Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto reports from Rome

During his ad limina visit to meet with the Holy Father and other Vatican prelates over the last week along with the rest of California’s bishops, Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto has been sending regular dispatches home, which are being published on the diocesan website. Below are excerpts from Bishop Soto’s dispatch of April 20.

During the course of the week, the bishops of Region XI have crisscrossed Vatican City and surrounding neighborhoods as we visited various Tribunals, Congregations and Pontifical Councils. This included visits with the Apostolic Signatura, the Congregations of Divine Worship, the Doctrine of the Faith, bishops and clergy, and Institutes for Consecrated Life. In each case, we spoke with the prefect of the office or their designated representative…

Generally there was a brief presentation by one of the bishops from Region XI of the common concerns related to the work of the particular Congregation or Council. The Prefect or President would address the group either with his own concerns as they related to our region or he would address directly the matters we had raised. In most cases, an opportunity for informal dialogue followed. In those cases when ample time was given, these dialogues proved most informative and affirming.

A range of practical, pastoral, as well as theological themes emerged. To name a few:

— How can we better assist immigrants whose marriage annulment cases must be heard in countries where the Church’s Tribunals are not functioning properly?

— How can Canonical Tribunals better cooperate in a time of limited resources?

— While the debates in the United States over changing definitions of marriage are ongoing, Europe has acquiesced with little public discourse to a growing relativistic notion of marriage. How the Church in the United States responds will be important to rest of the Church.

— The necessity of ensuring the trust of the faithful in the Church’s ministry when the conduct of priests is in question.

— The Church is most persuasive in society when it actively participates in society. The recent federal re-definition of religious organizations threatens not only the good work being done but our ability for effective evangelical persuasion. Will this re-definition affect the Church’s work with immigrants?

— The Congregation of the Clergy expressed an interest not only in priests but deacons as well. Noting the growing number of deacons in the United States, there was gratitude for the leadership the bishops in America have provided to the rest of the Church in this area.

— The United States wishes to develop its own missal in Spanish. We encouraged the Congregation of Divine Worship to assist us in this regard. The Congregation, in turn, recognized that the United States was now the second largest Spanish-speaking nation and assured us of their support.

— The New Evangelization is for believers who lack fervor of faith as well as the desire to belong to a community of faith. Catholic women and men may be faithful but do not see themselves as faithful witnesses.

These are just some of the topics that I could succinctly summarize. The range of conversation was much broader and there is no room for much of it here…

The Prefect of Divine Worship is presently Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, a Spaniard. The conversation with him took an entertaining twist. The session began with him speaking to us in Italian. One of his staff would attempt to translate in English. We would answer in English. There was then a translation back into Italian. Finally, Cardinal Roger Mahony politely suggested we conduct the meeting in Spanish since most of the bishops in the region could speak it.

Well, after that wise suggestion, the meeting became much more engaging and personal. Humor is conditioned by language. For example, it is easier to tell a joke in a language you know well. That so many of the bishops from the region spoke Spanish brought some cheerful humor to the serious subject of worship — not a bad thing.

Though engaging, the series of meetings were tedious and fatiguing. This is where the Mass each day would help refresh us with the sober yet salutary reminder that we are part of a history much larger than the current fiscal year, political campaign, or 24-hour news cycle.

On Wednesday, we celebrated Mass at the Tomb of St. Peter. Providentially, our visit coincided with the Easter Season, when the readings of the day are drawn from the Acts of the Apostles, filled with the evangelical adventures of Peter and Paul. The activities of the “ad limina” visit would have been unimaginable for Peter and his companions. Yet, here we were stumbling along in the footsteps of Jesus, just as they did.

As was done when we visited the Basilica of St. Paul, the bishops of the region gathered around the main altar of the Basilica of St. Peter. The massive swirling columns of Bernini’s Baldacchino soared above us. After a brief silent prelude, one of the bishops began to chant the creed to which we all joined in…

To read this dispatch in its entirety, or to see other reports from Bishop Soto from his ad limina visit, Click Here.



Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 5:25 AM By Daniel DeCicco
Does the headline do justice to the content of the article? Bishop Soto writes a fine article about the experience of the bishops on their ad limina visit. Such a visit is packed with meetings which, for jet lagged travelers doing their best to keep up with business back home, can be “tedious and fatiguing,” as the bishop candidly admits. Yet the good bishop in his very next sentence speaks eloquently of the salutary effects of the Holy Mass in refreshing the tired bishops. I am a regular reader of this blog and I am quite sympathetic to the many doctrinal, moral, liturgical and pastoral concerns expressed within. The jaundiced headline for the report of Bishop Soto’s visit to Rome is not helpful to the cause and leaves this reader disappointed.

Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 5:28 AM By Juergensen
No discussion, none whatsoever, of the failure of the vast majority of American bishops to enforce Church law – Canon 915 – and deny the Holy Eucharist to open abortionists and homosexualists? And yet plenty of time for “cheerful humor [on] the serious subject of worship”?

Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 6:15 AM By charlio
The United States is now the second largest Spanish-speaking nation”. President Theodore Roosevelt warned in 1903 that White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) were committing “race-suicide”; college educated women at the time had 0.6 children; where now are the English, Dutch and German surnames in the population? So, you have millions of hard-working people south of the border who are victims of a colonial-style culture with few educational incentives, state monopolies on the economy, run by a tiny wealthy class and with a tiny middle class. A century ago it was “Irish not wanted”, now “wetbacks” are “breaking the law” when they fulfill an economic need set up by agricultural & business owners who are only too happy to exploit them. Rail all you want against it, people of your ethnic background won’t be around in two generations to criticize the new majority vigorously pursuing “el suenio Americano”, the American dream.

Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 7:54 AM By Angelo
I have read that Pope Benedict XVl has reformed the way Ad Limina visits are carried out. At one time each Bishop spent 15 minutes with the Holy Father reporting the state of affairs of his particular Diocese to the Pope. Now a Bishop may or may not speak to the Holy Father personaly. The Holy Father speaks to the Bishops who are on their Ad Limina visit in General. With the Austrian Bishops on their Ad Limina visit, the Pope was able to speak of his dissapointment with the whole Austrian Episcopacy in one general session.

Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 8:02 AM By Camille
Gee, Rome in April, what a difficult ordeal that must have been. Forced to eat pasta, Roman style – al dente — veal parmigiana, and, of course, drink the huge amounts of wine forced upon these dedicated vicars of Christ.

Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 9:01 AM By Anna Asher
An American Missal in Spanish is not needed. New “translations” are opportunities for distortion. The current liturgy in Spanish is much closer to the Mass of Ages than our prior N.O. What is needed, if Rome concurs, is explicit permission for Spanish Masses in this country and for an end to come to all novelty language masses. Currently the instruction is English or Latin. The Mass is not a gimmick.

Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 9:09 AM By Sarah
“The United States wishes to develop its own missal in Spanish.” This wouldn’t be necessary if the Church still said the Mass in Latin. The Mass was the same in every country. The missal had the Latin on the left page and the language of the country one was in on the right page. Everyone understood it. Vatican II rewrote it in English, not just a translation, but a revision. Recently, the English version had to be rewritten because it was deemed incorrect. Why not use the missal in the U.S. that is currently used Mexico or Spain? Do we need three different missals in Spanish? What if they differ in translation? Which one will be deemed correct? This will only compound the confusion.

Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 9:12 AM By Steve Phoenix
I am going to hope that some good comes from the new ad limina structure: for some bishops, it seems to be their only leash. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, many of us extensively communicated with Cong.Fide and other congregations in the Vatican regarding the rampant abuses in Phoenix and Tucson diocese. We too thought it was an exercise in futility—until one day, in Easter season of 2003 , Cardinal Arinze was sent to Tucson and “requested” the resignation of Bishop Manuel Moreno. Separately, when Bishop Thomas O’Brien was charged with hit-run driving (a man, albeit intoxicated, was in fact killed), June 13, 2003, when he contacted the Vatican to pro forma offer his resignation, to his shock and surprise, it was immediately accepted (inside person at the chancery told me this). I think the complaints had an impact. So, although the process demands more patience than I have, IT DOES GO SOMEWHERE. Look at what is happening with the (oxymoronically named) Leadership Conference of Catholic Women’s Religious. But I think time is very short to fix many issues in the US official Catholic Church.

Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 9:27 AM By Brian S.
Even in Sacramento pasta can be prepared al dente and excellent wines are available there as well, Camille. Of course, I’m sure we would want the Bishop to enjoy the local cusine, as most visitors do. I also concur with the criticism of the headline. While “tedious” is an odd word for Soto to use in his report, anyone who attends meetings knows that they often are. It does not fairly represent his article.

Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 9:44 AM By Sarah
Cardinal Mahoney participated in the ad limina discussions. Why? He is retired and to most people no longer relevant. Many of us were glad to see him retire because of his actions when he headed the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Why did he merit this free trip?

Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 10:44 AM By Doc Mugwump
I am thankful for this Ad Limina visit which the bishops of California are having. The headline is NOT good. As you can see, it is causing a negative reaction in some of the responses here. Suggestion to editors: update headline please.

Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 10:49 AM By Abeca Christian
It sounds like politics as usual. Who knows?

Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 10:49 AM By Angelo
Mass in the vernacular has caused so many problems. At the Second Vatican Council, Cardinal Ottaviani was against allowing any vernacular saying, “Something as mystical as the Mass should be said in a mystical language.” Cardinal Montini who became Pope Paul Vl argued that some vernacular should be allowed, adding, “Brothers in allowing some vernacular it must be done with great caution and prudence.” Well the venacular was forced upon us, not by the Council, but by the so called Liturgical experts. To the point that the official language of the Church which is Latin was literaly outlawed as a grave abuse. I myself agree with both Cardinal Ottaviani and Pope Paul Vl. As the Mass was changed overnight in 1970, so it should be changed overnight again by returning to Latin.

Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 11:02 AM By Juergensen
Sarah: Given the resounding success of the USCCB’s “Faithful Citizenship” in steering 52% of Catholics to vote for Obama, it is no mystery why the USCCB wants to “develop its own missal in Spanish.”

Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 11:02 AM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Sarah is absolutely correct, when I visited my relatives in Mexico prior to the illegal banning of the Tridentine Mass and attended Mass, I could speak very little Spanish; however it was no problem except for the homily, because I had my Missal in Latin and English and the Mass of course was then in Latin. God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 11:41 AM By OSCAR
I am very disappointed that the Bishops did NOT appear to discuss the main problem in the USA due to lousy catechesis over the past 40 years. Perhaps CA Bishops still do not get it. They need to actively promote the reading of the “CATECHISM of the CATHOLIC CHURCH, Second Edition” by all Catholics in their Diocese over age 16. The CCC is already published in many languages. There would be few debates in the USA – if the Bishops would TEACH which is their top responsibility – and this can be done through the CCC. Catholics can not help accurately evangelize what they do not know. WAKE UP BISHOPS !!!