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From Sunday 15 January, for ten days, members of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference will undertake their Ad LiminaApostolorum visit to Rome – or “to the threshold of the Apostles” – a reference to the pilgrimage to the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul that all bishops are required to make. The Ad Limina normally occurs every five years and its purpose is to strengthen the bishops’ communion with the universal Church and with the successor of Saint Peter, Pope Francis.
The bishops’ visit which combines prayer including at the tombs of the apostles, a series of meetings with the staff of the various diacasteries (departments) of the Roman Curia in the Holy See to share their pastoral experience, and a meeting with the Holy Father.
There are 26 dioceses on the island of Ireland and all serving bishops – or a diocesan administrator if the diocese is currently not being led by a bishop – will be taking part in this pilgrimage.
During the visit the bishops will meet with the relevant staff of the various dicasteries of the Curia. The dicasteries have special significance and importance because of the close connection that exists between them and the Pope in his mission of leadership in the universal Church. Bishops will discuss the situation of the Church in Ireland at this time, make known pastoral initiatives, to discuss specific issues of concern, ask questions, seek information, and furnish clarifications. A list of the dicastaries which the bishops intend to visit is available below.
Prior to the Ad Limina visit, each diocesan bishop submits a report on his diocese to the Holy See. The report from each diocese describes the actual situation of the Church in that diocese (overview of the present situation, facts and figures) for which the diocesan bishop is responsible, its challenges, its relations with non-Catholic and non-Christian religious communities, with civil society and with the public authorities. It is forwarded to the Holy See in advance in order that it can be studied, synthesised and a summary presented to the Pope. This allows the Holy Father to acquaint himself with the situation of each diocese prior to meeting with the bishops.
On Friday 20 January the bishops will collectively have an audience with Pope Francis. The President of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Eamon Martin, will make a reply on behalf of the bishops.
As part of their Ad Limina visit bishops will concelebrate Mass in the Pontifical Irish College as well as at the four main papal basilicas in Rome, as detailed below:
Mass at the tomb of Saint Peter will be celebrated on Monday 16 January at 7.30am. Principal Celebrant, Archbishop Eamon Martin.
Mass in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran will be celebrated on Wednesday 18 January at 4.00pm. Principal Celebrant, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
Mass at the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls will be celebrated on Friday 20 January at 4.30pm. Principal Celebrant, Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly SMA.
Mass in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major will be celebrated on Saturday 21 January at 4.30pm. Principal Celebrant, Archbishop Michael Neary.