Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, addressed the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) yesterday at the start of their Fall General Assembly in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Italian prelate, who began his service as nuncio to the United States two years ago, expressed his gratitude to the US bishops for their hospitality, saying that his time has been “both enlightening and enrichening.”
Speaking out of “admiration, respect and loving concern for the Church in America”, Archbishop Viganó began his address recalling the words of Pope Francis on the 50th anniversary of the election of Venerable Pope Paul VI. “Paul VI knew how to witness, in difficult years, to the faith in Jesus Christ… His was a profound love for Christ, not to possess, but to proclaim him,” Pope Francis said in June.
Recalling both Paul VI and Francis’ call for an authentic witness to Christian life, Archbishop Viganó stressed that bishops need to be “in tune with their people. ”When this past June I met with him in his simple apartment at the Casa Santa Marta for a fruitful discussion, he made a special point of saying that he wants ‘pastoral’ bishops, not bishops who profess or follow a particular ideology,” he said.
The Apostolic Nuncio to the United States also offered several reflections from both Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II, who will be canonized next year. The reflections centered on the pastoral work of proclaiming the Gospel, which he noted was a “call to attentiveness, watchfulness and preparedness” to those called to give a “radical witness to their faith in Jesus Christ.”
“I urge you, my brothers, to preserve a spirit of real unity among yourselves and, of course, with the successor of Peter, trusting in the way he sees best to live out his mission to mankind. Unity expressed in a real, prayer-filled communion of mind and heart is the only way we will remain strong and be able to face whatever the future may hold for us,” Archbishop Viganó told the US bishops.
The archbishop stressed the importance that the diversity that exists in the Church does not lead to division through misinterpretation and misunderstanding. The Apostolic Nuncio recalled an article he read regarding the political situation in the US, which stated that an era of polarization began as Americans lost trust in their leaders.
“Well said, since the Catholic Church will preserve her unity and strength as long as its people have trust in their bishops,” Archbishop Viganó said. “The sheep will gather together as one; they recognize and listen to the voice of their shepherd who calls out to them, walks with them, and is ready to give his life for them.”
Concluding his address, Archbishop Viganó encouraged the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to give a genuine witness of divine love to the faithful.
“We should also ask ourselves today a question posed by Pope Francis to the Bishops of Brazil: “…are we still a Church capable of warming hearts?” Let our response be a firm and wholehearted: “Yes, we are!” Archbishop Viganó exclaimed.
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