Tempo Forte of the General Definitory – December
The Tempo Forte of December 2010 began with the signing of an Agreement between the Minister General and the Conference of Ministers Provincial of Italy and Albania (COMPI), represented by the President, Br Francesco Patton, concerning the change of status of the Foundation “Notre Dame d’Afrique” in Congo-Brazzaville. This presence of the Order had been established originally as a Foundation dependent upon COMPI, the first case of a Foundation dependent on a Conference. Now that the Order is well-rooted in Congo-Brazzaville, with a well-founded hope of new growth, the friars requested a change of status. As of 13th December 2010, the presence of the friars in this country has been changed to that of a Foundation dependent upon the Minister General. The immediate consequence of the change of status is the incorporation into the Foundation of those friars who have requested it in conformity with Art. 168 of the General Constitutions. COMPI will continue to support and promote the Foundation, in accordance with the Agreement signed on 13th December.
The remainder of the first morning of this Tempo Forte was given over to a study by the members of the General Definitory on our identity. This was in response to Mandate n. 2 of the General Chapter 2009. To assist them in their reflections, Br Cesare Vaiani and Br Fernando Uribe had prepared texts, considering our identity as Friars Minor from within (in the light of the Rule and General Constitutions), and from without (in the light of the challenges that arise from contemporary society). The presentations and the subsequent dialogue with both of these brothers were very helpful. The General Definitory is now considering the best way to move this reflection forward, involving both the General Secretariat for Formation and Studies, and the General Secretariat for the Missions and Evangelisation, so that the theme of our Franciscan identity can be shared more widely among all the brothers of the Order.
On Thursday, 16th December, all the members of the General Definitory were privileged to accompany the Minister General when he went for a private audience with the Holy Father. At the end of the audience, the Minister General presented each one to the Pope. The photographs of the meeting are now on the Order’s website.
Altogether a total of 23 Plichi (files) from different Entities of the Order were examined in the course of the Tempo Forte. These dealt largely with the ratification of elections, the designation of candidates for the office of Minister provincial, changing the status of houses, requests for dispensations, and a request by a monastery of Poor Clares to pass into the jurisdiction of the Friars Minor. Several revisions of particular statutes were approved in the light of the opinion received from the Juridical Commission of the Order.
The General Economo (Treasurer) presented the budget for the coming year 2011 which had been previously studied and approved by the Economic Commission of the Definitory (CED). After some questions for clarification, this was approved.
With an eye to the future, the Definitory considered the names of several friars as possible members of a number of Commissions that will be asked to prepare a series of international meetings. These include: a Chapter of Mats for the younger friars (under-Ten); a meeting of the Presidents of the Federations of Poor Clares; a meeting of the Religious Assistants of the Federations of Poor Clares. A review was made of two recent meetings: that of the General Definitory with the Visitators General appointed in 2010, and the Chapter of Mats of the houses dependent on the Minister General that took place in Fraterna Domus from 26-28 November.
The Minister General and some of the Definitors offered some reflections on the status of some of the Entities visited since the end of the Tempo Forte of November. It is clear that some of these Entities require a particular kind of accompaniment on the part of the General Definitory as they face certain challenges.
The meeting of the Definitory was overshadowed by the news of the deteriorating health of Br John Abela, Director of the Communications Office. Sadly, on Sunday 19th December, John was embraced by our Sister Bodily Death. May he rest in peace.