In the Vineyard :: September 14, 2020 :: Volume 20, Issue 17
News from National
Did You Register Yet?
We're waiting for your sign-up, to join others interested in sharing visions of a just Church. That's the theme of our 2020 virtual conference -- Visions of a Just Church -- which will take place Oct. 3.
Hear the ideas of two leading Catholic scholars, Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D, and Fr. Richard Lennan and key updates on our VOTF Child Protection, Financial Transparency & Accountability, and Women's Roles projects.
The cost for attending VOTF’s online Zoom 2020 Conference is just $50. Plus, because it's online, it's a great way to get there without the hassle of transportation connections.
For those of you overseas and in other time zones, we start at 9 a.m. Eastern U.S. time Saturday. You can set your local time accordingly or, if the time is inconvenient, note that all registrants will be able to open and run the videos as soon as the "live" meeting ends. Your code will be valid for a couple of weeks.
Another plus--we are organizing Friday night (Oct. 2) small-group Zoom gatherings closer to or in your own time zone so that you can meet some of your VOTF neighbors ahead of time.
VOTF 2020 Virtual Conference Information
*On this webpage, you will find links to information pertinent to Voice of the Faithful's 2020 Conference: Visions of a Just Church, commonly called collateral material, which would be exhibited and placed in folders at in-person conferences.
Catholic Feminism in All Shapes and Sizes
A new advocacy group that started in France shows that there is no “one size fits all” version of feminism for Catholics. Earlier this year, several women submitted applications for positions in the French Catholic Church, including posts as priests and bishops. This is the latest push to give women a significant place in the Catholic hierarchy. The original group, called the Toutes Apôtres! Coalition, or “All Apostles,” is based in France, although it is made up of women from various countries.
In an online discussion, the women who submitted their applications shared the goal of better inclusion, although they had differing views of how that would occur. Hélène Pichon, director of institutional relations at the Center for Study and Strategic Prospective (CEPS), said that at age 14, during a trip to Rome, she met Pope John Paul II and felt called to be a Vatican ambassador. She argued that “Jesus never wanted to give birth to a hierarchal structure that would exclude women,” explaining that Jesus tasked Mary Magdalene with telling the apostles the good news of his resurrection. Pichon said she believes that allowing women into different roles would “offer an inspired leadership of holy men and women.”
Some in the group are strongly in favor of women’s priestly ordination while others want to see women in leadership positions without revoking the ban on female clergy. The range of views demonstrate that there is no monolithic single story of Catholic women. All, however, desire a church “where men and women can both contribute without any subordination … a church where everyone feels welcome.”
Sylvaine Landrivon, a senior lecturer in course content at the Catholic University in Lyon who has written four books on women biblical figures, symbolically submitted an application to be a bishop. She explains she felt as though she was not doing enough to spotlight the issue of women in the Church and acted more to draw attention than from a desire to hold an episcopal position. She also called for respecting what she sees as inherent differences between men and women, remarking that while men and women should have different roles, “power must be organized differently.” She explained that “you don’t need a skill set that wields power” to contribute to teaching, sharing, or serving, all of which are vital to the mission of the Church.
The differing perspectives offer a valuable lesson: that women are ready to participate further in the church, and there is no one recipe for success.
To learn more, please see here.
To read about VOTF’s position on women’s roles in the church, please see here.
Pope Francis Writes “Never Again” to Sexual Abuse
Pope Francis’s recent prologue to “Theology and Prevention: A Study on Sexual Abuse in the Church” discusses fostering and empowering communities to support and protect those who are unable to speak up for themselves. The book was published in Spanish and was an initiative of the Center for Research and Interdisciplinary Training for the Protection of Minors (CEPROME). The book discusses many subjects, including abuse of power, priestly celibacy, and structural clericalism, and according to Pope Francis, “invite[s] us to delve into this painful evil of sexual abuse that has occurred in our Catholic Church” through the lens of theology.”
Australian Law Now Requires Priests to Break the Seal
of Confession to Report Child Sex Abuse to Police
In a recent interview, the new Australian ambassador to the Holy See, Chiara Porro, discussed the conflict between Australia’s fight for child protection and religious freedoms in the country.
In Queensland Australia, a law passed on September 8th requires priests to report instances of child sex abuse to police when they learn of it through confession. If they do not, they may be jailed for up to three years. The new law was a response to recommendations from the Royal Commission Into Child Sexual Abuse. Under the new law, child protection would take precedence over religious freedom.
The Holy See accepted many of the Commission’s suggestions, but did not accept the request that mandatory priestly celibacy be abolished or that the confessional seal be removed in cases of sexual abuse cases. (In a 2019 publication, Pope Francis had affirmed the “absolute secrecy” of confessions and called for priests to defend it with their lives, if necessary.)
The Australian ambassador acknowledged the challenging nature of the issue, and said it would be difficult to know how it would play out. She mentioned that it was encouraging to see that the Vatican also responded that priests should be encouraging victims or perpetrators to go to the authorities.
Despite having to negotiate some challenges with respect to the reporting of child sexual abuse, Pope Francis continues to show that he supports victims and survivors as other nations take stronger steps to protect vulnerable populations.
To read more about VOTF’s position on child protection, please see here.
For survivor support resources, please see here.
Highlighting issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Pope Francis accepts resignation of Duluth Bishop-elect Michel Mulloy after abuse allegation
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Bishop-elect of Duluth, Minnesota, Michel J. Mulloy, after an accusation that he abused a minor in the 1980s surfaced in early August. Mulloy, 66, was appointed to lead the Minnesota diocese on June 19, and his consecration and installation as bishop were scheduled to take place Oct. 1. According to a statement from the Diocese of Rapid City, where Mulloy had been administrator since August 2019, the diocese on Aug. 7 ‘received notification of an allegation against Father Mulloy of sexual abuse of a minor in the early 1980s.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency
- Bishop-elect resigns after being accused of sexually abusing a minor, By Neil Vigdor, The New York Times
- A Minnesota Catholic diocese was set to install a new bishop. Then he was accused of abuse. By Clare Giangravé, Religion News Service
- Duluth bishop-elect resigns amid sexual abuse accusation, By Tom Olsen, Duluth News Tribune
Former West Virginia bishop should reexamine his conscience
“Repentance is something that Catholics usually understand. That is one reason why former Bishop Michael Bransfield's response to the charges leveled against him is so egregious. Bransfield formerly led the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. There he proceeded to, according to a church investigation, embezzle $792,000 while sexually harassing seminarians. Bransfield, according to the diocese, has paid back $441,000, and will retire with benefits, including a $2,250 monthly pension. That's far less than the normal $6,200 for a retired bishop, but not a bad deal for Bransfield considering the circumstances.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff
New survey of German religious orders finds decades of abuse accusations
“A new survey of heads of German Catholic religious orders found abuse allegations against at least 654 members over a period of decades, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA. The survey of 392 orders found at least 1,412 children, adolescents or wards were the victims of sexual abuse. Of the victims, around 80% were male and around 20% female, KNA reported. Franciscan Sister Katharina Kluitmann, president of the German Conference of Catholic Superiors, said there was an unquantifiable additional number of unreported cases. She said the victims had suffered additional pain from the way they were treated by leaders and other members of orders.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter
- Germany: Over 1,400 youths accuse Catholic religious orders of sexual abuse, By Deutsche Welle
Philly native and ex-Bishop Michael Bransfield apologizes for financial and sexual impropriety — yet still says he did nothing wrong.
“The Rev. Michael Bransfield — the Philadelphia-raised priest and former West Virginia bishop who resigned in 2018 amid a scandal over his lavish spending and sexual misconduct allegations — issued a tepid apology Thursday (Aug. 20), his first to Roman Catholic faithful in his former diocese and one made under orders from the Vatican. Despite saying he was ‘profoundly sorry’ if anything he said or did made priests of seminarians uncomfortable during his 13-year tenure at the helm of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Bransfield continued to defend himself and took no responsibility for the millions he spent on pricey personal accommodations in one of the country’s poorest states.” By Jeremy Roebuck, Philadelphia Inquirer
- Bransfield ‘apology’ does not suffice and church needs more reform, leader of lay Catholics group says, By Brad McElhinny, MetroNews
Catholic leaders shine light on Church governance
“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia have published an ‘important and substantial’ document on the review of diocesan and parish governance and management. The review was recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Church’s Implementation Advisory Group (IAG) oversaw the development of the report, The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia. The IAG engaged the Governance Review Project Team (GRPT) to research and study Church governance and to prepare the report, which runs to 208 pages and includes 86 recommendations.” By CathNews.com
September Prayer Intention: Respect for Planet's Resources
Pope Francis has asked Catholics to pray that the planet’s resources will not be plundered, but shared in a just and respectful manner.
"No to plundering; yes to sharing."
Listen to it here.
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