Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 16, 2006
Archbishop Collins writes home from Rome
Collins says Western bishops have rare opportunity to compare notes
By ARCHBISHOP THOMAS COLLINS
"We get to see our Western Canadian issues and challenges within the perspective of the whole Church.
- Archbishop Thomas Collins
Each visit to a department lasts a little over an hour. One of the bishops is assigned to introduce the topic, and then the cardinal or archbishop from the Vatican department speaks about their concerns and issues, and then a general discussion follows.
At the end of the day, back at the residence, we celebrate Mass together, and pray Evening Prayer together, and then have a meeting to discuss the day's events amongst ourselves, and to prepare for the next day.
One of the benefits of the ad limina is that it provides a useful occasion for the bishops to meet together to discuss common issues. We do not get many chances to do that.
Each of us has also had a private meeting with Pope Benedict. I had briefly seen him in the past, but this was the first time I had the opportunity to actually meet alone with him.
We discussed the archdiocese, and the challenges and opportunities for evangelization in our modern world.
I experienced what every bishop commented on after the private meeting: the holy father was most gracious and loving, with a deep understanding of the situation of the local churches. He was above all encouraging.
Having the opportunity to be with our holy father was a real grace in my life as a bishop, and as a Christian.
We are richly blessed in our pope, and above all in the ministry of Peter which Pope Benedict makes present among us, to draw us closer to Our Lord, whose vicar on earth he is, and to make us ever more conscious of the universal call to discipleship.
We pray for the pope every day at Mass, and we should thank God every day for the precious gift of the office of Peter which he fulfils.
After all of us had met him privately, we went to meet him as a group. He spoke to us of the parable of the prodigal son, and of the importance of God's mercy in the life of each disciple.
The sacrament of Reconciliation is an important means of experiencing that: "A new-found appreciation of the sacrament will confirm that time spent in the confessional draws good from evil, restores life from death, and reveals anew the merciful face of the Father."
Pope Benedict also spoke of the mission of us all: "Notwithstanding the increasingly secular climate in which you serve, your reports contain much from which you can draw encouragement.
"In particular, I have been heartened to note the zeal and generosity of your priests, the selfless dedication of the religious present in your dioceses and the increasing readiness among the laity to embolden their witness to Christ's truth and love in their homes, schools, places of work and in the public sphere."
There are some more meetings with departments of the Holy See, and then we all head back to Canada for the annual meeting of the Canadian bishops.
I will be back in Edmonton at the end of the month. Keep me in your prayers, as I am praying for you each day during this pilgrimage to the threshold of the apostles.
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.