A Spaniard, del Pozo is replacing Italian Emanuela De Nuncio, who is no longer eligible to hold the post.
The members of the secular order, or tertiaries, number 400,000 worldwide. Their religious profession does not include vows, as with the friars and nuns, but a commitment to live a life according to the Gospel.
Secular Franciscans form part of the third order founded by Francis in the 13th century, along with the first order (of men Franciscans) and the second (of Poor Clare nuns).
The Nov. 15-23 general chapter is reflecting on “the vital reciprocal communion in the Franciscan family.” The meeting is being attended by 49 international advisers from as many countries. Representatives of eight countries could not attend because of poverty or war.
Because they constitute an order, the Franciscan tertiaries have a rule, or way of life (inspired by St. Francis), constitutions (revised in 1999 and approved a year later by the Holy See) and statutes.