An Idaho jury has awarded $1 million in damages in the case of a Montana man who said the dissident Tridentine Rite Catholics broke up his marriage of eight years and disrupted relationships with his five children.

Jerry O'Neill, who acted as his own attorney, told a jury in 1st District Court that he had a good marriage until his wife, Pauline, went to Coeur d'Alene to visit her mother who lived at a Tridentine center there. The mother, according to O'Neill, began "the brainwashing and indoctrination" of his wife.

The Tridentine movement, led by retired French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, contends that the reforms of Vatican II were illegal and continues to promote the Latin mass according to the rite decreed by the 16th century Council of Trent, now outlawed by the Vatican.

O'Neill claimed his children also had been subjected to brainwashing and that he was not allowed to see them without a church chaperone. He testified that letters he received from his wife after she joined the movement indicated that she was staying against her better judgment.

The jury of six men and six women awarded O'Neill $500,000 in compensatory damages, $250,000 in punitive damages and $50,000 to each of the children. O'Neill has legal custody of all the children, but two of the girls live with their mother and attend the Tridentine school in Coeur d'Alene.

A spokesman for the Tridentines said the group would appeal the verdict.

Church World Service, the development and relief agency of the National Council of Churches, has launched an appeal for $6.5 million, the largest goal in its 37-year history.

The massive drive is needed, service leaders say, because of the steadily worsening food crisis around the world. The group distributes aid through overseas churches.

Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla.) is organizing a second mercy flight to El Salvador to transport medical supplies contributed by pharmaceutical companies. The supplies, to be used to treat civilians, will be distributed by the Knights of Malta, a Roman Catholic order devoted to medical work, in conjunction with Project Hope.

On Aug. 4, McCollum arranged a shipment of 5,000 pounds of medical supplies after visiting El Salvador last month.

An ambivalent convention of Catholic War Veterans unanimously approved a resolution that included both "acceptance" of the U.S. Catholic bishops' pastoral letter on nuclear war and qualifications that took sharp issue with some of the bishops' positions.

A spokesman told reporters after the vote at the group's convention last week in Philadelphia that delegates really opposed the pastoral, which stops just short of judging nuclear warfare immoral, but did not want to defy the church hierarchy.

The resolution, which began with reluctant obedience to the bishops' teaching on nuclear warfare, went on to warn that American defense policy could be jeopardized by the hierarchy's stand.

United Methodist leaders report that their quadrennial General Conference, scheduled for Baltimore next spring, will have record numbers of women--particularly clergy--and a slight increase in ethnic minorities among the delegates, which have been elected by this spring's regional annual conferences.

A newly named international Anglican-Roman Catholic commission will hold its first meeting in Venice, beginning Aug. 30, with the mandate to explore the practical steps necessary for the restoration of full communion between the two branches of Christianity.

A national ecumenical conference of college and university students is meeting at the University of Maryland this weekend to explore the development of a nationwide Christian student movement.

The Fall River, Mass., Catholic diocesan newspaper, The Anchor, has called editorially for the resignation of Rep. Gerry Studds (D-Mass.), who was censured recently by the House of Representatives for having sexual relations with a 17-year-old male page.

The Rev. Francis H. Wade, rector of the Memorial Church of the Good Shepherd in Parkersburg, W. Va., will be installed as rector of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Washington on Sept. 14.

The Rev. John Mayhew, of Santa Maria, Calif., has been named superior general of the Congregation of Josephites, an international Catholic order that in this country has specialized in ministry to black Catholics. He is the first American to head the order.

Three women and four men were elected presidents of the World Council of Churches at the Sixth Assembly. They are Dr. Lois Wilson, Kingston, Ontario, former moderator of the United Church of Canada; Dame Nita Barrow, of Barbados, a Methodist who has been president of the World YWCA; Marga Buehrig, Zurich, member of the Swiss Reformed Church;

Paulos Mar Gregorios, India, Metropolitan of Delhi and the North, Orthodox Syrian Church of the East; Patriarch Ignatios, Lebanon, Greek Orthodox patriarch of Antioch and all the East; Bishop Johannes Hempel, Dresden, E. Germany, head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony; and Archbishop W.P.K. Makhulu, Botswana, head of the Anglican Province of Central Africa.