Bishop Caggiano meets Pope Francis

VATICAN CITY—“New Policies and Life-Styles in the Digital Age” was the theme at the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice (CAPP) Foundation’s 25th Anniversary conference, held at the Vatican on May 24-26.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, assistant ecclesiastical counselor to CAPP in the United States, joined 30 CAPP-USA members and guests to attend the conference.

While in Rome, the bishop also met the Holy Father, Pope Francis.

“It was a great grace to have met our Holy Father Francis last month! Let us continue to pray fervently for the Pope and his ministry in the Church,” Bishop Caggiano said.

On my recent trip to the Vatican, I had the great blessing to meet Pope Francis in person. It was during the closing session of the CAPP Conference which ended with a brief address by the Pope and an opportunity to briefly meet with him,” said Bishop Caggiano who noted there were over 500 people in attendance and the Pope met with every single person individually.

“In my brief remarks to the Pope, I expressed how great a blessing it was to finally meet him and promised him continued prayers each day. At first he smiled, then he laughed and very gently said “thank you.” It was a simple, humble response that the world has come to deeply value in the Pope. It was a real moment of grace to be able to encounter such simplicity and humility in the midst of so much pomp and circumstance. It was a vivid reminder of what really matters in the life of faith,” the Bishop said.

Commenting on the relevance of the conference’s topic, Pope Francis said, “One of the challenges linked to this theme is the threat families are facing from uncertain job opportunities and the impact of the digital cultural revolution.  As the preparation process for this year’s Synod on Young People has made clear, this is a vital area in which the solidarity of the Church is actively needed.”  Pope Francis went on to tell members, “Your own contribution is a privileged expression of the Church’s concern for the future of young people and families.”

Manifesting the “Pro Pontifice” (For the Pontiff) of CAPP’s name, Pope Francis’ address marked the 25th consecutive meeting and talk with the group by successive Holy Fathers. Especially poignant was His Holiness’ personally greeting each of the over 500 people in attendance.

The conference was highlighted with two addresses on “A Common Christian Agenda for the Common Good,” the first by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, and another by His All Holiness Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Reflecting on these talks Pope Francis observed, “Indeed this is an activity where ecumenical cooperation is of special importance, and the presence of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople at your conference is an eloquent sign of this common responsibility.”

Joining Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples,  CAPP-USA was honored by Robert A. Nalewajek, executive vice president of CAPP-USA and a parishioner of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Riverside, delivering the closing speech, “Evangelizing the World with Catholic Social Teaching: A lay Imperative.”

Another highlight was Bishop Caggiano joining Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, in celebrating Mass at the altar of the Chair of St. Peter in Saint Peter’s Basilica. Following Mass, participants processed to the tomb of St. John Paul II for special prayers.

CAPP is a lay organization founded by St.  John Paul II in 1993 and charged with promoting the knowledge and practice of Catholic social teaching and establishing a dialogue between the curia and Catholic lay leaders.

As Pope Francis told the group, “Your foundation has a vital role to play in bringing the light of the Gospel message to these pressing humanitarian concerns, and in assisting the Church to carry out this essential aspect of her mission.  By continuing to engage with business and finance leaders, as well as union officials and others in the public sector, you seek to ensure that the intrinsic social dimension of all economic activity is adequately safeguarded and effectively promoted.”

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