2011-11-06 20:00:45

US bishops return to Rome after 7 years

“The Holy Father was very anxious to hear about particular questions, particular issues that each one of us bishops were addressing in our own dioceses and he responded to each point we made. He was extraordinarily interested and extraordinary alert”, says Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island.

This week saw the beginning of the United States Bishop’s Ad limina visit to Rome – the first in 7 years. With almost 300 bishops, the USCCB is one of the largest conferences in the universal Church and the Ad Limina visit will be phased over the next year.

The first region to travel to Rome this week was from North Eastern United States, with the bishops from the province of Hartford meeting yesterday with Pope Benedict XVI.

The diocese of Providence is in the state of Rhode Island, home to a 60% Catholic population. Bishop Tobin says that his diocese is not “immune” to challenges and changes that are currently facing the Church around the world and in the United States in a particular way:

“First of all we live in a very secular world. A sometimes atheistic almost pagan world and the Church sometimes finds ourselves from a political point of view being a very difficult situation. Responding to the moral, political, social challenges is constant work for us”.

“Another area that is of concern is the sacramental practice of the faithful. Our people, who are good people, many have drifted away from the Church for a variety of reasons – the sacramental practise is of great concern. Fewer people attend Sunday mass than two or three generations ago and the sacrament of Holy Matrimony is being challenged on many different fronts. The viability of our Catholic schools, we receive no state funding. All of these are very real and pressing challenges”.

Listen to Emer McCarthy’s full interview with Bishop Tobin touching on the Year of Faith, New Evangelisation and rolling out the new English translation of the Roman Missal: RealAudioMP3

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