December 13, 2019
Reception in Honor of Region VI and VII U.S. Bishops during their Ad Limina Pilgrimage.
Your Eminences, your Excellencies, distinguished guests, and friends – welcome to Villa Richardson!
Tonight we’re gathered to honor our U.S. Bishops from regions six and seven during their ad limina visit “to the threshold of Peter and Paul.”
The tradition of bishops meeting with the Pope traces back to St. Paul ‘s visit to Jerusalem for consultations with St. Peter.
In 743, Pope Zachary was credited with making this tradition a common practice. And in 1585, Pope Sixtus V formally established what we know today as “ad limina apostolorum.”
For centuries these pilgrimages have served a two-fold purpose for Catholic bishops: to venerate the tombs of Saint Peter and Saint Paul; and to meet with the Holy Father. On a practical level, bishops are able to meet with Pope Francis and other Vatican officials, and share the opportunities and challenges they face in their dioceses.
And while these consultations are often pastoral in nature, other topics may also be discussed, all relevant to strengthening the mission of the Catholic Church.
For example, Auxiliary Bishop Reed of Boston said that their discussion with Pope Francis included a conversation about “the role of women in the Church,” and how they can have “a real seat at the table” for decision making.
Over the last several weeks, other topics of discussion have included poverty, immigration, and the environment, just to name a few.
I’m hopeful that your visit with Pope Francis included productive discussions on these and other important areas of Church governance. And, on a personal level, I hope you will all return to your dioceses inspired by your pilgrimage.
And so, on behalf of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, please join me in a toast to the conclusion of a successful ad limina visit.
Thank you and God bless.
Callista L. Gingrich
U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See