Catholic World News

American hierarchy must revive love for Church, Archbishop Dolan tells USCCB

November 14, 2011

In his first presidential address to the members of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York said that the greatest challenge facing the American hierarchy is “to renew the appeal of the Church, and the Catholic conviction that Christ and His Church are one.”

In a powerful speech to open the USCCB meeting in Baltimore, Archbishop Dolan reminded his colleagues of an exhortation to bishops by Blessed John Paul II: “Love for Jesus and His Church must be the passion of our lives!” He underlined the need to remember—and to tell the world—“that the Church is the bride of Christ, that the Church is the Body of Christ, that Christ and His Church are one.”

The secular world resists the message of the Church, the archbishop said—except on one point. He suggested that “the world wants us to forget every Church-teaching except for the one truth our culture is exuberantly eager to embrace and trumpet: the sinfulness of her members!” Without denying the need for repentance and reform, he said, the Church must continue to proclaim her message. He observed:

It is always a risk for the world to hear the Church, for she dares the world to “cast out to the deep,” to foster and protect the inviolable dignity of the human person and human life; to acknowledge the truth about life ingrained in reason and nature; to protect marriage and family; to embrace those suffering and struggling; to prefer service to selfishness; and never to stifle the liberty to quench the deep down thirst for the divine that the poets, philosophers, and peasants of the earth know to be what really makes us genuinely human.

To preserve the integrity of the Gospel message, Archbishop Dolan said, bishops should first “resist the temptation to approach the Church as merely a system of organizational energy and support that requires maintenance.” Second, he said, they must keep in mind that “since we are a spiritual family, we should hardly be surprised that the Church has troubles.” However, he said, the recognition of sinfulness should only confirm the need for the Church’s sacramental life. The Church, he said, points beyond the weakness of her members to the promise of her Savior:

Founded by Christ, the Church had her beginning at Pentecost, but her origin is from the Trinity. Yes, her beginning is in history, as was the incarnation, but her origin is outside of time.

Later in the opening session of the USCCB meeting, the members heard Bishop William Lori, the chairman of a newly created committee on religious freedom, address the growing problem of aggressive secularization in the political world. American Catholics, he said, must counter the efforts of those people whose goal is “establishing un-religion as the religion of the land and granting it the rights and protections that our Founding Fathers envisioned for citizens who are believers and for their churches and their church institutions.”


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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: fenton1015153 - Nov. 15, 2011 12:23 PM ET USA

    Once again the Bishops have fulfilled the old saying; a day late and a dollar short. Lord Jesus Come.

  • Posted by: claire5327 - Nov. 15, 2011 12:32 AM ET USA

    "It is sick who need a doctor. I come to call sinners!" The Church is build for sinners by the Body and Blood soul and Divinity of Christ to raise up through the Sacraments of the Church. Only Jesus and Mother Mary are Without Sin. All of us need to LOVE Christ with our lives for the sake of all of our salvation. The Bishops must be FEARLESS roll models who are not afraid of offending men but God! The collective sins of Omission is the cause of our problems of day. Fear only God's rejection!