In the Vineyard: September 25, 2015

In the Vineyard :: September 25, 2015 :: Volume 15, Issue 18

News from National

The Pope’s Visit
Pope Francis is the 4th pope to visit the United States, and he has quite a full schedule: an address to the bishops Sept. 23 and a Mass for the canonization of Junipero Serra, an address to Congress on September 24 followed by a visit to the homeless, all in Washington D.C.; Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and another in Madison Square Garden; then a visit to Philadelphia, where he will say Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, give a speech on immigration and religious freedom at Independence Hall, visit with 350 Bishops, visit a prison and end with a Mass to conclude the World Meeting of Families, which is expected to draw more than one million people.

VOTF members are there every step of the way, sending back pictures and their thoughts as they see and listen to the Pope. To see updated coverage of the Pope’s visit by VOTF members, transcripts of the Pope’s US speeches and press reports that include interviews with VOTF members – click here. Don’t forget to check back often because we will be updating the VOTF page as we get new reports in.

What Does a Lay-Led Church Look Like?
Of the 17,340 U.S. parishes, 3,500 lack a resident priest, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. So if there is no resident priest, what happens to the Church? Following are three different examples of how the Catholic Church is surviving with a shortage of priests. They are not the only models. Nor will one model be appropriate for all situations. But lay people should be involved in the discussions and assessments that lead to new formations.
In an Era of Fewer Priests, Some Parishes are Run by Women
Sisters Write the Book on Lay-Led Parishes
Sunday Lay-Led Liturgy
Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest


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


Sex abuse survivor revives one-man play for Pope’s visit
“Ten years ago, poet, playwright and performer Michael MackGoogled the name of the priest who had sexually abused him decades earlier when he was an 11-years-old boy living in North Carolina … What followed is the subject of “Conversations with My Molester: A Journey of Faith,” a play written and performed by Mack and directed by Daniel Gidron, which will open in New York City on Sept. 24, the day Pope Francis arrives there as part of his visit to the United States.” By Margot Patterson, Americamagazine

‘Spotlight’ film on pedophile priest investigation earns Oscar buzz at TIFF
“Journalists from The Boston Globe are being called ‘the true heroes’ of the Spotlight film, which tells the true story of how their team uncovered a massive child sex abuse scandal and subsequent cover-up within the Boston Catholic Archdiocese. The Toronto-made film made its North American debut at the Toronto International Film Festival Monday (Sept. 14) night to cheers and rave reviews.” By Patricia Koxicka,

Congregation for laity and family is on the way
“The C9 has finalized the proposal it will present to the Pope, who may decide to establish the congregation even before the whole reform plan is complete … After the establishment of the Secretariat for the Economy and the Secretariat for Communications, the next step will be the creation of a new congregation dedicated to the laity, the family and life issues.” By Andrea Tornielli, Vatican Insider, La Stampa

Advocates for victims seek Vatican inquiry of Rigali, Burke
“Priests, nuns and canon lawyers who advocate for clergy sex abuse victims urged Pope Francis, on the eve of his U.S. visit, to investigate the child protection records of Cardinal Justin Rigali, the former archbishop of Philadelphia, and Cardinal Raymond Burke, who led dioceses in Wisconsin and Missouri.” By Michael R. Sisak and Rachel Zoll, Associated Press, on
Catholic group calls for Vatican investigation of former archbishop Rigali, By Kevin McCorry, Newsworks

Chile Catholic Church rocked by email scandal
“The Catholic Church in Chile has been rocked by another scandal surrounding its most infamous pedophile. Leaked emails between the archbishop of Santiago and his predecessor show how they conspired to block a well-known abuse survivor from being named to Pope Francis’ sex abuse commission, fearing it would damage the church.” By Eva Vergara, Associated Press, in The Boston Globe

German priest wants more action, transparency from Vatican to clear sex abuse cases
“German Jesuit Fr. Klaus Mertes, who first broke the story of the long-standing, systematic priestly sex abuse scandal in Germanyin 2010, said in an interview with the German Internet portal, that the Vatican is not doing nearly enough to clear up sex abuse cases.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, National Catholic Reporter

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

Affiliate News

Members of Chicagoland VOTF worked with members of SNAP to hand out leaflets at two area churches in an effort to bring attention to a priest accused of sexual abuse. The leaflet informed area Catholics about John C. Holdren, who was sued for repeated sexual assaults against a boy when he was 7 to 9 years old. They encouraged any others who may have been victims to seek assistance and called on Biship Malloy of the Rockford diocese to take steps that would provide justice for survivors and protect children in the future.
The steps they seek from the diocese:

  • Create a safe and compassionate environment for victims and others to come forward and treat all accusers with kindness and compassion.

  • Aggressively search for wounded survivors, witnesses, and whistleblowers using parish bulletins, websites, and the pulpit.

  • Defrock and remove all known predators and enablers from the diocesan payroll.

  • Make public all files of all offending clerics to protect children from crimes.


VOTF NJ invites you to a Retreat with Barbara Fiand, SNDdeN
Saturday, October 3, 2015 9:30 am – 4 pm at
St. Mark’s Lutheran Church
100 Harter Rd., Morristown NJ

“Know thyself” is a plea that has stirred human questing ever since Socrates challenged his followers to do so thousands of years ago. But what is our true self, and how can we approach it and embrace it in our time with the insights that have been given to us in our age, especially in the area of holistic spirituality? During our time together we will reflect on this fascinating question especially in the light of what science tells us today about our fundamental interconnectedness, about the unfathomable Mystery to which even the most sophisticated scientific research must yield, about universal consciousness and the broadening of human awareness and the effects our intentionality has on the environment.

Complimentary lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Book Review

VOTF’s Sean O’Conaill Publishes Remarkable Book
The Chain That Binds the Earth, written by VOTF’s Sean O’Connaill of Ireland, was reviewed quite favorably last month in the Irish Catholic. You can read the review below.

Irish Catholic, 27th Aug. 2015
A remarkable book with a vision for the future
Aidan Donaldson

Front Final red.jpgWith the return to school of students, Sean O’Conaill’s novel about the experience of modern Catholic education in Ireland proves to be very topical.
This is a wonderful and quite remarkable work that will engage, provoke and inspire a wide audience from a variety of backgrounds, interests and ages.
If it was ‘merely’ a novel dealing with four young people starting a new school and the issues of transition, friendship, relationships and challenges then this work could be deemed an unqualified success. Yet it is so much more than that.

The author leads the reader into deeper reflection on fundamental issues that face society – and the Church – today; including the environment, fractured relationships, reconciliation, power, freedom of expression, justice and truth.

There are strong theological aspects to the work, and difficult and challenging questions about the nature of God and the person of Jesus and his mission, as well as the role of the Church in the world.

All of these are presented in a very clear and thought-provoking manner that will not leave the reader unmoved or unchallenged.

Read more

Letters to the Editor

Who Is Leading? Cross-Currents in the Church
At my parish a “retired” priest often says the Sunday Mass I usually go to. My family and I respect him and appreciate his homilies but it feels like a penance every time he begins the Profession of Faith. He recites the prayer at his own fast, conversational pace, with no modulation for a congregation trying to read along. The result is the funny but frustrating aural spectacle of the priest rushing ahead with some speeding up trying to follow him, others stubbornly reading at their own pace and then giving up and skipping ahead to join the rest.

While standing through this yet again, I started wondering what could be done. Could I suggest to the priest, or write in or something, that since he had trouble leading the reading of this prayer, he might try just saying the first line and then letting the congregation go with it while he spoke it softly to himself? (No, that would be impossible to say.) But this would result in the congregation leading, instead of following.

Who is leading today, anyway? Whose voices are being heard? Just as in my church, the Profession of Faith goes this way and that, pulled by the cross currents of priest and congregation not in sync, there are plenty of competing voices out there in the Church today. Pope Francis wants synodality; he wants discussion. So today we’re hearing from priests, bishops, and cardinals—more, it seems to me, than before, though maybe that’s because I’m paying more attention now since Pope Benedict stepped down.

We’re hearing more from the sisters, those in active orders and sometimes also those in contemplative orders; the Nuns on the Bus are riding by on annual awareness campaigns for social justice.

And the laypeople, like those in VOTF, are speaking up and demanding to be heard.

Will our voices continue to clash against each other, or will there be meaningful and fruitful discussion among us, who are said to be “one body, one spirit in Christ”?

M. Annette Joseph
August 2015

It was not until the thirteenth century that the church required ordination (priest) to preside at Eucharist. For the first milennia of church history, ordination meant that one was called forth from the community and for the community in a functional role.

It was not tied to priestly ministry as we know it today and was not required “to confect” the Eucharist. (See Gary Macy – The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination)
J. Churchman

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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