When Archbishop Timothy Broglio began on Tuesday morning his USCCB presidential address on the state of the Church in the U.S., he quoted from scripture, urging that “whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.”
To most of those with ears to hear, it seems clear that Broglio was talking to U.S. apostolic nuncio Cardinal Christophe Pierre — offering a pointed rebuke of Pierre’s recent comments on American Catholics and their leaders, given in an interview with America magazine.
Broglio’s speech, accompanied by frequent and vigorous nods from the assembly of bishops, appeared to be intended as both apologia for the Church in the United States and a kind of episcopal catharsis, for a body stung by criticism from Pierre, compounded by episcopal unease over the manner by which Bishop Joseph Strickland was recently removed from office.
Broglio’s thinly veiled rebuke seems to show Pierre has isolated himself from the American bishops to whom he’s supposed to serve as the pope’s emissary. It is well-known in the Vatican and in U.S. Church circles that Pierre is regularly at odds with U.S. Cardinals Blase Cupich and Robert McElroy, especially as he aims to normalize the channels of information and decision-making between Rome and the U.S. Church — channels which would typically flow through his office, but which are frequently sidestepped by Cupich.
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