In the Vineyard :: December 7, 2013 :: Volume 13, Issue 21

News from National

Major Document from Pope Francis

Reactions to the Apostolic Exhortation “Joy of the Gospel,” released last week, range from “promising” to “amazing” to “thrilling” and, to be polite, alarmist (Rush Limbaugh railed against its “pure Marxism” and claimed the Pope is ignorant in financial matters).

There is much within the Exhortation to challenge and inspire Catholics, even while noting that Pope Francis does not appear on one issue—equality for women—to fully appreciate the Church’s systemic injustices in that respect.

Overall, his aspirations for a reformed, and reforming, Church sound much like the blueprints proposed by many reform organizations, including Voice of the Faithful, in recent decades. His words calling for accountability and justice for survivors also echo those calls, although sadly we still await actions that will match those words—although the recent establishment of a new commission to handle sex abuse issues has potential.

If you have not read Evangelii Gaudium (“Joy of the Gospel”), you can find an English-language version on the Vatican web site.

Prof. Lakeland’s Talk Now Available Francis has ushered in a kinder, more pastoral papacy and speaks eloquently of the reforms needed. He encourages us, but his rhetoric has not yet fully matched his actions. Is this the mark of a collegial, pastoral approach or the sad reality of dealing with entrenched bishops and the Vatican Curia? Author and Catholic studies professor Paul Lakeland, Ph.D., has been observing Pope Francis and shared his views with VOTF in his presentation: The Enigma of Pope Francis
Click here to see the presentation.

Let Pope Francis Hear Your Voice 

Deadline Dec. 15 for answering Synod on the Family questionnaire 

VOTF has joined other reform organizations in sending Pope Francis input for the 2014 Synod on the Family. More than 12,000 Catholics from around the world already have responded to a questionnaire allowing them to provide input to help the Vatican prepare for the Synod. Bishops at the Synod will examine "pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization."

After the Vatican had released its preparatory document for the Synod, a coalition of 15 Catholic groups, including Voice of the Faithful®, developed and posted online a questionnaire, slightly edited from the one in the Vatican document, in order to make it more accessible and easier for Catholics to share their opinions with the Vatican.

Ensure your voice is heard at the Vatican by answering the questionnaire! (And to those who tried to answer once before, we think we have been able to fix any issues.)
Let the Vatican hear your voice. Click here to answer the questionnaire.

NOTE: Some dioceses have posted the Vatican questionnaire online and invited parishioners in those dioceses to complete it. Here's a list of those we know about; some have deadlines as soon as Dec. 1 so check your diocesan site if yours has requested responses:

Bridgeport CT
Cincinnati OH
Davenport (Iowa)
Des Moines IA
Dubuque IA
Harrisburg PA
Philadelphia PA
Pittsburgh PA

2014 Assembly: Turning Talk into Action
Register before Dec. 31, 2013, and
your name will be entered into a drawing for a $250 MasterCard 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 guest speaker. 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 Hartford 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.

Affiliate News

Twin Cities Voice of the Faithful Listening Session
Twin Cities VOTF held a Listening Session on Thursday, November 21. Over 300 people attended and according to Suzanne Severson, one of the organizers, “It was pastoral ministry at its very finest.” They are hoping to host another in January at a parish in St Paul if it can be arranged.  The meeting began and ended with prayers and several priests and former priests were in attendance. Anger and sorrow at the current state of affairs seemed to be a strong sentiment. To read the transcript of the evening go to

News from Chicagoland VOTF and Coalition of Concerned CatholicsSupported Priest in MN Archdiocese
The pastor of a large Twin Cities parish took the unusual step of publicly questioning whether Archbishop John Nienstedt should continue in his post amid the widening priest sex abuse scandal. Fr. Bill Deziel used his church’s Sunday bulletin to call for a “do-over” of diocesan leadership. He also called for the archdiocese to release the names of 33 priests accused of sexually abusing children, and for the so-called vault in the archdiocese’s chancery offices to be opened and its files on priests inspected by law enforcement.
Both arms of the combined Chicagoland VOTF and Coalition of Concerned Catholics have spoken out in support of Fr. Deziel and his efforts against the harboring of clerics accused of abuse and for the development of a transparent model of governance. In the C-VOTF remarks the Bishop Selection Process was mentioned.   To learn more about VOTF’s Bishop Selection Process, please go to


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

Pope Francis Establishes Commission on Protection of Minors
“At the briefing on Thursday (Dec. 5), alongside the Director of the Holy See Press Office, there participated Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, member of the Council of Cardinals, who gave the following Declaration: “Continuing decisively along the lines undertaken by Pope Benedict XVI, and accepting a proposal presented by the Council of Cardinals, the Holy Father has decided to establish a specific Commission for the protection of minors, with the aim of advising Pope Francis on the Holy See’s commitment to the protection of children and in pastoral care for victims of abuse.” By Vatican Radio
-- Vatican Announces New Papal Advisory Commission on Sex Abuse
Minnesota Archdiocese to Reveal Accused Priests’ Names
“The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said it planned Thursday to disclose the names of at least 29 priests who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors, following months of criticism that church leaders mishandled such allegations.” By Amy Forliti, Associated Press
Vatican Refuses to Share Sex Abuse Investigations with U.N. Panel
“The Vatican refused to provide a United Nations rights panel with information on the Church's internal investigations into the sexual abuse of children by clergy, saying on Tuesday (Dec. 3) that its policy was to keep such cases confidential.” By Naomi O’Leary, Reuters
-- Vatican Refuses to Give UN Panel Full Details of Clerical Sex Abuse Cases

New Catholic Bishop Leaders Says Clergy Abuse Scandal Not Going Away
“The new president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (Archbishop Joseph Kurtz) says church leaders are strongly committed to protecting young people and addressing the fallout in the wake of clergy sex abuse scandals.” By CBS News Philadelphia

Francis and a Church that Breathes with Both Lungs
“There's no mistaking the fact that Pope Francis' new apostolic exhortation, "Joy of the Gospel," released Tuesday (Nov. 26) by the Vatican, amounts to a call for fairly sweeping change on multiple fronts.” By John L. Allen, Jr., National Catholic Reporter

Vatican Abuse Prosecutor Says Rome ‘Well Aware’ of Accountability Problem
“The Vatican's top prosecutor for sex abuse cases says Rome is "well aware" of how frustrated many people are with perceived confusion about how to hold bishops accountable when they're accused of failing to make a "zero tolerance" policy stick and hopes a solution will emerge from debates over curial reform under Pope Francis.” By John L. Allen, Jr., National Catholic Reporter

Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse Prompts Push to Make Abuse Silence a Crime
Horrific sexual abuse cover-ups by the Catholic Church has led to a parliamentary committee recommending new offenses for grooming children and failing to report crimes. The nation's first inquiry into the handling of child abuse … found several thousand children were criminally abused …” By Matt Johnston, James Campbell and Annika Smethurst, Herald Sun
-- Report of the Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Non-Government organizations: Summary, Vol. 1, Vol. 2
Read the rest of this issue of Focus by clicking here...

2013 Holiday Gift Guide

VOTF has a closet chock full of VOTF-oriented items and merchandise carrying the VOTF logo. Why not pick up a stocking stuffer or two by using our online order form. Just download it, fill it out, and send it to us with your payment. We'll fill orders received at our office before Dec. 20, but we'll be shipping items via U.S. mail, so be sure to send us your order soon. The earlier you order, the better chance you'll have of receiving your merchandise before Christmas.
Just click here to go to our order form.

Support VOTF This Christmas When Making Amazon Gift Purchases

Christmas is a time of celebration commonly marked with gift-giving. You can give a gift to VOTF at the same time simply by clicking the Amazon button above (or to the right on our home page). When you land at, and make a purchase—any purchase, from gift certificates to books to jewelry to giant TVs—a portion will benefit VOTF. Every gift counts! Thank you for the boost.

Christmas blessings!

VOTF Advent Calendar
Every day during the Advent Season, VOTF will "open a window" on our virtual Advent calendar on the VOTF website. 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 7
Day 1 begins here.

Letter to the Editor
In New Orleans – the Archbishop published the Vatican version of the questionnaire in the diocesan newspaper -and invited all to fill out and email or mail to him.

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 2013. All Rights Reserved