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Most Holy Father,
It is with filial devotion and heartfelt gratitude that we, the bishops of the Metropolitan Province of New York, gather on this occasion to attend to the words and rejoice in the guidance of the Successor of St. Peter, as he "confirms his brethren" in faith and service to the Church.
As shepherds of souls, we teach, sanctify and lead one of the most diverse communities in the world. Our people are Native Americans; second-, third- and fourth-generation descendants of Europeans and Africans; and an ever-increasing multitude of newcomers, most notably from Latin American and the Orient. Our local churches do their work in densely populated cities, in towns and villages, and in vast rural areas as well.
As successors of the apostles, we strive to proclaim the message of the Gospel both clearly and completely. As sharers in the one priesthood of Jesus Christ, we strive to imbue our people with a deep and genuine spirit of prayer, especially Eucharistic prayer. And as followers of the Lord on our pilgrim way to heaven, we strive to teach and live the lessons of justice and charity taught over the centuries by the Church and so powerfully articulated in our own time by Your Holiness.
The challenges we face are well known. They range from a radical secularism to a deep-seated antagonism in many quarters toward basic tenets of the Christian faith. Still we are immensely blessed with dedicated priests and deacons, devoted religious women and men, and a laity who love the Lord and his Church with a fervor that never wanes.
Gathered here in your presence, we thank the Lord for all of this, Most Holy Father, as we assure you of our respect, obedience, loyalty and love. We are deeply grateful for your receiving us, and we humbly beg your apostolic blessing for ourselves, but most especially, for the beloved faithful of the Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn, the Diocese of Rockville Centre, the Diocese of Albany, the Diocese of Rochester, the Diocese of Syracuse, Diocese of Buffalo, and the Diocese of Ogdensburg, whom we have the honor and privilege of serving, ever in union with the Supreme Pontiff of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Jesus Christ.