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Bishop Burbidge and Region XIV Bishops Pray for Courage to Defend Gospel

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The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge and Bishops from Region XIV of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops completed the second day of their ad limina visit to the Vatican Tuesday. The Bishops representing North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia, began their day with the celebration of Mass at the tomb of Blessed John XXIII in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte was Principal Celebrant and Homilist. In his homily, Bishop Jugis prayed with his brother bishops for the courage always to defend the Gospel. He noted how he and Bishop Burbidge were challenged publicly for their support of the Marriage Amendment being voted on May 8, 2012, in North Carolina. He said when he told another Bishop about the criticism, "he encouraged me by saying, 'Wear it as a badge of honor.'"

In Georgia, voters passed a similar referendum in 2004, and it was upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court in 2006.

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta told Catholic News Service that the institution of marriage "predates the church and predates the state, and now people are saying it's up for grabs."

Young people today are growing up in a world "that easily jettisons things that have 'lost their relevancy'" and, he said, they don't realize there are some things that can never be rendered irrelevant or redefined according to current trends or people's whims.

"Marriage is by God's design, by human nature, the union of a man and a woman for the procreation of the human race and for the sanctification and augmentation of the partners. That doesn't pass out of vogue," he said.

One of the problems is that people have equated tolerance toward others with a complete abandonment of moral principles, the archbishop said. Catholics are called to be compassionate, understanding and tolerant, but not at the expense of proclaiming what is right and wrong. "Tolerance does not always mean that one loses the capacity to make a judgment based on faith and human reason," he said.

At the bishops' morning Mass, Bishop Jugis reminded his fellow bishops of how Blessed John Paul, citing the words of late Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski of Warsaw, Poland, said being a bishop often involves taking up Christ's cross. "All of us bishops have experienced the suffering of the cross," he said.

"We know the lines in the sand are drawn not only on this issue" of marriage, "but also on other issues: religious liberty and the defense of the right to life of the unborn," Bishop Jugis said.

Saying a bishop must be "a courageous witness," he led his fellow bishops in prayer for "the grace to never stop" preaching the truth and teaching the faith.

At the completion of Mass, the Bishops prayed at the tomb of Blessed John Paul II. In one of his Tweets, Bishop Burbidge said he prayed especially for the late Holy Father’s assistance that we may be faithful in proclaiming the Gospel of Life.

The Bishops then attended a series of three meetings with the Congregation for Bishops, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Congregation for Divine Worship. 

(Story by Carol Glatz and Cindy Wooden – CNS) 

Those wishing to follow Bishop Burbidge on Twitter can do so @BishopBurbidge. Those who do not use Twitter, but would like to receive the Tweets as text messages can do so by texting follow BishopBurbidge to the telephone number 40404.

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Above: Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte, N.C., gives the homily during a Mass concelebrated by bishops from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina at the tomb of Blessed John XXIII in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican May 8. CNS photo/Paul Haring (Click photo to view larger.)

Above: Bishop Michael F. Burbidge and Bishops of Region XIV walk in procession after concelebrating Mass at the tomb of Blessed John XXIII in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican May 8. The bishops were making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses. CNS photo/Paul Haring (Click photo to view larger.)

Above: Region XIV Bishops kneel in prayer at the tomb of Blessed John Paul II after concelebrating Mass at the tomb of Blessed John XXIII in St. Peter's Basilica. CNS photo/Paul Haring (Click photo to view larger.)