BALTIMORE – As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) meet this week for their annual Fall Plenary Assembly in Baltimore, they began their gathering with a morning of prayer, reflection, and confession. The bishops then celebrated Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, and vice president of the USCCB, welcomed his brother bishops to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the first Catholic diocese in the United States, and to the Baltimore Basilica, which was the first Catholic cathedral in the United States.
“Living our faith, we open our plenary session in this historic basilica, home to so many meetings and councils of the vibrant Church in the United States,” said Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and president of the USCCB in his homily. “At the beginning of our plenary session we beg for wisdom because we recognize that we are servants of the truth and charged to find ways to help those entrusted to our care welcome that truth, see its logic, and embrace the way of life that Christ holds out for us. We do so in many ways as we work in Synodal fashion to serve the Church in this part of the world.”
The prayers of the Mass were offered for peace and reconciliation in a troubled world, and the archbishop pointed out the significance of the plenary opening on the memorial of Saint Frances Cabrini. “It seems supremely eloquent that our first saint came over on a ship in the 19th century like many of our grandparents. She can only bless the tireless work to ensure a dignified welcome, which is a constant care of this assembly of bishops,” he said.
Archbishop Broglio also reminded his brother bishops of the current delicate moment in the Middle East saying, “The suffering and death of the innocent on both sides continues to horrify people of good will as well, as Pope Francis reminded us yesterday. We pray for world leaders that they might find solutions to bring peace to every troubled corner of the world.”
He concluded his homily saying, “Saint Frances Cabrini even obliged the poor to give from their poverty to help those more needy than they. It was also a way of insisting on the dignity of all and the common responsibility for others. It is a message that is very appropriate today and every day…Charity demands our attention to the little ones, the weak, the simple, fraternal
correction and unlimited pardon to those who ask.”
The public sessions of the bishops’ plenary on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 14 and 15 will be livestreamed on www.usccb.org/meetings.