WASHINGTON — Although the weeklong retreat for U.S. Catholic
bishops emphasized quiet reflection, several bishops spoke out on social
media during the retreat and after it wrapped up Jan. 8 with positive
reaction about it and to applaud the retreat leader, Capuchin Father
Raniero Cantalamessa, who has preached to popes and top officials of the
Roman Curia for nearly 40 years.
One bishop said listening to
Father Cantalamessa was akin to being in the presence of the early
Christian theologians. “Clear, intensely filled with the Holy Spirit,
and all for the Kingdom of God,” Auxiliary Bishop Michael J. Boulette of
San Antonio tweeted. “Let us continue to pray for one another, our
Church and our world. A blessing to be here!”
Archbishop Paul D.
Etienne of Anchorage, Alaska, tweeted that the retreat leader was a
“true instrument of the Lord” and that the Holy Spirit was at work.
Bishop Lawrence T. Persico of Erie, Pa., described Father Cantalamessa’s talks and homilies as “powerful and engaging.”
tweeted that he was glad they had time to reflect and pray about their
role as shepherds, stressing: “We must start there to be able to offer
healing. I am taking this very seriously but feeling positive.”
Francis suggested the bishops hold the retreat and offered the services
of the 84-year-old Father Cantalamessa, who has served as preacher of
the papal household since 1980. The time of prayer Jan. 2-8 at Mundelein
Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake near Chicago was
planned largely in response to last summer’s revelations of allegations
of sex abuse that reached the highest levels of the U.S. Church.
a Jan. 8 column for Angelus News, the archdiocesan news outlet of Los
Angeles, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles wrote the bishops’
retreat leader focused “our attention on the vocation and responsibility
of bishops in this moment in the Church.”
“We are praying
together as a visible sign of our unity as bishops and our communion
with the Holy Father. There is a collegial spirit here and a firm
commitment to address the causes of the abuse crisis we face and
continue the work of renewing the Church,” he added.
J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Conn., wrote a few blog posts about the
retreat with some reflection about the retreat leader’s message.
wrote they heard about the need to emphasize in their preaching the
fundamental belief in Jesus before delving into His message and
He also stated Father Cantalamessa emphasized the need
to root out “love of money” and all that it implies, including material
possessions, honor or power.
“If this pursuit for ‘money’ needs to
be rooted out from our Christian lives, then we need to embrace a true
spirit of detachment,” the bishop wrote, adding that he would add more
to that topic in the days ahead.
The theme of the retreat was “the
mission of the apostles and of their successors” drawing from Mark
3:14, which states Jesus “appointed 12 — whom He also named apostles —
that they might be with Him and He might send them forth to preach.”
Reflections from the retreat do not seem to be about the crisis in particular, maybe for a reason.
an email to Catholic News Service weeks before the retreat, Father
Cantalamessa wrote he would “not talk about pedophilia and will not give
advice about eventual solutions; that is not my task and I would not
have the competence to do so.”
“The Holy Father asked for my
availability to lead a series of spiritual exercises for the episcopal
conference so that the bishops, far from their daily commitments, in a
climate of prayer and silence and in a personal encounter with the Lord,
can receive the strength and light of the Holy Spirit to find the right
solutions for the problems that afflict the U.S. Church today,” he