Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Day: June 16, 2023

Attending the USCCB Spring Plenary Assembly

Hello and welcome!

I was very happy to travel to Florida this past weekend to celebrate a family wedding at St. Sebastian’s Church in Fort Lauderdale.  The happy couple was Kathleen and Bradley Dinneen.  Kathleen is my cousin’s daughter.

The wedding was a wonderful occasion to catch up with many of my relatives who live in the South Florida area.

With my Aunt Patricia O’Malley, Deacon Rob O’Malley, and some of the family


On Sunday, I celebrated the Spanish Mass for the feast of Corpus Christi at Miami’s  Cathedral St. Mary.

It also was very nice to be able to see my old friends Xavier and Francis Suarez.  Xavier is the former Mayor of Miami, and his son is the current mayor.

From Miami, I traveled up to Orlando for the annual Spring Plenary Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In addition to our plenary, there are always a number of committee and board meetings that are held around the time of the bishops’ gathering.   Among those I attended was a meeting of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, a meeting of the board of the Pontifical Mission Societies and a meeting of the board of directors of the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

I was very pleased to hear that National Catholic Bioethics Center is planning another seminar for bishops next February.  These gatherings are sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and are an important vehicle of ongoing formation for the bishops.  The Knights also invite the bishops from Canada, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean to join us.  So, it’s also a wonderful opportunity to bring the bishops of different countries together to study some of these ethical and moral questions that impinge on our ministry.

I also participated in the meetings of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America and the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa.  At these meetings, we discuss the proposals submitted from those regions for projects to be supported by the special collections for Latin America and Africa.  The monies raised by those two collections support all kinds of works of mercy and evangelization and are a very important way that we support the Universal Church.

Our plenary began on Wednesday, and it is the custom that the nuncio addresses us at the beginning of our public sessions.  This year, Archbishop Christophe Pierre gave a very beautiful address on the meaning of the synodal path and the synodal way.  I was very impressed by his eloquence in presenting how the synodal way is a way to be Church.  It involves a change of mindset and brings about a greater desire for encounter and listening, with the goal of bringing people to greater unity at a time when society is so polarized.

He also talked about the Eucharist as calling us to be a missionary people and called on us to share the love that we receive in the Eucharist.

I was very taken by his talk.  It was in no way pro forma and was something he obviously spent a great deal of time reflecting on.

In the new format that we’ve been following, we have been having periods of fraternal dialogue that bring the bishops into small groups to discuss various aspects of our ministry and the life of the Church.  These times, I think, have been welcomed by the bishops because it is an opportunity for us to get to know each other and to hear what’s happening in other dioceses.  It’s also a way of promoting a synodal approach to the way the Church does things through more dialogue and listening sessions.  I think the bishops have found it a very positive experience.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

June 2023