“We…prayerfully turn our thoughts to you”, begins the letter to Pope Francis, drafted and approved by the US Bishops. They thank the Pope for his message sent for the V Encuentro, and assure him of their participation in the World Day of the Poor on Sunday. After mentioning the pain suffered over the recent anti-Semitic violence in Pittsburgh, they renew their commitment to combat the “grave evil of sexual abuse and other sexual misconduct”, which is the main focus of the Fall Assembly.
Follows is a working transcript of the letter to the Holy Father:
Most Holy Father,
Gathering in general assembly in the premier city of Baltimore, we, the members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, prayerfully turn our thoughts to Your Holiness.
In joy, we report the great blessings received at the gathering of the Fifth national Encuentro in Texas. We thank you for your personal message in support of this gathering, where a culture of encounter was brought to life, and the contribution of Hispanic and Latino Catholics in the Church was celebrated.
In faith, we take to heart your message to us and to the Church for the World Day of the Poor on November 18th. May we listen attentively to the cries of the poor just as our Good Shepherd does, hearing their history, their experience and the needs of their hearts. With you, Holy Father we seek to answer these cries with loving attentiveness.
Among those whose hearts are broken are those who suffer violent anti-Semitism as we witnessed recently in Pittsburgh. Holy Father, with you we renew your solidarity with, and deep affection for, our Jewish brothers and sisters.
Most of all, however, our meeting will focus on the suffering of those who have been wounded by the grave evil of sexual abuse and other sexual misconduct. It is our shame to acknowledge that this has included the crimes of some of our own brother bishops. Humbled by these scandalous failures, we commit ourselves to renewing and deepening our efforts to protect minors and vulnerable adults. We look forward to the February gathering of episcopal conference presidents, as we work with Your Holiness to address the evil of sexual abuse.
Holy Father, we are also grateful for your recent letter to the people of God addressing the suffering of those who have been wounded by sexual abuse, and recognizing these acts as an abuse of power. We join in firm solidarity with your prayer in that letter: “May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion, and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse, our compunction, and our resolve courageously to combat them.”
Your Holiness, we pray for you and humbly ask you to bless our assembly and the work that lies before it.