Order Update: Holy Land Basilica Closes to Protest New Tax in Jerusalem

Maria Hayes Franciscan World

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III,  custos of the Holy Land Francesco Patton, and the Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, administer the Basilica and other major holy sites in Jerusalem. (Photo courtesy of OFM.org)

The following descriptions summarize recent news from the Order of Friars Minor. Additional details can be found by visiting the links to the news items mentioned as well as following the Order of Friars Minor on Facebook and Twitter for information throughout the month.

  In a historic move, the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre closed to protest the “unprecedented attacks on the rights and property of the Christian community.” One of the most popular sites among Christian pilgrims visiting Jerusalem, the basilica was closed from Feb. 25 to 28. A sign posted on the doors of the basilica read “Enough is enough; stop the persecution of the Churches” and featured a picture of Nir Barkat, mayor of Jerusalem, who announced a plan to tax church assets around the city and to expropriate land sold by the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. Fr. Francesco Patton, OFM, custos of the Holy Land, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III, and Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian signed a statement regarding the basilica’s closure. The basilica reopened on Wednesday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced that it would suspend the tax collection and freeze the legislation until a newly formed committee could work out a solution with the churches.

  The General Minister and his Definitory have convened the fifth Chapter “Under Ten,” which will take place in Taizè, France, from July 7 to 14, 2019. A special website for the chapter has been created. For more information, visit www.undertenofm.org.

  Pope Francis recently appointed Provincial Minister Fr. Juan Manuel Muñoz Curiel, OFM, of the Province of Santos Francisco y Santiago in Mexico, as an auxiliary bishop of Guadalajara, assigning him the titular seat of Tucci. Born on March 12, 1958, Fr. Juan Manuel is an agricultural engineer and holds a degree in spiritual theology from the Pontifical Antonianum. He was ordained a priest on July 3, 1993. His Franciscan ministry has included teaching, vocation ministry, counseling for various public associations in the archdiocese, serving as provincial secretary and as the Episcopal secretary for consecrated life in his archdiocese, and rector of the Church of San Diego in Aguascalientes.

  In accordance with the 494th anniversary of the so-called “Twelve Franciscan Apostles” in Mexico in 1524, the General Minister and his council members met with the Bolivian and Guadalupe conferences from Feb. 3 to 8 in Veracruz, Mexico. Also taking place at the same time was the SPUTY meeting of the 12 provinces that make up the conferences. Approximately 34 friars took part, reflecting on what God is asking of the Friars Minor today in the Church, in the Order, and in the Bolivarian, Caribbean, Central American and Mexican regions particularly. The General Definitory heard a presentation from Br. Tomás González, OFM, who works in “La 72,” a shelter for migrants traveling along the dangerous route from Central America to the United States. The friars also visited “Las Patronas,” a group of women who feed the migrants as they travel on the train called “The Beast” from the south to the north of Mexico. A complete summary of all of the events is available on the Order’s website.

  General Minister Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, visited the Custody of Amazonia in Brazil, accompanied by Fr. Valmir Ramos, OFM, the area’s General Definitor. He visited with the friars in the extreme north of Brazil, where he could see “the situation of the Church in the state of Raraima, which is quite difficult because of the distances, the lack of diocesan clegy, the unbridled growth of the city of Boa Vista, and the arrival of the Venezuelan migrants who, in 2017, were estimated to number 70,000.” He also visited the friars in Belém, the formation house in Manaus and the custody’s headquarters in Santarém. A summary of his visit is included on the Order’s website.

  While in South America, the General Minister visited the Province of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Brazil, accompanied by Fr. Valmir. He met with the province’s student friars and Provincial Council, and on March 1, he met all of the friars in the province in a dialogue session. He joined the friars for a celebration of the Province’s 65th anniversary during which Fr. Carlos Magno de Souza Santos, OFM, was ordained to the priesthood.

  The Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem will host a conference titled “‘Laudato Si’: The Integral Ecology by Pope Francis for the Safeguarding of the Common Home” on March 12. Organized by the Custody of the Holy Land’s JPIC Commission, the conference will discuss the topic of protecting “the common home” with the local Israeli and Palestinian communities.

Details about these and other events can be found in Fraternitas, the monthly newsletter of the Order of Friars Minor.

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.

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