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Letter from Rome

Photo courtesy ACBC

Archbishop Barry Hickey and Bishop Donald Sproxton write from Rome:


At this mid-way point in the Ad Limina visit of the Australian Bishops to Rome, I am happy to say that the visit is going very well.

The “Indian Summer” Europe has been experiencing continues in Rome as each day is clear and full of warm sunshine and the nights are cool. Autumn is slow in coming.

So far we have fulfilled the main purpose of the Ad Limina visit which is to affirm our unity as a College of Bishops with the Bishop of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI. Some of the Bishops have met him personally. The WA Bishops are to see him later this week.

In the meantime we continue to visit the various offices of the Vatican called “Dicasteries”. These include the Congregations for the Clergy; Divine Worship; Education and Bishops, the Councils of Social Communication; Laity and Family. There are more to come.

At these meetings we discuss matters to do with the Australian Church, and seek assistance or clarification on some issues. As expected there have been intense discussions about the departure of the former Bishop of Toowoomba from his Diocese. This matter had already received some publicity in the Australian media.

We were honoured by a Reception from the current Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Mr Tim Fischer who welcomed us at an impressive ceremony in the rooms of the Vatican Museum. It was interesting to see the Vatican collection of Aboriginal artefacts mainly from the Kimberleys and Tiwi & Bathurst Islands that have been at the Vatican Museum since about 1926.

On Sunday 16th the Bishops celebrated Mass at the altar of the recently opened Domus Australia, or Australia House in Rome. It will be blessed and opened by Pope Benedict later this week. Australia House is already in use by pilgrims and others who wish to stay there. I am sure Domus Australia will be a most popular meeting place for Aussies travelling to Rome for years to come.

We have a number of seminarians and priests from Perth studying in Rome at the present time. Bishop Sproxton and I have already met most of them. The seminarians are Mark Baumgarten, Michael Cornell, Christian Irdi, Connor Steadman, Luke Makaritis and Patrick Toohey. The priests are Fr Manoel Lopes Borges, studying Canon Law and Fr John Piumatti, studying Spirituality.

Rome is a bustling place, religious and secular. It offers a living experience of many centuries of civilization and is a good teacher of history.
Christian Rome was founded on the blood of the early martyrs, including St Peter and St Paul.

These sacred traditions will be remembered when we meet the successor of St Peter, Pope Benedict XVI next week. We will affirm our personal loyalty to him and the loyalty and love of the people of the Perth Archdiocese and assure him of our prayers.