Franciscans International:  A bridge between the Poor and the United Nations

Franciscans International (FI) is an international non-governmental organization that conducts advocacy at the United Nations for the promotion, protection and respect for all human rights, and environmental justice. On May 7, 2017, FI held a meeting was held in the Small Refectory (Refettorietto) of Santa Maria degli Angeli. For more information on the work of the organization please visit their website Franciscans International.

“Human rights are in danger every day. To protect and promote them is the mission and the reason of being of Franciscans International” writes Fr. Joseph Rozansky, OFM, President of the Committee of Directors of Franciscans International, in the opening letter of the Annual Report. This letter explains the programs supported and implemented in 2016 by the organization that strives to bring Gospel values locally, nationally and at the United Nations.

The next speaker was Fr. Claudio Durighetto, OFM, provincial Minister of the Friars Minor of Umbria. He extended a greeting to the many present who responded to the call to learn about our Franciscan brothers representing the face and voice at the United Nations. A greeting was also addressed by the Bishop of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino, Mons. Domenico Sorrentino, who expounded on the expression “advocate of the poor.”

The meeting was sponsored by the city of Assisi who is always attentive to these issues, because of the strong Franciscan influence that has marked it for eight centuries, and because of the presence of the Mayor Stefania Proietti who is personally engaged in ecclesially and professionally on environmental issues.

The meeting was also attended by Fr. Michael A. Perry, General Minister of the Friars Minor, which underlined the need, especially urgent at this moment in history, of organizations like Franciscans International that give themsleves for world peace, and because ours is a society based on solidarity and respect for human dignity, with respect and care of the environment. A final and very effective challenge by the General Minister has been to point out that Franciscans International should not be localized in the Geneva or New York offices, nor represented only by those who actively worth there, but rather it should live in all Franciscans, of whatever “color or membership:” priests, seculars, sisters, Friars Minor, Conventuals, Capuchins, …

The closing address was given by Fr. Markus Heinze, OFM, Executive Director of Franciscans International. He picked up on final challenge launched by the General Minister and adding that for approximately 30 years this organization has been active and yet it is still almost completely unknown, even within the Franciscan family. The international community somehow recognizes human rights, but it is evident to everyone how many situations of discrimination persist in the world, how many people live in extreme poverty, or how basic rights beyond belief, nationality go unprotected, … and how creation, our home, is often abused and exploited for profit. It is essential, therefore, that there be people who want to engage in an ongoing “translation” of Gospel values to promote them in the seats of political decisions, with methods and languages appropriate to them. Without losing contact with the concrete situations of those who live together with the people, disadvantaged situations in different parts of the world and thus be a bridge between them and the United Nations, without ever surrendering in the face of setbacks or obstacles, because this calls for charity.

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