Of course, given that just days before the bishops met, the United States wrapped up a bizarre election season, one that resulted in the win of an unorthodox candidate, there were some sparks in Baltimore about what to expect under President-elect Donald J. Trump. Some bishops expressed optimism—albeit with a healthy dose of caution.
Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, the U.S. hierarchy’s point man on religious liberty, said he is hopeful that the Trump administration might roll back some parts of the Affordable Care Act that bishops find objectionable. But he said he found other proposals from Mr. Trump to be worrying.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami noted the recent softening of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric on immigration, and he expressed hope “there will be some doors in that wall he wants to build.”
For his part, Cardinal DiNardo, the new president of the conference, hedged a bit, saying it was too early to tell what the country would face in the coming years. Still, he promised that church leaders would be willing partners with the new administration in areas of shared concern.
Some commenters on Facebook and Twitter have slammed “the bishops” for among other things, not denouncing Mr. Trump, not standing up to racism and for placing their trust in a perceived autocrat intent on subverting the U.S. Constitution for personal gain. Several said they wished the bishops would be more like Pope Francis.
But using too broad a brush to paint any group of people is rarely a good idea, including a hierarchy composed of hundreds of individuals.
Indeed, at the same meeting, the head of the conference, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, did not mince words when he told families worried about deportation under President Trump that the church stands with them.
Archbishop Joseph Tobin, who will soon take over the Archdiocese of Newark, urged his brother bishops to promote the pope’s message on climate change more robustly given Mr. Trump’s sour views on environmental regulation. On another front, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta said the bishops must denounce racism in the election’s wake.
Just days after the meeting, Archbishop Blase Cupich was in Rome to become a cardinal. Handpicked by the pope himself to serve as archbishop of Chicago, Archbishop Cupich talked to a gaggle of reporters outside the Vatican on Thursday afternoon. He was asked by one to talk about the pope’s video message to U.S. bishops, in which the pope urged U.S. Catholics to get out of their comfort zones.
“We really have to make sure that we don’t organize our lives, or the church, for our own comfort, for our own needs,” Archbishop Cupich said. “But rather we have to be willing to be those missionary disciples and the kind of church that is a field hospital for the world.”
The image of a field hospital has been used frequently by the pope, and it is one that Archbishop Cupich thinks might be starting to get through to the U.S. hierarchy.
“I know that many bishops did take that to heart as we spoke in the conference following that message,” he said.