Appeared in Spring/Summer 1995, Vol. XXI, Nos. 1, 2

At five-year intervals, the pope has the chance to direct his exclusive attention to the Bishops and faithful of every nation. following an ancient custom, Bishops regularly go to Rome “to see Peter” (cf. Gal. 1:18), pray at the tombs of the apostles and submit an account of their stewardship, through the Roman Curia, to the successor of Peter.

Between March 20 and december 4, 1993, the Bishops of the united states, in eleven different regional groups, traveled to Rome for their visit ad limina apostolorum – to the “threshold” or tombs of Sts. Peter and Paul. Besides meeting with every diocesan Bishop personally, as well as celebrating the eucharist and sharing a meal with all the Bishops from a region, the Holy Father gives them a group talk. Whereas his encyclicals, apostolic exhortations, letters and Wednesday catecheses are for the universal Church, the ad limina addresses are aimed precisely at the united states. The discourses of 1993 provide a valuable insight into what Pope John Paul II thinks about the strengths and weaknesses of the Church in America.

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