by Gregory DiPippo (New Liturgical Movement)
To the Brethren and the Fraternities of the Congregation of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, in all their abodes.
Peace and Charity!
The Holy Father Pope Francis has entrusted to me the delicate duty of Apostolic Commissioner of your congregation. Attached is the decree of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, dated July 11, 2013.
Although I realize the difficulties of this duty, I have accepted the responsibility because it is my desire to accompany you on a journey of renewed ecclesiality. In order to do this with the certainty of corresponding to the wishes of the Magisterium, I can find no better way than to recall this passage of a recent discourse of Pope Francis: ecclesiality is one of the constructive dimensions of the consecrated life, a dimension that must be constantly reclaimed and deepened in life. Your vocation is a fundamental charism for the Church’s path, and it is not possible that consecrated persons should not “be of one mind” with the Church. A “being of one mind” with the Church that has begotten us in Baptism; a “being of one mind” with the Church which finds its filial expression in fidelity to the Magisterium, in communion with the Shepherds and with the Successor of Peter, Bishop of Rome, the visible sign of unity. The proclamation of and witness to the Gospel, for every Christian, are never an isolated act. This is important: the proclamation of and witness to the Gospel for every Christian are never an isolated act, or the act of a group, and anyone who proclaims the Gospel does not act, as Paul VI well recalled, “in virtue of a personal inspiration, but in union with the mission of the Church and in its name.” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi 80). Feel the responsibility which you have to care for the formation of your Institutes in the sound doctrine of the Church, in love for the Church, and in the ecclesial spirit. (Discourse of the Holy Father Pope Francis to those participating in the plenary assembly of the International Union of Superiors General, May 8, 2013)
I believe that I do not need to add anything to such a clear and urgent thought of Pope Francis, who rightly concerns himself with the “feeling with the Church”, since only in this way can the Consecrated Life correspond to what the Church expects from it, and become, in this way, the Light of the Gospel in the world for the faithful who need to know and follow the truth which Christ has revealed to us. In the spirit of that obedience asked for by Our Holy Father Francis in the “Letter to a Minister”, I greet you fraternally in Christ.
Fr. Fidenzio Volpi
Translator’s note: I have translated the Italian verb “sentire” and its derivative “sentano” with the periphrasis “being of one mind,” since its normal meanings “hear” and “sense” are not appropriate to the context. It could also be translated “feel”, but in English, “feel” has negative connotations of vagueness and subjectivity which are also inappropriate to the context.
This letter has been made available by the courtesy of the editors of the Italian website Messa in Latino. The translation is my own. Free use of the text is given to all.