“Coping with adversity and an unshakable faith in Jesus Christ,” should be a requirement for Catholic leaders, said Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted during the first working session of the Catholic Leadership Conference(CLC).
Bishop Olmsted was talking to some 150 Catholic leaders attending the CLC. The first part of the conference wished to answer to the question “What makes a Catholic leader?”
The Catholic Leadership Conference is an organization aimed at encouraging cooperation and collaboration among leaders of Catholic ministries while providing venues for those leaders to exchange ideas, strengthen personal relationships and take unified action.
Bishop Olmsted referred at length on the example of Pope John Paul II. “Pope John Paul’s great respect for the human person and his love to God and humanity were, without doubt, how he coped with adversity,” said the Bishop, citing as an example “the fill forgiveness” he showed to the man who tried to assassinate him, Mehemet Ali Agca.
He continued on the adversities, the former pontiff faced through his life. “After loosing his parents at a young age, after suffering the trials of the invasion of his country, John Paul found strength in Christ and his blessed Mother,” he added.
The Bishop also cited the example of St Thomas More and asked the CLC participants: “to face opposition and not to loose heart, is not this the virtue of a Catholic leader? Jesus, in fact, before the threats to his life, responded by asking what is the purpose of his life.. and it was precisely to give it away.”
The Bishop of Phoenix explained later that the second virtue of a true Catholic leader, “the unshakable trust in God's unconditional love” is based on a simple, yet radical conviction: “if God is with us, who can be against us?” “Knowing that the Lord is in our side, we can accept any suffering except sin,” he concluded.
On Thursday, CLC participants discussed, in two separate sessions, How to keep and elect new pro-life legislators,” and “”passing the marriage amendment.”
In another speech, given by Bishop Vasa, he explained how lay people should assume responsibility in the management of local churches, but at the same time explained that such collaboration requires a strong spirit of communion and fidelity to the Church’s teachings.
“Without your commitment and your presence in the world as salt, yeast and leaven, your pastors can do very little to strengthen the Church, and your bishop even less,” Bishop Vasa said.