Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri (pictured), the secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, has announced that Pope Benedict XVI has completed his first cycle of ad limina visits by the world’s bishops. Although there is no set schedule by which bishops’ conferences come to Rome for the weeklong meetings with Pope and Curia, this year’s planned meetings with the Italian episcopate do mean a return to the start: the Italians were among the first to meet with Pope Benedict in 2006.
But this does leave us with one questions: what about the Dutch? Despite Archbishop Baldisseri’s announcement, the Dutch bishops have in fact not made their ad limina under the current papacy. Their last was in 2004, when Blessed John Paul II was still Pope.
Catholic News Service, who published the news today, have stated they have not yet been able to contact anyone at the Vatican about this, but will amend their report if and when they do.
In April of last year, I wrote about Bishop Jos Punt’s speculation that he and the other Dutch bishops would be travelling to Rome sometime in 2013. Perhaps the Holy See will be able to squeeze them in among the Italians, but Archbishop Baldisseri has said that the Italian ad limina, coupled with Year of Faith activities and the agendas of local bishops preclude any other ad limina visits this year. If true, and the Dutch bishops will have to wait until 2014, there will be an enormous ten-year gap between visits.
Edit: Following this blog’s noticing that the Dutch bishops were seemingly overlooked for an ad limina visit, Archbishop Baldisseri, after an enquery by the Catholic News Service, explained that his Congregation had been informed by the Prefecture of the Papal Household that the cycle of ad limina visits was complete. “But now it seems that with the Netherlands, something happened,” he said. A visit still seems to be scheduled for either later this year or early in 2014.