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Nagasaki project! What is it?

Nagasaki Project is an International Franciscan Community of Peace, whose basic concept is to spread and promote lasting peace in the city of Nagasaki and the world.

It was first thought by former Minister General José Rodríguez Carballo, OFM when he visited Nagasaki during the East Asian Conference meeting in Japan in 2010 September. His short stay and experience of the place bore an inspiration to dream of an International Community of Friars in Nagasaki that would be a living statement of peace and reconciliation. He further suggested to the Japanese Franciscan Province to host the proposed International Community for such purpose.

Nagasaki was chosen for the new mission of the Order because it was here in 1945 that the atomic bomb was dropped, wherein hundreds of thousands of people including innocent children perished.  The bombing brought devastation, deep sorrow, and hatred.

In addition, Nagasaki was a place of heavy persecution and martyrdom in the early centuries (16th -19th century) where Christians sealed their fidelity to Christ sacrificing their lives, such as the Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan (1597), including early Franciscan missionaries, St. Peter Baptist and companions, and all others who followed them.

The Franciscan Province of the Holy Martyrs of Japan after years of thorough discernment finally adhered to host the proposed International community. And to begin with this new international community, it was suggested to ask the collaboration of the OFM East Asian Conference. Later in 2018 two brothers, Bro. Francis Furusato of Japanese Province and Bro. Antonio Kim of Korean Province, who were both living in Japan signified, and were officially assigned to the new mission, the Nagasaki Project.

In 2020 another two brothers joined the Nagasaki Project: Bro. Berardo Yang of China Custody and Bro. Alberto Marfil of the Philippine Province. The brothers are presently inserted with the regular community of Nagasaki where the other three brothers are administering the parish and kindergarten school.

The ordinary life in the fraternity of the brothers is the basis and key for the Project. To live as a contemplative fraternity in evangelizing mission. They support the campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons through the presence of their Franciscan community in Nagasaki. The brothers collaborated with the EAC-JPIC office on their Peace activities, and with other agencies that have the same advocacy.

As of now, the brothers are in the initial stage of organizing themselves and their activities. They use Japanese and English as their common language. The latter brothers, even after months of formal studies of Nihongo (Japanese language) at the Foreign Language School in Tokyo, are still taking their private Nihongo lessons with a Japanese brother in Nagasaki to further their language skills. They come together three times a week to read, reflect, and share the writings of St. Francis, a venue to build themselves into a community of peace. The brothers will later study in common the history of the hidden Christians and their discovery in Japan, the approach to the mission of the early Franciscans in Japan-success and failure, and the Second World War atomic bomb experiences of the surviving victims.

The following are some possible projects of the community:

  1. To share with other people, lay, religious and priests the life, writings, and prayers of St. Francis of Assisi, a man and an instrument of peace, through talks, recollections, and encounters.
  2. To develop a small institute on Franciscan Spirituality, centered on peace, dialogue, and reconciliation. Learning from St. Peter Baptist and companions on their mission experience, approach, and strategies of the evangelization in Japan in the 16th century.
  3. Peace appeal: to share the experiences of the people who suffered the tragic event and the effects of the atomic bombing to their lives; to collaborate and participate in a Franciscan way to anti-nuclear weapons campaign. A Facebook “Nagasaki Franciscan” account was launched to serve as a place to communicate the Nagasaki Project mission.
  4. To welcome friars interested in the Nagasaki Project to visit and stay for short periods of three to six months, either for exposure or sabbatical.
  5. To accommodate and guide pilgrims, local and foreign, in following the missionary footsteps of St. Peter Baptist and companions from Kyoto, Osaka to Nagasaki; as well as to trace the different sanctuaries and places of the early hidden Christians in Nagasaki. A simple house for pilgrims that can accommodate five to seven persons is within the compound of the parish of St. Peter Baptist where the Nagasaki community lives.


To ensure the success of the Nagasaki Project, we need more friars. The Nagasaki Project community welcomes friars from every region of the world.  Whoever is interested in the project to be a member would have to stay for a minimum of six years. Come and join Nagasaki Project!





Message for the Month of Ramadan 2021

April 13, 2021 (1442 AH)

To our Muslim brothers and sisters throughout the world:

As-salaamu ‘alaykum! Peace be with you!

On behalf of the Special Commission for Dialogue with Islam of the Order of Friars Minor, it gives us great pleasure once again to extend our greetings to you as you begin the holy month of Ramadan.

More than a year has passed has since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The personal losses and hardships we have all endured have been painful and profound, and may continue, but we trust in God (Allāh swt) who assures us: “the future will be better than the past” (al-Ḍuḥā 93.4), and: “truly, with hardship there is comfort” (al-Sharḥ 94.5).

Last year, for many of you, Ramadan was observed primarily in your homes, apart from relatives and friends. Although vaccinations are now increasingly available, public health measures and social distancing may continue to limit your communal suhur and iftar – and limit the opportunity for many of us in the Franciscan family to break the fast with you, as we have done so often in the past. It will be a happy day indeed when we can all freely and fully celebrate our sacred seasons again.

It is truly a sign of God, the Most Compassionate (al-Raḥmān), the Most Merciful (al-Raḥīm), the Most Wise (al-Ḥakīm), and the Most Munificent (al-Karīm), that the celebration of Ramadan this year again falls at a time when Christians are celebrating the Easter season, and when so many people of faith around the world – Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Baha’i – are also observing holy days. As you give thanks and praise to God for the revelation of the Holy Qur’an, all of humanity, it seems, will be praising and worshipping God, each in their own unique way.

Sadly, however, even in this time of pandemic when we need to turn to one another in care and compassion, some are increasingly turning against one another due to differences of religion, ethnicity, race, national identity and political ideology. Even people who share a common national identity are turning against their compatriots with hatred and violence. This is truly a sin against God’s plan for His creation. As God (Allāh swt) tell us in the Holy Qur’an: “We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. The most noble among you is the one who is most aware of God.” (al-Ḥujarāt 49.13).

It was in this spirit of universal brotherhood and sisterhood that, in October 2020, Pope Francis issued Fratelli Tutti, his encyclical on fraternity and social friendship. This text was inspired by his meeting with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyeb, in Abu Dhabi in 2019, and the Document on Human Fraternity that they issued together.

In his encyclical, Pope Francis again referenced St. Francis’ encounter with the Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil in 1219 as an example of universal fraternity that transcends differences of “origin, nationality, color or religion.” Referring to all good of people of faith as “believers,” he remarked:

We believers need to find occasions to speak with one another and to act together for the common good and the promotion of the poor…We believers are challenged to return to our sources, in order to concentrate on what is essential: worship of God and love for our neighbor, lest some of our teachings, taken out of context, end up feeding forms of contempt, hatred, xenophobia or negation of others (281-2).

It was in this same spirit that Pope Francis recently traveled to the nation of Iraq to meet with political and religious leaders, encouraging all people “to look beyond our differences and see each other as members of the same human family,” and “to speak with one another from our deepest identity as fellow children of the one God and Creator” (Address on March 5, 2021).

On the plains of Ur, from which the Patriarch and Prophet Abraham (upon him be peace!) began his journey of faith, Pope Francis gathered with the representatives of the different religious communities – Sunni, Shi’i, Catholic, Orthodox and others – in recognition of the journey of faith we all share, although we travel by different paths. As Abraham left much behind to answer God’s call, so too are we called “to leave behind those ties and attachments that, by keeping us enclosed in our own groups, prevent us from welcoming God’s boundless love and from seeing others as our brothers and sisters. We need to move beyond ourselves, because we need one another” (Interreligious meeting, March 6, 2021).

Ramadan is a time when we in the Catholic-Franciscan family especially feel our bonds of faith with you, our Muslim brothers and sisters, united by our common practices of prayer, fasting and charity, expressed by a meal shared with others. We are reminded of a hadith reported by ‘Abdullah ibn Amr that is particularly meaningful in our day:

A man asked the Prophet, ‘Which Islam is best?’ The Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, said: ‘To feed the hungry and to greet with peace those you know and those you do not know.’ (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī28)

During this month, this sacred season shared in different ways by so many faithful believers, let us be united by the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood as the sons and daughters of Abraham, and let us again resolve to be instruments of the Peace that is God – al-Salām.  We wish you a most blessed Ramadan. Ramadan Mubarak! Ramadan Kareem!


Br. Michael D. Calabria, OFM,
Special Assistant for Dialog with Islam

Members of the Commission for Dialog with Islam:

Br. Manuel Corullón, OFM
Br. Ferdinand Mercado, OFM
Br. Jamil Albert, OFM


JPIC Newsletter: CONTACT (01-03.2021)

Brothers and Sisters,

Fraternal greetings from the brothers of the JPIC Office of the General Curia. We present to you the recent edition of the “Contact” Newsletter that allows us to be in communion and informed of the initiatives to promote and experience the values of JPIC.

In the following pages of “Contact”, we share with you the news that has reached us in recent months: actions, declarations, formative material and projects that are being born following discernment and, above all, from listening to the daily events that constantly invite us to transform our own lives.


English – CONTACT

Español – CONTACTO

Italiano – CONTATTO

The Message of the Empty Tomb | Easter Letter of the Minister General 2021

The Message of the Empty Tomb

My dear Brothers,

I take this solemn occasion to wish each of you a very blessed and holy Easter!

As we heard in the Easter Gospel from St. John (Cf. Jn 20:1-9), three friends and followers of Jesus had three very different experiences of the event of the empty tomb: Mary of Magdala, Peter, and the famous, Johannine ‘other disciple’. For Mary, she arrives ‘while it is still dark’, one of the central theological themes present in John’s Gospel, the struggle between light (righteousness) and darkness (all that is not of God). There is little doubt that she continues to grieve the loss of her Teacher and friend. This is most probably the reason she has returned to the tomb, to mourn Jesus’ death, and to seek answers to the questions haunting her mind and heart. What she sees, however, provokes a deeper reaction, one of fear, the fear that those with evil intentions have stolen the body of Jesus. It is this, perhaps, that drives her to rush back to the company of the disciples and inform them about what she witnessed.

The ‘other disciple’, “the one whom Jesus loved,” is the second person to arrive at the tomb, rushing ahead of Peter. Perhaps because he (or she) was younger, he waits outside of the tomb, respectfully awaiting the arrival of the senior partner. Only after Peter’s arrival and entry into the tomb did this ‘other disciple’ dare to enter the hallow space. When this ‘other disciple’ finally enters the tomb, something occurs in his life. There is a recognition that God is doing something great in and through Jesus – “he saw, and he believed” – but it was not yet clear just what these events meant, and what difference they would make in his/her life.

Many biblical scholars suggest that this ‘other disciple’ represents each of us who are followers of the risen Lord Jesus. Like this ‘other disciple’, perhaps we also find ourselves at different moments in our lives rushing in search of answers to lifelong questions, ones that have become even more apparent in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps we, like the ‘other disciple’, have come to perceive in the emptiness, fear, and isolation provoked by the pandemic something different in our lives, our world, something that is calling for a deeper conversion, a greater truth, a more profound justice and peace in order that we might truly ‘see and believe’. In what does this seeing and believing consist? Perhaps, it is the conviction that God is here, hope is near, the love of God in Jesus, a love that extends to all people and all of creation, is stronger than the threat of the pandemic, the threat of illness and death!

The third witness to these events is Peter, the one who denied knowing Jesus during his trial, condemnation, and crucifixion. Perhaps his silence is the result of his feelings of guilt, shame, and total inadequacy. These feelings oftentimes provoke silence. He was but one of the many disciples and friends who had abandoned Jesus at his darkest hour. There is no confession of faith by Peter, as was the case of the ‘other disciple’. Rather, he gathers information and then returns to the “locked room” where he and the other disciples and friends of Jesus took refuge. It is likely that they discussed together what they had seen and heard. However, the emptiness of the tomb, its message, had not yet penetrated the thick, protective shields that Peter, Jesus’ disciples and followers, and that we often construct to protect us from that which we perceive as a danger, a threat, that which provokes fear, confusion, anger, and even despair.

My dear Brothers, it would have been more consoling for me to have spoken about the second part of Chapter 20 of the Gospel of St. John, which, according to many scripture scholars, was added at a later moment almost as if to redeem the impenetrable events of the suffering and death of Jesus by demonstrating to the disciples the living presence of the resurrected body of Jesus. However, I believe this first ‘encounter’ with the empty tomb provides us with an important instrument for reflecting on our lived experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. Clearly, darkness has covered the earth, much like that in the primordial times prior to God bringing order out of chaos (Gn. 1:2). Together with all of humanity, we have experienced the threats of chaos and emptiness provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have found ourselves isolated, devoid of physical contact. We have had to put on ‘shields’ to protect us from the unknown but ever-present lurking danger of an unseen organism capable of doing great harm to us – physically, mentally, spiritually, socially, economically, and in all other ways. As we prepare to be vaccinated in order to protect ourselves, we also recognize that there is still too much unknown about the virus to allow our guards to be let down. The dark night is not yet over.

The message of Easter is one that brings hope and inspires courage to all who profess faith in the beloved Son of God, Jesus. The empty tomb does not provide us with answers. Rather, it creates a space in which we might ask difficult questions. It provides a place where we might come face to face with all that causes us to fear, all that urges us to choose isolation from God, from one another, and even from ourselves in place of choosing pursue paths towards authentic fraternity with God and with one another. In the end, the promise of the resurrection provides us with hope. However, this hope is not only the result of something that comes from outside of us, from belief in the power of God’s grace and love. It is, in the end, the result of a decision we make within our minds and hearts to welcome and embrace the One who has embraced death in order that He might lead all of us toward an authentic experience of what it means to be alive. The resurrection of Jesus presents us with a radical choice — to live daily in the power of God’s love that is stronger than the cruel, enslaving effects of injustice, racism, hatred, violence, and a spiritual wasteland. Or to live in the indifference, fear, and hopelessness offered by all that opposes righteousness, holiness, goodness, and truth.

May the love and peace that Jesus offers to all who place their trust in Him fill us with joy and strengthen us in our resolve to embrace the way of the cross, the way of the Gospel, to embrace even the empty tomb. Like Mary Magdala, the ‘other disciple’, and Peter, may we come to experience what it truly means to be alive in Christ Jesus.


Blessings of Easter joy to you, my dear Brothers, and also to you my dear Poor Clare and Conceptionist cloistered Sisters. Let us continue also to pray that God’s loving grace might be poured out upon our General Chapter.


Palm Sunday, March 28, 2021

Fraternally yours in Christ and St. Francis,

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


[English] The Message of the Empty Tomb
[Español] El mensaje de la tumba vacía
[Italiano] Il messaggio della tomba vuota
[Français] Le message de la tombe vide
[Hrvatski] Poruka praznoga groba
[Polski] Przesłanie pustego grobu
[Português] A mensagem do túmulo vazio



Prot. 110387
Artwork: Fra Angelico, Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb

Global Catholic Climate Movement & JPIC: Common collaboration of faith and actions

In an effort to promote ecological conversion and spread the message of Laudato Si’ in the Church, the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) has collaborated closely with the Office of Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation of the Order of Friars Minor General Curia, successfully carrying out several campaigns in recent years. Some of these past collaborations include, to mention a few:

  • World Youth Day in Panama (2019).
  • Animators Training
  • Laudato Si’ Revolution


To continue this collaboration in a formal way, the Memorandum of Understanding has been jointly signed, a document that reaffirms their commitment and collaboration of both parties to realize new strategies.

Both organizations maintain an inspiration centered on Gospel values and the vision of St. Francis and Clare of Assisi, as well as a vision that focuses on environmental and social justice, among other common elements.

In addition to the conviction of caring for our common home, they share areas of collaboration that will allow them to strategically advance and identify potential needs for mutual support between the two organizations.

This commitment implies working together to promote effective programs, maintaining constant communication and ongoing training, which will be fundamental elements in this process.

With faith and enthusiasm, we trust that collaborative work will lead us, hand in hand with God, to achieve our common and particular goals thanks to the actions derived from this initiative to care for our common home.


Photo: Tomás Insua, GCCM’s Executive Director, and Br. Jaime A. Campos F., JPIC Director

Saint Francis and Dante in Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter “Candor lucis aeternae”

Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter “Candor lucis aeternae“, published 25 March 2021, marking the 700th anniversary of the death of the poet, Dante Alighieri, dedicates a part of the text to Saint Francis of Assisi:

Francis, the spouse of Lady Poverty

In the pure white rose of the blessed, with Mary as its radiant centre, Dante places a number of saints whose life and mission he describes. He presents them as men and women who, in the concrete events of life and despite many trials, achieved the ultimate purpose of their life and vocation. Here I will mention only Saint Francis of Assisi, as portrayed in Canto XI of the Paradiso, the sphere of the wise.

Saint Francis and Dante had much in common. Francis, with his followers, left the cloister and went out among the people, in small towns and the streets of the cities, preaching to them and visiting their homes. Dante made the choice, unusual for that age, to compose his great poem on the afterlife in the vernacular, and to populate his tale with characters both famous and obscure, yet equal in dignity to the rulers of this world. Another feature common to the two was their sensitivity to the beauty and worth of creation as the reflection and imprint of its Creator. We can hardly fail to hear in Dante’s paraphrase of the Our Father an echo of Saint Francis’s Canticle of the Sun:

“Praised be thy name and thine omnipotence

By every creature… ” (Purg. XI, 4-5).

In Canto XI of the Paradiso, this comparison becomes even more pronounced. The sanctity and wisdom of Francis stand out precisely because Dante, gazing from heaven upon the earth, sees the crude vulgarity of those who trust in earthly goods:

“O Thou insensate care of mortal men,

How inconclusive are the syllogisms

That make thee beat thy wings in downward flight!” (1-3).

The entire history of Saint Francis, his “admirable life”, revolved around his privileged relationship with Lady Poverty:

“But that too darkly I may not proceed,

Francis and Poverty for these two lovers

Take thou henceforward in my speech diffuse” (73-75).

The canto of Saint Francis recalls the salient moments of his life, his trials and ultimately the moment when his configuration to Christ, poor and crucified, found its ultimate divine confirmation in his reception of the stigmata:

“And, finding for conversion too unripe

The folk, and not to tarry there in vain,

Returned to fruit of the Italic grass,

On the rude rock ‘twixt Tiber and the Arno

From Christ did he receive the final seal,

Which during two whole years his members bore” (103-108).


Read the complete Apostolic Letter: Vatican.va

Laudato Si’: from celebration to action | A Project of the Museum for the United Nations – UN Live

The project “Laudato Si’: from celebration to action” is an initiative by the Museum for the United Nations – UN Live, in partnership with the Colombian Episcopal Conference (CEC) and the Franciscan General Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC-OFM). This initiative is inspired by the leadership of Pope Francis, drawing from his message of integral ecology and his platform for the implementation of the Laudato Si’ Goals. Our purpose is to empower ecological spirituality as well as participation and action at the individual and community levels.

We are hoping to meet communities of the Catholic faith in their most sacred celebration: Mass. We have invited Colombian musicians and producers to compose the Laudato Si’ Mass, made up of eleven liturgical songs to be performed during the celebration of the Eucharist.  In addition, an expert in environmental science will design a series of actions targeted towards social and environmental care, driven by the aim to engage followers of this from Mass with its mission, beyond the Mass itself. The mission is to take care of the Creation.

The Museum for the United Nations – UN Live, the CEC and the JPIC-OFM Office hope to reach all six thousand parishes and places of worship in Colombia on the eve of the Day of St. Francis of Assisi, on October 3. The goal is to spread the Laudato Si’ Mass throughout the country and inspire Catholic communities to take concrete actions in the mission of care for Creation. If other organisations in Colombia or throughout the world want to join this celebration, we will go above and beyond this goal. Please do not hesitate to take part.

We hope that this project in Colombia will serve as a pilot to showcase and replicate the Mass in other countries, to share with diverse religious communities, as well as to present to Pope Francis at the Vatican. We hope to find many to join us to move this project forward – all are welcome!

“Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God. Indeed, the Eucharist is in itself an act of cosmic love: “Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world”” (Laudato Si’ 236).


Photo: Carlos Alvarado, Cathopic

Cardinal Sandri and Br. Francesco Patton, appeal for generous response to Holy Land Collection

Each year, the Church takes up a collection on Good Friday to assist Christians in the Holy Land and help protect the Holy Places. In a letter addressed to the Bishops of the world, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches is once again appealing to Christians throughout the world to support the annual Holy Land Collection, which takes place each year on Good Friday. (VaticanNews)

In the Holy Land, on the eve of the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the Custos, Br Francesco Patton published this message to appeal to the Christians of the Holy Land:


In the past year, even in the Holy Land we have been severely tested by the pandemic that has paralyzed the whole world.

Despite this situation, we have continued to take care of the Holy Places of our redemption and the small Christian community that still exists and endures here.

At the Holy Sepulchre, in Gethsemane, in Bethlehem, in Nazareth and in the other shrines we have intensified our prayers for the whole world.

In the parishes we continue to take care of Arabic, Hebrew and Greek speaking Christians, migrant workers and refugees.

Through our Terra Sancta schools, around 10 thousand children, teenagers and young people are able to benefit from a good education.

The charitable commitment has intensified to meet the essential needs of a very tested local population – not only by the pandemic – but also by war, and by the absence of social and health assistance.

All this has a cost that is largely covered by the Good Friday Collection every year.

This year, more than ever, we need the generosity of Christians around the world, the generosity of each and every one of you.

Please help us again this year, according to your possibilities, according to the generosity of your heart, so that we can continue tohelp those in need.

Help us to help others! May the Lord bless and reward each and every one of you. Thank you!


Sources: VaticanNews | Christian Media Center

Video: From “The Earlier Rule” of Saint Francis (1221)

In the midst of the many troubles of our times, sharing in the anguish of so many men and women everywhere in the world, we nevertheless wish to keep the optimistic flame of Christian hope alive and wholeheartedly welcome St. Francis’ impetus to be grateful. Amidst the miseries of the world, he never gave up blessing the Lord, “Who alone is good, merciful, gentle, delightful, and sweet, Who alone is holy, just, true, holy, and upright, Who alone is kind, innocent, clean, from Whom, through Whom and in Whom is all pardon, all grace, all glory” (Earlier Rule 23, 9).

We invite all the members of the Franciscan family to join us in commemorating the invitation of St. Francis, clearly expressed in the Earlier Rule, to live a life guided by the Spirit of God, rooted in human experience and open to the amazing love and closeness that God offers to those who are willing to let Him be at the center of all life.


All-powerful, most holy, Almighty and supreme God,
Holy and just Father,
Lord King of heaven and earth,
we thank You for Yourself. (Earlier Rule 23, 1)


from the Letter of the Franciscan Ministers General,
 for the Solemnity of St. Francis of Assisi 2020


Towards the Laudato Si’ Action Platform

Celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Laudato Si’ Encyclical (24 May 2020), Pope Francis declared a special anniversary year, and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development presented the proposed “ Laudato Si’ Action Platform” (PDF: EnglishEspañolItaliano). They invited various institutions to get going and start a seven-year journey towards full sustainability. This multi-year initiative aims to make communities around the world fully sustainable in the spirit of Laudato Si’s integral ecology.

As Franciscans, we have joined this great initiative through the JPIC Office. Let us recall that on the fifth anniversary of the Encyclical, the JPIC offices of the Order and the Franciscan Family joined the “Laudato Si’ Revolution” campaign by carrying out various national, regional and international initiatives. Taking advantage of this momentum of the spirit, we wish to take part in the “Laudato Si’ Action Platform”.

During these last few weeks, the JPIC Office has held some engagement and collaboration meetings with the “Care of Creation” section coordinated by Fr Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam, SDB. In these online meetings, we have been able to share the various initiatives that the Order has been developing in the light of the Encyclical and the Plenary Council of the Order. At the same time, they have shared with us and informed us how the process of the “Laudato Si’ Action Platform” is developing. This has allowed us to join the “Religious Orders Laudato Si’” working team, and we have been invited to be part of the steering committee of the 7-year Laudato Si’ platform.

Also, as a way of collaborating and being part of the “Laudato Si’ Action Platform”, the JPIC Office has started to work on some proposals to offer to the whole Order and the Franciscan Family during Laudato Si’ week on the sixth anniversary of the Encyclical. These proposals complement the campaign begun last year, as it is a new impulse to the work that several Entities in the Order have already started. We look to the future, with hope, to the “Laudato Si’ Revolution: Integral Ecology in Action”.



Urgent Appeal to the United Nations and the International Community for the situation in Myanmar

His Excellency Mr. António Guterres
Secretary General
United Nations Headquarters
New York, NY  10017
United States


Rome, March 12, 2021

Dear Secretary General Guterres,

In the words of St. Francis of Assisi, May the Lord give you peace!

I write to you today in my capacity as the Minister General and Servant of the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans), some 12,500 Catholic religious brothers and priests present and working in 116 countries, to express deep sadness and grave concern with the ongoing repression of millions of citizens in Myanmar following a military coup.

Our Franciscans in Myanmar have witnessed firsthand the brutality of the security forces and the insecurity this has created. Reports on the ground, and the report of your Special Rapporteur, Mr. Thomas H. Andrews (March 11, 2021) confirm that coordinated violence continues to escalate on a daily basis resulting in the deaths of at least 70 civilians, arbitrary detentions of thousands of those engaged in peaceful protests, destruction of legal protections, severe restrictions on access to internet and communications, and the subversion of the will of the people of Myanmar expressed in the November 2020 elections.

I wish to thank you for the actions that your office has taken to call attention to the situation in Myanmar, especially the work of your Special Envoy to the country. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that now is the time for the international community to act in a united, decisive manner to protect against further loss of life, destruction of property, and to ensure the restoration of the democratically elected government of Myanmar without delay. This should include requiring that the military junta immediately desist from using excessive force against the people of Myanmar, the release of those who are illegally detained, restoration of protections guaranteed by law, including the right to peacefully protest.

Our Franciscan men who are living and working in Myanmar have asked me to intercede for the people of Myanmar. I include in this mailing a letter they have asked me to forward to you.

May the people of Myanmar once again experience a return to democracy, and may the current crisis find a peaceful and lasting resolution.

Sincerely yours,

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






Prot. MG 45/21

One Year Since COVID-19 was declared a Global Pandemic | Letter of the Minister General

Order of Friars Minor
One Year Since COVID-19 was declared a Global Pandemic
March 11, 2021


My dear Brothers,

May the Lord give you peace!

On March 11, 2021 the world will mark one year since the World Health Organization declared Sars2-COVID-19 a global pandemic. On that date, there were 118,000 verified infections, and 4,291 verified deaths from COVID-19, with 114 countries reporting the presence of the virus. As of February 26, 2021, there have been nearly 112,000,000 confirmed infections, and nearly 2,500,000 deaths from COVID-19, with 192 countries now directly affected by the pandemic. What also is clear is the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has upon our poor brothers and sisters and upon the world’s poorer nations.

I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that everyone of us in the Order knows someone who has become infected, and perhaps someone who has died. It is difficult to verify exactly how many of our beloved Friars have died as a result of complications from COVID-19, but the numbers are significant. Fraternities have been quarantined. Individual Friars have been isolated in hospital or in Provincial or Custodial infirmaries or in other care facilities. Family members have been infected and, sadly, some have died. A significant number of ‘survivors’ of COVID-19 are reporting long-term effects, including exhaustion, respiratory difficulties, heart abnormalities, and other difficulties for which they are now under medical care. One cannot even begin to fathom the psycho-social impact of the pandemic due to fear of contagion, social isolation, and the triggering of other long-standing mental health conditions. They affect not only those unknown to us; they affect our lives as well.

The COVID-19 pandemic is rewriting the history of the world, and, more importantly, the history of each of our lives, the life of the Order, and the Church. We do not know the full weight of collateral ‘damage’ that might come as a consequence of the pandemic, but we already are sensing increased challenges that touch every aspect of our lives, our institutions, and our evangelizing presence in the world today. It is my prayer that each of you has been able to take sufficient time to reflect on the impact of the pandemic on your life, on the other brothers in the fraternity, on your pastoral and missionary work, and on the lives of those whom we have been called to serve.

As we draw near to March 11, 2021, the first year since the official declaration of the Sars2-COVID-19 pandemic, I invite all of you, my dear brothers, to join with the universal Fraternity of the Order for a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These three ‘methods’ find precedence in the Sacred Scriptures and offer an opportunity for those who embrace them to enter into a spirit of conversion of mind, heart, and action (Cf. Joel 1:14ff). Find attached to this letter two prayers that have been composed as a response to the pandemic. They are prayers calling upon God to hear the cry of God’s people and to come to our aid. In the spirit of fasting proposed by the Prophets (Cf. Is 58:6-7) and by Jesus (Cf. Mt. 6:16-18), the focus clearly is on a radical change of heart and mind and is also linked with acts that contribute to the liberation of God’s people by uniting our efforts in one great act of solidarity, something so much needed in our world prior to and as a consequence of the COVID pandemic. This is the focus of Pope Francis’s message in Fratelli Tutti when speaking about the need for the entire world to undergo a radical conversion (Fratelli Tutti 32,55). Finally, I urge you to take time to talk to one another and express how the COVID pandemic has affected your personal life, your involvement with the fraternity, your missionary engagements, and other challenges you are facing. It would most appropriate if the local fraternities could celebrate the Eucharist together on this day of prayer. The moment of dialogue could take place in a special house chapter or during the time for the homily at the Eucharist.

May we unite as the one universal brotherhood on this occasion the first year since COVID was declared a pandemic. Let us call upon Mary, Mother of the Seraphic Order, and all of the saints of the Order to intercede to God on our behalf, and on behalf of all of humanity. May the gift of our fraternity be a source of constant support and encouragement as together we face an uncertain future. May we reflect the love and mercy of God who is always present with us, most especially during these most difficult times, inviting us to stand up and lift up our heads, to see that we are not alone (Cf. Lk. 21:28).

Let us pray for all who continue to suffer the direct physical consequences of COVID-19. Let us pray, also, for all those who are affected socially, spiritually, and economically. And let us remember all of our brothers and sisters who have passed from this life and who now enjoy fullness of life in God’s kingdom.


Rome, March 1st, 2021


Fraternally yours in Christ and St. Francis,

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







Prayer I:

Almighty and eternal God, our refuge in every danger,
to whom we turn in our distress;
in faith we pray
look with compassion on the afflicted,
grant eternal rest to the dead,
comfort to mourners,
healing to the sick,
peace to the dying,
strength to healthcare workers,
wisdom to our leaders
and the courage to reach out to all in love,
so that together we may give glory to your holy name. (Collect of Mass in time of Pandemic)

Strengthen the bonds of our spiritual fraternity,
That we might give witness to your presence and healing love
Through the way we care for one another,
And for the way we reach out to our brothers and sisters most in need,
Especially those most affected by the pandemic.
We call upon the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Seraphic Order,
St. Francis, St. Clare, and all of the seraphic saints,
Asking that they intercede on our behalf to the God of all mercy.
We make this our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.  Amen


Prayer II:

Lord Jesus,
Who promised to remain with us always,
When information overwhelms us
and fear overtakes us.
speak to us again those comforting words,
“Peace be with you.”
Though we cannot be physically close to others,
give us the ability and courage
to love as well as we can,
Since “perfect love casts out all fear.”
Direct your caring gaze on doctors and nurses,
researchers and safety personnel.
Come to strengthen the sick, vulnerable,
and comfort those who are grief stricken.
And when the pandemic has passed,
and this frightening crisis is resolved,
teach us to know You more certainly
as our dearest Friend and our only Hope.
You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever, Amen.  (Adaptation of ‘Prayer in a Time of Pandemic’, Diocese of Cork)
(offer one Our Father. One Hail Mary, and the Glory be….)
Our Lady, Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for us.





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Webinar: The Peace Dimension of Fratelli Tutti

Minister General, Br. Michael A. Perry, joins a group of panelists for a live webinar to discuss the peace dimensions of Fratelli Tutti.

Live Webinar:
Thursday, March 4 2021
10:00 EST / 15:00 UTC


Pope Francis’ new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, has much to contribute to the theory and praxis of peace, but this is a theme that has received relatively little attention since its release in October 2020.

How can it be a resource for peacebuilding and impact the practice of peacebuilding? Does it change teaching on just war? How does it open dialogue on peace with Muslims? How does its Franciscan influence deepen the understanding of peacebuilding?

This webinar will examine these questions and more as it probes the peace dimensions of the encyclical.



Michael A. Perry, OFM, Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor

Cecilia Suárez, Head of Office, Mexico, Catholic Relief Services

Anna Floerke Scheid, Associate Professor of Theology, Duquesne University

A. Rashied Omar, Assistant Teaching Professor, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame


Gerald Schlabach, Emeritus Professor of Theology, University of St. Thomas


The Future of the Franciscans in Cuba


Before the revolution in Cuba, there were 104 friars in seventeen communities spread in various parts of the country. Today, there are six friars: four from other countries (Mexico, USA, Guatemala and Ireland) and two Cubans; one who made his solemn profession in 2020 and was ordained a deacon at the end of January 2021, and an 80-year-old who returned to Cuba in 1960 as a priest, just after the Revolutionaries came to power.  There are three simply professed Cuban friars studying in the Dominican Republic, and there are a number of young men interested in the Franciscan way of life.  The friars live in two fraternities in the capital of Havana.

The Cuban presence is a semi-autonomous delegation of the Arántzazu Province (Spain) since June 2020 and also part of the Custody of Our Lady of Hope (with two other countries: the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico).

Cuba is not the easiest of missionary locations, as attested to by the experience of numerous congregations who have found it difficult to find suitable candidates willing to come and stay for a reasonable period of time. Yet, there is always hope that friars from different entities will feel called to the challenge of this mission. For now, our vocation is one of presence and accompaniment of the people (many of whom have suffered decades of religious intolerance and whose trust need to be regained). Besides parish ministry, we want to get to know the needs of the local church to offer popular missions in the different parts of the country.  One specific dream is to open another presence outside Havana and eventually take back a historically significant presence which still belongs to the Order, where friars over the centuries moved out on missions around the country.

The future of the Franciscan OFM presence in Cuba depends mainly on an increase in local vocations, but there will also be a continued push to promote Cuba as a missionary destination. Anyone reading this article is invited to consider coming to Cuba.  Those interested could request the orientation document aimed to help friars discern this particular vocation by emailing Br. Francisco Gearóid Ó Conaire at gfoconaireofm@gmail.com. The document is available in English, Spanish and Italian.


A Franciscan Friar’s place in the Vatican Museums


Although the Vatican Museums were closed for almost 3 months during the latest lockdown, work still continued within its walls, including that of installing a large multi paneled work (polyptych) by a Franciscan Friar. The work is entitled “Golgotha” and is by Br. Sidival Fila, who is originally from Brazil but who has spent over 25 years in Italy. Br. Sidival is member of the fraternity at St. Bonaventure on the Palatine, Rome, having joined the Order in Italy and having been ordained priest in 1999. He has become a well-known artist, creating beautiful works of art with fabrics, materials, and a variety of sewing techniques, most often using objects and fabrics that have been discarded.

He was the first Religious ever to exhibit at the prestigious Venice Biennale, and it is his work for the Biennale that has now become part of the Vatican’s permanent Collection of Contemporary Art. The Museums have chosen a stunning location for “Golgotha” — The Hall of the Saints in the Borgia Apartment, with its superb 15th century frescoes by the Italian Renaissance artist, Pinturicchio. The contrast, in terms of color, concept, and texture is striking and highly evocative. Br. Sidival explains, “I have placed an ancient crucifix inside a very large work, in which the attention falls precisely on this suspended crucifix. Christ is clearly depicted, but the rest is abstract. Even the two thieves are presented in an abstract way. In reality, the work does not express the passion but the drama of the passion through the use of those objects that made the last earthly stage of Christ’s life so bloody — such as nails and horseshoes. On the other hand, there are floral elements, as if these were the fruit of Christ’s passion.”

My ‘Golgotha’ installation is composed of eight elements, but only one of them presents a figurative sculpture of the Holy Cross. The other 7 elements open the door to spirituality and transcendence, but they are not directly related to a specific religion, they wish only to speak to every creed and to the human heart.”

Our fraternal congratulations to Br. Sidival — this extraordinary recognition and honor is a source of great pride. Perhaps more importantly, it is also a sign of hope and confidence that the depth and beauty of the Christian faith can truly be communicated in contemporary terms that express God’s passionate love for humanity.

See Br. Sidival’s website (in 5 languages): www.sidivalfila.it


Letter from the Holy Father for the 600th anniversary of the establishment of the Commissars of the Holy Land


On the sixth centenary of the establishment of the Commissars of the Holy Land on 14 February 1421, by Pope Martin V, the Holy Father has sent a signed letter to the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, to “support and bless this precious service.” Fr. Patton replied to Pope Francis’s message, dated 2 February, the next day, in which he informed the Holy Father of the intention to celebrate a Mass at the Edicule of the Sepulchre in Jerusalem on 15 February at 6.30 in the morning, in memory of all the benefactors and to give thanks for the work of the Commissars. On that occasion, the Custos will read the signed message from the Holy Father and all the friars will offer special prayers for Pope Francis and for His ministry.

“We thank you most sincerely for your words of confirmation and encouragement,” Fr. Patton wrote. “Thank you for your support and for your blessing. We also thank you for all the support you give us through the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and its Prefect, His Eminence Cardinal Leonardo Sandri. Expressing all our gratitude to you, we wish to show you once again our filial affection and our obedience with our most devoted feelings.”

Pope Francis’s  letter is shown below:

The Vatican, 2 February 2021

Dear Brother,

Next 14 February will be the 600th anniversary of the establishment of the Commissars of the Holy Land by Pope Martin V.

After all these centuries, the mission of the Commissars is still topical: to support, promote and develop the mission of the Custody of the Holy Land, making possible a network of ecclesiastical, spiritual and charitable relations that have as their focal point the land where Jesus lived.

I support and bless this precious service and I hope that it can increasingly be a seed of fraternity.

I bless all with my heart and, please do not forget to pray for me.






Fonte: custodia.org

Image: Pope Francis in the Nativity Grotto in Bethlehem, during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2014, © Vatican Media

Congo: 100 Years of Franciscan Presence (1920-2020)


The Congolese friars are celebrating 100 years of Franciscan presence in Congolese territory. Since 1920, missionaries of different nationalities and origins (Belgians, Croatians, Americans, Poles, etc.) have gradually brought the message of St Francis of Assisi to the largest country in Africa, in different periods and contexts, and have implanted the Order there. First the Belgians in 1920 in what was then Katanga, then in Kasai, and later on, in the 1970s, the Croatians in Kivu. From these three centres, Franciscanism later spread to other parts of the country and beyond. Today, one hundred years later, the Democratic Republic of Congo has about 350 local friars in two provinces. From Congo, the friars see themselves called today to “give back the gift of the Gospel” all over the world (Belgium, Bosnia, Canada, Congo Brazzaville, Croatia, France, Guinea, Italy, Morocco, Mozambique, Central African Republic, Senegal, Holy Land, Turkey, United States). The celebration of this centenary of thanksgiving has taken place throughout the year 2020 in the context of the pandemic that has reduced the main activities planned in the various areas to a minimum: solemn opening on 16 February 2020 in Kanzenze, the place of arrival and burial of the first Belgian missionaries. The closing of the centenary will take place next May, in Kolwezi.

Br Pascal Lushuli, OFM