· Benedict XVI to U.S. Bishops at the close of their visit “ad limina” ·
Gratitude for the commitment in favour of immigrants and the fidelity of women consecrated
The “Catholic unity” as “an essential condition for the fulfilmentof the Church’s mission” was reiterated by the Pope on Friday morning, 18 May, in his Discourse to the last group of Bishops from the United State – regions XIV and XV – on their visit ad limina Apostolorum .
The Pontiff said he was particularly pleased at the presence of bishops of the Eastern Churches of the United States, since – he explained to them - “you and your faithful embody in a unique way the ethnic, cultural and spiritual richness of the American Catholic community, past and present”. In fact, he recalled, “the Church in America has struggled to recognize and incorporate this diversity, and has succeeded, not without difficulty, in forging a communion in Christ and in the apostolic faith which mirrors the catholicity which is an indefectible mark of the Church”. Benedict XVI then spoke the importance of preserving, fostering and advancing this gift of Catholic unity as an essential condition for the fulfillment of the Church’s mission in the United States, confronting two specific points: that of immigration and that of consecrated women.
As to the first, he praised the “unremitting efforts, in the best traditions of the Church in America, to respond to the ongoing phenomenon of immigration. The Catholic community in the United States continues, with great generosity, to welcome waves of new immigrants, to provide them with pastoral care and charitable assistance, and to support ways of regularizing their situation, especially with regard to the unification of families”. For the Pope a particular sign of this “is the long-standing commitment of the American Bishops to immigration reform”. This is clearly a difficult and complex issue – he said - from the civil and political, as well as the social and economic, and above all from the human point of view.
Regarding the second theme, the Pope urged bishops to “remain particularly close to the men and women in your local Churches who are committed to following Christ ever more perfectly by generously embracing the evangelical counsels”. And he expressed his “deep gratitude for the example of fidelity and self-sacrifice given by many consecrated women” in the United States, joining them “in praying that this moment of discernment will bear abundant spiritual fruit for the revitalization and strengthening of their communities in fidelity to Christ and the Church, as well as to their founding charisms”.
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