US nuncio to USCCB: To heal society’s wounds, Catholics must be Good Samaritans

Screen Shot 2020 11 16 at 22035 PM Archbishop Christophe Pierre addresses the USCCB Fall General Assembly.

Catholics need to be Good Samaritans to those wounded both by the coronavirus pandemic and by social conflict, the papal representative told U.S. bishops at their annual fall meeting on Monday.

If Catholics "want to heal the world" then they must witness to Christ, said Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. Pope Francis, the nuncio said, "believes that we should be a Samaritan Church."

Pierre cited the pope's recent encyclical Fratelli tutti, which focuses on the parable of the Good Samaritan at length.

Archbishop Pierre used his speech at the opening of the USCCB Fall General Assembly to emphasize the urgency of the Church's mission, pointing to "dark clouds" in the current global environment "which impede genuine fraternity."

These problems, he said, include a "throwaway culture" of abortion, euthanasia, and human trafficking, social "fragmentation" and an environment of "permanent confrontation rather than healing," the new coronavirus pandemic, and the "rapid growth of secularization."

"Despite great development in technology, we are experiencing a loss in the ability to empathize," Pierre said, stressing the need for "realizing our interconnectedness."

He also cited a lack of moral social leadership as a key problem.

"No one seems to be offering real values of solutions to bring about healing," Archbishop Pierre said, citing a "genuine crisis of authority" and a lack of trust in the media and in the country's leaders. He also mentioned ongoing social problems of the coronavirus pandemic and a "contentious election campaign."

Imitating Christ, the archbishop said, is the only way for the bishops to "recover our authority and offer a proposal for healing the world."

"We are called to submit ourselves to Him and to follow Him, for it is He who exercised authority – not as power but as service."

Pierre addressed the bishops virtually-the annual Fall General Assembly was held remotely this year because of the ongoing pandemic.

Although he discussed several current events in his address to bishops, such as the pandemic and the recent presidential elections, the nuncio did not mention the McCarrick Report which was published last week by the Vatican.

The highly-anticipated 460-page report covered the Church's institutional knowledge and decision-making regarding Theodore McCarrick, the former American cardinal who was laicized in 2019.

An canonical process at the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found McCarrick guilty of "solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power."

The report received attention at last year's fall meeting of the bishops, where Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston said that the Holy See intended to issue the report "if not before Christmas, soon in the new year." The report was made public on Nov. 10.

Several prominent U.S. clerics were discussed in the report including the retired Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C. The report included several details that were at odds with Wuerl's repeated claims of ignorance as to the allegations against McCarrick and any travel and residence restrictions requested of him by the Vatican.

Archbishop Jose Gomez addressed the report in his Monday remarks to the conference.

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Also on Monday's agenda, the bishops voted to elect new chairmen of eight committees; the results were announced on Monday.

The bishops voted to fill vacancies on the religious liberty committee, as well as the committees for pro-life activities, doctrine, education, communications, priorities and plans, cultural diversity in the Church, and national collections.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan was elected to lead the religious liberty committee, while Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore was selected to lead the pro-life committee. Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville will lead the committee on doctrine.

The bishops are also expected to address other relevant issues including the coronavirus pandemic and racial tensions in the U.S.  Relevant to the last issue, the bishops are expected to reauthorize the ad hoc committee against racism, formed in 2017.

Suzanne Healy, chair of the National Review Board, will also deliver an update on policies and practices to protect children.

Archbishop Pierre encouraged the bishops of the U.S. to look to the example of the recently-beatified Fr. Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, "who understood the challenges" of vulnerable immigrants, widows and orphans in his day.

"We see a priest who used his authority wisely to animate his lay apostolate with the Knights of Columbus," Archbishop Pierre said, asking for the Blessed's intercession "in offering your flocks a witness to hope."

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