About 200 priests from across the country assembled in
June 24-27, for the second annual assembly of the Association of United States
Catholic Priests (AUSCP). Seattle, Washington
Key-note speakers addressed issues related to the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium.
Among the assembly's agenda was consideration of 15 proposals offered by members as potential resolutions from the AUSCP.
The pattern of acceptance and rejection of the proposals suggests that the AUSCP is taking a moderate stand in its efforts to renew the Church and support Vatican II.
The association voted to accept a proposal to promote ongoing discussion of and support for changes in Canon Law which would allow the ordination of women to the order of the diaconate.
Membership, however, rejected the proposal calling for study of and open discussion for the ordination of women and married men to the priesthood.
The proposal to urge the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to encourage the re-introduction of general absolution (in reference to the Sacrament of Penance) in
U. S. parishes was also passed.
Other proposals rejected included: asking the USCCB to appoint a bishop as liaison to the AUSCP; asking the pope to allow use of the former (1974) Sacramentary; asking that the selection of diocesan bishops become a more transparent process in which the local churches have a voice.
Discussions about the various proposals included highly nuanced argumentation, not necessarily opposed to some resolutions in principle but rejecting them as worded or with understanding that corollaries to the proposal may be misunderstood or misdirected.
Journalist Bob Kaiser, who was Time magazine's correspondent at the Council, offered anecdotes about his experiences and perceptions. He recalled the many times he had seated around his dinner table some of the "stars" of the Council: bishops, theologians (Rahner, Kung, Congar), engaging them in assessing the struggles and direction set by the Council.
He said again and again, "The Council was a learning experience for the bishops."
The current Tablet journalist at the Vatican Bob Mickens spoke about the election of Pope Francis and the effect his unusual papal style is having on the Vatican bureaucracy and on bishops' conferences around the world.
He noted that some have criticized Papa Francesco for change only in style, but Mickens reminded the assembly that historian John O'Malley insists that after all is said and done style turns out to be substantive.
Theologian Catherine Clifford and canon lawyer Jim Coriden addressed issues rising from Lumen Gentium and the efforts of some people to restrict the aggiornamento Pope John XXIII sorely wanted for the Church.
Priest/pastor/author Pat Brennan was unable to speak to the assembly because of illness. Bishop Donald Trautman, former ordinary of the
Erie diocese, substituted,
urging the AUSCP to continue its efforts at renewal and to enter into dialogue
with the episcopacy.
Among AUSCP's goals and objectives for 2013 is widening awareness that the AUSCP exists, building bridges between the AUSCP and religious men and women, raising funds to develop a support staff, and inviting brother priests to gatherings which engage the vision of Vatican II.
Common prayer, meals, discussions and recreation created a stronger bond among the nearly 200 who attended. Total membership is slightly less than 1000 priests.
AUSCP was founded in 2011.
The AUSCP website is http://www.uscatholicpriests.org/