Religion: Priestless Rites

Catholic bishops okay services led by nuns and lay people

The nation's 302 Roman Catholic bishops were in a celebratory mood last week as they met in Baltimore to mark the 200th anniversary of the founding of the first American diocese. But their deliberations quickly turned sober as they confronted thorny problems that dominated the agenda. Among their actions: a response to AIDS that urges compassion for those with HIV infection -- and strict chastity as the only sure way to avoid the disease -- but sidesteps the bishops' earlier qualified toleration of condom education; a reiterated call for a Palestinian homeland and security for Israel; and a stepped-up antiabortion campaign.

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