Vatican City, Dec 9, 2004 / 22:00 pm
John Paul II met with bishops from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, this morning in his last encounter with U.S. bishops making their "ad limina" visit, and told them that the “pain and scandal of recent years [is] both 'a sign of the times' and a providential call to conversion and deeper fidelity to the demands of the Gospel.”
The Pope said that the ad limina visits over the past eight months have been both "a source of consolation" and a time to "share the deep pain which you and your people have experienced in these last years, and I have witnessed your determination to deal fairly and forthrightly with the serious pastoral issues which have been raised as a result." He underscored the bishops' duty of "building up the Church in communion and mission."
"I leave two charges to you and your brother bishops," said the Holy Father. “The first is a fraternal encouragement to persevere joyfully in the ministry entrusted to you, in obedience to the authentic teaching of the Church.”
The Pope said that “in her own way, the Church in the United States has been called to begin the new millennium by "starting afresh from Christ" and by making the truth of the Gospel clearly the measure of her life and all her activity.”