Archbishop reflects on ‘ad limina’ visit with pope

Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley is no stranger to making an “ad limina” visit with the Bishops of the New England province. This past week the archbishop had his third “ad limina” visit with the Holy Father as part of the New England delegation, although this was his first as the Archbishop of Boston. While other visits may have been more symbolic occasions to express his communion with the Successor of St. Peter, this time the visit was marked by issues that have made headlines over the last two years: the sexual abuse scandal, to the reconfiguration process and, even the rubrics of a Holy Week liturgy.

Speaking to The Pilot upon his return from Rome, the archbishop said that the “ad limina” visit offers a bishop the chance to be “renewed” in his ministry “by this direct contact with the Holy Father and his close collaborators.”

A central moment of each bishop’s visit is his private audience with the Holy Father. According to the archbishop, the Holy Father was “in very good form” during his personal meeting Aug. 30 though he acknowledged that the pope “was much more tired” when all the bishops met with him as a group on Sept. 2.

The archbishop said that during his one-on-one meeting with the pope, “the Holy Father was very concerned about Boston and expressed his concern about the vocations in the Church and the situations of our people.” The archbishop also said that the Holy Father “fondly” recalled his visit to Boston.

The archbishop said that he, in turn, assured the pope “of prayers and good wishes of the people of the archdiocese.”

The last “ad limina” visit took place six years ago, instead of the usual five, since the pope suspended those visits as the Church celebrated the Jubilee year. During the weeklong event, bishops have the opportunity to raise issues at the Vatican congregations or to receive information about their work.

The archbishop met with officials of the Congregation for Divine Worship to whom he explained the situation earlier this year when he washed the feet of 12 men on Holy Thursday and “the upset that occasioned in the archdiocese and the misinterpretation in the media.” After the controversy erupted, Archbishop O’Malley announced in his Pilot column that he would seek clarification on the practice from the Holy See.

The archbishop explained that the prefect of the congregation was not in Rome at the time but he was able to speak with the secretary of the congregation.

The archbishop said that he “explained to [the secretary] what happened here in Boston and he told me that instructions in the Missal are very clear: that for Holy Thursday the liturgy calls for the priest to wash the feet of 12 men.”

The archbishop said he was also told that “the ceremony in itself is optional, but if you do it, the rubric and the custom in the Church has been to wash the feet of 12 men who represent the Apostles.”

"I left a letter for the prefect asking for clarification and I expect to hear from him," the archbishop added.

An issue raised with another Vatican office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, was the dicastery’s slow pace in resolving the cases of priests accused of sexual misconduct with minors. Following new U.S. Church norms approved in Dallas, dioceses are bound to notify the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith of allegations of sexual abuse of minors. According to a Catholic News Service report, since the norms went into effect in 2003, hundreds of cases have arrived at the Vatican. The congregation has added some staff, but the workload has been described by some as overwhelming.

Archbishop O’Malley has already announced that a Boston priest and canon lawyer, Msgr. Robert P. Deeley, has been assigned to work at the congregation to help clear the backlog. According to Archbishop O’Malley, another New England bishop, William E. Lori of Bridgeport, is also sending a canon lawyer to work at the congregation.

"We had a very good meeting with personnel of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, and I tried to impress upon them the urgency of our situation here in the United States," he said.

"I think there was openness to what I and the other bishops had to say to them of the need for us to live up to the expectations of our people and the commitments we made in Dallas and at the same time to expedite the cases of priests who have been accused," the archbishop continued.

During his visit to the Congregation for the Clergy, Archbishop O’Malley explained the details of the archdiocese’s reconfiguration process and the circumstances that led up to it.

"There was understanding of what our situation is and what we are trying to accomplish," he said.

Archbishop O’Malley also spoke of his visit to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious dialogue — his first — where he was updated on the status of the relations between the Catholic Church and other faith groups.

"As our world is getting smaller we are called upon to interact more with these other groups. It was very interesting to hear the kind of outreach the Church has for those groups," he said.

According to the archbishop, the New England bishops followed their tradition of visiting not only the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul, but also celebrating Mass at the basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran, in doing so, visiting the four major basilicas of Rome.

Speaking of the Mass at St. Peter’s tomb, the archbishop explained that “gathered around the tomb ... the bishops all prayed the Apostles Creed together as a sign of our solidarity in the faith and as our responsibilities as teachers in the faith that has come to us through the apostles.”

In his 1998 “ad limina” address to the bishops of the New England province, the Holy Father spoke about “the great springtime of Christianity which God is preparing as we enter the third Christian millennium, and of which we can already see the first signs.”

Six years later, and in the wake of the sex abuse scandal, the Holy Father’s reiterated that theme in his address to the bishops last week.

"I once more express my conviction, born of faith, that God is even now preparing a great springtime for the Gospel," the pope said.

Asked to comment about the Holy Father’s vision of a “new springtime,” Archbishop O’Malley said that “after the cross comes resurrection, and certainly the sufferings that the Church has gone through has purified us, has called us to a greater sense of commitment and to be more faithful to our ideals, to be more faithful to our life of prayer. As I mentioned in my remarks to the Holy Father, our God can bring good out of evil.”

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...

Book tells about behind-the-scenes search for St. Peter's bones

HOUSTON (CNS) -- Two Houston men shared a journey through centuries of history and a decades-long archaeological dig under the Vatican to unveil a story ...

Update way priests are chosen, accompanied, pope tells new bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The best way to help the Catholic Church, Pope Francis told new bishops, is not by pointing fingers and creating scapegoats, but ...

Vatican confirms ongoing Sistine Chapel Choir finance inquiry

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican confirmed an ongoing investigation into financial irregularities involving the directors of the Sistine Chapel Choir. ...

After meeting pope, cardinal says he's hopeful about addressing crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston struck a determinedly hopeful tone after his long-awaited meeting with Pope Francis ...

DA clears Indiana bishop of misconduct, says claim has harmed prelate

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CNS) -- The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend welcomed findings by a Pennsylvania district attorney that cleared Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades ...

Cardinal DiNardo calls meeting with pope lengthy, fruitful

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo has called a Sept. 13 meeting between Pope Francis and leaders from the Church in United ...

What do Church abuse policies mean by 'vulnerable adult?'

Denver, Colo., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- A Vatican summit this February will gather the presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world. While ...

'Elitist, clericalist' church allows abuse to thrive, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sexual and physical abuse by priests and religious and the scandal of its cover-up by church authorities thrive in countries where ...

Cardinal Wuerl to ask pope to accept his resignation

Washington D.C., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- An archdiocesan spokesman has confirmed that Cardinal Donald Wuerl will soon ask Pope Francis to accept his resignation ...

Pope accepts resignation of West Virginia bishop as inquiry into abuse claims launched

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Pope Francis Thursday accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield from the pastoral government ...