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 CNS Story:

BISHOPS-TASKFORCES Nov-11-2008 (440 words) xxxn

Bishops instruct task forces to develop church priorities up to 2011

By Chaz Muth
Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops agreed Nov. 11 to grant five task forces the authority to tackle issues ranging from strengthening marriage to addressing cultural diversity in the church as priority initiatives through 2011.

During the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' fall general assembly, the bishops approved a host of goals for each task force to work on for the next year.

Those task forces are on faith formation and sacramental practice; strengthening marriage; the life and dignity of the human person; cultural diversity in the church; and the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.

The task forces have a combined membership of 45 U.S. bishops with the help of a total of 40 staff members of the conference. They are expected to come back to the 2009 fall general assembly with detailed reports about meeting the American church's agenda through 2011 on these issues, said Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., conference vice president.

"It's a tremendous investment for the conference," Bishop Kicanas said. "These are more than goals and objectives. These are lifelong challenges."

The goals of the Task Force on Cultural Diversity -- headed by Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, N.M. -- include identifying best practices and developing models for pastoring multicultural parishes, especially those with a growing Hispanic population, and inviting various cultures in the Catholic community to collaborate in addressing issues and developing initiatives that affect the whole church.

The goal of the Task Force on Strengthening Marriage -- led by Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala of Los Angeles -- is to increase understanding of the sacrament of marriage and the sacredness of human sexuality through age-appropriate education and catechesis, and work for laws and policies that protect, promote and strengthen marriage.

The goals of the Task Force on Faith Formation and Sacramental Practice -- headed by Bishop J. Peter Sartain of Joliet, Ill. -- include inviting all Catholics to a deeper relationship with Jesus in the church through formation focused on sacred scripture and sacraments, especially the Sunday Eucharist.

The goals of the Task Force on Life and Dignity of the Human Person -- lead by Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo. -- include affirming the intrinsic value of human life and the dignity of every human being in a way that transforms the culture.

The goals of the Task Force on Promotion of Vocations to the Priesthood and Consecrated Life -- headed by Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Ala. -- include educating all of the faithful on the importance of encouraging others to consider a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life.


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