THE Bishops of England and Wales have set up working parties to look at invalid and mixed marriages.
Bishop Moverley, Auxiliary of Leeds, will chair a working party examining invalid marriages and he will also be a member of a committee under Bishop Langton-Fox of Menevia to study whether the present Directory on Mixed Marriages needs revision.
Archbisop Dwyer of Birmingham, new president of the Bishops' Conference, said after the Bishops' Low Week meeting last week that he was well aware of the suffering caused by irregular marriages. One man he knew, married to a divorcee, could not receive Communion. When the Archbishop informed the man that he could at least attend Mass, he was told: "Going to Mass without Communion is like playing football without a ball."
The Archbishop said he had been surprised by the packed churches and tremendous response to the new Rite of General Absolution in Birmingham, because he had at first thought too much fuss was being made about its introduction.
People who had not had their children baptised, others in irregular marriages and with similar problems rang up to see if they could be involved in it.
One priest he knew had persuaded two of his flock who had long neglected confession to attend the general absolution, after which they found no trouble in making an individual confession, though they had felt unable to go before, he said.
But the conference was of the general opinion that this new Rite of Penance, while very successful, should not he used too often.
The bishops, worried about the amount of reports submitted and the degree of administrative detail at the conference's two annual meetings, have set up a committee to look at the workings of the conference.
If the standing committee
could take on more work, the conference would be more free to concentrate on pastoral matters and general principles, Archbishop Dwyer said. The Churches' Unity Commission, started at the initiative of the United Reform Church, has asked the major Christian denominations to look at their beliefs in ten differenct areas, "to put the skids under the ecumenical movement," Archbishop Dwyer said.
A working party under Bishop Clark, recently appointed Bishop of East Anglia has been set up by the Ecumenical Commission of England and Wales to consider this, and report in October.
The Education Commission has asked for a wider representation among its membership to include people not confined to schools or curricula but involved in all forms of education and its content, which is being considered.
The Catholic Youth Service Council reported on its ongoing project to identify the pastoral needs of 16 to 24-year-olds, directed by Sister Madeleine Cecile. Another point considered was the Laity Commission's paper on existing lay ministries, such as those of Acolyte and Reader and possible new ministries, such as that of Catechist.
The Bishops have just received the preparatory document on the fifth Synod of Bishops, to be held in Rome in September 1977, on the theme of Catechetics. with special reference to children and young people. Mgr Kevin Nicholls, new secretary of the Catechetics Department, will collate responses being sought from the Commissions and others on the subject.
The bishops considered the report of the Catholic Committee for Racial Justice and were aware of the problems of non-whites and may make a Statement on the subject, Archbisop Dwyer said.
October 17-24 is to be a week of prayer for peace with justice in Northern Ireland, October 31 has • been named Age Action Sunday and Sunday December 5 will be Prisoners' Sunday.
Archbishop Hume of West minster, who requested not to he considered for president of the conference, was elected vice-president.
Commenting on his first Bishops' meeting at the press conference. he said: "The greatest impression I got was of
a body of men very pastorally concerned."
He said he had been struck by the open way in which the bishops had expressed their minds, which he thought one of the strengths of the Church for the future.