ROME — Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York addressed Pope Benedict Saturday on behalf of the bishops of New York state, telling the pope that God’s grace and mercy are as abundant among Catholics today as they were in the lives of past saints. His remarks came just before the pope delivered the first of five speeches he will give to groups of U.S. bishops making “ad limina” visits in coming months.
Here is the text of Archbishop Dolan’s talk:
On Thursday, we in the United States celebrated our grand national feast of Thanksgiving. For us bishops of the State of New York, to be here with you is indeed an occasion of thanksgiving! We praise Jesus for your ministry as successor of Saint Peter.
To visit you is more than a duty of canon law; for us, to borrow a phrase from one of our own, Dorothy Day, whom we hope one day will be a saint, it is a “duty of delight.”
We need not repeat to you statistics and reports, as these are carefully detailed in our required quinquennials, and in our pleasant conversations with you in the last two days.
Instead, we bishops come to you, as did the apostles to Jesus, to report with praise to God about all that His Word continues to accomplish in the eight dioceses of the State of New York. God’s grace and mercy are as abundant now as they once were in the lives of New Yorkers in the past whom we revere as saints or future saints.
The work of evangelization goes on, as it did centuries ago in our state through St. Isaac Jogues, John De Brebeuf, and the North American Martyrs. Our catechumens, children, young people and adults still respond to the invitation of Jesus to conversion of heart and the call to holiness, as our own Blessed Kateri Tekawitha and Father Paul Watson once did.
Our priests, consecrated religious, and faithful people continue to feed the poor, heal the sick, clothe the naked, and house the homeless as our hopefully future saints such as Pierre Toussaint, Monsignor Nelson Baker, Sister Rose Hawthorne, Mother Marianne Cope, Monsignor Bernard Quinn, and Dorothy Day did in the past.
Our children still learn about “the way, the truth, and the life” in excellent Catholic schools and programs of religious education, taught today as they once were by our own St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
Our priests continue to preach, serve, and sanctify, bolstered by the example of predecessors such as Felix Varela, Isaac Hecker, James Walsh, Thomas Price, Vincent Capodanno, Fulton Sheen, and Terrance Cooke, all of whom we hope one day to venerate as Saints.
Immigrants from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, welcomed by the Statue of Liberty and Mother Church, are embraced now as once they were by Mother Francis Xavier Cabrini.
Holy Father, we have difficulties and worries galore. We have spoken to you about some of them over the last two days. The Church has had them since Pentecost; New York has had them since the first Catholics came three-and-a-half centuries ago. They do not crush us, but only prompt us to trust in Jesus and his promises, to rely on our faithful and generous people, zealous priests and deacons, indefatigable religious women and men.
They only move us to seek a blessing, and a word of hope from you as we commence Advent this very evening.