What’s an ‘ad limina’ visit? Here are 8 things you need to know

Denver Catholic Staff

On Feb. 10-15, bishops from Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico will travel to Rome for their “ad limina” visits. Here’s a few things to know:

What is an ad limina visit?
An ad limina visit is an obligatory visit made by all bishops to Rome during which they pray at the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul. In addition, they meet with Pope Francis and Vatican officials and present a quinquennial report of their respective diocese.

What does ad limina mean?
It is from the Latin ad limina apostolorum (“to the threshold of the apostles”).

What happens during an ad limina visit?
While the audience with Pope Francis receives the most coverage, the spiritual heart of an ad limina visit are Masses at the major churches of Rome: St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major. In addition, the bishops will meet with officials from many of the departments and offices in the Roman Curia.

Who participates in the ad limina visit?
Every active, able American bishop will make an ad limina pilgrimage by Feb. 22, 2020. This particular trip will include bishops from Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. Among them, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and the Archdiocese of Denver’s auxiliary bishop, Bishop Jorge H. Rodriguez will travel to Rome.

Is this Archbishop Aquila’s first ad limina visit?
This marks his first ad limina visit as the archbishop of Denver, but it will be his third ad limina visit overall. As bishop of Fargo, Archbishop Aquila participated in the 2004 and 2012 ad limina visits.

What about the auxiliary bishop?
This will be the first ad limina visit for Bishop Rodriguez, as he was ordained a bishop in November 2016.

What’s a quinquennial report?
A quinquennial report is a detailed report on the state of a diocese. Over several chapters, it presents to the Holy Father and the Vatican an update on the activities of the bishop and diocese in several areas, including the liturgical and sacramental life of the local Church, Catholic education, evangelization, communications, social teaching of the Church, the financial state of the diocese and more. The chapters roughly correspond to the departments and offices of the Vatican.

The Code of Canon Law dictates that the visits are supposed to occur every five years. Why was there an almost eight-year gap between the previous ad limina visit and this one?
Quite simply, the number of dioceses and bishops throughout the world has grown too large for that five-year schedule to be practical. There are currently 3,017 dioceses, prelatures and vicariates around the world. To maintain a five-year schedule, the Holy Father would need to meet with more than one bishop every single day. Even with Pope Francis’ practice of meeting with groups of bishops, the every-five-years timetable is not feasible given the other demands on the Holy Father’s time.

This report of the ‘ad limina’ visits was originally compiled and published by Detroit Catholic. It is updated and reprinted here with permission.

COMING UP: Archbishop Aquila on ad limina visit, Pope Francis and more

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During his ad limina visit Feb. 10-15, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila was granted an audience with Pope Francis for over two hours where they discussed several topics pertinent to the Church today.

Archbishop Aquila was among a contingent of U.S. bishops representing Region XIII in the United States, which includes the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming and Utah. He along with the bishops of those states met with the Holy Father Feb. 10. With the release of Querida Amazonia scheduled just a few days later on Feb. 12, Pope Francis discussed the document produced from last year’s Amazon Synod with the bishops.

“He brought up the question of celibacy, and he said [his] primary concern is that Gospel be proclaimed in the Amazon and that all of us need to focus on Jesus Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel first,” Archbishop Aquila said in an interview with EWTN. “If they proclaim the Gospel and are faithful to the Gospel, then vocations will come forth.”

Archbishop Aquila with Pope Francis during his ad limina visit Feb. 10. (Photo: Servizio Fotografico Vaticano)

With much discussion surrounding the Amazon Synod and possible implications it would have for the universal Church, Archbishop Aquila was reassured by the Pope’s comments on synodality and the Church’s application of it.

“Even in the understanding of synodality, which we spoke about, it always has to be ‘under Peter and with Peter’ and that synods cannot be going off and creating things that they want done,” the archbishop said. “He made it very clear: that is not synodality in the Catholic understanding. That was very reassuring.”

Among the other topics the bishops discussed with the Holy Father were some of the challenges faced by the Church in the United States and how to address them.

“The Holy Father was very clear: He said transgenderism is one of the great challenges in the United States right now, and the other is abortion,” Archbishop Aquila said. “Both of them really deal with the dignity of human life and the understanding of human life and do we truly receive from God the gender that he has given to us.

Bishop Jorge H. Rodriguez with Pope Francis during his ad limina visit Feb. 10. (Photo: Servizio Fotografico Vaticano)

“There are only two genders, male and female, and so how do we open our hearts to receiving that as gift.”
Archbishop Aquila said that they Holy Father also “spoke of media, and how the far left goes after him and the far right goes after him, and neither one really presents who he is.”

In a time where Pope Francis’ comments can be rather polarizing and even mischaracterized, Archbishop Aquila was struck by the depth of the Holy Father’s faith in his audience with him.

“[The Pope] has a very, very deep faith. He is convinced of the Gospel, he is totally convinced of Jesus Christ, he is convinced that there are teachings in the Church that can never change and that we have to be faithful to the Church.”

Hannah Brockhaus of Catholic News Agency contributed to this report.

Featured image by Paul Haring/CNS