News from the General Curia
Dear Brother Ministers and Custodes,
Fraternal greetings of Peace and all Good. I am sending the results of the meeting of the General Definitorium held on July 19, 2012, in regard to the presence of friars in the territory of another Province or country. This issue was already dealt with in the previous six-year term. The General Definitorium sent a questionnaire to all Provinces and Custodies to assess the presence, in their own territory, of other Provinces, and to hear their opinion on the issue. The fruit of this process, which was carried out by the previous Gen- eral Definitorium, was Chapter mandate 50, in which the General Definitorium was requested to follow such cases and to ‘normalize any situation according to the indications in our legislation’ (cf. GGSS 128 §2), which were approved by the same Chapter.
To fulfill this Chapter mandate, the General Defini- torium began with our current legislation and prepared these ‘guidelines’. They take into account some con- crete situations, along with the opinion of many Minis- ters and Custodes who are dealing with this issue. Our purpose is to eliminate the risk of an identity crisis for the Order in regard to its being a fraternity (cf. GGCC 1§1; 38; 40).
The danger that I refer to is that of favoring, espe- cially in certain countries, some truly island fraterni- ties. They do not have a solid relationship with their home Province due to distance, nor do they have such a relationship with the Province that is receiving them, because juridically the new presence depends on the Minister who sends the friars.
Furthermore, these “guidelines” ask for reciprocity and solidarity between needy Provinces and the Enti- ties that are able to offer help, while always maintain- ing our Franciscan identity. Those friars who come to a
territory different than their own Entity ought to be pre- pared to collaborate readily with the Entity that is re- ceiving them. And the Entity that receives them ought to guarantee the quality of Franciscan life and mission, and not concern itself solely with economic issues.
The ideal is that the friars who arrive from other re- gions truly come to help the needy Entity, and not just the Dioceses, and that they enter fully into the life of the Province that welcomes them. In the cases where this is not possible – and these must truly be exception- al – the legislation of the Order and these “guidelines” from the General Definitorium are to be respected.
In each case, those arriving and those receiving ought to seriously consider the motives in asking for or in offering help. Nor can we forget the issue of re- structuring, to which all Entities of the Order have been asked to be attentive. Its goal is to give new mean- ing to our life and mission, based on the Gospel and our charism. We should seek in all ways possible to overcome a mentality of provincialism (cf. Bearers of the Gift of the Gospel 31), and not be so concerned with maintaining a presence that sooner or later will be closed.
While the Definitorium will see to it that the mea- sures they have approved will be followed, I entrust application of these “guidelines” to the goodwill of the Ministers and Custodes.
Rome, September 25, 2012
Br. José Rodríguez Carballo, ofm Minister General, OFM
It is Christmas. The time has come to take off the robe of mourning and misery (cf. Bar 5, 1). “The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad indeed” (Ps 125, 3). Humanity has patiently awaited the precious yield of the soil (cf. James 5, 7), and finally “the grace of God has appeared, offering salvation to all” (Tit 2, 11). It is Christmas: God has come to stay with us: “Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again. Rejoice!” (Phil 4, 4).Christmas reminds us that we are not alone, that God is with us on the journey through the world. This presence brings great joy (cf. Mt 28, 8-9). It is the foundation of the certain hope for those who accept the good news with true faith and who make it present in perfect charity (cf. PrCr).
Br. José Rodríguez Carballo, OFM, Minister General
We are writing from Belém, Pará, in the Brazilian Amazon, where we have come to participate in the fifth Franciscan Solidarity Seminar and the World Social Forum. We come from four continents and 15 countries, and have met from January 17th to February 1st. We have come to pray together, to share our countries’ experiences and to reflect on our Franciscan way of life. Belém is the host city for this year’s World Social Forum. We would like to share some of our thoughts with you on this process.