The Bull Ite vos of Pope Leo X, May 29, 1517 should have reconciled the differences that were already apparent between the Friars Minor about the way of authentically living the charism of the Founder. Instead, this Bull decreed the split into two branches (Friars Minor of the Regular Observance and Friars Minor Conventual) to which a decade later a third branch was added, that of the Friars Minor Capuchin. Since then, each of the three male branches has pursued its own traditions, increasingly reinforced in differentiating from other friars, expressing in some circumstances mutual support and collaboration, but in other occasions some form of clash.
In recent years, the sons of Francis of Assisi, especially those of the region of Umbria – where the charism was born and a place to which all the brothers of the Order refer back to – began a journey of reconciliation that came with great support from their respective General Ministers. This four-year itinerary has already seen the General Ministers mutually asking and giving pardon at the Porziuncola on July 11, 2016, a significant date for this process. An important event for this year is the common celebration of a Chapter, called: “Generalissimo”, which falls on the same significant date of May 29.
A representation of the Friars of the one Franciscan Family (an expression of the presence in Umbria of the male Franciscan Orders) gathered for four days with the General Ministers at the Oasis of St. Francis in Foligno. The get-together concluded on the morning of June 2 in Assisi, in order to “return or give back”: to the friars, the lived experience of the Chapter, and to the Lord, with praise and thanksgiving for the work He is doing.
The first of these moments happened at the Press Room of the Sacro Convento of the Basilica of St. Francis and began with three testimonies. The first to talk was Br. Mauro Botti, OFM. He said that it was a “beautiful journey of mutual listening that has already led to a reconciliation celebrated before the Lord”. Br. Ivan Scicluna, OFMCap, read a text on the Holy Spirit. He concluded by expressing the urgent need to share the beauty of this experience with the Fraternity of Spello and invited everyone to do the same to generate a good, positive, and fruitful “chain reaction”. Br. Danilo Marinelli, OFMConv, expressed much gratitude for the time together, grace-filled that’s difficult to express in a few words. After these three reflections, Br. Marcello Fadda, TOR, presented a summary of what emerged during the four days of the Chapter. Br. Marcello listed some of the many concrete proposals that emerged, all seeking to express with facts the possibility of a journey together, and that now their feasibility must be verified.
Br. Mauro Jöhri, OFMCap, on behalf of the other General Ministers who were absent due to other commitments, reiterated the approval – manifested by their presence throughout the Chapter – and their interest for this initiative born in Umbria, land where the hope of the Franciscan Order is placed. He also hoped for the realization of one of the ideas that emerged during the Chapter: a “Franciscan think tank” that fosters the knowledge and the value of Franciscan history, and through it to promote esteem and respect for people. Br. Mauro concluded his speech, reaffirming his intention to go, with as many brothers as possible, to the “Lord Pope” this coming 29 November 2017 to receive from him a blessing and a word on this journey that we undertake together. The Pope gave already the initial verbal approval to the four General Ministers during a private meeting, with details that must now be finalized.
In the splendid Lower Church of the Basilica of Saint Francis, the brothers celebrated the Concluding Mass presided over by His Excellency, Monsignor José Rodríguez Carballo, OFM, Secretary of the Congregation for Consecrated Life Institutes and Apostolic Life Societies, who began by expressing the “great joy of being with the most beloved Franciscan Family”.
Full Italian text: www.assisiofm.it