Pray for me and my brother bishops

Archbishop Gomez writes from Chicago

Archbishop Gomez at retreat (photo CNS/Bob Roller)

The following comes from a Jan. 8 letter in the Angelus News.

I am writing to you from Chicago, where the bishops of the United States are finishing a weeklong spiritual retreat recommended to us by Pope Francis.

The retreat has been led by the preacher of the papal household, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., who is focusing 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.

On the first day of the retreat, Francis sent the bishops a long and challenging letter. He concluded with a quote from St. Mother Teresa. I want to share it with you:

“Yes, I have many human faults and failures. … But God bends down and uses us, you and me, to be his love and his compassion in the world; he bears our sins, our troubles and our faults. He depends on us to love the world and to show how much he loves it. If we are too concerned with ourselves, we will have no time left for others.”

As we begin a new year, I think this is an important point for all of us to reflect on — and especially those of us who hold leadership positions.

None of us is perfect, and this side of heaven, none of us will be. We sin. We make mistakes. We hurt other people. We make the same confession in every Mass: “I have sinned … in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.” In this life, there will never be a day when that is not true.

God knows this about us. He knows your heart and my heart better than we know ourselves. Jesus did not come for the righteous, but to save sinners. And that means every one of us. That is the mystery of God’s love for us — that even though we are sinners, he comes to bear our sins, to die for us, and to bring us forgiveness.

This does not excuse sins or crimes or the hurt that is done to others. Everyone needs to be held accountable and make reparation for the wrongs they commit.

But we need to remember that God goes with us, in our afflictions and in our struggles. He is always bending down to reach out to us, to lift us up. He knows our faults and failures and yet still he calls each one of us to do his work in the world. What a beautiful thought Mother Teresa gives us: “He depends on us to love the world and to show how much he loves it.”

Throughout the retreat, Father Cantalamessa asked us to reflect on the words of the ancient prayer, “Veni Creator.”

We need to trust more in the Holy Spirit. We need to have confidence that we are always living in God’s loving presence.

God will never abandon us or leave us alone. We need to call on him, personally and constantly. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to come to us, “with Thy grace and heavenly aid to fill the hearts which Thou has made,” as the prayer says.

We need to live more and more by the virtue of hope, with our eyes on heaven as we work for God’s kingdom on earth. Our hope is in Jesus and his promise — that if we follow him, he will show us the path to eternal life.

So, now is the time for us to really live our faith in Jesus Christ — with new understanding, new commitment, and new love.

These have been some of my thoughts and reflections during this retreat. My prayer and penance this week have been offered for the victims and survivors of abuse, that God might help them to find healing and wholeness once more.

I have also been praying for all of us — and especially our leaders — to have a better understanding of the immigration issue, as this is “National Migration Week,” designated by the U.S. bishops.

As we know, the federal government is partially shut down — and the central sticking point is related to immigration.

So we need to keep praying and working to help our leaders to see their responsibility to set aside political considerations and come together to do what is right and fix our nation’s long-broken immigration system.

Pray for our leaders this week. And please pray for me and my brother bishops and I will be praying for you.

And let us turn to our Blessed Mother Mary to ask her intercession and to learn from her example. May she help us to make this new year a time of hope and new opportunity for loving and serving God.


  1. His inaction for years speaks louder than his empty words. Do the bishops really think the laity are going to be placated or fooled by empty words any more? Oh, just pen some pious words and the laity will be kept in check? Nope. Not any more. I want to see some good results. I want to see some effective, responsible action. No more empty words. I made a promise at baptism to reject empty promises from you-know-who.

    • Becky, it is hard to disagree with you; we need action, not pious words; no empty words. Now, you will do us all a great service if you will articulate what you mean by “effective, responsible action.” I’ve been racking my brain to think of what the bishops can do that is meaningful, and I can’t seem to put it into words; except for one thing which is that any one of them who harbored pedophile priests should resign. Remember Chile? Their bishops met in Rome with the Pope, and they all resigned on the spot. He accepted a lot of the resignations, but not all, which is starting to haunt him. What do you suggest?

  2. I say, if one recalls the zero-tolerance policy from the Dallas Charter and considers the very stringent measures put in place because of it, one cannot say what Becky has just said: “I want to see some effective, responsible action.” For example because of the Dallas Charter, a priest cannot just walk into a parish in another diocese and start ministering. Another example: any credible accusation, even without a conviction, effectively removes a priest from ministry. If one says that’s not enough and that bishops need to be covered by the Charter, then so be it. But it is the anti-Catholic media, as well as the enemies of the Church, the anti-clergy ranters out there, and the anti-Vatican II crowd (among others) who would want…

  3. ” If we are too concerned with ourselves, we will have no time left for others.” Another subterfuge by Francis to keep from self-examination in light of his refusal to give account of his actions/inactions in light of the Vigano letters, the dubias, and related matters? One can only speculate.

  4. The Bishop’s text made me feel Nauseous …… irate and upset wanting to be excused because he is a “sinner.”
    The world is in a sorry state because the Bishops of the Church abdicated their responsibility and allowed evil to overtake society. They were silent and allowed abortion and all manner of filth to pervade the church over the last 100 years….. There are just no words to express the magnitude of what has occurred and is still going on.

  5. “We sin, We make mistakes” ? Sir, we also make choices and some are deliberate. I believe no man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar. Things are catching up with so many of the Bishops and yes, we will continue to pray for these men. I hope the Bishops will get out of the political ring and back to living the lives they promised God.

  6. Becky and Bob One, Gomez could start by putting a halt on the Annual Religious Ed Congress in LA. He’s had many years to clean that up. Yes, the federal government is shut down. Maybe he could speak out for support of our president, instead of the platform of Pelosi and fellow Democrats.

    • Amen!

    • That’s what I mean by taking effective action. What I meant was I’m tired of the AB asking for prayers and support and saying he’s going to do something when there’s something he’s directly responsible for that he hasn’t done anything to clean up for years and it would be so easy to do. Like you said, put a stop to it. Is he in charge or isn’t he?

  7. The Church has the weakest bishops perhaps since the days of Arianism.

  8. Leila Miller says

    He segues to immigration? What the heck?? The bishops DO NOT GET IT. Contrast it to what the laity is saying and feeling:

  9. Catherine D says

    Forget the prayers. Most bishops should resign and that might be the answer to our prayers .

    • They’ll never resign. They like their comfort, privilege and power too much. They are the modern day Pharisees.

  10. Some bishops act like the Queen of England: figureheads that enjoy the prestige and wealth of their office, make appearances and statements, but have no commitment to what the position stands for. Just as there are people who fawn over British royalty even though they are irrelevant, so too in the church. I’m not one of them, nor is anyone I know. All of us are sickened to death and disgusted by the behavior and disconnect of ecclesiastical royalty.

    • Travis merely paints a false caricature. Unless you’ve seen the day-to-day activities of bishops, and of priests for that matter, one cannot say what Travis has just said. My own information of what bishops do is based on speaking with priest-friends, and I can tell you, it ain’t all rosy as folks like Travis would have us believe. You become a bishop, then you are effectively nailed to a cross, and you get attacked from ALLL SIDES! Just read the comments here, and in the National Catholic Reporter, and see how “fawning” people are of bishops, as people are of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. People, Travis’ words are just plainly uninformed.

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