Here is the text of José Rodríquez Carballo, OFM, the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor — the successor of St. Francis of Assisi — on the occasion of welcoming Pope Benedict XVI to Assisi for the 25th Anniversary of the interreligious and ecumenical day of world peace led by Pope John Paul II.
With few and simple words, as the Poor Man of Assisi exhorted us, I would like, on behalf of all the Friars Minor spread all over the world, to address two words to you from the depths of my heart: Welcome and Thank You.
Holy Father, welcome to Assisi, the altar of memory for all those who follow the way of life that our Father Francis lived, wrote, and presented to the Lord Pope for approval (cf. Test 14ss)! Welcome to Assisi, the city of peace, spiritual ark in which all of humanity seeks refuge! Welcome, especially to the Portiuncula, the cradle of the Order of Friars Minor and Poor Sisters! Welcome to our home and to your home, your Holiness!
Your Holiness, Thank you! Thank you for picking up the witness left by your venerated predecessor Blessed John Paul II 25 years ago. Thank you for remembering us with this day of prayer for peace, which is a gift from God, a gift we must implore. Thank you for choosing Assisi for this new day of prayer for peace, the town of Francis, a herald of peace and reconciliation, the man who, as Your Holiness wrote, “embodied in an exemplary manner the Beatitude proclaimed by Jesus in the Gospel, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God (Mt 5, 9).” There is a natural reference to Francis’ witness in his time by those who today cultivate the ideal of peace, respect for nature, and dialogue between peoples, religions, and cultures.” Thank you, therefore, Holy Father, for reminding us that peace is inseparable from truth; and because we have yet to reach it, we are still on the journey as pilgrims. Thank you for reminding us that peace is a commitment we must all take upon ourselves and that violence cannot be justified in the name of God or religion.
Most Holy Father, the Friars Minor pray for your intentions and especially pray that this day we are going to live tomorrow in Assisi in communion with the Successor of Peter will bear abundant fruit on the path of peace. At the same time, we, Friars Minor, commit ourselves, like St. Francis, to be instruments of peace and reconciliation, and bring love where there is hatred, peace where there is violence, faith where there is doubt, truth where there is error, and pardon where there is injury.
So that we may be faithful to this inheritance we have received, we ask for your blessing, Holy Father.
With the veneration of a son and on behalf of all the Friars Minor,
Br. José Rodríguez Carballo, ofm
Minister General, OFM