VATICAN CITY, FEB. 8, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI received in audience the top superior of the Order of Friars Minor, to express his closeness to this Franciscan religious family, which is celebrating its eighth centenary.
Father José Rodríguez Carballo, minister general of the Friars Minor, said the meeting with the Pope took place Jan. 26, the day after the publication of the encyclical “Deus Caritas Est.”
In a statement, the minister general said that the Holy Father showed particular interest in the project of the eighth centenary, “which he judged to be very appropriate for the achievement of a real renewal of the order.”
The Pontiff “encouraged us to follow it faithfully to the end, without fail, since ‘it will be very beneficial to the order and to the Church,'” noted the text.
Other topics addressed touched on the religious order’s priorities, in particular, to give “a better quality to our life, ‘ad gentes’ evangelization, formation and studies, the service for dialogue.”
“We also spoke about some problems which affect us as an order, particularly about the defections and the lack of vocations in some countries,” revealed the minister general.
“With regard to vocational discernment, he asked that we do it ‘seriously and serenely’ in order ‘to be able to assess the real motives,'” while encouraging the “‘ad gentes’ mission.”
“The Holy Father asked me about some particular situations, to which I responded with total frankness and sincerity, and about which the Holy Father showed great understanding,” continued the Franciscan superior.
“All this was carried out in a climate of great cordiality and affection for our order on his part,” Father Rodríguez Carballo stated. “I confess that I had the feeling of being before a father who knows our charism very well; he knows us as an order and loves us.”
The Friars Minor have some 16,000 religious, in 110 countries.