The VII Congress of the Estudios Franciscanos school of higher studies, which took place in El Pardo (Madrid, Spain) from May 22-24, saw good participation by Franciscan friars and sisters of various religious institutes together with Secular Franciscans. Also present at the Congress were MARCO TASCA, General Minister of the Friars Minor Conventual, MICHAEL PERRY, General Minister of the OFM, MAURO JÖHRI, General Minister of the Capuchins, and TIBOR KAUSER, General Minister of the Secular Franciscan Order, in addition to other general superiors of the various religious families of the TOR.
The Congress began with the commemoration of the fifth centenary of the Bull Ite vos of Pope Leo X in 1517, also called the Bulla unionis because it brought together many reformed groups. On the other hand it was the bull that definitively divided the Order of Friars Minor.
The theme of the Congress was United through Fraternity. The connectedness that comes to exist among the friars minor was treated from various spiritual perspectives. Marco Tasca presented on Franciscan fraternity as a common richness, which begins, in his judgment, from a passion renewed by a baptismal spirituality. Michael Perry explored the theme of Ecclesial communion as the cradle of fraternity, insisting that the place of a friar minor in the Church is with those who suffer most for lack of dignity and peace. Mauro Jöhri spoke on the Apostolate of fraternity, which is nothing else than to say to people to today that fraternity is possible for human beings and creation.
To these three perspectives were added the contrast of presentations by three philosophers, who contributed to situating better the reflection in the social context in which we find ourselves today. Francesc Torralba spoke on the Bonds of human quality, proposing social fraternity as an ideal for civil life. Sebastiàn Mora made this vision more specific in his talk on The Church of the poor, the Church of minors, emphasizing the relationship between fraternity and social poverty. Finally, Luis Maria Cifuentes presented on the theme of Fraternity and secularity in an inter-cultural world, shedding light on the social and political concepts to a more civil and fraternity citizenship.
These reflections were brought to a conclusion with a round table entitled Journeys of fraternity, during which Juan Carlos Moya and Joaquin Agesta gave concrete suggestions on possible paths to growth in fraternity today. Mary Melone and Luca Bianchi presented to the Congress on the current initiative for a united Franciscan university in Rome.
A moment of relaxation and of reflection on language was provided by Rafad Alvarez ‘el Brujo,’ a well-known Spanish story-teller, who presented some scenes from his opera, Francis, Jester of God.
We can say, given the intensity of the Congress and the distinction of the participants, that the experience of these days in Madrid was a historic moment for Franciscanism in the peninsula. The memories remain and will serve to inspire the Franciscan family to journey with enthusiasm on the paths of social and fraternal unity.
To the praise of Christ, Francis, and Clare!