In the Vineyard :: November 8, 2013 :: Volume 13, Issue 20

News from National

Who Should Speak on Modern Families?
Late last month, in preparation for a Vatican synod on the family in October 2014, the Vatican sent a pre-synod questionnaire out to bishops’ conferences around the world. The 40 essay-response questions focused on how well Catholics understand Church teachings on such topics as contraception, same-sex marriage and divorce. Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops, also asked the conferences to distribute the poll “immediately as widely as possible to deaneries and parishes so that input from local sources can be received.”

Taking advantage of this request, VOTF is participating with other groups in Catholic Organizations for Renewal (COR) to provide a survey that will be more accessible than the Vatican document and will include mechanisms for capturing quantitative data in addition to the free-form essays that will emerge from the bishops’ presentations. We will provide a link to this survey as soon as it is available.

You may also be interested in seeing the survey prepared by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales who sent the bishops’ questionnaire out to their parishoners:

Paul Lakeland/VOTF Fundraiser
Seventy friends turned out to hear Paul Lakeland on October 25 at St. Eulalia parish in Winchester MA. They were not disappointed.

Paul delivered an engaging and informative look into the “Enigma of Pope Francis.” In his talk, Paul discussed “what we know about Francis” and considered what we might expect from our new Bishop of Rome. He began with “17 areas of connection and interest” with Pope Francis and then posed 5 questions to answer.

Attendees took advantage of the opportunity to ask questions following the presentation. Each answer further educated the group and rounded out the “enigma” that is Francis. Of particular interest to VOTF members is Francis’ apparent interest in furthering the spirit of Vatican II.

Prof. Lakeland also has a new book out on the topic: A Council That Will Never End; Lumen Gentium and the Church Today  VOTF is most appreciative to Paul for giving so freely of his time and wisdom.

The evening having been billed as a VOTF fundraiser, Mark Mullaney, VOTF president and Jayne O’Donnell, Development Coordinator, told the group that four donors had agreed to match gifts made that evening. The outpouring of support was amazing. Thanks to the generosity of those attending and our matching donors, VOTF tallied close to $18,000.

During their remarks, Mark and Jayne highlighted VOTF’s many fine initiatives and emphasized the hope Francis has given the organization based on his words and actions that reflect VOTF sentiments. But, we also realize that the Pope really has not made any actual changes. And VOTF’s work is not done.
We could not have asked for a more successful evening.


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

No Consensus on Meaning of Vatican Synod
Nearly a week after news that the Vatican has asked for the world's bishops to distribute among Catholics a questionnaire on issues like contraception, same-sex marriage and divorce "immediately" and "as widely as possible," there is no consensus on what that direction means. Moreover, comparing notes from recent Vatican statements, it is hard to decipher whether the call for consultation is unprecedented or something that's happened for decades. The Vatican's chief spokesman said in an interview over the weekend that the Vatican's request for the world's bishops to survey Catholics on how certain topics affect their lives was part of a habitual "praxis."

Women Resistant to Pope Francis’ Call for New Theology
Pope Francis is calling for a theology of women, but women in the church are resistant, calling instead for a theology of the laity. "I want to talk about a theology of men and women together," lawyer and theologian Helen Alvare said at a recent Vatican symposium marking the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's 1988 apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem ("On the Dignity and Vocation of Women").

Task Force Supervisor to Control Group’s Access to Clergy Abuse Information
A task force created to address the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis will only have access to information provided by a church official. The task force will not investigate allegations against specific priests, and priest files will not be made public.

Priest Abuse: The Difference Women Can Make
Some have suggested that, if women had held authoritative positions in dioceses allowing them to examine sex abuse charges and if more women were involved now in review boards and given access to evidence of clerical misconduct, the heinous crimes of many people could have been interrupted and many children spared the horror of abuse from a clericalism so deeply entrenched that many clergy refuse to see the evidence of crime when it is right in front of them.

Vatican Suspends German Bishop Accused of Lavish Spending
Pope Francis, who has made humility and modesty his hallmarks, sent a swift and clear message to Roman Catholics around the world by suspending a German bishop accused of spending millions on lavish renovations to his residence and forcing the chief administrator of the bishop’s diocese into early retirement.
-- The Bishops of Bling Will Fight for Their Things
-- Bishop’s Suspension a Symptom of German Catholic Church’s Wealth

Twin Cities Archdiocese Delays $160 Million Capital Campaign
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is suspending a final decision over a $160 million fundraising campaign that was slated to start next summer. The decision comes as the archdiocese faces increasing criticism over its handling of cases of clergy abuse, with church leaders disregarding warning signs over several priests.

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

Calendar of Events

Noted Author Catherine Keller Discusses "Mysticism and Modern Science"
November 12, 2013, 7 P.M.
St. Mark Lutheran Church
100 Harter Road
Morristown, NJ

Plan to join us for a thought-provoking discussion on Mysticism and Modern Science by Catherine Keller, Professor of Constructive Theology at the Theological School and Graduate School at Drew University, where she has taught for more than two decades.  After studies in Heidelberg and in Eden Theological Seminary, Dr. Keller did her doctoral work at Claremont Graduate University with John Cobb.

Currently Dr. Keller is writing The Cloud of the Impossible: Theological Entanglements, exploring issues enfolding at once a tradition of Christian mysticism and recent physical cosmology. 
“In all faces the face of faces is seen veiled and in enigma. It is not seen unveiled so long as one does not enter into a certain secret and hidden silence beyond all faces where there is no knowledge or concept of a face. This cloud, mist, darkness, or ignorance into which whoever seeks your face enters when one leaps beyond every knowledge and concept is such that below it your face cannot be found except veiled. But this very cloud reveals your face to be there beyond all veils...”
..."On the Vision of God": Nicholas of Cusa   CH 6 § 21
All are welcome. There is no admission charge.


 St. Susanna Church, Dedham Mass
November 18 – Faith and Finances. Does the use, misuse and abuse of money play a role in our faith experience? Should it? Do finances play too large a role in our lives as we seek to follow the teachings of Christ?

Speaker: John Bach. "I'm the ‘Friend in Residence’ here at Friends Meeting at Cambridge, and I'd be happy to attend your program and speak from a Quaker point of view concerning our Peace Testimony and our embrace of Simplicity. I have been a Friend for over 35 years and spent three years in prison during the war in Vietnam. I'm the Quaker chaplain at Harvard and am involved in many issues of social justice and peace." He will speak on how faithful people should think about earning and spending their money, and the role of money in a faith-filled family.

Monday evening from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, in the Parish Hall, 262 Needham Street, Dedham. 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.

Letter to the Editor

At a recent, well-attended lecture on Pope Francis by Thomas W. Worcester, S.J., a professor at the College of the Holy Cross and noted papal scholar, many of the laity present expressed their renewed sense of hope in their faith that this extraordinary man has inspired. But we shouldn’t forget that His Holiness is reaching out to the clergy as well. A diocesan Priest attending the lecture shared his view of the impact of Francis’ words directed at the clergy. On Holy Thursday Pope Francis said:

This I ask you: be shepherds, with the “odour of the sheep”, make it real, as shepherds among your flock, fishers of men.
Pope Francis’ words have so moved this Priest that he said “I have never felt so inspired in 38 years of pastoral ministry.”
C.M. Williams
Rhode Island

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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