The Vatican Secretary of State asked them to "dispel the shadows of polarisation and divisiveness" at a centenary Mass

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, urged American bishops “to make wise decisions free of all partisan spirit” during his visit to the country this weekend.

Cardinal Parolin made his address on Sunday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Baltimore, where the US bishops were gathered for the opening Mass of their plenary assembly.

Recalling the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, Cardinal Pietro Parolin said this “divine wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit,” which “enables us to serve God by doing his will.”

“May the fire of God’s love inspire you as a body to make wise decisions free of all partisan spirit,” he added.

The assembly marks the centenary of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) which was founded in 1917 as the National Catholic War Council. The conference “originated in a Spirit-filled and wise response to the human suffering and displacement of the First World War,” Cardinal Parolin noted.

The cardinal recalled the USCCB’s history “as the Church in your country seeks to provide healing, comfort, and hope to new waves of migrants and refugees.”

Cardinal Parolin highlighted a series of “Encuentros” which are being held to assess and improve Hispanic ministry in the US.

“In this way you are seeking to foster that heightened sense of missionary discipleship which Pope Francis considers the heart of the new evangelisation.”

He later added: “The Catholic community is called under your guidance to work for a more just and inclusive society by dispelling the shadows of polarisation, divisiveness, and societal breakdown by the pure light of the gospel”.

The Secretary of State praised the bishops for “defending the right to life of the unborn” and for their concern for ensuring access to healthcare.

“I cannot fail to mention the contribution made by the USCCB to the discussion of important social issues and political debates, above all, when this involved the defence of moral values and the rights of the poor, the elderly, the vulnerable, and those who have no voice.”

The bishops’ fall assembly meetings begin today, and continue to Wednesday.