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CIOFS-- August 6 2005 >>Best Wishes to Pope Benedict XVI

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  • Richard Chamberland
    CIOFS-L 2005 August I C I O F S LIST SFO International Council - Weekly edition Volume: 11 - N. 31 - 2005 - August - I From: CIOFS Bulletin, 2005, N. 9 ...
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 5, 2005
      CIOFS-L 2005 August I

      C I O F S LIST

      SFO International Council - Weekly edition

      Volume: 11 - N. 31 - 2005 - August - I

      From: CIOFS Bulletin, 2005, N. 9

      Ciofs Presidency
      Best Wishes to Pope Benedict XVI
      Franciscan Youth
      Towards Cologne
      The International Eucharistic Congress
      Catholics in the World
      An important Acknowledgement
      Chapter and Visits


      Best Wishes to Pope Benedict XVI

      Dear Holy Father,

      The Secular sons and daughters of Saint Francis of Assisi, with hearts full of love for the Church, thank the Good Lord for having given Your Person to us as father and pastor of the Church.

      We offer Your Holiness, Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, our humble and devote homage.

      We confirm our filial love and our will to put ourselves, as always, at the service of Gods Reign all over the world under your wise teaching, faithful to the promise of “Obedience and reverence to his Holiness the Pope” (1Reg) made by Brother Francis for himself and for his sons and daughters present and in the future.

      All the Secular Franciscan Fraternities in the world have been praying already to support your ministry for Christ’s Church, as we joyously renew our unconditional desire to offer ourselves with God’s grace as instruments of the Church in building a more evangelical and fraternal world. We shall take care, together with the brothers and sisters of the entire Franciscan family, to make present the charism of our common Seraphic Father in the life and mission of the Church.

      Holiness, with love and faith we implore your blessing on the Secular Franciscan Order and we wish for you Peace and all Good.

      Rome, April 20, 2005


      Towards Cologne

      “We have come to adore him” is the theme of the meeting of the young people at Cologne, that for centuries is home to the relics, according to tradition, of the Magi. A place, therefore, highly symbolic. Choosing it, the Pope wanted to represent to today’s youth a spiritual path which this mysterious group took two thousand years ago searching for Christ.

      The message that the Pope wrote to accompany the passage of the cross and of the young people towards Cologne proposes once again the story that the Evangelist Mathew tells of the pilgrimage of the Magi, from the time “they departed” with courage along unknown roads until they arrived at Bethlehem and were filled with “great joy” in seeing the Baby laid in the manger by Mary. “And falling down they worshiped him” recalls Mathew. Then opening “their treasures they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh”. And the Pope comments “My dear young people, you too offer to the Lord the gold of your lives, namely your freedom to follow him out of love, responding faithfully to His call; let the incense of your fervent prayer rise up to Him in praise of his glory; offer Him your myrrh, that is your affection of total gratitude for Him, true Man who loved us in dying as a criminal on Golgotha”.

      “Listening to Christ and adoring Him – emphasizes John Paul II – brings you to make courageous choices, to make decisions that are sometimes heroic. Jesus is exigent because he wants our authentic happiness”. And he calls a few to follow him as priests or in consecrated life, but one’s own vocation for every baptized person is a vocation to that “highest measure of Christian life” which is expressed in sanctity.

      So the Pope exhorts young people to resist any form of idolatry; he exhorts not to give in to the false illusions and passing modes which often leave a tragic spiritual emptiness; he exhorts them to refuse the seductions of money, consumerism and the subtle violence sometimes carried out by the media.

      Which means for the new generations of the third millennium not to conform to the mentality of this world but to be transformed renewing the mind to discover God’s will for their own personal life and for the history of the world.

      Here is the logo for the WYD of Cologne:

      The cross indicates Christ’s presence; it is stylized in red, representing love, passion and suffering. The comet brings to mind the birth of Christ and the journey of the Magi. The cathedral of Cologne also stylized in red associates the Church to the Cross. The elliptical arc,a stylized form of the letter C, indicates Christ. The arc is projected towards the Cross, an invitation to orient oneself towards Christ and adore him. The lower part represents a kind of boat in memory of Noah’s arc. Its color, blue, is a symbol of the water of the Rhine where Cologne is located.


      The International Eucharistic Congress

      On Monday, October 11, 2004 the first plenary meeting of the International Eucharistic Congress was held in Guadalajara (Mexico) which showed the different realities visible in the various continents. F. Gianfranco Grieco synthesized this in an article in L’Osservatore Romano.

      To present a “synthesis of a synthesis” would reduce it to very little, but perhaps it could be useful to look at the light and dark sides that, according to many Bishops and priests who spoke, characterized the ecclesiastic and Eucharistic life in the respective cultural areas.

      For people coming from Africa Mons. Somè (Burkina Faso) pointed out as positive realities, the conception of the family, of life, of the body, of speech and of the invisible world. However, against this clash many negative situations such as, tribal hatred, war, egoism, abortion and religious syncretism. “Faith is still halfway down the road in Africa”, Mons. Somè affirmed.

      The situation in Asia was presented by Mons. Morelos (Philippines) who reminded us that this continent is the cradle of five worldwide religions, but the catholic presence is only 2.3%. The Church in Asia is present, therefore, as a “poor Church”, which has no power in this world. The fragile voice of a small minority is, however, able to answer the challenge of an uncontrollable globalization, which sacrifices humanity on the altar of progress, with a globalization of solidarity, reminding us that money is no substitute for God and that it is foolhardy to separate religion from life.

      In Oceania the Archbishop of Perth (Australia) underlining the missionary efforts of the Church which operates in that immense continent, affirmed that to the moderate laicism, the diminishing faith and vocational crises one must answer with the rediscovery of Sunday “the day of the Lord”.

      In Europe projects and programs are made, but the person is forgotten. European humanity has become indifferent to the Mystery of God. Therefore the Cardinal Archbishop of Seville (Spain) has invited the people of Europe to rediscover the sense of Mystery: The Eucharist is this Mystery; it is the Mystery of light.

      Cardinal Law presented the four “lights” of the Church of those who live in the United States and Canada in this way: practice of going to communion frequently, active participation of God’s people in the celebrations, adoration of the Eucharist outside the Mass and the Eucharist as the center of all events. On the dark side the Cardinal recalls the loss of the meaning of Sunday and the smaller number of faithful frequenting, the lack of a worthy preparation for the celebration and the lack of faith in the family damaging the younger generation.

      For Latin America, “Continent of hope”, Mons. Berlie Belaunzaran, Archbishop of Yucatan (Mexico) began with the documents of Rio de Janeiro (1955), Medellin (1968), Puebla (1979) and Santo Domingo (1992) to discover through this excursus the journey of the Christian community. Among the light sides the Archbishop proposed “the eloquent example of the Latin American immigrants, witnesses to the Eucharist” and to the “nightly adoration” that, only in Mexico has 4 million faithful praying once a month all night long next to Jesus in the Eucharist.

      Catholics in the world

      According to reports from the Central Office of Statistics of Vatican City, generally speaking, the number of Catholics has increased, but the percentage of growth has slightly diminished in the whole world population. Here are some facts to think about:

      • Catholics have grown from 757 million in 1978 to 1070 million in 2002, while the percentage has decreased from 17.99% to 17.20%. In America are 49.92% of the Catholics against 26.15% in Europe. The biggest growth was found in Africa at 150%.
      • The number of priests in the last 25 years has diminished by 3.78%. However, the vocational crisis has passed.
      • The biggest and most preoccupying drop has been in male religious which has diminished by 27.67% and sisters whose percentage has dropped by 20.98%.
      • The permanent deacons, on the contrary, have gone from 5,562 in 1978 to 30,097 in 2002, with a growth of 441.12%.

      An important acknowledgement

      With an act of January 11, 2005, the Holy Father John Paul II has elevated the “Pontificium Ateneum Antonianum” to the rank of University with the four Faculties of which it is composed, that is, the Faculty of Theology, Faculty of Biblical Sciences and Archaeology, the Faculty of philosophy and the Faculty of Canon Law.

      This is, as the General Minister of the Friars Minor underlined, a great honour and a solemn acknowledgement of the value and the contribution that the extensive Franciscan tradition has offered in the history of the Church. Looking toward the future, Fr. José Carballo has asserted that “as a Franciscan University, the PUA is called to transmit -- bringing up-to-date when necessary -- the cultural, philosophical and theological patrimony of the Franciscan school of thought. This asks for an harmonious and common effort together with the whole great Franciscan Family, because only then we would be able to answer to the Pope's expectations: “to place the Gospel in the heart of contemporary culture and history”, being in this way “caretakers of our hope”.

      Chapter and Visits

      India – From January 22 to February 1st, 2005, the fraternal and pastoral visit to the National Fraternity of the SFO in India took place. Lucy A. Almirañez, delegated by the General Minister of the SFO was the fraternal visitor; Fr. Irudaysamy represented the Conference of Assistants.

      Among the more meaningful topics addressed during the Visit was the restructuring of the Regions, in consideration of the vastness of the national territory, and the elevated number of local Fraternities (more than 700, with more than 14.000 members). Currently the National Fraternity of India counts with 27 Regions, some of which comprise from 30 to 50 local fraternities. The Chapter, meeting for the Visit, decided to modify the national Statutes, limiting to a maximum of 20 the number of Fraternities in each Region. It also addressed the Franciscan Youth that presently counts with approximately 20 groups: some are organized by the SFO, others by the First Order, without direct relationship with the SFO.

      In the meeting with the Spiritual Assistants, Fr. Irudaysamy and Lucy clarified the role of the Assistants and their relationship with the SFO, in light of the revised General Constitutions.

      In six of the Regions the Visitors had the opportunity of meeting the local and regional representatives of Fraternities.

      In their conclusions, the Visitors have noted the improvements of the situation of the SFO in India, as a result of many initiatives already undertaken by the National Council. Other positive aspects are also encouraging signs.

      Peru – On Sunday, February 27, 2005, in Lima, at the Retreat House “Saint Francis Solano”, the national elective chapter of the SFO of Peru took place, presided by M. Consuelo de Nuñez, delegated by the General Minister of the SFO, together with fr. Ivan Matic, OFM, representing the Conference of General Assistants. Fr. José Alarcón, OFM Cap, Provincial Minister, was also present.

      After the proper preliminary implementations, the voting took place: Maritza Liliana Tejardo Abanto was elected National Minister; Rebeca Isabel Bedoya Parker, Vice Minister. Bety Herrera Baldeón was confirmed to the office of International Councilor.
      Fraternally Richard, ofs
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