DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     November 19, 1998     vol. 9, no. 227

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          WASHINGTON, DC (CWNews.com) - The National Conference of Catholic Bishops elected a new president and vice-president on Tuesday, choosing an African-American bishop from Illinois to become the first black vice-president of the body.

          Customarily, the vice-president of the NCCB is elected president at the expiration of the current president's term, putting Bishop Wilton Gregory of Belleville, Illinois in line to head the group. The bishop is a Catholic convert and only the fifth black bishop to head a US diocese. "I'm sure for African-American Catholics this is a great moment, not because of me but because of us," Bishop Gregory said. "I can represent our presence in a very symbolic but real way."

          Bishop Joseph Fiorenza of Houston was elected president of the NCCB. The new president is known for his strong pro-life positions and traditional views on Church doctrines and disciplines. However, in the early 1990s, he was president of the committee overseeing the Campaign for Human Development, which has been criticized for supporting left-wing organizations that often contradict Church teaching.

          "In terms of doctrine, I believe what the Catholic Church believes and teaches," Bishop Fiorenza said. "Politically, I'm more progressive on social issues affecting life in the United States. I believe that involves the church helping poor people and giving them an opportunity to help themselves."

          The bishops also approved a new document on peace, justice, and the economy that calls on all Americans to promote the dignity of human life and defend the poor. Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit criticized the document as not going far enough and failing to criticize the Church herself. The document also fails to criticize the Catholic Church itself, Gumbleton said. "If we're really going to get serious," he said, "why not challenge ourselves? We have Catholic hospitals still fighting labor unions," despite his view that the Church mandates the right for workers to unionize.

          On Wednesday, the bishops were due to discuss disabilities, when they vote on the statement, "Welcome and Justice for People With Disabilities."

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

Nov 19, 1998       volume 9, no. 227


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