'We did what the church asked us to do'

The visitation of Mary and Elizabeth was full of love. Luke tells us that Mary hastened to a Judean town in the hill country to visit Elizabeth. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, greeted Mary with the words, “Blessed are you among women.” Mary in turn acknowledged God’s goodness as she dared to say, “The Lord has done great things for me. Holy is God’s name.”

Apostolic Visitations, unlike the visitation between Mary and Elizabeth, are not celebratory occasions. “Visitation” in this context has taken on the meaning of “investigation.” Recent Apostolic Visitations by the Holy See include the visitation of United States seminaries and houses of formation for men in response to the sexual abuse of children by priests and the question of the perceived relationship of homosexuality to that scandal, and a visitation of the Legionnaires of Christ in various countries because of sexual improprieties of the order’s founder.