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BY John Lilly
Plan Would Mean Far Fewer
WASHINGTON — When the U.S.
bishops meet this week, they will discuss a draft plan to reduce drastically
the number of committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Under the proposal, the number of
bishops’ program or mission committees would drop from 35 to 14. The number of
executive-level or management committees would go from five to four. Ad hoc
committees — currently numbering 16 — would be eliminated, although ad hoc
subcommittees or temporary task forces could be created when needed.
As in the current organization’s
structure, some committees could have permanent subcommittees dealing with
areas that require extensive ongoing work or special expertise. The committee
restructuring, to be voted on when the bishops meet again in November, is a
first major step in a planned streamlining of the bishops’ national offices.
Staffing changes are to be discussed and decided the following year.
More Americans Oppose Embryonic
WASHINGTON — Despite pressure from
supporters of embryonic stem-cell research, “Congress should not be misled”
into believing that most Americans back the use of federal funds for research
that kills embryos, according to an official of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for
deputy director of the pro-life office, cited a new poll that showed 48% of
Americans oppose federal funding of stem-cell research that requires killing human
embryos, while only 39% support such funding. The rest said they didn’t know or
refused to answer.
When told that scientists disagree
on whether embryonic stem cells or adult stem cells would “end up being more
successful in treating diseases,” 57% of survey respondents said they favored
research “using adult stem cells and other alternatives, to see if there is no
need to destroy human embryos for research.” Only 24% said they would support
“all methods, including those that require destroying human embryos, to see
which will be most successful.” Another 11% said they did not support either
option, and the rest said they didn’t know or declined to answer.
Portland Abuse Trials Set
PORTLAND, Ore. — Even as a federal
bankruptcy judge in Oregon
approved a schedule for trials over clergy sex abuse, lawyers for the
Archdiocese of Portland continued to work on a way to estimate how much it will
take to pay 110 remaining claims.
“The most important thing about
the estimation process is that once the claims are estimated we will be able to
move forward,” said Susan Ford, a Portland
attorney leading the estimation work for the archdiocese.
In March, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge
Elizabeth Perris opened the door for using the estimations to cap the amount
the archdiocese must set aside to pay all claims. She was to preside at a key
hearing on the subject June 15. Ford and the archdiocese point to the 140
pre-bankruptcy abuse settlements as a record of how much
the plaintiffs tend to get paid. Those payments totaled $53 million. But
attorneys for claimants say the results of upcoming trials — which they expect
will exceed the out-of-court settlements — should be used as the example.