Dear Br. Valentín,
In a letter of last February 13, in the name of the Conference of General Assistants of the Secular Franciscan Order, you sent us the Statutes for Spiritual and Pastoral Assistance to the Secular Franciscan Order, revised after a careful and thorough study and based on the General Constitutions of the SFO, definitively approved on December 8, 2000 by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
It is my pleasure to inform you that our Conference of General Ministers of the First Order and the TOR, at its meeting of March 25, 2002, approved these Statutes which, by the act of approval, enter immediately into force, substituting the preceding ones approved in 1992.
The general Ministers entrust to the Conference of General Assistants the task making these new Statutes known to all brothers of the Franciscan First Order and the TOR and to foster its understanding and study. This instrument can thus serve as a basis for our fraternal service to the SFO and guide us all in our relations with the SFO according to our own vocation and the specific nature of the SFO itself.
On this occasion, also in name of the other general Ministers, I thank you and the other general Assistants of the SFO for your generous and constant service.
Wishing you and the other Assistants a Happy Easter,
Fr. Joachim Giermek OFMConv
C.c.: Emanuela De Nunzio
Fr. VALENTÍN REDONDO, OFMConv.
President of the Conference of General Assistants
Minister gen. OFM Tel. 68 49 19 Fax 63 80 292 Minister gen. OFMCap Tel. 47 40 643 Fax 48 28 267
Minister gen. OFMConv Tel. 699 21 951 Fax 699 41 479 Minister gen. TOR Tel. 69 91 540 Fax 67 84 970
STATUTES FOR SPIRITUAL AND PASTORAL ASSISTANCE
TO THE SECULAR FRANCISCAN ORDER
Title I: General Principles
1. The spiritual and pastoral care of the SFO, in virtue of its belonging to the same spiritual family, is entrusted by the Church to the Franciscan First Order and the TOR, to whom the Secular Fraternity has been united for centuries1.
2. Religious and Secular Franciscans in fact, in various ways and forms but in life-giving union with each other, aim to make present the charism of their common Seraphic Father in the life and mission of the Church and of society2.
3. Therefore, as a concrete sign of communion and co-responsibility, religious superiors must assure spiritual assistance to all the fraternities of the SFO3.
1. The spiritual and pastoral care is provided as a two-fold service:
-- the fraternal office of the altius moderamen on the part of the major Superiors4;
-- spiritual assistance to the fraternities and their Councils.
2. The purpose of the altius moderamen is to guarantee the fidelity of the SFO to the Franciscan charism, communion with the Church and union with the Franciscan family5.
3. The purpose of spiritual assistance is to foster communion with the Church and with the Franciscan Family through witness and sharing of Franciscan spirituality, to cooperate in initial and on-going formation of secular Franciscans and to express the fraternal affection of the religious towards the SFO6.
1. This two-fold service completes but does not substitute for the secular councils and ministers whose responsibility it is to guide, coordinate, and animate the fraternities at the various levels7.
2. It is exercised according to these present Statutes, common to the four religious Orders (OFM, OFMConv, OFMCap, TOR) and must be performed collegially at all levels above the local level8.
1. The purpose of the present Statutes is to define, in a unified and concrete way, the service of the spiritual and pastoral care of the SFO, taking into account the unity of that same Order.
2. These Statutes are approved by the Conference of General Ministers. The Conference has the right of modification and authentic interpretation.
3. Those provisions which do not agree with the present Statutes are abrogated.
Title II: The Role of the Major Superiors
a. General Principles
1. The spiritual and pastoral care of the SFO, entrusted by the Church to the Franciscan First Order and the TOR, is the duty above all of their general and provincial ministers9.
2. They exercise their office through:
-- the establishment of local fraternities;
-- pastoral visits;
-- spiritual assistance.
They may exercise this office personally or through a delegate10.
3. The Franciscan major Superiors remain responsible for the quality of spiritual assistance and pastoral care, even in those cases where previous approval from a religious Superior or from the local Ordinary is needed to appoint the Assistant11.
4. They should also foster the formation and the interest of their own religious in the SFO and ensure a specific preparation for the Assistants so that they will be suitable and well-prepared12.
1. The canonical establishment of new fraternities is done at the request of the secular Franciscans concerned and with the prior consultation and collaboration of the SFO council at the higher level, to which the new fraternity will be related according to the national statutes. The written consent of the local Ordinary is necessary for the canonical establishment of a fraternity outside the houses or churches of the Franciscan religious of the First Order or the TOR13.
2. Any transfer of a local fraternity to the pastoral care of another religious Franciscan Order is done according to the procedures established by the national statutes of the SFO14.
3. The pastoral visit is a privileged moment of communion of the First Order and the TOR with the SFO. It is carried out also in the name of the Church and serves to guarantee fidelity to the Franciscan charism and to foster communion with the Church and with the Franciscan Family15.
1. The major superiors of the First Order and the TOR are to establish together the most adequate means to guarantee spiritual assistance to local fraternities which, because of causes beyond their control, could remain without such assistance16.
2. They also take care to keep in touch with local Ordinaries who have erected local fraternities of the SFO in accordance with its specific legislation, taking upon themselves the responsibility for their spiritual assistance and pastoral care or entrusting it to one of their priests or to a religious Institute.
b. The General Ministers
1. The general Ministers exercise collegially the altius moderamen and the pastoral assistance in regard to the SFO as a whole17.
2. It belongs specifically to the Conference of General Ministers of the First Order and the TOR:
-- to conduct relations with the Holy See concerning legislative or liturgical texts requiring the approval of the Holy See;
-- to preside over and to confirm the election of the Presidency of the International Council of the SFO19;
-- if the case arises, to accept the resignation of the general Minister of the SFO20.
1. The general Ministers exercise their office towards the SFO in accordance with the universal law of the Church, with their own Constitutions and with full respect for the specific laws of the SFO. They have the faculty to establish, visit, and meet the local SFO fraternities which are assisted by their own Order.
2. In relation to his own Order, it is the responsibility of each general Minister:
-- to appoint the general Assistant of the SFO, who, under the authority of the general Minister, looks after all things regarding service to the SFO21;
-- if needed, to confirm or to appoint the national Assistants belonging to his own Order.
c. Provincial Ministers
1. The provincial Ministers and the other major Superiors exercise their responsibilities towards the SFO in the territory of their own jurisdiction.
2. Where more than one major Superior have jurisdiction in the same territory, they are to establish together the most adequate means for carrying out collegially their mission with respect to the regional and national fraternities of the SFO22.
3. They are likewise to jointly draw up procedures for the appointment of the national and regional Assistants and also to establish from which Superiors the national and regional Councils of the SFO should request an Assistant23.
1. The provincial Ministers and the other major superiors assure spiritual assistance to the local fraternities entrusted to their own jurisdiction24.
2. It is their specific competence, in the name of their jurisdiction:
-- to canonically establish new local fraternities and to guarantee them spiritual assistance;
-- to animate spiritually, to visit, and to meet the local fraternities assisted by their own Order;
-- to keep themselves informed about the spiritual assistance given to the SFO and the Franciscan Youth25;
-- to appoint the spiritual Assistants26.
Title III: The Role of the Spiritual Assistants
a. General principles
1. The spiritual assistant is the person designated by the competent major superior to carry out this service for a specific fraternity of the SFO and of the Franciscan Youth27.
2. In order to be a witness of Franciscan spirituality and of the fraternal affection of the religious towards the secular Franciscans, and to be a bond of communion between his Order and the SFO, the spiritual assistant should preferably be a Franciscan religious, a member of the First Order or the TOR28.
3. The spiritual assistant is by right a voting member of the council and of the chapter of the fraternity to which he or she gives assistance and collaborates with it in all activities. Only in economic matters and in elections at any level does he or she not enjoy the right to vote29.
1. The principal task of the assistant is to foster a deeper insight into Franciscan spirituality and to co-operate in the initial and continuing formation of the secular Franciscans30.
2. In the Council of the fraternity and in elective and ordinary Chapters the assistant will be respectful of the responsibilities and role of the secular Franciscans, giving them priority with regard to the guidance, co-ordination, and animation of the fraternity.
3. The assistant participates actively and votes in the discussions and decisions taken by the Council or by the Chapter. He or she is specifically responsible for the animation of liturgical celebrations and spiritual reflections during the meetings of the Council or of the Chapter.
1. The pastoral visit is a privileged moment of communion of the First Order and the TOR with the SFO. It is carried out also in the name of the Church and serves to revive the evangelical Franciscan spirit, to assure fidelity to the charism and to the Rule, to offer help to fraternity life, to reinforce the bond of the unity of the SFO, and to promote its most effective insertion into the Franciscan family and the Church31.
2. The visitor strengthens the fraternity in its presence and mission in the Church and in society; verifies the relation between the secular and religious fraternities; gives special attention to programs, methods, and experiences of formation; gives attention to the collaboration and sense of co-responsibility among the secular leaders and the spiritual assistants; examines the quality of the spiritual assistance given to the visited fraternity; encourages the spiritual assistants in their service and promotes their continuing spiritual and pastoral formation32.
3. At the request of the respective Council, a delegate of the Conference of Assistants carries out the pastoral visit, fully respectful of the SFO’s own organization and law33. For urgent and serious reasons or in case of failure on the part of the minister or the council to request it, the pastoral visit may be carried out upon the initiative of the conference of spiritual assistants, having consulted the Council of the SFO of the same level34.
4. It is recommended that the pastoral and fraternal visits be carried out together, with agreement beforehand on the program. The visitor or the visitors will in good time communicate the object and the program of the visit to the council concerned. They will examine the registers and the records, including those relating to previous visits, to the election of the council and to the administration of goods. They will draw up a report of the visit they have conducted, appending it to the records in the appropriate register of the fraternity visited, and will inform the council of the level which has conducted the visit35.
5. In the visit to the local fraternity, the visitor or visitors will meet with the entire fraternity and with the groups and sections into which it is divided. They will give special attention to the brothers and sisters in formation and to those brothers and sisters who may request a personal meeting. Where required, they will proceed to the fraternal correction of the shortcomings possibly encountered36.
1. The Assistant is appointed by the competent major Superior, after consultation with the council of the fraternity concerned37.
2. Where more than one major Superior is involved in the appointment of an Assistant, the norms established jointly by the Superiors with jurisdiction in the territory should be followed38.
3. The appointment of the Assistant is made in writing and for a limited time, which accumulated cannot be more than twelve years.
4. When it is not possible to give the fraternity a spiritual Assistant who is a member of the First Order or the TOR, the competent major Superior can entrust the service of spiritual assistance to:
-- religious brothers or sisters of other Franciscan institutes;
-- secular Franciscans, cleric or lay, specially prepared for such service;
-- other diocesan clerics or non-Franciscan religious39.
1. At the international, national, and regional level, the Assistants, if there are more than one, form a Conference and give their service collegially to the SFO and to the Franciscan Youth40.
2. Each Conference of Assistants functions according to its own internal by-laws.
3. The national and regional Statutes of the SFO establish the number of Assistants who are members of the national or regional Council.
b. General Assistants
1. The general Assistants are appointed by their respective general Minister, after consultation with the Presidency of the International Council of the SFO41.
2. They give their service to the Presidency of the International Council of the SFO, form a conference, and collegially see to the spiritual assistance to the SFO as a whole42.
3. It is the responsibility of the Conference of general Assistants:
-- to collaborate with the international Council and its Presidency in the spiritual and apostolic animation of the SFO and in a special way in the formation of the secular leaders;
-- to co-ordinate, at the international level, the spiritual assistance to the SFO and the Franciscan Youth;
-- to foster the interest of the friars and their Superiors in the SFO and in the Franciscan Youth;
-- to provide for the pastoral visits of the national Councils of the SFO43 and the presence at the national elective Chapters44.
1. The general Assistant must keep his general Minister and his Order informed on the life and activities of the SFO and the Franciscan Youth.
2. He shall also deal with matters regarding the service of assistance given by his Order to the SFO and to the Franciscan Youth, meet the local fraternities assisted by his own Order and keep constant fraternal contacts with the assistants of his own Order.
c. National Assistants
1. The national Assistants of the SFO and the Franciscan Youth are appointed by the competent major Superior, after consultation with the respective national council45. Where more than one major Superior is involved in the appointment, the norms established together by the Superiors with jurisdiction in the national territory shall be followed46.
2. They give their service to the national council and see to the spiritual assistance to the national fraternity. If they are more than one, they form a Conference and render their service collegially47.
3. It is the responsibility of the Conference of national Assistants, or to the national Assistant if there is only one:
-- to collaborate with the national Council in the task of spiritual and apostolic animation of the secular Franciscans in the life of the Church and the society of the country, and in a special way in the formation of the leaders;
-- to coordinate, at the national level, the service of spiritual assistance, the formation of the assistants, and the fraternal union among them;
-- to foster the interest of the friars in the SFO and in the Franciscan Youth.
1. The national Assistant must keep the major Superiors and his Order informed on the life and activities of the SFO and the Franciscan Youth in the country.
2. He shall also deal with matters regarding the service of assistance given by his Order to the SFO and to the Franciscan Youth, meet the local fraternities assisted by his own Order and keep fraternal and constant contacts with the regional and local assistants of his own Order.
d. Regional Assistants
1. The regional Assistants to the SFO and the Franciscan Youth are appointed by the competent major Superior, after consultation with the respective regional council50. Where more than one major Superior is involved in the appointment, the norms established jointly by the Superiors with jurisdiction in the territory of the regional fraternity shall be followed51.
2. They give their service to the regional council and see to the spiritual assistance to the regional fraternity. If they are more than one, they form a conference and render their service collegially52.
3. It is the responsibility of the Conference of regional Assistants, or to the regional Assistant if there is only one:
-- to collaborate with the regional Council in the task of spiritual and apostolic animation of the secular Franciscans in the life of the Church and of society in the region, and in a special way in the formation of the leaders;
-- to provide for the pastoral visits of the local Councils of the SFO53 and to ensure a presence at the local elective Chapters54;
-- to coordinate, at the regional level, the service of spiritual assistance, the formation of the Assistants and the fraternal union among them;
-- to foster the interest of the friars in the SFO and in the Franciscan Youth.
1. The regional Assistant must keep the major Superiors and his Order informed on the life and activities of the SFO and of the Franciscan Youth in the region.
2. He shall also deal with matters regarding the service of assistance given by his Order to the SFO and the Franciscan Youth, meet the local fraternities assisted by his own Order in the region and keep constant fraternal contacts with the local assistants of his own Order.
e. Local Assistants
1. The local Assistant is appointed by the competent major Superior, according to the law of his own Order, having heard the council of the fraternity concerned55.
2. The local assistant fosters communion within the fraternity and between the fraternity and the First Order or the TOR. In harmony with the local Guardian or Superior, the assistant sees to it that between the religious and the secular fraternities a real life-giving union with each other exists. He or she fosters the active presence of the fraternity in the Church and in society.
1. The local Assistant, together with the Council of the fraternity, is responsible for the formation of the candidates56 and expresses his or her assessment of each of the candidates before profession57.
2. Together with the Minister, the assistant discusses with the brothers or sisters in difficulty, who want to retire from the fraternity or who act in serious opposition to the Rule58.
1 See SFO Const 85.1: “From Franciscan history and from the Constitutions of the First Order and the TOR, it is clearly evident that these Orders recognize that they are committed to the spiritual and pastoral assistance of the SFO in virtue of their common origin and charism and by the will of the Church. See Constitutions OFM, 60; Constitutions OFM Conv., 116; Constitutions OFM Cap., 95; Constitutions TOR, 157; Rule of the Third Order of Pope Leo XIII, 3,3; Rule approved by Paul VI, 26.