7/2/2014 12:26:00 PM National priests' association gathers in St. Louis for annual assembly
Catholic News Service
ST. LOUIS — Members of a national group of Catholic priests meeting in St. Louis for an annual assembly tackled the issue of immigration and other topics and passed a resolution asking the U.S. bishops to request the Vatican approve ordaining married men as priests.
In late May, during a wide-ranging inflight news conference on his return to Rome from the Holy Land, Pope Francis indicated the door is open to allowing more married priests in the Catholic Church, in the Latin rite as well as the Eastern Catholic churches where the practice is already established.
The 230 priests at the 2014 assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests also:
-- Agreed to support full payment of worker pensions as a moral commitment.
-- Called for the laity and clergy to have a role in the selection of diocesan bishops, who are appointed by the pope.
-- Expressed continued concerns about translations of prayers in the revised Roman Missal introduced in the U.S. in 2011. They agreed to form a task force charged with archiving portions of the text their members find problematic with the goal of improving the next translation.
The Secretariat of Divine Worship at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops oversaw the years-long process of translation and adoption of the new missal in cooperation with the Vatican and the International Committee on English in the Liturgy.
The priests at the assembly approved a goal of greater cooperation with the Catholic Common Ground Initiative, founded in 1996 by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago to promote dialogue among Catholics with differing perspectives on contemporary Catholic issues.
They also discussed ways to increase the association's membership and improve relationships between the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and diocesan bishops.
The Seattle-based association claims 1,000 U.S. priests as members; there are more than 26,000 diocesan priests in the United States.
It was formed in August 2011 as a national support organization open to all U.S. priests. Organizers sent a letter about the group to each of the U.S. bishops and received some positive reaction but got few responses from bishops.
Other activities during the St. Louis assembly included electronic communication with leaders of priests' associations in Austria and Ireland, and participation in a panel discussion with a representative of an Australian priests' association.
Attendees also heard four keynote speakers on matters related to the Second Vatican Council document, Dei Verbum, having to do with Sacred Scripture, divine revelation and effective preaching.
The priests concelebrated Mass with retired Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco and Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis. Archbishop Quinn, who has written two books on reforming the Vatican including his 1999 book, "The Reform of the Papacy," received the association's John XXIII Award during a banquet June 25.
Father James J. Bacik of the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, also received the John XXIII Award. He is an author, campus minister, theologian and university professor.
The association received recent media attention after issuing a letter in early June to Pope Francis, expressing "sadness and dismay" over the tone of public comments made by a Vatican official to the Leadership Conference of Catholic Women in the United States. The priests said they were praying that Vatican's concern would be settled by means of "a genuinely dialogic process, conducted with gentleness and reverence."