CNA Staff, Nov 12, 2020 / 10:07 am
Bishop James Conley announced that he is resuming full pastoral care of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, following an 11-month leave of absence to receive mental health treatment.
Conley said Pope Francis had approved his return, effective November 13.
“During the past 11 months, I have received wonderful care from my spiritual director, mental health professionals, and medical doctors, along with the loving support and prayers of my family, my brother bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful,” Conley said in a November 12 statement. “Through their help, I have been able to arrive at a positive path forward with more balance in my life, which, I pray, will allow me to serve the Diocese of Lincoln in a greater way.”
In December 2019, Conley announced that he was taking a medical leave of absence from his ministry as Bishop of Lincoln, after being medically diagnosed with anxiety, depression, chronic insomnia, and debilitating tinnitus - a constant ringing in the ears. His doctors encouraged him to take a leave of absence in order to rest and receive medical and psychological treatment, which he did at a retreat center in Phoenix.
His period of leave came amid the unfolding sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church surrounding Theodore McCarrick, as well as local issues regarding the past administration of the Lincoln diocese.
In announcing his leave of absence, Conley said he was sharing information about his health in the hopes of helping to lift the stigma associated with mental health issues.
He echoed those sentiments in his statement this week, saying he hopes his own sufferings will encourage others who struggle with mental illness.
“Before going on medical leave, I tried to overcome my depression and anxiety on my own,” Conley said. “I’ve learned that this is simply not possible. Mental health problems are real health problems. And as with any illness, you cannot fix it yourself; you need the care of others.”