VATICAN CITY – The ministers general of the four main branches of the Franciscan friars formally asked Pope Francis for permission to allow their communities to elect brothers to positions of leadership in their communities, according to the Catholic News Service.
“With us, Pope Francis is looking at the possibilities for moving this project forward,” Friar Michael Perry, minister general of the Friars Minor, told Vatican Radio. “We left a letter as a formal request for a dispensation” from canon law requirements that in most religious orders with both priests and brothers only a priest can be elected to the top leadership offices.
Friar Michael met the Pope April 10 along with the Capuchin Minister General Mauro Johri OFM Cap.; the Conventual Franciscan Minister General Marco Tasca OFM Conv.; and the Third Order Regular Minister General Nicholas Polichnowski TOR.
Friar MarcoTasca told Vatican Radio that Pope Francis brought up the terrorist bombings in Egypt April 9 and “confirmed with great determination” that he would visit Egypt at the end of April as planned. They also spoke of the ongoing violence in Syria and the presence of Franciscans, who continue to minister there and in other regions where tension and violence are a daily occurrence.
But, Friar Michael said, “we mostly spoke about the steps we are taking to create communion among us, among the different orders of the Franciscan family.”
The four different branches, he said, are working together to reunite their institutes of higher learning in Rome and have a variety of cooperative projects in the Holy Land.
“In addition,” he said, “we have spoken of the importance of the possibility of allowing lay friars to serve in an ordinary way in our respective orders.”
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