by Jonathan Petre
DELEGATES to the National —Priests have—Peen asked to help frame an agenda for the next Conference in September. bearing in mind the words of Pope John Paul during his recent visit.
In a letter from the Conference Chairman, Fr Robert Spence, delegates are asked "to consult with seriousness the priests you represent to identify two or three key subjects that the Holy Father has emphasized, which we as priests can follow up practically and pastorally."
Recommendations for the Conference. which is being held at Newman College in Birmingham, should be submitted by the middle of next week. "Apart from the suggestions arising from what the Pope will have said, miscellaneous resolutions on any issues to do with the life and work of priests will be welcome," the letter says.
In March, Cardinal Basil Hume presented the Pope with a briefing dossier from the National Conference of Priests, which included a request for wider use of general absolution, and resolutions for irregular marriages. the Third World and ecumenism.
Part of the task of the Conference will now be to see how the Pope's words relate to these issues.
But Fr Spence emphasises that the Conference should primarily be interested in the most practical application of the Pope's teaching.
"In Cardiff, Cardinal Hume summed up the Pope's visit in five points which would be an appropriate starting point for a synod or a National Pastoral Congress. Our feeling is that we must tackle _the down-to-earth issues after the euphoria has evaporated," Fr Spence said this week.
The bishops of England and Wales at e at present consulting priests at deanery level about next year's World Synod of Bishops, on the topic of reconciliation. It may be that the Conference of Priests will wish to relate their former discussion of general absolution to the Synod planning.