The two-woman staff of the Roman Catholic bishops' committee for human values, an office repeatedly threatened with a cutoff of funds, has resigned.
In September, the National Comference of Catholic Bishops' committee on research, plans and programs, which has preliminary budget oversight for the hierarchy programs, recommended closing the human values secretariat, which constitutes the church's formal link with the nation's scientific community.
But the planning group's recommendations to balance the conference budget by eliminating both the human values program and the services of the activist priest, Msgr. George Higgins, were bitterly protested when word of the proposed cuts leaked out.
The volume of the protests, which in Higgins' case were led by vociferous outcries from top labor as well as church leaders, forced the bishops to rescind their recommendations and continue funding the two programs.
Higgins has indicated he will remain with the conference until his retirement in 1980. But Sister Ann Neale and Kathryn Rucker, executive director and research associate, respectively, of the human values secretariat, both left the conference staff yesterday.
Neale, a member of HEW Secretary Joseph Califano's committee on the rights and responsibilities of women, will teach part-time at Catholic University during the coming academic term.
The human values office, which has been functioning only a little more than a year, was established to keep the church abreast of contemporary developments in the scientific world, particularly in the life sciences.
The office is responsible for briefing the church leadership on these developments and for assessing the religious and ethical implications of new scientific descoveries.
In addition, the office attempts to raise some questions of ethics and human values directly with scientists.
Contacted in her Washington office earlier this week, Neale declined to elabarate on the formal statement announcing her resignation which she said was offered "with considerable regret." She also offered "all possible assistance in the transition to new directorship."