04/06/2012 21:42

The PNG/SI Bishops now in Rome

By Fr.Victor Roche, SVD - CBC General Secretary (Part 1). The Catholic Bishops of each country or region go to visit Rome once in five years and this visit is called “Ad Limina”. It literally means “at the thresholds of the Apostles” (Sts. Peter and Paul). The Bishops meet the Pope, the Successor of Peter, to give an account of the state of their dioceses and to make a pilgrimage to the tombs of the apostles.  They also meet the different heads of Departments in the Vatican.

 The Ad Limina for the Bishops of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (CBC) takes place in Rome these days from 31st May – 9th June 2012. There are 19 dioceses in PNG and 3 dioceses in the Solomon Islands. In this visit there are 22 Bishops of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. Fr.Victor Roche, SVD is the General Secretary of the CBC and is the coordinator of the Ad Limina. Bp. Peter Ramsden of the Anglican Church of Port Moresby, PNG is also accompanying the Catholic bishops as there is a good relationship between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church in PNG.

All the bishops had sent in their “Five-Year” reports to the “Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples” which takes care of the issues regarding the mission countries. These reports are studied and are taken up by relevant commissions for follow up. Some important matters are also addressed by the Pope when he meets the bishops individually and as a group. This is the time that the Pope as the head of the Catholic Church has time to meet the Bishops of each diocese personally although only for a few minutes.

Arrival date for the bishops was Wednesday, 30th May and almost all of them were there by 7 pm. We are accommodated in a “Hotel” called “Domus Internationalis Paulus VI” which is run for those bishops and priests who work in the different offices of the Vatican. The rooms are very good and comfortable. The place is very close to the Vatican and to the different offices; though some are farther and the bishops need transport.

 In this regard in Rome there is a group called, “Work of the Church” started by Mother Trinidad of Spain. There are almost 2000 priests, sisters and lay people who help the work of the Church. One of their main commitments is to give free transport to bishops who are in their Ad Limina visit in Rome. They pick up the bishops everyday and drop them in different places where they have to visit. They do it with great love and care. They find joy in doing this service.

 A few days before the Ad Limina visit, Abp. Francesco Panfilo of Rabaul and I went to different parts of the Vatican to make arrangements for the visit of the bishops of PNG/SI. We walked through the corridors of “power” in the Vatican. We went to some offices where many would never imagine going there.

 Abp. Panfilo and I went very close to the room from where the Pope gives his Sunday Angelus message to the world. I was only a few meters away. Very good view of the city of Rome from there! You see the people down below waiting in a queue to enter into St. Peter’s Basilica.

We also were very close to the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, from where the white smoke comes when the new Pope is elected. The feeling is electric.

 Both of us went into many Vatican offices which I will never see again. As we walked into each security check point, the Swiss Guards gave a big salute to us. The salute was a sign of great respect for the Archbishop (for the cross and the ring of the Archbishop) and not for this... little Indian. But I enjoyed the salute anyway.

As we walked along these offices of the Vatican, I realized that important decisions are made there, which affect the whole church and the world. It is awesome.

(CBC Communications 040612 – giorgiolicini@yahoo.com)