In the Vineyard :: October 4, 2013 :: Volume 13, Issue 18

News from National

The Six Most Important Reforms
Pope Francis held a meeting in Rome this week with his eight cardinal advisors on Church governance. VOTF hopes that at least the following six reforms were discussed:

  1. Disciplinary action for any bishop who has covered up clergy sexual abuse
    Clerical Culture: Reality & Concerns
    Voice of the Faithful’s Conclusions about the John Jay College Report: The Causes & Contexts of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010
    The Pope’s Real Target: Clericalism
    Clerical Culture Among Roman Catholic Diocesan Clergy
    Voice of the Faithful Urges Pope Francis to “Act Decisively” Regarding Bishops, Clergy Sexual Abuse & His Message to Vatican Congregation

  2. The ordination to the priesthood of married Catholic men
    A Petition to the American Bishops for the Ordination to the Priesthood of Married Catholic Men in the United States
    Crisis in the Priesthood: Conversations about Celibacy
    A Brief History of Celibacy
    Mandatory Celibacy: Time to Discuss Its Flaws

  3. An expanded role for clergy and laity in selecting local bishops
    VOTF Letter to Pope Francis
    Furthering the New Evangelization: Consulting the Laity on Candidates for the Episcopacy
    Lay Input into Bishop Selection Process

  4. The ordination of women to the diaconate
    Women Deacons: How Long Will It Take the Church to Open This Door
    Women in the Church: Suggested Readings

  5. Removal of the mandate against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious
    Nun Justice Project: Support the Sisters
    Leadership Conference of Women Religious
    LCWR: ‘Radical Feminism’ or ‘Living the Gospel

  6. Financial accountability and transparency
    Nonfeasance: A detailed examination of the Catholic Church’s remarkable failure to protect its primary source of income: the Sunday collections, by Michael Ryan
    Website of
    Arrested Prelate Tells Magistrates of Secret Accounts in the Vatican

Saint Guerin -- Would She Have Been a VOTF Member?
This week we celebrate the remarkable life of Mother Theodore Guerin, whose bishop demanded that she resign from the congregation that she founded, and leave the state. (He also locked her up for a time in a rectory.) “I have the greatest aversion to this kind of administration,” she said of these kinds of actions. “It seems to me it would keep our sisters in a species of slavery.” Now she's a saint, whose feast we celebrate this week. Below is an old NYT article that discusses her life, her sainthood and VOTF, as well as link to her biography.

Affiliate News

News from Delmarva ( DE) Affiliate
By Skip Sullivan

This year, we asked our members to study National VOTF’s 2013 Initiatives and to prioritize them for action at our local level. Based on the feedback we received, the first two programs we are focusing on are Financial Transparency and Accountability and Roles for Women in the Church.

For our September program we learned about the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management's efforts to implement their Standards for Excellence in the areas of management, human resources and finances in the U.S. Catholic Church.

We watched the DVD “Finances at the Parish Level” from their “Church in America” program. The video focuses on the financial and stewardship challenges pastors face. In a group conversation afterwards we considered the role of the laity in helping to meet those challenges. Our intention is to provide our feedback on the topic to area pastors and to the Leadership Roundtable itself.

Before the meeting we suggested some background reading to our members, asking them to consult The National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management for information on the NLRCM and their “Standards for Excellence” for parishes, and see the article "Standard-Bearers" in America magazine at
Our November meeting will center on Roles for Women in the Church. We've invited Ms. Anita Wood,a long-time religious educator and spiritual director, to speak about her own experience as a woman who ministers in the church, and to lead us in a discussion of how women might shape the church for the future.

And we've made it a priority to begin each meeting with a formal prayer time that lasts 15-20 minutes and includes music, scripture and faith sharing. We also meet once a year for a “Morning of Reflection” followed by a meal. We’re trying to be that “Prayerful voice attentive to the Spirit,” and have found that sharing these times of prayer has strengthened us individually and as a group.

As always, we’re grateful for the leadership of national VOTF in setting our goals, and especially appreciate your efforts in articulating the 2013 Initiatives.

News from the VOTF-Bridgeport (CT) Affiliate
By Jamie Dance

VOTF-Bridgeport is delighted to welcome our new bishop, Very Reverend Frank Caggiano , formerly of Brooklyn, New York, to our diocese. We just have met him and find him to be a gracious and intelligent leader who seems very well suited to the many tasks that face him. We have offered our assistance where it may be helpful, and look forward to a long and fruitful relationship. Like Pope Francis, Bishop Caggiano strikes us as a pastoral and able shepherd.

Our affiliate is off to a great start with interesting programs and events planned for the 2013-2014 year. In September, our program focused on the abuse crisis in the diocese, its history and its victims. The panel consisted of Beth McCabe, co-director of SNAP-CT; a survivor, Tom Kelly; and Hearst reporter Dan Tepfer, who has covered the scandal since the beginning.

In future months, we will host Professor Paul Lakeland of Fairfield University, Terry McKiernan of Bishop Accountability.Org, and Father Paul Mast of Dover, Delaware, who has counseled survivors. We are greatly pleased that Bishop Caggiano has agreed to speak to our group in January.

Plans for our 2014 Conference on March 22 have been finalized. Held in conjunction with the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University, the conference will feature a panel of prominent women Catholics and is entitled “The Catholic Church Today: What Do Women Really Want?”

The panel features Sister Theresa Kane; Barbara Blaine, founder of SNAP; Erin Saiz Hanna, Executive Director of Women’s Ordination Conference; and Catherine F. O’Callaghan, Director of Academic Advising at Marlboro College.

More information about these events can be found on our website at


October Happenings at Saint Susanna (MA)
All programs are from 7:00 to 9:00 PM, at the parish hall, 262 Needham Street, Dedham.  There is no pre-registration and no fee, although free will offerings are gratefully accepted to cover our costs.

October 21 – Keeping the Faith: Why People Stay Catholic (First of Two sessions)  In the first week of our two-part “Keeping the Faith” series Father Joseph P. Marchese of Boston College’s First Year Experience Program will speak on  Why People Stay Catholic:  Does the drop in Church attendance represent a diminishing faith and secularization of society, or is the cause more complex, and what are its elements? Father Marchese is the Director of Boston College First Year Experience.  Under Father Joe's direction, First Year Experience runs the university Orientation program each summer, and is home to First Year Academic Convocation, the urban service-immersion Freshman Leadership Project, and Boston College's largest retreat program, 48HOURS.

October 28 – Raising Catholic Grand/Children: IS IT POSSIBLE? In this second week of the “Keeping the Faith” series, Sister Nancy Corcoran, csj, will speak on the issue of children and grandchildren pulling away from their Catholic roots. She will address how parents and grandparents can help younger members cultivate faith and stay engaged with the Gospel message of Jesus. Sister Nancy will touch on issues such as:

  • How to navigate the challenges that arise when parents or grandparents themselves may be grappling with concerns over Church discipline or doctrine;

  • Going beyond Mass or CCD to show children Catholicism in action and encourage meaningful engagement;

  • How to leave a door open if children do choose to stop practicing.

Questioning religion as one grows and comes of age is not uncommon; this session will provide perspective and insight into how we can keep our multi-generational faith family strong and encourage children and teens to be active, questioning, free-thinking, passionate members of the Catholic community.

Sister Nancy is a favorite of Saint Susanna Adult Faith Formation, at the same time both highly informative and humorous.  As the Director of Newman Catholic Ministry at Wellesley College, Sister Nancy Corcoran, CSJ serves as a chaplain to the students, staff and faculty of the College supporting the spiritual practices of a diverse community.

Understanding the most precious teaching of the Catholic Church to be the honoring of one's conscience, Sister endeavors to provide opportunities for each person's spiritual growth.


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

The Ecclesiology of Vatican Council II and the Synod:
Central Themes of the Council of Cardinals
In a press conference held in the Holy See Press Office this morning (Oct. 2), director Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., gave information on the meeting of the Council of Cardinals, taking place in the Vatican from 1 to 3 October.
 -- Pope, Top Advisors Discuss Revamping Vatican Offices

Francis: Papal Court is ‘Leprosy of Papacy’
Francis and eight cardinals from around the world are holding three days of closed-door meetings to discuss the Vatican's troubled administration and to map out possible changes in the worldwide church. As the talks begin with the cardinals, Italian newspaper La Repubblica published a long interview conducted by its atheist editor in which the Argentine pope spoke frankly about the problems facing the Vatican administration.
-- The Pope: How the Church Will Change
-- Pope Urges Reform, Wants Church with Modern Spirit
-- As Reform Talks Start, Pope Vows to Change Vatican Mentality
-- Pope Francis Condemns ‘Leprosy’ in the Vatican

Pope Bluntly Faults Church’s Focus on Gays and Abortion
Pope Francis, in the first extensive interview of his six-month-old papacy, said that the Roman Catholic church had grown “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he has chosen not to speak of those issues despite recriminations from some critics.
-- A Big Heart Open to God: The Exclusive Interview with Pope Francis
-- Reflections on the Papal Interview by the Editors of America Magazine
-- Five Things We Learned about Pope Francis from His Blockbuster Interview
-- Pope Francis the Troublemaker
-- In Interview, Pope Francis Sets a New Direction for the Church
-- Pope Says Church Obsessed with Gays, Abortion & Birth Control
-- Pope Francis Expresses Tolerance for Gays, Support for Women
-- A Jesuit Reflects on the Jesuit Pope’s Interview by Jesuits
-- Pope Francis on Women in His Interview with ‘America’ Magazine
-- Pope Rejects Church of ‘Small-Minded Rules’ in Jesuit Interview
-- Not Even the Pope Likes the Church’s Obsession with Abortion

Francis Sets a Date in April for Two Popes to Become Saints
Pope Francis said Sept. 30 that he would canonize two of his most influential predecessors, John Paul II and John XXIII, on the same day next spring, a highly unusual move that was taken as an effort to promote unity within the Roman Catholic Church. The two popes, who have disparate followings among reformers and conservatives within the church, will be declared saints April 27.

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

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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