In Rome, Bishop O'Connell stands with, from left: Father Juan Daniel Peirano, former pastor of Nativity Parish, Fair Haven, who is currently pursuing canon law studies in Rome; Father Carlo Calisin, Bishop O’Connell’s episcopal master of ceremonies, and Msgr. Thomas Gervasio, diocesan vicar general. Staff photo
In Rome, Bishop O'Connell stands with, from left: Father Juan Daniel Peirano, former pastor of Nativity Parish, Fair Haven, who is currently pursuing canon law studies in Rome; Father Carlo Calisin, Bishop O’Connell’s episcopal master of ceremonies, and Msgr. Thomas Gervasio, diocesan vicar general. Staff photo

Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., is in Rome for the ad limina visit. Following is a reflection from mid-week into his trip:

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27

Our first meeting of the day was held at the offices of the Congregation for the Clergy. Located on the second floor of Vatican offices looking right off St. Peter’s Square, we had an amazing view of the papal audience taking place.  The prefect, Cardinal Benjamin Stella, and his staff could not have been more gracious, greeting us each personally as we arrived and departed.

Photo Gallery: Bishop's 2019 ad limina visit to Rome

Photo Gallery: To view Catholic News Service photos of Region III bishops' ad limina visit, click here.

The focus of our attention was working with and supporting our clergy (priests and deacons), especially in these times of crisis.  Much conversation was devoted to the most appropriate ways to adjudicate misconduct when it is discovered or alleged.  The Congregation’s insights and advice were quite instructive and helpful.

When this visit ended, we proceeded across the piazza to the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship, where we met with the prefect, Cardinal Robert Sarah and secretary Archbishop Arthur Roche, both English speakers.  Archbishop Roche led the discussion, beginning with some comments on the proper observation of liturgical law from Vatican II.  “Conciliar law,” he emphasized, “is the highest kind of law made by the Church.” 

There was some conversation regarding both ordinary and extraordinary (traditional Latin) forms of the Mass.  The prefect noted that Pope Benedict XVI authorized the wider celebration of the extraordinary form in response to true pastoral need, not mere preference of the priest.  Cardinal Sarah explained the authentic meaning of priest celebrants facing “ad orientem" (toward the east) as not simply a matter of posture but, rather, a focus on the cross on the altar and the Lord Jesus, and lifting the assembled congregation to the Lord who saves us all. 

Both the prefect and the archbishop were critical of secular interests creeping into the liturgy. The prefect also stressed the importance of silence and prayer before and after Mass. Noting recent American surveys revealing 69 percent of Catholics do not believe in the real presence, the archbishop shared the experience of some European Catholic dioceses where they availability of regular – not necessarily perpetual – Eucharistic adoration in parishes seems to be leading people back to Mass.  He also noted reports of significantly increased participation in confessions when they are offered additionally on Mondays rather than only on Saturdays.  He also said the practice by some dioceses of inviting priests as confessors from neighboring parishes has been positively received.

We disbursed for lunch and regrouped for a 4 p.m. Mass in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, where St. Paul is buried. Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia was the principal celebrant and homilist.  Following Mass, the “three Trenton amigos” enjoyed dinner at a local restaurant and then retired for the night after a long day!