Today marks the completion of two weeks on the road. I’m at St. Meinrad Archabbey and Seminary in Southern Indiana this morning.
I’m looking forward to visiting with our three seminarians studying here as well as with the faculty, and celebrating the community Mass today. I remember as a seminarian looking forward to visits by my Archbishop, and now, I enjoy the opportunity to get to know my seminarians and hear how they are growing in discernment and formation.
The first week of November I was in St. Paul for meetings with Catholic Rural Life. We held a board meeting on Monday and Tuesday and then welcomed 70 agriculture and faith leaders from around the country for a three day symposium on faith, food, and agriculture. Catholic Rural Life is collaborating with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to draft a document on the Vocation of the Agriculture Leader. This will be a companion piece for the previously written document, The Vocation of the Business Leader.
A part of the work leading up to the writing of the document is to hold two symposiums, the one held last week in St. Paul, and an international one the end of June in Milan, Italy. We are posing questions on the topics of faith, food and the environment and listening to theologians, farmers and many others involved in various spectrums of the agriculture world and business.
There are many issues around hunger and food, farming, food production and distribution, labor, environment and care for the earth and all of our natural resources. Our efforts seek to better understand all of these complex issues, while at the same time introducing principles based upon gospel-based values and ethics to help leaders develop sound answers that will respect the dignity of the human person and the limited resources of creation. As Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI reminded us in his encyclical Charity in Truth, Blessed Pope Paul VI “proposed Christian charity as the principal force at the service of development.” (Charity in Truth, #13)
From St. Paul I made my way to Baltimore for the November plenary meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. I was very encouraged during our meetings this week by the leadership of our President, Archbishop Kurtz of Louisville. I had a chance to speak with him at the airport in Baltimore yesterday evening, and thanked him for his generous and gracious leadership.
I am also pleased to see more time spent during our gatherings for bishops to gather in smaller groups for more in depth discussions on specific questions. I was particularly pleased that one of the questions invited the bishops to reflect upon the direction and teaching of Pope Francis in light of our own future priorities as a Conference. I’m hopeful that this will help us be more responsive to the needs, hopes and desires of the Catholic population, and enable our work to be more capable of making a difference in the day-to-day life of the faithful.
The past two weeks have been very full, and I pray God bless the work of the labor of many people who seek to serve Him for the good of the Church and the common good of society as a whole. More and more I am convinced that the Gospel is essential for building up the fraternal wellbeing of all of God’s people in society. Please God, may we find our way to presenting the truths of the Gospel in a manner that can improve the lives of all of God’s people.