(CNS) -- There are three things bishops must always keep in mind as they exercise
their episcopal ministry, according to Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the
Vatican's nuncio to the United States: youth, the mission of evangelization
and "the Lord himself."
Father has demanded of bishops that their mission requires passion," Archbishop
Pierre said in an address to the U.S. bishops Nov 13, the first day of their
fall general assembly in Baltimore. "We need to have the passion of young lovers
and wise elders."
Francis has warned that "the biggest threat of all is gluttony," Archbishop
Pierre added, in "which all appears to proceed normally while in reality faith
is winding down."
you for passion -- the passion of evangelization -- what are we as bishops,
totally be passionate about," he said. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic
Bishops celebrates its centennial in 2017, the archbishop added, "I think this
is a fundamental question that the illustrious past of your conference gives as
Christ as the center of your life and your church."
focusing on youth, Archbishop Pierre said, "Pastors, parents and teachers know
the difficulties of transmitting the faith in our day, which is not so much the
nature of change as the change in age. Young people struggle not only with
existential questions but practical ones, like finding work."
noted that "50 percent of Catholics under 30 identify as 'nones' (having no
religious affiliation) ... and nearly 14 million Hispanics born Catholic
but raised here have become nones."
Pierre said, "Perhaps we could become discouraged. However, we are a people of
hope. Our hope is basically in the Lord and the Holy Spirit. Are we passionate
about our youth? If so, this means being open to accompanying them personally as
spiritual fathers, even if this means demands on our time and our energy."
Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis is beginning discussions on how best
to reach out to and address the challenge of the growing numbers of people who
are unaffiliated or identify as "none" when it comes to religious affiliation.
committee hopes to study the issue and learn more about the 'nones' so
offer to the bishops a greater understanding of why people are leaving
and no longer identifying with any religion. This is especially true of
people who are leaving the church," said Archbishop Leonard P. Blair of
Hartford, Connecticut, committee chairman, in a September report
included in materials provided to the bishops for the fall meeting.
evangelization, Archbishop Pierre reminded the bishops that Pope Francis had
sent them a video message last year. In that message, "the challenge is to create
a culture of encounter which encourages individuals to share the rich tradition
of experience, to break down walls and build bridges," he said. "The church in
America is called to come out of its comfort zone and become a leaven of
communion. We need to become fully a community of disciples filled with love and
enthusiasm for the spread of the Gospel."
archbishop gave two recent examples of U.S.-born holy men: Blessed
Stanley Rother and Capuchin Franciscan Father Solanus Casey, whose
beatification was to take place
in Detroit the weekend following the bishops' meeting.
this land that gave birth to Blessed Father Stanley Rother, even in the face of
martyrdom even though he gave his life for his people, even though he could
have given up," Archbishop Pierre said.
Casey "made time for people. He listened to the pilgrims and he touched the
sick with great compassion," Archbishop Pierre added. It was, he said, "this love
for the Lord and his people (that caused) light to rise in darkness."
the example for Catholics in their dioceses "by example of our personal
relationship with Jesus" are among "the most essential activities to be carried
out in our pastoral ministry," he noted. "There is always one more task to be
done. There is always a risk of being functionally a manager, but Jesus calls
us to a lonely place to pray. The need for silence, and contemplation cannot be
greater as an antidote to the busyness of life."