To Archbishop Jean Jadot, official delegate of Pope Paul VI to the U.S. Catholic Church, the International Eucharistic Congress held in Philadelphia in August and the U. S. bishops’ “Call to Action” conference held in Detroit last month were twin events that should be evaluated in light of each other. The congress, he explained, centered on the faith aspect of the Christian life, while the three-day Detroit meeting focused “more strongly on the social dimension of our religion.” Many Catholics who were interested in one of the meetings, however, cared little about what happened at the other.
The sponsoring National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) charged the 1,340 Detroit delegates (including 100 bishops) with developing recommendations for a five-year social-action plan for the U. S. church. The delegates, chosen by their bishops and representing 152 dioceses, adopted thirty resolutions, contained in eight documents totaling 110 pages. Many of the recommendations bluntly challenged traditional Catholic positions.
It was an awesome range of issues to be covered in a single national church gathering. But, an observer noted, since this was the first time the Catholic hierarchy had given lay people a major role in decision-making, delegates had to catch up in a hurry with resolutions adopted by most mainline Protestant denominations over the past fifteen years.
Probably the most controversial of the Detroit resolutions asked the bishops to prod Rome to permit ordination of women as priests and deacons in the Western Rite of the church. A related measure asked the bishops to make a way for women to preach at masses. The delegates also went on record favoring:
• the opening of the priesthood to married persons.
• repeal of the ...1
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