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20140310cnsbr4524 webPope Francis arrives for a weeklong Lenten retreat in Ariccia, near Rome, March 9. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – In his first year as the 265th successor of Peter, Pope Francis 'has brought to light new dimensions of the Petrine ministry and added new life to the office he holds,' the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee said March 11.

He has done this in many ways, the committee said, including by consistently calling on Catholics "to look again at the fundamental values of the Gospel" and encouraging "us to be a church of the poor and for the poor, reaching out to the marginalized and being present to those on the periphery of society."

The Administrative Committee is the highest ranking body of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops when the bishops are not in their plenary session. During a March 11-12 meeting in Washington, the committee issued the statement to congratulate the pope on his first anniversary.

Pope Francis "has set an example by choosing a personal simplicity of life, by washing the feet of prisoners, and by taking into his hands and kissing the badly disfigured," the committee said. "His Holiness has also set in motion a process that will lead to the reshaping of the Roman Curia in a way that will enhance the effectiveness of his ministry and better serve the needs of the church in our present day."

The Administrative Committee also noted the impact that Pope Francis' leadership and simple lifestyle have had on the world.

"His constant outreach to the alienated, his emphasis on mercy and his sheer humanity have served as an inspiration not only to Catholics but also to other Christians and people of good will around the globe," the statement said.

"On this first anniversary of his election, the Administrative Committee invites the prayers of all the faithful that Christ our Lord will bless Pope Francis and grant him many years of fruitful ministry as bishop of Rome, as the servant of the servants of God," it added.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.