September 25, 2015
Pope Francis delivered a message of encouragement and support to the bishops of the United States during his meeting with them on Wednesday, Sept. 23, at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C.
“I thought it was a very positive, encouraging talk,” said Nashville Bishop David Choby, who joined his brother bishops in listening to and praying with the pope.
“As one might expect, he was encouraging bishops to take seriously their role as shepherds and making their best effort to reach out, particularly to those most vulnerable and most marginalized,” Bishop Choby said.
“Our greatest joy is to be shepherds, and only shepherds, pastors with undivided hearts and selfless devotion,” the pope told the U.S. bishops. “We need to preserve this joy and never let ourselves be robbed of it.”
“Several times he expressed an understanding of the difficulties bishops sometimes face … the challenges that bishops face in regard to teaching the faith,” Bishop Choby noted.
“I know that you face many challenges, and that the field in which you sow is unyielding and that there is always the temptation to give in to fear, to lick one’s wounds, to think back on bygone times and to devise harsh responses to fierce opposition,” Pope Francis said. “And yet we are promoters of the culture of encounter.”
The pope’s message to the bishops echoed his message to the rest of the Church and the world, Bishop Choby said.
“His talk to the joint session (of Congress on Thursday) morning was as much as anything an invitation and challenge for all of us to become more generous, more virtuous, more committed in terms of the work we do to make the world a better place, a more welcoming place, a place more responsive to the poor, the elderly and those who are marginalized to the sidelines,” Bishop Choby said.
Pope Francis left Washington on Thursday to continue his apostolic visit to the United States in New York, where he was to address the General Assembly of the United Nations. Bishop Choby left Washington and headed to Philadelphia where the pope was scheduled to end his American trip at the World Meeting of Families in that city.
The bishop will be joining several people from the Diocese of Nashville who are attending the World Meeting of Families.
“I really see that as a topic that is going to give a lot of direction to the work we do in the next year or two,” Bishop Choby said.
The Philadelphia meeting will be a prelude to the Synod of Bishops on the family meeting at the Vatican next month. The results of the Synod will help shape the diocese’s efforts and plans for family ministry in the future, Bishop Choby said.