Leaders of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops told President Carter yesterday of their "growing dissatisfaction" with the administration's failure to support tuition tax credits for parents of parochial school children.
Archbishop John Quinn of San Francisco, head of the U.S. Catholic Conference and leader of the three-man delegation that met with Carter, told reporters after the "cordial" meeting that the church would continue to lobby for such credits. "It's not an issue that is going to go away," Quinn said.
The tax credit plan would have rebated to parents as much as $250 for each child enrolled in private or parochial elementary and secondary schools and colleges. Carter opposes the plan. It died when Congress failed to agree on whether private elementary secondary schools should be included in the program.
Aside from the tax credit issue, Quinn said the bishops and Carter reached agreement on most issues, including the Middle East conflict.
The Middle East was a key topic in the final session of the bishops' semi-annual meeting here. By a vote of 213 to 8, the bishops called for a comprehensive Middle East settlement that would preserve Israeli sovereignty behind secure borders while providing for a "homeland of their own" for Palestinians.
In the closing minutes of the meeting, a mini-revolt of younger-in terms of their tenure-bishops brought to the floor a highly controversial issue: the question of ordaining women to the priesthood.
Throughout the week, a dozen or more women, who had attended an unofficial national conference last weekend on women's ordination, had sought with little success to engage the bishops in serious dialogue on the question.
Charging that the bishops as a body "seem to be standing by ourselves" by refusing to talk with the women, Bishop Maurice J. Dingman of Des Moines said: "We ought to be in the midst of our people at all times . . . Our ministry is a ministry of reconciliation and these people are hurting. They really need us."
His remarks drew scattered applause from among the bishops - one of the few times during the meeting that happened.
Bishop Michael McAuliffe of Jefferson City, Mo., challenged Quinn's response that the issue had been dealt with when a committee of bishops was directed to meet with the women. "The difficulty with that committee," explained McAuliffe, a member, "is that there are limitations on it . . . We are directed just to listen; there is no means of dialogue."
He added: "We should form some sort of group or committee whereby we can listen to these people and listen and dialogue with them . . . They do have something to say."
Bishops James Malone of Youngstown, also a member of the committee added that the women had "expressed great dissatisfaction with the fact that we were not able to respond to them."
Archbishop William Borders of Baltimore agreed, adding: "We do need to respond . . . We are talking about women who are interested in serving Christ."
Quinn promised the bishops that "we will develop a response" to the concern they expressed.
Pressed by reporters later in a press conference, Quinn appeared to rule out the kind of discussions the bishops had asked for. "I don't think there will be any discussion on that level," he said, adding that he assumed that any discussion by a committee representing tha hierarchy "would be . . . within the frameworkof trying to elicit a better acceptance of the teaching of the church."
In other actions yesterday, the bishops called on local parishes to make structural and schools accessible to persons with limited mobility, to develop programs appropriate for both physically and mentally handicapped, and to work to ease the problems of the handicappein society as well as in church.