As the Lincoln Police Department continues to investigate the burglary of Bishop James Conley's home, the Diocese of Lincoln is happy to report that Bishop Conley’s pectoral cross was recovered, in a location on the bishop’s property.
Bishop Conley requests that "Catholics continue to pray for the conversion of those involved in the invasion of my home.” The bishop 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 expressed that he is “sincerely grateful for the professionalism, diligence, and excellent work of the Lincoln Police Department in the investigation of this matter.”
Item was gift from Pope Benedict XVI
LINCOLN (SNR) - Bishop James Conley’s Lincoln residence was broken into Oct. 10, and a pectoral cross was stolen.
A pectoral cross - or crux pectoralis, meaning ‘of the chest’ - is a large, ornamental cross on a chain which the bishop wears to symbolize his position in the Church. It is one of the items worn by a bishop to signify the fullness of Holy Orders, such as the bishop’s ring, mitre (the hat worn at liturgies) and crozier (staff). A bishop typically wears a pectoral cross whenever he is in public.
Bishop Conley was in Imperial Oct. 10, where he celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation at St. Patrick Parish. His home’s alarm system alerted police and diocesan staff after the break-in through a window around 1:30 p.m.
According to the Diocese of Lincoln, the sole item stolen from the home was the pectoral cross; other items of value were not stolen.
The Lincoln Police Department has begun an investigation into the matter. In the meantime, Bishop Conley has asked all Catholics to “pray for the conversion of this burglar.”
“I pray, quite sincerely, that the thief will discover that Christ died for him, loves him, and desires to bring him eternal joy.”
According to Conley: “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. I ask all Catholics to join me in praying that the thief will experience a conversion of heart, and seek the mercy of God.”
Conley noted that stolen cross was a personal gift given by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012. Because the cross was a gift, it cannot be replaced, the diocese reported.
“The cross is a treasure for the whole Diocese of Lincoln. It signifies the unity of our Church in Christ. Let us pray together that it might be returned,” the bishop said.
JD Flynn, spokesman for the Diocese of Lincoln, noted that the Diocese of Lincoln is cooperating fully with law enforcement’s investigation. “Forgiveness does not exclude accountability,” Flynn said. He also noted that the stolen cross could be returned to any Catholic church—even left anonymously.
Bishop Conley pointed out that the Diocese of Lincoln offers counseling, shelter, food, employment training, and emergency assistance to those in financial need. Conley expressed hope that the Church might assist the thief.
“We care a great deal about the poor, because Jesus Christ was poor,” Conley reported. “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.”