In the Vineyard :: December 13, 2012 :: Volume 12, Issue 22

News from National

Our Prayers Are with Those Affected by the Tragedy in Connecticut

Although our faith may be tried by tragedy, like the school shooting in Connecticut, we know we may always pray to God for consolation and support. As our prayers go out to those affected, our hearts cry out with the psalmist:

"Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer! From the ends of the earth I call; my heart grows faint. Raise me up, set me on a rock, for you are my refuge, a tower of strength against the foe. Let me dwell in your tent forever, take refuge in the shelter of your wings." Psalm 61:1-5 

An Advent Prayer
God in heaven, our hearts desire the warmth of your love and our minds are searching for the light of your Word. Increase our longing for Christ our Savior and give us the strength to grow in love, that the dawn of his coming may find us rejoicing in his presence and welcoming the light of his truth. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.

Christmas Shop with VOTF and Help Us Continue Our Work
As you do your Christmas shopping, please start at VOTF’s website! Anything you purchase via by following a link to their site from VOTF’s link means a small donation to VOTF. We get that donation on books, DVDs, CDs, electronic equipment, apparel, toys and much more, even gift certificates.
There are at least two ways to get to the VOTF-Amazon link: Go to our “Books” page at and then (1) click one of the book icons to purchase it, or (2) click the link to in the second bullet.

Inspirational Members
Someone recently sent me a note about Cindy and Greg Platko, VOTF members who, in 2007 “felt a nudge to come down (to the Dominican Republic) for a year and try to do a blitz on latrine building. The nudge became a conversation with the Sisters working there, which turned into an application to spend a year as a volunteer, which became a commitment to a year in the Dominican Republic.”

Since that time Greg and Cindy have continued their inspirational work. According to Cindy, “It has been life changing and our world has been turned upside down since our year living there. I felt as if the Gospels were coming to life before my eyes there and I had a whole new understanding of Jesus' teachings. Well, let's say it raised more questions that don't seem to have any direct answers...

“I am a nurse.  I have sat with several people dying on mats on a dirt floor. All I could do was swat at the flies and cry and pray with them. And cry out to God for help. Here in the States I have all the medicines and medical tools available to ease the pain of death. There, I only had God and my love for the people. It makes one re-evaluate what is important. Every one of those moments had a miracle associated with it –whether it be my own transformation or an incredible sunset to welcome the new soul into heaven...

“I continue to try to make sense of my life here and translate my lessons there into my life here. It is a lifelong journey.”
To read about Greg and Cindy’s adventure, and possibly be inspired to start an adventure of your own, visit their blog at

Voice of the Faithful FOCUS,
December 13, 2012

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

Call for Debate to Re-energize Church
A senior and influential figure in the Swiss Church has issued a potentially incendiary appeal for church reform with a string of proposals to empower the laity. The ideas include appointing women and young people as cardinals and arranging regular meetings for them with the Pope, giving laypeople greater say in the choice of bishops and discussing priestly celibacy and Communion for remarried divorcees.

Attempt to Resurrect Pre-Vatican II Mass Leaves Church at Crossroads
The people attached to the extraordinary form, the Tridentine Mass, are seriously trying to enact a particular worldview and understanding of church that is incompatible with the Second Vatican Council. The extraordinary form is incapable of activating us as the priestly people of God – the vision of Vatican II.

Former Bishops’ Staffer Banned over Women Deacons
A former key U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference staffer has been told he is not allowed to speak publicly in the Philadelphia archdiocese because he co-authored a book investigating the possibility of ordaining women as deacons.

Editorial: Ordination of Women Would Correct an Injustice
Catholic women who have discerned a call to the priesthood and have had that call affirmed by the community should be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. Barring women from ordination to the priesthood is an injustice that cannot be allowed to stand.

Bar Is Set Low in Acceptance of Year-Old English Missal
The first Sunday of Advent, Dec. 2, marked one year since the new translation of the Roman Missal was implemented in parishes in the United States and much of the rest of the English-speaking church. Despite the misgivings about the missal many who worked on it had, some think it’s working.

D Is for Distortion
On a Nov. 30, dotCommonweal’s Mollie Wilson O’Reilly wrote a blog cataloging Bill Donohue’s shortcomings, both as a crusader against anti-Catholicism and as a surrogate for the conservative movement. Her conclusion was pointed: “Seriously, your excellencies and eminences: what will it take to make you rethink the wisdom of encouraging Bill Donohue to act as your public interpreter?”

Jesuit, 92, Penalized after Eucharistic Liturgy with Woman Priest
A Catholic priest who participated in a Eucharistic liturgy with a woman priest in November has been ordered to no longer celebrate the Mass or perform any other priestly duties.

This History of Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church
A video that puts it all in a nutshell.

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

Our Members Speak Out

Can we identify some traits of an "ideal Catholic"?
by Angus MacIntyre, a VOTF member in Canada

I recently came across a thought-provoking article that asked if there was such a thing as an “ideal Catholic.” I began wondering -  if such a person did exist, what would be her/his characteristic traits, or qualities? However, before looking at the question of their traits, I had to answer the question for myself as to whether or not I thought such people as ideal Catholics actually exist?

A rare breed indeed ...

I think ideal Catholics do exist, but they are a rare breed indeed. They are willing to go where others are not, leaving behind the stability of certainty in order to dream the impossible dream and pursue an unproven vision. Effective, successful ideal Catholics are even rarer still. The reason I know this to be true is because when I started thinking about this question I realized I have had the honor of meeting a few in my lifetime, and they all have some of the following qualities, but none of them have them all.

Ideal Catholics are "people sensitive" persons. They are critical-thinking people and as such face the age-old question of whether or not they are born with those qualities needed to be effective or can these qualities be developed? The one thing we can be sure of is they would never think of themselves as ideal Catholics and would not want others to do so either.

Each person reading this might be interested in exploring and evaluating her/his own abilities against the traits and attitudes that I most commonly observed in adult, critical-thinking Catholics that I have known and consider effective. The reason they are such critical thinkers is because they care so passionately not just about the Catholic Church but about all the people of God — which is every human being.

So match yourself against the following criteria I have experienced in people I respect and think match the traits of an ideal Catholic.

The list of traits...

They possess an unwavering belief in the innate capacity of all people to contribute meaningfully to their own learning and that of others.

They believe that being a Catholic should be fun. It is tough work, but they believe one can cultivate an environment where individuals can enjoy the natural highs that come from achieving milestones that seemed unreachable.

They have a passionate work ethic and believe helping others to achieve their full potential is more than a job, it is a vocation requiring sustained, superior effort.

To a person, they are dreamers.

They have fire in their bellies and are passionate about the importance of a different approach to learning, education and the work they do. They are innovators and like to think inside and outside the box.

They have an unending dissatisfaction with the status quo. They are not happy with things the way they are. They think dedicated committed people can do something better than it is now being done and that we can all help build a Catholic Church around that notion.

They have healthy self-confidence without being cocky. They are willing to be lonely, to make tough decisions and have the buck stop with them.

They have the discipline to plan and execute a plan even when ambiguity, reasonable risk and uncertainty are present.
While a generalist in some respects, in the areas that are critical to their faith, they are meticulous and concerned for detail.

They possess sound knowledge of the philosophy of how people change knowing full well that you can't really change another person. People have to choose to change themselves.
They know who else is working in this field, what they do, their strengths and areas they are exploring for new improvements.
They are not threatened by people who are better or smarter than they are. They know that talent runs deep in all organizations and churches and isn't concentrated at the top.

Angus MacIntyre, is a human relations trainer who has worked with organizations throughout Canada and the United States. He studied under Karl Rogers, the founder of non-directive counseling and person centered therapy. He received his BA from Notre Dame in Indiana, USA, is a graduate of the Coady International Institute and obtained his Masters in Adult Education from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S. He has his designation as a professional Economic Developer (Ec. D.) from the University of Waterloo and the Economic Development Association of Canada (EDAC). Angus was one of the first people in Nova Scotia to receive his designation as a Certified Human Resource Professional (CHRP).

Resources for Those Who Study Clergy Sex Abuse
A note from Bill Casey, VOTF member in Arlington VA
Telling the story of human experience is the professional challenge of historians and a habitual pattern of those who claim a stake in the story. The so-called “true story” is of course subject to any number of pre-disposed filters, belief systems and other factors that reside in each narrator.  As humans we tend to cling tenaciously to the “truth” we see, or want to see.
Catholics and others have struggled to make sense of the overwhelming evidence of clergy sexual abuses and institutional responses that have inundated our consciousness over the last ten years—evidence that would have been unthinkable a decade ago.  However, the very different “stories” that people tell to explain this evidence seem to rely far more on pre-conceived beliefs and dispositions than on actual documentation or dispassionate consideration of other story-versions.

In contrast, one of the invaluable resources available to those who seek to understand this phenomenon is a treasure trove of documentation and interpretations about it.  Tom Doyle recently updated his compendium of books, articles, documents, documentaries and movies relating to this topic.  It is called “Bibliography Of Selected Sources Related To Clergy Sexual Abuse, Ecclesiastical Politics, Theology and Church History”; it is dated November 20, 2012.  Click on the following link to access a nearly 80-page document that is staggering in the breadth and depth of coverage about this worldwide phenomenon.

Tom is known today (and history will later record) as a pre-eminent voice in the clergy abuse revelations of the last 10 years—as advocate for survivors, expert witness in civil and canonical proceedings, a prophet not recognized nor welcome in his own spiritual home, and as a priest of integrity.  Tom has added to his exceptional contributions with his compilation of an invaluable resource for all who want to tell their “stories” and listen to the stories of others.  It will undoubtedly serve the interests of professionals today and in the future who attempt to record and interpret the events in which we are active participants.  Even today, the Bibliography should stand as a bulwark against the subjective interpretations of events that are such a prevailing pattern in our discourse.

From VOTF’s Blog
A former key U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference staffer has been told he is not allowed to speak publicly in the Philadelphia archdiocese because he co-authored a book investigating the possibility of ordaining women as deacons. William Ditewig, a theologian and deacon who previously served as the head of the bishops’ secretariat for the diaconate, has been told his public presence in the archdiocese would cause ‘doctrinal confusion.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Franciscan Friars Celebrate Relic
The Franciscan Friars will be commemorating a special event in their devotional history February in the New York City area. In 1263, Saint Bonaventure presided at the first opening of Saint Anthony’s vault where, according to the Friars, Saint Anthony’s flesh was found reduced to dust, but his tongue was miraculously preserved. In 2013, the Franciscan Friars will celebrate the 750th anniversary of this discovery.

To mark the importance of the discovery to the Friars, from February 15th to February 23rd,  the Franciscan Friars from the Pontifical Basilica of Saint Anthony in Padua, Italy, will be in New York to meet with the devotees of Saint Anthony. They will bring an important relic of Saint Anthony that will remain exposed during the Eucharistic Celebrations during these dates, and the Friars will offer an “extraordinary blessing” to attendees at each Mass.

If you are interested in more information, contact The Franciscan Friars of the Anthonian Association & the Messenger of St Anthony, 52-29 83rd Street, Elmhurst, NY 11373. Phone number 347.738.4306 or

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor,

I had to write.  As I read the recent reporting of Father Roy Bourgeois in the Vineyard, and the extended story from the NCR link, I was sadly reminded once again of what I wrote to VOTF long ago, and had to dig it out.  That was on January 3, 2004, almost 9 years ago.  I wrote in response to the thoughts of Bill Breidenbach, and said in part:

"We can see parallels in the business world. Openness is fraught with enormous risk in the minds of those frozen within the autocratic model.

Scott Adams has enormous fun with this fear in ‘Dilbert.’ But beneath Adams’ humor rests such unsettling truth that we (worker and manager alike) truly shudder as we read. From our observations of business hierarchical foibles, however, I wonder if we can't draw some understanding and perhaps even Christian empathy for the Church hierarchy. The question becomes, how can men who just don't get it and are fearfully hanging on by their fingernails be moved?

I think the answer rests in lay persistence. Sending a clear message up the ‘ladder’ that we are here and are forever changed, having been awakened from child-like acceptance of all hierarchical pronouncements by the recent disclosures and the Church's shameful non-response until pressured by the laity, the media and the courts. As mature adults, we see a hierarchy that is, after all, just human, in spite of vestments and ceremony, just as it has been throughout Church history. The hierarchy contains elements of greatness and failure, of humility and hubris, of poverty and avarice.

‘Church’ is an inclusive, searching and learning community, not a totalitarian state of a subjugated citizenry under a ruling class. We seek learned wisdom and guidance in our difficult faith journey, and accountability, not angry pronouncements and admonitions that are self-serving.

There is not just one problem, and a pay-off won't make it all go away – things can not silently go back to ‘before.’ The monetary award is only a partial compensation to those unspeakably wronged.

We must support the brave priests, alone in their struggle to save the Church, Christ's way and the faith of their flock. Can we imagine how far out on a limb they must feel?

More than anything else, we must show our bishops loving persistence and steadfastness of purpose to lead them away from hubris and towards self-questioning and spiritual (rather than political) discernment. In the end, they must come to internalize the need for change, and truly believe in their hearts that either they, or their replacements, must learn that power
flows upwards from the community and not down from an alleged authority. At the same time we in VOTF must also listen and not be guilty of hubris ourselves.”

Almost 9 years!!  Much has changed, but much has not.  A priest is sanctioned, but not bishops and not even the cardinal most central to the Boston troubles, who was "extracted" and rewarded,

J. Cadigan

Women Deacons
I agree that ordaining women deacons would be a good thing for the Church. Let us not ignore the fact, however, that women have not been without blame in the terrible legacy of child abuse in the Church. Nuns at times (some would say often) turned a blind eye to Father's attentions to his "special young friends." There is little or no evidence to say that more women deacons would have stopped the rape and abuse. It's nice to think that might have been the case, but I never saw a nun who would do that. More than that nuns were often the ones who, in the name of the Lord, punished children for being children. It is no mystery why nuns have a place in popular culture as objects of scorn and ridicule. The metaphorical ruler may not always have been applied to knuckles in order to leave life-long scars on the psyche and soul. Yes, invite more women to participate in the hierarchy, but do not smooth over the fact that women, as well as men, can do evil within the structure of a loving religion.
T. McGuire

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.

Page One


Shop at Amazon, Support VOTF

VOTF relies solely on the contributions of people like you to support its work.





© Voice of the Faithful 2012. All Rights Reserved