Archbishop Thompson Calls Faithful To Be 'bridges Of Unity'
July 28 was a day of joy for Catholics across central and southern Indiana as Archbishop Charles C. Thompson was installed as the seventh archbishop of Indianapolis during a festive Mass celebrated in Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.
But ties of the archdiocese to the broader Church and world during the installation were unmistakable.
A French archbishop who serves as Pope Francis’ representative in the United States presided over the start of the liturgy.
Leaders of diverse Christian traditions and other faith communities in central and southern Indiana, as well as civic leaders, greeted Archbishop Thompson during the Mass.
Scores of priests and deacons from the Diocese of Evansville and the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., participated in the Mass, and many faithful from Evansville and Louisville attended – including Diocese of Evansville staff and members of parish staffs who traveled to the Mass of Installation by bus. These included many of Archbishop Thompson’s family and friends.
This outreach to include more people in an ever widening circle of faith, hope and love was reflected in Archbishop Thompson’s homily, in which he explored what he called the “Catholic both/and” as a “conviction” that contributes to his vision of his pastoral leadership of the Church in central and southern Indiana.
“Far too often, we are being confronted with an either/or mentality,” Archbishop Thompson said. “We must dare to counter the growing polarization, division and radical individualism that breed fear, distrust, hatred, indifference, prejudice, selfishness, despair, violence and radical ideology.
“Our role as people of faith—I especially hold myself accountable as bishop—is to be willing to stand in the breach of the divide, drawing people back from the ledges of extremism in self-indulgence and self-righteousness by serving as bridges of unity, ambassadors of hope and instruments of peace.”
As the Mass began, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, quoting Pope Francis, encouraged Archbishop Thompson to reach out broadly to people in need through his leadership of the archdiocese.
“As you minister to the priests, clergy and laity being entrusted to your pastoral care and reach out to the community beyond, especially the poor and marginalized, may you keep ever in your heart the sentiments you yourself heard expressed by our Holy Father, Pope Francis, during his homily on the Solemnity of SS. Peter and Paul,” said Archbishop Pierre. “‘The Lord answers our prayers. He is faithful to the love we have professed for him and he stands beside us at times of trial. … ’”
Archbishop Thompson described in his homily a broad, person-centered panorama for this work.
“Amid structures, policies and programs, we must not lose sight of the person,” he said. “Nothing of humanity and creation must escape our focus, engagement and outreach.”
Archbishop Thompson also reminded his listeners that one person in particular spurs this work and is its goal.
“Our task is not so much to resolve the world’s problems as to lead persons and peoples to personal encounter with the person of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world,” he said. “We ourselves must first, however, if we are to be credible and effective, be engaged in such a personal encounter with him.”
Finding strength for the Church’s diverse ministries through prayer, Archbishop Thompson said, allows the faithful to see Christ in all they serve.
“We must leave no one behind, especially being attentive to the unborn, the poor, the young, the elderly, the migrant, the immigrant, the refugee, the sick, the dying, the addicted, the abused, the disenfranchised, the lonely, the hopeless, the imprisoned and all who suffer,” he said. “We must be concerned about the well-being of each and every person as well as creation itself if we are to be truly Christ-centered.
“What we do or fail to do for the least of his brothers and sisters, our brothers and sisters, we do or fail to do for Jesus Christ. It is simple, I’m the first to admit it; but it’s a place to start—the Catholic both/and.”
(For more coverage of the installation of Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, including videos and photo galleries, visit www.CriterionOnline.com.)