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Saturday, December 3, 2016
Vatican restricts independence of Assisi Franciscans
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 With the 'Motu proprio' entitled 'De Basilicis Sancti Francisci et Sanctae Mariae Angelorum,' Benedict XVI has established new norms concerning the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, Italy, which is run by the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, and the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels in the same city, which is in the hands of the Order of Friars Minor. The Pope first recalls the universal fame of the Basilica of St Francis "which holds the remains of the seraphic saint," and that of St Mary of the Angels "which houses the diminutive but pre-eminent church of Porziuncola." He then highlights the fact that "the Roman Pontiffs, for their part, have always had special ties with, and particular solicitude for, these two major Franciscan churches, ... and have always kept them under their own direct jurisdiction. "Over the centuries, with their compassionate activities and their testimony, the Conventual Friars and the Friars Minor have kept the spirit and the charism of St Francis alive, spreading his evangelical message of peace, brotherhood and goodness throughout the world." The Pope continues by affirming that, in order in order to integrate more effectively the activities carried out in the two basilicas with diocesan, regional and national pastoral care, "we feel it appropriate to modify the current juridical regulations, as established by my venerated predecessor Pope Paul VI, ... updating the norms to reflect current needs." Consequently, Benedict XVI decrees that the Basilica of St Francis and the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels, with their associated convents, will be assigned a cardinal as papal legate who "although without jurisdiction, will have the task of perpetuating with his moral authority the close ties of communion between those places sacred to the memory of St Francis and this Apostolic See. He will be able to impart the papal blessing during the celebrations he presides on the occasion of the major liturgical Solemnities." The Pope further disposes that the bishop of the diocese Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino will, from this moment on, have jurisdiction "over the churches and the religious houses, regarding all pastoral activities carried out by the Conventual Fathers of the Basilica of St. Francis, and by the Friars Minor of St Mary of the Angels." The Motu proprio continues: "The Franciscan Fathers, both Conventual and Friars Minor, for all initiatives with pastoral implications, will thus have to ask for and obtain the consent of the bishop of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino," who will "seek the opinion of the president of the Episcopal Conference f Umbria" [the region of Italy, of which Assisi is part] or, for more wide-ranging initiatives, "of the president of the Italian Episcopal Conference." "As for the celebration of the Sacraments in the aforesaid basilicas, the norms of the Code of Canon Law and those in force in the diocese are applicable." Benedict XVI concludes his Motu proprio, which bears the date of November 9, anniversary of the dedication of the Basilica of St John Lateran, by exhorting "the Sons of St Francis, to whom the two aforesaid basilicas are entrusted, to follow with generous willingness the norms laid down in this Motu proprio in a spirit of sincere communion with the bishop of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino and, through him, with the regional and national episcopal conferences." Source: VIS
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