He made a visit in the early hours of the trip to Saint Peter’s Square in front of the basilica and the Vatican’s Christmas tree.
The bishops of every diocese in the United States have prepared detailed reports on the life of the Catholic Church in their dioceses and have made or are making visits to Rome.
Bishop Malooly arrived in Rome Sunday morning in advance of a series of meetings this week with different Vatican offices as part of his “ad limina” visit.
On Monday, he begins with a two-and-a half hour long meeting with Pope Francis and the bishops of Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington DC, St. Thomas (Virgin Islands), and the military services.
The U.S. bishops’ visits “ad limina apostolorum” — to the threshold of the apostles — began Nov. 4 with a group from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.
Throughout November, December, January and February, another 14 groups of U.S. bishops travel to Rome; the visits should conclude Feb. 22 with the bishops of the Eastern Catholic churches in the United States.
The preparation of the reports and the scheduling of hourlong meetings at various offices of the Roman Curia can give the visits an appearance of being a business meeting.
But, as the “Directory for the ‘Ad Limina’ Visit” makes clear, the bishops’ visits are a pilgrimage with “a very definite purpose: that is, the strengthening of their own responsibility as successors of the Apostles and of their hierarchical communion with the Successor of Peter. The point of reference is a visit to the tombs of Sts. Peter and Paul, pastors and pillars of the Roman church.”
And, in fact, at the heart of the bishops’ pilgrimage are Masses at the Rome basilicas of St. Peter, St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major.