The Bishops of Malta and Gozo left Malta on Sunday for a five-day visit to the Vatican, during which they will provide updates on the status of their respective dioceses.

The bishops will have an audience with the Pope on Friday morning. 

The Archdiocese of Malta and the Diocese of Gozo compiled two reports which will be presented to the Pope and various dicasteries of the Roman Curia.

Among others, the reports provide explanations of the liturgical and sacramental life of the local Church, Catholic Education, evangelisation, communication, the financial situation of the dioceses, diaconia and the efforts to promote social justice, and the social teaching of the Church.

This marks the first ad limina visit for Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Galea-Curmi and Bishop Anton Teuma.

The last ad limina visit by the Bishops of Malta and Gozo took place in May 2012.

Apart from meetings with the Roman Curia, the Bishops will discuss and reflect on theological, pastoral and administrative themes to support their service within their respective dioceses.

They will also share moments of prayer by celebrating Mass in the major churches of Rome, including St Peter’s Basilica, St Paul Outside the Walls, St John Lateran and St Mary Major.

What is an ad limina visit?

Ad limina Apostolorum derives from Latin and means ‘to the threshold of the Apostles’.

This visit cannot be understood simply as an administrative procedure but as a pilgrimage undertaken by the bishops of each diocese to the tombs of St Peter and St Paul in Rome.

It offers an opportunity for the Pope to discuss with bishops issues affecting their diocese.

An ad limina visit is different from other visits a bishop might make to the Vatican, such as attending a synod.

Until a few years ago it was obligatory for an ad limina visit to take place every five years.

However, due to the continuous increase in the number of dioceses and bishops worldwide, this visit is now held at longer intervals.

As successors of the apostles, through the ad limina visit, the bishops reaffirm their communion with the Universal Church and the successor of Peter, the Pope.

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