Amid the specter of a fresh round of sex-abuse crises and a roiled summer for the American Catholic leadership, the US church is indeed set to come under the Vatican's microscope – but not due to the recent scandals.
One of the last major benches to make its ad limina visit to Benedict XVI, the USCCB will have its first Roman "exam" under Francis beginning in November 2019 – eight years to the month since the last "quinquennial" got underway.
Summons - June - Letter - Nuncio - Washington
The summons was delivered in a late June letter from the Nuncio to Washington, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, which was circulated to the bench in mid-July. Whispers has obtained the documents, which included a schedule that sees the bishops of Region I (New England) being received by the Pope on 7 November 2019. As has become standard, the conference's 15 regions – 14 geographic clusters of neighboring states, and one comprising the nation's Eastern-church hierarchs – will be making their visits in numerical order.
A duty required of every bishop, the ad limina has three major facets: the prelates' prayer at the tombs of Peter and Paul (usually in the form of a Mass at each), a meeting with the pontiff, and morning or afternoon-long sessions with all of the congregations, tribunals and councils of the Roman Curia, one by one.
Cycles - Elements - John - Paul - Minutes
Over recent cycles, the latter two elements have changed considerably – where John Paul would meet individually for 15 minutes with each diocesan bishop (and his auxiliaries) and give a speech to every group, toward the end of Benedict's reign, Papa Ratzinger began receiving the prelates in groups for an extended dialogue, and on the last US visit, the number of addresses was cut back to five: respectively, the speeches covered the topics of the new evangelization, religious freedom, sexuality and family life, education,...
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