Australia’s highest-ranking Catholics will travel to the Vatican to meet the Pope for the first time in eight years.
Bishops from around the country are scheduled to meet Pope Francis and Holy See representatives in June to report on the work of their dioceses and discuss the church more broadly.
The Ad Limina Apostolorum pilgrimage normally takes place every five years, but Australian bishops haven’t had the opportunity since 2011.
Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher said it would be the first chance for many Australian bishops to meet Pope Francis.
“It is a unique opportunity for bishops to report on every aspect of their dioceses and to meet with representatives from the different Vatican departments,” he said on Wednesday.
Child sexual abuse within the Church is likely to be a topic of discussion. Pope Francis last week made it compulsory to report the sexual abuse of children within the Vatican and in its diplomatic missions worldwide.
In February, the Pope hosted a landmark meeting at the Vatican about combating the scourge of clergy abusing children.
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge attended the summit, admitting afterwards there was no quick fix but was hopeful of positive change.
It comes after Cardinal George Pell was in March sentenced to a maximum six years in prison after a jury found him guilty of orally raping a boy and molesting another when he was the newly-installed Archbishop of Melbourne at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996.
Pell denies the crimes and has lodged an appeal.
• Cardinal George Pell was released from prison on April 7, 2020 after the High Court quashed his five convictions for child sexual abuse.