Archdiocese of Chicago

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Timely Visit

This week I’ve been with the bishops of Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana on pilgrimage to the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul in Rome.  After praying at the tombs and celebrating Mass, we went to visit the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI.  We also spoke with many of his major collaborators in the Roman Curia.

Because we were away from the immediate cares of our dioceses, there was more time to pray and reflect.  Because we were on pilgrimage in Rome, there was occasion to strengthen the unity of the bishops of our region with the Holy Father.  This unity is called ecclesial communion, a relationship that sustains the Church’s governance and unites us to one another and to the apostles and Christ himself.

Even in the midst of this strengthened unity, news of attempts to weaken the unity between the bishops and the faithful have been reported.  This is the first time in the history of the United States that a presidential administration has purposely tried to interfere in the internal working of the Catholic Church, playing one group off against another for political gain.  What isn’t always understood is that the Bishops of the Church make no attempt to speak for all Catholics; they never have.  The Bishops speak for the Catholic and apostolic faith, and those who hold that faith gather around them.  Others disperse.  That dynamic is clear in history and became clear also in the official visit to Rome that the Bishops of our region made this week.

Our visit has reminded us that the Church enjoys divine assistance even when she is being attacked.  It was a timely visit.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI

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