12 November 2007

A global brotherhood

The General Definitory and the members of the North American-Pacific Capuchin Conference have just comcluded their joint meeting in Tampa, Florida. Such meetings between the international leadership and the individual conferences of the Order during the early years of each sexennium were begun during Flavio Roberto Carraro's second term as General Minister, 1988-1994. The meetings serve the dual purpose of helping the General Definitory understand the particular environment in which the friars live and work, as well as the concerns that they have, and of communicating more directly to the Order's major superiors the concerns and plans of the General Definitory.

After an opening talk from the General Minister, Mauro Jöhri, members of the General Definitory delivered talks on Solidarity of Personnel, the project of moving parts of the Constitutions to a General Statutes or similar document, the Order's response to CPO's VI and VII, and Formation. In addition, the General Bursar presented a talk on The Fraternal Economy. After each talk, members of the Conference were asked to respond to the suggestions made and to relate their experiences and concerns regarding the topics. The members of the NAPCC were also asked to share any other concerns regarding the life of the friars in North America, Guam and Australia.

Space does not permit an adequate summary of each talk here. An English translation of most of the talks was provided to each member of the NAPCC and can be requested from them, if you are interested (or from me if you are not in the NAPCC). Some salient points from the talks were as follows:
  1. Solidarity of Personnel: The Order has made great strides in economic solidarity and has also seen an increase in the sharing of brothers among jurisdictions. The General Definitory wishes to encourage this form of solidarity, but also wants it to be practiced in an orderly, equitable manner.
  2. Constitutions: The General Chapter of 2006 mandated the General Definitory to prepare drafts of Constitutions and General Statutes based on the present Constitutions. According to the Chapter decision, juridical elements not essential to our charism should be moved from the Constitutions to the General Statutes. The present text of the Constitutions is to be respected and enriched with elements from recent Plenary Councils of the Order and documents of the Church. The work is now underway, and soon the friars of the Order will be asked to begin studying the question and making their suggestions.
  3. Formation: Collaboration in formation was strongly encouraged as a good in itself, not just as something to do when candidates are few. An apparent tendency toward abandoning the period of post-novitiate formation free of academic studies is a step backward for the Order. Going straight from the novitiate to philosophical and theological studies is a return to a less fraternal, more clerical form of formation.
  4. Fraternal economy: The traditional Capuchin charism of austerity needs to be re-discovered in the Order, in poor countries as well as in wealthier countries. Values such as transparency and accountability are still not sufficiently practiced in some parts of the world.
The meeting in Tampa was preceeded by a similar meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with the Capuchin Conference of the Andes (CCA) and the Capuchin Conference of Central America (CONCAM). From Tampa, the General Definitory will meet with the Capuchin Conference of Brazil (CCB) in Manaus, Brazil, where they hope not to loose too many extremities to the piranhas or too much blood to the mosquitos!

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