Don’t be surprised if any future announcement from the Holy See relating to Medjugorje is timed around the next “ad limina” visit to Rome of the Bosnia & Herzegovina bishops.
Ad limina visits are scheduled for every five years and the next ad limina by the BiH bishops is likely to be early in 2011. The year will also be the 30th anniversary of the Medjugorje apparitions, celebrated June 25. (Perhaps when the Year for Priests ends in June 2011 the Holy See may even announce the ongoing 12 months as a year dedicated to Our Lady or to the renewal of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation within the Church).
The Holy Father’s address to bishops on an ad limina visit is usually published and the following are some comments made by John Paul II and Benedict XVI during the two previous visits made by the BiH bishops.
“I keenly hope that it will be possible to find peaceful, satisfactory solutions to problems concerning the organisation of apostolic activities. This is essential, if all pastoral workers are to devote their energies with renewed enthusiasm to the service of the Gospel.
“The irreplaceable ministry of priests and the prophetic witness of consecrated persons should be joined with the courageous activity of the lay faithful, who are also called to be a fearless and effective presence in your country, through action that is faithful to the apostolic teaching, with the support of frequent recourse to the sacraments.
“This is the vocation of all the faithful, whatever social category they belong to: farmers or business people, merchants or those involved in the service, cultural or political sectors. Their apostolic presence, of course, calls for appropriate Christian formation, which is the fruit of constant, systematic commitment.”
“As I thank you for the attentive ministry you carry out, I would like to reflect on certain concerns that you yourselves have expressed regarding some aspects of life in your Dioceses.
“It is important first of all that every effort be constantly made to increase the unity of Christ’s flock: between you, the legitimate Pastors, and the Religious, especially those who carry out a pastoral ministry in diocesan territory; between diocesan clergy and consecrated persons; lastly, between all who serve the Christian people, overcoming, if necessary, misunderstandings and difficulties linked to past events.
“The Church everywhere pursues a single goal: to build the Kingdom of God in every land and every heart. The task of keeping the Lord’s heritage intact, adhering faithfully to the Church’s doctrinal and spiritual patrimony in its entirety, is entrusted to the Successors of the Apostles and to their collaborators in their pastoral ministry.
“Blessed are the peacemakers! These words aptly apply to internal relations among the Church’s members as well as to her external mission. The various ecclesial bodies, in their legitimate parts, are regulated by canonical norms which are an expression of an age-old experience and have received help from on high in their development. It is up to the Bishop, the father of the community entrusted to him by Christ, to discern what serves to build up Christ’s Church.
“In this regard, the Bishop is a “pontefice”, that is, a “builder of bridges” between the different needs of the Ecclesial Community. And this is a particularly important aspect of episcopal ministry at the present time when Bosnia and Herzegovina is resuming their journey of collaboration to build a future of social development and peace.”