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Black Priest to Seek Reconciliation With Catholic Leaders

July 10, 1989

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A priest who defied Roman Catholic authorities by forming a congregation emphasizing African-American traditions will present a reconciliation plan by early next week, a spokeswoman said Monday.

However, the Rev. George A. Stallings Jr. said in a statement that any discussion with the Archdiocese of Washington ″must take place on our terms and must affirm our right to religious, spiritual, liturgical and theological self-determination.″

Spokeswoman Gloria Nurse said Stallings is drafting the plan this week.

The Rev. William Lori, spokesman for Cardinal James Hickey, said, ″Father Stallings should communicate directly with the cardinal’s office about his desire to be reconciled with the Catholic Church.″ Lori said he had not seen Stallings’ statement.

Lori has said repeatedly the church hopes for a reconciliation.

Hickey suspended Stallings after the priest conducted the first service of his new Imani Temple July 2. Suspension means Stallings does not have church sanction to say Mass or perform other priestly duties.

Stallings has said he would like to see formation of an African-American Catholic Rite that would recognize the authority of the pope but give individual priests greater control over the Catholic liturgy and other matters.

His new statement said, ″Any conversation with the archdiocese will and must include among other issues the integrity of African-American worship style (and) the development of an indigenous African-American clergy and leadership.″

Stallings, 41, also said he will seek ″full participation of African- America ns in the archdiocese decision-making process.″

He has said he formed Imani Temple last month because the Catholic Church has failed its black parishioners. He has also charged the church with racism.

After services that drew more than 2,000 people to a suburban high school auditorium Sunday, Stallings said he would try to hold reconciliation discussions within 30 days.

If he returns to the church, his followers must have ″the rights to determine who we are and what we are on our own terms,″ Stallings’ statement said.

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