In the Vineyard: September 2, 2019

In the Vineyard :: September 2, 2019 :: Volume 19, Issue 16

News from National

Join Us for VOTF’s 2109 Conference: Creating a Just Church

Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Boston Marriott Newton, Newton, Massachusetts

2-for-$200 Spring/Summer Registration (lunch included)
(Full price will be $125 / person (includes lunch))

Join us as we listen, discuss, learn, act!

  • Speaking on the effectiveness of the Church’s response to clergy abuse vs. alternative responses: Former National Review Board Chair / Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke and Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center Executive Director Char Rivette
  • Speaking on priestly formation and the seminary’s contribution to clericalism as reflected by a two-year-long seminar at Boston College: Fr. Richard Lennan, Boston College Professor of Systematic Theology and co-author of “To Serve the People of God: Renewing the Conversation on Priesthood & Ministry”
  • Speaking on how they are addressing transparency and accountability for a just Church: Parish Leaders representing faith communities in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and Midwest in a panel discussion that will expand to include all attendees at lunch
  • Speaking on Voice of the Faithful initiatives in Church financial transparency and child protection: Leaders of the VOTF Finance Working Group and the Protection of Children Working Group

All presentations will be followed by Q&As.

Click here to register …

Click here to see an agenda …

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Objects to Critiques

This past April, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI published an essay entitled “The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse” in a German theological magazine on the origins and scope of the Church’s ongoing sex abuse crisis. The essay reportedly was published with the permission of Pope Francis.

Benedict’s letter was met with widespread criticism, particularly for his claim that the sex abuse scandal was a product of the sexual revolution of the 1960s. We covered his letter, and the resulting outcry, in our April 15, 2019,edition of In the Vineyard, which you can read here ( You also can read the English translation of Benedict XVI’s essay, which was published by The National Catholic Reporter, which is available here

Last week, Benedict XVI addressed the criticisms of his essay–sort of. His short response, published in Herder Korrespondenz, criticizes the lack of focus on God: “As far as I can see, in most of the reactions God fails to appear at all and so the crux of what I wished to discuss is not discussed at all.”

First, Benedict seems to misunderstand the nature of his own critique. Benedict made several dubious claims about cultural shifts inside the Church and claimed that these shifts bore responsibility for the sexual abuse. Journalists, professors and theologians responded accordingly: by critiquing his account of those changes, and questioning his comprehension of the sexual abuse scandal altogether, and by pointing out that there was indeed sexual abuse in the Catholic Church prior to Vatican II.

Moreover, it seemed unthinkable to many commentators that the former leader of the Church could address the sex abuse scandal without speaking at length about his own role in perpetuating it.

Benedict cannot be expected to respond to every aspect of criticism that was leveled at his essay. But he seems unable or unwilling to address any of it. If anything, this latest episode is another reminder that there are many in the Catholic Church who find themselves incapable of turning the mirror upon themselves. This reality dooms dialogue, certainly, but it also perpetuates the culture which allowed abuse to flourish in the first place, to the detriment of all.

Help Us Spread the WordAbout Our Clericalism White Paper

Plese help us spread the word about “Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism,” a white paper of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and Voice of the Faithful. We hope to distribute it as widely as possible. So, we would appreciate it if you could ask your pastor to run a notice about the white paper in your parish bulletin. Below is a notice you could use:

Click here to download the notice …

Or, you could adapt the wording to your parish bulletin’s format. Whatever you can do to help promote our white paper, which addresses key components fueling clericalism and offers many real life examples, would be most appreciated. You can click here to read the AUSCP/VOTF statement summarzing the report–and if you have not yet read the full report, you can do so by clicking here.

Let’s hope this significant collaboration of clergy and laypeople produces much good for our Church.

Thank you in advance for helping us.


Australian court upholds Cardinal Pell’s conviction on abuse charges
“A panel of three Australian judges has upheld the conviction of Cardinal George Pell for sexually assaulting two choirboys in the 1990s in a 2-1 decision, ordering the Vatican’s former number-three official to continue serving a six-year prison term. The decision, announced by the Court of Appeal in the southeastern state of Victoria early Aug. 21 in Australia, marks another historic moment in an historic case. Pell, who was long the highest-ranking Catholic in Australia but was brought to Rome in 2014 by Pope Francis to restructure the Vatican’s finances, is the first Vatican official charged by authorities on abuse allegations, the first convicted, and the first sentenced to jail. He is now also the first to lose on appeal.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Rep

RICO suit against Buffalo diocese alleges conspiracy in sexual abuse cases
“Twenty-two plaintiffs filed a lawsuit Aug. 14 against the Diocese of Buffalo, a province of the Society of Jesus, multiple priests, eight parishes, three high schools, a seminary, among others, alleging ‘a pattern of racketeering activity’ that enabled and covered up clerical sexual abuse. The lawsuit was filed on the first day of a legal ‘window’ allowing for sexual abuse lawsuits to be filed in New York even after their civil statute of limitations had expired.” By Catholic News Agency

Wyoming bishop’s decades of abuse destroyed lives, traumatized families
“As parishioners attended the Feast of the Assumption Mass inside Guardian Angels Catholic Church on August 15, members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) gathered outside on the sidewalk for a press conference marking an occasion that many believed would never come. Less than 24 hours earlier, police in Cheyenne, Wyoming, recommended to prosecutors that a one-time Guardian Angels priest, who would go on to become a beloved Catholic bishop, face criminal charges for the sexual abuse of minors.” By Christopher White,

Hundreds of lawsuits filed on first day of New York litigation window
Over 400 lawsuits were filed in New York state on the first day of a one-year window in the statute of limitations, allowing abuse survivors to file suit against their abuser or the institution where the abuse occurred. The lawsuits include an allegation against a sitting bishop and a RICO suit against the Diocese of Buffalo and the Northeast Province of the Jesuits. Other suits were filed against laicized former archbishop Theodore McCarrick, and against retired Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany. Hubbard has denied the allegations.” By Catholic News Agency

Retired pope responds to criticism of his reflection on abuse crisis
“Responding to criticism of notes he published about the roots of the clerical sexual abuse crisis, retired Pope Benedict XVI said the fact that the critiques barely mentioned God proved his point. ‘As far as I can see, in most reactions to my contribution, God does not appear at all,’ which is ‘exactly what I wanted to emphasize’ as the central problem, he wrote in a brief note to Herder Korrespondenz, according to KNA, the German Catholic news agency.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

In Mississippi Delta, Catholic abuse cases settled on the cheap
“A famed Catholic religious order settled sex abuse cases in recent months by secretly paying two black Mississippi men $15,000 each and requiring them to keep silent about their claims, The Associated Press has found. The cash payments are far less than what other Catholic sex abuse survivors have typically received since the church’s abuse scandal erupted in the United States in 2002. An official with the Franciscan order denies the two men’s race or poverty had anything to do with the size of the settlements.” By Michael Rezendes, Associated Press

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

News from the Vatican

It sounds like the beginning of a joke: The Pope walks into an elevator … But for 25 minutes, that indeed is what happened during an eventful Sunday for Pope Francis. For 25 minutes His Holiness remained trapped in an elevator due to a power failure, eventually being rescued by firefighters from the Vatican Fire Brigade. “Thank God the Fire Brigade came” remarked Pope Francis upon arriving, unharmed, for his Sunday audience, and added “Let’s hear it for the Fire Brigade!”

During his Sunday remarks, which began later than usual, Pope Francis announced the appointment of 13 new Cardinals, including three Jesuits. No Americans were among the 13. The move gives Pope Francis new allies in the College of Cardinals, and several of the men are key Francis supporters in other areas of the Vatican. Crux described one, Father Michael Czerny, as “Francis’s right-hand man on matters regarding migrants and refugees,” and another, Archbishop Ayuso Guixot, is a key figure within the Vatican’s interreligious outreach.


A Message from VOTF members in Boston’s Seacoast Area

We are about to begin our 17th year of sponsoring adult faith formation lectures. As usual, our custom is to begin the year by going to Mass together and then out to brunch afterwards. So, mark your calendar for Sunday, September 29, 2019, for the opening Mass. We will attend the 11:30 am mass at Immaculate Conception, with Fr. Tim Harrison being the celebrant. Then it is off to brunch at the Pancake House in Rowley.

On Sunday, October 27, 2019, we host a presentation by Kristen Heyer from Boston College, who will speak at St. John’s church, 17 Chestnut Street, Peabody MA from 2 to 4 pm, on the topic “Immigration: What is the Christian Response?”

Next year, on Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020, Thomas Groome from Boston College will speak at Our Lady of Hope in Ipswich from 2 to 4 pm. His talk is “Reform of Ministry in Our Church.”

Aren’t we blessed to have met through VOTF! Thanks goes to Bobbi who has made the arrangements.

So we can get an approximate count, will you please notify Barbara & John Gould, 978-535-2321 or

We are looking forward to seeing everyone on Sunday, September 29, 2019.

St. Susanna’s in Dedham MA Also Announces Its Calendar

All events will be held on Monday evenings, from 7 to 9 pm, at Saint Susanna Parish Hall, 262 Needham Street, Dedham. There will be a refreshments break. There are no fees, there is no charge for refreshments, and there is no pre-registration requirement. Free Will offerings are gratefully accepted to cover our costs.

October 21, 2019 – Hope in a Time of Turmoil: Julian of Norwich’s Revelations

Today, we have life coaches. In the 14th century, there was Julian. For the people of Norwich, England, the anchoress and mystic was the person to turn to for answers and advice. In a period of social, economic, and political upheaval, Julian found hope and consolation. She shared that message with her visitors and through her seminal work, Revelations of Divine Love.

Presented by Julie Butters and Joanne Parnell Mongeon, OCDS, our program will present a brief history of Julian and the mystical visions that sparked the Revelations. After a dramatic reading adapted from Julian’s writings, we will discuss how this extraordinary woman can still help Christians find hope and healing today.

Dr. Joanne Parnell Mongeon is a Secular Carmelite, writer and English professor. She wrote Chatting with Mother Mary (Twenty-Third Publications), Teresa of Avila: A Journal and Nantucket Anchoress (, and Of Water and Spirit: An RCIA Confirmation Process (Benziger Pub. Co.). She has served as Director of Formation and of On-Going Formation for the Secular Carmelites of Barrington, RI, and teaches English at Roxbury Community College.

Julie Butters is a writer and performer based in Salem, MA. She authored Pocket Prayers for Young Professionals (Twenty-Third Publications) under the name Julie Rattey, and is the former managing editor of Catholic Digest magazine. Julie has performed with troupes including the Hyperion Shakespeare Company at Harvard University, Flock Theatre in Connecticut, and the Peterborough Players in New Hampshire.

For more information, and a preview of the entire 2019-2020 faith formation series at St. Susanna’s, check their web page:


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