Friday 28 June 2019
Just as our week began on Monday with Mass at one of the major Basilicas in Rome, St Peter’s so our week on Friday evening concluded with Mass at the Cathedral Church of Rome, where the successor to St Peter, the Bishop of Rome has his Cathedra (his seat). The two celebrations provided the most remarkable ‘book-ends’ to our week here in Rome.
Normally, Ad Liminas are conducted over two weeks; ours has been held over the course of one ahead of 29 June, the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul, after which Rome ‘closes’ for the summer break. This has meant that all our days have been quite intense with a succession of meetings. The last two days have been no exception.
On Thursday 27 June, following Mass at Domus Australia I had a personal meeting with representatives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith over a matter of business, before then joining some of the Bishops with Cardinal Sandri and the Congregation for Oriental Churches. It was good to hear the Eastern-Rite Bishops of Australia share their concerns and questions. Later in the afternoon, another group of us joined Archbishop Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to hear of the Vatican’s initiatives in this area. In between I managed to do just a little shopping during the first two spare hours that I have found through the week, though I must admit this was more of an attempt to find some air-conditioning to relieve the heat and humidity Rome has been suffering!
Throughout this week we have been greatly supported by the members of a new ecclesial entity, L’Opera della Chiesa (The Work of the Church) founded some 60 years ago in Spain, and which now has several communities in Rome. It is this community that has ministered to us in transport to all of our various meetings and liturgies. On Thursday evening a group of us were privileged to join the community in the suburbs of Rome to learn more about their Institute and to enjoy their hospitality. They have an interesting charism of ‘ecclesiality’ at the service of Bishops and the Church. Back at Domus Australia, it was lovely to catch up with Jodie Crisafulli, our Diocesan Director for Safeguarding, who has come to Rome for a conference beginning early next week, and our dear friends, Annie and James Carrett who are also ‘in town’ with Archbishop Comensoli.
Despite the intense, record-breaking heat being suffered in Rome we maintained our pace on the last day: an early personal meeting with representatives from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life followed by a group meeting with Cardinal De Aviz and Archbishop Carballo; a large group meeting with Cardinal Versaldi and Archbishop Zani and the Congregation for Catholic Education; a whole of group meeting with Archbishop Paul Gallagher of the Secretariat for State in the Apostolic Palace; a concluding Reception with H.E Melissa Hitchman, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, at the Embassy, situated quite near the Vatican. The night has concluded with a dinner to toast Archbishop Comensoli who has been joined by his family from Wollongong and who tomorrow will be given the Pallium (a liturgical garment) signifying his status as Metropolitan Archbishop of Melbourne.
It has been the most remarkable week of encounters which have generated a great deal of thought for me and various ideas. Each meeting has left me with several new ideas or perspectives. Given the fullness of each day, and the tiresome heat, it will take me some time to digest it all. However, with the Lord’s grace, I pray that the many insights will help continue to form me in my ministry and service for the benefit of our Diocese which I have held very close to my heart through the entire adventure.
Very Rev Dr David Ranson