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Catholic Bishops Debate Holding Plenary Council

November 16, 2002|From Times Wire Reports

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops will spend the next two years debating whether to convene the U.S. church's first plenary council since 1884.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops agreed this week to a rough timeline for calling a council. If called, the council would be open to all bishops, as well as to representatives of seminaries and colleges, priests and lay groups.

Earlier this year, a core group of eight bishops circulated the proposal for a council to deal with issues facing the church, such as sexual morality, evangelization and authority. So far, more than 100 bishops have signed on to the proposal.

Under the proposal passed this week, the bishops will revisit the idea when they meet next June in St. Louis, and then again during their summer meeting in 2004.

Archbishop Daniel Buechlein of Indianapolis, the chairman of an ad hoc committee of bishops studying the issue, said if the proposal is approved, the council would probably not be held until 2005 or 2006.

Bishops are "all over the lot" on fundamental issues facing the church, he said, but he added that it would be "very valuable if we look at the identity and role of bishops and priests."

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