“Do not forget that we receive from our closeness to the poor, the victims of modern slavery, the refugees, and the excluded of this world, a renewed gaze, capable of opening us to God’s future. They are your teachers. Embrace them as St. Francis did!”
The general chapter is taking place on July 3-18 on the theme of “Renewing Our Vision, Embracing Our Future.”
The order announced on July 13 that it had elected a new leader, Fr. Massimo Fusarelli, who will serve a six-year term as minister general. He succeeds Fr. Michael Perry, a native of Indianapolis, who led the order since 2013.
In his message, the pope said: “I greet with affection all of you who are participating in the general chapter of the Order of Friars Minor. A grateful thought goes out to Fr. Michael A. Perry, who has concluded his service as minister general, and I offer my best wishes to Fr. Massimo Giovanni Fusarelli, who has been called to succeed him.”
The pope recalled that St. Francis of Assisi wrote in his Testament that he used to be nauseated by the sight of lepers, but that after he met them, he felt transformed.
“At the roots of your spirituality is this encounter with the least and the suffering, in the sign of ‘doing mercy,’” he said. “God touched Francis’ heart through the mercy offered to his brother, and he continues to touch our hearts through his encounter with others, especially those most in need.”