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NYT: US Bishops Following Humble Pope Francis' Simple Life

Image: NYT: US Bishops Following Humble Pope Francis' Simple Life

By Drew MacKenzie   |   Friday, 13 Jun 2014 07:47 AM

U.S. bishops are following the lead of Pope Francis by showing more humility in their own lives while also making income equality an important issue in their communities, The New York Times reported.

At the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ general assembly in New Orleans this week, some attending said they have become more mindful of the church’s spending, while noting that the pontiff resides in a Vatican guest house instead of the papal palace and lives a simpler life than previous popes.

The bishops told the newspaper that 15 months into the new papacy, their focus has shifted as parishioners express more concerns about how church expenditures, reflecting Francis’ policy of "a church which is poor and for the poor."

Editor’s Note: Do You Approve of Pope Francis? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

They are also changing sermons to include passages on income equality while reaching out to help the poor.

The changes follow papal criticism of church leaders who lead opulent lives. After Francis removed a German bishop for lavish spending in March, Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory apologized for building a $2.2 million mansion following complaints from his flock.

"They have a justifiable demand that we not spend extravagantly on ourselves, but that we share those goods with others, and he’s really forced that issue," Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Washington, told the Times, referring to church members.

Cupich said that he lives in a room at a seminary with little furniture and that he’s switching his diocesan budget to include more effort to aid the poor and underprivileged.

Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, said Francis has influenced him into changing his agenda and he now focuses on poverty, homelessness, addiction, and immigration while taking more care with the church’s finances.

"We have to have a home, have to have a car that’s not going to fall apart in the middle of the desert, but within reason we have to live simply," he told the Times. "The Holy Father is such a model of trying to live with simplicity, and that is working its way into the lives of bishops."

Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans told the newspaper that he’s recently been making it easier for parishioners to discuss their problems with him, either by phone or letter.

"People shouldn’t always have to go through several others to get to us," he told the newspaper. "We don’t, perhaps, at times talk enough about the poor, about the economy, and we don’t perhaps talk enough about reaching out to those with disabilities, those whose voices are not heard."

The clergy also defended having their meeting at the upscale Hyatt Regency New Orleans.

"We have to meet at a hotel that’s big enough to hold us," Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington. "We have to meet at a hotel that’s big enough to allow media to attend."

Editor’s Note: Do You Approve of Pope Francis? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

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