By Dan Valenti (Jan 13, 2009)
The adjective “episcopal” means “of or pertaining to a bishop.” When the Church uses the episcopal label, therefore, it signifies an action or event of great import.
In his role as episcopal advisor to the upcoming North American Congress on Mercy (NACOM), set for Nov. 14-15 in Washington, D.C., Bishop William E. Lori of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., understands that he represents a line of continuity to Pope Benedict XVI. It was Pope Benedict, who approved the first World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (April 2008 in Rome) as well as blessing and encouraging its mission.
Through World Congress President Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, Austria, the Pope has given Bishop Lori the key role of advisor in planning the North American Congress. Working closely with his point man for day-to-day NACOM administration — Fr. Matthew Mauriello, pastor of Holy Rosary Church in Bridgeport and NACOM president — Bishop Lori sees the format of a Congress as a good match for as powerful a message as God’s mercy.
Bishop Lori was interviewed about NACOM by this reporter.
“Any Congress is a grace-filled opportunity to gain a deeper and more profound knowledge and understanding of the subject, in this case, Divine Mercy,” Bishop Lori says. “Whether it be a Marian, Eucharistic, or Mercy Congress, the speakers help to give us, the participants, wonderful points for meditation. I hope that all of us will leave the Congress with positive resolutions to put into action what we have been inspired to do through participating in the Congress.”
Bishop Lori says God’s mercy is a crucial subject.
“We are in a difficult time in the world,” Bishop Lori says. “We need to rely on the goodness of the Lord more than ever. Part of the mercy message includes, ‘Jesus, I trust in You!’ This is certainly a time when we need to trust in the Lord as we embark on a new year with all the challenges that face our world, our nation, and each of us individually.”
Bishop Lori says each of us should learn more about mercy, particularly the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
“In that way,” he says, “we can see how to bring mercy to others. We are in this world to know, love, and serve the Lord. We serve Him by being of service to others in their needs. It is important for the hierarchy and laity alike to realize that the mercy of God is not a new phenomenon or topic. It is scripturally based, and we can see the merciful action of God at work throughout the ages in both the Old and New Testaments. The very fact that Jesus was sent ‘for our salvation,’ as the ‘the Creed’ puts it, was itself an act of mercy on the part of heaven.”
Bishop Lori notes the phenomenal interest people have taken in the message of Divine Mercy.
“This is part of the providential plan of the Lord Himself,” Bishop Lori says. “In the 1930s, Jesus chose St. Faustina as His instrument to bring His tender mercy to the forefront and give new emphasis to His enduring message of love for each one of us. The faithful are accepting and assimilating this message, and it has blossomed and flourished.”
Bishop Lori notes that the executive board of the United States Conference of Bishops, of which he is a member, will be meeting in Baltimore the same weekend of NACOM. He says he is hopeful that he, along with his brother bishops, will be able to attend “some of the events after the morning session, in particular, Holy Mass at 5:15 p.m. [on Nov. 14].”
He closed the interview with a blessing: “With all my heart, I am pleased to bless all those who are working so hard to make the Congress a great success, as well as all those who will make the sacrifice and participate.”