Roman Catholic Archbishop John R. Roach of St. Paul-Minneapolis has been named chairman of a committee of six bishops and four lay persons that is charged with carrying out the next phase of the American church's controversial Call to Action program.
As part of Call to Action, which is sponsored by American bishops, a massive nationwide program of hearings and consultations was undertaken to elicit from grass-roots Catholics their concerns about injustices in both church and society.
The theme of the program, conducted as part of the Catholic Church's bicentennial observance, was "Liberty and Justice for All."
Last October, at a three-day conference in Detroit that was said to be the most broadly representative Catholic group ever assembled in this country, the grass-roots concerns were refined into 182 recommendations for church and social change.
Some of the more controversial proposals for change, such as extension of the priesthood to women and married men and the lifting of church bans on contraception, were seen as too radical by some conservative bishops who tried to scuttle the Call to Action program.
In their meeting last month, however, a majority of the bishops reaffirmed their commitment both to Call to Action and to the consultative process as a permanent fixture in the American church.
The Roach Committee, which is heavily weighted with members whose records reflect a commitment to church involvement in effecting social change, was mandated by the bishops to oversee development of a five-year "Plan of Action" for setting social priorities of the church.
Members of the committee, which was named earlier this week, include Archbishops Thomas A. Donnellan of Atlanta and Peter L. Gerety of Newark, Bishops Joseph A. McNicholas of Springfield, Ill., Joseph L. Howze of Biloxi, Miss., and Auxiliary Bishop Manuel D. Moreno of Los Angeles.
Lay members are Teresa Posey of Washington, D.C., Joseph V. Libonati of Denver, Fred Simon of Cleveland and Geri Marcavage of Leesville, S.C.