Greensburg Bishop Malesic to visit pope in November
Greensburg Bishop Edward C. Malesic will make his first “ad limina” visit to the Vatican next month, the Catholic Accent reported.
The bishop’s visit, in which he will report to Pope Francis on the status of the Diocese of Greensburg, comes at a time of declining priestly vocations, a shrinking Catholic population in the four-county diocese, payouts to victims of clergy sexual abuse and other challenges.
After his audience with Pope Francis on Thanksgiving Day, Malesic will attend a meeting of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors — established by the pope in 2014.
“In the U.S. we have done a lot of work to protect our children and hold ourselves accountable,” Malesic told the Accent. “We have expertise to offer the world in the protection of young people, but we can also learn from other dioceses around the world.”
Malesic, who has been bishop of Greensburg since 2015, will travel to Rome on Nov. 25-29 with a delegation of bishops from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The “ad limina” visit is required of bishops every five years so they can report on the status of their dioceses.
The visit is combined with a pilgrimage to the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul. “Ad limina” comes from the phrase “ad limina apostolorum,” Latin for “to the threshold of the apostles.”
The bishops’ two-and-a-half-hour meeting with the pope will include a discussion of their diocesan quinquennial, or five-year reports, which already have been forwarded to the Vatican.
Malesic’s report notes, among other things, that the decline of the Catholic population in the diocese from 2011-2018 mirrors an overall population decline in Westmoreland, Armstrong, Indiana and Fayette counties.
The number of Catholics has dropped from 156,497 in 2011 to 137,641 in 2018, according to the report.
The number of international priests, most of them from the Philippines, has grown from two in 2011 to 18 in 2018, while the number of permanent deacons has grown from two in 2011 to seven in 2018.
“The aging and diminishing population, coupled with the migration of younger people out of the area, the stagnation of new growth and industry and the lack of new immigration, have affected the population of towns, parishes and schools,” the report said.
Other negative factors affecting the diocese’s demographics are “the influence of secularism and materialism” and the clergy sexual abuse scandal, the report said.
Malesic’s report to the Vatican outlines his priorities, including fostering clergy vocations, using new communication tools to evangelize the “unaffiliated and disaffected,” strengthening the faith of active Catholics, and improving the quality of faith formation and catechesis.
The diocese “is on firm financial footing and working hard to re-examine how best to reinvigorate discernment and seminary recruitment,” the report said.
In addition to the audience with the pope, Malesic will attend a Thanksgiving Mass at the Basilica of St. Peter and have meetings with 16 Vatican congregations and councils, the Accent reported.
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .