In the Vineyard :: June 14, 2021 :: Volume 21, Issue 11
Voice of the Faithful's 2021 Conference Re–Membering the Church: Moving Forward will look closely at the body of the Church to see how structure, power, participation, and accountability can be brought together within the Church to fulfill its mission of bringing Christ to the world.
The online Zoom conference takes place Oct. 22-23, 2021. At 7 p.m., Oct. 22, conference registrants can gather for free Zoom listening sessions to talk about issues affecting the church today. The full-day conference on Oct. 23 will begin at 8:30 a.m., as registrants gather in a Zoom waiting room for the 9 a.m. start. The cost will be $50. Undergraduate students will be admitted free when using the link below(link is external) or filling out the mail-in registration form.
As outlined at a previous VOTF conference, “There is no body without its members. There are no members without participation. There is no participation without mutual recognition and accountability. Structural change is possible. Accountability is necessary. Re-membering the church is essential.” VOTF supports this vision of a Church of openness and respect between hierarchy and the laity, more inclusivity within the church, and collaborations that lead to more activities and initiatives within the church that reflect lay voices.
Two featured speakers at the conference will offer their views on re–membering the Church. Speaking first on the morning of Oct. 23 will be Sister Carol Zinn, S.S.J. Ph.D. She is Leadership Conference of Women Religious executive director and serves as Saint John Vianney Center consultant for women religious community health and transition. Formerly, she served as United Nations Economic and Social Council consultant. Following Sr. Carol’s Q&A period, Prof. Massimo Faggioli, Ph.D., will address the conference. Prof. Faggioli spoke at VOTF’s 2018 Conference, and his return is highly anticipated. He is a professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University, a prolific author, and a leading international authority on Catholic Church history and ecclesiology, the inner workings of the Church.
Also during VOTF’s 2021 Conference, a panel comprising women liturgy leaders from the Paulist Center Boston(link is external) faith community will discuss lay-led liturgies, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and VOTF leaders will offer presentations on VOTF projects in diocesan financial transparency, Church governance by and through lay involvement in Diocesan Financial Councils, adherence to protection of children guidelines in parishes and dioceses, and women’s emerging voices in the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis’ June Prayer Intention: Marriage
Following is the text of Pope Francis’ June prayer intention:
Is it true, what some people say—that young people don’t want to get married, especially during these difficult times?
Getting married and sharing one’s life is something beautiful.
It’s a demanding journey, at times difficult, and at times complicated, but it’s worth making the effort. And on this life-long journey, the husband and wife aren’t alone; Jesus accompanies them.
Marriage isn’t just a “social” act; it’s a vocation that’s born from the heart; it’s a conscious decision for the rest of one’s life that requires specific preparation.
Please, never forget this. God has a dream for us —love— and He asks us to make it our own.
Let us make our own the love which is God’s dream for us.
And let us pray for young people who are preparing for marriage with the support of a Christian community: may they grow in love, with generosity, faithfulness and patience. Because a great deal of patience is necessary in order to love. But it’s worth it, eh?
Cardinal Marx Offered Resignation to the Pope, Citing Church’s Structure Allowing for Sexual Abuse
Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising submitted his letter of resignation to Pope Francis on May 21 and publicly announced his decision on June 4. His resignation letter was not in response to having been personally accused of sexual abuse or covering up sexual abuse, but an attempt to take personal and institutional responsibility for the broader sexual abuse crisis.
Cardinal Marx told Pope Francis, “With my resignation I would like to make clear that I am willing to personally bear responsibility not only for any mistakes I might have made but for the church as an institution which I have helped to shape and mold over the past decades.” He believes that the church as an institution failed to protect victims and prevent the abuse of minors, and covered up sexual abuses by concealing and protecting perpetrators through transfers from one location to another.
Cardinal Marx’s offer of resignation was received well among victims and survivors of abuse. Many survivors felt that it was particularly meaningful that a bishop was willing to accept responsibility and was an example of leadership. However, other important lay figures feel that the wrong leader is taking responsibility, particularly in reference to Cardinal Rainer Woelki, who has been accused of mismanaging the abuse crisis. Pope Francis has ordered Woelki’s diocese to submit to an apostolic visitation.
The tradition of bishops offering their resignations to Pope Francis has a long history. Bishops are required to submit their resignations to the Pope at age 75, but the pope decides whether to accept, and many bishops serve long past the age of 75. Thus, Cardinal Marx’s offer of resignation was in many ways symbolic, because he himself does not decide whether he will actually resign: that is up to Pope Francis.
Marx is also well-known as a close ally of the Pope. His resignation offer became public earlier in June because the Pope gave him permission to make it public after receiving the letter of resignation in May.
If the resignation were accepted, Marx would leave his position as the Archbishop of Munich but would retain his good standing and ability to vote for the next pope. He also would continue serving in all Vatican positions to which he had been assigned.
It should then come as no surprise that on June 10 Pope Francis rejected Cardinal Marx’s offer of resignation, praised his courage and instructed him to “continue as you propose but as Archbishop of Munich and Freising.” The letter, written in Pope Francis’s native Spanish, was signed “with brotherly affection.”
In many ways, Pope Francis’s rejection of Marx’s offer of resignation strengthened Marx’s liberal position. The “courage” Pope Francis referred to is perhaps related to his actions for structural change in many areas of the church, including issues of celibacy and homosexuality as well as his endowment of a foundation with the goal of supporting abuse victims and helping them reconcile with the Catholic Church, giving more than half a million US dollars of his own savings over decades of priesthood.
Francis’s response also strengthened the symbolism of Marx’s resignation offer. In his rejection, Pope Francis wrote that protecting the institution of the Church at all costs through silence and cover-up “leads to personal and historical failure, and brings us to live with the weight of ‘keeping skeletons in the cupboard,’ as the saying goes.” He continued, “I agree with you that this is a catastrophe: the sad history of sexual abuse and the way the Church approached it until recently.”
While Marx will remain in his position, hopefully his leadership will encourage other members of the church to consider their own responsibility for shaping the institution that has permitted and covered up years of abuses.
To read more about VOTF’s position on child protection, please see here.
For survivor support resources, please see here.
Watchdog Group Gives Vatican
Mixed Grades on Financial Reform
Watchdog organization Moneyval, also known as the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, released a report assessing the Vatican’s financial protections, reforms, and security. It was not an A grade.
The Vatican has only recently begun participating in the Moneyval process, subjecting itself to review for the first time under Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. Moneyval experts performed a two-week onsite inspection last year, publishing the 275-page report earlier this week.
The overall assessment was that the Vatican’s control measures “have significantly improved” recently in the areas of preventing financial crimes (such as money laundering and financing of terrorism). However, despite mentioning that the Vatican has a “sound understanding” of how to determine risk, the report concludes that the Vatican consistently undervalues the risk of financial crimes committed by insiders, including mid-level and senior officials for personal gain.
Another issue with the Vatican’s financial protections was the lack of prosecution of those accused of committing crimes, according to the Moneyval report. Without seeing criminals brought to justice and appropriately penalized, there is no deterrent for others considering financial misdeeds.
Although under Francis’s leadership the evaluation and assessment may not seem surprising, it is less surprising considering the costs of not participating. States that refuse evaluation face steep challenges, including potentially being frozen out of currency or investment markets. They may also incur higher costs in transactions to cover presumed risk.
The recent financial scandal over a London property is expected to come to trial in the summer of 2021, but no dates have yet been set. The implications of this report on that scandal and the future of Vatican financial reform remain to be seen, but although progress has been slow, Pope Francis has gradually been pushing the Vatican towards increased financial transparency.
For VOTF’s statement on financial accountability, please see here.
New Vatican law criminalizes abuse of adults, even by laity
“Pope Francis has changed church law to explicitly criminalize the sexual abuse of adults by priests who abuse their authority, and to say that laypeople who hold church office can be sanctioned for similar sex crimes. The new provisions, released Tuesday (Jun. 1) after 14 years of study, were contained in the revised criminal law section of the Vatican's Code of Canon Law, the in-house legal system that covers the 1.3 billion-strong Catholic Church. The most significant changes are contained in two articles, 1395 and 1398, which aim to address major shortcomings in the church's handling of sexual abuse.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter
- Vatican tells bishops to get serious on crime and punishment, By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com
- Pope Widens Church Law to Target Sexual Abuse of Adults by Priests and Laity, By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times
- Pope reforms penal sanctions in the Church: Mercy requires correction, By Vatican News
- U.S. church leaders welcome changes to canon law on sex abuse, By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com
- Analysis: A canon lawyer reviews the first major changes to church law since 1983, By Helen Costigane, S.H.C.J., America: The Jesuit Review
Governance report ‘catalyst for conversation’
“Catholic Religious Australia is launching a series of online conversations to explore the 2020 Church governance review report, ‘The Light from the Southern Cross.’ ‘The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia’ report, published in August 2020, has been commended as an important and substantial contribution to the life and mission of the Church in Australia, and a roadmap for the future of the Church. CRA president Br. Peter Carroll FMS said, ‘The report is a valuable resource and in light of the Plenary Council, the timing is right for the People of God to reflect on the themes in the report and discern what those themes mean to them.’ By CathNews.com
Archdiocese of Milwaukee says it won’t participate in AG investigation of clergy sex abuse
“The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is pushing back against a recently announced attorney general investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, calling it a display of ‘anti-Catholic bigotry’ and a violation of the First Amendment. In a letter from the archdiocese's attorney, Frank LoCoco of the Milwaukee firm Husch Blackwell, contends Attorney General Josh Kaul doesn't have the authority to investigate the Catholic dioceses of the state and that doing so would go against the U.S. Constitution and state laws.” By Laura Schulte and Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Pope Francis orders review of the Vatican congregation that oversees over 410,000 Catholic priests worldwide
“Pope Francis has asked an Italian bishop, Msgr. Egidio Miragoli, 65, to carry out a visitation of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, which has oversight of the more than 410,000 Catholic priests around the world. Bishop Miragoli broke the news today, June 7, in a letter to the priests of the Diocese of Mondovi, in Italy’s Piedmont region, where he is pastor … He (Miragoli) revealed that on June 3, Francis explained in some detail what he expected him to do when he met the bishop at a private audience in Santa Marta, the Vatican guesthouse where the pope lives. The bishop did not disclose the details of his brief, and the Vatican has not commented on the meeting or a visitation of the congregation.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review
Pope Francis refuses resignation of German cardinal, commends his courage
“Although agreeing with him that the clerical abuse crisis is a ‘catastrophe,’ Pope Francis rejected the resignation presented to him by German Cardinal Reinhard Marx as archbishop of the archdiocese of Munich. ‘You tell me that you are going through a moment of crisis, and not only you but also the Church in Germany is going through it,’ Francis wrote in a letter dated June 10. ‘The whole Church is in crisis because of the abuse matter; moreover, the Church today cannot take a step forward without addressing this crisis.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com
- Pope rejects German cardinal’s resignation, urges reform, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press
Sustaining Faith & Hope: Luke Hansen & Dr. Phyllis Zagano in Conversation
You are invited to attend a special online event that is taking place on June 16, 2021, at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
The event is part of a new series of monthly Zoom meetings developed by Discerning Deacons, a project that is engaging Catholics in the discernment of the Catholic Church about women and the diaconate. This first event will be hosted by Luke Hansen, Discerning Deacons co-director, in conversation with Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., a member of the first papal commission on women deacons. You can read her latest columns here.
This online event is FREE. Register online here, and you will receive additional instructions to access the Zoom event.
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