From December 3rd to 8th 2018, the Minister General, Br. Michael Perry, accompanied by Definitor General Br. Ignacio Ceja, visited the brothers of the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe present in Central America, Panama and Haiti.
Upon his arrival, he met with the brothers of the Provincial Definitory and discussed the Province’s historical journey, its projects and its works, its challenges and its hopes. He later met the formators, who presented a brief overview of the formation programme and discussed the expectations and challenges of the task entrusted to them.
He had two general meetings with the brothers, one in Guatemala City, where about 60 brothers took part, and a second meeting in San Salvador, in which 46 brothers took part. In both meetings he passed on a message of encouragement of fidelity to God and to our vocation as Friars Minor, attentive to the signs of the times. He was also able to listen and enter into dialogue with the friars on the situation and the future of the Order and of the Province.
In Guatemala City, Br. Michael dedicated a whole day to meeting the young friars of the Province (under ten, temporary professed and novices). The friars, 57 in total, were able to express themselves at length, presenting their joys, difficulties, challenges and hopes in life and in their mission.
Among the visits to the pastoral activities carried out by the brothers, the visit to the social works of Br. Pedro in the city of Antigua was particularly significant. There, as well as getting to know the various structures, he was able to greet the residents of the various sections and meet volunteers and other workers.
In the various places the Minister General visited he was also able to meet with the Poor Clares, the brothers and sisters of the Secular Franciscan Order and the other members of the Franciscan Family.
We thank the Minister Provincial Br. Edwin Alvarado and the other friars of the Province for their hospitality and their fraternal welcome.
The 24thConference of the Parties (COP) organized by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in Katowice, Poland, on December 3 – 14, 2019. More than 30,000 delegates from the governments of the Parties and the civil society have gathered to discuss, negotiate and decide many issues regarding the global climate crisis, and ratify the Paris Rulebook. The venue of COP24 is significant for Just Transition which is one of the crucial issues of climate justice because the city has a long history of coal mining and has been affected by its excessive carbon emission.
The JPIC General Office has organized several events on climate justice during COP24. First was the Franciscan conference on climate change and COP24 that was held on November 22 – 23 at the parish hall of St. Ludwik Król’s Church, the Franciscan Parish in Panewniki. The theme was “What is happening in our Common Home?” The main speakers were Br. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, a member of JPIC Animation Committee, and a Polish scientist, Prof. Aleksandra Kadras, Ph.D. A good number of the friars and parishioners have participated in listening to the scientific facts of climate change and the Christian/Franciscan perspectives on this global crisis. It helped the participants be aware of the gravity of the problem and the urgency of climate action.
On December 2, the Franciscan delegates that consist of four members of the Animation Committee and five JPIC Coordinators of the European Conferences have participated in the “Interfaith Talonoa Dialogue.” They shared and discussed on various issues of climate justice and the urgent need for lifestyle change together with more than 100 people from different religious/spiritual traditions. This event was followed by the interfaith/ecumenical prayer service for Mother Earth and the poor.
On December 3, the Franciscan climate conference was held on the theme of “Climate Crisis and the Role of the Faith-based Communities for Climate Justice.” The JPIC General Office has organized the event and invited nine panelists from the religious communities as well as the civil society, e.g., the Friends of the Earth International. It became clear from their presentations and discussions that there wasn’t much time left for humanity to avoid climate catastrophe and change the economic/political system that caused this planetary disaster. Even though the status quo of climate action is not so promising and even because of that, the role of the religious communities is getting more crucial with a greater sense of responsibility. Especially when the intergovernmental effort to take care of the poor and the creation is getting so sluggish and reluctant, the faith communities should raise their prophetic voice along with concrete action for climate justice.
The final event was the prayer vigil for the creation at our Franciscan parish on the evening of December 5. Br. Jacek has organized the event with the help of many local friars and parishioners. It was a beautiful moment in which the participants realized, confessed and prayed for their ecological responsibility, which is the task for the Franciscans in the world.
From November 30th to December 2nd, the leaders of the five JPIC conferences in Europe met in Katowice (Poland) together with the heads of the JPIC Office of the General Curia and the JPIC Animation Committee. Present were: Br. Francesco Zecca (COMPI), Br. Fausto Yudego (CONFRES), Br. Tran Ngoc Tiem (COTAF), Br. Maciej Olszewski (North Slavic) and Br. Tadej Strehovec (South Slavic). Together with Br. Rufino and Br. Jaime of the JPIC Office of the General Curia.
They were guests at the friars’ large friary, and if the outside temperature was very bracing, they enjoyed exceptional and very warm hospitality in the friary, thanks to the guardian Br. Sergiusz Baldyga.
During the two days of the meeting they presented the work of each conference, exchanged ideas and organized the next continental meeting of the JPIC delegates of Europe. From here they wanted to start afresh by discussing the theme: “Living Franciscan humanism in the current context of Europe. Go and repair my house”. This is an important opportunity to begin specific projects for the European continent that is going through various crises at this time.
The meeting was held in Katowice because on December 3rd the COP24 (UN Conference on Climate Change) opened, bringing 30,000 people from all over the world, both government delegations and civil society to this Polish city. It was a unique opportunity to take important and decisive steps that can safeguard future generations. It was stressed repeatedly that there is no more time, decisions cannot be postponed!
In particular, the JPIC Office of the General Curia organized a meeting for December 3rd, attended by 9 speakers from around the world, with the presence of the Conventual and Capuchin friars responsible for JPIC at the general level. The discussion was very important and the contribution that the various faiths can make regarding the climate crisis that is creating new migrants and touching the most vulnerable parts of the world was highlighted.
My dear brother of the Order, members of the Franciscan family, and friends,
May the Lord give you peace!
This year is the 30th year that people of good will everywhere in the world are called to reflect on the HIV and AIDS pandemic, its impact on the entire human community, and the need for vigilance and solidarity. More than 36 million brothers and sisters live with HIV, of which nearly 2 million are children. Nearly 2 million people became newly infected in 2017. Since the virus HIV was discovered, more than 77 million have become infected while more than 35 million have died from AIDS-related illnesses. Of that number, nearly 22 million have access to life-saving antiretroviral therapy. Nearly 2 million new infections were registered in 2017. More than 77 million people have become infected with HIV since the start of the infection. Nearly 22 million people living with HIV were accessing antiretroviral therapy, a tremendous increase over previous years. Increased awareness of the virus, and increased funding for prevention and care, have helped to promote testing for early detection, which plays an important role in helping to reduce new infections. Approximately 75% of those living with HIV knew their health status but that means at 25% are unaware and, therefore, pose a threat to themselves and to others for possible transmission of the virus to those who are uninfected.
I urge all friars of the Order, all of our friends, indeed all people to deepen their – our – awareness of the HIV and AIDS pandemic. I give thanks to God for the tremendous work that members of the Order, in partnership with other agencies and individuals, have undertaken to provide spiritual, social, and medical care for those who are living with the virus, and for their families. This pandemic touches all of us since even some of our members also are living with HIV. It touches our Church and, indeed all religious organizations. For this reason, it is urgent that we seek new ways to collaborate with people of good will, and to work with other Christian denominations and interreligious partners in caring for all those living with or affected by HIV and AIDS. We also should continue to promote within our Order and the Church the eradication of the stigma that oftentimes is associated with HIV/AIDS. And we should continue to promote ethically responsible behavior change, greater access to life-saving and infection-reducing medicines, and care for families most affected by the pandemic. We also should recognize that the Catholic Church continues to provide up to 25 % of all care for those living with HIV worldwide. We should continue to build on this commitment, encouraging all of the friars of the Order to deepen their engagement on this issue and to do what St. Francis of Assisi would expect of us, what he himself did: welcome and embrace all, loving without judgment, giving his life in service in order that all those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS might experience the embrace of others who offer only acceptance, love, and solidarity.
During the month of December, I invite all of you my dear brothers to join with me, with the Church, and with other believers in offering prayer for our brothers and sisters living with HIV/AIDS, for their families, for those involved in seeking to find a cure and a vaccine, and who are helping identify vital financial resources to combat this pandemic:
Let us pray:
Good and gracious God,
You who are the author of life,
You desire that those created in your image and likeness should experience fullness of life and be set free from any and all infirmities.
We pray that your healing grace might come down upon all our brothers and sisters living with or affected by HIV and AIDS. May they feel your loving and healing touch in their lives. We pray that you guide the work of all engaged in seeking to find a cure, and for those working to develop a vaccine against this life-threatening virus. Bless also all health care workers, and all those involved in providing loving care to our brothers and sisters living with HIV or experiencing the negative effects of the virus and of prolonged use of life-saving antiretroviral drugs.
O God, strengthen also our commitment to demonstrate only love and goodness to all, most especially our brothers and sisters living with HIV/AIDS. AMEN.
Rome, 1 December 2018
Br. Michael A. Perry, OFM Minister General and Servant