The regular life of the Chapter was resumed today, after the excitement of yesterday’s Papal audience. The assembly welcomed the newly elected Definitor General, Br. Ivan Sesar, who has just come from the Province of Mostar in Bosnia Herzegovina.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, addressed the Chapter and presented his thoughts on the role of the Church and the Friars Minor in our time. In his speech, and also in the general discussion afterwards, Cardinal Turkson spoke about the account of the washing of the feet in John’s Gospel and referred to it as the biblical foundation of minority.
He also mentioned other challenges of our time, and stressed the following: the need to network with others in our projects in order to respond at a more global level to the needs of the poor, whose situation is often the result of poor management and bad administration; the importance of caring for Creation, which needs to be considered as a Christian virtue, because we cannot love God unless we love His creatures; the importance, in the words of Benedict XVI, to listen to the real needs of the poor before offering solutions; the importance of building a fraternity that creates strong relationships and knows how to overcome religious boundaries, thus encouraging genuine dialogue.
These challenges, along with the testimony offered by Marie Dennis the day before yesterday, were the focus of the various reflection groups, which met in the afternoon and then shared their thoughts in the plenary session.
Having finished the business end of the day, the friars set off for the Protomonastery of St. Clare, where they celebrated Vespers with the Poor Clares. The celebration, presided over by Br. Julio Bunader, Vicar General, included a greeting from Sr. Clare Agnes Acquadro, abbess of the Protomonastery. Sister Clare Agnes recalled that St. Francis continuously exhorted the sisters to be close to Christ, to live according to the pattern of the Paschal Mystery and to be converted to the wisdom of the Gospel, and she called on the Friars Minor today to continue to give this witness to the sisters.
Evening Prayer and a fraternal meeting with the Sisters concluded another intense day of work during which the friars struggled with new and demanding challenges, which are beginning to strongly resonate in the reflections of the Chapter.