As BCI readers know, a contingent from Boston is in Rome for the quinquennial “ad limina” visit where they discuss the state of the Boston Archdiocese. We see a few different stories about the visit in several different publications which talk about the visit, while offering no insights as to how Cardinal O’Malley is characterizing the actual situation and state of the Boston Archdiocese today. We suppose that leaves it to BCI and our readers to cover.
Here are three articles that give you a sense of what is going on.
Background on the Ad Limina
On Friday, Whispers in the Loggia offered the following commentary about the ad limina:
Seven years since the American hierarchy last made its required Quinquennial Visit to the Holy See, the bench’s first ad limina of B16’s pontificate began earlier today — three days ahead of schedule — as the Pope received 13 prelates of New England’s Region I in private audience.
While Benedict will meet with each of the bishops over the next week, this morning’s Apartment-bound group was led by the area’s top cleric, Boston’s Cardinal Séan O’Malley OFM Cap., joined by his five active auxiliaries.
BCI agrees with most of what was said above, except for the word “active” to describe all of the 5 Boston auxiliaries. Yes they are all currently serving as auxiliary bishops; however, to call them all “active” could be subject to some dispute. (But we digress…)
Who is Attending
According to the Vatican Information Service, thirteen bishops from New England are there for the “ad limina.”:
VATICAN CITY, 4 NOV 2011 (VIS) – The Holy Father today received in audience thirteen prelates of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, on their “ad limina” visit:
– Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley O.F.M. Cap. of Boston accompanied, by Auxiliary Bishops Walter James Edyvean, John Anthony Dooher, Robert Francis Hennessey, Arthur L. Kennedy, and Peter J. Uglietto.
In addition, Bishop Salvatore Ronald Matano of Burlington, Bishop George William Coleman of Fall River, Bishop Richard Joseph Malone of Portland, Bishop Timothy Anthony McDonnell of Springfield, Bishop Robert Joseph McManus of Worcester, Bishop Francis J. Christian, auxiliary of Manchester, accompanied by Bishop emeritus John B. McCormack.
Of noteworthiness is that Vicar General Msgr. Robert Deeley did not go. Apparently, he is staying in Braintree trying to prevent the inmates from taking over the asylum. (Though based on comments from the diocesan spokesperson this past week, that strategy may not be working so well).
This article in The Boston Pilot gives highlights of what will be done during the visit:
The greatest amount of time is taken up with the spiritual side of the visit: celebration of Mass, prayer, and visiting the various offices of the Roman Curia, who daily assist the pope in the government of the universal Church. Among those offices that the New England Bishops are slated to visit between Nov. 3-9 are those that deal with bishops, clergy, education, liturgy or Divine Worship, and consecrated life.
The newest agency created by Pope Benedict himself, the Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, is also on the list. This council and its mandate are especially close to the pope’s own agenda; and as he gives a series of addresses to the bishops, there is wide speculation that this will be the unifying theme woven through the five or so talks the pope will deliver to the various groups of American bishops over the next several months.
Prior to their arrival in Rome the diocesan bishops were asked for a report on the condition of their respective dioceses. These reports are usually due to Rome about six months before the visit itself. They are called “quinquennial” reports because traditionally they had to be submitted every five years. This time frame allows the report to be separated into sections and distributed to the offices of the curia that would be responsible for its particular activities. For example, the report on Catholic Education with its statistics and narrative section would be given to the Congregation for Catholic Education; the bishops will meet there on Nov. 7.
This is not a case of the central office checking up on the local branches. Rather as the reports are compiled, they can be seen as a kind of self evaluation of the diocesan bishop’s ministry and also of the diocese itself.
The bishop likely involves many of his staff and diocesan officials in the compilation of the report, so it can also help the various offices see how effectively they are performing their tasks and assisting the bishop.