NEW YORK (NY)
Oct. 29, 2019
By Massimo Faggioli
The bond between Rome and local churches around the world has always been crucial to the Catholic Church’s understanding of itself as universal. From the time of the Council of Trent especially, the ad limina apostolorum—the periodic visit of world bishops “at the thresholds of the Apostles” in Rome—has been one of the ways the church works to ensure the strength of this bond. In a few days, the ad limina visit of the U.S. bishops will begin, and by the time it wraps up in February, we might have a fresh sense of just what the bond between the Holy See and the American episcopate is made of.
After all, it’s not as if there isn’t controversy attending the bishops’ visit. In the course of Francis’s papacy, the dynamic between the U.S. church and Rome has grown increasingly fraught. The case of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the subsequent “manifestos” of former nuncio Carlo Maria Viganò brought relations between American bishops and the papacy to a new low. That two dozen bishops came out in support of Viganò, without bothering to defend the pope against his unsubstantiated claims, will long remain a stain on the U.S. church. And given that a significant number of American bishops continue to ignore or actively reject key aspects of Francis’s pastoral priorities—from “Who am I to judge?” to Amoris laetitia to Laudato si’—it’s hard to know whether a meaningful rapprochement will be achieved anytime soon.
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