By Christopher Wells
As the 2019 Fall General Assembly of the USCCB draws to a close, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo’s three-year term as president of the Conference likewise comes to an end.
In his remarks at the opening the meeting, Cardinal DiNardo said, “My service as president has been a continual reminder that, indeed, ‘the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it’”.
In a phone interview with the outgoing Conference President, Vatican News asked Cardinal DiNardo about the “lights and shadows” he sees in the Church in the United States. “I would say that the lightness is the thing that I like to emphasize”, Cardinal DiNardo said, “and there was much light in the last three years”.
Sources of light
As specific examples, the Cardinal noted the V Encuentro, dedicated to fostering participation of Hispanic/Latino faithful in the life of the U.S. Church; and to the Convocation of Catholic Leaders, which drew together Catholic leaders from around the country to discern ways to implement Pope Francis’ call, in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, to be a Church “going forth”. Cardinal DiNardo described both events as “sources of light” in recent years.
Another source of light, he said, is the continued growth of the Church, at least in certain areas. “It’s true [the Church is] having some ups and downs in some of its traditional places of force, say in parts of the northeast, but I also found that in the west and the southwest is still growing”, Cardinal DiNardo said. “It all gives me great hope and they are points of light for us”.
Areas of darkness
Turning to areas of “darkness” in the Church, the Cardinal pointed first and foremost to the ongoing crisis of the abuse of minors by clergy and others within the Church. He said that the Church is continually dealing with the crisis, and “doing well”, but there is still more work to do. Pope Francis’ motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi, providing a blueprint for confronting clerical abuse, and the cover up of abuse, calls Bishops to be “careful” and “honest” in facing the crisis, while also dealing with any Bishops who may be implicated in abuse themselves, or in “not doing their part in making sure it is eradicated”.
So, said Cardinal DiNardo, “there’s a light in the darkness there, that we are moving to eradicate [clerical abuse], to end this scourge, and this problem in the Church”.
Strength for the future
Looking back at his time as President, Cardinal DiNardo admitted, “I can’t say it wasn’t a challenging three years”. But, he said he leaves the post “with a greater respect for my brother bishops”: “I have a great regard for my brother bishops, and I would say, as being past president now of the Bishops’ Conference, it was that collaboration [with and among the other Bishops] that impressed me, and gave me great strength for the future”.