Bishop Douglas Crosby

Western Hemisphere bishops seek ways to boost 'encounter with Christ'

  • February 25, 2016

TAMPA, Fla. - Fourteen bishops from Canada, the United States and Latin America explored ways to invite the faithful into what Pope Francis has called "an encounter with Jesus Christ" during three days of prayer and discussion.

The 38th meeting of bishops of America concluded today with the prelates saying they were returning home with a feeling of camaraderie and solidarity after sharing their experiences of service and a fuller understanding of the unity they share through the Church.

Representatives of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Latin American bishops' council, known as CELAM, attended the meeting, which opened Feb. 22.

Bishop Douglas Crosby of Hamilton, Ont., president of the Canadian bishops' conference, said the meeting encouraged the bishops in their work.

"We learn from one another," he said in a statement. “We support one another; we encourage one another. We are united in our desire to follow Christ faithfully."

"Looking across the table, I saw brothers in Christ," Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, USCCB president, said in the statement. "My prayer is for all the people of God to see their neighbour, north to south, as their sister and brother in Christ."

Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, Colombia, CELAM president, said in the statement that the bishops seek to accompany the faithful as they search for "a more dignified life for families."

The bishops discussed how Jesus' love heals and unifies as they focused on several topics including immigration, evangelization of urban communities, native peoples' rights, physician-assisted suicide, the danger of pornography and the growing threat to religious freedom around the world. Subsequent discussions looked at how the individual conferences were supporting the Year of Mercy called for by Pope Francis. The statement said the bishops looked in particular at how the topic of mercy is discussed in the Aparecida document, which was drafted in 2007 by Pope Francis when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and offers a pastoral vision and guidelines for the region's Church.
The bishops shared how resources related to the pontiff's call are being distributed to parishioners under each conference's jurisdiction.
The meetings have been periodically held since 1967 to emphasize the unity of the Catholic Church in the Western Hemisphere.

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