Today was a day packed with meetings. I was sharing with some this morning that once this day would be over, the rest would be easy. Today was probably the only day when seven meetings would take place on the same day. Not that all of us would have to go everywhere... and that was the problem.
We started working on the details of the "ad limina" visit more than six months' ago. Each bishop chose which offices he would like to visit and we planned according to that. Today a group went to the "Pontifical Council for New Evangelization" and an hour later we all met for a meeting at the "Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith" and continued to the "Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity".
After lunch most of us attended a meeting at the "Pontifical Council for promoting Christian Unity" and after that we divided into two groups: one went to meet the "Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples" and others to the "Pontifical Council for Culture". Most of that then met and went to the "Pontifical Council for the Laity".
I particularly enjoyed the meeting at "Migrants". It was probably the only case when we were welcomed by a bishop, two priests, a sister and two lay women. Each one of them presented his / her area of "expertise".
It was also probably one of the cases when we discovered that their concern is much wider than what we knew. It deals with migrants but also with refugees, nomads, international students, tourism, pilgrimages, shrines, apostleship of the Sea, civil aviation and... also circus and carnival people.
The area of the pastoral care of the road includes truck drivers, road users, road security, street women, street children, homeless persons...
We were a small group of six bishops and our secretary general and we would have stayed much longer than the hour we spent with them.
The day was not just meetings... Early in the morning most of us went to visit the Sistine Chapel. One of the bishops had asked to see if it would be possible (considering among other things the huge number of people visiting Rome these days). Yesterday afternoon we were told we could do it if we would go early. There we were! It was really a treat. We spent there nearly one hour and we only left the place because some of us had to attend the first meeting.
The evening was marked by a familiar visit: Mr Trevor Manuel (South African Minister in the Presidency) and his wife joined us for supper.