Saturday, April 21, 2012


The highlight of our Ad Limina Visit was our meeting with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, on Friday, April 20.
(Photo: CNS/L'Osservatore Romano) April 20, 2012
He received all of the Bishops from the Province of Los Angeles in his private study, and he was most welcoming. We were permitted to bring the five priests from Los Angeles—one working in the Vatican, Msgr. Larry Spiteri; and four doing graduate studies in Rome—Father Thinh Pham, Father Swalomir Szkredka, Father John Montejano, and Father Marco Durazo. They each met the Pope, had a photo taken, and then left the study.
Archbishop José Gomez introduced the Bishops of the Province, and each of us had a few minutes to focus on one aspect of our ministry in California and in our Archdiocese. The various types of ministry were covered by individual Bishops.

My report to the Holy Father centered on the issue of immigration and the current phenomenon of world-wide migration. Some 212 million people are on the move around the world, most of them fleeing various threats and deprivations: wars, terrorism, famine, political unrest, and the search for a place of peace and opportunity for their families.

(Photo: CNS/L'Osservatore Romano) April 20, 2012
I pointed out to the Holy Father that the last major Papal pronouncement on immigration was the Apostolic Constitution by Pope Pius XII, Exsul Familia, issued August 1, 1952—some 60 years ago. That document was issued following the Second World War and while the world was facing enormous displacement of peoples caused by that war.

I suggested to the Pope that it would be very opportune if he would consider issuing a new Papal document on the challenges facing today’s migrants around the world, and on the Church’s response to this phenomenon in our own time. He was most attentive, and asked me directly, “Do you have a proposal”? Fortunately, I had prepared a letter to him on this very issue and gave it to his secretary at our meeting.

I now plan to ask Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the President of the U.S. Bishops Conference, and Archbishop José Gomez, Chairman of the Committee on Migration and Refugees, to add their positive encouragement to our Holy Father as well.

Given the reality of so many immigrants in our country, and the Church’s continuing efforts to offer them various pastoral and spiritual services, it would be truly opportune to have our Holy Father give us an updated document on this most important pastoral work of our Church.

The Church’s deep concern for peoples on the move and for immigrants is a Gospel imperative for us in Jesus’ own words: “For I was a stranger, and you welcomed me”. (Matthew 25:35)

I am writing this blog post while flying home to Los Angeles, having been renewed and refreshed through our Masses at the four major Basilicas of Rome, through our personal time with the Successor of Peter, Pope Benedict, and through our conversations with so many heads of Vatican Offices.

May Saints Peter and Paul continue to inspire our Church and all of the Dioceses of our Region in the person of Jesus and with the fervor of the Holy Spirit !