Southern bishops pray for courage, love at start of 'ad limina' visits
VATICAN CITY — The bishops of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina began their "ad limina" visits at the tomb of St. Peter, praying for the courage and love they would need to bring others to faith.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta was the main celebrant and homilist at the bishops' morning Mass May 7 in St. Peter's Basilica.
"As we go about our ministries as bishops, we have to remember that what we do is to glorify the Lord in our service of the people that we are privileged to care for, the people who come to us looking for guidance and direction and hope," the archbishop said.
Pictured: Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte, N.C., center, concelebrates Mass with bishops from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina at the Altar of the Tomb in the crypt of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican May 7. The bishops were making their " ad limina" visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
While Christian charity demands efforts to meet the material and physical needs of the poor and suffering, Christians must offer more in response to requests for help, he said.
Christians, especially bishops, are called to "provide faith and hope and encouragement, joy and possibility," he said.
Archbishop Gregory told his fellow bishops, "As we gather this morning around the tomb of Peter, we ask the Lord to give us a share of his courage, a share of his witness and a share of his capacity to love.
"Let this week and all that we do strengthen our own faith and deepen our love for the Lord Jesus," he said.
Visiting Rome May 5-11, the bishops were making their visits "ad limina apostolorum," which means "to the thresholds of the apostles" Peter and Paul. The heads of dioceses are required to make the visits periodically to celebrate Mass at the tombs of the apostles martyred in Rome, meet with Pope Benedict XVI to report on the status of their dioceses, and hold discussions with Vatican officials on issues of common concern.
— Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service