Audience with the Holy Father

Jose Rodriguez Carballo Features

ROME – I was received by the Holy Father, Benedict XVI on Jan 26.

We spoke about the process being carried out by the Order as a preparation for the celebration of the VIII Centenary of its foundation during the personal meeting. We spoke about the priorities which the Order has at the moment: giving a better quality to our life,ad gentes evangelization, formation and studies, the service of dialogue with populations outside the Church. We spoke about the living of the Gospel, according to the form of life which St. Francis left us, in the Church and in profound communion with the Church. We spoke about our University, the Antonianum, and in particular about the Faculty of Biblical Sciences and Archaeology in Jerusalem. We spoke about the situation in Bosnia Herzegovina. We also spoke about some problems which affect us as an Order, particularly about those leaving the Order and the lack of vocations in some countries.

Although he followed the above mentioned points with great attention, I can say, however, that he showed particular interest in the project of the VIII Centenary, which he judged to be very appropriate for the achievement of a real renewal of the Order, and in formation, especially in vocational discernment and intellectual formation, indispensable for a fruitful dialogue with present-day society. With regard to the project of the VIII Centenary, he encouraged us to follow it faithfully to the end, without fail, since it will be very beneficial to the Order and to the Church. With regard to vocational discernment, he asked that we do it seriously and serenely in order to be able to assess the real motives. He encouraged us to continue to push strongly with our 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.

All this was carried out in a climate of great cordiality and affection for our Order on his part. 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. Yes, once again, I have been able to observe his closeness to and love for us. We have a pastor who loves us. Let us respond generously to such love.

At the end of the meeting, I presented some requests in the name of the Order, and he received them with good will.

At the end of the personal audience, he received the members of the General Definitory, who could then greet him personally. The meeting ended with the Apostolic Blessing which Benedict XVI imparted to those present and to all the Friars of the Order.

To the glory of Christ and of His servant Francis.

Jose Rodriguez Carballo, OFM
General Minister