In the Vineyard :: October 24, 2013 :: Volume 13, Issue 19

News from National

Here’s the latest from VOTF’s Blog

Bishop’s Suspension a Symptom of German Catholic Church’s Wealth / Religion News Service
The news of the Vatican’s suspension yesterday of Limburg Germany’s Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst because of his lavish spending is rippling around the world. Many have pointed out how his lifestyle clashes with that of Pope Francis, who has urged his clergy to “smell like their sheep.” Bishop Franz-Peter’s actions are an egregious example of the clericalism infecting the Church, with the following story about the Church in Germany as a further example. We’re left to note, as well, that although Bishop Franz-Peter’s suspension was swift, the Vatican has yet to censure any bishop for credible allegations of involvement in covering up clergy sexual abuse.

“The $20,000 bathtub and $482,000 walk-in closets ordered by “Bishop Bling-Bling” — the moniker of Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the now-suspended bishop of Limburg — have scandalized the German public.

But Tebartz-van Elst, 52, is only the latest German clergyman to run into trouble since Pope Francis took the helm of the Roman Catholic Church. Francis temporarily suspended the bishop on Wednesday while a church commission investigates the expenditures on the $42 million residence complex.

As the new pontiff tries to reform the way the church does business, German dioceses, which reportedly include the world’s wealthiest in Cologne, are chafing under the new direction as membership numbers continue to dwindle.”

 By Nele Mailin Obermueller and Jabeen Bhatti, Religion News Service
Read the rest of this Religion News Service story by clicking here.

Read VOTF’s blog here

VOTF Members in the News

VOTF’s own Svea Fraser appeared last month in an interview on Greater Boston TV station, WGBH to discuss Pope Francis’ recent comments and on the changing tides of the Catholic church.

Affiliate News

In response to the conviction of a local priest on charges of sexual abuse of minors and possession of child pornagraphy, the Twin Cites VOTF issued the following statement:

Twin Cities Voice of the Faithful, a group of mainstream Catholics of this archdiocese, have focused our efforts for over ten years on healing for abuse survivors and support of priests of integrity. Concerning the matter of Fr. Curtis C. Wehmeyer, we call for an independent legal investigation and full report of the handling of the personnel file and assignments of Wehmeyer, formerly a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul /Minneapolis, now serving a five-year prison term for sexual abuse of minors and possession of child pornography.  From news reports of the last two days ("Report: Church knew of priest's past" Star Tribune, 9/24/13 and “Archdiocese knew of priest’s sexual misbehavior, yet kept him in ministry” MPRnews 9/23/13) it appears that over several years spanning the administrations of two local Archbishops and Vicar Generals, Wehmeyer's sexual compulsions and illegal activities were concealed and disregarded and he continued to be assigned to parishes in the archdiocese.  Twin Cities Voice of the Faithful applauds former chancellor, Jennifer Haselberger, for making public her knowledge of this coverup by Archdiocesan officials.  Voice of the Faithful also urges any other victims of Wehmeyer or any other priest or parish worker to come forward for their own healing and for the cleansing of the church's ranks of other abusers.  

News from Around the Web

The following is an excerpt from the NJ Star Sentinel.

Star Sentinel, 10/17
Excerpt from opinion piece, how Pope can save the Church, by NJ pastor:

By Alexander M. Santora
Entering the seminary a few weeks before John Paul II became pope in 1978, I felt as if someone pressed “pause” on the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Ordained by then-Archbishop Peter Leo Gerety, now 101 and the oldest-living U.S. archbishop, the Newark archdiocese was insulated for years before the Restoration trickled down. Pope Francis’ wide-ranging and well-received “America” interview has signaled that the pause button has been released and the reforms of the Second Vatican Council may soon be realized.
Earlier, Francis said we need “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.” The hierarchy seem to be resisting their sheep.

I wonder whether we will soon see the likes of some of the modern greats such as the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago, Bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester, Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany or Emeritus Archbishop John Quinn of San Francisco. The church’s current “culture warriors” have elevated the issues of contraception, abortion and same-sex marriage at the expense of the larger picture.

“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules,” Francis said. “The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all.”
People need more involvement in the selection of bishops, who should come from the local presbyterate as much as possible. Voice of the Faithful, a group formed after the Boston clerical abuse crisis, has crafted a proposal to achieve this goal and sent it to the pope. The current process is too secretive and snubs the felt needs of a local church. Francis should install new U.S. members on the Congregation of Bishops to find fresh leadership.

Looking for A Way to Help the Environment?

Take the St. Francis Pledge.The St. Francis Pledge is a promise and a commitment by Catholic individuals, families, parishes, organizations and institutions to live our faith by protecting God’s Creation and advocating on behalf of people in poverty who face the harshest impacts of global climate change. To join the Covenant, you commit to act on each of the five elements of the St. Francis Pledge.     

The St. Francis Pledge
I/We Pledge to:
PRAY and reflect on the duty to care for God’s Creation and protect the poor and vulnerable.
LEARN about and educate others on the causes and moral dimensions of climate change.
ASSESS how we-as individuals and in our families, parishes and other affiliations-contribute to climate change by our own energy use, consumption, waste, etc.
ACT to change our choices and behaviors to reduce the ways we contribute to climate change.
ADVOCATE for Catholic principles and priorities in climate change discussions and decisions, especially as they impact those who are poor and vulnerable.

In 2006, the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change was launched with the support of both the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. The Catholic Coalition on Climate Change supports and complements USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development (formerly, the Department of Social Development and World Peace) and the bishops’ Environmental Justice Program.  The Coalition is a membership organization consisting of twelve national Catholic organizations that offers advice and assistance in implementing its programs.

The Coalition has also focused its work on providing a forum to explore the issues and faith implications of climate change through hosted hearings around the country.  It also works to connect Catholics by staying in touch with state and diocesan leaders who are promoting climate change activities and partners with other national Catholic organizations to assist them in connecting the issue of climate change within their institutions.


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

Pope Expels ‘Luxury Bishop’ from Diocese
Pope Francis temporarily expelled a German bishop from his diocese on Wednesday (Oct. 23) because of a scandal over a 31-million-euro project to build a new residence complex, but refused calls to remove him permanently. The Vatican didn't say how long Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst would spend away from the diocese of Limburg and gave no information on where he would go or what he would do.
 -- Vatican Suspends German Bishop Known for Spending
 -- Thousands Quit Church over ‘Luxury Bishop’
 -- German Bishop Accused of Lying to Court

International Priest Organizations, Lay Leaders Meet to Discuss Church Reform
Sr. Chris Schenk, former FutureChurch executive director, says she spent Oct. 10-12 in Rome for the first international meeting of leaders of reformist priest organizations and reports the event provided rich opportunities for international networking, exploration of common problems and sharing of creative strategies for addressing critical renewal issues facing the church.
-- Dissident Catholic Priest Network Pushes for Grassroots Church Reforms
-- Reformist Catholic Priests Step Up Campaign

With Impunity for Bishops, the Coverups Continue
In June 2012, Fr. Curtis Wehmeyer was removed as a pastor, after the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese received a complaint of child sexual abuse against him. Ostensibly, the archdiocese had complied promptly and fully with the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. That may have been the final perception, if Minnesota Public Radio had not followed the story to its origins.
-- Archdiocese of Wobegon
(See CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE & MINNESOTA sections of Focus for more on this story)

German Bishops Table New Mass Translation
The German bishops have tabled a controversial new translation of the Mass that had been a bone of contention between them and the Vatican under the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The new German translation was done according to the same Vatican norms that guided the English translation currently used in the United States.

The Council of Cardinals: A New Constitution for the Curia
The reform of the Curia and the attribution of more incisive role to the laity were among the principal themes considered during the early October meeting of the Council of Cardinals instituted by the Pope to assist him in the governance of the Church.
-- Council of Cardinals; Pope Interviews; Assisi; Francis the Mystic; and War on Christians
-- Francis Orders Overhaul of Curia
-- Curia Reform, Role of the Laity Top Subjects in Council Meetings
-- Pope Francis Holds ‘Encouraging’ Reform Talks with Cardinals
-- Vatican ‘8’ to Upend Catholic Church Bureaucracy
-- Pope Assails Bureaucracy of Church as Insular

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

Calendar of Events

NJ VOTF Presents
November 3: Day of Reflection

We have been invited by the Sophia Inclusive Catholic Community to a day of prayerful reflection led by Edwina Gateley on November 3 at the Knoll Heights Walter Lynch Senior Center, 40 Trapasso Drive in Sparta.  The day's schedule is:

8:30 - 9:30 AM     Continental Breakfast
9:30 AM              Welcome and Morning Prayer
10:00 AM             Edwina Shares Her Journey of Faith
12 Noon              Lunch
1:00 PM              Discipleship - Birthing God in the Contemporary World
3:00 PM              Liturgy
4:00 PM              Afternoon Tea and Book-Signing
4:30 PM              Adjourn

Edwina Gateley is a poet, theologian, artist, writer, lay minister, modern-day mystic and prophet, and a single mom.  Her faith journey has led her to teaching in Africa, founding the Volunteer Missionary Movement, sojourning in the Sahara Desert, spending nine months of prayer in a trailer in the woods, befriending and ministering to street people and women in prostitution, and preaching the Good News: "God is with us."  For more information about Edwina, visit

The suggested offering for the day is $25-$50 with the check payable to Sophia Inclusive Catholic Community. 

For more information, contact Marie Hogarty at 973-285-0742 ( or Michael Corso at 973-534-3978 ( Click here for the Sophia Inclusive Community website. 

The registration deadline is Friday, October 25. 

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.  

November 12 at 7 pm

Boston College Church in the 21st Century presents:

The Francis Papacy: Reform, Renewal,and Resistance
October 30, 2013 | Lecture

Pope Francis has had an unanticipated impact on the life of the Church, leading, challenging, and inspiring Catholics (at all levels) to a deeper faith grounded in service. John Allen, Vatican analyst and senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, will present his observations and share insider stories of the emerging papacy of Francis and how this humble pastor is renewing the Catholic Church of the 21st century.
Location/Time: Robsham Theatre,
6:00 p.m.
Sponsors: C21 Center and STM
This event is first-come-first-serve

Collegiality in Church Leadership
November 7, 2013 | A Conversation
Presenters: Mary McAleese (former President of Ireland & Canon lawyer) interviewed by Richard R. Gaillardetz (professor, Theology Department)

Vatican II presented a clear vision of the Catholic Church as infused with broad ecclesial participation and co-responsibility. Mary McAleese and Richard Gaillardetz will discuss Vatican II's notion of collegiality in which power and responsibility are shared between the Pope and the college of bishops and how this vision has yet to be realized in the present day.
Location/Time: Brighton Campus,
Cadigan Alumni Center Atrium, 6:00 p.m.
Sponsors: C21 Center and Theology

To register for either of these events click

Letters to the Editor

On Catholic TV, we often hear defenders of the Catholic Institution lovingly referring to the Church as “Holy Mother Church.”  They call the Church “Mother,” because it “embodies the qualities traditionally associated with a mother, especially support, advice, and affection.” These awesome motherly qualities are essential to the offices of priest and the Holy Father. So why not have an ordained Holy Mother lead the Holy Mother Church?

Some apologists have made the point that Jesus and His apostles were male; therefore, the pope must be male. If that is so, then we must apply the same logic and declare that popes must all be Jewish males. Of course, that is not the case, so this logic does not satisfactorily answer my question.

R. Hughes
Kula, Hawaii

As a long-time member of VOTF, I must express why I do not support the process advocated by VOTF in the recent letter to the Pope.

It has been amply demonstrated that our children will not be protected from abuse by clergy until bishops become accountable to the people in the dioceses, rather than being accountable only to the Pope. This is the quintessential no-brainer. The recommended process obviously does
not overcome the defect in the present system.

The committee that formulated the recommended procedure apparently felt constrained by the code of canon law, which was last revised by functionaries in the Vatican 30 years ago. What they seemed to have overlooked is the fact that papal selection of bishops is a violation of ancient church teaching that dates back more than 15 centuries.

For example, Pope Celestine I (422-432) stated emphatically: “the one who is to be head over all should be elected by all.” Celestine added“no one who is unwanted should be made a bishop; the desire and consent of the clergy and the people is required.” Later, recognizing that a bishop imposed from without might incur the hatred of the people, Pope Leo I the Great (440-461), insisted that the bishop must be acceptable to the clergy and people: “It is essential to exclude all those unwanted and unasked for, if the people are not to be crossed and end by despising or hating their bishop. If they cannot have the candidate they desire, the people may all turn away from religion unduly.” If all church teachings are to be obeyed, why then is this one being violated?

C. McMahon

On your 'Six Most Important Reforms', I am of the opinion that they represent wrong priorities!

It's like you have some foul-smell in your room and you look for air-fresheners to overcome the smell! You could have looked for the source of the smell, remove it, then freshen the air!

Likewise, our Catholic Church is like a bad sore, rotting flesh, on your foot, emitting a foul smell. You need to treat the sore-wound on your foot, not just keep trying to freshen the air to cover-up the smell!

One of the problems could well be caused by the reason why Apostle's Creed was changed to The Nicene-creed!
Too much Human-agendas infused into Godly Qualities
Inability to differentiate between TRUTH & FAITH
Suppression of possible ALTERNATIVE-truth - like we used to believe the Sun revolved around the Earth and the Earth was flat! People were burnt as if they were witches for offering different views from the Church's.

I believe Pope Francis is on the way to setting right priorities - treating the wound on your foot to remove the foul-smell, then freshen up the air!

It is going to hurt while attempting to remove the rotting flesh on your foot!

Let's pray he gets to live long enough to heal our church of rotten-flesh in our body of Christ, the Church!
Peace & joy of Christ be with ALL!

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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