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MIR I DOBRO, Official Bulletin
of the Province of Herzegovinian Franciscans
Nr. 4/1996, pp. 17-19.

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Translated from Croatian:

GENERAL MINISTER O. F. M.
MEETING WITH THE BROTHERS
OF THE PROVINCE OF ASSUMPTION OF OUR LADY
Mostar, 15 November 1996

     Dear brothers,

     I give thanks to the Lord who brought me here to meet you, after the day of trespass, day of anger of the monstrous war, which still shows its bloody wounds.  I greet you and everyone of you with the greeting which Saint Francis left to us:  "Let the Lord give you a peace."  We need it as much as to put the life into the Warning of our Brother and Father:  "The real peacemakers are those who in all contraries, bearing them in this world, loving the Lord Jesus Christ, keep still in their souls and bodies" (Warnings XV: FF 164).

     This our meeting fits the succession of our Order following the path "from the tradition to prophecy".  The past is not our aim but future of the Kingdom we are building from now on.  It is known to me very well that the past is not to be denied.  You can be proud of it but we are not going to be imprisoned by it.  We are called to be the keepers and the witnesses of the hope, active builders of the future.

     That is why I am demanding of you, immediately and without hesitating, not to be stopped on the things that are out of reality.  Today there is absolutely no time for the nostalgia and crossing the blame among each other.  I am asking you persistently to open your mind for all possibilities that are offered to us in "our life of Minor Brothers", in "this" moment and in "these" circumstances in the union with the entire Order.

     It seems to be necessary, already on the beginning of this meeting, to clear the issue from any misunderstanding, with all the clearness and brightness, according to the condition of the Province and its future.

     My firm attitude, which I share with General definitory, has always been to accomplish completely the Decree "Romanis Pontificibus".  We defined the aims from the beginning of our mandatory, which has always been mediated to you.

     Those aims, which are not to be set aside nor denied, are as it follows:

     - Obey completely Pope's decisions and consequently seek with full responsibility the proper way to accomplish the entire Decree "Romanis Pontificibus".

     - Show honour and acknowledgement to all parties involved in the issue - Bishop of Mostar and General Superior, both as a coexecutors of the Decree, the congregation for Evangelization, Provincial government "ad instar" both as parties which are to be consulted in all the steps of accomplishing this burning issue.

     - Seek, by all possible means, to dissolve the questions among parties by dialogue, striving towards greater present and future good, setting aside the forcible measures to be used in the case of "extrema ratio".

     - Reach in reasonable terms the complete normalisation of all establishments of your Province, which are suspended now (e. g. the Province has not have regular Capitulum since the 1976, you have presently Government "ad instar", and so on).

     To reach those aims we had agreed the term for the canonical visitation which was done in the year 1994 by fra Velimir Blazevic:  on its end the meeting of the Province was held and new Government, "ad instar", was elected by General definitory, taking in account the wishes you had expressed.

     Many meetings were held exchanging the opinions with fra Tomislav Pervan and Provincial definitory in order to continue to act efficiently and in unity, presenting them with great confidence - which all the Brothers have not done to their official Minister.  Those decisions clearly expressed our will to accomplish the Decree where the Province is taking part in responsibility and working out the Decree and to cancel its present status which will not only, if not accomplished in these years, end up in greater closing of its life and institutions but in closing the gate for the future Franciscan generations.

     In our country and Church which are put to the test you, Minor Brothers, although so much generous in many aspects, are called to be the channels of peace and to heal your wounds in the inspiration, the experience and to be sure that nothing is going to be lost if we stay in fidelity to Francis, the Order and the Church, for we are the part of one living organism.  Following the proper ecclesiology of unity and fidelity to Saint Francis we can not take property, without being punished, of places, functions and responsibilities which do not belong to us.  We are not even "strictly necessary": there are many kinds of "charisma" in the Church and different tasks which are to be tolerated.  Do not let us be the judges of anyone.  It is crucial to remember that "always submitted and committed to the steps of the same Holy Church, firmly stood in the catholic faith living poverty, lowliness and holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, as we firmly promised"  (Regula, chap. XII).

     However, apart from dissolving actual difficulties, there are steps to be taken in order to re-establish the authority of provincial government, to open the dialogue between the Bishop and the Provincialate in the place, in order to dissolve the actual issues which are just making the circle and not finding the way out of it.  There were many attempts that went astray e.g. the steps that were prepared by the General visitator fra Velimir Blazevic, the dialogue about Capljina under the conducting of Apostolic nuncio.

     I can not, as well as General definitory, ignore nor approve behaviour of the Brothers in concrete occasions of both Mostar and Capljina:  the behaviour that endangers every positive possibility for the Order to preserve its attendance in the different way, what I personally have stayed with.

     There are still cases of pastoral trespasses outside the boundary of parishes which has been entrusted to the Province:  it makes further more difficult circumstances and put us among guilty ones - since we have wrong, for we are committing the sin against justice towards the brothers priests!

     Regarding Capljina I am appealing for the complete accomplishment of the Decree, with the efficient handover to the secular priests, according to my earlier regulation and according to the "Statement" which was given together with the bishop msgr. Ratko Peric.  Apart from the which are put by some groups of faithful, it is certainly known that the Franciscans celebrate the Holy Masses in the church and in two other filial churches.

     This behaviour of the particular brothers and the entire Province can not be approved, for it is vivid and clear disobedience to the Pope and General minister and for it stops the act of "regulation" to be continued.  The hedging of the Province from that acts was not clear:  only silence was present, laying on the fence between agreement or approval.  Moreover, after the Province had been given the act of fidelity, what is to say the permission to welcome freshmen ("appropriateness" to educate the young ones), we are facing other difficulties which put in doubt everything what has been done and which, in the case of reenacting and refusing to do what was ordered, it will surely lead towards more rigorous measures.  For Province it would be same as committing the suicide:  and the guilt to on own shoulders.  Today I require, publicly and, from the "entire" Province, that, in short term, offer the signs of disapproval to disobedience in the case of particular brothers and the signs efficient and evident cooperation with General minister.

     Apart from that, the problem of relation to civil authorities and other "unions" emerges:  among each other are great and difficult and those certainly set limits to the Province or deprive its freedom to accomplish the decisions.  And on that field as well I am looking forward from the Province to co-operate actively on the canceling the present status (but you know that you are able to do it!), without asking for excuses and further postponation.

     I am demanding from all of you to, as a "Minor Brothers" and in complete sincerity and responsibility towards young Franciscans, towards own future and entire Order which is looking at you, ask yourselves:

     * do you objectively evaluate what is going to be lost and what is going to be won by current behaviour;

     * does the future of the entire Province really depend on the presence of parishes exclusively, or the life of minor brothers can be expressed in other ways, which are even more appropriate;

     * is your statement true and appropriate to the Regula that you are the "Franciscan clergy" and what "vision" of the Church nurtures your life;

     * finally, is your wish to follow the impulses of your really great and distinguished Franciscans instead of giving away to the stubborn, useless and selfsuicidal requests, e.g., fra Dominik Mandic wrote on the 7 December 1973 to the Provincial fra Rufin Silic:  "I beg you and all Brothers to accept and accomplish decisions that you received from Rome", but he was not obeyed!  (Cf. BAZILIJE PANDZIC, The Life of fra Dominik Mandic, Chicago 1995, p. 141).

     My intervention ends here.  Let us open now for the dialogue, in the truth and love, without escaping from what is to do.  I would like for all - although it may seem difficult - to remember this meeting as a one which is enlightening and setting free, as a starting point for overcoming of one very difficult crisis and for walking in the hope and light.  The future is in your hands.

Fr. Hermann Schalück, OFM
General Minister
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