Bishop Cote, (on the right of the photo) along with other New England Bishops, met with Pope Francis in the papal library. The two-hour meeting took place on November 7th as part of the “ad limina” visits to the Vatican to pray at the tombs of the apostles and report on the status of their dioceses.
By Cindy Wooden
Bishops from New England have shared with Pope Francis some of the joys, challenges and sufferings of the church in the Northeast and, really, throughout the United States, bishops said.
Nearing the end of their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican to pray at the tombs of the apostles and report on the status of their dioceses, the bishops spent two hours on November 7 sitting in a circle in the papal library conversing with Pope Francis.
Auxiliary Bishop Robert Reed of Boston told Catholic News Service later that the conversation included; immigration; priestly formation; the growth of secularism; and the importance of God’s mercy, encouraging Catholics to avail themselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The Pope allowed the bishops to set the agenda, he said, told them they should all feel free to speak “with no pecking order” and responded to their questions and concerns with reflections based on his own experience as a priest and bishop.
The overriding theme was “vicinanza” or closeness, Bishop Reed said: “You must be close to God in your prayer and your personal life; you must be close to your priests as a father and walk with them, and you must be close to your people.”
At the end, Bishop Reed said, the pope told the bishops they must be courageous in their ministry. “At one point, he looked me right in the eye and my eyes filled up; this is the successor of Peter telling me as one of his bishops to be courageous.”
“To be ushered into a room, given a chair in a circle for a true conversation with the successor of St. Peter after you’ve celebrated Mass just an hour before at the tomb of St Peter himself is an experience I’ll never forget,” said Bishop Reed.
New England bishops stay in 'Pope's house'
“The Pope, generally speaking, is there at breakfast,lunch, and dinner, in line in front of you ... It’s quite a unique experience.”
-Auxiliary Bishop Robert Reed
The bishops of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont — unlike almost all the other groups of US bishops who will visit through February — stayed in “the pope’s house,” the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
“The Pope, generally speaking, is there at breakfast, lunch and dinner, in line in front of you,” Bishop Reed said. “It’s quite a unique experience.”
Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, tweeted a thread of reflections about the meeting, noting how the pope “spoke from the heart” and “took great pains to make each of us feel both welcomed and comfortable. He even pointed out where the restroom was located, since he told us ‘we’re all human after all.'”
“It was a truly remarkable moment of grace that gave me great encouragement, challenged me to see some issues in a greater light and to be reassured in my own ministry as a bishop,” he tweeted.