Such visits are equally provided for by canon law. Spiritually and religiously, they are considered pilgrimages. Austria’s episcopate was last closed in Rome in 2014. According to the participants, the highlight will be a conversation with Pope Francis, which is to take place on December 16th. However, questions such as bishop appointments should not be an issue.
Worship services in prominent churches
All nine diocesan bishops, the military bishop, the four auxiliary bishops, the abbot of Wettingen- Mehrerau and the general secretary of the bishops’ conference belong to the Austrian bishops’ delegation under the conference chairman and the Salzburg archbishop Franz Lackner.
The visit begins next Monday with a mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. The official end is a joint service by the bishops on Friday afternoon, December 16, in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
Delegation stays in papal hostel
A fixed point with a pastoral accent is the Eucharistic celebration of the bishops on Thursday, December 15, in the Austro-German national church of Santa Maria dell’Anima not far from Piazza Navona. The bishops will visit the Embassy of the Republic of Austria to the Holy See on Wednesday evening. They are accommodated for the duration of the Rome trip in the Casa Santa Marta, in the guest house on Vatican soil where Pope Francis also lives.
A fixed point of such visits are talks between the bishops and the pope’s dedicated staff in order to give an overview of the situation in their church territory and to obtain expertise at the level of the world church.
The major authorities of the Roman Curia, i.e. the departments for evangelization, doctrine, bishops, clergy, religious communities, worship and the Secretariat of State, are visited by all bishops, as are the departments for lay people, education, communication and the Vatican authority for integral human development . The dense program of the episcopate in Rome envisages that the other dicasteries of the Curia will also be visited by episcopal delegations.
Spiritually, the journey is a pilgrimage
All members of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference also want to visit the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, which is responsible for the worldwide synodal process. This was opened in October 2021 and has since gone through the diocesan and Austria-wide phase. As a special pilgrimage, an ad limina visit is intended to express the living connection between a particular Church and the universal Church and its origins in the apostles’ testimony of faith.