ROME, JAN. 10, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The head of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual lamented what he said are lies against the Franciscans of Assisi, following papal measures to organize the city’s holy sites.
Minister General Friar Joachim Giermek’s response to media reports appeared in an editorial of the international news bulletin of the Conventual Franciscans, Fraternus Nuntius. The order’s General Curia publishes the bulletin.
Assisi has attracted media attention since Nov. 9, when Benedict XVI published a letter entrusting the pastoral activity of the city’s basilicas to the bishop of the local diocese.
The Holy Father’s letter, issued on his own initiative, also streamlined the autonomy that both the Friars Minor and Conventuals had had since 1969 when Pope Paul VI published a similar document.
In the editorial in Fraternus Nuntius, Father Giermek observed that some observers regarded Benedict XVI’s decision as a way of “punishing the Franciscans,” years after the 1986 interreligious meeting for peace convoked in Assisi by Pope John Paul II. According to some media sources, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had been opposed the 1986 event.
Father Giermek wrote: “Authentic lies have been published by some individuals who, despite the fact they knew the truth, have however reproached (to give an example) the friars for having authorized or allowed ritual abuses during the religious ceremonies of some delegations.”
The Conventual Franciscan superior affirmed first of all that “no profanation of the sacred sites took place,” as some alleged.
Second, the Holy See organizes these events “in its own house,” he added. “Preparations of this type are attentively and carefully watched by the Vatican down to the smallest details. To blame the friars is no more than a cowardly device used to unload old gripes and to express one’s appreciation or contempt for the Church’s past policy and to try to influence the future.”
Father Giermek revealed that Benedict XVI’s letter was “the motive of dialogue for a rather long period before it was signed.”
“This papal measure in fact has not been a surprise,” the Conventual Franciscan stated.
In concluding, Father Giermek expressed a warm welcome to the new bishop of Assisi-Nocera, Archbishop Domenico Sorentino, who will take possession of the diocese on Feb. 11.