The Diocese of Lincoln, in Nebraska announced on October 16 that Bishop James Conley’s pectoral cross, taken from his home in a burglary, has been recovered.
The cross was stolen the afternoon of October 10, when the bishop was not home. A tripped alarm alerted diocesan officials and the Lincoln Police Department to the break-in.
JD Flynn, diocesan spokesman, said in a statement the diocese was “happy to report that Bishop Conley’s pectoral cross was recovered” on October 15 in a location “on the bishop’s property.”
As the Lincoln Police Department continued to investigate the burglary, and Bishop Conley asked that “Catholics continue to pray for the conversion of those involved in the invasion of my home.”
The diocese said the cross was irreplaceable because it was a personal gift to Bishop Conley from Benedict XVI in 2012, the year the bishop was appointed to the Lincoln Diocese.
In an earlier statement, Flynn said the stolen cross could be returned to any Catholic Church and could even be left anonymously.
He said Bishop Conley is “very grateful for all those who have already offered prayers and well-wishes,” and grateful for the recovery of his pectoral cross.
The bishop also is “sincerely grateful for the professionalism, diligence and excellent work” of the police department in investigating the crime.
After the burglary occurred, Bishop Conley said he sincerely prayed “the thief will discover that Christ died for him, loves him and desires to bring him eternal joy.”
“One of Christ’s last acts on the cross was the forgiveness of a repentant thief. Certainly, the Church forgives the person responsible for this crime. God offers his mercy as well,” he added.
He described his pectoral cross as “a treasure for the whole Diocese of Lincoln. It signifies the unity of our Church in Christ.”
Bishop Conley, pointing out that the diocese offers counselling, shelter, food, employment training and emergency assistance to those in financial need, said he hoped the Church could assist the thief in some way.
“We care a great deal about the poor, because Jesus Christ was poor,” the bishop said. “I hope no one will resort to stealing because of some poverty. I hope people, including this thief, will know that the Catholic Church stands eager to help in whatever way we can.”
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