Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

What I Have Seen and Heard (October 25, 2007)

Published October 25, 2007

An important component of every bishop’s ministry, no matter where he might serve, is his chancery. There are certain aspects to every chancery that connect them to all others. They all have divisions and departments that are assigned responsibility for different dimensions of the life of a local Church—education, finance, catechesis, vocations, communications, etc.

The Holy Father has his own chancery—actually he has two chanceries. One attends to the functioning of the Diocese of Rome. These offices are generally located at the Lateran Palace near the Cathedral of the Diocese of Rome—St. John Lateran. The other chancery is entrusted with his pastoral ministry to the Church Universal and is located around the Vatican in a series of buildings that literally ring the Vatican.

This week, I am visiting the Holy Father’s chancery that is located at the Vatican—the Curia. I am actually looking forward to those meetings that I will have with the various officials in a number of those chancery agencies. Many of these people are longstanding personal friends that I have not seen in the two years since I was last in Rome.

I know that often a visit to any chancery is an encounter with the Church’s bureaucracy, and one may or may not find that very enjoyable. I have always found meeting with the officials of the Holy Father’s chancery a personally satisfying experience—although like every other pastor in the world, you do not necessarily get everything that you might request or desire. I find my visits to the Curia to be an encounter with Peter, and as the Lord Jesus told Peter, He wanted him to confirm his brothers in the Faith. My faith has always been strengthened through those conversations.

Our own chancery is a place where I hope that our priests, deacons and laity feel as respected as I do when I visit the Curia—even though I do not always get everything that I request. My colleagues at the Catholic Center and I are trying to do a better job to attend to the needs of our parishes; we have made some progress, but we all know that more must be done.

Our Catholic Center exists for the service of the parishes, and we must be more accountable to the people who make the church present and are themselves the church in those parishes. Above all, we must respect those who turn to the Catholic Center for assistance or for support. We may not always be able to provide everything that they request, but we can and must constantly treat them with the dignity that is theirs as God’s own sons and daughters.

This week I will also have a chance to visit our priests and seminarians from the Archdiocese of Atlanta who are studying in Rome. We have four seminary students at the North American College, as well as Father Balappa Selvaraj, who is living at the graduate house of the North American College while he is studying canon law at the Angelicum University, and Father Francis Tran, who is having a three-month sabbatical offered by the North American College’s continuing education program. I look forward to seeing these men and encouraging them in their studies and providing them a personal link with the Church in North Georgia by means of my visit.

I assure all of you of my prayers at all of those places and in all of the offices that I shall visit this week.