Catholic Bishops Face Vexing Issues; Maverick Politicians on Agenda
Byline: Julia Duin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
America's Catholic bishops are gathering near Denver this week for a six-day retreat, during which they will pray over and discuss issues involving the 65-million-member U.S. church, such as eligibility for Communion and clergy sexual misconduct.
The retreat, which begins today and ends Saturday, includes a review of the 2002 "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," a document commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to address the church's massive clergy sex-abuse crisis.
The expected 250 to 275 bishops also will get a progress report from Washington Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, chairman of the Task Force on Catholics in Public Life, on the panel's work on how to deal with Catholic politicians whose voting records and public pronouncements run counter to church teaching.
The meeting at the Inverness Hotel and Conference Center in Englewood, 10 miles south of Denver, will be closed to the public.
The meeting has aroused particular local interest since May 1, when Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan said that not only should Catholic politicians who do not follow Church teachings not present themselves for Communion, but that the same applied to Catholic citizens who vote for such politicians.
Bishop Sheridan's remarks could influence Colorado's rapidly growing Hispanic populace, which is otherwise expected to back Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, a Catholic who differs from his church on abortion, stem-cell research, homosexual unions and several other issues.
"People in Denver are really up in arms about the Communion ban," said Crystal Culver, spokeswoman for Call to Action, a Chicago-based liberal Catholic group that summoned 650 local Catholic activists to participate in a string of demonstrations and vigils.
"Even a couple of priests in Denver have had the gall to say they'll give Communion to whoever asks for it," she said.
From the other end, the American Life League has rented out rooms at the Inverness Hotel and will give a press conference tomorrow at the hotel.
"We will tell bishops they have this opportunity to institute a definitive policy to rebuke pro-abortion Catholic politicians and make it clear to the faithful you cannot be a faithful Catholic and pro-abortion," spokesman Joe Giganti said. …