At the end of June this year all the bishops of Australia will make a significant visit to Rome.
The formal name of this visit is – AD LIMINA APOSTOLORUM. This literally means “to the threshold of the Apostles.”. This refers to the point of reference of the visit – a visit to the tombs of St Peter and St Paul.
This visit happens periodically to all the bishops of the world, country by country. Perhaps after five or six years or more, the bishops of a particular country will spent a period of time in Rome to fulfil two principal responsibilities. First, to strengthen their own responsibility as successors of the apostles. Secondly, to deepen their solidarity with the successor of St Peter, Pope Francis.
Both these aims are fulfilled practically by a programme containing theological, spiritual and pastoral aspects.
The time together would include:
•Special Masses at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul.
•Special Masses at the principal basilicas in Rome.
•An audience with the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
•Visits to the offices (dicasteries) of the Holy See.
•A retreat with all the bishops of Australia.
In preparation for this Ad Limina visit, a report of the each diocese in Australia has been prepared and already submitted to the Holy See. It offers a “snapshot” of all the apostolic, missionary and pastoral aspects of each diocese. This is a help to the dialogue that will happen between the Holy Father and his advisors with the bishops of Australia.
Clearly, we will also be discussing at length current pastoral challenges and opportunities in Australia at present that impact on the faith of Catholics here. For example, topics such as the Plenary Council of Australia and the issues arising from the sex abuse crisis will be discussed thoroughly.
Our meeting with Pope Francis will be a key moment in the Ad Limina visit. It will serve to consolidate our unity with the successor of St Peter, “the primary guardian of the deposit of truth handed down from the Apostles”. It will also enable us all to better know and appreciate our unity in the “immense heritage of spiritual and moral values” of the universal Church.
I know that you will join all the bishops of Australia in prayer intercession during these special days in Rome.
It will enable me as your bishop to reflect seriously upon my servant ministry amongst you. I will be an opportunity to ask forgiveness for my human frailties. But also to give thanks to the Lord Jesus for all the Holy Spirit is doing amongst us here in the diocese.
Also, liturgically, in this month of June, so much of our Catholic identity is celebrated in the major Solemnities of The Ascension of the Lord, Pentecost Sunday, the Most Holy Trinity and the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
Therefore, both in the Ad Limina visit and the June Solemnities our united gaze once again focuses on Christ among us, “our hope of glory” (Col.1/27).
Thank you so much in anticipation for your prayers for the Ad Limina visit.
Archbishop Christopher Prowse