Settimo Cielodi Sandro Magister 

30 gen 17

Attention, Danger! No More Speeches from the Pope on the “Ad Limina” Visits

[Commentary in { } by Abyssum]

Few took note of it. But in resuming the meetings with bishops on their visits “ad limina apostolorum,” after the long hiatus during the jubilee, Pope Francis has inaugurated a new practice.

The first to experience it were the bishops of Ireland, whom the pope received last January 20.

The official bulletin of the Holy See furnished the names of the thirty-one bishops present. Nothing else. Not even a hint of the words Francis addressed to them.

And the same for the five bishops of Cambodia whom the pope received on January 26, and for the nine bishops of Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia received on January 30.

This is not how it used to be. For decades the “ad limina” visits were regularly concluded with a speech by the pope that was made public immediately afterward, in which there were often references to the most pressing issues of the national Church in question, with the relative judgments, encouragements, reprimands on the part of the successor of Peter.

{More than a year before a bishop-ordinary of a diocese is to make his ‘every five year’ ad limina visit to the Pope along with the other bishops of the region of the U.S. in which his diocese is located (there are 198 dioceses in the United States divided into 10 Regions of the U.S.C.C.B.) the bishop must submit to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome a report on his diocese in five copies.  My reports for Pensacola-Tallahasse were about 250 pages and my reports for Corpus Christi were over 500 pages.  The copies of the report are sent to four other Vatican offices and analyzed.  When the bishop goes into his meeting alone with the Pope on the ad limina visit the Pope asks questions a comments on the bishops report reading from a summary of the report prepared by the five Vatican offices and when at the end of the ad limina visit the Pope addresses all of the bishops of the Region, he voices his relative judgments, encouragements and reprimands as the successor of Peter.}

To the expert eye, these speeches were the Roman thermometer for the Church’s state of health in the various regions of the world.

But Pope Francis quickly got out of the habit of following that established practice. He did not write the speeches himself, although they were made public as such, and more and more often he neglected to read them. They were handed out to the bishops who were there with him. He preferred to relate with them spontaneously, behind closed doors and on the condition that what was spoken remain confidential.

And this is probably how things would have continued, if not for what happened at the last “ad limina” visit before the jubilee hiatus, on November 20, 2015, with the bishops of Germany.

The double synod on the family had just ended, and with those same German bishops Francis had struck an alliance in order to introduce his “openness” into the pastoral care of Catholic marriage, especially on the “vexata quaestio” of communion for the divorced and remarried.

The Church of Germany, however, was hardly a standout in the whole of the worldwide Church. On the contrary, in too many ways it constituted a terrible example. And in the speech that Francis found in his hands, during the meeting with the German bishops on their “ad limina” visit, sure enough there was a ruthless denunciation of the many things that were going wrong there. {Many of the ‘things going wrong there’ were the things that Francis was promoting and so how could he scold the German bishops for doing what he and they were conspiring to do to the Church.}

For example, the collapse of faith and of religious practice:

“One notes a very strong decrease in attendance at Sunday Mass, as well as in the sacramental life, particularly in the regions with a Catholic tradition. In the 1960s almost every member of the faithful attended Mass every Sunday, whereas now the faithful often represent less than 10 per cent. Ever fewer people are receiving the sacraments. The sacrament of Penance has almost disappeared. Fewer and fewer Catholics receive Confirmation or contract a Catholic marriage. The number of vocations to the priestly ministry and to the consecrated life has dwindled noticeably. Given these facts one can truly speak of an erosion of the Catholic faith in Germany.”

The excessive structures:

“New structures are inaugurated from which in the end the faithful are absent. It is a sort of new Pelagianism which leads us to put faith in administrative structures and perfect organizations. Excessive centralization, rather than proving helpful, complicates both the Church’s life and her missionary dynamic.”

The theological and catechetical drift:

“As a caring father, the prelate will stand beside the theological faculties, helping the teachers to rediscover the great ecclesial importance of their mission. Fidelity to the Church and to her Magisterium does not run counter to academic freedom but demands a humble attitude of service to God’s gifts. The ‘sentire cum Ecclesia’ must distinguish in a particular way those who educate and shape the new generations.”

The temptation to have Mass celebrated by ordinary laymen:

“It is necessary to always highlight the close connection between the Eucharist and Ordination to the Priesthood. Experience has shown that pastoral programmes which do not give sufficient importance to priests in their ministry of governing, teaching and sanctifying with regard to the Church’s structure and to sacramental life, are doomed to fail. The precious cooperation of the lay faithful, especially where vocations are lacking, cannot replace the priestly ministry or even make it appear merely optional. With no priest there is no Eucharist.”

And concessions on abortion and euthanasia:

“One of the bishop’s tasks which is never sufficiently appreciated is the commitment to life. The Church must never tire of being an advocate for life and must not neglect to proclaim that human life is to be protected unconditionally from the moment of conception until natural death. Here we can never make compromises without also becoming guilty ourselves.”

Francis did not read this speech to the bishops, as it effectively cast a bad light on the alliance that he had struck with the progressive wing of the German Church.  {How could he possibly read such a speech prepared by the five Vatican offices.  Now we can understand why he has been firing some of the staff of those offices; they were probably the ones who wrote those speeches.}

But the speech, as always, become public as having been delivered by the pope. And in Germany it let loose an uproar, in which Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and leader of the innovators, made himself the plaintive spokesman with Francis, obtaining from him this explanation that Marx afterward related to others: “I didn’t write it, I hadn’t read it, don’t pay any attention to it.” {This is simply too much !!!   Totally unacceptable !!!   Destructive to the Church !!!}

The fact is that from that day on, Francis suspended the “ad limina” visits, on account – he said – of the jubilee.

And now that he has resumed them, they don’t come with any speech.

{This Pontificate will go down in history as one of the worst in the history of the Church!  It is our misfortune to be living in it !!!}

(English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.)

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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  1. abyssum says:

    “An old itchy scapular” – I love it !!! Thank you !!!

  2. Ree Laughlin says:

    Pope Francis needs our prayers. He’s an old man with only one lung. In recent pics he looks very gaunt. I try to remember that the Holy Spirit puts good and not so good people in our lives for a reason. What lessons are we being taught? He makes me uncomfortable and I am constantly reflecting on this. He is like an old itchy scapular I wore as a child in south Texas.

    February 3, 2017 Wear Red Day♥️


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