[By Christopher White from Catholic Voices USA] Pope Francis’s address to the U.S. Catholic Bishops at St. Matthew’s Cathedral began with a strong statement in support of the US Bishops and their fight for religious liberty in the United States—a sign of his solidarity with them as they continue to battle against the Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate. He also spoke of the sexual abuse scandal in the Church and admonished them to never allow such atrocities to happen again. He reminded the bishops of their need to be humble servants, supporting their pastors and their flock.
On the Church in the United States he said:
“It is important that the Church in the United States also be a humble home, a family fire which attracts men and women through the attractive light and warmth of love.”
On building a culture of life:
“The innocent victim of abortion, children who die of hunger or from bombings, immigrants who drown in the search for a better tomorrow, the elderly or the sick who are considered a burden, the victims of terrorism, wars, violence and drug trafficking, the environment devastated by man’s predatory relationship with nature: At stake in all of this is the gift of God, of which we are noble stewards but not masters.”
On the role of bishops:
“Our greatest joy is to be shepherds, and only shepherds, pastors with undivided hearts and selfless devotion.”
“Be pastors close to people, pastors who are neighbors and servants. Let this closeness be expressed in a special way towards your priests. Support them, so that they can continue to serve Christ with an undivided heart, for this alone can bring fulfillment to ministers of Christ.”
“We are promoters of the culture of encounter. We are living sacraments of the embrace between God’s riches and our poverty. We are witnesses of the abasement and the condescension of God who anticipates in love our every response. The heart of our identity is to be sought in constant prayer, in preaching and in shepherding the flock entrusted to our care.”
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