Categories: Nation

At USCCB assembly, Cardinal Pierre says Eucharistic revival is for bishops too

In an address to more or less open the first public session of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference spring general assembly on June 13, Cardinal Christophe Pierre reminded the American prelates that the Eucharistic revival isn’t necessary for just the laity, but for them, as well.

“It is good that as shepherds we are thinking about the needs of the flock … but let us not forget that we need Eucharistic revival, too,” said Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. “As we approach the Eucharistic congress each of us can ask himself: Are we experiencing in our own lives the Eucharistic transformation that we want our people to experience? Are we opening ourselves to all dimensions of the mystery of the Eucharist?”

“These questions, asked in a posture of humble receptivity before the Lord, can invite from God the sort of answers that will incite Eucharistic revival within us, and that will make us, as the Lord’s chosen shepherds, better witnesses the Lord’s wounded and resurrected life, which he continues to live in the midst of his suffering and redeemed Church,” he said.

Pierre made the remarks near the top of his approximately 20-minute-long address, where he also commended the National Eucharistic Revival initiative, and noted that Pope Francis “is united with us in this desire that people rediscover the power of the Eucharist.”

The public portion of the USCCB spring general assembly on June 13 was on the lighter side, with notable items including the address from Pierre, an address from conference president Archbishop Timothy Broglio, and updates on both the synod and the bishops’ mental health initiative.

Like Pierre’s, each address contained a question, challenged, or offered advice to the American bishops.

Bishops listen to speakers June 13, 2024, at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' spring plenary assembly in Louisville, Ky. (OSV News photo/Bob Roller)

Broglio, near the top of his address, posed the question of “can we be catalysts for a greater national unity in our own turbulent times?” In the synod update, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville challenged his fellow bishops to both listen and learn from those who suffer “the poverty of isolation.” And in the mental health update, Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe advised that they should all be honest about their own vulnerabilities, so as to help remove the stigma around getting mental health help.

There were no votes taken during the June 13 session, though there will be multiple taken today, particularly on pastoral frameworks for both Native American and youth and young adult ministry. And other than during the mental health update, there were hardly any public comments.

Today concludes the USCCB spring general assembly, which began June 12 in Louisville, Kentucky.

As Pierre got further into his address to the American bishops on June 13, he highlighted many wounds of the modern Church, including the scandal of abuse and failed oversight, indifference in society towards the poor and suffering, skepticism towards God and religion in a secularized culture, and the “agitating” temptation some have towards polarization and division.

Pierre said that it’s important for the Church to move forward from these wounds and the troubling experiences contained within each, but not in a way that erases the wounds. Instead, Pierre said, the bishops must follow the way of Christ by acknowledging what has happened as part of the whole reality.

“The wounds of the Church can lead us back to the present … which is exactly where Christ wants to show us his power to heal,” Pierre said. “Christ wants to console the many wounded people whom we serve through our ministry – priests, religious, and lay faithful alike. But in order to do that he wants first to console us, the shepherds of his Church.”

“A Eucharistic procession, the like of which has been happening in this country in an extraordinary way … speaks of this,” Pierre added. “A bishop who has encountered the power of Christ’s resurrection in his own personal experience of weakness, leads his flock to that same kind of encounter with the Lord.”

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and head of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, gestures June 13, 2024, during a news conference at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' spring plenary assembly in Louisville, Ky. (OSV News photo/Bob Roller)

Broglio, who leads the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, gave his address following Pierre’s. Other than the aforementioned question he posed, Broglio focused his address on challenges the world presently faces, the synod, and eucharistic revival.

Broglio highlighted the “horrible” situation in Haiti, and the situation in Syria in which there are sanctions that “punish only the poor and not the powerful,” offering the conference’s prayers, and assistance in any way possible. He also expressed solidarity and prayers to those suffering in Ukraine.

Broglio also said he doesn’t expect congress to address immigration reform in an election year.

“In an election year our pleas will probably fall on deaf ears, but we cannot cease in our efforts to proclaim the Gospel from the rooftops and to see if we cannot influence those in power at the very least to improve the conditions in the countries of origin so that migration is not seen as a necessity for life,” Broglio said.

Commenting on the synod, Broglio said the experience taught participants the importance of listening to the other. In terms of the upcoming National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis, Indiana, Broglio said the bishops need to consider how they can capitalize on the momentum from it, and the ongoing National Eucharistic Pilgrimages.

“It will be important to consider how to capitalize on the momentum of this important event, which will gather so many faithful to celebrate the Lord’s unique presence,” Broglio said. “The events are important, but the continued building and reaffirmation of our Eucharistic faith is even more important.”

In the synod update, Flores, chair of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine who leads the synod process for the American Church, said he was encouraged by what came out of the interim stage listening sessions. He said that is a “hopeful sign” that the disagreements and tensions that were brought forth were rooted in a more basic agreement about what the Church should be about, and what it means to be Catholic.

Tension was a common word used throughout the American Church interim stage synod report that was submitted to the Vatican. Archbishop Thomas Zinkula of Dubuque, speaking after Flores, acknowledged tension was used purposefully, opposed to the word “division,” which he said carries a more negative connotation. He said tensions can lead to growth and development.

“If tensions are managed appropriately they can contribute to the health and holiness of the Church,” said Zinkula, who helped put together the interim stage report. “Tension doesn’t have to be viewed as an automatically bad word. In fact, tension is necessary for proper spiritual and human growth and development.”

Bishop Robert E. Barron of Winona-Rochester, Minn., speaks June 13, 2024, at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' spring plenary assembly in Louisville, Ky. (OSV News photo/Bob Roller)

To close the public session, the bishops had a discussion on mental health. Led by Bishop Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester, one of the leaders of the conference’s mental health campaign launched last October, the bishops spoke amongst themselves for about 25 minutes, before offering reflections.

Bishop John Dolan of Phoenix, a leader in mental health advocacy, offered a reflection first, emphasizing  that the best way the church can help alleviate the stigma around mental health is by “opening up this avenue of conversation and accompanying people who are struggling.”

Multiple other bishops highlighted the effectiveness of the mental health ministries – counselors, therapists, and training – that they’ve implemented in their dioceses. Wester, as mentioned, spoke directly to the need for bishops themselves to be honest with about their mental health.

“People put us on a pedestal whether we like it or not – not everybody, obviously, but some still do – and so I think that we need to be careful that we don’t get sucked into that and somehow think that for us to have an issue, a problem, or something that needs help. There’s nothing wrong with it,” Wester said. “As a matter of fact, it’s actually a sign of good health if we know where to get help when we need it.”

John Lavenburg

John Lavenburg is an American journalist and the national correspondent for Crux. Before joining Crux, John worked for a weekly newspaper in Massachusetts covering education and religion.