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46th Ordinary General Assembly of the Union of Conferences of Provincial Ministers

Franciscan Family of Italy

01 March 2024

From February 26 to March 1, at Saint Mary of the Angels, the 46th Ordinary General Assembly of the Union of Conferences of Provincial Ministers in the Italian Franciscan family met. More than 40 Major Superiors from the 4 Franciscan Orders (Friars Minor, Friars Minor Conventual, Friars Minor Capuchin, and Third Order Regular) reflected together on the apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis “Laudate Deum”, discussing the path of peace and the integral questions related to ecology raised by the Holy Father in his writing.

Economist Leonardo Becchetti, professor at the University of Rome, Tor Vergata, and expert economist, presented his paper, “Laudate Deum: Civil economy and a sustainable future,” illustrating the dramatic situation in which we find ourselves today with regard to our ecosystem. “Climate change has led to some extreme phenomena,” said the professor, “such as drought or extremely high temperatures which put our future at risk should these trends continue and possibly get to the point where things are irreparable.” 

In the afternoon, Br Francesco Zecca, OFM, offered a reflection that moved all those present, “The earth cries out while the poor cry out: what hope is there for our future?”. Wednesday, February 28, prof. Simone Morandini, presented his research, “Integral Ecology: Announcing peace in the Antrhopocene.” After his presentation of the physics and theological reality of creation and the ethics of caring for the environment, he interviewed Card. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, who joined the group online.

The Eucharist on February 29 was presided over by Mons. Domenico Sorrentino, bishop of Assisi. In his homily, the bishop exhorted the Friars to reopen the hearts of the people of today who have grown up in a world with less faith, using today’s culture, today’s means of communication and today’s technology, to spread a message of hope. The audience was particularly moved by the bishop’s personal testimony and insights into Francis, who teaches and invites us, especially during these years of centenary celebration, to personal conversion, to always begin by looking within.

Secretary of the Union, Br Marco Bellachioma, OFMConv, commented on the intimate link between ecology and peace, as described by Pope Francis. In view of the centenary celebration of Saint Francis’ Canticle of the Creatures, celebrated next year, it seems to be a duty for the Franciscan family to reflect on these questions of ecology, to explore the themes related to the environment, and to determine good practices that we might promote for a sustainable ecology and a more peaceful world.

The gathering also allowed the assembled participants to visit certain important and symbolic places in the city of Assisi and did much to bring the different members of the Conference together as brothers.

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