Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

This Fractious Family Wants to Sit Down and Talk

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

This Fractious Family Wants to Sit Down and Talk

Article excerpt

Holy Father, we need to talk.

In the weeks and days preceding the visit of Pope John Paul II to, the United States that theme kept surfacing, like a soft but insistent drumbeat. It has been advanced in the most public way recently not by rebels or church-bashers but by men and women who have given their lives to the church, who have been entrusted with leadership in the church and with educating its members.

In June, a group of American bishops issued a statement urging open discussion with Rome over some of the most troubling issues facing the., church: the priest shortage, contraception, the status of women in the church, ordination of married men and the kinds of candidates being attracted to the priesthood.

On the eve of the visit, a group of about 150ministerial leaders' in the church issued what they termed "a wake-up call" during a three-day gathering in Maryland sponsored by the National Center for Pastoral Leadership.

A draft report, "Ministry in the Church in the 21st Century," calls for a new approach to ministry that is widely-inclusive, collegial in style and directed outward.

Bishop Joseph Sullivan of Brooklyn, in a news conference during the gathering said, "This wake-up call is to fend off the looming crisis. Leaders are calling the whole church to new possibilities by expanding decisionmaking in the church. They are issuing a call to take a realistic look at our problems and to find solutions together. The emphasis is on together."

The statement repeated many of the same points outlined in the earlier document drafted by the group of U.S. bishops.

Among those attending the conference were leaders from Catholic higher education, health care, social services, publishing, campus ministry, religious education and parish pastoral ministry. These are the people who, as the priest shortage worsens, increasingly will be called on to keep the church on its mission day to day

As recounted on page 2 of this issue, the same weekend as the gathering in Maryland, a group of Catholic journalists from the Midwest heard Fr. …

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