November 16, 2005

Catholic bishops do most work in private

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

By Tim Townsend


In the day-and-a-half of their annual fall meeting this week that the news media were allowed to observe, the U.S. Catholic bishops covered a lot of ground. But in their few public sessions this week, they steered clear of the issues that have made headlines around the country in the last year.

Those topics, said religion scholars and church-reform advocates, would probably be discussed behind closed doors after the prying members of the secular news media had returned to their newsrooms.

In front of reporters and other observers, the bishops talked about Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, the role of the Catholic laity in public ministry, a reaffirmation of the church's opposition to the death penalty, changes to the order and language of the Mass, financial and spiritual support for the church in Africa, a new religious alliance against pornography and a report by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

And yet among grumbling reporters and advocates of church transparency, more attention was paid to the topics the bishops did not take up, at least in public: Catholic politicians and Holy Communion, a forthcoming Vatican document on homosexuals in the priesthood, U.S. seminary inspections, financial fallout from the clergy sex abuse crisis, and a recent three-week international meeting of bishops in Rome at which the worldwide shortage of priests was the main topic.

Posted by kshaw at November 16, 2005 07:44 AM