ROME — The traditional visit of bishops to Rome to report on their dioceses is about more than just keeping things in order; rather, it is a manifestation of their communion with Christ and his vicar on earth, the pope, said Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit.

“This is the reality of our communion, not organizational arrangements but faith in Christ Jesus. We live a mystery, we are servants of this mystery, the mystery of faith,” the archbishop said.

Vigneron was the principal celebrant and homilist at a Mass Dec. 9 at the tomb of St. Peter with the bishops of Ohio and Michigan, who were in Rome for their visits ad limina apostolorum — to the threshold of the apostles — to report on the status of their dioceses.

In his homily in the grotto of St. Peter’s Basilica, the archbishop reflected on the Gospel reading, which recounted Peter’s profession of faith.

Vigneron said that while the ad limina reports prepared before the visit focus on giving an account of their organizational and pastoral governance, it is “only one dimension” of a much deeper reality: “The Church as a mystery.”

“We come here to the tomb of St. Peter, conscious — very conscious — of this mystery that is the communion we have of faith with Peter,” he said. “This is the mystery that is made present every time we offer the Eucharist.”

As shepherds charged with the care of the flock, he added, bishops are called “to enable the whole people of God to have communion in this sacred mystery.”

“We do that not as isolated individuals, but in communion with Peter, with his successor, Pope Francis, with one another, with bishops throughout the world,” Vigneron said.

“It means what it means all the time: communion in the faith of Peter and the apostles, the saving communion in Jesus Christ, his son and our Lord,” he said.

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