Bishops representing North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida ended the third day of their ad limina to the Vatican with the celebration of Mass at the Basililca of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami was celebrant and homilist.
Archbishop Wenski spoke of how the ad limina visits are an opportunity to consult with Pope Benedict XVI and top Vatican officials, but even more they are an opportunity for the bishops to reaffirm their faith and strengthen their unity.
Archbishop Wenski said issues that challenge the bishops include respect for the life and dignity of every human being; religious freedom and the freedom to witness to the faith and serve others; "trying to communicate...an understanding of marriage as the permanent union of one man and one woman that is necessary for human flourishing in society"; welcoming immigrants and feeding the hungry; handing on the faith; responding to the reality of "human frailty, the reality of sin in the world and in the church.
"We do not pray for worldly success or approval, rather we ask God for boldness, freedom, for courage," the Archbishop said.
Earlier in the day, the Bishops met with the Congregation for Clergy, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.
In an interview with SueAnn Howell of the Catholic News Herald in Charlotte, the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge spoke of the importance of the meeting with the Holy Father and leaders of the Congregations. “They want to hear about our Dioceses,” Bishop Burbidge said, “especially on how we are conducting our ministries. We also seek their direction and counsel on how we can be more effective as Bishops. The Holy Father received our reports with great enthusiasm.”
Bishop Burbidge said the meeting with the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization focused on three priorities; strengthening our Catholic faith; providing beautiful opportunities for the celebration of our faith, especially in sacred liturgies; and through the individual witness of our faith.
“The New Evangelization will only be credible,” the Bishop said, “to the extent that we can witness a personal intimate relationship with Christ.”
Tomorrow the Bishops will celebrate Mass at St. John Lateran. They will then meet with the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Pontifical Council for the Family.
Above: Bishop Michael F. Burbidge and Bishops of Regions XIV in procession prior to the celebration of Mass at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. (Click photo to view larger.)
Above: Wide shot of altar at St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. (Click photo to view larger.)
Above: Bishops representing North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida during Mass at famous Basilica. (Click photo to view larger.)
Photos courtesy of SueAnn Howell of the Catholic News Herald in Charlotte.