Bishop Cozzens: Pope offering ‘beautiful example’ of caring for others

| September 26, 2015 | 0 Comments
Bishop Andrew Cozzens meets with pilgrims from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Sept. 25 ahead of Pope Francis' arrival in Philadelphia.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens meets with pilgrims from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Sept. 25 ahead of Pope Francis’ arrival in Philadelphia.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens, auxiliary bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, had dinner with pilgrims from the archdiocese Sept. 25 who attended the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia and were preparing for Pope Francis’ Sept. 26 arrival into the city for the Festival of Families on Saturday and the World Meeting of Families’ closing Mass Sunday.

Prior to arriving in Philadelphia, Bishop Cozzens was in Washington, D.C., where he attended prayer with Pope Francis and other American bishops, and the canonization Mass of St. Junipero Serra Sept. 23. He also accompanied Mary Jo Copeland, founder of Sharing and Caring Hands in Minneapolis, and her husband, Dick, to a private audience with Pope Francis Sept. 24 at the Vatican Embassy in Washington.

The Catholic Spirit asked him to share some of his thoughts on Pope Francis’ apostolic journey in the United States thus far.

What’s the takeaway so far for the “pilgrims” at home, who aren’t here in Philadelphia but are following the papal trip from their living rooms?

First of all, the beautiful emphasis on strengthening the family, and all the ways we have to work to strengthen the family in our culture. Secondly, to see the beautiful example that Pope Francis is giving, especially as he cares for the dignity of people, as he goes from place to place and cares for people. That’s what I felt when I met him — his reverence for me and his love for me. Just his care for people and how he’s encouraging us to be that way in all that we do.

You’ve had the privilege of hearing him speak several times since he’s been here. Has there been anything he’s said that surprised you or challenged you?

When he spoke to the bishops, he spoke about the importance of dialogue, and it kind of helped me understand it. He said, of course we know that we have the truth, because we have it from Jesus, not from ourselves, but we have to always remember how Jesus came to us, pointing out that Jesus always came in humility and weakness. So, he encouraged us as bishops to approach those who come to us with humility and meekness, and to try to enter into dialogue with them. I found that to be a beautiful meditation for his style, and to help me understand his style.

Had you met him before yesterday’s audience with Mary Jo Copeland?

I had when I was at bishops’ training school. We all got to shake his hand. This was a little more intimate than that.

What are you most looking forward to for the Festival of Families and papal Mass in Philadelphia?

I’m looking forward to hearing his words specifically focused on the importance of the family and that witness. I’ve just been inspired being here seeing the families. It’s been beautiful seeing holy families and to see the beautiful thing that the family is and how important it is, and also to experience the fact that the Church is a family. You experience that when you’re here with people from all these different nations. I think it’s going to be a beautiful way to capstone this trip by focusing in a particular way on the importance of the family and how we have to support the family and strengthen the family.

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