Several Church Leaders Facing `Obstacles,' Other Controversies

Article excerpt

In the 1960s, there was a movement to write "people's histories" to explain what common folk did, not just the leaders. A similar call came at Vatican II, with its term "people of God" for the church.

With apologies to the worthy masses, however, it was leaders in religion who have been most interesting in recent days.

At Mayor Marion Barry's annual prayer breakfast, Cardinal James A. Hickey outlined how the church provides $50 million a year in services to the District but faces only federal and city "obstacles" to its mission.

"Not all of our problems come from federal government," the cardinal said, citing unjust welfare and immigration laws. "Some of them are homegrown. . . . Sometimes, the city makes it tough to give our services away."

He cited government red tape and neighborhood attitudes that have blocked archdiocesan efforts to provide low-cost housing, prison chaplains, free medical services and feeding programs.

In Episcopal Church affairs, Virginia's Bishop James Lee has withdrawn from the candidacy to lead the church as presiding bishop. This was disclosed as the church's nomination panel announced the four nominees to face election July 21.

"I became increasingly ambivalent about a vocation to this office and I am now clear that I am not called," Bishop Lee said. "Once I made the decision to withdraw, my sense of peace confirmed that the decision is right."

The four candidates are bishops Frank Griswold III of Chicago, Robert Rowley Jr. of northwestern Pennsylvania, Richard Shimpfky of California and Don Wimberly of Kentucky.

Not needing election, the second in command at the Archdiocese for the Military Services, with headquarters in Silver Spring, has been appointed by Pope John Paul II.

Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of New York became coadjutor of the nongeographic archdiocese of military personnel. As coadjutor, he will succeed Archbishop Joseph Dimino. …