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FULL TEXT: Archbishop Gomez calls for evangelizing response to secular age

Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, California. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Baltimore, Md., Nov 16, 2022 / 12:45 pm (CNA).

Editor's note: Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, the outgoing president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, addressed his fellow U.S. bishops on Nov. 15 at their annual fall assembly in Baltimore. He used the occasion to speak passionately — and optimistically — about how evangelization can counteract the increasing secularization of society. The full text of his speech is below.

My brothers, 

First of all, I want to say that it’s been a privilege to serve this conference and the family of God in America. Thank you for your patience and thank you for standing by me with your prayers. 

During these last three years, I’ve been blessed with the rare opportunity to hear the concerns of many of the faithful Catholics that we serve across the country. 

I’ve been touched by these conversations. With young mothers and fathers who are trying to raise their children to know Jesus in a difficult culture. 

With young people, who are trying to make Jesus the way for their lives and trying to live their faith with integrity and joy. All of this gives me much hope for the future. 

We’ve been through a lot of changes together. 

We’ve been through a pandemic; through a long season of unrest in our cities; through a presidential election; through a time of deepening political, economic, and cultural divisions; the overturning of Roe vs. Wade; a new war in Europe; a worldwide refugee crisis; and troubling issues here in this country.

Through it all, brothers, I’ve been inspired by your faithfulness, by your love for Jesus Christ and our people, and by your fraternity and fellowship as we seek to carry out Our Lord’s calling. 

We’ve done some beautiful things together, things that have never been done before. We united in a moment of prayer with our Holy Father and the nations of the world during the pandemic, we rededicated our nation to the Blessed Mother, and we launched an ambitious program for Eucharistic Revival. We’ve been through a lot, and we are doing a lot. 

The challenge of ministering in this moment is how to maintain some kind of perspective. 

We live in a noisy, distracted media culture. And our society has moved hard and fast toward an uncompromising secularism; traditional norms and values are being tested like never before. 

During these past three years, I keep coming back to something that Pope Francis said: “Ours is not an age of change, but a change of age.”

In his interventions during the pandemic, and also in his social encyclicals, Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti, the Holy Father has helped us to see clearly, that what’s going on in the world today is much deeper than some global “reset” or realignment. 

The trials of this age are spiritual. There’s a struggle going on for the human heart. 

This change of age is an apostolic moment, it’s a new opening for the Gospel. All of us in the Church are being called to a deeper conversion.

All of us are being called to step up and to open every door for Jesus Christ, to shine his light into every area of our culture and society; to bring every heart to a new encounter with the living God.

In his retreat talks at our June special assembly, Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney reminded us of our identity and mission as bishops. 

He reminded us that we are successors of the apostles, pastors and preachers, missionaries and evangelizers of culture. And our role is crucial. 

It is not inevitable that our country will fall into secularism. The vast majority of our neighbors still believe in God. 

Tens upon tens of millions of Catholics still serve God every day, and we are making a beautiful difference in the life of this country. 

Our Catholic people are teachers and healers, seekers of justice and peace. We are serving the poor and vulnerable, raising up men and women of virtue, building strong communities and families. 

All across this land, Catholics bear witness to America’s promise that all men and women are created equal, that we are brothers and sisters under a God who loves us.

As many of you know, one of my favorite Americans is Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. 

In one of her retreat notes, she wrote: “There is room for greater saints now than ever before. Never has the world been so organized — press, radio, education, recreation — to turn minds away from Christ. … We are all called to be saints.”

Dorothy Day wrote these words in the early 1940s, long before “big tech” and the internet. So, we understand: the challenges we face today are nothing new. 

Now more than ever, the Church needs a bold pastoral strategy to communicate the Gospel, to use every media platform to turn hearts and minds toward Christ, to call our people to be great saints. 

But what also strikes me about her words is her confidence. Dorothy Day was convinced that only saints can change the world. And she’s right. Holiness has always been the hidden force in human history. 

The kingdom grows through men and women who are passionately loving the world, as God so loved the world. There is that lovely line from the early Church that we all remember: “What the soul is to the body, Christians are to the world.”3 

Today we need to raise up a new generation of saints, holy men and women in every area of American life. 

That’s why I’m hopeful for the upcoming Synod of Bishops. Because the Synod is about our vocation to love Jesus and to build his kingdom in the ordinary circumstances of our everyday lives. 

The Synod reminds us that the Church is all of us together — bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians; religious and consecrated; lay people in every profession! 

One of the most moving moments in the history of this episcopal conference was the address given by the Servant of God, Sister Thea Bowman, in 1989.

In describing the African American experience, Sister Thea told the bishops: “The Church … is a family of families and the family has got to stay together. We know that if we do stay together … we shall overcome … and build together a holy city, a New Jerusalem … where they’ll know we are his, because we love one another.” 

Brothers, that’s what this moment is all about. 

It’s about remembering that we’re in this together, that we belong to God, and that we’re all called to be saints. It’s about each one of us doing what God is calling us to do to build his kingdom. 

What holds us together, what makes us one, is the Eucharist. Which is why our Eucharistic Revival is so important. 

The Eucharist is the mystery of our Creator’s love, the mystery of his desire to share his divine life in tender friendship with each of us. So, let’s open the doors in all our churches, and let’s invite our people back, to come and see how much Jesus loves them. 

Just one last thought. In the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in our nation’s capital, engraved in one of the chapel walls, are the words of one of our predecessors, the Venerable Frederic Baraga, first bishop of what is now the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan. A missionary from Slovenia, he loved and defended the native peoples that he came to serve. 

His words on that wall are a prayer. They read: “This is all I desire, to be where God wants me to be.” Brothers, let us have only that desire — to be where God wants us to be, and to do what God is calling us to do.

Thank you for listening and thank you for these last three years. Entrusting all of us to the heart of Holy Mary, the Immaculate Conception, I ask that God bless you and all the people you serve.

Bishops elect Burbidge pro-life chair; other votes signal no dramatic policy shifts

Bishops Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend (left), Michael Burbidge of Arlington (center), and Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City (right) / Credit: Shannon Mullen/CNA, Kate Veik/CNA, and Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

Baltimore, Md., Nov 16, 2022 / 12:10 pm (CNA).

Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, a seasoned communicator viewed as a staunch defender of the right to life, was elected chair of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee Wednesday.

The bishops, meeting in Baltimore for their annual fall assembly, chose Burbidge over Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri, by a vote of 174-63.

The pro-life chair was one of several high-profile leadership decisions the bishops have made this week. Taken together, the moves signal that there will be no dramatic policy shifts within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for the next several years.

On Tuesday, by wide margins, the bishops elected a new conference president and vice president: Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, whom Burbidge will succeed as chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

Both Broglio, 70, and Lori, 71, will serve three-year terms, commencing after the bishops’ meeting ends Thursday.

In other key elections Wednesday, Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley was elected USCCB secretary over Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark (130-104), and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, was tabbed as the next chair of the Committee for Religious Liberty over San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone (165-77).

In other USCCB committee chair election results:

  • Canonical Affairs and Church Governance: Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, 147-91, over Bishop Alfred A. Schlert of Allentown, Pennsylvania

  • Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs: Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania, 128-111, over Bishop Peter L. Smith of Portland, Oregon

  • Evangelization and Catechesis: Indianapolis Archbishop Charles Thompson, 149-90, over Bishop William D. Byrne of Springfield, Massachusetts

  • International Justice and Peace: Bishop W. Elias Zaidan of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, 148-95, over Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson J. Perez 

  • Protection of Children and Young People: Bishop Barry C. Knestout of Richmond, Virginia, 127-114, over Bishop Elias R. Lorenzo, OSB, auxiliary bishop of the Newark Archdiocese

Outspoken abortion opponent

Burbidge, 65, who has led the Arlington Diocese since December 2016, is regarded as an experienced teacher of the faith who has not shied away from weighing in on hot-button issues, including abortion.

“Bishop Burbidge has been outspoken in his commitment to making pro-life issues a centerpiece of the activities in the Arlington Diocese and the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Olivia Gans Turner, president of Virginia Society for Human Life, said in a statement to CNA.   

“I have had the pleasure to know Bishop Burbidge since he was bishop of Raleigh,” she continued. “We met while we were both speaking at multiple pro-life events there. I knew he would bring that same dedication and compassion to protecting all innocent human life with him to Virginia. 

“It has been exciting to see him expand pro-life efforts in Northern Virginia. Pro-lifers of every faith and no faith congratulate him,” Turner added. “The USCCB has made a good selection for this important position.”

Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia  CNA
Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia CNA

Jeff Caruso, executive director of the Virginia Catholic Conference, called Burbidge “a joyful and energetic leader for life.”

“His dedication to evangelizing the dignity of every life and working for the protection and care of unborn children, their mothers, and their families resonates with clarity and conviction in the Diocese of Arlington, in Virginia, and well beyond,” he said in a statement to CNA. “I was excited to learn that he has been elected to chair the USCCB’s pro-life committee.”

In August 2021, Burbidge was the first U.S. bishop to publish a catechetical letter on the Church’s teaching related to transgenderism, calling for charity while also discouraging practices such as gender “transitioning” and using gendered pronouns disconnected from someone’s sex. 

More recently, in May of this year, Burbidge issued a Communion ban against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Arlington Diocese because of her pro-abortion stance. His action extended the ban Cordileone issued in San Francisco, her home diocese.

In October, Burbidge denounced U.S. President Joe Biden’s stated intention to codify a national right to abortion should Democrats win control of Congress, saying, “The role of Congress is to pass laws that serve the common good — and yet this priority of the president only brings about pain and death.”

Burbidge fills the chairmanship that Lori is vacating due to his new role as USCCB vice president. Burbidge will serve the remaining two years of Lori’s term.

The other chairs elected Wednesday will serve as chairmen-elect of their respective committees for one year, beginning at the conclusion of this week’s assembly. After that they will serve three-year terms as chairs.

Secretary-elect’s views on abortion, Pelosi’s ban

Coakley, the secretary-elect, has been an outspoken foe of the death penalty and has sought clemency for prisoners condemned to execution. In his role as chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development he has joined calls for stricter gun-control laws.

Like Burbidge, the 67-year-old Oklahoma City bishop has voiced support for Cordileone’s ban on Pelosi receiving Communion.

“I applaud the courage of Archbishop Cordileone and his leadership in taking this difficult step,” he said. He asked for prayers for the archbishop, for Pelosi, for the protection of the unborn, and for “the conversion of hearts and minds.”

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley preaching during Mass in the cathedral in 2021. Archdiocese of Oklahoma City
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley preaching during Mass in the cathedral in 2021. Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

Another distinguishing feature of Coakley’s episcopate in Oklahoma City, which began in February 2011, has been his response to Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditiones custodes restricting the Traditional Latin Mass.

Coakley initially granted temporary permission for priests currently celebrating the old Mass to continue to do so, pending further study. In August 2021 he said he understood that the pope’s document aimed to give bishops “the ability to address divisions or a lack of unity caused by the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy in some places.”

“I have not found that sort of division to be evident in parishes of our archdiocese,” he said. He determined that Masses at specific parishes “may be retained.”

In 2014, Coakley’s archdiocese filed a lawsuit to stop Satanists from using a stolen host in a “black mass” in Oklahoma City. The event organizers returned the host after the lawsuit was filed.

A new voice in defense of religious liberty

Rhoades, the chairman-elect of the Committee on Religious Liberty, is fluent in Spanish and able to celebrate in Spanish, Italian, Vietnamese, and English. He has led the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese since January 2010.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, was tabbed as the next chair of the Committee for Religious Liberty on Nov. 16, 2022, in Baltimore. Shannon Mullen/CNA
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, was tabbed as the next chair of the Committee for Religious Liberty on Nov. 16, 2022, in Baltimore. Shannon Mullen/CNA

Rhoades, who turns 65 on Nov. 26, hasn’t shied away from public comment on the actions of pro-choice politicians. In 2016, he said it was wrong for the University of Notre Dame to honor then-vice president — now president — Joe Biden with its honorary Laetare Medal, which honors a Catholic with achievements in the arts and sciences.

“I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any ‘pro-choice’ public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he or she has other positive accomplishments in public service, since direct abortion is gravely contrary to the natural law and violates a very fundamental principle of Catholic moral and social teaching: the inalienable right to life of every innocent human being from the moment of conception,” Rhoades said at the time.

In 2012, Rhoades said it was an attack on religious freedom for the Obama administration to mandate that all employers, including religious, must offer coverage of sterilization, abortifacients, and contraception.

Jonah McKeown and Joe Bukuras contributed to this story.

New USCCB president Broglio: I’d be happy to meet with Biden

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the newly elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, meets with reporters in Baltimore on Nov. 15, 2022. / Joe Bukuras/CNA

Baltimore, Md., Nov 15, 2022 / 17:50 pm (CNA).

In his first press conference after being elected president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, Archbishop Timothy Broglio said Tuesday that he’d be “happy” to meet with President Joe Biden, a Catholic whose position on abortion, transgenderism, and gay marriage is sharply at odds with Church teaching.

In a brief press conference, Broglio, who is the prelate for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, also spoke on the connection between homosexuality and the clergy sex abuse crisis, and his relationship with Pope Francis as a “brother bishop,” among other topics. 

“Well, certainly I will look forward to any occasion that I have to dialogue with political leaders in the United States. I don’t see my role as primarily political, but if there is any way to insert the Gospel into all aspects of life in our country, I certainly will not miss any occasion to do that,” Broglio said to reporters in Baltimore, where the U.S. bishops are having their annual fall assembly.

“I know that there has been a great desire on the part of the outgoing presidency [of Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles] to meet with the president and that hasn’t been possible. If it’s possible in the future, I’ll certainly take advantage of that opportunity,” he added.

“So you want to meet with the president?” a reporter asked.

“If he wants to meet with me, I’ll be happy to meet with him,” Broglio responded.

Answering more questions, Broglio stood by prior comments he made about homosexuality being related to the sexual abuse crisis. 

One reporter asked Broglio about a 2018 email he sent in which he said that “There is no question that the crisis of sexual abuse by priests in the USA is directly related to homosexuality.” The contents of the email were reported by military.com.

The reporter asked about Broglio’s thoughts on the topic now. 

“I think it is certainly an aspect of the sexual crisis that can’t be denied,” he said. “And that’s certainly not to point a finger at anyone, but I think it would be naïve to suggest that there’s no relationship between the two.”

Another reporter asked Broglio his thoughts on why he was elected, including what he would say to those “who would characterize [his] election as showing different priorities from those of Pope Francis.”

“I think you’d probably have to ask my brother bishops why they elected me because I really don’t know the answer to that question,” Broglio answered.

“And as far as I know, I’m certainly in communion with Pope Francis, as part of a universal Church. We’re brother bishops, we certainly know each other. I’m not aware that this necessarily indicates some dissonance with Pope Francis,” he added.

Broglio, 70, was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Cleveland in 1977. From 1990 to 2001, he served as a personal secretary to Pope John Paul II’s former secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. 

In 2001, Broglio was named apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic and apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico and was ordained as an archbishop by Pope John Paul II. He was installed as the fourth archbishop of the Military Services, USA, in 2008 and has served in that role for 14 years. 

He has been a defender of religious-freedom protections for those serving in the military. Last year, he spoke out against mandating military personnel to receive the COVID-19 vaccine against their conscience.

Broglio will begin his three-year term as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at the conclusion of the bishops’ assembly on Thursday.

Bishops’ pro-life chair lists 10 ways to build ‘culture of life’ post-Roe

The March for Life in Washington, D.C., January 22, 2016. / Jeff Bruno.

Baltimore, Md., Nov 15, 2022 / 17:04 pm (CNA).

Following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the chair of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities is encouraging his fellow bishops to practice radical solidarity with pregnant women and the unborn — and to remember, in the words of St. Teresa of Calcutta, that “we belong to one another.”

“We cannot pretend to understand what women in all such circumstances are going through,” Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said Tuesday of pregnant women who are struggling. “But this much we do know: They are our sisters. We are their brothers. They are our neighbors, and we are their neighbors. Their distress is our distress, their struggle is our struggle.”

Lori made his remarks while addressing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fall general assembly in Baltimore just hours after he was elected its new vice president.

His comments echoed his past statements following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn Roe v. Wade in a ruling that frees individual states to decide abortion policy. Since then, Lori has expressed support for a proposed national 15-week abortion ban and has written to members of Congress, along with other bishops, about building a life-affirming society.

“Abortion is a gruesome sign that we have forgotten that we belong to one another,” Lori said Tuesday. “Abortion destroys innocent human life, and it also weakens the fabric of society.”

He went on to share 10 points on building a culture of life from within the Church.

Calling the post-Roe age a “pivotal moment in our culture,” Lori first advised his brother bishops “to take stock.” Some Catholics today, he cautioned, are still “on the fence” when it comes to abortion.

“The demise of Roe was a great victory,” he said. “But it will be a pyrrhic victory if we fail to win the minds and hearts first and foremost of our fellow Catholics.”

For his second point, he highlighted that the bishops cannot win hearts and minds by changing Church teaching. Instead, they must lay open its heart and soul — speaking truthfully and with compassion.

Lori said, next, that for the Catholic bishops to speak credibly in a polarized society, they must eliminate division from within and acknowledge that the Church’s various causes are connected to one another rather than competing in a “zero-sum game.”

Fourth, he emphasized the importance of initiatives like the bishops’ pro-life parish-based ministry Walking with Moms in Need that help unify various ministries while supporting both a mission of service and evangelization.

He also called for active participation in building a world where women are esteemed, children are loved and protected, and men are called to fulfill their responsibilities as husbands and fathers.

For his sixth point, Lori stressed that radical solidarity is key in the public square. And, for his seventh, he said that the bishops’ message and witness to the culture must be that they are making the good of others their own — especially in a fragmented world of angry partisanship.

In another recommendation, he advised that building a culture of life demands speaking forthrightly and bearing witness to the beauty of love and the dignity of every human life. 

The truth must be spoken in love both boldly and clearly, he said next, especially in the face of false and misleading information. 

For his last point, he recognized that the reaction to the overturning of Roe signals that the bishops face a long and difficult struggle ahead. 

“The state referenda held since Dobbs illustrate that,” he said, referring to ballot initiatives to protect and expand abortion that passed across the nation on Election Day.

He ended by asking for the Holy Spirit’s intercession so that the bishops might speak with one voice and one heart.

“We’re striving to create a society in which abortion and other attacks on innocent human life become more and more unthinkable. Unthinkable because our radical solidarity gives many new hope and because our radical witness makes clearer that killing can never be the solution to our social challenges,” Lori urged.

“This is the message we need clearly to send when we meet with politicians and public officials of every persuasion.”

It’s also the message, he said, that the bishops need to send while leading Catholics in state marches for life as well as the national March for Life. 

“We come not as angry demonstrators with narrow, partisan interests,” he said. “We come rather to bear witness to the beauty of love and life, the preciousness and the inviolable dignity of every human life.”

He encouraged participation in the national March for Life, held every year around the Jan. 22 anniversary of Roe v. Wade in Washington, D.C., to galvanize efforts to protect the unborn at the federal and state levels.

“But even as we seek to win minds and hearts to the cause of life,” he concluded, “so we must continue to strive to win legal protection for the most vulnerable among us, confident that winning for them does not mean losing for others.”

Pope Francis wants an ‘evangelical church’ in the United States, papal nuncio says

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio to the United States, addresses the U.S. bishops and their annual fall assembly on Nov. 15, 2022, in Baltimore. / Screenshot from USCCB video

Baltimore, Md., Nov 15, 2022 / 15:33 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio to the United States, reminded the U.S. bishops Tuesday at their semi-annual meeting of Pope Francis’ “closeness,” while giving them encouragement in a post-Roe world and exhorting them to a life of evangelization.

“I greet you in the name of Pope Francis, assuring you of his closeness, fraternal support, and prayers as you gather for this Plenary Assembly of the Episcopal Conference,” Pierre said at the U.S. bishops’ conference in Baltimore at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel. 

Citing an address of Pope Francis, then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, Pierre said: “When the Church does not go out of herself to evangelize, she becomes self-referential, and then she gets sick.”

Pierre then cited a passage from Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium and noted that “Pope Francis encouraged us to be a missionary Church that goes forth to announce the joyful message, more deeply committed to her mission than to maintenance of structures that may no longer adequately serve the mission.”

Pierre said that the Holy Father desires the image of “a poor Church for the poor” and an “evangelical Church.”

Pierre continued his speech with the theme of evangelization, citing a 2013 interview that Pope Francis gave in which the Holy Father said: “Evangelizing, in fact, is the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists to evangelize.”

Pierre said that the synodal process should be “understood in a missionary key.” 

Pierre asked the bishops: “Does the Church in the United States understand herself in this way, especially as we live through a time of accelerated change?”

A way to answer this question is by examining the evangelical character of local parishes, he said. 

“Do we go forth and take the initiative? Do we get involved? Do we accompany others, showing patience? What are the fruits that we are seeing from our evangelizing efforts? Finally, do our local churches demonstrate the joy, which flows from the Eucharist?” he said.

Pierre said that the U.S. bishops' Eucharistic Revival is an opportunity for the Church to celebrate the “nuptial joy of a community that is loved by the Lord, of a community that evangelizes and that is herself evangelized.”

He added: “Let the Eucharistic Revival be lived in this light — as an evangelizing moment!”

Pierre noted Pope Francis’ warning that there are “barriers” that limit the experience of joy and that limit evangelization. One barrier is “our own internal structures which are always in need of pastoral and missionary conversion for evangelization, rather than for the Church’s self-preservation,” he said. 

Another barrier is sin, he added. 

Pierre said that the U.S. Church has been “prophetic in its openness toward those suffering from a humanitarian crisis at the border” and added that “it has been passionate in its defense of the unborn.”

Pierre said that, now that Roe v. Wade is overturned, the U.S. bishops’ pro-life initiative Walking with Moms in Need “takes on new importance in showing forth the maternal tenderness of the Church for all her children, demonstrating that the priority is mercy rather than cold judgment.”

He continued: “Pope Francis, then, is calling us to be a missionary Church that encourages everyone to be an evangelist.” 

Pierre noted that in his latest apostolic letter, Desiderio desideravi, Pope Francis calls for “greater liturgical formation, not only of the clergy, but of the laity.” 

Pierre added that there is a “brokenness of the human family.” 

“The recent synodal report indicates that many of our own people — for varied reasons — have difficulties accepting Church teaching,” he said.

It’s important to teach “in a more attractive and comprehensible way” while also accompanying those in their faith journey, he said. Pierre said that people must be respected, “not by abolishing objective standards of morality” but by helping others recognize the call to holiness.

Pierre said that “the path forward … ultimately requires an adequate anthropological vision. Pope Francis rightly laments the throwaway culture, offering in its place the broader vision of the Gospel, which is truly good news about man and woman, about marriage and family life, and about the human person in relationship to all of creation.”

“We cannot be silent about these fundamental and saving truths,” he said. 

“Without imposing a homogeneity, the Church in the United States can integrate the gifts of the People of God through dialogue and with patience, thus living in a creative tension,” he said.

Archbishop Gomez: The Eucharist ‘makes us one’

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, the outgoing president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, speaking on Nov. 15, 2022, at the conference’s fall assembly in Baltimore. / Katie Yoder/CNA

Baltimore, Md., Nov 15, 2022 / 14:42 pm (CNA).

The outgoing president of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference stressed the importance of the Eucharist — Christ’s body, blood, soul, and divinity present under the appearances of bread and wine — during the spiritual trials of today.

“What holds us together, what makes us one, is the Eucharist,” Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles said Tuesday while addressing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) fall general assembly in Baltimore.

He recognized the importance of the bishops’ Eucharistic Revival, which encourages a relationship with Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

“The Eucharist is the mystery of our Creator’s love, the mystery of his desire to share his divine life in tender friendship with each of us,” he said. “So, let’s open the doors in all our churches, and let’s invite our people back, to come and see how much Jesus loves them.” 

He delivered his presidential address minutes before the bishops elected a new president, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, and vice president, Archbishop William E. Lori, to lead the USCCB. Their three-year terms will begin at the conclusion of the general assembly on Thursday.

In his remarks before stepping down as president, Gomez stressed that “it’s been a privilege to serve this conference and the family of God in our country.”

He went on to identify the “challenge of ministering in this moment” as maintaining perspective.

“We live in a noisy, distracted media culture,” he emphasized. “And our society has moved hard and fast toward an uncompromising secularism; traditional norms and values are being tested like never before.”

Citing Pope Francis, he added: “The trials of this age are spiritual. There’s a struggle going on for the human heart.”

This age is an apostolic moment, a new opening for the Gospel, and an invitation to a deeper conversion, he said.

“All of us are being called to step up and to open every door for Jesus Christ, to shine his light into every area of our culture and society; to bring every heart to a new encounter with the living God,” he said.

The Catholic bishops’ role here, he added, is crucial.

“It is not inevitable that our country will fall into secularism,” he urged. “The vast majority of our neighbors still believe in God.”

Citing Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement, he also said that today’s challenges are not new. 

“Now more than ever, the Church needs a bold pastoral strategy to communicate the Gospel, to use every media platform to turn hearts and minds toward Christ, to call our people to be great saints,” he said.

“Holiness has always been the hidden force in human history,” he added. “The kingdom grows through men and women who are passionately loving the world, as God so loved the world.”

Gomez called for raising a new generation of saints, or “holy men and women in every area of American life.” 

Citing another Servant of God, Sister Thea Bowman, he said that this moment is “about remembering that we’re in this together, that we belong to God, and that we’re all called to be saints. It’s about each one of us doing what God is calling us to do to build his kingdom.”

He concluded by citing the Venerable Frederic Baraga, the first bishop of what is now the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan. His words, engraved in one of the chapels in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., read: “This is all I desire, to be where God wants me to be.” 

Gomez added: “Brothers, let us have only that desire — to be where God wants us to be, and to do what God is calling us to do.”

Baltimore’s Archbishop Lori elected VP of bishops’ conference

Archbishop William E. Lori was elected vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Nov. 15, 2022, in Baltimore. / Katie Yoder/CNA

Baltimore, Md., Nov 15, 2022 / 13:13 pm (CNA).

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, one of the U.S. bishops’ strongest voices on the pro-life issue, was elected vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in a 143-96 vote on Tuesday after being a candidate multiple times throughout the years — and in the last election in which he is eligible. 

At 71 years of age, Lori would be 74 at the end of his vice presidential term. He therefore would be ineligible to be elected president, as, according to the bylaws of the conference, the president needs to be no older than 75 by the end of his term.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, was elected the conference’s president by a vote of 138-99. 

Earlier in the day Lori had to reschedule an appearance before the media on the bishops’ pro-life response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade because he needed to leave the meeting early to be with his ailing 103-year-old mother. 

Ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., in 1977, Lori was appointed an auxiliary bishop of that diocese in 1995, and in 2001 Pope John Paul II appointed him bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was appointed archbishop of Baltimore in 2012. 

He is also currently chancellor and chairman of the board of St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, chancellor of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, and past chairman of the board of trustees of The Catholic University of America.

Throughout his career, Lori has influenced national Church policy. He was instrumental in the crafting of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, better known as the Dallas Charter, in 2002. In 2005, he was elected supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization. Lori was named apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, in September 2018 by Pope Francis following a series of allegations made against that diocese’s bishop, including sexual and financial misconduct.

The new vice president serves a three-year term. Already, several known, high-profile challenges await Lori. These include the first session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome Oct. 4–29, 2023; a national eucharistic congress in Indianapolis in June 2024; the synod’s concluding session in October 2024; and the U.S. presidential election in November 2024.

Lori currently serves on four USCCB committees and consults on several others. He also served as chairman of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, overseeing a comprehensive statement of the U.S. bishops on religious liberty, from 2011 until 2017. He has strongly denounced racism, including in a major 2019 pastoral letter

In his role with the bishops’ pro-life committee, Lori has spoken out repeatedly in favor of assistance for pregnant women and against President Joe Biden’s advancement of abortion. He has been a vocal proponent of the bishops’ 2020 initiative “Walking with Moms in Need” to help struggling pregnant women, mothers, and babies.

“The president is gravely wrong to continue to seek every possible avenue to facilitate abortion instead of using his power to increase support and care to mothers in challenging situations,” Lori said Oct. 25.

“This single-minded extremism must end, and we implore President Biden to recognize the humanity in preborn children and the genuine life-giving care needed by women in this country.”

Archbishop Timothy Broglio elected USCCB president 

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio leads the Archdiocese for the Military Services. / EWTN News In Depth

Baltimore, Md., Nov 15, 2022 / 12:48 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, was elected Tuesday to head the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for the next three years in a vote of 138-99. 

Broglio will be taking the role after serving for three years as secretary of the conference. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore was elected vice president by a vote of 143-96.

Broglio was viewed as a likely candidate for the role after he was nearly elected to serve as vice president for the USCCB in 2019 but lost a runoff election to Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron. The USCCB vice president usually goes on to serve in the role of president, but Vigneron is ineligible for the role of president due to the fact that he would reach the retirement age of 75 before the term expires in 2025. 

The new president serves a three-year term. Already, several known, high-profile challenges await Broglio. These include the first session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome Oct. 4–29, 2023; a national eucharistic congress in Indianapolis in June 2024; the synod’s concluding session in October 2024; and the U.S. presidential election in November 2024.

Broglio, 70, was born in 1951 in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, where he attended St. Ignatius High School. He received a bachelor’s degree in the classics from Boston College and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology and a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. 

He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Cleveland in 1977. After serving as an associate pastor at St. Margaret Mary parish in Euclid, Ohio, for two years, he returned to Rome and studied at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, joining the Vatican Diplomatic Corps in 1983. He served as secretary of the apostolic nunciature in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, for four years and then in Asunción, Paraguay, for three years.  

From 1990 to 2001, Broglio served as a personal secretary to Pope John Paul II’s former secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. He may face questions about his past work with Sodano in light of the allegations that the recently deceased cardinal covered up sexual abuse by Legionaries of Christ founder Marcial Maciel, former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and others.  

In 2001, Broglio was named apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic and apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico and was ordained as an archbishop by Pope John Paul II. He was installed as the fourth archbishop of the Military Services, USA, in 2008 and has served in that role for 14 years. 

Broglio told EWTN News in Depth in May 2021 that serving the needs of the men and women in the U.S. military has been a “very enriching and rewarding ministry.” He also pointed out that the military “remains the largest single source of vocations to the priesthood in the United States today.” 

He has been a defender of religious-freedom protections for those serving in the military. Last year, he spoke out against mandating military personnel to receive the COVID-19 vaccine against their conscience.  

“No one should be forced to receive a COVID-19 vaccine if it would violate the sanctity of his or her conscience,” he said in a statement at the time. “The denial of religious accommodations, or punitive or adverse personnel actions taken against those who raise earnest, conscience-based objections, would be contrary to federal law and morally reprehensible.”  

He also voiced concerns for the religious-freedom rights of military chaplains in 2010 during the repeal of the Clinton administration’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy against soldiers’ public declarations of their sexual orientations.

“There is an agenda to force everyone to accept as normal and positive behavior that is contrary to the moral norms of many religions, including the Catholic Church,” he told CNA at the time. “While the armed forces will never oblige a priest or minister to act in an official capacity contrary to his or her religious beliefs, there is the danger that teaching objective moral precepts or seeking to form youngsters in the faith could be misconstrued as intolerance. Then, indeed, freedom of religion would be compromised.”

Broglio is vice chairman and chancellor of Catholic Distance University and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Catholic Bioethics Center. He also serves as chairman of the Communications Committee for the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

This is a developing story.

What Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel teaches us about God’s creation, woman and man

Michelangelo's The Creation of Eve, from the Sistine Chapel ceiling, c. 1510. / null

Denver, Colo., Nov 15, 2022 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Michelangelo’s artistic masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel broke new ground in portraying the dynamic creative acts of God, but his work also depicts the combined importance of men and women through all of sacred history, art historian Elizabeth Lev has said.

“The spirit of artistic adventure led the artist to experiment with a completely new vision of creation,” Lev said Nov. 12. “He took a book that had been painted, sculpted, mosaiced, and illuminated over and over again in the history of art and created something completely new.”

She spoke at the closing keynote Saturday evening at the fall conference of the University of Notre Dame’s de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture. Lev teaches at the Rome campus of Duquesne University and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. Her speech, “Creation, Complementarity, & St. John Paul II in Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling,” focused on one of the key artistic treasures of Vatican City.

The 16th-century Florentine artist Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Julius II to paint the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling and the upper section of its walls. This was the artist’s focus from 1508 to 1512. He later finished the Last Judgment above the chapel altar from 1535 to 1541.

The ceiling frescoes show the creation of the heavens and the earth, the creation of Adam and Eve, their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, the great flood, and the rebirth of humankind through Noah.

Lev cited St. John Paul II’s description of Michelangelo’s work in his poem “Meditations on the Book of Genesis at the Threshold of the Sistine Chapel.”

“It is the book of the origins — Genesis,” the pope said. “Here, in this chapel, Michelangelo penned it, not with words, but with the richness of piled-up colors. We enter in order to read it again, going from wonder to wonder.”

Lev reflected on the first three panels depicting the creation of the world. These show “the mighty dynamic figure of God the Father at work.”

“It’s not what God creates, it’s that God creates,” she said. Michelangelo broke ground in portraying God as “physically engaged in creation.” For Lev, this offers “a preview of the Incarnation.”

Turning to Michelangelo’s famous depiction of the Creation of Adam, Lev noted that the artist depicts “just God and the creature formed in his likeness.” Adam is shown as “somewhat listless” in contrast with God’s energy. Adam is “sentient and awake but he has no will or strength or purpose to rise,” she said. “He looks completely passive and dependent despite that incredibly beautiful form.”

“It’s God who reaches towards man,” she continued. For Lev, the outstretched finger of God makes the viewer “almost lean forward in his seat waiting for that final Act of Creation, the divine spark, the Breath of Life that will release that latent energy and allow Adam to take his place as the greatest of creations.”

“This is the joy in humanity that permeates the Renaissance,” Lev said.

Michelangelo's The Fall and Expulsion from Paradise from the Vatican's Sistine Chapel (1508-12).
Michelangelo's The Fall and Expulsion from Paradise from the Vatican's Sistine Chapel (1508-12).

There is academic debate over a female figure shown in the Creation of Adam. As God the Father stretches out one arm to Adam, his other arm curls around a female figure. Some have identified this figure as Wisdom, some as Mary.

Lev suggested it is best to identify this figure as Eve, both because the figure provides visual balance to Adam and because her gaze “connects her more intimately with Adam.”

The creation of Eve from Adam, depicted next on the chapel ceiling, shows Eve emerging from Adam’s side with her hands clasped in prayer, an image of the Church and the personification of Mary, the “Second Eve.”

Lev cited St. John Paul II’s 1999 homily inaugurating the newly restored Sistine Chapel, after centuries of grime and soot were removed. The pope called the chapel the “sanctuary of the theology of the human body,” alluding to his catecheses offered from 1979 to 1984. The pope suggested that Michelangelo allowed himself to be guided by the Book of Genesis’ depiction of mankind in Eden: “the man and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame.”

Before the fall, Lev commented, Michelangelo depicted Adam and Eve in the state of grace as “two of his most beautiful figures.”

“They are filled with dynamism. They’re buoyant. They’re luminous,” Lev said, adding that their bodies “suggest immortality.” After the fall, however, both of their bodies “lose their luminosity” and appear heavier, like a burden. Adam’s shoulder seems to force Eve into the background, “subjugating her.”

For Lev, the artistic depiction of the genealogy of Jesus Christ also deserves attention. The portrayal of the ancestors of Jesus Christ shows “a genealogy of men and women struggling from generation to generation.” These figures seem “more approachable” and “much more similar to candid family photographs.” Even though 22 women in Jesus’ genealogy are not named, Michelangelo pairs them with their husbands.

Lev noted that Michelangelo broke with artistic convention both by including mothers and by showing them as busy, everyday women “tending to toddlers, toilettes, and tasks.” His style of painting them with “incredible immediacy” adds observations of human nature: Eleazar’s wife holds the purse strings and the key to the house, and her husband looks “startled” as she surveys their son. Other depictions are “tender and intimate,” like the portrayal of the wife of Manasseh, who cradles a swaddled son while rocking an infant’s cradle.

Here, Lev drew on John Paul II’s 1995 “Letter to Women.” He wrote that womanhood and manhood are complementary at the physical, psychological, and even ontological level.

“It is only through the duality of the masculine and the feminine that the human finds full recognition,” the pope said. “To this unity of the two, God has entrusted not only the work of procreation and family life but the creation of history itself.”

Lev noted that the passing of generations “necessarily emphasizes the begetting of children.” This means that the complementarity of the sexes is essential for a population to form and for creation to continue.

In Michelangelo’s portrayal of the Last Judgment, the artist still looks back to creation but also breaks new ground. He placed Mary next to Christ, as “a foil to Christ’s sternness.”

“She is the picture of mercy gazing down towards the elect, placed by the wound in Christ’s side whence the Church sprang,” Lev said. “Mary is transfigured into the Bride of Christ, for whom he gave his life and to whom he cannot say no. She is the conduit to Christ, as Eve was the link between God and man in the creation of woman.”

For Lev, the Sistine Chapel shows the “incredible gift of creation” from the beginning of the world down through the generations, “through which all of us today are a part of that continuation of creation.”

Archdiocese of Washington cancels Youth Rally, Mass for Life held at March for Life events

Then Archbishop Wilton Gregory at the 2020 Youth Rally and Mass for Life / Credit: Peter Zelasko/CNA

Boston, Mass., Nov 15, 2022 / 07:16 am (CNA).

The Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., announced that its annual Youth Rally and Mass for Life, which both typically take place in conjunction with the national March for Life in Washington D.C., have been canceled.

“After a consultation process that involved dialogue with other dioceses, ministry leaders, and the partners who assist the archdiocese in hosting the annual rally and Mass, The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has decided not to move forward with hosting the larger multi-diocese rally,” a statement from the Archdiocese of Washington says.

The announcement comes about five months following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that legalized abortion nationwide. The annual March for Life, which is now in its 50th year, began in opposition to Roe.

“During this consultation process, we heard from many dioceses who shared that they are turning their efforts to their state’s March for Life now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned,” the statement says.

“We certainly support their local work and pray for their success,” the statement says.

According to the statement, the Youth Rally and Mass for Life had been held for over 25 years. According to the archdiocese’s youth ministry website, the Youth Rally aims to “encourage the youth participating in the national March for Life in their witness as disciples of Christ and promoters of the Gospel of Life.”

The Youth Rally is the archdiocese’s largest annual event, according to the website.

Last year, the Holy See granted a plenary indulgence for any Masses that were held in the archdiocese during the March for Life, the website says.

“As difficult a decision as it was to cancel, we encourage groups traveling to Washington, D.C., to participate in the National March for Life at the National Mall and to attend the Vigil Mass at The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception,” the statement says.

“Wilton Cardinal Gregory, archbishop of The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, would like to express his deepest gratitude for the support and participation of archdiocesan youth and young people who traveled to Washington, D.C., over these past 25 years,” the statement says.

Youth from the Archdiocese of Washington are still invited for a Mass of Celebration and Thanksgiving at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle Jan. 20, 2023, the statement says.

A video of the 2022 Youth Rally and Mass for Life can be seen below.