Bishop Bill will be among the Australian bishops meeting Pope Francis and representatives of the Holy See to report on the work of their dioceses and to discuss the Church more broadly.
The Ad Limina Apostolorum (To the threshold of the Apostles) pilgrimage normally takes place every five years but Australian bishops have not had the opportunity for eight years. This was due to the change of Pope in 2013 and to the cancellation of visits in the Year of Mercy.
Bishop Bill met Pope Benedict XVI at the last Ad Limina visit but as there has not been a visit since 2011, many Australian bishops have not met Pope Francis.
The bishops will meet with Pope Francis in groups to listen to the Pope’s reflections on the Church and to provide information and insights from their own dioceses. Bishop Bill said, unfortunately, there may not be the opportunity for a one-on-one conversation with the Pope.
In the lead up to the visit, the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle compiled and sent a lengthy report to the Vatican about the Diocese’s activities.
The Australian bishops’ visit will also include meetings with leaders of Vatican departments, which are usually updates on policies and procedures. The bishops will also attend a retreat in preparation for Plenary Council 2020.
The bishops will celebrate Mass in Rome’s four major Basilicas - the Archbasilica of St John Lateran, St Peter’s Basilica, Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls and the Basilica of St Mary Major.
Another highlight for Bishop Bill will be celebrating Mass, “especially at the tomb of St Peter in St Peter’s Basilica itself,” Bishop Bill said.