A reflection from Bishop Brian as he begins his first Ad Limina visit

On Thursday I and the other seven bishops of Scotland began our Ad Limina Apostolorum visitation to Rome. The phrase Ad Limina Apostolorum means ‘to the threshold of the Apostles’. Every five years bishops are required to visit and pray at the tombs of both St Peter and St Paul, meet with the Holy Father and give an account of their diocese.

Our day began with early Mass at the tomb of St Peter. Archbishop Philip, in a reflection deep from his heart, spoke of the Church’s present troubles but reminded us that we are all called to holiness and that bishops and priests, without excuses, must make this their personal priority. I was heartened to hear this message in a place so sacred for Catholics since I have made genuine holiness the greatest priority within our diocese. I was also delighted that we were joined at mass by our deacon, Rev Ronald Campbell. Ronald will be ordained as priest this July in his home parish of St Mary’s, Benbecula.

A few hours later we met with Pope Francis. We sat in a small circle and he immediately put us all at ease by encouraging honest and open dialogue. Although he was visibly tired he actively engaged with us for over one and a half hours. Our encounter revealed Pope Francis as a wise and caring pastor. We all left the meeting greatly encouraged. It was the perfect start to our Ad Limina.