From 24 to 30 June, Australia’s Catholic bishops will be in Rome to meet with Pope Francis as part of Ad Limina.
The Ad Limina Apostolorum visit, or Ad Limina, is an obligation of all Catholic bishops every five years to visit the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul in Rome, celebrate Mass in the Papal Basilicas and meet with the Holy Father and members of the Roman Curia to report on the state of their dioceses, as explained on Catholic Online.
The current requirements for the Ad Limina visit are listed under the 1983 Code of Canon Law:
Can. 399 §1. Every Five years a diocesan bishop is bound to make a report to the Supreme Pontiff on the state of the diocese entrusted to him, according to the form and time determined by the Apostolic See.
§2. If the year determined for submitting a report falls entirely or in part within the first two years of his governance of a diocese, a bishop can refrain from making and submitting his report on this one occasion.
Can. 400 §1. Unless the Apostolic See has established otherwise, during the year in which he is bound to submit a report to the Supreme Pontiff, a diocesan bishop is to go to Rome to venerate the tombs of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul and to present himself to the Roman Pontiff.
§2. A bishop is to satisfy the above-mentioned obligation personally unless he is legitimately impeded. In that case, he is to satisfy it through his coadjutor, if he has one, or auxiliary, or a suitable priest of his presbyterium who resides in his diocese.
§3. An apostolic vicar can satisfy this obligation through a proxy, even one living in Rome. This obligation does not bind an apostolic prefect.
Bishops conferences from around the world typically made the Ad Limina visit, translated as “to the threshold of the Apostles,” every five years. However, due to the change of Pope in 2013 and the cancelled visit during the Year of Mercy from late 2015 to 2016, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has not made the visit since 2011, according to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC).
“Ad Limina pilgrimages are a time of deep prayer – at the tombs of the Apostles and at the major basilicas in Rome – and also a chance for the bishops of Australia to strengthen our bond of communion with the Bishop of Rome,” ACBC president Archbishop Mark Coleridge told the ACBC Media Blog.
“This will be our first chance to meet as a Conference with Pope Francis, and it comes at a tumultuous time when we look to him, as the Successor of Peter, to confirm us in faith.”
During their dialogue with Pope Francis on June 24, the bishops will provide information and insights from their own dioceses and listen to the Pope’s reflections on the Church more broadly.
After speaking with the Holy Father, Australian bishops will be involved in dicastery meetings with different Pontifical Councils.
According to the ACBC, whilst in Italy, the bishops will also have a time of retreat to help them prepare for the Plenary Council 2020.
Jesuit Br Ian Cribb will lead the retreat from 17 to 22 June, with a special focus on the need for discernment and the Catholic understanding of discernment – a pivotal aspect of the next stage of the Plenary Council process and the Council sessions themselves.
The bishops will be absent from Australia from mid-June until early July.