By Tom Grenchik
July 28, 2017
The recent Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of
the Gospel in America was an unprecedented gathering. Led by 155 bishops,
over 3,200 Catholic leaders attended from 159 dioceses and over 200 national
Catholic organizations, apostolates, and movements. Inspired by Evangelii gaudium, the Convocation
equipped and re-energized leaders to share the Gospel as missionary disciples.
One special moment
set the tone for honest conversations throughout the Convocation ―the Sunday evening of adoration and
reflection: "Encountering Jesus, Healer of Wounds and Source of Mercy."
the reflection, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas shared: "We pause to
pray and reflect together on both our wounds and the ways that we, as
individuals and as Church, have participated in or failed to prevent the
woundedness of others." Seán Cardinal O'Malley of Boston led the devotion,
which included a Litany of Sorrow based on the five wounds of Christ. Five
specific areas were addressed.
The Scandal of Clergy Sexual Abuse
Bishop Flores prayed to Jesus, Healer of Wounds and Source of Mercy: "We implore you to heal the hearts of all
those who have been wounded by the evil of sexual abuse, especially within the
Church. We pray that your Divine Mercy will move to repentance all those who,
in any way, have contributed to this evil by their actions or inactions. Prompt
the Church to acknowledge its failures in protecting children in the past and
the loss of trust that has resulted. May we never again forget our
responsibility to protect the children in the care of the Church."
A Lack of Respect for Human Dignity
American leader prayed for a profound respect for the dignity of every human
life: "Awaken in us an acknowledgement of
the multitude of ways in which human dignity is threatened ―with abortion and assisted suicide, on
death row, in abusive homes, and amid racial or ethnic discrimination."
Selfish Disregard of the Common Good
refugee prayed that Jesus would cleanse us of our disregard for others: "Help us to promote peace in war-torn lands,
to assist refugees, to seek justice for the poor who suffer each day from
homelessness, hunger, and hopelessness, and to protect the beauty of your
Creation which sustains us all."
Suffering from Participation in Abortion
Project Rachel director offered the intention for the millions of women and men
in our nation who are wounded from their participation in abortions: "Help us as a Church to recognize the unique
pain that abortion brings to individuals, families, and our society."
The Hurt We Have Individually Caused Others
A leader from
the National Catholic Partnership on Disability prayed for Jesus to help
us acknowledge all the hurt we have ever caused ourselves or others through our
thoughts, words, actions, inaction, or times when we excluded others: "Grant
us the grace to sincerely repent of our sins. Fill us with your overflowing
love and mercy that will enable us to serve as your loving hands and faithful
disciples who proclaim your gospel throughout the world with great joy."
From sins of
commission to sins of omission, from excluding persons to racism, from sexual
abuse to not addressing domestic violence, from abortion to turning our backs
on the inconvenient, as this litany indicates, we needed to begin the Convocation
by acknowledging our failures and seeking forgiveness. Thankfully, there were
many opportunities for the Sacrament of Confession throughout the course of the
That grace, and the overflowing love of Jesus, Healer of Wounds and
Source of Mercy, made all the difference in making the Convocation an authentic
moment of healing for the Church in America.
Tom Grenchik is the Executive Director of the Secretariat of
Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Learn
about the bishops' pro-life activities at www.usccb.org/prolife.