Well, it has been quite a week; and as I pound out these words at O’Hare International airport, the snow is falling to beat the band! I am eager to board the (last) flight HOME. Several flights have already been canceled. So, I sit and pen my thoughts about my week in Dallas and a Catholic Bioethics “school for bishops.”

My head is swimming with all the information we bishops have received regarding insurance – both how it affects us in the Church, and how the new healthcare legislation affects all of us Americans who now must (try to) live with it. It is all very confusing, complicated, and filled with contradictions. We, of course, remember that the major flaw remains the universal call for “reproductive rights” (code: abortion) built in from the beginning.

Some information came regarding the HHS mandate. Last week the Administration offered another accommodation – 70 pages worth of documentation – for religious institutions to consider. Very little discussion came from the presentations simply because the bishops and our advisors have to really study the options being offered.

It is difficult to believe, however, that anyone deeply associated with the mandate is genuinely eager to assist in the cause of life and the genuine care for women and unborn children.

Some issues regarding Catholic healthcare and the management and administration of Catholic institutions and hospitals were presented along with the legal (both canonical and civil) components of these areas of the Church’s mission in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.

Several keynote speeches were absolutely dynamic and stirring.

Archbishop Vigano (the Apostolic nuncio) delivered the greetings of the Holy Father and in his name, called us to the challenge of love that is lived only in the light of faith; a great message for the Year of Faith and the cause of moral truth and liberty.

Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, raised the bar even further with awareness of the cause of Vatican II so boldly presented in the Church’s own reflection on Herself in the pure light of Lumen Gentium and the clear teaching of the Catechism of the Church.

Cardinal Rodriguez of Honduras offered tremendous teaching on the call to holiness and the authentic challenge of living the truth – and serving the truth – in love. These latter points channeled the Pope’s influence concerning the Year of Faith and dramatic call of Christ in this world at this time!

The conference was attended by bishops from Central America as well as bishops from the U.S. Simultaneous translations were available; some presentations were offered only in English or Spanish depending on the specifics that were being taught.

Our diocese was singled out especially because of our work for awareness and education in the rejection of POLST in the dioceses of Wisconsin. More discussion was conducted also in the areas of hospital mergers and the specifics concerning Catholic hospitals in the future.

It was, indeed, a busy and intense week of study. Each of us bishops seemed eager to return home to “unpack” all of the work we shared. I share this much with you to let you know that my education is certainly not finished – I really don’t know everything …

Please continue to learn from Christ at Sunday Mass – see you there!

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