07 August 2009

Ad Limina Visit From England And Wales

Fr Ray Blake has scooped the world by announcing that the somewhat overdue Ad Limina visit by the Bishops of England and Wales is now scheduled for January.

What I know of the mechanics of these visits is a bit limited: I know that the Bishops' Conference has to send in a report; I know that each Bishop has a private one-to-one with the Pope; I know that a final statement which can include what in secular terms might be called an "Action Plan" is published by the Vatican at the end of the visit.

What I don't know is how the Vatican carries out its own preparation for the visit: presumably the Nuncio has a significant input, but who else has? Can anybody write in? To whom? And if the answer is "yes", will anybody at the Vatican end actually bother to read what is sent?

My experience suggests that October and November will be when the preparatory work for a January visit will be carried out, leaving December for the Holy Father and his advisors to take their position and raise any last minute queries.

That gives us seven or eight weeks.

Great as is my admiration for Archbishop Nichols, I can't believe that he is yet in a position to achieve authoritative editorial control over what the staff at the Bishops' Conference will produce: it will be full of self-congratulatory guff about this or that pastoral initiative, and will give an impression of a Church in E&W in which clergy and laity (I nearly wrote workers by hand or brain) are well on the way to achieving the Kingdom through support to the third world and a drive for carbon neutrality or even negativity.

If anybody knows how we can counter this, will they please speak up.

1 comment:

Flabellum said...

Follow Fr Z's rules for writing to the Vatican. Be polite, be moderate in language, give evidence. He says:-

•BE BRIEF. Make your letter no longer than one side of one sheet of paper.

•Avoid writing long-hand. Make it easy to read.

•Include relevant documents: Vatican dicasteries can’t act solely on the basis of Mrs. Joe Bagofdonuts’s description of events. The best thing you can do is send concrete evidence, printed [if possible]. If someone wrote and distributed something, send a copy.

•If you have relevent past correspondence, such as previous responses from priests or bishops, send copies.

•Do not tell them their job! Don’t quote canons, blah blah, as if they didn’t know them already. Leave the incredibly obvious unsaid.

•Do not engage in character assassination. State FACTS with as little editorializing as possible. Blathering on and on about how "disobedient" priests or bishops are will not strengthen your case. State facts. They will know if they are disobedient.

•If you must talk about your feelings, keep it incredibly short, and do not be mean-spirited. If something made you sad or angry, okay, say it, but don’t DWELL on it. The nastier you are, the weaker your letter will be.

•At the end thank the one you are writing to for his service, and promise your prayers. And mean it.

In summary, be brief, send evidence, leave out the obvious, don’t vent.

Remember: if you tell a story, it is hearsay. It really helps to have proofs. If something happens to you personally, it would help your cause if other people also wrote letters in which they describe what they saw and heard. These would then be included with your own letter.

Vatican offices generally can’t do much more than make a simple inquiry unless they are presented with some sort of evidence.