In the Vineyard :: February 14, 2013 :: Volume 13, Issue 4

News from National

Lenten Reflections
As Lent begins, we offer the following Scripture reading and reflection from Gaile Pohlhaus, Ph.D., theologian, teacher, and former VOTF officer:

"Then one of the seraphim flew to me,
holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar.

He touched my mouth with it. 'See,' he said,
'now that this has touched your lips,
your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.'

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
'Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?'
'Here I am,' I said; 'send me!'" 
Isaiah 6:6-8

While I have never put myself in the category of Isaiah, occasionally I have dared to say, 'Send me!' Sometimes I get sent, sometimes I don’t, and sometimes I get rerouted. The important thing which I have learned is to be ready and be willing. This Lenten season, my physical condition may send me on a different path. Lord, help me to be ready and willing.

Resignation of a Pope
Voice of the Faithful® prays for Pope Benedict XVI’s spiritual and physical health as he announces his resignation today, a move the Catholic Church has not seen for 600 years. The worldwide Catholic Church reform movement also prays that the new pope will be willing to listen to and discern the collective wisdom of all the people of God.

VOTF also hopes that, following the transition to a new pope, the Church can move more quickly toward full disclosure in the worldwide clergy sexual abuse scandal, accountability for those who have abetted the scandal, less secrecy in Church operation and a greater voice for the laity in how the Church is run.

Once thought of as an American problem, the clergy sexual abuse scandal circled the world by 2010, and revelations since 2002 have clearly shown the Church hierarchy knew about clergy sexual abuse for decades and kept it secret by transferring pedophile priests and covering up their crimes.

Despite Pope Benedict’s efforts to make a greater commitment to cleaning up the abuse scandal and address financial improprieties, the Church still faces numerous problems, such as, loss of collegiality between Vatican curia and bishops, narrow doctrinal definitions that challenge valid theological inquiries, refusal to discuss the second-class status of women in the Church, demands that religious woman subordinate their social justice missions to Vatican control and, ultimately, a failure to hold accountable all bishops who were complicit in covering up clergy sexual abuse.

VOTF prays a new pope will emphasize transparency and accountability that can heal rifts in the Church and lead to fulfillment of Vatican II promises for a renewed Church, one open to ministering within today’s world rather than seeking a return to a world many centuries past.

Join Us in Remembering the Sisters
The NunJustice Coalition, to which VOTF belongs, has posted a prayer at to help us keep the sisters in mind during Lent.

We invite all concerned Catholics to join in prayer and fasting this Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent for the LCWR, which is currently suffering from an unjust Vatican mandate. The Vatican's misguided action threatens the sisters' works of justice and points to the sad reality that women have neither voice nor power in the Catholic Church. This lack of voice has led to strained relationships between the sisters, indeed all the laity, and the Church hierarchy.

On Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent, please pray for healing of these relationships and especially for the dialogue now being conducted between LCWR leaders and the three U.S. bishops the Vatican has delegated to implement the mandate.

Following is a letter from FutureChurch:
Dear Friend of Church reform,
VOTF is an organizational supporter of the Open Letter to US Bishops the priest shortage crisis.

Sr. Chris Schenk and other leaders from FutureChurch are travelling to Rome March 11-23 for a pilgrimage to archaeological sites of women leaders in the early Church. They hope to meet with Vatican officials and deliver the current list of all who have signed online or paper postcards for optional celibacy and women deacons. So far there are nearly 20,000 signers.

Will you help increase that number to 25,000 between now and March 15?
If you haven’t already, click Optional Celibacy E-postcard sign and circulate

And click Women Deacons E postcard help end the silencing of Catholic women by allowing women to preach at Mass.

If you HAVE already signed, would you forward this to a friend?
If your passion includes building the critical mass for women’s ordination to the priesthood, click on FutureChurch’s A Million Voices project for information about grassroots educational resources, suitable for parishes and small faith communities. See the free online essay Conscience, Dissent, and the Non Ordination of Women

and listen to the podcast “Can a Woman Receive the Sacrament of Orders,”

We are also happy to report that in 2012, as a direct result of the Open Letter, over 400 Catholics sought meetings with Bishops in 42 U.S. dioceses at the time of their ad limina visits to Rome. The purpose was to discuss optional celibacy and women deacons. Here are links to a comprehensive report of meeting outcomes and letter responses as well as a media release.


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

Pope Benedict XVI Says He Will Resign
Citing advanced years and infirmity, but showing characteristic tough-mindedness and unpredictability, Pope Benedict XVI shocked Roman Catholics on Monday, Feb. 11, by saying that he would resign on Feb. 28, becoming the first pope to do so in six centuries.
 -- Pope Benedict XVI’s Resignation Announcement
 -- Pope’s Resignation Was His Most Important Act
 -- Why Resignation May Mean a Conclave Open to Change
 -- New Pope? I’ve Given Up Hope
 -- ‘Constant Drumbeat’ Sped the Pope’s Exit
 -- Pope Benedict’s Legacy Is One of Paradox
 -- Pope Benedict XVI Relinquishes Leadership of Worlds 1.2 Billion Catholics
 -- Successor to Benedict Will Lead a Church at a Crossroads
 -- Tributes to ‘Courageous’ Pope
 -- Pope Plans to Retire to Monastery after Resignation
 -- Pope Benedict Announces Resignation
 -- Last Pope to Resign did so in Midst of Vatican Leadership Crisis
 -- Catholics React with Shock, Sympathy and Muted Criticism
 -- Frail Pope Breaks Tradition and Resigns
 -- Pope Benedict Leaves behind Legacy Full of Ups and Downs
 -- Pope’s Mission to Revive Faith Clouded by Scandal
 -- In Picking a Successor, the Vatican Must Decide What’s Needed in a 21st Century Pope
 -- The Pope Could Still Right the Wrongs
 -- Next Pope’s In-Tray: Five Key Issues for the Catholic Church

Gomez, Mahony and the ‘Sodano Rule’
From experienced Vatican watcher John L. Allen, “… most basically, the culture of the church is evolving in the direction of greater accountability. Yes, it's happening under external pressure, and yes, it's taking an awfully long time. Nonetheless, the wheels are slowly grinding in the direction of the idea that when someone drops the ball, there need to be consequences?”
 -- New Documents Show Catholic Leaders in Los Angeles Protected Abusive Priests
 -- Vatican Official Thanks Media for Uncovering Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church
 -- The Archbishop Rebukes the Cardinal
 -- Cardinal Mahony Used Cemetery Money to Pay Sex Abuse Settlement
 -- California: Archdiocese to Release More Documents
 -- Clergy Files Produced by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
 -- Will Cardinal Mahony Face Any Consequences
 -- California: Detectives Examining Church Documents
 -- LPD reviewing LA Catholic Church Sex Abuse Files for Evidence of Criminal Activity
 -- Did Anything Really Change for Cardinal Mahony?
 -- Sex Abuse Is a Blemish on the Powerful Catholic Clergy
 -- Los Angeles Archdiocese Is Accused of Failing to Release All Abuse Records
 -- Cardinal Sins
 -- Church Sex Abuse Scandal Brings Reflection at L.A. Congregations
 -- In Los Angeles, a Victory for Truth
 -- Mahony Defends Actions in Abuse Cases
 -- Diocese Papers in Los Angeles Detail Decades of Abuse
 -- No Comment from Vatican on Mahony
 -- Mahony Responds to Ban: ‘Not Once’ Did Successor Raise Questions
 -- Retired Los Angeles Cardinal Punished over Abuse Revelations
 -- Cardinal in Church Sex Scandal Stripped of Duties
 -- Cardinal in Los Angeles Is Removed from Duties

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

Affiliate News
Joseph F. O’Callaghan is a member of Voice of the Faithful in the Diocese of Bridgeport and its board. He wrote this essay about the qualifications he hopes to see in a new pope. The Bridgeport affiliate shares his hope and also wishes to share the essay with other VOTF members.

Joseph F. O’Callaghan

Pope Benedict XVI wisely decided to resign the papacy on February 28, as he recognized that given his advanced age and lessened physical capacity he could not meet the challenges of the office. Catholics can commend him for his many long years of service to the Church as a theologian, priest, bishop, and pope.

As the election of a new pope will likely take place in mid-March, Catholics ought to make known to the electing cardinals their wishes concerning the qualities desirable in a new pope. Whoever is elected as pope will face enormous challenges.

Today a terrible malaise hangs over the Church. More and more people, especially young people, abandon the Church which no longer inspires them. The credibility of the bishops and of the popes has been compromised by their cover up of clerical pedophilia. An aging priesthood and a declining number of priests results in the closing of parishes, over the protests of parishioners, and threatens the loss of the Eucharist, the most essential characteristic of Catholic worship. When the Catholic people are starving for spiritual and moral guidance and direction, the pope and the bishops offer only sterile, negative arguments that do not correspond to the sensus fidei, or sense of the faith shared, according to the Second Vatican Council, by all the faithful.

As the spiritual leader of Catholics throughout the world, a new pope, we hope, will fully implement the promise of Vatican II. In particular we hope that a new pope will give renewed attention to the Council’s emphasis on the People of God, the whole body of the faithful who constitute the Church. By virtue of their baptism all the faithful, men and women, are incorporated into the priesthood of all believers and all share responsibility for carrying out the Church’s mission. We hope that a new pope will acknowledge that all, as equal disciples of Jesus, have the right to take part in every aspect of the life of the Church, ministerial, liturgical, theological, pastoral, administrative, and economic.



Northshore VOTF Award Ceremony Tuesday, March 26, 7:30 p.m.
Peabody Essex Museum 
Meet the award winners at a buffet dinner preceding the ceremony
5:30 p.m., Hawthorne Hotel             
Reserve Now

On March 26, 2013, two men who have dedicated their lives to working on behalf of victims of human rights violations and social injustice will receive the 2013 Salem Award. Thomas Doyle, an ordained priest, was instrumental in exposing sex abuse within the Catholic Church. Horace Seldon, once a UCC minister, has spent 45 years teaching about racism and working to eliminate it. The presentation ceremony will take place in the Morse Auditorium of the Peabody Essex Museum on Tuesday, March 26 at 7:30 pm.

Thomas Doyle blew the whistle on the clergy sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church. In the 1980s, he was a fast-rising church insider at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C. when he discovered how church leadership covered up the sexual abuse of children by priests. He came forward with little regard for his own position as a priest but with great concern for the victims of this abuse. His efforts led many Catholics to demand an explanation from their leadership along with an insistence on greater transparency in dealing with the issue. Learn more about Thomas Doyle.

In 1968, Horace Seldon had an epiphany about racism following Dr. King's assassination. A white man and a United Church of Christ Minister, he experienced a clear calling that his life's work was to dismantle structural racism and address what the Kerner Commission called the "white problem." That year, he founded Community Change Inc. (CCI) of Boston, a non-profit group that addresses racial issues through a variety of community activities including support to multi-racial groups taking action, the establishment of a resource center and library on racism, civil rights internships for college students, and workshops on systemic racism for large and small non-profits, churches, and schools. Learn more about Horace Seldon.  

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor:
I just finished a thoughtful and well- articulated article in Commonweal, “Orthodoxy & Dissent; Truth & the Need for Humility,” by Jerry Ryan. The crux of which is represented by this quote:

“The church, individually and collectively, is forever docens et discens, teaching and learning. To deny the possibility of further elucidation of doctrine is blasphemous. It is tantamount to pronouncing the church dead, no longer vivified by the Holy Spirit nor tending toward an ultimate manifestation still to come, when all that has been hidden will be found. The reception and assimilation of God’s word by the pilgrim church will forever be partial and variable …  Every cultural cycle, every scientific advance, can serve to deepen our understanding of revelation, to illuminate one or another of its aspects."

The piece is worth a mention in In the Vineyard.
L. Norris
(A still hopeful Catholic refugee)

Dear Editor:
Since I read in our Cape Cod Times of Father McCormick’s arrest regarding charges of sexual abuse of several young boys, I have followed his case. All of a sudden there is nothing being reported. It is like it never happened. I was an active member of VOTF and remember well a guest speaker, now an adult, a former abused youngster telling us his lifelong struggle to lead a normal life.
Father McCormick was beloved by the parishioners of St. Joan of Arc. He would cover for our Pastor whenever needed. He was here often enough to endear himself to us with his Irish wit homilies. I for one felt utterly betrayed when I read the charges against him.
Our Pastor never, not ever, addressed the allegations of his indiscretions and that hurt me so much, for I saw firsthand how our church insults our intelligence.

Please let me know if there are any new reports about his case. Last I heard he was released and being supervised by member of his order, Don Bosco Salesians.

Dear Editor:
I write to commend Archbishop Gomez for his actions regarding Cardinal Mahony. 

While it took an excruciatingly long time for the secular legal process to run its course, that is necessary to prevent unsubstantiated allegations. The US Catholic Bishops have, in my opinion, at least on the sex scandal matter, a collective ‘job approval rating’ rivaling the US Congress.  Perhaps Archbishop Gomez has started to make it clear and certain that the institution will not tolerate malfeasance and cover-up by top-level leaders. Equally important is the resignation of Bishop Curry. According to the secular media, as a middle management monsignor, Curry abetted Mahony in the process of priest re-assignment. The Church needs to root out malfeasance at all levels, clerical or lay.

Now Pope Benedict needs to strip Mahony of all Vatican titles. Further, if the old allegations are equally true, the Pope needs to put Cardinal Law in a plain business suit, no collar, and drive him to the airport for the next flight to Boston. Then Mahony, Law, and Curry can go into exile somewhere. Apparently some need to join them. 

 Also I write to respond to EJS’s recent comment suggesting the Church ordain current Deacons specifically to celebrate Eucharist due to the priest shortage. This comment avoids the real issue: Why not qualified women? There must be hundreds, if not thousands of Catholic women with the requisite theological education, psychological make-up, and other qualifications. All they lack is a certain chromosome. Some of them would welcome official sanction and blessing of the institutional Church to be Priests. Some of them have already undertaken this vocation without institutional blessing. In my opinion, this is not a matter of Priest shortage. Even if there was a surplus of qualified male Priests, justice and equality demand women Priests.

M. Magee

From Teresa Padovano
Massimini Blog
Some of you may remember one of our first speakers, Dr. Anthony T. Massimini, who was present and active during Vatican II as a seminarian. On a recent visit with him, he tells me he has begun a blog entitled The 21st Century American Catholic. I invite you to access (click here ) his faith-filled look at the issues that disturb and challenge us all today. 

Dear Editor,
The encyclical letter Ut Unum Sint, was written by Pope John Paul II, not Paul VI.
It is a small but significant point since this letter was surprising, being out of sync with previous and subsequent efforts by JPII.
Thanks for an excellent e-publication.
B. Rowden

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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