PNG/SI Bishops meet Vatican officials and Anglican representative in Rome
By Fr.Victor Roche, SVD - CBC General Secretary (Part 2). On the 31st May, 2012, the first day of the Ad Limina Visit, the bishops were all dressed up in clerical dress of roman collar and black suit as most of the bishops and priests do in Rome. We visited three Dicasteries (Pontifical Congregations, Councils or Commissions, as they are called). The President of each Congregation is usually a cardinal, the secretary is an archbishop and the undersecretary is usually a priest. In each place usually a bishop representing the Bishops’ Conference of PNG/SI gave a brief summary of our present situation. Then the team from the Vatican would respond to the different issues presented. There was really a very good sense of sharing and a sense of belonging to the universal Church. One could feel that the Vatican really wants to help the dioceses in a very positive and generous way.
First we visited the Pontifical Councils for Health Care, Christian Unity, and Interreligious Dialogue. We had very enriching and fruitful discussions.
In the evening we had Mass at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. This is so called because St. Paul was martyred outside Rome and he is believed to be buried in this Basilica. The 22 bishops and the general secretary celebrated a Mass which was led by Archbishop Steve Reichert of Madang. It was a great experience for the bishops of the missionary dioceses of PNG/SI to celebrate Mass in the Basilica of St. Paul, who was a great missionary.
After the Mass, the Bishops saw the place where the apostle is buried and they prayed as pilgrims.
In the night, we had a great reception in a religious community called, “Work of the Church” founded by Mother Trinidad of Spain. They are a community of about 30 priests, sisters and lay people who welcomed us with songs. Then we watched a recorded video-talk by Mother Trinidad, in which she expresses her great mystical experience with the Trinity in simple terms. Then she requests or rather commands all the people of God to respect the Church and help the ‘Work of the Church”. She was full of fire and passion about the beauty of the Church and she wants all the people of God to be likewise. She is still alive and she sent her greetings to all the bishops by phone.
There was a well prepared dinner for us afterwards. The priests, sisters and the lay people really showed the passion and the love for the Church through their hospitality towards us. They are great singers too. It is a young and a vibrant Congregation!
It was really a great day and a good experience. By the end of the first day, the Bishops got into the full swing of the Ad Limina visit. On the second day, 1 June, in fact we visited the Apostolic Penitentiary and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
In the evening we were all invited to the Anglican Centre in the centre of Rome where Canon David Richardson and his wife Maggie were the main hosts. Bp. Peter Ramsden, Anglican Bishop of Port Moresby, who travelled to Rome with us, also became a ‘co-host’. As we entered the hall, which is also the library, Fr. Richardson started explaining the famous picture that is hanging on the wall at the entrance. It is a picture of Pope Paul VI meeting Archbishop Ramsey of Canterbury in that very same place. In that meeting, the Pope removed the ring from his finger and put it on the finger of Abp. Ramsey. This is the ring which he wore as the Archbishop of Milan before becoming the Pope, not the ring he had as Pope. Abp. Ramsey did not expect this gesture from Pope Paul VI. That moment was photographed and is hanging there to show the great moment of Christian spirit between the two Churches. Tears came down in the eyes of Fr. Richardson as he recalled that historic event of 23-24 March 1966.
Then we had prayer in the church and a good dinner. On the previous day of the Ad Limina we had shared about what steps should be taken in order to foster Christian unity. But in the evening of the second day, we personally “experienced” real Christian unity. (CBC Communications 090612 – firstname.lastname@example.org)