Poland’s Catholic bishops look ahead to fall meeting with Pope Francis

The 389th Plennary Session of the Polish Bishops’ Conference in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, southern Poland. The 389th Plennary Session of the Polish Bishops’ Conference in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, southern Poland./ episkopat.pl

Poland’s Catholic bishops said Saturday that their fall trip to the Vatican would be a chance to renew their bond with Pope Francis.

In a statement at the end of their plenary meeting June 12, the bishops looked ahead to their “ad limina” visit to Rome, scheduled for October.

“In addition to meetings in the different dicasteries and an audience with Holy Father Francis, the bishops will celebrate the Eucharist in the four Major Basilicas of Rome,” they said.

“The visit will be a time to renew ties with the Holy Father, pray together, exchange ideas, discern and define priorities for the life and mission of the Church in Poland for the coming years.”

According to Church law, diocesan bishops must report to the pope every five years on the state of their dioceses. They are expected in the same year to travel to Rome to venerate the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and meet with the pope.

The trips are known as “ad limina apostolorum” visits, from the Latin meaning “to the threshold of the apostles.”

In practice, the gap between visits is often longer than five years. The Polish bishops’ last “ad limina” visit was in 2014.

The bishops’ October meeting with the pope will come during a period of upheaval in the Polish Church.

In 2019, the Polish bishops’ conference issued a report which concluded that 382 clergy sexually abused a total of 624 victims between 1990 and 2018.

The Vatican has authorized a series of investigations of Polish bishops under the norms of the motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi, issued by Pope Francis in 2019.

The investigations have, in some cases, resulted in disciplinary measures against bishops accused of negligence in the handling of abuse cases.

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, the president of the Polish bishops’ conference, was also the subject of a Vos estis probe that recently concluded that the accusations of negligence against him were groundless.

/ episkopat.pl
/ episkopat.pl

At their plenary meeting in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, southern Poland, the bishops decided unanimously to abolish the dispensation from attending Mass on Sundays and holy days. The dispensations will be abolished as of June 20 of this year.

The bishops agreed that the dispensation, introduced at the start of the coronavirus crisis, would be lifted simultaneously in all dioceses on June 20.

They also reviewed preparations for the beatification of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, Poland’s “Primate of the Millennium,” who led the Church’s resistance to communism. He will be beatified alongside Mother Elżbieta Rosa Czacka, a nun who died in 1961 after a lifetime of service to blind people.

The bishops said: “The joint beatification, to be celebrated on Sept. 12 of this year, at noon, in the Temple of Divine Providence in Warsaw-Wilanow, will be presided over by the papal legate, Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.”

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“The ceremony will be dignified and modest, in keeping with the possibilities of a declining pandemic.”

On the first day of the meeting, the bishops traveled to the city of Kraków for a ceremony consecrating Poland to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The act of consecration took place at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 11, the feast of the Sacred Heart and the 100th anniversary of a previous national consecration.

“This unique event reminds us that the heart of the Church is God’s unlimited love for man,” the bishops said in their communique.

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