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CURRENT ISSUE:  April 9, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA
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Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone will leave next week for The Vatican on his first "ad limina" visit as bishop of the Diocese of Oakland.

What is an ad limina visit?

Formally known as the "quinquennial visit ad limina apostolorum," it refers to the obligation of diocesan bishops to visit every five years with the pope to report on the state of their dioceses. During the visit, each bishop also venerates the thresholds of the tombs of the Apostles, Sts. Peter and Paul.

As outlined in nos. 399-400 of Canon Law, the Quinquennial Report serves as a means of promoting the relationship of communion between particular churches and the Roman pontiff. The preparation of the report is considered a time for reflection on the current state of the diocese and pastoral planning for the future.

The report is sent to the Holy Father months in advance of the visit to prepare for his pastoral meetings with the bishops. A copy of the report is also dissected and sent to the various dicasteries, or departments, of the Roman Curia.

One of the first documented ad limina visits goes back to St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians (1:18): "then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas (Peter), and stayed with him 15 days." There are 195 dioceses in the United States, divided into 14 regions.

The Western Region, XI, consists of all the dioceses in California, Nevada and Hawaii. St. Louis Review
He will be meeting at The Vatican along with bishops from Region XI, an administrative area consisting of the 15 dioceses in the states of California, Nevada and Hawaii. The visit is part of an every five-year (this time seven years) required visit with the Holy Father to present a "state of the diocese" report.

The purpose is three-fold, Bishop Cordileone explained: "Ad limina" means "to the thresholds," of the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul. The visiting bishops will say Mass where the saints are buried. The second reason is to meet with the pope and the third to present the report, called the "Quinquennial" (every five years) Report. The overriding reason is to "foster a spirit of communion with the bishops who have gone before us and with those today," the bishop said.

Traveling with Bishop Cordileone from the Oakland diocese will be Very Rev. George Mockel, the vicar general. As an auxiliary bishop, Bishop Cordileone made an earlier ad limina trip with Bishop Robert Brom of the Diocese of San Diego.

Unlike Pope John Paul II, who met with bishops individually, Bishop Cordileone said Pope Benedict XVI meets the bishops and receives their presentations in a group.

"This is the ongoing, comprehensive story of the activities of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Oakland," explained Sister Glenn Anne McPhee, OP, diocesan chancellor who was responsible for assembling the report. Because it had been seven years since the US bishops had last made ad limina visits, there was more to report, she said.

"In that seven-year period we built a cathedral, had two bishops — we had some real major things that needed a great deal of elaboration," Sister Glenn Anne said. "Our history is richer this time around."

The report itself consists of a 133-page main section that answers specific Vatican questions on 22 topics, such as clergy services, pastoral planning and finance — even the general state of the economy — along with two larger supporting volumes. "It's like a corporate annual report," she said.

The ad limina visit is from April 13-21. While there, Bishop Cordileone and Father Mockel will meet with various Vatican departments concerning the Quinquennial Report.

Afterward, Bishop Cordileone will attend meetings at the International Theological Institute, a Catholic theological school in Vienna of which he is a board member. He's also a member of a subcommittee on liturgy for the new Anglican ordinariate, and he will attend meetings with that group. Afterward, he will travel to Lourdes, the Marian shrine in France, where he will join with East Bay members of the Knights of Malta, who will be there on their annual pilgrimage. The bishop accompanied the group on its Lourdes pilgrimage last year.

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