According to a report in the National Catholic Reporter (September 1), the Vatican has told the U.S. bishops that the general secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops has to be a priest, and that the NCCB must change its bylaws to reflect that requirement.
Sister Sharon Euart, currently an associate general secretary, was being considered for the post, hence the inquiry by the bishops to Rome: Could a lay person or a religious be elected? Rome says no. Euart, a highly respected canon lawyer, has held her current job for more than a decade but will leave at the end of this year. According to a later NCR report (September 15), she has been forced to resign by the incoming general secretary, Monsignor William Fay.
We turned to a long-time Vatican observer, Father Guido Sarducci, for an assessment of this decision by Rome. He offered the following: "First, the Vatican has no objection to women being secretaries, they simply cannot be general secretaries. Second, Jesus never chose a woman to be a general secretary, nor did any ecumenical council, including Vatican II. Finally, the general secretary might have to act, in emergencies, in persona Christi. And, for iconic purposes, biology counts."