Chronicle Fifth Week


Now that the 201st Extra­or­di­nary Gen­er­al Chap­ter for the revi­sion of the Con­sti­tu­tions has con­clud­ed, it is time to sum­ma­rize the work that was done and give some sta­tis­tics on the Chap­ter assem­bly.

112 con­fr­eres gath­ered at the Ad Gentes Cen­ter in Nemi-Rome; 83 had voice (with vot­ing rights) and rep­re­sent­ed the 49 Juris­dic­tions of the Order. The rest were audi­tors or were work­ing for the Chap­ter sec­re­tari­at as com­mu­ni­ca­tions offi­cers, trans­la­tors, inter­preters and litur­gi­cal ani­ma­tors.
Three com­mis­sions worked to ensure that the Chap­ter was car­ried out prop­er­ly: the Cen­tral Com­mis­sion, the Juridi­cal Com­mis­sion and the Pres­i­den­cy Coun­cil. The prepa­ra­tion of the Instru­men­tum laboris, how­ev­er, was the work of the Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee for the Revi­sion of the Con­sti­tu­tions (CERC) and the Inter­na­tion­al Com­mis­sion for the Revi­sion of the Con­sti­tu­tions (CIRC).
791 votes were tak­en in the course of accept­ing the 231 arti­cles of the final text of the renewed Con­sti­tu­tions. It should be not­ed that we vot­ed para­graph by para­graph, wher­ev­er changes were made to the cur­rent Con­sti­tu­tions, and even where text had been tak­en out. Each time, a qual­i­fied major­i­ty of two-thirds of those enti­tled to vote was required.
The Chap­ter was offi­cial­ly opened by the Min­is­ter Gen­er­al, Fri­ar Mar­co TASCA, on July 24, 2018, with the recita­tion of Evening Prayer and the singing of the Veni Cre­ator. The fol­low­ing day, rit­u­al duties were com­plet­ed, in par­tic­u­lar with the elec­tion of the Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al of the Chap­ter, Fri­ar Tim­o­thy KULBICKI, and the Record­ing Sec­re­tary, Fri­ar Emanuele RIMOLI.
Then, pre­sen­ta­tions were made by the mem­bers of the CERC, sum­ma­riz­ing how they arrived at the Instru­men­tum, and address­ing the main top­ics of the six chap­ters. The Capit­u­lars were free to ask ques­tions and make sug­ges­tions, there­by high­light­ing their posi­tions.
Mon­day, July 30, was a spir­i­tu­al retreat day. Our con­frere, Bish­op Rober­to CARBONI, gave a reflec­tion on the theme of dis­cern­ment, indi­cat­ing that fra­ter­nal dia­logue was the main way to make deci­sions in the Holy Spir­it.
After an addi­tion­al day ded­i­cat­ed to dis­cus­sion, vot­ing got under­way on August 1st . At first there were some tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties to over­come, but then the work of the Chap­ter con­tin­ued smooth­ly, espe­cial­ly due to the excel­lent func­tion­al­i­ty of the Chap­ter audi­to­ri­um. Each Capit­u­lar was able to present his own iux­ta mod­um, a mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the text, or ask to resume dis­cus­sion on a top­ic already dealt with. This meant a lot of work for the above-men­tioned Com­mis­sions, who made sure that every­thing pro­ceed­ed prop­er­ly. Just as much com­mit­ment was required from the trans­la­tors, who, at the end of the day, had to turn Ital­ian texts into Eng­lish, Pol­ish and Span­ish.
The first chap­ter of the new Con­sti­tu­tions was about the Evan­gel­i­cal life of the fri­ars. On this chap­ter, par­tic­u­lar atten­tion was giv­en to the Con­ven­tu­als hav­ing being named a cler­i­cal Order by the Church. The pro­pos­al to let this clas­si­fi­ca­tion stand passed because it con­cerned the legal foun­da­tions of our real­i­ty. Also note­wor­thy was the approval of a new para­graph which explained the dog­ma of the Immac­u­late Con­cep­tion as the “gold­en thread” that has run through our his­to­ry from St. Fran­cis to St. Max­i­m­il­ian M. Kolbe.
On Sat­ur­day after­noon, August 4, vot­ing began on Chap­ter II: The Life of Union with God. Obvi­ous­ly, there were no sub­stan­tial diver­gences from the approved texts; the themes con­cern­ing our spir­i­tu­al foun­da­tion were shared by every­one. Of note was the request that each Fri­ary Chap­ter should sched­ule time for lis­ten­ing to, pray­ing about, reflect­ing upon and dis­cussing the Word of God.
On August 7, we moved on to the dis­cus­sion and approval of Chap­ter III, con­cern­ing fra­ter­nal life in com­mu­nion. Our being togeth­er is some­thing that must be worked on; it can­not be tak­en for grant­ed. The Fri­ary Chap­ter is at the heart of this issue and, pre­cise­ly for this rea­son, the new Con­sti­tu­tions reaf­firm that the Fri­ary Chap­ter is nec­es­sary and must be sched­uled with reg­u­lar­i­ty.
There was exten­sive dis­cus­sion in the Chap­ter audi­to­ri­um on the dif­fi­cul­ties of being present to each oth­er in our age of mass media. We can­not pre­scribe pre­cise rules on the use of tech­nol­o­gy, but we reit­er­at­ed that the com­mon good must always take prece­dence. An equal­ly hot top­ic was the shar­ing of assets; even more so dur­ing this his­tor­i­cal time of glob­al­iza­tion. Our Juris­dic­tions must be trans­par­ent in their admin­is­tra­tion of assets and be open to the needs of all the real­i­ties of the Order.
On August 9th, vot­ing began on Chap­ter IV: The Mis­sion of the Fri­ars. Our Fran­cis­can charism opens us up to an evan­ge­liza­tion that is always atten­tive to the times we live in. Dis­cus­sion in the Chap­ter audi­to­ri­um touched on the pas­toral care of parish­es, which are entrust­ed to fra­ter­ni­ties rather than indi­vid­u­als. How­ev­er, the new Con­sti­tu­tions reaf­firm that local com­mu­ni­ties must bal­ance pas­toral com­mit­ment with the demands of fra­ter­nal wit­ness.
Ample space was giv­en to the “mis­sio ad gentes“. The new text attempts to define this real­i­ty in line with the indi­ca­tions of the papal mag­is­teri­um, in par­tic­u­lar, from St John Paul II. Also men­tioned was Pope Fran­cis’ appeal to fos­ter com­mu­nal com­mit­ment in order to safe­guard cre­ation, which is our “com­mon house”.
On Mon­day, August 13, there was dis­cus­sion on Chap­ter V: The For­ma­tion of the Fri­ars. Par­tic­u­lar empha­sis was placed on the grad­ual pro­gres­sion of a friar’s for­ma­tion jour­ney. For this rea­son, it was decid­ed that the tem­porar­i­ly pro­fessed are only oblig­at­ed to pray Morn­ing and Evening Prayer.
Impor­tant­ly, the Capit­u­lars accept­ed the UniFra Project (Fran­cis­can Uni­ver­si­ty) insti­tut­ing a sin­gle, inter-Fran­cis­can uni­ver­si­ty cen­ter in Rome. Like­wise, they gave a sim­ple def­i­n­i­tion of our iden­ti­ty as “Con­ven­tu­al­i­ty”, which express­es active and co-respon­si­ble fra­ter­ni­ty, ori­ent­ed towards con­tem­pla­tion and mis­sion.
On August 17, vot­ing began on Chap­ter VI, which deals with the ser­vice of author­i­ty in the Order. Of note was a change made to the length of term for the offices of Min­is­ters and Cus­todes. The new text pro­vides for a sin­gle recon­fir­ma­tion, and so the Min­is­ter Gen­er­al can exer­cise his man­date for no more than twelve years, and Min­is­ters Provin­cial and Cus­todes for no more than 8 years.
Also note­wor­thy was a motion that was approved, which allowed the Min­is­ter Gen­er­al to ask the Con­gre­ga­tion for Insti­tutes of Con­se­crat­ed Life and Soci­eties of Apos­tolic Life per­mis­sion to appoint sev­en fri­ars, in solemn vows, not award­ed Holy Orders, with active voice and pro­posed by the Fed­er­a­tions, to par­tic­i­pate in the 2019 Ordi­nary Gen­er­al Chap­ter.
On Wednes­day, August 22, after the last votes were cast, announce­ments were made by Fri­ar José Luis AVENDAÑO MONSALVE, the Cus­tos of the Provin­cial Cus­tody of Our Lady of Coro­mo­to in Venezuela, and Fri­ar Leo PAYYAPPILLY, the Min­is­ter Provin­cial of the Province of St. Max­i­m­il­ian M. Kolbe in India. They detailed the very dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions ongo­ing in Ker­ala (India) and Venezuela, and invit­ed all the con­fr­eres to help.
The next day was ded­i­cat­ed to the final edit­ing of the text of the approved Con­sti­tu­tions. On Fri­day, August 24, a pil­grim­age was made to the tomb of the Seraph­ic Father St. Fran­cis in Assisi. The Capit­u­lars also con­cel­e­brat­ed Mass which includ­ed the novices mak­ing their first pro­fes­sion of vows.
On August 25, the final act of the Chap­ter took place: the approval of the entire text of the new Con­sti­tu­tions. In the Chap­ter audi­to­ri­um, the Capit­u­lars eval­u­at­ed the progress of the work that had been car­ried out. They all stressed the good­ness of the wel­come they received and the trans­paren­cy of the dia­logue in the Chap­ter audi­to­ri­um. Then, Fri­ar Ryszard WRÓBEL, the Gen­er­al Del­e­gate for Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, spoke and offered some sta­tis­ti­cal data. Cur­rent­ly, the Order has 24 bish­ops; 2797 priests; 60 tran­si­tion­al dea­cons; 11 per­ma­nent dea­cons; 97 solemn­ly pro­fessed cler­i­cal stu­dents; 470 solemn­ly pro­fessed reli­gious broth­ers; 492 tem­porar­i­ly pro­fessed; and 96 novices, all adding up to a total of 4047 fri­ars.
Final­ly, the Capit­u­lars thanked the Lord by singing the Te Deum dur­ing Mass, and the Min­is­ter Gen­er­al blessed every­one with the words of St. Fran­cis: “May the Lord give you peace!”

Chron­ick­ler: Fri­ar Aure­lio ERCOLI
trans.: mf

Saturday, August 25, Day 33

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