In the Vineyard: September 28, 2018

In the Vineyard :: September 28, 2018 :: Volume 18, Issue 17

News from National

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Voice of the Faithful 2018 Conference: Progress & Promise

The grand jury report of clergy sexual abuse of children in six Pennsylvania dioceses and abuse by a cardinal of the Church, Theodore McCarrick, have stoked the flames of Catholic anger across the globe. Now is the time to gather with like-minded Catholics and raise you voice to “Keep the Faith, Change the Church.” Register now for Voice of the Faithful’s 2018 Conference: Progress & Promise. Time is running short. The conference is Oct. 6.

Register for the conference at this link. You must pre-register by 12 a.m., Oct. 3, 2018, in order to receive your box lunch at the conference. Anyone who wishes to mail their registration to VOTF may download this registration form and mail it to VOTF, ATTN: Conference, P.O. Box 423, Newton, MA 02464.

Join us to discuss how we will continue to raise Spirit-led voices for our Church.

Who Is Missing?

When Pope Francis met earlier this month with two U.S. cardinals, one archbishop and one monsignor, one obvious face was missing: a lay person. Once again, the 99.9 percent of the Catholic faithful worldwide are asked to wait while the .1 percent meets to decide what to do about clerical child abuse. That omission will be repeated in February when the presidents of all bishops’ conferences worldwide will meet at the Vatican with Pope Francis. The February meeting is said to be unprecedented.

At the meeting, prelates will discuss child abuse prevention, perhaps to attain consensus on child protection guidelines worldwide. Laudable and long overdue, that effort still does not address another significant omission in the hierarchy’s response to abuse crimes and their coverups—thus far, no church-wide meeting has been announced to discuss bishop accountability for the abuse made known by successive government and grand jury reports.

Child sex abuse by clergy affects children, families, faith communities: lay people. Should we not also be included in discussions about preventing such abuse? Should we not also discuss and hold accountable the bishops who enabled coverups and subsequent abuse?

Bishops and hierarchal officials alone cannot restore the trust that their actions have destroyed. Nor can they alone reform the structures that enabled the crimes and abuse.

Voice of the Faithful suggests setting a second precedent at the February meeting: have lay people, selected entirely by lay people, attend that same meeting. Recognize that we have a much higher stake in the outcome even than the clergy.

In God We Trust; Everyone Else Brings Data

By H. Brian Sequeira, Ph.D.

Revelations in the report by the Pennsylvania Grand Jury have commentators asserting some underlying causes for the failure by the Catholic Church’s hierarchy to appropriately deal with this tragedy. Conservative commentators such as Cardinal Viganò attribute the cause to a “homosexual current” running within the church. Progressive commentators advance the cause for married priests or optional celibacy, thereby implying that the underlying cause is celibacy required of all Catholic priests.

The cacophony of cyber opinions reminds me why we need sound data-driven studies to inform policy and action. There is no better purveyor of that practice than Eugene (Gene) Krantz who is best known for his famous utterance “Failure is not an option!” during the dramatic return of the Apollo 13 crew safely to Earth. Perhaps less well known is that above his desk was a banner that proclaimed: In God we trust – everyone else brings data.

In space exploration parlance, “data” means more than a list of numbers. Indeed, a mere table of numbers is worthless if not accompanied by a description of how it was acquired, what methods were used to eliminate bias, what tools were used for its analysis, and what relationship any conclusions derived from it bear to other investigations on the subject. This level of integrity ensures that investigators or commentators have not cherry-picked only those facets of the data that suit some pre-conceived notions. READ MORE …

Prayer for Survivors

St. John the Baptist Parish in Silver Spring Maryland offers the following prayer at every Mass.

Prayer for Healing

God of endless love,
Ever caring, ever strong,
Always present, always just:
You gave your only Son
To save us by the blood of his cross.

Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace,
Join to your own suffering
The pain of all who have been hurt
In body, mind and spirit
By those who betrayed the trust placed in them.

Hear our cries as we agonize
Over the harm done to our brothers and sisters.
Breathe wisdom into our prayers,
Soothe restless hearts with hope,
Steady shaken spirits with faith.
Show us the way to justice and wholeness,
Enlightened by truth and enfolded in your mercy.

Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts,
Heal your people’s wounds
And transform our brokenness.
Grant us courage and wisdom, humility and grace,
So that we may act with justice
And find peace in you.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord.


How Is Your Bishop Responding?

Throughout the United States, and indeed the world, the Catholic Church has once again been rocked by the crime of sexual abuse. Various archbishops have responded – some with heartfelt letters to their parishioners as well as a call for greater lay involvement, like the one from Baltimore’s Archbishop Lori, below. Bishop Lori also has several documents on the website about clergy sex abuse, with FAQs as well as places to go for help. Other Bishops have made do with small mentions on their diocesan website. Some sent letters to be read in all their diocese churches one Sunday. Many repeated the USCCB statements.

What is your local Bishop doing? Is it enough?

Here’s the letter from Archbishop Lori. Look for links to a few other dioceses below the letter.

Sept. 21, 2018

Dear Friend in Christ,

Over the last several weeks, I have been meeting with Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Baltimore to listen to their heart-felt concernsfollowing the Aug. 14 release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report outlining the tragic scope of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church in the last seven decades.

At every one of my more than 20 gatherings with parishioners, clergy, seminarians, Catholic Center employees, educators, parents, students and others, people have demanded transparency and accountability.

They want to play a more active role in the life of the Church, not only pastorally, but also administratively. Put simply, they don’t trust the bishops or Church leaders to address these issues on their own.

I agree.

Where we bishops and priests have broken trust, we have to admit we have broken trust. Where we have betrayed our calling, we have to admit we have betrayed our calling. If we want to restore trust, we have to work hard to earn trust. We bishops need to hold one another accountable, but we also need the laity to hold us accountable.

As we work to build on the more than 20 years of child-protection policies already in place in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, your counsel will be critical for strengthening those policies and improving accountability. The gifts of the laity, including the perspective and talents of women, will be invaluable in this process.

Work is underway to re-establish a lay Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, a collegial body which will function under the authority of the Archbishop on those matters concerning the pastoral work of the Archdiocese. It will give the laity a greater voice and thus, greater investment and confidence in the management of the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese Pastoral Council will receive input from the faithful throughout the Archdiocese.

The Archdiocese additionally pledges to cooperate with law enforcement, as has been our longstanding practice.

Discussions among the bishops themselves and the leadership of Pope Francis will also inform our actions moving forward. I was encouraged to see the Administrative Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, of which I am a member, recently announcethe following actions:

  • Approving the establishment of a third-party reporting system that will receive confidentially, by phone and online, complaints of sexual abuse of minors by a bishop and sexual harassment of or sexual misconduct with adults by a bishop, directing those complaints to the appropriate church authority and, as required by applicable law, to civil authorities.
  • Developing proposals for policies addressing restrictions on bishops who were removed or resigned because of allegations of sexual abuse of minors or sexual harassment of or misconduct with adults, including seminarians and priests.
  • Initiating the process of developing a Code of Conduct for bishops regarding the sexual abuse of a minor; sexual harassment of or sexual misconduct with an adult; or negligence in the exercise of his office related to such cases.
  • Supporting a full investigation, relying on lay experts, into the situation surrounding Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, including his alleged assaults on minors, priests, and seminarians, as well any responses made to those allegations.

As the committee stated in announcing those steps, this is only a beginning. Much more work remains.

In the coming weeks, the Archdiocese will be holding “virtual town halls” via two communications tools: FlockNote and the MyParish app (see sign-up and download information on the right). I encourage you to participate.

As always, we must also remain steadfast in prayer.

To each of you and to your families, I ask you to pray for victims of sexual abuse and their families. I surely do promise you are in my prayers. But more than prayers, I promise you that I will do everything I can to address the root cause of what has brought us so much sadness in these days.

Faithfully in Christ,

Most Reverend William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence RI called for a day of prayer and penance.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson in Mississippi defended himself for action he had taken while serving as a vicar for priests in Scranton PA and repeated the USCCB response to the grand jury.

Cardinal Blaise Cupich of Chicago called for lay involvement in reviewing bishops’ actions and detailed what Chicago has done so far.

Bishop Nelson Perez of Cleveland expressed his anger and sadness and deferred to the USCCB statement.


Over half of Dutch bishops shielded priest-abusers, according to report
“A sensational new report on sexual abuse in the Netherlands claims over half of the bishops in the country from 1945-2010 were involved in either covering up abuse or abusing childrenthemselves. The report appearing in NRC Handelsblad, the Netherlands’ most prestigious newspaper, charges the Dutch hierarchy had a ‘policy of transfers and turning a blind eye’ to abusive priests in the country.” By Charles Collins,

U.S. bishops voice support for ‘full investigation’ of McCarrick scandal
“After a meeting between Pope Francis and the leadership of the US bishops’ conference last Thursday (Sept. 13) following which no plans for a probe of the case of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick were announced, the bishops on Wednesday (Sept. 19) announced their support for a ‘full investigation.’ A statement from the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) also announced various plans for establishing reporting systems and codes of conduct with regard to bishops and the sexual abuse of minors.” By John L. Allen,

The Catholic Church’s unholy stain
“Pope Francis has summoned senior bishops from around the world for the first global gathering of Roman Catholic leaders to address the crisis of clerical pedophilia. The action is long overdue, and the outcome cannot be yet more apologies and pledges of better behavior. The unending revelations of clerical sexual abuse and cover-ups demand radical, public, convincing systemic change.” By The New York Times Editorial Board

‘Elitist, clericalist’ church allows abuse to thrive
“Sexual and physical abuse by priests and religious and the scandal of its cover-up by church authorities thrive in countries where the Catholic Church is ‘elitist and clericalist,’ Pope Francis told Jesuits in Ireland in August. ‘There is something I have understood with great clarity: this drama of abuse, especially when it is widespread and gives great scandal — think of Chile, here in Ireland or in the United States — has behind it a church that is elitist and clericalist, an inability to be near to the people of God,’ the pope told the Jesuits during a meeting Aug. 25 in Dublin.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, National Catholic Reporter

Resignations, Rome meetings and investigations: a week of major developments in the sexual abuse crisis
“‘It just doesn’t stop.’ That sentiment, shared on Twitter Thursday (Sept. 13) morning by Associated Press Vatican correspondent Nicole Winfield, captures the feelings of many Catholics trying to keep up with the seemingly endless cycle of new revelations about sexual abuse, harassment and misconduct in the U.S. church.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

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

Letter to the Editor

“The Buck Stops Here!”

On Sunday I placed in the Sunday collection basket my envelope at St. Joseph Church in Endicott, NY., this note: “The Buck Stops Here!”

This says I accept responsibility for payment by the Catholic Church leaders to cover-up sexual behavior of Priest and Bishops in many Dioceses on boys and girls who trusted them as they would trust Jesús.

Furthermore, I believe if many more parishioners wrote a similar note, put it in the collection basket this Sunday and every Sunday afterwards, a more positive action can be expected from leaders high in the Vatican.

It is very difficult to understand how The Catholic Church could have paid $4 Billion to keep victims quiet. The money hard working parishioners gave believing it would be used to help the needy. I can only imagine how much food $4 billion could have supplied to those in countries dying of famine. How much shelter $4 billion could have been used to build homes for the homeless and clothes keep warm on cold winter nights. Voice alone will not change the behavior of these evil people who prey on innocent children. Sex abuse against the innocent will happen again unless we do something besides talk, I read in a letter to the VOTF Editor. A 103-year-old woman said “nothing will change in my church until they feel it in their pocket book.”

We need to hit them in their pockets. Sex abuse happened in Boston in 2002. It happened again in Philadelphia in 2018; and it will happen again. There is an old saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” If we stopped donating money to the Church on Sunday, dioceses around the World will understand what parishioners will do to put a stop to these atrocities forever.

Every Day Is a Gift,
K. M.


Church needs to reconsider celibacy for priests

Recent news about long-standing and widespread sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Pennsylvania and Ireland appears to be just the tip of an iceberg for this issue. Public reaction has rightfully condemned the inaction and coverup by Catholic hierarchy that has allowed this to continue.

However, I believe there should also be a serious examination of the church’s celibacy requirement for its clergy and how this may have affected the recruitment of offending priests. Mandatory celibacy abnormally limits natural human interaction.

While celibacy may be intended to help focus a priest’s time and attention to his religious commitment, it may also deter some otherwise properly motivated candidates from the priesthood, while at the same time unintentionally attract others who may have abnormal sexual interests. At the very least, I believe this issue deserves in-depth review.

J. J.
White Lake


Thank you

Thank you for continuing to make “the Vineyard” timely, relevant, courageous and faithful to the gospel message. We look forward to reading it regularly.
The Stantons, Watertown, MA


Thankful for VOTF

It is at times like these that we need VOTF as an organization to speak to the press when a scandal breaks. VOTF knows the history and gives that depth to the press. VOTF provides the living history of this horror show in the Catholic Church.

If the Vatican had listened to VOTF when it was organized, the Pope would not currently have to handle this latest crisis. The time for apologies is gone. Now the Pope must act decisively to correct this systemic problem.

It is time for married clergy. That will not eliminate child abuse, but it will show the church is taking decisive, systemic action. It is time for women priests. That will not solve the problem, but it will help. It is time for bold action, not apologies.

Otherwise the Church will face total collapse and then these changes will come. One way or the other these changes will come.

T. L.
Massapequa, NY



Address difference between “shame” and guilt, apology and contrition

Address the clothes/clerical attire that separate clergy and laity… clothes, homes, cars are outward signs of wealth, power

(no more crowns, pointy hats … that look like royalty or klu klux klan … no more gold and jewels, etc.

Thanks for all your good work.


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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