Bishop Robert C. Morlino
Thursday, May 1, 2008, 11:00 a.m.
Attend Presbyteral Council meeting, Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, Madison
Friday, May 2,
to Monday, May 5, 2008
Participate in commencement activities, Magdalen College, Warner, N.H.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008, 4:00 p.m.
Attend Diocesan Pastoral Council meeting, Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, Madison
Bishop William H. Bullock
Monday, May 5, 2008, 12:00 noon
Preside and Preach at Celebration of the Eucharist, Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, Madison
Pope Benedict's gaze is fixed firmly on the future
It would truly be serious negligence on my part if I failed to reflect with you, in some detail, about the pastoral visit of Pope Benedict XVI, which concluded on Sunday, April 20th. I certainly hope that you and yours had the opportunity, frequently even, to witness the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the Successor of Saint Peter, especially through television broadcasts. It was amazing that so many of the events with our Holy Father were very widely available on television and not only through EWTN, upon whom we can always rely to be kept in touch.
Let me begin with an observation of Mayor Bloomberg, the Jewish Mayor of New York City, who was interviewed during the course of our Holy Father's stay in "the Big Apple." Mayor Bloomberg pointed out that he had met with the Holy Father three times, and that this was "pretty good" for someone who was not a Catholic clergyman, or even of the Catholic faith at all.
Mayor Bloomberg said, very forcefully, that in Pope Benedict he encountered not a man of the past, but a man of a bright and hopeful future. At times our Holy Father has been painted as a man of the past. As I have said, so many times, our Holy Father insists on continuity with the past, but his gaze is firmly fixed on the future, and not one of us would have any reason to question Mayor Bloomberg's objectivity.
Themes of the papal visit
Let me move to the themes I perceive are constant throughout the Holy Father's visit. At every appropriate occasion - at least five times - the Holy Father mentioned his deep shame and sorrow over the scandal of sexual misconduct with minors. He strongly insisted that we bishops continue on the course which we have begun, to ensure that this never happens again. His personal outreach to some of the victims of such misconduct was, for many, the high-point of his visit to our country. At the same time, Pope Benedict offered his loving gratitude to the vast majority of priests who serve through lives of generous sacrifice.
On three occasions, the Holy Father urged all to nourish the faith of young people, and especially to encourage them to consider vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life. In speaking with us bishops, the Holy Father urged us especially to build fraternity with the young priests. At the New York Seminary he told the 25,000 youth, seminarians, and
potential candidates to the seminary to "have courage." And, once again, at Yankee Stadium, he directed all of us to our responsibility for the faith-formation and encouragement of our youth, all this in addition to his whole presentation regarding the education of youth and young adults. This surely confirms Mayor Bloomberg's perception that Pope Benedict is a man of a hope-filled future.
Invitation to a seven-days-a-week faith
Another recurrent theme of the Holy Father was that the privatization of religion, and of our Catholic faith in particular, must be avoided at all costs. By this privatization, our Holy Father means an approach wherein one prays and worships on Sunday, but fails to follow-up in any way during the week.
Our Holy Father spent his visit here, primarily, inviting us to a faith which manifests itself and sets our priorities every single day, in our personal life, in our family life, in our employment and work, in our recreation, and especially in the way in which we vote, so as to overcome the culture of death with the culture of life. The Holy Father asked us bishops to work especially hard on this phenomenon of privatization so that everyone would live, vote, work, and recreate in a way that is consistent with the Lord's Prayer which we pray on Sundays and so frequently at other times.
True freedom in obedience 'with and in Christ'
The Holy Father repeatedly returned to the theme of freedom and, at Yankee Stadium, connected the true meaning of human freedom with the obedience of faith in Jesus Christ. The love by which Jesus Christ saved the world took the concrete form of an act of obedience. The greatest freedom a human being could ever exercise is the freedom to lay down his life for his friends, and that act was precisely the act of obedience to the Father by which Jesus saved the world.
Many seek to prove their freedom by disobedience, but that disobedience leads them frequently to the enslavement of such things as alcohol, or drugs, or sex, or pornography, or violence. In being disobedient in the name of freedom, people become enslaved rather than free. True freedom, with and in Christ, is the result of true love and obedience, with and in
The Holy Father also repeatedly indicated that true freedom, arising out of obedience, with and in Christ, is the source of the unity which the Holy Spirit seeks to create within the Church. Unity within the Church is first and foremost the work of the Holy Spirit, who is the soul of a Church which is Apostolic, that is, whose unity comes from the rightful exercise of Apostolic authority and obedience. If we seek the unity within the Church to which the Holy Spirit leads us, there is for us no other path to that unity except the rightful exercise of authority and the loving response of obedience.
When the Church truly is living out her mission as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, there cannot but be hope. Even in the face of the scandals that beset us, even to the present day, even in the face of the division which breaks our hearts day-by-day, the Holy Spirit calls us all to be obedient with and in Christ, and out of that obedience to find our unity, and in the unity of our mission, to be the Lord's instrument for the salvation of the world and to find our constant and ever-greater hope - a hope which has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. While there can be no hope for the past - the past has happened - the Hope which can never disappoint leads us into God's future for us.
Binding the diocese to the successor of Peter
Our faithful people in Washington, in New York, and all across the country, through the media of radio, television, and newspapers have been renewed in their faith and freed to love the Church with joy, through the blessing of the visit of our Holy Father.
I have been very much renewed myself, and, in a spirit of humility, and certainly not arrogance, I thank God for the gift for which only He deserves the credit, that the themes which the Holy Father chose to stress while he was among us are themes which I myself have regularly addressed for many, many years, in communion with him.
I have said many times, and I repeat, that I would never seek to promote my own opinion or thought on any issue - I strive to hand on what I have been given, through the ministry of the Holy Father and in communion with him. I invite any and all to judge me the way I judge myself, more than once a day, in terms of what I teach, by my being on the same page with our Holy Father. I will always do my best to continue in this vein.
And if I do so, with all of my faults and weaknesses, the Holy Spirit will continue to make me the "glue" which binds all of you, my dear sisters and brothers in the Diocese of Madison, to the Bishop of Rome, to the Successor of Saint Peter, to our Holy Father. There can be no question about the power of the presence of Peter in our midst after the experience that we have shared from April 15th to April 20th.
Thank you for reading this; God bless each one of you! Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!
Praised be Jesus Christ!