ROME—A few hours ago I had the extraordinary privilege to join the other bishops of New England in a two-hour private meeting with the Pope. After the initial formalities were over and his staff left the room, the Pope, only with the help of a single translator, sat in the middle of a semi-circle in which we sat. He immediately began to speak to us from the heart on a number of important pastoral issues. He took great pains to make each of us feel both welcomed and comfortable. He even pointed out where the restroom was located, since he told us “we are all human, after all.”
The purpose of the meeting was to ask whatever questions we had, share pastoral issues that we face in the Diocese, and listen to his advice and guidance. While I do not believe that it is proper for me to comment on the substance of what we discussed since the conversation was a private one, it is clear that the Pope genuinely listened to everything we shared, gave direct and honest answers to the questions we posed and share many personal stories in his own life both as a young man and young priest.
It was a truly remarkable moment of grace that gave me great encouragement, challenged me to see some issues in a greater light and to be reassured in my own ministry as a bishop.
At the start of the meeting, I must confess that I was very nervous sitting before the Successor of Peter. Within a few minutes, I realized that I was sitting before a spiritual father who had no agenda except to help us in our ministry. It is a moment that I will never forget.
The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.