NEN Bishops Ad Limina 2011.jpgThe bishops of the United States have begun their official visit to heart of the Church by praying at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, meeting with Pope Benedict, and meeting with the various heads of the Church’s departments at the Holy See to report on the various apostolic works undertaken for the proclamation of the Gospel.

The visit is called “Ad limina apostolorum,” meaning, “to the threshold of the apostles.” The Ad limina is a gesture of communio, an act of love, between individual bishop and the Pope. Hence, this is a pilgrimage of a bishop to center of faith. The Ad limina visits typically take place every 5 years though with Pope Benedict these pilgrimages are taking place every 7 years. Pope Benedict will meet all the diocesan bishops with the auxiliaries in the coming months and into 2012; he’ll have met 190 heads of dioceses, plus…. by the time all is said and done.
John Thavis of CNS has a review of what’s expected.

Yesterday, the bishops of northern New England met with Pope Benedict. All 11 Catholic dioceses will do the same.
Today, the bishops from the Archdiocese of Hartford and Dioceses of Norwich, Bridgeport and Providence met His Holiness. Archbishop Henry J. Mansell leads this group because he’s the Metropolitan of this province but he’s aided by Bishop Robert Evans, auxiliary bishop of Providence who has worked as the coordinator of the meetings. The meetings will conclude on November 9.
Among the topics of conversation among the bishops with the various departments and the Pope will be evangelization, the ordained ministry, the laity and family life, clergy sex abuse, healthcare, the teaching of the faith, ecumenism and education. The Ad limina meetings are an education for both the residential bishops and for those in the service of the Pope. It is not the case that the local branch manager meets the CEO; it is a fact that one meets with a father who knows and loves his sons. No one group has all the answers and remedies. One does have to say that this is the opportunity for the Pope to praise the good done and correct error in a fraternal manner.