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U.S. Bishops Receive Letter from Pope Francis As They Gather for Spiritual Retreat; Cardinal Daniel DiNardo Offers Message to Holy Father on Behalf of U.S. Bishops

Bishop Barry C. Knestout of Richmond, Va., attends a prayer service in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Mundelein Seminary Jan. 2 at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Illinois, near Chicago. The U.S. bishops began their Jan. 2-8 retreat at the seminary, suggested by Pope Francis in September, which comes as the bishops work to rebuild trust among the faithful as questions continue to revolve around their handling of clergy sex abuse. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

January 3, 2019

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Bishops have received a letter from Pope Francis as they gather in northern Illinois at Mundelein Seminary this week. The weeklong retreat is taking place at the invitation of Pope Francis who has asked all bishops in the United States to pause in prayer as the Church seeks to respond to the signs of the times.

The Preacher to the Papal Household, Capuchin Friar Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., is directing the retreat under the theme of “He appointed Twelve, to be with Him and to Send Out to Preach” based on Mark 3:14. The structure of the retreat includes time for quiet reflection, including silent meal times, daily Mass, time for personal and communal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, vespers, and an opportunity for confession. No ordinary business is being conducted during the retreat.

Mundelein Seminary, located on the campus of the University of St. Mary of the Lake, is the principal seminary and school of theology for the formation of priests in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago and educates nearly 200 seminarians from 34 dioceses across the country and around the world.

Pope Francis’s full letter can be found here in both English and Spanish.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), sent the following message on behalf of the U.S. bishops upon the opening of the retreat.

The Cardinal’s full message follows:

Most Holy Father:

As the bishops of the United States gather today in prayer, we humbly ask Your Holiness to pray for us that we may draw closer to one another and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In this closeness, we seek to find the wisdom and strength necessary to meet the great challenges ahead. We carry with us these days the pain and hope of all who may feel let down by the Church. Yet, we find ourselves grateful for the reminder that the future does not rest with any of us alone, but rather belongs to God. Hope is to be found in Christ. In Him, hope becomes unshakable.

Holy Father, we also draw near to you in our prayer and ministry. Your witness to those suffering around the world strengthens us. May our days together reflect the communion of the Universal Church.

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