SOUTH AFRICA: Bishops to Have “Ad limina Visit” To Vatican This Year

By Paschal Norbert

PRETORIA, FEBRUARY 3, 2023 (CISA)– The Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) has announced they will have their ad limina visit to the Holy See and an audience with Pope Francis this year after two years of postponement due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement dated January 24, 2023, and signed by SACBC President, Rt Rev Sithembele Sipuka, the bishops said the meeting “will provide us with the opportunity to share with the Holy Father the joys and challenges of our ministry in the Conference area.”

The announcement, which came after their plenary session that coincided with the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of SACBC and the centenary anniversary of Papal representation in Southern Africa, detailed the areas of focus that the bishops will discuss with the pope.

“The topics of our sharing will include the process of the Synod on Synodality, the issues we are dealing with through our programmes and departments, and the social and political challenges facing us in our area,” they said in the communique.

According to the Congregation for Bishops Directory for the “ad limina” visit, the ad limina is an obligatory visit made by all active bishops to Rome during which they pray at the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul. In addition, they meet with the pope and discuss issues concerning their dioceses.

“The visit “ad limina Apostolorum” by all the bishops who, in communion with the Apostolic See, preside in charity and in service over particular Churches in every part of the world, has a very definite purpose: that is, the strengthening of their own responsibility as successors of the Apostles and of their hierarchical communion with the Successor of Peter. The point of reference is a visit to the tombs of St. Peter and Paul, pastors and pillars of the Roman Church,” it reads.

During the visit, the bishops will also have masses at the four major basilicas of Rome: St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major. They also meet with officials from various departments and offices in the Vatican.

Moreover, in the communique, the bishops in solidarity with Rt Rev José Luis Ponce de León, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Manzini, eSwatini, condemned the murder of activist and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, eulogizing him as “a protagonist of dialogue in the efforts to bring about political stability in that country.”

The prelates appealed to “those who make a choice of violence,” to choose the way of peace instead.