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Rome Reports

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Tennessee bishop shared humorous moment with Pope Francis during “ad limina”

U.S. bishops from the southern states visited Rome to meet with Pope Francis for their “ad limina” reunions. The bishops had the opportunity to share specific concerns and ideas with the pope. One of them was Richard Stika, Bishop of Knoxville, Tennessee, who helped break the ice with his sense of humor.

Bishop, Diocese of Knoxville
“I even asked for his cellphone number when I was confused, that I can call him, but he didn't give it to me.”

Bishop Stika was struck by the message of the unity of the Church in every country of the world.

Bishop, Diocese of Knoxville
“I think the challenge of the Holy See is to work with all these cultures and languages, and understanding the person, as well as the environment that surrounds us.”

He is a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, which supports Christians in the Holy Land, the birthplace of Jesus and Christianity.

Bishop, Diocese of Knoxville
“As the Christian community decreases in size, they are faced with many challenges, like jobs and housing and freedom of movement. So the order also works, especially with the people of Bethlehem, the Palestinian Christians who are kind of isolated from the rest of Bethlehem by the wall that separates them.”

The bishop has visited the Holy Land on three separate occasions. His concern for Christians there and his commitment to his own diocese in the United States are indeed a testament to the unity of the Church around the world.

Bishop Stika said despite the seriousness of the topics discussed, the atmosphere of the meeting with Pope Francis was relaxed and familiar. He returns to Knoxville with bragging rights because the pope told him he liked his sense of humor.

Claudia Torres