National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly
Issue Date:  November 21, 2003

Conference notes

Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, practiced what he preached. “We can do a better job talking with and listening to one another as members of the church,” Gregory said in his opening address Nov. 10. Later that evening, Gregory took a moment and greeted members of Soulforce, the ecumenical gay rights group whose protest vigils have become a fixture of bishops’ meetings. It’s the first time a high-ranking member of the bishops’ conference has spoken with the protesters, said Kara Speitz, chair of the group’s Catholic team. Gregory spoke to each of the protesters, asked them where they were from, and engaged in polite conversation, said Speitz.

* * *

The bishops’ meeting had a decidedly international flair, with presentations by Bishop Paul Hoa, president of the Vietnam bishops’ conference, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, coadjutor archbishop of Dublin, and Cardinal Frederic Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi archbishop of Kinshasa, Congo and president of the bishops’ conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ International Policy Committee, urged the American bishops to consider establishing an annual collection to aid the church in Africa.

* * *

To say that New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes does not think highly of the religious textbooks used by Catholic teenagers would be an understatement. “Students … are easily led to believe that one religion or church is as good as another and that the Catholic church is just one church among many equals,” reported Hughes, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism. “There is often a blurring between the Catholic church and other Christian ecclesial communities. Our young people are not learning what it means to say that the sole church of Christ subsists in the Catholic church or the true ecumenical teaching of our church,” said Hughes. If the situation does not improve, the bishops will consider authorizing and producing their own high school level textbooks, said Hughes.

-- Joe Feuerherd

National Catholic Reporter, November 21, 2003

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