Vatican City, Jan 25, 2010 / 11:53 am
Nine bishops from England and Wales met with the Holy Father on Monday morning. The “ad limina” visit between the English and Welsh Catholic Bishops and Pope Benedict XVI is the first one since he took office.
Archbishop Vincent Gerard Nichols of Westminster led eight other bishops from England and Wales to the Apostolic Palace for their encounter with the Holy Father. The bishop-delegates will continue to meet with Vatican congregations and councils until Feb. 4 as part of the periodic visit. Each of the individuals will have the opportunity for a private audience with the Pope over this period.
An "ad limina" visit, which means “to the threshold” of the Apostles Peter and Paul, is not only a pilgrimage to the apostle's tombs but is also time when each bishop gives the Pope an account of his diocese. The visit also indicates the acceptance of St. Peter's Successor—the Pope—as the universal pastor of the Catholic Church.
Normally, the delegates of a bishops' conference pay a visit to the Pope every five years, but in the case of England and Wales more than six years have passed since their last encounter.