In late June the bishops of Australia will travel to Rome to visit the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul, and to meet with Pope Francis to give him an update on the current state of their dioceses.
The Ad Limina visit, as it is known, usually occurs every five years however it has been eight years since the Australian bishops have attended due to the change of pope in 2013 and the Year of Mercy from late 2015 to 2016.
All the bishops from Sydney will attend his year’s Ad Limina meeting which will include a time of prayer and retreat prior to the pilgrimage to the tombs of the saints and the meeting with the Pope.
The Australian bishops will meet with the Pope as a group and will be able to raise any concerns or issues with him. It is unclear whether or not there will be an opportunity for them to meet with the Pope individually.
“I imagine that the Church moving on from the Royal Commission and the initiatives which have been undertaken subsequently at both diocesan and national levels, along with the upcoming Plenary Council will be items for discussion,” Chris Meney, Chancellor of the Sydney Archdiocese told The Catholic Weekly.
The purpose of Ad Limina visits is not merely to venerate the tombs of the Apostles but also to show reverence for the successor of St Peter and acknowledge his universal jurisdiction by providing an account of their local churches and to receive his counsel in return.
The term ‘ad limina’ is from the Latin ‘to the threshold’ referring to bishops visiting ‘the threshold’ of the apostles Peter and Paul.
The visit is meant to bind the members of the Church more closely with the Pontiff who is the divinely appointed head of the Body of Christ.
The bishops will be absent from Australia from 17 June until early July.