Moral immigration reform has increasingly been an issue of concern for the U.S. bishops. Earlier this year, DiNardo and the U.S. bishops denounced the Trump administration's decision to end DACA, a program that benefited hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as minors.
"Providing for the common defense and the general welfare is a basic responsibility of government," the cardinal said. "However, we have a moral responsibility to improve border security in a humane way."
Racism is another divisive issue being considered by the U.S. bishops this year, made all the more urgent by recent violent demonstrations, such as the alt-right demonstration in Charlottesville in August, after which the bishops denounced "the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-nazism."
In order to address the issues of both overt and systemic racism, the conference recently announced the creation of an Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, which will be chaired by Bishop George Murry of the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio.
"(T)hey are planning to meet with people across the country and to learn from them how the Church can best work with others in ending this evil," DiNardo said. "Pray this conversation will lead to genuine conversion of hearts, including our own."
The U.S. has suffered much as a country in recent times, DiNardo noted, including natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey which swept through his own Archdiocese of Houston, killing nearly 80 people and leaving thousands displaced.
But it is often great suffering that "has brought the Church in America together and has reminded me of how wonderful the gifts of faith, hope and love truly are," he said.
"We need to constantly put forward these virtues, especially in light of the violence from what is a long and growing list of mass shootings in our schools, offices, churches, and places of recreation. The time is long past due to end the madness of outrageous weapons – be they stockpiled on a continent or in a hotel room," he said, to another round of applause.
While the challenges facing the Church in the United States today are many, the bishops today are not unlike the bishops who first met 100 years ago, faced with the challenges of their own times, Cardinal DiNardo said.
"(L)ike our predecessors, we know that the love of Christ is stronger than all the challenges ahead," he said.
"My brothers, let us follow our Holy Father ever more closely, going forth to be with our people in every circumstance of pastoral life. Drawing strength and wisdom from these past hundred years, let us sound our hands and voices joyfully. And let us always remind our people, and ourselves, that with God, all things are possible."
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At the end of his speech, all the bishops in attendance applauded Cardinal DiNardo with a standing ovation.
Mary Farrow worked as a staff writer for Catholic News Agency until 2020. She has a degree in journalism and English education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.