Abandoning the formalities of the past, Pope Francis has launched "a whole new style of 'ad limina' visits," according to a Chilean bishop, Crux reports.
Traditionally, bishops expected "to have a long meeting with a speech and then individual meetings," Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos of Santiago, secretary of the Chilean bishops' conference, told Catholic News Service.
Instead, the Vatican informed the prelates before their departure from Chile that they were going to have a group meeting with the Pope and the prefects of several Vatican congregations and offices.
"We were told that this was going to be a new way of doing things that was beginning with us, that looks for a more fruitful, more incisive dialogue between the representatives of the local churches and the pope with his main collaborators," Ramos said.
After spending three hours with the Pope last week, the Chilean bishops met again with Francis. At the second meeting, the Pope and bishops were joined by several top officials, including: Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America; and Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Bishop Ramos told CNS that Cardinal Ouellet began the discussions, which focused on four principal themes: communion and collegiality within the Church; the mission of the Church in Chile; how to help clergy, religious men and women as well as the laity "in their Christian lives and in their pastoral service"; and pastoral guidelines for the future.
"It wasn't about speaking about little things or a little problem over here," he said. "This was more of a way of looking at everything together, for them to listen to our opinions and (we to listen to theirs) on these principal themes.
"It was something completely different," Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez of San Bernardo, member of the permanent committee of the Chilean bishops' conference, told CNS.
"It was truly something wonderful from the perspective of collegiality, of synodality, of the Church walking together. This doesn't just respond to the realities in Chile, it's a whole new (approach) that begins now."