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Pastoral plan confront crisis in San Francisco archdiocese.

SAN DIEGO - San Francisco Archbishop John R. Quinn, urged on by his priests, has announced a three-year pastoral plan and "call to action" to face up to the critical fiscal, structural and organizational problems affecting the church there.

Quinn has established a pastoral-planning commission to inaugurate an archdiocese-wide consultation process to "prepare SF for third millennium," he said (see accompanying story). The archbishop has also spoken of "severe economic challenges" and "a new, streamlined structure for the chancery" - the latter is usually phraseology linked to staff cuts and office closures - and of parish "realignments," which might mean closures.

San Francisco also faces crises not present on the same scale in most archdioceses: an increasing elderly population ("only 16 percent of the population is 18 or younger, the lowest youth census of any major city in the U.S.," he said); a very high percentage of HIV-positive residents ("predictions are the epidemic will get worse," he said); and serious and highly expensive earthquake-threatened physical safety problems in many churches.

Some sources say that, at first glance, Quinn's Feb. 8 "vision" statement to his priests and archdiocesan leaders looks like an oblique approach to addressing these severe difficulties.

Quinn, opening his address as "the eighth letter of the Book of Revelation," poetically speaks of an "imagination stirred by dreams" and the "tenacious fog of dismal realities."

But Quinn said he is asking: "If the risen Lord were to address an eighth letter to the church of San Francisco, what would he see and what would he say?"

In short:

* That San Francisco is both rich and poor, "the three counties are among the richest per capita in the United States. Yet, side by side ... is increasing homelessness and hunger and growing numbers of families living below the poverty line."

* That "our pilgrim church witnesses the constant attack on family life, (as) courts and other entities appropriate the authority and role of parents; (as) divorce, adultery and promiscuity are glorified in the media ... and growing numbers of Catholics succumb to the deceitful propaganda of |pro-choice' support (for) abortion."

* That "he would also see new (Catholic) life burgeoning" in many settings.

Quinn himself, by the year 2000, said he would like to see "an imaginative church. This (multiethnic) archdiocese is a microcosm of the New World in which the New World church is struggling to be born."

He said he would like to see "a collaborative church in which no one is made to feel unwelcome or unwanted, a witnessing church."

The Lord, said Quinn, has written seven letters: the people of the archdiocese of San Francisco, he said, "are the eighth letter. What will you write?"

'49ers chaplain named

head of archdiocesan

planning commission

SAN DIEGO - The chaplain to the San Francisco '49ers, Monsignor Peter G. Armstrong, has been named chairman of the new 11-member San Francisco Archdiocesan Planning Commission.

Armstrong, pastor of St. Pius Church in Redwood City, has to see that the commission's recommendations three years from now are implemented by 2000. But, said commission facilitator Stephen R. Finn, "some of what needs to be looked at won't wait that long."

The process includes cataloging archdiocesan resources and parish-wide consultations and tapping the laity for greater involvement. Essentially, "we are looking at a church of 1964 structures that need updating to meet the challenges," said one commission member, Father John K. Ring, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church.

Commission members include two women religious, Mercy Sister Marian Rose Power and Dominican Sister Kristen Wombacher; three pastors (the other is Father Michael Harriman of St. Thomas the Apostle); and six laypeople: Finn, a lawyer; Dennis Burke; Elizabeth Byas of the mayor's Office of Economic Development; Norma Gamboa of the Filipino community; William Lopez, a St. Stephen's parishioner; and retired banker James Miscoll.
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Author:Jones, Arthur
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Date:Feb 19, 1993
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