The German bishops have announced the dates for their Ad Limina visit to Rome, later this month. The five-day pilgrimage to the graves of Saints Peter and Paul, as well as meetings with the Curia and several audiences with the Pope, will take place from 16 to 20 November. The last time the German Bishops’ Conference made an Ad Limina visit was in 2006, almost a decade ago, almost double the time that should theoretically separate visits.
With 67 members, the Conference is so large that there will be three audiences with Pope Francis, with a final joint meeting on the 20th.
There are four Masses planned, one in each of the Papal Basilicas:
- Tuesday 17 November, 4pm, in Saint John Lateran
- Wednesday 18 November, 4pm, in Saint Paul-Outside-the-Walls
- Thursday 19 November, 7:30am, in Saint Mary Major.
The Mass at the tomb of St. Peter, presumably on the 20th. is not open to the faithful because of limited space. The other Masses are open for attendance.
A press conference will be held on the final day, with Cardinal Reinhard Marx as president of the conference, in the Collegio Teutonico.
While the meetings with the Curia and the audiences with the Pope are private, the texts of the Pope’s addresses will undoubtedly be made public (whether he actually gives them or not – with the Dutch bishops in 2013 he did not give his planned address, after all). Pope Francis will find the German bishops firmly on his side in the refugee crisis, and he is not unfamiliar with some of the bishops – first of all Cardinal Marx, who is a member of the Council of Cardinals advising him about the reforms in the Curia – or their schools of thought. But as the German dioceses are among the world’s richest (and among the greatest financial donors as well), and the German state’s church tax causes unique and sometimes troublesome situations, Pope Francis may also have a thing or two to about income and expenses.