Pope Francis to Capuchins "Keep the apostolate of confessions, of forgiveness: it is one of the most beautiful things..."


Clementine Hall
Friday, September 14th 2018


Off the Cuff Speech of the Holy Father

Speech delivered


Here is a prepared speech, but it is too formal to share with you Capuchins; it will be delivered to Father General ... Here it is, this is the official one. But I prefer to talk to you like this, from the heart. I wish you the best: you are the fourth General I know. [Addressing the newly elected Minister General, Friar Roberto Genuin] Before I met Flavio Carraro, with whom we were companions in the Synod of '94; then, John Corriveau, who stole a good Capuchin from Argentina to make him a councilor, but then I took my revenge and was made a bishop [laughs, laughs]. Then Mauro [Jöri], who, as a good Swiss, carried out things with common sense - common sense -, with a sense of concreteness, of reality; and, like all those who can speak languages ​​but also dialect, it is one that goes into the details of life. And now you, the fourth. I wish you the best [to him and to the new councilors].

This morning I was thinking of you. There is a word that you said in your speech: first of all, the Capuchins are "the friars of the people": it is a characteristic of you. The proximity to the people. Being close to the people of God, neighbors. And closeness gives us that science of concreteness, that wisdom - it is more than science: it is a wisdom. Proximity to all, but especially to the smallest, most discarded, the most desperate. And also to those who have gone further. I think of Fra 'Cristoforo [of the Promessi sposi], to "your" brother Cristoforo. Proximity: I would like this word to remain in you, like a program. Proximity to the people. Because the people have great respect for the Franciscan habit. Once Cardinal Quarracino told me that, in Argentina, sometimes some "mangiaprete" says a dirty word to a priest, but never, never has a Franciscan habit been insulted, because it is a grace. And you Capuchins have this closeness: keep it. Always close to the people. Because you are the friars of the people.

Recently, in Ireland [in Dublin], I saw your work with the most discarded and I was moved. And a beautiful word that said the superior of that House, the elderly founder, was: "We, here, do not ask where you come from, who you are: you are the son of God". This is one of the features. Understand well, to "sniff", people, without conditions. You come in, then we'll see. It is your charisma, closeness, keep it.

Then, another thing typical of the Capuchins: you are men capable of resolving conflicts, of making peace, with that wisdom that comes from proximity; and above all make peace in consciences. That "here is not asked, here you listen", that I said of that Irish Cappuccino, you practice it so much in the sacrament of Confession and Penance. You are men of reconciliation. I remember your church in Buenos Aires: so many people from all over the city went to confession there. Because they listen to you, smile at you, do not ask for things and forgive you. And this does not mean being "wide-sleeved", no, this is the wisdom of reconciliation. Keep the apostolate of confessions, of forgiveness: it is one of the most beautiful things you have, reconciling people. Both in the sacrament and in families: reconciling, reconciling. And it takes patience for this, not words, few words, but closeness and patience.

And then, another thing I saw in your life: simple prayer. You are men of prayer, but simple. A prayer face to face with the Lord, with Our Lady, with the Saints ... Keep this simplicity in prayer. Pray a lot, but with this simplicity. Men of peace, of simple prayer, men of the people, men of reconciliation. So the Church wants you to be: keep this. And with that freedom and simplicity that is proper to your charism.

I thank you for everything you do for the Church, I thank you so much. Keep it up, keep it up, "to the Capuchin" ... [laugh] Thank you!

Dear Friars Minor Capuchins!

I am pleased with this meeting, which allows me to greet you personally on the occasion of your General Chapter. I thank the new Minister General, Fra 'Roberto Genuin, and send good wishes to him and his Council. In these days of study and fraternal exchange, you have placed your attention on the theme "Learn from me ... and you will find" (cf. Mt 11,29), to identify apostolic and formative perspectives to offer to your confreres scattered throughout the world. In fact, besides the election of the new Government of your Fraternity, you have devoted ample space to the Ratio Formationis Ordinis, an important document to lead the consecrated person into the heart of the Gospel, which is the life form of Jesus totally spent for God and for the brothers , especially the last and the marginalized.

In the footsteps of the Divine Master and following the example of Saint Francis, who met humbleness and service by encountering lepers, strive to live relationships and religious activity in gratuitousness, humility and meekness. In this way you can realize with real and daily gestures the "minority" that characterizes the followers of Francis. It is a precious gift of great necessity for the Church and for the humanity of our time. Thus the Lord acts: he does things simply. Humility and simplicity are the style of God; and it is this style that all of us Christians are called to assume in our life and in our mission. The true greatness is to become small and servants.

With this minority in your heart and lifestyle, you give your contribution to the Church's great commitment to evangelization. You do it by generously carrying out the apostolate in direct contact with different peoples and cultures, especially with so many poor and suffering people. I encourage you in this effort, which you have shared at the international level in the Chapter, exhorting you not to lose heart in the face of difficulties, including the numeric decline of the friars in certain areas, but to renew trust and hope every day. support of the grace of God. The joy of the Gospel, which irresistibly fascinated the Poverello of Assisi, is the source of your strength and constancy, because with the reference to the Word of Jesus everything appears under a new light, that of providential love of God. Every time we draw from the source to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new paths emerge, new pastoral approaches and creative methods adhering to current circumstances.

Our time shows signs of obvious spiritual and moral discomfort, due to the loss of the sure and comforting references of faith. What a great need today people have to be welcomed, listened to, illuminated with love! And what a great tradition do you have for Capuchins in the smallest proximity to the people, in sharing in the concrete problems, in the spiritual conversation and in the administration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation! Do not fail to be teachers of prayer, to cultivate the robust spirituality, which communicates to everyone the call of the "things from up there".

In this, you will be more convincing if even your communities and structures will express sobriety and parsimony, a visible sign of that primacy of God and of his Spirit of which consecrated persons commit themselves to give clear testimony. In this perspective, even the transparent and professional management of economic resources is the image of a true family that walks in co-responsibility and solidarity between its members and with the poor. Another important aspect of the life of your communities is unity and communion, which are realized by dedicating ample space to listening and dialogue to strengthen fraternal discernment.

The history of your Order is full of many courageous witnesses of Christ and the Gospel, many of whom are proclaimed Saints and Blessed. The holiness of them confirms the fruitfulness of your charism and shows the signs of your identity: total consecration to God up to martyrdom, where required, simple life among people, sensitivity towards the poor, spiritual accompaniment as closeness and humility that allows us to welcome everyone. In the wake of your typical way of life, may you walk animated by renewed zeal to push you, with prophetic freedom and wise discernment, on courageous apostolic roads and missionary frontiers, always cultivating collaboration with the Bishops and the other components of the ecclesial community.

Your charismatic identity, enriched by the cultural variety of your religious family, is more than ever valid and is an attractive proposal for many young people of the world, who are looking for authenticity and essentiality. Fraternity shines as a qualifying element of your consecrated life, turning away from you every elitist attitude, stimulating to always seek the meeting between you and everyone, especially with the many thirsty of the merciful love that only Christ can offer us. May the Lord fill you with his graces, and in the spirit of St. Francis proceed joyfully and sure, always in the grateful awareness of belonging to the holy People faithful of God and serving him with humility. May the Apostolic Blessing accompany you, which I cordially impart to you, Chapter Fathers, and to your whole Order. And please, do not forget to pray me. Thank you!