Pope Francis to Friars Minor: Seek renewal amid declining numbers

CNA Staff   By CNA Staff

Pope Francis waves to the crowds at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Sept 2, 2015. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jul 17, 2021 / 05:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis urged members of the Order of Friars Minor on Saturday to seek renewal as they face “the challenges of declining numbers and aging.”

In a message to participants of the order’s general chapter in Rome on July 17, the pope encouraged the Franciscan Friars, known by the initials O.F.M., not to be paralyzed by worry.

“As much of the order faces the challenges of declining numbers and aging, do not let anxiety and fear prevent you from opening your hearts and minds to the renewal and revitalization that the Spirit of God is stirring in you and among you,” he said.

“You have a spiritual heritage of inestimable richness, rooted in the Gospel life and characterized by prayer, fraternity, poverty, minority, and itinerancy.”

“Do not forget that we receive from our closeness to the poor, the victims of modern slavery, the refugees, and the excluded of this world, a renewed gaze, capable of opening us to God’s future. They are your teachers. Embrace them as St. Francis did!”

The general chapter is taking place on July 3-18 on the theme of “Renewing Our Vision, Embracing Our Future.”

The order announced on July 13 that it had elected a new leader, Fr. Massimo Fusarelli, who will serve a six-year term as minister general. He succeeds Fr. Michael Perry, a native of Indianapolis, who led the order since 2013.

In his message, the pope said: “I greet with affection all of you who are participating in the general chapter of the Order of Friars Minor. A grateful thought goes out to Fr. Michael A. Perry, who has concluded his service as minister general, and I offer my best wishes to Fr. Massimo Giovanni Fusarelli, who has been called to succeed him.”

The pope recalled that St. Francis of Assisi wrote in his Testament that he used to be nauseated by the sight of lepers, but that after he met them, he felt transformed.

“At the roots of your spirituality is this encounter with the least and the suffering, in the sign of ‘doing mercy,’” he said. “God touched Francis’ heart through the mercy offered to his brother, and he continues to touch our hearts through his encounter with others, especially those most in need.”

“The renewal of your vision can only start from this new look with which to contemplate the poor and marginalized brother, a sign, almost a sacrament, of God’s presence.”

He continued: “From this renewed gaze, from this concrete experience of encounter with our neighbor and his wounds, can come a renewed energy to look to the future as brothers and as minors, as you are, according to the beautiful name of ‘Friars Minor’ that St. Francis chose for himself and for you.”

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  1. A question I ponder:

    Did the OFM Franciscans get bailed out by money gleaned from the seizure and sale of property belonging to the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (FFI), who the Pontiff Francis’ destroyed, literally exiling their priests and nuns to the Phillipines and other places far from their sacred domiciles in Italy?

    Did the OFM Franciscans in the Pontiff Francis’ Vatican, led by the former Director of the OFM, Archbishop Carballo, deliberately attack the FFI Franciscans to destroy their charism for the ancient Mass, and sieze their property, and sell it tp pay of the debts incurred by the malfeasance (or worse) of the OFMs? The former OFM Director Perry disclosed that when he took over in late 2013 or early 2014, the OFMs had suffered “grave, and I underscore grave financial” losses…in tens of Millions of Dollars…because of “irregularities” under the direction of his predecessor, now Archbishop Jose Carballo, who was the very first appointee to the Vatican of the Pontiff Francis, whisked away to Rome in summer of 2013, before his successor Perry disclosed the financial scandal in 2014. The story was first broken by reporter Nick Squires of the UK Telegraph I believe in November 2014.

    That’s a very serious and unexplored question. What happened to the property of the FFI Franciscans who were destroyed by the Pontiff Francis, at the hands of his appointee Archbishop Carballo, who directed the attack on the FFI Franciscans.

    • Pope Francis suppressed the one priestly fraternity in Italy that was thriving, and now attempts to crush the one liturgical movement that was growing. And then he encourages the O.F.M.s amid their declining numbers! It is impossible to overestimate the craziness in Rome right now!

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