"I've just returned from the New York State bishops "ad limina" visit to Rome, and thought I'd offer a few highlights of a very busy but wonderful week.
Along with Mass at the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul and in other historic churches, the greater part of the week consisted of meeting as a group with officials of the Holy See, culminating in a 2 hour group meeting with Pope Francis on Friday morning. In all of these sessions, including the one with the Holy Father, there was free and open discussion of many of the challenges and opportunities our church is facing. We also learned of various initiatives underway at the Vatican for the good of the worldwide church, and we shared about projects and challenges on the agenda of our NY dioceses, including care for victim survivors of abuse; efforts at Christian unity; relations with Jews and Muslims; the drain of "millennials" and the unaffiliated not only from Catholic life but from religion in general; seminary formation; primacy of Sunday Eucharist; concern for the environment, for disarmament, for religious freedom and human rights, especially the right to life...and much more.
Pope Francis was most welcoming and gracious, expressing his paternal and loving support for us in our ministry. We each were personally greeted by the Holy Father as we entered and as we left. In a few words spoken privately to me, it was clear that the Pope understands the difficulties and distress we here in Buffalo, and I personally, have been experiencing. He was very understanding and kind.
I am, of course, aware of the intense interest about the results of the Apostolic Visitation recently conducted here and submitted to the Holy See. The Congregation for Bishops has received the report, which is held in strict confidentiality. I had a brief discussion with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation. More on that to come.
I ask for your prayers and patience while the path forward is discerned. In the meantime, be assured that I am wholly committed to fostering the healing of victim survivors, rebuilding trust, and with our clergy and other church ministers, renewing faith and carrying on the essential ministries that serve the needs of Catholics and of the larger Western New York community.
Thank you for your active faith. Thanks to all who continue to be supportive of our diocese, of me and my ministry. May the peace of Christ reign in the hearts of us all."
Video message can be found here, on diocesan website: www.buffalodiocese.org and on Twitter & Facebook
For more information, contact Kathy Spangler, Director of Communications