Pat is a member of Veterans for Peace. He was an Intelligence officer in the Vietnam War and subsequently realized that war and killing people was wrong. He will speak to us about how his thinking transitioned from war to non-violence. Pat is also a musician and plays banjo. He likes the audience to become involved in his music. The music is anti war songs that he writes himself. We therefore may be treated to some folk singing. This is a co-presentation with Saint Susanna Peace and Justice Committee, Pat Ferrone.
The Silent Schism: Healing the Serious Split in the Catholic Church. Louis DeThomasis, FSC and Cynthia A. Nienhaus, CSA. 2014
By Patricia Gomez
Historically, schisms in the Catholic Church have been understood as destructive. Acknowledging the negative influence of schisms, the authors of The Silent Schism propose that the current gulf between the institutional church and the People of God is necessary for transformation of the Church. As a prelude to their thesis, DeThomasis and Nienhaus chart the current effect of this silent schism in the Church on every continent.
DeThomasis and Nienhaus use past schisms within the Church as well as The Message of Jesus to address the clashing and complex ideologies within the Roman Catholic Church today. From a spiritual perspective, the authors call attention to the disunity in a Body that aspires to be One. Considering this disunity through the lens of the new church of Vatican Council II, the authors propose that the current schism can be valuable if used as a vehicle to mute and subdue the imposed insistence and rigidness of ideological canons. How can we do that? The People of God are urged to be one, to put aside ideological differences, and to turn toward love. The schism, then, is “silent” because the People of God are voiceless. This same thesis is foundational to the mission of Voice of the Faithful: spurred by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to challenge unjust authority structures in the Church.
DeThomasis and Nienhaus acknowledge the unstoppable force of transformation. When ideas that spark the imagination of the People of God is silenced by the resistance of an entrenched hierarchy that claims to be beyond human accountability, a gap or “schism” is created. People must be permitted to think clearly and challenge all improper exercise of church authority.
The schism is silent because the hierarchy does not engage in dialogue with the People of God. Furthermore, The Silent Schism goes beyond acknowledging the destructive forces of schism and silence and proposes action.
Urging a halt to the repressive and damaging silences that pull the institutional church further from the People of God, the authors call us to listen and learn from the “distressful, cowardly, shameful, disgraceful and destructive silence” imposed upon us: they call this destructive silence of the hierarchy a void, an opening that can binds us together. The authors call us to “take the Catholic Church on its true mission” of Jesus.
DeThomasis and Nienhaus call for a halt to divisive thinking, indignation and judgment, and call all to embrace our baptismal Christianity and exercise mercy, compassion, and acceptance of those whose thinking differs from our own and to engage them in dialogue. We are reminded that “no human owns the truth: God’s love is too grand to be contained in the minds of a few.” Simply put, we are all equally loved by God our Creator.
Importantly, their thesis informs the Restorative Justice and Structural Change efforts of VOTF.
Each topic of this slim 120-page work begins with a quote from popes, saints, theologians, spiritual writers, or secular authors that succinctly captures the essence of the chapter. Each chapter could be used as a personal exercise of spiritual development. And these topics are worthy of further development within a larger faith community.
Each topic concludes with a brief take-away fit for reflection; every chapter-focus provides a starting platform for individual meditation as well as group discussion. The Silent Schism: Healing the Serious Split in the Catholic Church offers food for spiritual nourishment as well as an ideal vehicle to engage others in dialogue using the grammar of simplicity proposed by Pope Francis.
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.