Irish bishops’ Ad Limina visit to Pope Francis and to the Holy See

16 Jan 2017

From Sunday 15 January, for ten days, members of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference will undertake their Ad Limina Apostolorum visit to Rome  – or “to the threshold of the Apostles” – a reference to the pilgrimage to the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul that all bishops are required to make.  The Ad Limina normally occurs every five years and its purpose is to strengthen the bishops’ communion with the universal Church and with the successor of Saint Peter, Pope Francis.

The bishops’ visit which combines prayer including at the tombs of the apostles, a series of meetings with the staff of the various diacasteries (departments) of the Roman Curia in the Holy See to share their pastoral experience, and a meeting with the Holy Father.

There are 26 dioceses on the island of Ireland and all serving bishops – or a diocesan administrator if the diocese is currently not being led by a bishop – will be taking part in this pilgrimage.

During the visit the bishops will meet with the relevant staff of the various dicasteries of the Curia.  The dicasteries have special significance and importance because of the close connection that exists between them and the Pope in his mission of leadership in the universal Church.  Bishops will discuss the situation of the Church in Ireland at this time, make known pastoral initiatives, to discuss specific issues of concern, ask questions, seek information, and furnish clarifications.  A list of the dicastaries which the bishops intend to visit is available below.

Prior to the Ad Limina visit, each diocesan bishop submits a report on his diocese to the Holy See.  The report from each diocese describes the actual situation of the Church in that diocese (overview of the present situation, facts and figures) for which the diocesan bishop is responsible, its challenges, its relations with non-Catholic and non-Christian religious communities, with civil society and with the public authorities.  It is forwarded to the Holy See in advance in order that it can be studied, synthesised and a summary presented to the Pope.  This allows the Holy Father to acquaint himself with the situation of each diocese prior to meeting with the bishops.

On Friday 20 January the bishops will collectively have an audience with Pope Francis.  The President of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Eamon Martin, will make a reply on behalf of the bishops.

As part of their Ad Limina visit bishops will concelebrate Mass in the Pontifical Irish College as well as at the four main papal basilicas in Rome, as detailed below:

  • Mass at the tomb of Saint Peter will be celebrated on Monday 16 January at 7.30am.  Principal Celebrant, Archbishop Eamon Martin.
  • Mass in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran will be celebrated on Wednesday 18 January at 4.00pm.  Principal Celebrant, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
  • Mass at the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls will be celebrated on Friday 20 January at 4.30pm.  Principal Celebrant, Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly SMA.
  • Mass in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major will be celebrated on Saturday 21 January at 4.30pm.  Principal Celebrant, Archbishop Michael Neary.

The list of bishops and diocesan administrators attending the 2017 Ad Limina visit is as follows:

Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh, President of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, Vice President of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference
Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly SMA, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly
Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam
Bishop Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath
Bishop John Buckley, Bishop of Cork and Ross
Bishop John Kirby, Bishop of Clonfert
Bishop Éamonn Walsh, Auxiliary Bishop in Dublin
Bishop Leo O’Reilly, Bishop of Kilmore
Bishop Philip Boyce OCD, Bishop of Raphoe
Bishop Raymond Field, Auxiliary Bishop in Dublin
Bishop John McAreavey, Bishop of Dromore
Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry
Bishop John Fleming, Bishop of Killala
Bishop Denis Brennan, Bishop of Ferns
Bishop Brendan Kelly, Bishop of Achonry
Bishop Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor
Bishop Liam S. MacDaid, Bishop Emeritus of Clogher
Bishop William Crean, Bishop of Cloyne
Bishop Brendan Leahy, Bishop of Limerick
Bishop Raymond Browne, Bishop of Kerry
Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin
Bishop Francis Duffy, Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois
Bishop Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin
Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore
Bishop Fintan Monahan, Bishop of Killaloe
Monsignor Michael Ryan, Diocesan Administrator of Ossory
Canon Michael McLaughlin, Diocesan Administrator of Galway
Monsignor Joseph McGuinness, Diocesan Administrator of Clogher

For an explanation of the role of dicasteries of the Holy See to be visited by Irish bishops please click here.