From the UK on WYD: “Pilgrims from Brooklyn Can Be Proud of Their Bishop!”

That’s the excited headline on a blog post sent to me from a reader, who spotted in on a web page for World Youth Day pilgrims from the United Kingdom.  The writer is referring to Bishop Frank Caggiano. 

The post: 

Today’s catechesis by Bishop Frank Caggiano from Diocese of Brooklyn, NY was interrupted several times… with spontaneous ovations and shouts of appreciation. 

On Thursday morning Pilgrims from English speaking countries gathered again in Basilica of Immaculae Concecion on Praia de Botafogo, which is one of the centers for catecheses in English. Attending this form of evangelization during a World Youth Day is a unique chance to listen to the preaching of the best orators of the Catholic Church. Today’s speech delivered by American bishop Frank Caggiano happened to be extremely powerful and heart lifting indeed.

The bishop asked the question about the identity of the Christ: ‘Who is the Jesus of Nazareth?’ He indicated that Jesus is not only the best of the teachers and more than any rabbi, but also the best of friends. He referred to Jesus’s saying in John 15:15: ‘I no longer call you servants, but I call you my friends’ , which has a special importance for catholic understanding of the relationship between Christ and all people. To explain the nature of our friendship with Jesus bishop Caggiano quoted Jesuit priest Anthony de Melllo, famous for his spirituality, who once wrote:  ‘A friend is someone who sees you at your ugliest but still chooses to love you’. Jesus indeed has seen apostles betraying or denying him, but still wanted to be their friend; the bishop went on to say that the same applies to our reality:

‘There are probably things in your life which you wish to undo. Jesus knows every secret you have, every corner of your heart, have seen you at your ugliest, but still he says: “You are my friend”, “Come and follow me”. Even if you have secrets in your heart that you think Jesus would never forgive you for, you should know there is nothing he cannot forgive.’

Caggiano has expressed his certainty that millions of young people has made their way to catechesis through rain and wind and are going to participate in the events with pope despite discomfort and difficulties, because they have heard those three words, which Jesus said to the apostles at the Galilean sea: ‘Come and follow me’.

He has also focused on the perception of Jesus as a living truth. ‘Pilate asked Jesus what is the truth, but he did not realize that the answer was standing right in front of him.’  He drew our attention to the fact that people often perceive religion as the set of rules but they do not like the rules: they would call themselves spiritual, seeking for divine rather than religious. However, once we fall in love with that truth that Jesus is, once we establish the relationship with Him, doing what He asks starts to be easy as there is nothing we would not sacrifice for the person we love.  Bishop Caggiano highlighted that “Spiritual is me, religious is WE”.

Standing ovations and the prayer to the Holy Spirit have followed after bishop Caggiano has finished his preaching. … And pilgrims from Brooklyn – Caggiano’s Diocese were really proud indeed.

And, all of us back home are, too.

It’s great to see the rest of the world discovering what many of us in Brooklyn have known for a long time.


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