Bishops take part in weeklong retreat

Monday, January 14, 2019 - Updated: 1:42 pm

By Carol Zimmermann Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Catholic bishops took part in a closed-door retreat Jan. 2-8 at Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake near Chicago to prayerfully consider ways to rebuild trust over the clergy sex abuse crisis.

The structure of the retreat emphasized quiet reflection, including silent meal times, and offered daily Mass, time for personal and communal prayer before the Eucharist, vespers and an opportunity for confession. No ordinary business was conducted.

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, led the retreat with the theme, “the mission of the apostles and their successors.” This time of prayer came at the suggestion of Pope Francis and was planned largely in response to last summer’s revelations of sex abuse that reached the highest levels of the U.S. church.

Prior to the retreat’s start, Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill, associate general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CNS that more than 200 bishops were to attend. Active U.S. bishops number 271 and there are 185 retired bishops.

During the retreat, many Catholics joined in prayer for its success.

The website of Mundelein Seminary encouraged people to “join our seminary community in an online prayer chain for the healing of the Catholic Church,” suggesting that Catholics pray the rosary, attend daily Mass, engage in an act of penitential sacrifice or simply offer the prayer posted on their website — https://bit.ly/2VrAlST — called “Prayer for the Healing of Our Church.”

St. Maximilian Kolbe Shrine, adjacent to the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Libertyville, Illinois, conducted its usual 24-hour adoration during the bishops’ retreat with specific emphasis on praying for the bishops.

Its website urged Catholics who could not pray at the shrine to pray at their own parish adoration chapel that the bishops’ retreat would be “truly guided by the Holy Spirit.”

Conventual Franciscan Father Benedict La Volpe, the shrine’s rector, told Catholic News Service that the shrine, where perpetual adoration “has been nonstop since 1928,” has had more participants since the bishops’ retreat began Jan. 2.

He stressed that abuse victims are always in the church’s prayers, but during this time of retreat there is an urgency to pray for the bishops, specifically, that they “understand what happened and what needs to happen.”

The priest, who heard confessions during the retreat, said he hoped the bishops would take away from this gathering the importance of taking time to “pause, pray, reflect and convert.”

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