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Finding Hope in the midst of the CoVid-19 Pandemic | Letter of the Minister General to the Brothers of the Order

My dear Brothers of the Order,

In the words of our Seraphic father, May the Lord give you peace!

It has been my intention for some time to write to you once again during this particularly challenging moment in the life of the world, to update you on some of the blessings and challenges we are facing as a worldwide brotherhood, and to encourage all of us, to stay the course and keep the faith. I have chosen this date, which commemorates the approval by Pope Honorius III in 1223 of the definitive Rule and Life (Regula bulata), in order to speak to you about urgent matters weighing on all of our hearts.

Over the course of these past many months, I have been in contact with a number of the Provincials and Custodes to inquire about your well-being my dear brothers, and to communicate words of consolation, solidarity, and Christian hope. The year 2020 will forever be remembered as one in which the entire human community was brought to its knees, humbled by the Sars-CoVid-2 pathogen (hereafter, CoVid-19).  While the pandemic continues to ravage human communities, leaving in its untold suffering, it is having other serious social consequences. Families, friends, and brothers in the Order have felt the psychological and emotional impact that comes as a result of maintaining social distance, wearing protective masks, and refraining from expressing physical forms of affection, depriving us of something so vital and necessary for human life and community. The loss of jobs and livelihoods also is having a very negative impact on the lives of literally billions of people in every region of the world. People are being increasingly pushed into chronic poverty. There is an increasing sense of fear, uncertainty, powerlessness, and hopelessness.

This global pandemic and its collateral consequences are also having a serious impact on the lives of all of the Friars of the Order. Brothers of the Order have died. Others have become seriously ill and have spent time in the hospital. Still others have passed their time in quarantine, isolated from their brothers in fraternity. Even our work, our ministerial engagements in parishes, schools, social service programs, retreat work, work for justice, peace, and care for our common home have all been seriously disrupted by the pandemic. Some brothers have shared with me their bouts of depression, feelings of loneliness, their sense of a loss of autonomy and power over their lives, and even their feelings of anger and a lingering sadness in their hearts. I can understand these feelings since I also have felt them to one degree or the other.

Now more than ever, we need to invent new ways of being together, multiplying moments in which we might share the difficulties and frustrations we are experiencing, even as we respect public health norms for the common good. St. Francis reminds us in the Rule and Life: “Wherever the brothers may be and meet one another, let them show that they are members of the same family. Let each one confidently make know his need to the other, for if a mother loves and cares for her son according to the flesh, how much more diligently must someone love and care for his brother according to the Spirit!” (RB, Ch. 6).

The current health crisis has seriously altered the way we in the General Curia conduct our service to the universal brotherhood. I have not been able to visit you, my dear brothers, nor have the Definitors been able to accompany the life of your entities in a manner that expresses proximity and a ‘Franciscan personalism’. This personalism places great value on ‘face to face’ encounter, the sharing prayer, meals, and life together. We have been forced to conduct our meetings via Zoom, Skype, or some other electronic format. Despite these limitations, every effort has been made to keep the channels of communication open in the hope that we might encourage one another to keep our eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus, care for one another, and to express our solidarity with those around us who are suffering.

One further challenge that we face as a brotherhood has to do with our own financial situation. Ministers have communicated to me that a deeply troubling consequence of CoVid-19 has been a serious reduction in income even as expenses continue to rise. What results is a domino effect: local fraternities once autonomous now find themselves asking for financial assistance; Provinces and Custodies are finding it difficult to support the Friars, and even more difficult to forward to the General Curia their solidarity contributions. The Curia depends on these contributions to help support the dependent houses of the Order, and the formation and mission needs of many economically poorer entities. In addition, we also depend on revenues from the Fondazione Opera Antonianum that is responsible for overseeing the operations of the hotel Il Cantico and the Auditorium located at the Pontifical University Antonianum. The pandemic has provoked a loss of revenue. The Fondazione will not be able to make any contributions to the budget of the Curia for FY 2019, 2020, and possibly 2021. We are already feeling the pinch.

Brothers, it is my hope that in these difficult moments you are finding increased time to focus on what really matters for our lives. As our General Constitutions remind us, we are “bound to lead a radically evangelical life…in a spirit of prayer and devotion, and in fraternal fellowship…a witness of penance and minority…in charity towards all…preaching reconciliation, peace and justice…and to show respect for creation” (Art. 1 §2). This living of the Gospel life provides us with a spiritual grounding in times of trial and suffering. The fraternity should be an oasis of hope, a place where we draw strength from the kindness and care we show towards one another. It also is important that we indulge in self-care, including exercise, reading, prayer and study, strengthening our bodies, minds and hearts to stay the course. Our commitment to be brothers to all people should lead us to engage in a deeper reflection on the many social fractures – economic, political, social, the various forms of growing inequalities, racism and other ‘isms’ – the other ‘viruses’ – that undermine the common good and commitment to global solidarity.

Let us ask for an outpouring of knowledge and insight to guide scientists, doctors, and health care professionals in their quest for vaccines, therapies to reduce consequences of CoVid-19 infection, and in the general care of those most adversely affected. Let us call upon the wisdom of Solomon for our political leaders, that they might pursue the common good, recognize the frustrations and anger of the people whom they are called to care for and serve, and find new ways to accompany those most in need of special assistance. Let us reach out our hands and arms to embrace our brothers and sisters, figuratively, sharing our time and our precious resources with those most in need as a clear sign that we are all connected, we are all members of the one family of God, brothers and sisters journeying together on the road that is leading us towards the full realization of God’s kingdom in the now and the hereafter. In the words of Pope Francis, may the tragedy of the CoVid-19 pandemic help shatter “those false and superfluous certainties around which we constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities…[so that we may come to] the ineluctable and blessed awareness that we are part of one another, that we are brothers and sisters of one another” (Fratelli tutti! 32).

As we commemorate all the Saints of the Order, let us pray that, with the help of God, the intercession of St. Francis, all our Franciscan saints, and Mary, Queen of the Franciscan Order, we may rekindle our initial fervor and recommit ourselves to live the Rule and Life proposed by St. Francis and approved by Pope Honorius III. Let us draw strength from the faithful witness of our Franciscan saints who also experienced many challenges but who were able to keep alive the love and hope they had received from the beginning of their Gospel journey. Let us renew our commitment to be men of hope, loving brothers to one another, seekers of authentic justice, peace, promoters of kindness, fraternity, and solidarity towards all people and the entire created universe. Let us look forward with active anticipation to the General Chapter of 2021, when we come together to reflect and to embrace the theme of the Chapter: Renewing Our Vision, Embracing our Future – “Arise… and Christ will give you light (Eph 5:14)! God is here! Hope is near!

In conclusion, I invite you to pray with me the following words from the “Praises of God” composed by St. Francis and entrusted to Br. Leo at La Verna in 1224:

You are beauty, You are meekness,
You are the protector, You are our custodian and defender,
You are our strength, You are refreshment. You are our hope!
You are our faith, You are our charity,
You are all our sweetness, You are our eternal life:
Great and wonderful Lord, Almighty God, Merciful Savior. AMEN.

 

Rome, November 29, 2020
Feast of all the Saints of the Seraphic Order

Fraternally yours,

Br. Michael A. Perry, OFM
Minister General and Servant

 

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Prot. MG 168/2020

The Economy of Francesco: Final Statement and Common Commitment

We young economists, entrepreneurs and change makers of the world,

summoned to Assisi by Pope Francis,

in the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, want to send a message

to economists, entrepreneurs, political decision makers, workers and citizens of the world,

to convey the joy, the experiences, the hopes and challenges that we have gained and gathered up in this period by listening to our people and to our hearts. We are convinced that a better world cannot be built without a better economy and that the economy is so important for the lives of peoples and the poor that we all need to be concerned with it.

For this reason, in the name of the young people and the poor of the Earth,

we ask that:

  1. the great world powers and the great economic and financial institutions slow down their race to let the Earth breathe. COVID has made us all slow down, without having chosen to do so. When COVID is over, we must choose to slow down the unbridled race that is suffocating the earth and the weakest people who live on earth;
  2. a worldwide sharing of the most advanced technologies be activated so that sustainable production can also be achieved in low-income countries; and that energy poverty – a source of economic, social and cultural disparity – be overcome to achieve climate justice;
  3. the subject of stewardship of common goods (especially global ones such as the atmosphere, forests, oceans, land, natural resources, all ecosystems, biodiversity and seeds) be placed at the centre of the agendas of governments and teaching in schools, universities and business schools throughout the world;
  4. economic ideologies should never again be used to offend and reject the poor, the sick, minorities and disadvantaged people of all kinds, because the first response to their poverty is to respect and esteem each person: poverty is not a curse, it is only misfortune, and it is certainly not the responsibility of those who are poor;
  5. the right to decent work for all, family rights and all human rights be respected in the life of each company, for every worker, and guaranteed by the social policies of each country and recognized worldwide by an agreed charter that discourages business choices based solely on profit and founded on the exploitation of minors and the most disadvantaged;
  6. tax havens around the world be abolished immediately, because money deposited in a tax haven is money stolen from our present and our future and that a new tax pact be the first response to the post-COVID world;
  7. new financial institutions be established and the existing ones (the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund) be reformed in a democratic and inclusive sense to help the world recover from poverty and imbalances produced by the pandemic; sustainable and ethical finance should be rewarded and encouraged, and highly speculative and predatory finance discouraged by appropriate taxation
  8. companies and banks, especially large and globalized ones, introduce an independent ethics committee in their governance with a veto on the environment, justice and the impact on the poorest;
  9. national and international institutions provide prizes to support innovative entrepreneurs in the context of environmental, social, spiritual and, not least, managerial sustainability because only by rethinking the management of people within companies will global sustainability of the economy be possible;
  10. States, large companies and international institutions work to provide quality education for every girl and boy in the world, because human capital is the first capital of all humanism;
  11. economic organizations and civil institutions not rest until female workers have the same opportunities as male workers because, without an adequate presence of female talent, businesses and workplaces are not fully and authentically human and happy places;
  12. Finally, we ask for everyone’s commitment so that the time prophesied by Isaiah may draw near: “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Is 2, 4). We young people can no longer tolerate resources being taken away from schools, health care, our present and our future to build weapons and fuel the wars needed to sell them. We would like to tell our children that the world at war is finished forever.

All this – which we already experience in our work and in our lifestyles – we ask knowing that it is very difficult and that perhaps many consider it utopian. Instead, we believe it is prophetic and therefore that we can ask, ask and ask again, because what seems impossible today will seem less so tomorrow thanks to our commitment and our insistence. You adults who control the economy and businesses have done a lot for us young people, but you can do more. Our times are too difficult to ask for anything but the impossible. We have faith in you and that is why we ask much of you. But if we asked for less, we wouldn’t be asking enough.

We ask all this first of all from ourselves and we are committed to living the best years of our energy and intelligence so that the EoF can increasingly bring salt and leaven to everyone’s economy.

 

November 21 2020

Source: https://francescoeconomy.org/final-statement-and-common-commitment/

Message of the Minister General for World AIDS Day 2020: “Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility”

My dear brothers, may the Lord give you peace!

Every year, on December 1, the world community is invited to pause and reflect on the reality and impact of HIV and AIDS on the human community. It is a time to remember and pray for all 38 million of our brothers and sisters who are living with HIV, their families and friends, and to pray for the millions more who have lost their lives to AIDS (more than 32.7 million).

The year 2020 has been marked by the SarsCoVid-2 pandemic (CoVid-19), which is affecting the lives and livelihoods of the global human community. CoVid-19 is showing us just how interconnected global health is with other critical issues, including increasing social and economic inequalities, assaults on human rights and dignity, and threats to the environment.

As the world turns its full attention to the CoVid-19 global pandemic, there is a danger that the ongoing HIV/AIDS pandemic could be forgotten, that the battle to defeat it might experience a setback, and that national and international attention and funding could be reduced.

Pope Francis in his recent encyclical Fratelli tutti warns us that “In today’s world, the sense of belonging to a single human family is fading, and the dream of working together for justice and peace seems an outdated utopia…[We fail] to realize that we are all in the same boat” (30). For the Pope, it is only when we come to realize that “no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together” (32) that we will be able to confront the challenges we face and, working in collaboration and solidarity, overcome them with the grace of God.

Much progress has been achieved in recent years, but many challenges remain. Let us unite our energies and our prayer as we contend with the two viruses and their terrible consequences: HIV/AIDS; and CoVid-19. Let us urge our national leaders to continue to guarantee adequate financial support for safe, effective, and affordable antiretroviral and other necessary drugs to combat HIV and treat related illnesses, and to make special provision to ensure that there is no interruption in the production and distribution of these life-saving antiretroviral therapies. As disciples of the risen Lord Jesus and followers of our Seraphic Father Francis, may we never cease to love, support, and pray for our brothers and sisters who are living with or affected by HIV and AIDS. Let us also pray for our own brothers who live with the virus and who, despite the challenges they face, continue to serve the needs of God’s people, especially the poor and forgotten.

2000 World AIDS Day Prayer:

O God, Trinity of love,
pour out upon us a torrent of fraternal concern and care.
Grant that we may respect the presence of Christ in every human being,
especially in the lives of our brothers and sisters living with
or suffering from the consequences of HIV and AIDS.
May we reach out in fraternity and solidarity,
recognizing that we truly are ‘part of one another,
that we are brothers and sisters’ in the one family of God. Amen.
(inspired by Fratelli tutti 32, 287)

Rome, December 1, 2020

Yours fraternally,

Br. Michael A. Perry, OFM
Minister general and servant

 

Global HIV and AIDS Statistics 2019

    • 38 million people living with HIV
      • 36.2 million are adults
      • 1.8 million are children (0-14 years)
    • 1.7 million new infections
    • 5,500 young women (15-24 years) become infected with HIV
    • 690,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses
    • 25.4 million people accessing antiretroviral therapy
    • 12.6 million people without access to antiretroviral therapy
    • New HIV infections reduced by 40% since peak in 1998
    • AIDS-related death reduced by 60% since peak in 2004
    • UNAIDS estimates need for $26 billion for AIDS response – 2020

Source: UNAIDS 2020:  www.unaids.org  

 

Prot. MG 170/2020

Image courtesy of AIDS Healthcare Foundation

Communique from the General Definitory – Tempo Forte of November 2020

Ten meetings of the General Definitory took place from 26 October to 17 November 2020.

The preparation for the 2021 General Chapter is moving ahead swiftly, thanks to the work of the Preparatory Commission which prepared the draft Agenda and the Rules of Procedure. Br Sergio GALDI D’ARAGONA met several times with the Minister and the General Definitory.

During this Tempo Forte, the Definitory met:

  • the General Secretary for Missions and Evangelization, Br Alonso MORALES DUQUE, to review various missionary projects and activities of the Order;
  • Br Cesare VAIANI and Br Siniša BALAJIĆ, of the General Secretariat for Formation and Studies, who shared their work and future plans in the field of formation;
  • the General Treasurer, Br John PUODZIUNAS, presented the 2021 Budget of the General Curia, which is now being examined by the General Definitory. He also submitted other economic-financial questions to the attention of the General Government;
  • the new Director of the Development Office, Br Siniša BALAJIĆ, for an update on the new procedure for project development. The Development Office will no longer deal directly with fundraising activities, which has been entrusted to the “OFM Fraternitas Foundation”.

 

The acts of the elections that took place during the Provincial Chapter of the Provinces of the Holy Martyrs of Korea and of Saints Francis and James, in Mexico, and those that took place during the Capitular Congress of eight Provinces, were ratified. The Councils of the Custody in Albania and of the Foundation in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), both dependent on the Minister General, were elected. The Candidates for the Service of Minister Provincial for the Province of the Holy Faith in Colombia were approved.

Two European Provinces were granted a derogation from the provisions of Art. 166 §1 of the General Statutes, so that they may postpone the date of their respective Provincial Chapters by more than three months.

The acts of the extra-capitular elections of 22 Guardians and 1 Custodial Councillor were ratified, and eleven religious houses in various entities of the Order were declared suppressed.

Amendments to the particular Statutes of the Saint Francis Foundation, in Russia, dependent on the Minister General, were also ratified as well as of the Provinces of:

  • Queen of Peace, in South Africa;
  • Holy Cross, in Brazil;
  • Saint Paul the Apostle, in Malta;
  • Saint Casimir, in Lithuania.

 

The special Statutes of the General Treasurer’s Office were carefully examined.

The following cases of departure from the Order were dealt with:

  • Indult of exclaustration for one year: 1
  • Indult of exclaustration for three years: 6
  • Dispensation from temporary vows: 1
  • Dispensation from solemn vows: 6
  • Secularisation pure et simpliciter: 1
  • Secularisation ad experimentum: 5
  • Dispensation from the obligations of priestly ordination: 15
  • Dismissal from the Order: 8, of which four were for graviora delicta.

 

Information concerning seven cases of friars accused of crimes contra sextum has been forwarded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

General Visitators were elected:

  • Br Manuel VIERA, for Saint Barbara Province, in the USA;
  • Br Wanderley GOMES DE FIGUEIREDO, for the Custody of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Brazil;
  • Br Andreas BRANDS, for the Province of Blessed John Duns Scotus in France and Belgium;
  • Br Hugh McKENNA, for the Province of St Casimir in Lithuania;
  • Br Juri LEONI, for the Scotist Commission, in Rome.

 

The Definitory examined the Reports at the conclusion of the Canonical Visitation for the Italian Provinces of:

  • Saint Francis of Assisi (Assisi)
  • Saint James of the Marches (Jesi)
  • Saint Bonaventure (Lazio-Abruzzo)
  • Saint Francis Stigmatized (Florence)

 

The draft document that the Minister intends to offer to the Order as a handbook of guidelines for Franciscan missionary evangelization was also discussed.

The next ordinary session of Tempo Forte will be held from 18 to 29 January 2021.

To the praise of Christ and the Poor Man of Assisi. Amen!

 

Rome, 21 November 2020

 

Br. Giovanni Rinaldi, OFM
Secretary General

Franciscans International: E-launch of “Tearing Down the Walls”

Franciscans International, with the support of Misean Cara, is launching its new publication on migration that aims at challenging some of these myths and prejudices. “Tearing Down the Walls” uses international human rights standards and States commitments to provide people working with migrants and refugees on the ground with arguments to promote their rights and dignity.

Date: 26 November 2020

Time: 8:30 – 10am (Guatemala Ciudad) 9:30 – 11:00am (New York) • 2:30 – 4pm (Dublin) • 3:30 – 5pm (Geneva) •  4:30 – 6pm (Johannesburg)

Interpretation available in English and Spanish

Register now

 

More information: franciscansinternational.org

In memory of Br. Sereno Baiardi (1941-2020)

Sereno Baiardi, Director of the General Secretariat of the OFM Missions in the USA from 1971 to 2014, died on 17 November 2020 in Trento (Italy).

Br. Sereno Giuseppe (Angelo) Baiardi was born on 27 January 1941 in Rivanazzano (PV), Italy. He made his temporary profession on 9 August 1959, made his solemn profession on 14 July 1964 and was ordained a priest on 26 June 1966 in Levanto.

In the summer of 1969, he was in Libya in Benghazi as Episcopal Secretary; he was expelled by the Libyan government on 12 October 1970 together with all Italians. He was sent to the USA in March 1971, initially to Burlington as an official of the General Secretariat of the OFM Missions in the USA. A few months later he was appointed Director of the same Secretariat and transferred to Waterford, Wisconsin (USA). For 45 years he dedicated himself to the service of the Franciscan missions through itinerant preaching and the creation and organisation of the Fundraising Office.

In October 2015 he returned to Italy and was assigned to Voghera, then from September 2016 to La Spezia.

His closest collaborators said about him on his departure from the USA:

You came here, to this immense country, when you were not yet 30 years old, barely knowing English. And little by little, from that little centre in Bonher’s Lake, Wisconsin, a horizon was opened up which connected with places all over the world. You visited every continent, bringing joy and hope to a lot of people … All you have accomplished is a treasure that you will always carry with you, wherever you go, to a place where it cannot be ruined or stolen, as the Lord says in the Gospel.

 

All the Friars of the Order are invited to pray for the repose of the soul of our dear Brother Sereno who has done so much good for the Order, for the Church, and especially for the poor and needy in all parts of the world. May the Lord receive him into heaven.

The Economy of Francesco: “Rediscovering the civil economy founded by the Franciscans”

On 17 November 2020, the Vatican News published an interview with Stefano Zamagni, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, presenting the Economy of Francesco event. This event was commissioned by Pope Francis to show the world the need to initiate a process of global change on both the financial and social fronts. The conference will take place from 19 to 21 November 2020 in virtual form and will see the participation of over two thousand young economists and entrepreneurs who will discuss work, ethics, finance and artificial intelligence. Here is an excerpt from Federico Piana’s interview.

Zamagni was asked, “what proposals will emerge during these three days of dialogue between young economists and entrepreneurs from all over the world”?

He replied:

The main proposal is to go back to the origins. The market economy was born in Tuscany between 1400 and 1500, the century of Humanism, within the current of Franciscan thought. It was the Franciscans who created it but with one objective: the common good. However, from the 1600s the market economy became capitalistic, changing the goal that is no longer the common good but the ‘total good’. So, showing what has happened because of this distortion of thought is the main objective. It is from culture that we must start: if in our universities, in our places of research, we continue to teach only the paradigm of political economy that was affirmed in 1700 and we neglect the paradigm of civil economy that was born in 1400, we will never come out of it.

 

For the complete interview, in Italian, go to VaticanNews.va.

Franciscan Resource for the Fourth World Day of The Poor

 

“Stretch forth your hand to the poor” (Sir 7:32)

“Brother, when you see a poor man, you see a mirror of the Lord and his poor mother.” This phrase attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi, gathers a particular approach that guides the celebration of this new World Day of the Poor. This is not an abstract concept. It is about specific faces. It is about God in person.

At the time of the Pontificate of Francis, the Franciscan charism occupies a prominent place on the agenda of ecclesial renewal. The name chosen by the current Bishop of Rome updates the events of God in Umbria in the thirteenth century and proposes an anthropological reference to repair the creation that threatens ruins.

For this reason, the Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation in collaboration with the JPIC-Media teams offer this resource to deepen on the World Day of the Poor in four approaches: from Integral Ecology, from a contemplation of the reality, from a discernment from the brotherhood and from a commitment of being a samaritan.

 

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The responsibility of Business on Human Rights | Franciscan action at the United Nations from the perspective of Laudato si’

Join Franciscans around the world for a conversation on: The responsibility of Business on Human Rights – Franciscan action at the United Nations from the perspective of Laudato si’

Date: 13 November 2020

Time: 2:00-3:30pm CET

Register at https://bit.ly/FI13no

 

Franciscans from the Philippines, Indonesia, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, South Korea, Solomon Islands, Australia, South Africa and in several other countries have been witnessing the impact of extractive activities, in particular mining, on the environment and human rights. The current model of extractivism is devastating and destroying our common home.

As a Franciscan voice at the United Nations (UN), Franciscans International (FI) has worked to promote respect for human rights in all business operations, in particular in the extractive sector. Working closely with Franciscans working in grassroots communities, together we are calling for greater accountability for corporate abuses, including access to justice for victims.

Franciscans International believes that the 2015 Papal Encyclical Laudato Si’ has provided guidance in bringing the voice of the affected communities to the attention of the international community, in particular the UN.

As Franciscans, today, more than ever, we have the opportunity to think about a possible new world. In this context, we believe that the teachings of the Encyclical Laudato Si’ can offer a more human and fraternal framework for thinking about an integral and more just development for the whole human race.

Koinonia 2020 – 3 (N.107): An Integrated Ecology: The Secular Franciscan Response

An Integrated Ecology: The Secular Franciscan Response

 

This third issue of Koinonia reflects on the relationship we have with our environment. It follows the 2020 theme on great changes. Because of the times in which we live, this relationship has become a great challenge for all of humanity. Our commitment to the spirituality that Francis of Assisi taught invites us to live this relationship in mutual harmony and respect. Pope Francis, looking at the testimony of the poverello and his relationship with nature, invites us to go back and contemplate and learn from his testimony: “I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authenti­cally. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openhearted­ness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself”[1]. From this perspective we will deepen our reflection to accompany Secular Franciscans in their vocation as laity.

  • Koinonia 2020-3“An Integrated Ecology: The Secular Franciscan Response”– Fr. Hernán Eguzquiza, TOR

N. 107

PDF: EnglishItalianoEspañolFrançais

DOC : EnglishItalianoEspañolFrançais

 

 

[1] Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato Si, on care for our common home, Art. 10.

 

Poor Clares in England have great success with their album “Light for the World”

Twenty-three sisters, mostly from England, but also from Scotland, Ireland, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and Sri Lanka live in the Arundel Poor Clare Monastery, located in the countryside just outside the charming medieval town of Arundel in the south of England.

Composers James Morgan and Juliette Pochin have collaborated with the sisters in a production of an album that includes unaccompanied plainchant married with subtle contemporary production to create relaxing, meditative music that is designed to bring an authentic spiritual experience to everyday life.

The U.K.’s most popular classical music radio station, Classic FM, reports that the Poor Clare’s album, Light for the World, is having unprecedented success, taking the number one spot in both the Classical Artist Album Chart and Classical Specialist Album Chart.

Some of the songs feature excerpts from the writings of St Clare and St Francis, but there are also Latin hymns and other mediaeval texts. The words and music are destined to linger in the heart, which the sisters hope will be a blessing to all who listen.

More information: www.poorclaresarundel.org/light-for-the-world

 

 

 

 

Fifteenth Ongoing Formation Course on Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue in Franciscan Mission

The Secretariat for Missions and Evangelisation reports that the fifteenth Course of Ongoing Formation for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue has just been completed. The course was held from 26 to 29 October 2020, via streaming. Due to the current pandemic and technology, seventeen people were able to participate continuously during these four days, enjoying excellent presentations and speakers’ contributions, as well as the input of all during the workshops.

The programme included the following topics:  The anthropological bases of dialogue, a Quranic foundation for dialogue, Christian and Islamic perspectives on dialogue, the challenges of interreligious and intercultural dialogue today, the Catholic tradition of ecumenical dialogue, attitudes in ecumenical dialogue, the challenges of ecumenical dialogue today. The participants also prayed with the Dervishes in the Spirit of Assisi.

Congratulations to the organisers and those who contributed, as well as to the very active participants.

 

Image: Br. Stéphane Martin-Prével, Saint Francis and the Sultan, a Model of Encounter

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM appointed Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

The Holy Father has appointed as Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, until now apostolic administrator sede vacante of the same circumscription, transferring him from the titular see of Verbe.

His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa was born on 21 April 1965 in Cologno al Serio, in the diocese and province of Bergamo. He entered the minor seminary of the Franciscan province of Cristo Re, in Bologna, in September 1976, and on 5 September 1984 he began his noviciate in the convent of La Verna. He gave his provisional vows in La Verna on 7 September 1985 and his perpetual vows in Bologna on 14 October 1989. After completing the first cycle of philosophical and theological studies, he was awarded a bachelor’s degree in theology from the Pontifical Antonianum Athenaeum of Rome. On 27 January 1990 he was ordained a deacon and on 15 September he received priestly ordination in the Cathedral of Bologna from His Eminence Cardinal Giacomo Biffi.

Upon arriving at the Custody of the Holy Land on 7 October 1990, he completed his specialist studies at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum of Jerusalem in 1993. He was subsequently professor of Biblical Hebrew at the Franciscan Faculty of Biblical and Archaeological Sciences of Jerusalem.

He began his service in the Custody of the Holy Land on 2 July 1999. On 9 May 2001 he was appointed as Guardian of the Convent of Saints Simeon and Anna in Jerusalem. He was occupied in the pastoral care of Catholic faithful of Hebrew expression, and was appointed patriarchal vicar from 2005 to 2008.

The Definitor General of the Order of Friars Minor elected him as Custos of the Holy Land and guardian of Mount Zion in May 2004, an office he held until April 2016.

On 24 June 2016 the Holy Father Francis appointed him as titular archbishop of Verbe and apostolic administrator sede vacante of the patriarchal diocese of Jerusalem of the Latins. On 10 September he was received episcopal consecration in the Cathedral of Bergamo by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri.

He is a member of the Congregation for Oriental Churches.

The Antonianum University awards an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I

On 21 October 2020, the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Antonianum University (PUA), Br Michael Anthony Perry, presented an honorary doctorate in philosophy to His Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, Ecumenical Patriarch, during the inauguration of the academic year of the PUA.

Before the award ceremony, the Laudatio given by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, referring to the leader of the Church of Constantinople emphasised “the harmony with the Petrine Magisterium which demonstrates the ecumenical union between the Churches of East and West”.

Vatican News (Italian) reported that before receiving the recognition from the hands of Br Michael Anthony Perry, other Cardinals representing the Holy See also gave greetings after the address of Bartholomew. Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Unity among Christians, stressed that the Churches of Rome and Constantinople are “sister Churches”.  He recalled how the harmony between the Patriarch and the Pope was already evident at the inaugural Mass of Francis’ pontificate at which Bartholomew I wanted to be present. Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, pointed out that in Orthodox spirituality, every evil has a spiritual cause and every crisis has its origin in sin. “If human beings regain their primordial vocation as stewards of the garden, the crisis is resolved”, he concluded.

 

Br. César Garza Miranda appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Monterrey, Mexico

The Holy Father has appointed as auxiliary bishops of Monterrey, Mexico, Br. César Garza Miranda, OFM, parish priest, dean and member of the presbyteral council representing consecrated life, assigning him the titular see of Magneto.

Br. César was born in San Nicolás de los Garza on 18 October 1971. He qualified as an accountant and studied philosophy and theology in the Franciscan Faculty of Guadalajara and Monterrey.

He was ordained a priest on 14 December 2002, and incardinated in the Order of Friars Minor, Province of Saints Francis and James in Mexico.

He obtained a licentiate in philosophy at the Franciscan University of Guanajuato and a licentiate and doctorate in dogmatic theology at the Antonianum University in Rome. He also obtained a diploma for formators at the Gregorian University in Rome.

He was deputy director of the Franciscan College in Etzatlán, professor at the Franciscan Institute of Philosophy, and parish vicar of two parishes. Until now he has served as parish priest of the parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe, dean and member of the presbyteral council representing consecrated life.

Honorary Doctorate in philosophy to His Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch

On 21 October 2020, from 9:30 a.m., at the Antonianum Auditorium in Rome, Italy, the solemn inauguration of the 2020-2021 academic year of the Pontifical Antonianum University (PUA) will take place.

The event will be opened by a musical performance by Maestro Federico Vozzella and soprano Maria Claudia Donato, as well as by the greetings of the Rector Magnificus of the PUA, Prof. Agustín Hernández Vidales, and the religious authorities present.

This will be followed by the Laudatio delivered by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, and the award of an honorary doctorate in philosophy to His Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, Ecumenical Patriarch, by the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Antonianum University, Br Michael Anthony Perry.

Information: antonianum.eu

 

 

FRATELLI TUTTI: Encyclical Letter of the Holy Father Francis on the Fraternity and Social Friendship

  1. “FRATELLI TUTTI”. With these words, Saint Francis of Assisi addressed his brothers and sisters and proposed to them a way of life marked by the flavour of the Gospel. Of the counsels Francis offered, I would like to select the one in which he calls for a love that transcends the barriers of geography and distance, and declares blessed all those who love their brother “as much when he is far away from him as when he is with him”. In his simple and direct way, Saint Francis expressed the essence of a fraternal openness that allows us to acknowledge, appreciate and love each person, regardless of physical proximity, regardless of where he or she was born or lives.
  2. This saint of fraternal love, simplicity and joy, who inspired me to write the Encyclical Laudato Si’, prompts me once more to devote this new Encyclical to fraternity and social friendship. Francis felt himself a brother to the sun, the sea and the wind, yet he knew that he was even closer to those of his own flesh. Wherever he went, he sowed seeds of peace and walked alongside the poor, the abandoned, the infirm and the outcast, the least of his brothers and sisters.

 

WITHOUT BORDERS

  1. There is an episode in the life of Saint Francis that shows his openness of heart, which knew no bounds and transcended differences of origin, nationality, colour or religion. It was his visit to Sultan Malik-el-Kamil, in Egypt, which entailed considerable hardship, given Francis’ poverty, his scarce resources, the great distances to be traveled and their differences of language, culture and religion. That journey, undertaken at the time of the Crusades, further demonstrated the breadth and grandeur of his love, which sought to embrace everyone. Francis’ fidelity to his Lord was commensurate with his love for his brothers and sisters. Unconcerned for the hardships and dangers involved, Francis went to meet the Sultan with the same attitude that he instilled in his disciples: if they found themselves “among the Saracens and other nonbelievers”, without renouncing their own identity they were not to “engage in arguments or disputes, but to be subject to every human creature for God’s sake”. In the context of the times, this was an extraordinary recommendation. We are impressed that some eight hundred years ago Saint Francis urged that all forms of hostility or conflict be avoided and that a humble and fraternal “subjection” be shown to those who did not share his faith.
  2. Francis did not wage a war of words aimed at imposing doctrines; he simply spread the love of God. He understood that “God is love and those who abide in love abide in God” (1 Jn 4:16). In this way, he became a father to all and inspired the vision of a fraternal society. Indeed, “only the man who approaches others, not to draw them into his own life, but to help them become ever more fully themselves, can truly be called a father”. In the world of that time, bristling with watchtowers and defensive walls, cities were a theatre of brutal wars between powerful families, even as poverty was spreading through the countryside. Yet there Francis was able to welcome true peace into his heart and free himself of the desire to wield power over others. He became one of the poor and sought to live in harmony with all. Francis has inspired these pages.
  3. Issues of human fraternity and social friendship have always been a concern of mine. In recent years, I have spoken of them repeatedly and in different settings. In this Encyclical, I have sought to bring together many of those statements and to situate them in a broader context of reflection. In the preparation of Laudato Si’, I had a source of inspiration in my brother Bartholomew, the Orthodox Patriarch, who has spoken forcefully of our need to care for creation. In this case, I have felt particularly encouraged by the Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, with whom I met in Abu Dhabi, where we declared that “God has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and has called them to live together as brothers and sisters”. This was no mere diplomatic gesture, but a reflection born of dialogue and common commitment. The present Encyclical takes up and develops some of the great themes raised in the Document that we both signed. I have also incorporated, along with my own thoughts, a number of letters, documents and considerations that I have received from many individuals and groups throughout the world.
  4. The following pages do not claim to offer a complete teaching on fraternal love, but rather to consider its universal scope, its openness to every man and woman. I offer this social Encyclical as a modest contribution to continued reflection, in the hope that in the face of present-day attempts to eliminate or ignore others, we may prove capable of responding with a new vision of fraternity and social friendship that will not remain at the level of words. Although I have written it from the Christian convictions that inspire and sustain me, I have sought to make this reflection an invitation to dialogue among all people of good will.
  5. As I was writing this letter, the Covid-19 pandemic unexpectedly erupted, exposing our false securities. Aside from the different ways that various countries responded to the crisis, their inability to work together became quite evident. For all our hyper-connectivity, we witnessed a fragmentation that made it more difficult to resolve problems that affect us all. Anyone who thinks that the only lesson to be learned was the need to improve what we were already doing, or to refine existing systems and regulations, is denying reality.
  6. It is my desire that, in this our time, by acknowledging the dignity of each human person, we can contribute to the rebirth of a universal aspiration to fraternity. Fraternity between all men and women. “Here we have a splendid secret that shows us how to dream and to turn our life into a wonderful adventure. No one can face life in isolation… We need a community that supports and helps us, in which we can help one another to keep looking ahead. How important it is to dream together… By ourselves, we risk seeing mirages, things that are not there. Dreams, on the other hand, are built together”. Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all.

 

Read the text at vatican.va  [ AR  – DE  – EN  – ES  – FR  – IT  – PL  – PT ]

 

Fratelli Tutti: Message of the Minister General

Dear Brothers,

May the Lord give you peace!

With great joy, I come to each of you to wish you a Happy Feast of Saint Francis 2020 from the bottom of my heart. Even though we are experiencing a world health emergency, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Rom 8:35), and nothing can take away from us the hope and joy that the Gospel and the person of Christ bring.

We Friars Minor are particularly happy with the beautiful gift that Pope Francis has just given to the Church and to all men and women of goodwill, who will welcome the message of his new encyclical “Fratelli tutti”, on Fraternity and Social Friendship. It is once again inspired by the words of the Poor Man of Assisi and in perfect continuity with the central message of Laudato Si’, in which the Holy Father taught us the importance of feeling interconnected and in communion with the whole of creation, assuming a vision of integral ecology. This encyclical letter, as the title suggests, will be a prophetic message and an urgent appeal to remember that “God created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity and called them to live together as brothers and sisters among themselves” (FT 5).

We welcome this powerful invitation to desire to be part of God’s Dream with great openness and determination. As the Pope himself says, we dream of one humanity, as pilgrims in the same human flesh, as children of this same earth… each with the richness of his faith… each with his own voice, all brothers and sisters (FT 8).

Br. Michael A. Perry, OFM
Minister General

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