First Meeting of Franciscan 1st Order Branches in Germany

65 members of all three Franciscan Orders – Friars Minor, Conventuals, and Capuchins – gathered in Hofheim for a Chapter of Mats from June 12th to 14th last. The topic was “500 years of Reformation”, and the gathering examined the causes which led to division in the Church and within the Order. Pope Leo X (in his Papal Bull “Ite vos”) divided the Franciscan Order into two branches — Friars Minor and Conventual Friars Minor — in 1517. In the same year, Martin Luther published his theses in Wittenberg.

The program included papers on the history of the Order and a survey of the current activities and health of the Provinces. In addition, the participants used the technique of imagining a Papal Bull written by a future fictional Pope Francis III which would solemnise the union/federation/fusion of the three branches in 2030. A workshop on prospects for the future generated ideas and practical projects which the friars will soon begin to work on.

To round up the meeting, all the friars visited the Paulskirche in Frankfurt which was built on the former grounds of the Franciscan friary. This was the major Protestant church for several centuries, and it is there that the German democratic movement began in 1841. From there the friars went to the existing central Protestant church, the Katharinenkirche, for an Ecumenical Midday Prayer. The visit ended with an exchange of blessings and missioning in the Liebfrauenkirche, where the Frankfurt Capuchins live, work and pray.