The 10-day gathering of the nation's Roman Catholic bishops in Collegeville, Minn., was "basically a spiritual retreat by bishops with bishops on their role in the church," said Bishop James Malone of Youngstown, Ohio, in summarizing the closed-door session that ended Tuesday.
Malone, vice president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, told a press conference here that the Collegeville gathering made no attempt to legislate or reach any action recommendations.
He said that in the small group discussions among the more than 250 bishops present there were "certain topics" which were "more frequently mentioned." He said these included:
* The individual bishop's need to find time for "his own spiritual life," continued study, and "to be personally present to people," especially his priests and co-workers and the poor.
* The need to recruit and train "co-workers" in the bishops' teaching mission, with special concern for the declining numbers of priests.
* Relations with theologians, who, he said "are an important resource to the magisterium and the church as a whole" but who, on occasion, have provided the occasion for "real pastoral harm . . . by the publicity surrounding dissent from the teaching of the church."
* The "pluralism and diversity among the bishops themselves . . . how much uniformity is needed? How much pluralism is desired?" Also, the need to involve more bishops in the work of the bishops conference.
* The church's role on issues of social justice.