U.S. priests want married men to be ordained, support worker pensions, immigration reform and opening up bishop-selection process

A proposal to ask American Catholic bishops to request church approval to ordain married men as priests was approved June 25 by the 230 priests attending an assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests this week in St. Louis.

The group also announced support for full payment of worker pensions, asked that lay people have a role in the selection of diocesan bishops, and made plans to help Catholics learn more about Church teaching in regard to immigration rights and responsibilities.

In recommending a call for the church to ordain married men, the association cited published reports that Pope Francis would welcome such a request from bishop’s conferences around the world.

During the four-day assembly, the priests formed a task force to clarify the rights and duties of immigrants and to develop materials for preachers and teachers by mid-2015.

They also expressed continued concern about the 2011 translation of the prayers used by Catholics at Mass. They agreed to form a task force charged with archiving problematic portions of the several texts with the goal of improving the next translation.

The priests approved a goal of greater cooperation with a group known as the Catholic Common Ground Initiative. This effort is aimed at establishing dialogue among Church groups with various viewpoints.

The priests also worked on methods to increase membership in their association, and to improve relationships between the AUSCP and diocesan bishops.

Other activities during the assembly included electronic communication with leaders of priests’ associations in Austria and Ireland, and participation in a panel discussion with a representative of an Australian priests’ association.

The 230 priests who participated in the assembly also heard four keynote speakers on matters related to the Second Vatican Council document, Dei Verbum, having to do with Sacred Scripture, divine revelation and effective preaching.

The priests celebrated Mass with Archbishop Emeritus John R. Quinn of San Francisco and Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis. Quinn, who has written two books on Vatican reform, received the association’s John XXIII Award during a banquet June 25.

Reverend James J. Bacik of the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, also received the John XXIII award. He is an author, campus minister, theologian and university professor.

The association received recent media attention after issuing a letter in early June to Pope Francis, expressing “sadness and dismay” over the tone of public comments made by a Vatican official to the Leadership Conference of Catholic Women in the United States. The priests said they were praying that Vatican’s concern would be settled by means of “a genuinely dialogic process, conducted with gentleness and reverence.”

The text of the AUSCP letter to Pope Francis is available on the website, www.uscatholicpriests.org, along with more details about the assembly. For comment or more information about the issues included in this release, please contact Reverend Robert Bonnot, chairman of the board of the AUSCP, or Paul Leingang, AUSCP Communications.