Scotland's Catholic Bishops will travel to Rome this week on their five-yearly, 'Ad limina' visit. The visit required by church law, obliges the Bishops of each country to travel to Rome, meet the Pope and in acknowledging his universal jurisdiction, make a report to him of the state of each diocese in Scotland. (see explanatory note below) The following members of the Bishops' Conference will travel to Rome and remain there from Monday 3 March until Saturday 8 March:
Archbishop Keith O'Brien, President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland and Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. Archbishop Mario Conti, Vice-President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland and Archbishop of Glasgow. Bishop John Mone, Bishop of Paisley. Bishops Joseph Devine, Bishop of Motherwell. Bishop Vincent Logan, Bishop of Dunkeld. Bishop Ian Murray, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles. Canon Peter Moran, Diocesan Administrator, Diocese of Aberdeen. Monsignor Henry Docherty, General Secretary, Bishops' Conference of Scotland.
On medical advice, following recent surgery, Bishop Maurice Taylor, Bishop of Galloway will not travel to Rome.
Before leaving, Archbishop O'Brien said:
"We travel to Rome at a time of great international uncertainty and turmoil. Together with those in other denominations and faiths we remain anxious over the prospects for peace in Iraq. We endorse the call of the Scottish Interfaith Council to "members of our different faith traditions to pray earnestly for peace throughout the world." While as a Conference we recently called for prayers in the cause of peace and for greater observance of the great commandment of our Christian faith; "to love our neighbours as ourselves".
"One of our first tasks as Bishops of Scotland will be to thank the Pope for his twenty five years service to the Church and to congratulate him in advance on his Silver Jubilee which will be celebrated around the world on 16 October 2003. We will explain that our Catholic community play an important part in the life of our country and are encouraged by the Church to do so. We value deeply our links with other denominations and faiths in Scotland and will elaborate in detail on ecumenical and political developments in this country."
As well as an audience with the Pope, and visits to various Vatican departments, the Scottish delegation will also visit the tombs of St.s Peter and Paul and will be guests of honour at a dinner hosted by the British Ambassador to the Holy See (Her Excellency Mrs Colvin). They will also meet the General Secretary of CARITAS, the Church's International aid agency, Mr Duncan McLaren. Mr McLaren is a former Director of SCIAF (Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund).
Arrangements for supply of photographs of Papal Audience will be advised during the week beginning Monday 3, March.
Ad Limina Apostolorum
(to the thresholds of the Apostles)
The visit ad limina means, technically, the obligation incumbent on the world's Catholic Bishops of visiting, at stated times, the "thresholds of the Apostles", Sts. Peter and Paul, and of presenting themselves before the pope to give an account of the state of their dioceses. The object of the visit is not merely to make a pilgrimage to the tombs of the apostles, but, above all, to show the proper reverence for the Successor of St. Peter, to acknowledge practically his universal jurisdiction by giving an account of the condition of particular churches, to receive his admonitions and counsels, and thus bind more closely the members of the Church to its Divinely appointed head.
A Roman council under Pope Zacharias (A.D. 743) decreed that bishops consecrated by the pope, who reside near Rome, should make the visit ad limina yearly in person, and those who are far away should fulfil the same obligation by letter. In 1585 Sixtus V issued the Constitution "Romanus Pontifex", which for over three hundred years formed the main rule and norm for visits ad limina. The present discipline concerning visits ad limina is found in the Decree of the Consistorial Congregation, issued by order of Pius X (31 Dec., 1909). This decree states that every bishop must render to the pope an account of the state of his diocese once every five years.
Bishops, when they come to Rome in fulfilment of their obligation of ad limina, must visit the tombs of the apostles and present themselves before the Pope.