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Conference urges Church in US to draw on laity

Catholic Church officials need to look to the laity for many parts of the church's mission that historically have been dominated by priests and nuns, participants in a discussion group said at the weekend following after a two-day conference in the United States.

Louisiana Bishop William Friend said there used to be large numbers of people taking holy orders, enough that Catholic schools and hospitals once were heavily staffed with nuns working as teachers and nurses.

"Now their numbers have diminished. But the good news is there are large numbers of young lay people" who are interested in helping the church, Friend said.

"We have to look at the support systems and the guidance systems that will bring them into the core of the ministry of the church," Friend said.

Catholic colleges and universities should talk to students about how they can aid in the church's mission without necessarily taking holy orders, participants said.

The gathering in Philadelphia of 175 lay and religious leaders, called the Leadership Roundtable, was organised by Geoffrey Boisi, vice chairman of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and former board chairman of Boston College.

A similar meeting organised last year in Washington by Boisi was criticized as excluding conservative voices. Conservative lay Catholics held their own meeting in September and urged bishops not to put people who dissent from church teachings on boards and in other high-profile positions.

Boisi said hundreds of people were invited to the Philadelphia conference from across the political spectrum. He said he would like to see similar meetings, but did not know whether they would be repeated annually.

Catholic Church Urged to Draw on Laity (Associated Press/ 10/7/04)

The Church in America - The Way Forward in the 21st Century - A Dialogue (The Boisi Centre for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College)
Boisi Centre
Diocese of Shreveport
The Dissenters' Secret Meeting (Catholic Commentary/Crisis Magazine)

13 Jul 2004