U.S. Bishops Begin Visit to Rome

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 29, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II began receiving U.S. bishops in private audiences, at the start of their five-yearly visit to the Vatican.

Today, the Pope received six bishops in separate audiences: Archbishop John Donoghue, of Atlanta, Georgia; Bishop Robert Baker, of Charleston, South Carolina, with Bishop Emeritus David Thompson; Bishop Peter Jugis, of Charlotte, North Carolina, with Bishop Emeritus William Curlin; and Bishop Francis Gossman, of Raleigh, North Carolina.

The visit has three parts. The first is the personal meeting between the bishops and the Pope. The second part is for the bishops to pray together, particularly at the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul. The third part is an opportunity to meet with members of the Roman Curia.

At the end of their visit, the Holy Father will meet with groups of bishops to address the challenges facing the Church in the United States.

According to Vatican sources, the Pope will touch on themes such as the renovation of the Church in the United States in the wake of the clerical sex-abuse scandals; the role of bishops as teachers and figures of doctrinal unity; and the formation of candidates for the priesthood.

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