By Jessica Easthope
Bishops from across the country coming together on the most important issues facing the Catholic Church, in a way they never have before – over Zoom.
“I’ve seen a new missionary spirit coming alive in many, the faithful are hungry to continue the mission of the church despite the obstacle of COVID restrictions and financial limitations and losses,” said Archbishop Paul Coakley, the Chairman of Domestic Justice and Human Development for the Conference.
On day two of the annual conference, bishops focused largely on how the pandemic has shaped our faith.
“A good way to bring them together is to launch a national campaign that simply says ‘Bring Someone Back to Church,’ so when you return, you bring someone with you,” said Bishop Robert Barron, the Chairman of Evangelization and Catechesis.
The bishops spoke about how the pandemic has presented a new opportunity, becoming a tool for evangelization. It’s a much different conversation from day one, that was when the bishops focused on the McCarrick Report and its shadow over the church.
“In light of the Holy See’s report on Theodore McCarrick, we again want to express our deep sorrow and pray that they might find healing and hope,” said Archbishop José Gomez, President of the USCCB.
But bishops are in lockstep with Pope Francis, committed to ousting abuse within the church while tackling other pro-life issues, like racial justice.
“We could not have known we would watch on screens numerous killings of African Americans and that these killings would spark worldwide peaceful demonstrations and protests and sadly and reprehensibly violence in some places,” said Bishop Shelton Fabre, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.
Bishops are urging church leaders to prepare for the honesty Black parishioners share with them, an honesty that’s not always easy to hear.
“As we began conversations and we did our listening sessions there was a lot of hurt, a lot of pain that came to the surface. And it was uncomfortable for clergy and laity to hear the stories and bring to light what had been in darkness, but I would see that as one of the fruits,” said Bishop Jaime Soto, with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.
Soon-to-be Cardinal Wilton Gregory didn’t get to weigh in on the racial justice conversation, but that’s because he’s on the way to Rome to become the church’s first African American Cardinal.