Monday, November 16, 2015

Live from The Fall Classic

Good morning from Baltimore and Opening Day of this 97th Plenary of the US bishops – here's the livefeed from the Floor...

(Ed. The day having wrapped, on-demand video of the Monday sessions is available via the Mothership.)

...and with the morning session bringing the usual kickoff speeches from the president, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, and the Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò (in his farewell appearance before reaching the retirement age in mid-January), updates to come.

SVILUPPO: Before the morning's speeches, the body approved two statements – the already-released text (composed Saturday by the top-level Administrative Committee) expressing solidarity with France following Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris, and a strikingly-worded presidential message on the global persecution of Christians, its fulltext below:

"Lord Jesus Christ."

These three whispered words rose above the sound of the surf to overcome death, as 21 Coptic Christians – brothers as dear to us as our own family – knelt in the sand before the executioner's sword. The body and blood of Christ were offered on the Mediterranean shore that all too recent February day. Our body and blood were offered, for as St. Paul teaches us, we are one body in Christ and "if one suffers, all the parts suffer with it" (1 Cor 12:26).

The words of our Lord Jesus Christ are alive and with us now. "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you as well" (Jn 15:20). Places of worship that have stood for centuries in the very cradle of Christianity are being destroyed. Families are fleeing from beheadings, sexual slavery and even crucifixion. In places such as Mosul, Christmas bells that have heralded the birth of our Savior uninterrupted for nearly two thousand years have fallen silent as our brothers and sisters in the faith have been scattered. It is nothing short of genocide.

This Sunday, more than 20 million Catholics will attend Mass throughout the United States, kneeling in preparation to receive Holy Communion. In the week ahead, they will read the Bible, teach their children to pray, and practice Christian virtue in the workplace. We will do so, largely, without fear of being targeted for simply worshipping God. This Sunday, when we kneel, let us draw near to all those dying in the name of our faith. Let us then rise, renewed in our solidarity with the suffering of people of all faiths.

We will soon begin to celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis. During this special year, the Holy Father encourages us to rediscover the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, including feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, comforting the afflicted and praying for the living and the dead. How might we accompany our suffering fellow Christians and all people of good will?
Pray – Surrounded by death, the loving embrace of Jesus is often the modern martyr's only comfort. Let us pray their faith will sustain them as it inspires us to turn ever more fervently to Christ in our own lives. 
Witness – Our hearts never grow indifferent to the continuing stories of families forced from their homes, separated from those they love and facing an unknown future. We cannot be hesitant to speak their name, make their cause our own and ensure they are never forgotten by the powerful in a position to protect them.

Give – Last September, Catholic parishes in the United States gave generously to a special collection supporting our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. We can continue our generosity through organizations like Catholic Relief Services or the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. 
As Pope Francis reminds us, "authentic religion is a source of peace and not of violence." Ever confident in Christ's abundant grace, we look with hope to the day when people of every faith live in harmony with their neighbor.