- Associated Press - Monday, November 11, 2013

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Vatican ambassador to the United States told American bishops on Monday that they should make Roman Catholics feel more at home in the church.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States, also said Pope Francis wants bishops to act more fatherly and not follow any particular ideology.

The ambassador made the remarks at the start of the general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. It’s the first such meeting since Francis was elected and asked bishops to focus more on mercy than hot-button political issues. Many Catholics are watching for any change in the bishops’ tone.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, is ending his term as president of the bishops conference. He urged church leaders to make religious freedom abroad their defining issue and said challenges to religious freedom in the U.S. pale in comparison with what Christians face overseas.