WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's Roman Catholic bishops will hold meetings over the next two years to decide whether to convene an extraordinary council, the first since 1884, on the state of the U.S. church.
The bishops voted during their gathering last week to discuss the idea of the proposed ''plenary council'' at their next meeting in June -- and then to devote a special June 2004 assembly to the idea.
A plenary council would include U.S. bishops, lay people and representatives of religious orders and schools.
Eight bishops originally suggested the council in the wake of the clerical sex abuse crisis, and the idea drew support from many colleagues. They said it should examine broad issues while affirming church teachings.
The last plenary council, in Baltimore, was noted for promoting the system of parochial schools.
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