An archbishop known for his conservative positions has unexpectedly been elected president of the Conference of Latin America Bishops, the body that in February held a landmark conference in Puebla, Mexico, to determine the future course of the church.
Archbishop Alfonso Lopez Trujillo of Medellin, Colombia, was elected by a two-vote margin as president of CELAM, to succeed Cardinal Aloisio Lorscheider of Brazil, who declined to run for a second term because of health problems.
Lopez Trujillo had served as secretary general of CELAM during the years leading up to the Puebla conference and had been sharply criticized by supporters of liberation theology for efforts to stack the conference with conservative voices.
The final document of the Puebla conference reaffirmed the basis stance of liberation theology with its call for involvement of the church in secular politics to defend the interests of the poor and oppressed.
As a result, Lopez Trujillo's election to the CELAM presidency comes as something of a surprise. He was elected despite widespread knowledge of an embarrasing incident that took place during the Puebla meeting. During an interview, Lopez Trujillo lent what he thought was a blank tape to a Mexican journalist, but one side of the tape contained letters he had dictated that included embarrassing and indiscreet comments about fellow churchmen and his own ambitions.
The new editor of the Virginia Episcopal diocesan newspaper has resigned his post after three months following a dispute over his editorial opposition to homosexuality.
In his first editorial in the February issue of the Virginia Churchman, published in Richmond, David Virtue explained why he ordered advertisements by the Episcopal Church's unofficial homosexual caucus, Integrity, removed from the paper.
Virtue, who is an evangelical, took the view that homosexuality is forbidden by the Bible. "You can't call wrong right," he wrote.
The editorial, and continuing debate in the church over the question of ordaining known homosexuals to the priesthood, generated a flood of heated letters on both sides of the issue.
Virtue said the decision to resign was his own. In a farewell editorial in the current issue of the Churchman, he wrote: "I have no regrets about anything written." In another editorial-this one one the homosexual issue-he warned. "If the church succumbs to a decadent culture as it seems to be doing, it will have only itself to blame when finally it becomes inextricably intertwined with the world, and being indistinguishable from it, ceases to be prophetic."
A national conference of black Catholic leaders held in Hendersonville, N.C., has authorized the establishment of a high-level Commission on the Apostolate of the Church in the Black Community.
The conference called on the National Office for Black Catholics to establish a number of new programs and strengthen existing ones to serve the needs of blacks in the Catholic Church and the general community.
The Rev. Cyprian Davis told the gathering that there are nearly 1 million black Catholics in the United States today, making the Catholic Church "the fourth-largest church for blacks in America," he said.