VATICAN CITY, JUNE 4, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the address Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver delivered to John Paul II today during an audience with bishops from the Rocky Mountain region of the United States. The bishops of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas were concluding their five-yearly visit to Rome.
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The bishops of Region XIII gather with you today to offer our fidelity and our prayers. We also ask your blessing on the clergy, religious and faithful people of our dioceses, and we ask you to pray for our service to Jesus Christ and his Church. We come from 11 dioceses in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States. Our dioceses are for the most part very large geographically with great economic and ethnic diversity.
Each of us remembers with great affection your presence at World Youth Day 1993 and the new life of faith it sparked for many thousands of our young people. It was a moment that changed the face of the Catholic Church throughout our region, and it touched the hearts even of many people who do not share our faith.
Holy Father, the Church in our home dioceses has unique challenges. We serve Native American Catholics who struggle with chronic poverty; newly arrived immigrants without work, shelter or legal status; remote ranching and farming communities; and, at the same time, many of us serve in dioceses with complex urban centers.
We have a large and growing Hispanic population. This is a blessing. It brings new life to all our communities. It also challenges our ability to serve because of limited personnel and other resources.
Our region has always an urgent need of priests. This has become even more pressing as our population has rapidly increased in recent years. We ask your prayers that vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life will grow ever more quickly, since our need is very great.
The people of our region deeply love the Church. Some trace their Catholic roots back many generations. There are also many who hunger for a deeper experience of their faith. We need to serve them with better formation in the content and implications of their faith in the 21st century. We urgently need to help them recover their missionary spirit so that in their personal discipleship, they will lead others to Jesus Christ and convert the heart of American society.
Holy Father, as successor of St. Peter, you have been blessed by Christ himself with the gift to “strengthen [the] brethren” (Luke 22:32). As your brothers in the Lord, we offer you our love, our loyalty and our deep gratitude for your ministry and the witness of your discipleship.
Sincerely and respectfully yours in Christ,