Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
"Ad Limina Log"
by Bishop Blase J. Cupich
(From the May 17, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)
(Editor’s note: Bishop Blase Cupich joined the other bishops of Region XII – Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington – for the visits to various Roman Offices and with the Holy Father the week of April 22-29. Here he gives a summary of the log he kept and posted on the Facebook page of the diocese.)
Prior to my trip to visit with the Holy Father and the various Vatican Congregations, I invited people to send me their prayer intentions so that I could remember them when I pray at the tombs of these great apostles, the founders of the Church of Rome. Bishops regularly go to Rome for such meetings, which are called “ad limina” visits, referring to the threshold (limina) of the tombs of Peter and Paul in the respective basilicas named after them.
This morning at 10:45, we left the North American College (NAC) by bus to travel to the Vatican for our meeting with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. The group included all the bishops from the States of Washington and Alaska, as well as some seminarians and priests from our area who are in Rome. I was able to take our seminarian, Dale Tuckerman, who studies here in Rome, and another seminarian, Mark Horn, a seminarian from the Diocese of Rapid City, my former See. During my personal visit with the pope I conveyed the best wishes of our priests, Religious and lay people and passed on the birthday greetings from St. Francis of Assisi Youth Group. I also talked to him about the many blessings we enjoy from our Catholic faith. He asked that I return his greetings to all and assure them that he will pray especially for our young people.
During his ad limina visit last month, Bishop Cupich met with Pope Benedict XVI. (IR photo courtesy of Bishop Cupich)
We also met with the pope as a group and we were asked to raise a particular issue with him. I was asked by the bishops in our group to highlight the invaluable contribution to the life of the Church made by our Catholic universities.
Referring to our diocese, I cited the efforts that Gonzaga University President Thayne McCulloh and I are making to strengthen the ties between us. I let the Holy Father know that the university administration and I share a common commitment to work in a way that advances the Catholic identity and mission of Gonzaga as well as the pastoral life of our diocese. I told him about a project that we will soon be undertaking to review the experience over the past 10 years of restoring the order of the Sacraments of Initiation. He expressed pleasure on hearing my remarks and encouraged the kinds of projects that bring the university and the local Church together for, as he said, “a Catholic university is most effective and most itself when it sees itself as being at the heart of the Church.”
Other bishops took up topics ranging from immigration reform to communicating the Gospel in an environment that is not always receptive to it. Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, the auxiliary bishop of Seattle, spoke about our ministry to the new immigrants, and noted that today is the anniversary of the death of Cesar Chavez, who championed the rights of migrant workers.
Of particular note was the intervention of Archbishop Alex Brunett, Archbishop Emeritus of Seattle. He spoke forcefully of the need for a respectful civil dialogue when we engage the culture, which can be hostile to the message of the Gospel. Remarking that harsh and strident language does not invite but only repels, Archbishop Brunett recalled the sage advice of the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheehan: “If you’re only interested in winning an argument, you’ll never win a convert.”
After lunch at the NAC and the required siesta, we celebrated Mass at St. Paul Outside the Walls.
Today is also Italian Liberation Day, which marks the day the Nazis were forced to leave Italy. I want to update here on what we did yesterday and will enter a separate posting on today a bit later.
Yesterday, we boarded the busses at 9 a.m. to pay a visit to the Congregation for Bishops. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, a Sulpician, received us. We had a good exchange and covered many topics. Being a Canadian, and the former Archbishop of Québec, he had a good understanding of some of the issues we face. We gave a good amount of time to our ministry with Native Americans and he was pleased to hear that some of us are considering coming back to Rome in the fall for the canonization of Blessed Kateri Teka-kwitha. In fact, the final miracle needed for her being named a saint took place in the Archdiocese of Seattle, as Archbishop Brunett pointed out.
Bishop Cupich was able to bring two seminarians with him to meet with Pope Benedict XVI. At left is Mark Horn, a seminarian of the Diocese of Rapid City, S.D., where Bishop Cupich served prior to coming to the Spokane Diocese; at right is Dale Tuckerman, studying at North American College, Rome, for the Spokane Diocese. (IR photo courtesy of Bishop Cupich)
We then walked over to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Levada, who served as the Archbishop of Portland and then San Francisco. Again we had a lively discussion on a number of important topics. His Congregation has taken the lead in addressing head on the sexual abuse of minors and we left very encouraged that the measures we have taken in the U.S. will now be of service to the universal Church.
Those visits made for a full morning and we arrived back in time for lunch at the NAC. We did not have much time for a rest since we had to board the busses again to St. Mary Major’s. Bishop Skylstad presided and provided us with a good deal to reflect on as he recalled the history of the Basilica. One of the four great ancient Basilicas in Rome, it is dedicated to mark the declaration of Mary as Mother of God, Theoto-kos in Greek, at the Council of Ephesus in 431. Built on the Esquiline hill, its bell tower is the tallest in Rome. Our Mass was in the Borghese Chapel, which features the beautiful icon known as “Salvation of the People of Rome.”
Since today is Liberation Day in Italy, the traffic was lighter than usual. We began the day with Mass at the Tomb of St. Peter in the Basilica. After Mass we board the bus to travel to the Cancelleria, where the Supreme Court of the Church, the Apostolic Signatura, resides. Cardinal Raymond Burke, the former Archbishop of St. Louis and a classmate of mine, is the Prefect. We received a report on how our own Courts which handle marriage cases are doing. From there we went back to the Vatican to visit with the Prefect for the Congregation for Clergy before lunch.
The rest of the day was free except for some private meetings each of us had. We have covered most of the Congregations and the bishops of Oregon, Montana and Idaho will see the pope tomorrow. We get the morning free for the most part.
I just returned from the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, where our group met with Cardinal Kurt Koch and Bishop Brian Farrell, President and Secretary respectively. We had a very engaging meeting and covered a good number of topics. Bishop Skylstad took the lead for our group, given his wide experience in this field. I will post a picture on the diocese’s Facebook page of our meeting. I also received today the photos of my audience with the Holy Father on Monday.
After our meeting I crossed the street to do an interview with Philippa Hitchen of Vatican Radio. I am told that in due time I will be able to post the interview on our website, where you can listen to that interview. (Editor’s note: A link to the interview is found in the News section of the diocese’s web site under the title “Bishop Cupich on Vatican Radio: ‘Call for a frank and respectful dialogue.’”)
As I have a little time before lunch I want to give another update on our ad limina visit. This afternoon we celebrate Mass at the fourth and final Basilica we will visit in these days. Here is a little background on St. John Lateran, the oldest of the four Papal or Major Basilicas. It is also the first among the Major Basilicas since it is the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, claiming the title of ecumenical mother church among Roman Catholics. As the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, it ranks above all other churches in the Catholic Church, including St. Peter Basilica in the Vatican. For that reason, unlike all other Roman Basilicas, it holds the title of Archbasilica. The President of the French Republic, currently Nicolas Sarkozy, is ex officio the “first and only honorary canon” of the basilica, a title inherited from the Kings of France, who have held it since Henry IV of France.
After Mass, we were invited to the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See by Ambassador Miguel Diaz and his wife, Marian. Both have earned doctorates in Theology and live in Rome with their four children.
This was our last day of meetings with the Roman Dicasteries. The group began with Mass at the Tomb of Blessed John Paul II in St. Peter Basilica. That was followed by our meeting at the Congregation for Catholic Education. I was able to share with staff the work we are doing to support our Catholic schools, especially through the newly formed Nazareth Guild Fund. I noted that we will be having a major event to launch the Guild next September 15. Stay tuned for more information on this.
Following that visit we went to the Council for the New Evangelization, which is new effort to reinvigorate the faith. We learned about the plans for the coming year, which can only take shape after the Synod of Bishops this fall. It was interesting to hear that the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury will be addressing the bishops at the Synod. While there are significant doctrinal and disciplinary differences between the Anglican and the Catholic Church, the Holy Father invited Archbishop Rowan Williams recognizing that we also are united on a number of other important levels. I found this to be a helpful gauge as we invite people of differing views on our local level.
The rest of the day was free, except for a debriefing meeting that the bishops had to reflect on this week. We all agreed that our visit has been quite full but very informative and rewarding.
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