Although the week-long retreat for US Catholic bishops emphasised quiet reflection, several bishops spoke out on social media during the retreat and after it wrapped up last week with positive reactions and to give shoutouts to the retreat leader, Capuchin Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, who has preached to Popes and top officials of the Roman Curia for nearly 40 years.
One bishop said listening to Father Cantalamessa was akin to being in the presence of the early Christian theologians. “Clear, intensely filled with the Holy Spirit, and all for the Kingdom of God,” Auxiliary Bishop Michael Boulette of San Antonio said in a tweet. “Let us continue to pray for one another, our Church and our world. A blessing to be here!”
Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Anchorage, Alaska, tweeted that the retreat leader was a “true instrument of the Lord” and that the Holy Spirit was at work during the retreat.
Bishop Lawrence Persico of Erie, Pennsylvania, described Fr Cantalamessa’s talks and homilies as “powerful and engaging”.
He tweeted that he was glad they had time to reflect and pray about their role as shepherds, stressing: “We must start there to be able to offer healing. I am taking this very seriously but feeling positive.”
Boston Auxiliary Bishop Mark O’Connell said it was a “truly blessed experience” to be on retreat with Fr Cantalamessa and fellow US bishops.
“The Holy Spirit was powerfully present, and I was quite moved,” he tweeted. He also thanked the Pope for giving the bishops this gift.
Pope Francis suggested the bishops hold the retreat and offered the services of the 84-year-old Fr Cantalamessa, who has served as preacher of the papal household since 1980.
It was planned largely as a response to last summmer’s revelations of allegations of sex abuse that reached the highest levels of the US Church.
The theme of the US bishops’ retreat was “the mission of the apostles and of their successors” drawing from Mark 3:14, which says Jesus “appointed 12 – whom he also named apostles – that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach”.