Today the 5th September is our second day in the Vatican for our Ad limina visit as Zimbabwe Bishops Conference (ZCBC). The weather is fairly hot during the day but we enjoy cool evenings and mornings. We are staying at Santa Marta where the Pope lives. It is a quiet place with a prayerful atmosphere. We are staying just adjacent to the St Peter’s Basilica. We see so many pilgrims around. During our resting time we can also take walks around the Vatican grounds and pray in the chapel and visit the Basilica.
On The 4th of September we started our Ad Limina visit with Mass at Santa Maria Maggiore. This is where the Pope usually goes for prayers before going out on a mission to other countries and when he comes back. It is usually called in Italian Basilica Papale di Maria Maggiore. It is the Pope’s Basilica.
We prayed for our Church in Zimbabwe to be interceded by our Mother Mary in initiating for peace love, unity and development. Being on event of the inauguration of the President, we prayed for our leaders to be always guided by the love of our Mother.
The first dicastery we went to was the Doctrine of faith. This is a very important dicastery concerning our Catholic doctrine and belief. After our presentation of our Zimbabwean experiences and context of faith, we learnt quite a lot on how to promote and safeguard our faith, life and mission of the church, collaboration of men and women and children in the church and the world at large.
We then went to the dicastery of the clergy. This dicastery deals with the welfare of priests. It touches the seminary formation, the pastoral ministry, the on going formation and the lifestyle of a priest in relationship to the Church’s teaching and the Canon Law.
By the time we finished with the dicastery of faith we needed some break and had more time for reflections.
Tuesday, the second day of the Ad limina was packed with activities. We had Mass at 7.00 at the Tomb of St. Peter. Peter being the first Pope, we as Zimbabwe Bishops’ Conference participated in communion with the chair of Peter celebrating Mass at his tomb. This is a symbol of unity of our conference with the universal Holy and Apostolic Church. The Basilica of St. Peter is built on the tomb of Peter the Apostle. During Mass, we prayed for our Church as we keep on living in the spirit of synodality with others in communion, participation and Mission. There were so many other pilgrims who were celebrating Holy Masses in different Chapels of the Basilica of St. Peter. We as ZCBC were privileged to celebrate Mass at the tomb of St. Peter. After mass we had little time to see the graves of other Popes we know like Benedict XVI and St. John Paul II.
The first dicastery we visited today was Education and Culture. We learnt quite a lot of what we should do in our schools, colleges and universities. Some of the areas we shared are: Education and intercultural dialogue in Catholic schools, the identity of a Catholic school, college and university, fraternal humanism, ecclesiastical universities and faculties. This dicastery informed us quite a lot on education in different levels. We were reminded of how we should monitor our charters, statutes and influential positions of our schools and universities.
After the dicastery of Education and culture we visited the Propaganda Fide. This is the dicastery for all Mission territories like Zimbabwe and many third world countries. The team there clarified many questions we had on missions, subsidies, missionary childhood, seminaries, St. Peter’s pence and others. It was time to share and discuss issues to do with missions including our joys and challenges.
Before we went for lunch we had to meet in the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. We found this academy very helpful to us in terms of self reliance. There was a presentation on mensuram Bonam which means good measures. The emphasis is on being practical in innovation and sustainability. Our faith should be based on practical measures for Catholic investors as a starting point and a call to action. The likes of Stella Mundi in our context is the way to go when we can engage our skilled and loyal Catholics.
After lunch we then went to the Dicastery of Christian Unity. This dicastery encourages ecumenism with other Christian faiths. We are encouraged to look for common areas and share with non Catholics even to have theological discussions and dialogue in order to enrich and foster our unity in faith.
As we concluded each session in each dicastery we had prayers for the Church in Zimbabwe and for the whole world. Stay blessed
Bishop of Gweru