US Nuncio Cardinal Pierre Tells Bishops "we want our people" - "to know that Christ is there for them in the Eucharist: to receive their adoration, to accompany them..."

FULL TEXT Speech of Cardinal Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio  at the June 2024 Plenary Assembly in Louisville, Kentucky. Given June 13, 2024. During the annual spring meeting of the U.S. Catholic bishops, they were urged to focus on the Eucharist as the “place of encounter” where Christ meets and transforms his church. Cardinal Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio to the U.S., addressed the bishops on June 13th during the USCCB’s Assembly, held June 12-14. Public sessions of the gathering were being livestreamed June 13 and 14 via the USCCB website.
Dear Brothers,
It is good to be with you once again. As always, please know of the spiritual
closeness of the Holy Father and of his communion with you. This communion is
essential. It is the communion of faith, of good will, and of true zeal for the mission
of Christ.
We gather once more as shepherds of the Church in the United States, and as
always, we ask ourselves: where are we? What is the context in which we are

Among the foremost ecclesial activities on our minds right now is the
Eucharistic Pilgrimage currently underway, which will culminate with the
Eucharistic Congress in one month – not far from where we are right now.
We have set out on this Eucharistic Revival because we want our people to
come to a renewed and deeper appreciation of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist.
We want them to know that Christ is there for them in the Eucharist: to receive their
adoration, to accompany them in their earthly journey, and to feed them with the
Bread of Life. We want them also to know the implications of encountering Christ
in this way: how it calls them to an ongoing journey of conversion; and also how it
commits them to a life of evangelization – of being people who offer an open-hearted
welcome of mercy to everyone who seeks a place in God’s Church. The Eucharistic
processions that are going on right now, and which will converge on Indianapolis
next month, are an outward symbol of what we want to happen on a spiritual level.
We want people to turn to the Eucharistic Lord, to walk with him, and to be led by
him. We also want this to happen in the context of community. Our people need to
experience that a journey with the Lord is also a journey with others who seek the
Lord. That this journey is a true synod.
Pope Francis is united with us in his desire that people re-discover the power
of the Eucharist. Several times, the Pope has urged Catholics to recover the practice
of adoration. In his concluding homily at the Synod of Bishops last October, he said:
“The amazement of adoration, the wonder of worship, is something
essential in the life of the Church […]. To adore God means to
acknowledge in faith that he alone is Lord and that our individual lives,
the Church’s pilgrim way and the ultimate outcome of history all
depend on the tenderness of his love.”
In that same homily the Holy Father also connected our adoration of Christ
with our mission of service. He said:
“To adore God and to love our brothers and sisters with his love, that is
the great and perennial reform. To be a worshiping Church and a
Church of service, washing the feet of wounded humanity,
accompanying those who are frail, weak and cast aside, going out
lovingly to encounter the poor.”
It is good that, as shepherds, we are thinking about the needs of the flock:
“How do they need to be fed?” Our people need to know and love the Lord who is
walking with them in the Eucharist. But let us not forget: We need Eucharistic
revival too! Let’s be attentive in our own hearts to what the Lord is saying and doing
among us. As we approach the Eucharistic Congress, each of us can ask himself:
“Are we experiencing in our own lives the Eucharistic transformation that we want
our people to experience?... Are we opening ourselves to all the dimensions of the
mystery of the Eucharist?” These questions, asked in a posture of humble receptivity
before the Lord, can invite from God the sort of answers that will incite Eucharistic
revival within us, and that will make us, as the Lord’s chosen shepherds, better
witnesses to the Lord’s wounded and resurrected life, which he continues to live in
the midst of his suffering and redeemed Church.
Since we have recently passed through the season of Easter, I think that we
can see the narratives of the Lord’s resurrection appearances to his Apostles as an
image for the spiritual and pastoral conversion that we need as part of our own
1 Pope Francis, Homily at Mass for the Conclusion of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 29 October
Eucharistic revival. Let’s look, in particular, at the appearance of Jesus to the Eleven
Apostles and other disciples on the evening of Easter Sunday.3
 (In fact, this picks
up where we left off when I was with you in November, when I reflected with you
on the story of Emmaus.) Hearkening back to the famous words of Pope Benedict,
this meeting with Jesus on the evening of his Resurrection was an encounter which
gave to the Apostles “a new horizon and a decisive direction”.4 That encounter
between Jesus and the Apostles is a powerful lesson for us, as shepherds of the
Church. The lesson is: the Eucharistic encounter with the risen Lord affords a new
personal and ecclesial experience, one in which the wounds suffered in the Body of
Christ become signs of his victory over death.
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“Look at my hands and my feet,” said the Lord, “that it is I myself. Touch me
and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”
was essential that the Apostles come to believe in a risen Christ who still existed in
the flesh, a flesh that bore the marks of the wounds that caused his death. To help
his disciples believe in him, he had to give them a new encounter with a reality that,
until this point, they had been unable to grasp. To become not just disciples, but true
Apostles – not just sheep, but shepherds – they had to experience what it really meant
that Jesus had taken up death into life. By showing them his hands and his feet (and
his side), Jesus was showing them what wounds looked like in the risen body. He
was the Lamb who had been slain and was alive.6
 He was the Victor over sin and
By means of this experience, the Lord invited them into a mystery that would
have life-changing implications for them. Because, while the Gospel account does
not say it explicitly, the unspoken reality is that the Apostles were also carrying the
trauma of wounds when they encountered the risen Lord. They had abandoned him
out of fear. One of their own had committed suicide. They were still grieving the
death of the One in whom they had believed, and they were grieving the hope that
3 See Luke 24:36-49.
4 Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est, 25 December 2005, 1 ; cf. Pope Francis, Apostolic
Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 24 November 2013, 7.
5 Luke 24:39.
6 See Revelation 5:6.
7 See 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.
they thought had died with him. (How hard is the suffering for us when the thing
we had been hoping for is not realized!) So yes, they had their own wounds. And
so, this became a meeting between the Lord’s wounds and their own. Jesus allows
the disciples to touch his wounds so that their own wounds might become the place
of an experience that consoles and gives discernment.
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My brothers, there is a lesson in this Resurrection encounter between Christ
and the Apostles that can help us discern the presence of the risen Christ in the
woundedness of the Church. We are painfully aware of the most glaring wounds in
today’s Church. The scandal of abuse and of failed oversight. The plague of
indifference toward the poor and suffering, which can affect us all. Skepticism
toward God and religion in a secularized culture. And an agitating temptation
toward polarization and division, even among those of us who are committed to
Christ and his Church. These wounds and sufferings are not abstract ideas to us.
The bishop, because he is at the same time a disciple of Jesus, a brother to his fellow
bishops, and a shepherd to his flock, feels these wounds firsthand. How can a
shepherd, who himself is hurting, adequately lead and guide his suffering sheep?
We find the answer in Christ. By showing the Apostles his hands, feet, and
side, the Lord is saying to them, and to us: “I choose to make your sin and failure a
part of the story of my victory. If the marks of my crucifixion can exist on my
resurrected body, then the marks of your own suffering and failures can exist in the
body of my resurrected Church.”
This is, perhaps, a different answer from the one we expect. Our inclination
is that we want to “turn the page” on a troubling experience and to “move on”. Move
forward we must, but not in a way that erases the wound. Instead, we follow the
way of Christ by acknowledging what has happened as part of the whole reality. We
are a Church suffering and redeemed, fit for the glory that is our destiny, and at the
same time bearing the marks of all that we have suffered, which is a constitutive
element of our redemption.
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The Eucharist is that place of encounter where the whole incarnate reality of
the Lord, who is ascended and risen but still with us in forms of bread and wine,
invites us to bring the whole reality of our own humanity. “Unless you eat the flesh
of the Son of Man and drink his blood,” he has told us, “you do not have life within
you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise
him on the last day.”8
 We can extend these words of Jesus to their further
application. “Whoever is wounded as I was, experiences precisely through those
wounds the depth of my love and shares with me in my resurrection. And you share
in my resurrection every time you eat and drink my risen body in the Eucharist.”
Furthermore, just as the wounds of Christ heal the world of sin and death, so the
wounds that we bear, as his closest collaborators in ministry, will heal those to whom
we extend the good news of the Lord’s saving life.
Our response to this proposal might be like the response that some of the Jews
made to Jesus when he spoke of his flesh as food. “This saying is hard!” Indeed,
we are tempted to react in this way to a Savior who still appears wounded in his
Resurrection. Why does he keep pointing us back to the marks of the crucifixion?
He does so, because he wants to free us from the danger that comes when we forget
the cross. It is a danger, both at the personal and the ecclesial levels. At the personal
level, let us remember Simon Peter. After confessing Jesus as Christ, Simon
immediately counseled Jesus to reject the cross and suffering.9
 His rejection of a
vulnerable Savior had everything to do with Peter’s struggles with his own
vulnerability and weakness. Like Peter, we might be tempted to ask that the marks
of our betrayals be removed.
This danger to our personal faith leads naturally to a danger at the level of the
Church. In a Church that has been so marred by sin and failure – including that of
us, her shepherds – we want desperately for those wounds to be “erased”. But what
would become of a Church that, unlike Christ, does not rise from the deaths she has
suffered still bearing the marks that caused her death? That would not be the true
Bride of Christ! The fact is that the wounds in the Church can be made glorious if
John 6:53-54.
9 Matthew 16:13-23.
they are presented fully to Christ. “We know that all things work for good for those
who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”10
There is another version of “turning the page” that can be a temptation. Rather
than “turning the page forward” so that we don’t have to read the uncomfortable
chapters in our story, we sometimes want to “turn the page back”. To try to
resuscitate a part of the Church’s history that appeals to us because it seems like a
better, simpler time. Certainly, as Pope Francis says, we must “go back to [our]
roots in order to move forward”.11 But these “roots” are our encounter with Christ,
when we first knew we were loved and called. Remembering where we are rooted
– in Christ and in his love – also implies accepting and welcoming the growth that
has occurred. This is not “erasing our history” to start over again.
The healing, which we all desire, comes in a different way than “covering
over” or “erasing”. Jesus can tell the disciples to touch his hands because in that
touch is an experience of the power of his Resurrection. As God said through Isaiah:
“See, upon the palms of my hands I have engraved you.”12 The Lord has allowed us
to write on his hands with our betrayals so that we might see on them a testament of
his enduring love, a love that is stronger than death. Participation in the Eucharist
brings us to experience the reality that Christ loves us precisely in our weakness and
betrayals. The wounds of the Church can lead us back to the present, and back to
the immanent: which is exactly where Christ wants to show us his power to heal.
Christ wants to console the many wounded people whom we serve through our
ministry – priests, religious, and lay faithful alike. But in order to do that, he wants
first to console us, the shepherds of his Church.
A Eucharistic procession – the like of which has been happening in this
country in an extraordinary way and which will culminate next month in
Indianapolis – speaks of this. A bishop who has encountered the power of Christ’s
resurrection in his own personal experience of weakness, leads his flock to that same
kind of encounter with the Lord.
10 Romans 8:28.
11 Pope Francis, Address to Members of the Board of Trustees of Loyola University Chicago, 20 May 2024.
12 Isaiah 49:16.
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Two Sundays ago we celebrated the feast of the Lord’s Body and Blood. This
morning and tomorrow morning we are given the opportunity for Eucharistic
adoration. Listen with me to the words of Pope Francis in his homily for Corpus
Christi in 2020. He said that the celebration of Holy Mass is
“the Memorial that heals memory, the memory of the heart. The Mass
is the treasure that should be foremost both in the Church and in our
lives. And let us also rediscover Eucharistic adoration, which continues
the work of the Mass within us. This will do us much good, for it heals
us within. Especially now, when our need is so great.”13
These words of the Pope from several years ago are important for us now as
well. It is also good to remember his words from Evangelii Gaudium, and to apply
these words, not only to the lay faithful, but also to ourselves: “The Eucharist…is
not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”14
We are not perfect! We are weak! And by letting Christ have communion with us
in our shared weakness, our shared woundedness, we will also share in his saving
13 Pope Francis, Homily at Mass for Corpus Christi, 14 June 2020.
14 Evangelii Gaudium, 47.</p>