In the Vineyard :: December 20, 2013 :: Volume 13, Issue 212

News from National

VOTF Advent Calendar
Every day during the Advent Season, VOTF "opens a window" on our virtual Advent calendar. Each window will show a meditation or prayer to help you focus on preparing for the birth of Jesus. Spend this time with us reflecting on the type of Church that Jesus would want to call His. Meditate and pray for the healing and renewal of the Church.
Day 19
Day 1 begins here.

Archbishop Nienstedt Steps Aside in Minnesota
VOTF agrees with the step Minneapolis and St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt is taking after allegations he touched a boy inappropriately. News reports say he is stepping aside while the allegation is investigated. In doing so, he is following the U.S. bishops’ guidelines for protecting children.

This action demonstrates that no one in the Church, whether bishop or employee, should be protected from the consequences of such allegations. Voice of the Faithful would prefer that other bishops had been so diligent during these past decades of scandal. However, VOTF also believes that Archbishop Nienstedt should have resigned previously, when it became clear that child protection guidelines had not been followed in the past under his tenure.

2014 Assembly: Turning Talk into Action –
Register by December 14 to be eligible for  $250 gift card!! a full day of presentations, workshops, prayer, and collegial collaboration at the VOTF 2014 Assembly: Turning Talk into Action. National Catholic Reporter Senior Correspondent John L. Allen, Jr., will be our morning guest speaker. Afternoon guests include Jesuit Fr. Tom Reese, former editor-in-chief at America magazine; Michael Ryan, a specialist on financial accountability; and Fr. James Connell, a canon lawyer and former chancellor who is noted for his support of survivors. Six afternoon workshops will help you turn talk into action.
Lunch is included in the $80 per person registration fee, and if you register before Dec. 31, you'll be entered in a drawing for a $250 Master Card gift card.
The VOTF 2014 Assembly will take place Saturday, April 5, 2014, 9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., at the Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford, Connecticut. If you stay overnight in Hartford, you may make reservations at the Marriott Harford Downtown, located right next to the convention center, for only $89 per night.
Register online today or download a printable registration form and return to VOTF by mail.
More to come.


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

VOTF National Statement
Sad Conjunction: Christmas & Child Abuse Reports
As Christians look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus, recent events underscore again the sad story of clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Nienstedt Accused of Inappropriately Touching Boy
Archbishop John Nienstedt has been accused of inappropriately touching a boy. Nienstedt will remove himself immediately from public ministry while the matter is investigated.” By Star Tribune
-- Archdiocese Statement Regarding Allegation Against Archbishop Nienstedt
-- Archbishop Accused of Abuse Takes Leave of Absence
-- St. Paul Police Chief Says Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Is Uncooperative
-- Archbishop Nienstedt Apologizes for Response to Clergy Abuses

Pope Setting Up Commission on Child Abuse
Pope Francis will set up a commission to advise him on protecting children from sexually abusive priests and on how the church should counsel victims, the Vatican said on Thursday (Dec. 5). The step was his first to address one of the most sensitive issues facing his papacy.” By Elisabetta Povoledo and Alan Cowell, The New York Times

Conservative Cardinal Burke Dropped from Key Vatican Post
“Today (Dec. 16) … U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke has been dropped from the Congregation for Bishops, an office that wields tremendous influence in shaping the world’s hierarchy.” By John Thavis from Vatican City on
-- Preparing a Generation of ‘Francis Bishops’
-- Wuerl Named to Bishops’ Panel; Burke Not Confirmed
-- Pope Replaces Conservative U.S. Cardinal on Influential Vatican Committee

Dutch Catholic Church Calls for End to Silence over Sexual Abuse
“Catholic church cardinal Wim Eijk has made a call in the Telegraaf for people to come clean about the sexual abuse of children by church officials. Eijk made the appeal two years after the publication of a major report into abuse in Catholic institutions.” By

Diocese of Winona releases Names of Priests Accused of Child Abuse
“The Diocese of Winona disclosed the names Monday of 14 priests who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct with children, a list that was compiled a decade ago but never before made public.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune
Five Priests Removed from Ministry; Two Restored to Duty
“Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has permanently removed five parish priests from ministry over allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct, including one priest who had previously been investigated and returned to duty last year.” By Jeremy Roebuck, Inquirer
-- Five Philadelphia Catholic Priests Suspended in Sex Scandal
-- Five Philadelphia Priests Suspended, One Accused of Sexual Abuse
-- Five Catholic Priests Permanently Banned from Ministry by Philly Archdiocese

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

Pope Francis and Mary
Pope Francis is clearly devoted to Mary and it is certainly a central Catholic devotion. John Allen explains some of the finer points of Francis’ devotion and discusses the impact that devotion might have on the current Catholic Church and may encourage members to double their prayers in support of Francis.

In Memoriam: Fr. Patrick J. Brennan
Bob Kopp, President of the Chicagoland VOTF affiliate, shares his thoughts on the death of Fr. Pat, who was recognized as a Priest of Integrity by Chicagoland in 2009.
We have lost a good … preacher … pastor … mentor … friend …

In his eulogy for Fr. Pat, Monsignor Ken Velo recalled Pat’s many wonderful qualities, but the one that really resonated with me, was “preacher man”. With three local bishops in attendance, he staked a claim that Pat was the best preacher in the diocese.

And Pat was a brilliant homilist. He had the unique ability to weave the gospel message into our everyday lives, so that each of us felt like he was speaking directly to us and touching our hearts.

He was an evangelist who focused on the reign of God. This message was repeated throughout his radio program of over 30 years, his founding of the Evangelization Office for the Archdiocese, and his weekly internet messages that reached people around the globe in some 20 countries.

Pat was a quiet leader. He was dedicated to the servant-leadership model which he used in building up the laity and organizing them into over 150 ministerial groups at Holy Family Parish. He made all of us better than we thought we could be.

Pat was a mentor to many of us. He never turned anyone away when they were burdened with some of life’s messy issues. He guided and prodded us to follow the path of Christ through these struggles.

When Fr. Pat was welcomed into the communion of saints last Saturday morning there must have been great rejoicing in heaven. One of their own had come home to be forever in the loving arms of God.

“Well done, my good and faithful servant …
Come, share your Master’s joy.” Matthew 25:23

Support VOTF This Christmas by Using VOTF Link to Make Amazon Gift Purchases

Christmas is a time of celebration, during which we give gifts to our family and friends. You can also give a gift to VOTF. Simply use our Amazon link and when you land at, and make a purchase, a portion will benefit VOTF. Every gift counts! Thank you for the boost.

Christmas blessings!

Books Books Books!

The Papal Enclave by James O’Brien was recently published by Sun Dragon Press. A multi-layered fictional thriller, it is a fact-based and critical assessment of the church’s handling of the pedophile scandal, especially the work done by Cardinal Law, the CDF, then Cardinal Ratzinger and finally Pope Benedict XVI.  It is a fast-paced thriller with numerous plot lines that weave through the book until the very last four chapters, when they all come together. The book is available through Amazon.


Saint Susanna Church
262 Needham Street 
Dedham, MA 02026 

January brings a Peace and Justice Presentation, just finalized, with a live speaker, on nonviolence, as well as a two week series on the past and possible future of the Papacy, a subject which is literally changing from day to day with the arrival of Pope Francis.
All sessions will be on a Monday evening from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, in the Parish Hall. There is no pre-registration requirement and there are no fees, although voluntary donations are gratefully accepted to cover our speakers' honoraria and our refreshments. For map and directions, go to the Directions Page on the parish web site,  In case of cancellation due to inclement weather, we will make every effort to post our web site, so check the site for a notice if the weather appears threatening. Come and See!
January 13 – Seizing the Nonviolent Moments: Reflections on the Spirituality of Nonviolence, A Live Presentation by Nancy Small.  Nancy will speak on the subject of her soon-to-be-published book of that name.  Nancy Small is a 2013 Recipient of the Pax Christi of Massachusetts Peacemaker Award.  She holds degrees from Boston College and Union Theological Seminary.  A member of the Pax Christi MA Board, she has been a hospice chaplain, spiritual director and retreat leader, and presents programs in Contemplative spirituality.   This is a co-presentation with the Saint Susanna Parish Peace and Justice Committee.
January 27 – A Time of Two Popes. (Week One of Two) For the first time in 800 years we have a pope resigning and a new pope elected, with both of them still alive and well, and resident within the Vatican complex
in Rome. What is it about the papacy? Has it always been the way we know it to be now? What will it look like in the near, and far, future?
In the first of two weeks, Peter Hartzel of the Adult Faith Formation Commission will introduce us to the pivotal points in the history of the papacy and the popes involved. For several years now, Peter has given a number of courses at Saint Susanna in Church History. A PowerPoint presentation will be utilized.
February 3 - A Time of Two Popes. (Week Two) Deacon Larry Bloom will continue the PowerPoint presentation and discuss current issues with the papacy, how they impact on us and the world, even though we may not realize it, and what may happen to address/change these issues. Deacon Larry has been an instructor in Adult Faith Formation for over thirty years, and has previously given many courses on the papacy and related issues.

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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