New Zealand’s Catholic bishops have arrived in Rome for their ad limina visit, which begins Monday 12 December. They will be joined by Archbishop Charles Balvo, Apostolic Nuncio to New Zealand. The last ad limina visit for New Zealand bishops was in 2004.
Archbishop John Dew, Wellington; Bishop Patrick Dunn, Auckland; Bishop Denis Browne, Hamilton; Bishops Peter Cullinane and Charles Drennan, Palmerston North; Bishop Barry Jones, Christchurch, and Bishop Colin Campbell, Dunedin, will meet with Pope Benedict XVI and different parts of the Roman Curia. Prior to the ad limina visit, each bishop submitted a report on their diocese for the Holy Father.
In an interview with Vatican Radio, President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop John Dew, spoke of the challenges and focus areas for the Church in New Zealand.
“Our main challenge, I suppose is how to be present in an increasingly secular society. We are often described as a very secular country, and this is a problem that we are trying to deal with by being a stronger presence in society. For example, we have a National Centre for Bioethics committed on different moral issues. Then, we have recently created a national formation institute to coordinate our teaching staff, but also to make sure that the Churches’ voice is heard on moral issues and public policies and to be present in places where decisions are made. Then there is the challenge of acceptance and integration of immigrants in our parishes through inculturation”.
Archbishop Dew also spoke of the “energy and enthusiasm” of young Catholics and of the effects of World Youth Days.
“I think that Sydney was an amazing experience for us from New Zealand. 4,000 pilgrims travelled to Australia from here, now that is a really significant number for a small country like ours... Our dioceses also hosted three thousand young foreigners during the days in the diocese, the experience that had a huge impact on the lives of our communities and our youth. I am convinced that today's kids are much more involved in Church life because of this”.
The bishops will celebrate Mass with the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific (CEPAC) at the altar of the tomb of Saint Peter in the Vatican Grottos on Monday 12 December. They will also meet with the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and three of the bishops will meet with the Pontifical Council for Culture.
On Tuesday 13 December the bishops will meet with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, during which they will discuss the Cause for the Beatification of Suzanne Aubert.
Wednesday 14 December will see the bishops meet with the Congregation for Clergy, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and the Secretariat of State. The Secretariat of State is divided into two sections, the Section for General Affairs and the Section for Relations with States. The current Substitute for General Affairs is Archbishop Giovanni Becciu who served in the Apostolic Nunciature in Wellington during the 1990s.
The first meeting for Thursday 15 December is with the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. Following this some of the bishops will meet with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity while the others meet with the Pontifical Council for the Family. In the evening the bishops will celebrate Mass again with CEPAC at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls.
On Friday 16 December groups of the bishops will meet with three Pontifical Councils – the Pontifical Councils for Legislative Texts, Social Communications, and Cor Unum. Some of the bishops will meet with the Congregation for Catholic Education on Saturday 17 December.
The visit will conclude on Saturday 17 December with a lunch at the Society of Mary Generalate. Here the bishops will meet with New Zealand priests, religious and lay people who are studying or working in Rome.