In the Vineyard :: August 9, 2013 :: Volume 13, Issue 14

News from National

The Surprising Pope
Pope Francis caused quite a stir with an impromptu news conference aboard his plane back to Rome from Brazil. Here is the complete transcript of Pope Francis's in-flight news conference, courtesy of The Tablet. It makes for some fascinating reading, and there is a great deal that went unnoticed, especially his response about divorced and remarried Catholics, the role of women in the Church and homosexuality.

Also of interest were the Pope’s words on clericalism—a problem VOTF identified two years ago as a key structural defect common to many of the Church’s problems. Here is what Pope Francis said:

“This change of era, also so many problems of the Church – such as the witness that's not good of some priests, also problems of corruption in the Church, also the problem of clericalism, to give an example – have left so many wounds, so many wounds.”

Pope on Homosexuals: ‘Who Am I to Judge’

At the end of his seven-day tour de force in Brazil, the Pope took questions from reporters traveling aboard the papal plane for a full hour and 21 minutes with no filters or limits and nothing off the record. Francis stood for the entire time, answering without notes and never refusing to take a question. The final query was an especially delicate one about charges of homosexual conduct against his recently appointed delegate to reform the Vatican bank, and not only did Francis answer, but he actually thanked reporters for the question.
-- Video of Pope’s Press Conference on Plane Returning to Rome after WYD
-- On Gay Priests, Pope Francis Asks, ‘Who Am I to Judge?’
-- Pope: Door ‘Closed’ on Women Priests

Fr. Helmut Schuller gives U.S. Catholics much to consider
Fr. Helmut Schuller concluded his Catholic Tipping Point Tour Aug. 8 on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City where he delivered a strong call for Church reform and then delivered thousands of red ribbons and signatures collected from Catholic laity and clergy to the office of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic  Bishops.

Joining Fr. Helmut Schuller in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City Aug. 8 at the conclusion of his 15-city U.S. Catholic Tipping Point tour are, left to right: Joann Vanek, VOTFNYC; Nancy Lorence, CTA-NYC; Lewis Speaks-Tanner, DignityUSA; Fr. Schuller; and Francis Pideret, VOTFNYC.

Fr. Schuller, founder of the Austrian Priests' Initiative, visited 15 cities across the country over three weeks. He brought his messages of an expanded priesthood and greater lay leadership and transparency in Church governance to more than 5,000 people. Fr. Schuller also met with many priests while in the U.S. and garnered considerable media coverage here, as well as in Germany and Austria.

You can watch Fr. Schuller's address at the Cleveland City Club by clicking here, watch  the Q&A session from his Boston stop by clicking here, and read some of his considerable press coverage by clicking here. You also can read about Fr. Schuller’s activities on his blog.

Fr. Schuller's tour was sponsored by Voice of the Faithful® and nine other Church reform organizations.

A Discussion of Mandatory Celibacy
Mandatory celibacy, a key ingredient in the centuries-long development of clericalism in the Catholic Church, also weakens the Church when bishops prefer to close parish communities rather than open the priesthood.

Once upon a time, the Church had a better path. A Brief History of Celibacy provides a quick synopsis of the cultural forces that slowly moved the Church from married apostles to an exclusively celibate clergy.

VOTF’s Ed Greenan wrote an essay on why we must eliminate mandatory celibacy. In it he quotes the Benedictines:

“Clerical celibacy is called into question for various reasons: it is not intrinsic to priest-hood; it is not essentially more perfect than married love; its historical origins are suspect, coming from a neo-Platonic view of sexuality and Old Testament ideas of ritual purity; there is evidence that its observation has always been problematic, at least for a significant minority, leading to the adage si non caste, tamen caute (“if unchaste, be discreet”); celibacy, being a charism, cannot be imposed; it can, and again for a significant number does, lead to a stunted affective life and immaturity in relationships. The most significant argument against a law of celibacy, however, is the assertion that because of it the Christian people are in places being seriously deprived of the Eucharist. — from “Celibacy of the Clergy,” Ecclesia (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1996)

Greenan serves Voice of the Faithful as a trustee and as a member of several VOTF committees, including one examining optional celibacy and clericalism. Ed earned his B.A. from the Seminary of the Diocese of Providence RI; his S.T.B. from Gregorian University in Rome, Italy; an M.A. and Ph.D. in romance languages and literatures from Catholic University of America; a Graduate Certificate in Byzantine Studies at Catholic University of America; and a Certificate in Russian Language Studies from the Defense Language Institute. He is a retired U.S. Navy Captain.

To read Greenan’s paper

And, please participate in VOTF’s Action Plan for 2013 to engage bishops in the effort to choose Eucharist and community over mandated celibacy.

Affiliate News

NY VOTF’s Visit with Schuller
Ed and Anne Wilson hosted Fr. Schuller and a small group for lunch at their home during Schuller’s speaking tour. The guests were members of VOTF and of FutureChurch, a young campus minister from Fairfield U., CTA NY and Dignity, as well as one journalist, Paul Mosses, a professor of journalism who also writes for Commonweal.

It was a great setting for an in-depth, about three-hour, relaxed conversation and it went very well. The evening event at a Protestant Church in Manhattan was, we believe, a huge success. Helmut is warm, friendly, very knowledgeable and smart. His English, if not quite fluent, is serviceable.

There were about 230 attendees from the NY, NJ, CT area which, on a brutally hot midsummer evening, in competition with the All Star game, was remarkable.

It is interesting to note that, while Helmut (as he prefers to be addressed) has been “demonsignored” by (Benedict’s) Vatican, he continues to be a pastor of a Vienna parish under Cardinal Schonborn and writes regular commentary on the week’s Gospel for the archdiocesan paper.

Ed Wilson


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

Key U.S. Sister: Vatican’s LCWR Order ‘Unacceptable’
As LCWR’s 2013 general assembly approaches on Aug. 13-16, and a year and a half after the Vatican ordered the main representative group of U.S. Catholic sisters to place itself under the control of three U.S. bishops, many sister-leaders still consider complete compliance with the order “unacceptable.”
 -- Vatican-Appointed Overseer to Attend LCWR Gathering

Two Priests, Two Popes, Half a Century Apart
Austrian Fr. Helmut Schüller's current "Catholic Tipping Point" tour, on which he is calling Catholicism's leaders and people back to the documents and spirit of renewal of the Second Vatican Council, follows by half a century Swiss theologian Hans Küng's tour of America, speaking on what was then seemed a revolutionary idea: "The Church and Freedom.”

Religious Progressives Predicted to Outnumber Conservatives, Survey Finds
A new study has found that while the number of religious conservatives is still greater than that of progressives, the religious left may have a better chance of maintaining its foothold with Americans over time.

Vatican, Italy Near Deal on Bank Information Exchange
Italy and the Vatican are about to reach a deal allowing for the first time regular exchange of financial information between the two states to combat money laundering.

John Paul II Sainthood: Sexual Abuse Victims in Mexico Receive UN Support to Halt Pope’s Canonization
The UN Convention on the Rights Of The Child has backed a Mexican sexual abuse victims group that formed in response to the impending canonization of late Pope John Paul II. This is the first time a group has formed to challenge the Vatican when it comes to a person's sainthood. The current Pope Francis will now see a case that gives him a chance to reveal pressing questions about the Catholic Church's history with child sexual abuse.

Read the rest of this issue of Focus by clicking here ...

Support U.S. Catholic Nuns on St. Clare’s Feastday
Next week, hundreds of Catholic nuns are expected to gather in Orlando FL for the annual meeting of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

On August 11, 2013, in solidarity with U.S. women religious, thousands of Catholics will join in prayer on the Feast of St. Clare.

“The pope intentionally chose St. Francis as his namesake, and he has shown himself to be open to dialogue” stated Erin Saiz Hanna, spokesperson for the Nun Justice Project. “St. Francis of Assisi’s sacred friendship with St. Clare is well documented. St. Francis worked collaboratively alongside his sisters rather than against them. We pray Pope Francis, and Archbishop Sartain, will not only speak but listen and authentically dialogue with the sisters as St. Francis did with St. Clare.”

LCWR, an umbrella group representing 80% of the 57,000 nuns in the United States, remains under scrutiny from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). In the spring of 2012 the CDF issued a statement accusing LCWR of promoting “radical feminist themes" and “corporate dissent," causing outrage among Catholics around the globe.
LCWR responded that the CDF statement was based on “unsubstantiated accusations” and the result of a  “flawed process that lacked transparency.” Last August, the organization’s president, Sr. Pat Farrell, announced that  “open and honest dialogue" would be LCWR’s next step with Archbishop Sartain who had been appointed to oversee the mandate.

Last summer, nearly 70,000 Catholics signed a petition and hundreds organized vigils to rally around the sisters.

"Catholics around the country have been inspired by the faith and work of the sisters and will continue to support them; we urge Pope Francis to recognize their commitment and contributions and dismiss the mandate," said Jim FitzGerald, a spokesperson for the Nun Justice Project. 

The Nun Justice Project is a grassroots movement supported by the following organizations: American Catholic Council, Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church , Call To Action, Catholics for Choice, CORPUS, DignityUSA, Federation of Christian Ministries, FutureChurch, New Ways Ministry, Quixote Center, RAPPORT, Voice of the Faithful, WATER: Women’s Alliance for Theology Ethics and Ritual, and Women’s Ordination Conference.

For more information, visit

Letters to the Editor

Thank you for keeping us updated on Fr. Schuller's visit to the U.S.A. I attended his talk in Dedham on that HOT night. Will we be able to watch him @ his presence in Washington, D.C.?
I would love to see/hear his speech @ the Press Club.  Also, will be interested in any DVD production. Congratulations on your participation in this important activity.
Ruth A. Horgan, Norwell, MA

VOTF Response: Although we do not have a video from the Press Club appearance, there are links on our VOTF Home Page to Fr. Schuller’s presentation at the Cleveland City Club and to the Q&A session at his appearance in Dedham MA. We will soon have video from his last stop, on Long Island Aug. 7, and we hope from the various sources to produce a DVD that will then be available for purchase.

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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