Pope Francis addressed us as brothers in Christ and led an open and relaxed conversation with all the bishops inviting us to ask whatever we wanted.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On Tuesday of this week I had an opportunity with the bishops of Region V (which includes the dioceses of Louisiana) and Region IV to have a visit with the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
The encounter was a joy. Pope Francis addressed us as brothers in Christ and led an open and relaxed conversation with all the bishops inviting us to ask whatever we wanted. The Holy Father answered all the questions directly with an honest but always pastoral answer. He modeled for us the kind of encounter he wants us all to have with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. It will be the highlight of my ad limina visit as your bishop.
All the bishops extended our sincere and heartfelt words of support and love for the Holy Father. In my brief personal greeting, I assured him that we were all praying for him as the Vicar of Christ. I pass on to you that he asked that we continue to pray for him as he is need of our prayers.
The visit filled me with HOPE because I believe that Jorge Bergoglio, Francis our Pope, was truly chosen by the Holy Spirit to speak the Gospel to us in a new way in order to witness the redemptive mercy and love of Jesus Christ. He is witnessing not only a way to deepen and renew our commitment to Christ, but he is also showing us a way to become missionary disciples who are called to bring, to a broken and fallen world, the joy and healing of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Michael G. Duca
Bishop of Baton Rouge
(Note: The ad limina visit to which the Bishop refers is more formally called ad limina Apostolorum. It is a periodic meeting all bishops of the world must have with the Holy Father in Rome. The Latin term literally means "to the threshold of the Apostles." Each bishop has in advance prepared and submitted a lengthy report on his diocese, and the bishops discuss pertinent matters with key Vatican departments that assist the Pope in the governance of the Church. The bishops also concelebrate Masses at the arch-basilicas in Rome, including St. Peter's and St. Paul's Outside the Walls, where they venerate the tombs of the two Holy Apostles.)