The country’s seven bishops will travel to the Vatican Feb. 4 to meet with the pope.
The seven bishops, who comprise the Episcopal Conference of Costa Rica, will each have a private audience with Benedict XVI prior to an additional joint meeting on Feb. 8 where all members of the conference the will be present.
The president of the conference and Bishop of Cartago, José Francisco Ulloa, told the Al Día newspaper that the bishops plan to update the pope as to the status of Catholicism in Costa Rica “Last October, by means of a wide-ranging questionnaire, the Vatican asked the conference to provide details of the state of the Catholic Church in our country and we are going there to speak with him personally as to the outlook,” he said.
Spokesman for the conference Glenm Gómez, speaking to The Tico Times, said the bishops will discuss the pastoral and community work of the church in Costa Rica. He said the meetings will cover attempts to reach out to different sectors of society, such as the poor, the role of the church in human development and rights and promoting democracy.
The bishops plan to seek advice as to how to encourage those Catholics who do not actively practice the religion back into the fold. The Bishop of Alajuela, Angel San Casimiro, told Al Día, “It is a worrying issue, as we are seeing a gradual decline and we want to win back all of the faithful who have moved away from the Catholic Church.”
The Episcopal Conference is required to carry out the traditional ad limina visit to the Vatican once every five years. The trip will involve symbolic visits to the supposed tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul, who, according to Catholic tradition, are buried in Rome beneath the basilicas that bear their names.
In addition to discussions with the pontiff, the bishops will also meet with officials from the dicasteries, the various institutions or ministries that carry out the ecclesiastical and diplomatic functions of the Holy See.