- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2006

Bishops conference mulls scaling back

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has proposed reducing its budget and cutting jobs, while merging several committees to streamline its work.

The bishops are considering eliminating 28 jobs and leaving unfilled 35 already vacant positions from the conference’s 225-member staff. Employees who remain would contribute more toward their health insurance. The restructuring would also reduce by half the 68 committees, subcommittees and task forces that carry out the conference’s work.

The changes would reduce the conference’s financial dependency on the nation’s dioceses, which provide for roughly 10 percent of the conference’s budget.

The nation’s bishops are scheduled to vote on the proposal at their assembly in November in Baltimore. At previous national meetings, several bishops had asked for relief from annual conference payments for their financially struggling dioceses. Some bishops also demanded greater efficiency in conference projects.

Cathedral seeks funds for repairs

LONDON — Canterbury Cathedral has started an appeal for $80 million to fund major repairs, including restoring crumbling masonry and replacing a leaking roof.

Trustees said that the five-year appeal aims to prevent further deterioration to the cathedral, seat of the archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the world’s 77 million Anglicans.

“The picture-postcard image masks a very different story, a story of deterioration caused by centuries of weathering and modern pollution,” Chairman Allan Willett said. “Canterbury Cathedral is under serious threat and a threat that is accelerating and growing in size.”

John Burton, a surveyor at the cathedral, said the building, which receives more than 1 million visitors a year, “is now deteriorating faster than our conservation program can keep pace with.”

“The challenge we now have to save this building is huge,” he said. “The building is very complex. It contains many different types of stone and the whole range of architectural styles and structures.”

The cathedral was damaged by German bombing during World War II. Parts of the roof have suffered serious structural damage because beams were encased in concrete to stabilize them after the war.

Episcopal leader urges patience

NEW YORK — The outgoing leader of the Episcopal Church is asking Episcopalians for patience amid meetings about divisions over the Bible and homosexuals.

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold said in a Sept. 28 letter to Episcopalians that they should follow the discussion process laid out by Anglican leaders and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the Anglican spiritual leader, who plan to meet in February.

Bishop Griswold said it should be “a process of mutual growth, which calls for patience, mutual understanding and generosity of spirit.”

Bishop Griswold was reacting partly to a meeting of Anglican leaders in Kigali, Rwanda, last month, who are known as the Global South bishops. The church leaders, who believe the Bible bars homosexual relationships, backed the creation of a separate Anglican entity in the United States for Episcopalian conservatives. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. representative of world Anglicanism.

Bishop Griswold said such a move would create “chaos” and would hurt the church’s mission.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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