In the Vineyard :: May 3, 2013 :: Volume 13, Issue 9

News from National

What Pope Francis has Accomplished So Far
 With much attention being paid to Pope Francis’ most recent tweet—“My thoughts turn to all who are unemployed, often as a result of a self-centered mindset bent on profit at any cost,” which seems aimed at corporate greed—we wondered what else the Pope has been doing. His symbolic gestures, such as washing the feet of women and establishing his residence outside the isolated papal apartments, are important for setting a tone, but have there been substantive structural steps taken as well?
Here is a short, and not definitive, list of such steps to date:

  • Pope Francis has set up a commission of eight cardinals from all around the world to advise him on how to reform the Roman Curia. The first meeting of the “Crown Council” is set for early October 2013. This initiative has been welcomed by Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

  • He has removed the 25 thousand euro annual “bonus” usually given to the cardinals in charge of overseeing the Vatican bank (IOR). So far, the Pope has not given any definitive answer about whether the bank will undergo reform, be shut down, or handed over to another bank or authority.

  • In addition, the bonus that Vatican employees usually get upon the election of a new Pope went to charity this time. This move also met with wide approved.

  • The Pope met the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Gerhard Müller, and decided on two things: firstly, that the fight against sex abuse in the Church will continue along the lines established earlier under the former pope; secondly, in response to claims of doctrinal deviation and the behavior of the Leadership Conference Women Religious (LCWR), he approved the “critical assessment” given after the apostolic visit as well as the placement of the LCWR under the administration of an external commissioner. “The current doctrinal and pastoral situation of the LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern,” the report read. This move was a significant disappointment to many who expected at least a review of the previous politicized assessment.

  • He accepted the premature resignation of a South African bishop—just as Benedict XVI did on more than 80 occasions—on the basis of Canon 401 paragraph 2 in the Code of Canon Law, which is often invoked when problems arise with a bishop’s tenure. Francis also has made two important Episcopal appointments, selecting two traditionalist U.S. figures as bishops: Michael Jackels from Wichita was appointed Bishop of Dubuque and Mgr. John Folda, Bishop of Fargo. The latter replaced Samuel Aquila who was in turn transferred to Denver.

Germany’s Top Bishop Asks for More Reflection on Women in the Catholic Church
Germany's top Roman Catholic has called for women to be allowed to become deacons, which would enable them to perform baptisms and marriages outside of mass. Following on the heels of the German Catholic Church rethinking its position on allowing rape victims to receive “the morning after pill,” the request has put Germany at the forefront in the discussion of women and the Catholic Church.

VOTF has done much work in the area of women Deacons. To read more:

Milwaukee Priest Wants Archbishop Myers Investigated
At Voice of the Faithful’s 10th Year Conference in Boston this past September, Fr. James Connell, a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and advocate for clergy sexual abuse victims/survivors, spoke about the need for truth before healing in the Catholic Church’s clergy sexual abuse scandal. As one aspect in the search for that truth, Fr. Connell sent a letter on Apr. 29 to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith requesting an investigation into Archbishop of Newark John Myers’ handling of the case of Rev. Michael Fugee, who pleaded guilty to groping a boy but was kept in ministry. You can read Fr. Connell’s letter on National Catholic Reporter’s website under the title Milwaukee Priest Wants Archbishop Myers Investigated.


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


Papal Embrace
Fr. James Martin’s friend, a priest, told him, “I make sure that I am never alone with my nephews and nieces,” while talking about the most sensitive topic imaginable: the fallout from the clerical sexual abuse scandals and the way that has affected their priesthood.

Former Reporter Claims Star Witness’ Story in Philadelphia Sex Abuse Trials Doesn’t Add Up
Former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Ralph Cipriano says that after sitting in on all 16 weeks of the two archdiocese trials in Philadelphia, he came away with a different take than the district attorney on his ‘historic’ prosecution of the church. He says what he witnessed was a couple of show trials shrouded in official secrecy and staged for political benefit.
-- Editorial: Philadelphia Was a Shallow Victory

Catholic Church ‘Facilitated’ Abuse
The Catholic Church in Ballarat “effectively facilitated” child sexual abuse by leaving known pedophiles in ministry and was “unChristlike,” former Ballarat Bishop Peter Connors told an Australian inquiry. He said his predecessor, Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, made ''terrible errors'' and showed ''great naivety'' in moving known child abusers from parish to parish.
-- Abuse Inquiry Slams Church Spokesman’s Comments
-- Church Elders Front Abuse Inquiry

Sex Abuse Accountability Should Be Universal Law
Maltese Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna told Italian journalists in February, "From now on, no one will be able to say they know nothing about what goes on regarding clerical sex abuse." … Zero tolerance for clergy child abusers is now the universal law of the church. Pope Francis' task is to lay down laws that will hold bishops liable for their actions and inactions, too. Bishops' accountability to the people they serve must also become the universal law of the church.

Pope Francis May Appoint More Women to Key Vatican Posts
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras said he was backing more posts for women after the Pope named him to lead a task force of eight cardinals from around the world to reform the Roman Curia, an alleged hotbed of intrigue, infighting and corruption.

Archives Reveal LA Cardinal’s Attempts to Head Off John Jay Investigation
In 2003, with the U.S. focused on the Church’s sex abuse scandal, a senior U.S. church leader attempted behind the scenes to head off the investigation of the crisis by researchers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, disparaging the institution and its researchers as inadequate.

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

Daughters of Mary of Magdala
FutureChurch invites you to celebrate the Women of Vatican II: Daughters of Mary of Magdala  on July 22, 2013. Following in the footsteps of Mary of Magdala, women present at the Second Vatican Council served the church as "experts in life" helping the bishops to better understand the reality of the church for laity and particularly for women. Their work is apparent in the words of Gaudiem et Spes declaring that: "Every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, color, social condition, language, or religion is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent" (GS 29).

THE COMPLETE MARY OF MAGDALA ORGANIZING KIT is now available for free on the FutureChurch website. You are invited to share your celebration plans AND download the 2013 kit or any of their  Mary Magdala and Women and the Word resources.

Affiliate News

Church vs. Conscience
A Note from Francis X. Piderit, New York VOTF
What person would give up a beautiful Saturday morning in the full bloom of springtime to sit in a church and listen to people talk about justice for women in the Catholic Church? As we approach the "Church vs. Conscience" event that will be held this coming Saturday at 9AM, we must ask and answer this question if we are honest with ourselves and with one another.

For women, one answer was penned recently by Joan Chittister, who wrote in her recent column in the National Catholic Reporter"... two-thirds of the hungry of the world are women who get only the leftovers after their husband and children have eaten; two-thirds of the illiterate of the world are women enslaved by their lack of education as the chattel of men; two-third of the poorest of the poor, according to UN statistics, are women. And all of them ignored, rejected and omitted even from the language and the official theological development of the church....It is simply impossible to be really committed to the poor and not devote yourself to doing something to change the role and status of women in the world."

For men, a different rationale is at hand. Writing as a man, I call on my fellow Catholic men to come to Judson Memorial Church Saturday morning so that we can finally stand and acknowledge that we have been active or passive beneficiaries of a culture and a religion that elevates us  and denigrates women for no reason beyond gender. It is time for us to acknowledge the injustice of this discriminatory treatment, and work to end it. Come on Saturday and to stand in Christian equality and solidarity with all women as we reject the sin of sexism. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013, Judson Memorial Church
55 Washington Square South, New York
Roy Bourgeois
Featured Speaker
9AM – 1PM
Suggested donation: $10.
For more information, contact

Southshore VOTF Meeting
Our meeting is on Tuesday, May 14 at 7 PM at St. Albert the Great Church, 1130 Washington Street  (Route 53)  Weymouth, MA
Steve Sheehan will be the guest speaker and talk about his experience at the SNAP Conference.  All are welcomed and refreshments will be served

Please Join NJ VOTF
At our next Eucharistic Liturgy
Sunday, May 5, 2013
St. Mark's Lutheran Church
100 Harter Rd.
Morristown, NJ
Presider: Rev. Tom Ivory

Book Review From the Underground: The Spiritual Journey of a Secular Priest
By Donald Cozzens

Fr. Donald Cozzens, winner of VOTF’s Priest of Integrity Award and a speaker at many VOTF functions, including the most recent 10th Year Conference, has published a new book. Read the review in this month’s National Catholic Reporter.
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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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