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November 25, 1994     The Message
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November 25, 1994

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after onel i i!i ii i i i!ii i ii iast month i Ops' meeting at a glance By NANCY FRJIER O'BRIEN Catho ic News Service 3N (CNS) -- When the U.S. bishops met in Noy, 14-17 for the fall general meeting of the Na- atholic Bishops, they: to confront a violent culture, in a pastoral approved on a voice vote that said fear of violence is polarizing our communities." an expansion of women's roles in the church and di- those who feel alienated, in a pastoral reflection a detailed resource manual to help them deal of sexual abuse of minors by church personnel, and report from Bishop John F. Kinney of Bismarck, N.D., and future work of the Ad Hoc Committee on Sex- a new version of "Ethical and Religious Direc- Health Care Services," last revised in 1975, at Such questions as abortion, euthanasia, care for research, and nutrition and hydration for the their ad hoc committees, including the one on for another three years, and created a new ad hoc Study the financially ailing Catholic Telecommu- of America. the first and second segments of a new Sacra- With the exception of 21 prayers that will be sent international commission for revision. The bishops to consider three segments of the Sacramen- third segment was withdrawn from consideration with proposed American adaptations the Swiss Synod's Eucharistic Prayer for Masses Needs and Occasions and a provisional English the text, pending Vatican approval. Dennis M. Schnurr, a priest of the Diocese of as general secretary for the next five years Joseph A. Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston for 'terra as conference secretary. OUtgoing general secretary, Msgr. Robert N. archdiocesan priest, a standing ovation in grat- Work over the past six years. a $41.3 million budget for 1995, representing a the 1994 budget. a three-year continuation of the collection to aid and Eastern Europe. membership on the Tri-Conference Commission Life and Ministry to include the recently estab- Superiors of Women Religious. a Statement in light of California's Proposition that all people had a basic right to health care Violence, women, sex abuse, liturgy dominate U.S. bishops' fall meeting WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The topics of violence, the role of women in the church and sex abuse of minors by church personnel dominated the fall meeting of the U.S. bishops Nov. 14-17. The meeting also featured extensive discussion of liturgical matters. The bishops overwhelmingly approved pastoral statements calling for action to confront a violent culture and urging an expansion of women's roles in the church and dialogue with those who feel alienated. They also heavily amended and then adopted a new ver- sion of the "Ethical and Reli- gious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services," last re- vised in 1975, and delayed a decision on funding for the fi- nancially troubled Catholic Telecommunications Network of America. During debate on "Con- fronting a Culture of Violence: A Catholic Fra/nework for Ac- tion," bishops recited a litany of violence they themselves confront. The document was unanimously approved on a voice vote. The pastoral reflection on women, called "Towards Strengthening the Bond of Peace," was conceived as a step toward peacemaking with those who have felt alienated as Catholics over issues of women's equality. The message passed on a 228-10 vote. The bishops also heard a lengthy report from Bishop John F. Kinney of Bismarck, N.D., chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse, and received a detailed re- source manual to help them deal with issues of sexual abuse of minors by church per- sonnel. The document on violence "speaks to the moral and human consequences of vio- lence" but is "not a detailed analysis or a par ticu|ar pro- gram," said Auxiliary Bishop John H. Ricard of Baltimore, chairman of the bishops' Do- mestic Policy Committee. Violence, the message says, "is destroying the lives, dignity and hopes of millions of our sisters and brothers. Fear of violence is paralyzing and po- larizing our communities. The celebration of violence in much of our media, music and even video games is poisoning our children." The pastoral reflection on women calls for a churchwide dialogue on women's "leader- ship in the church, equality of women and men and diversity Df gifts." The statement says there should be increased roles for women in governing the church and collaboration be- tween women and men in serv- ing the church. It singles out language as a source of prob- lems for women who feel pained by sexism and encour- ages the use of inclusive lan- guage whenever possible. On the sexual abuse issue, Bishop Kinney said he hoped the manual would help bishops deal the problem in a way that is "effective, strong, pastoral and open." The manual, titled "Restor- ing Trust," urges all dioceses to have written policies on sexual abuse of minors, with special emphasis on education and prevention and on a pastoral response when an allegation is made. The topic of sex abuse also was raised outside the hotel when members of the Sur- vivors Network of Those Abused by Priests held a press conference to announce what they called "the most danger- ous dioceses in America for vic- time:of sexual ,.:abuse .... priests." The six were Camden, N.J.; Kansas City, Mo.; Providence, R.I,; Milwaukee; Santa Fe, N.M.; and Chicago. But bish- ops heading the named arch- dioceses and dioceses told Catholic News Service the group's accusations were un- just. At a meeting where liturgi- cal decisions played a domi- nant role, the bishops ap- proved segments one and two of a whole new translation from Latin of the Saeramen- tary, the official book of prayers used at Mass in the Latin-rite. The bishops had See VIOLENCE, page5