THE SECULAR FRANCISCAN ORDER
1. All the faithful are called to holiness and
have a right to follow their own spiritual way in communion with the Church.
2. Rule 1 There are many spiritual families
in the Church with different charisms. Among these families, the Franciscan
Family, which in its various branches recognizes St. Francis of Assisi as its
father, inspiration, and model, must be included.
3. Rule 2 From the beginning, the Secular
Franciscan Order has
had its own proper place in the Franciscan Family. It is formed by the organic union of all the
Catholic fraternities whose members, moved by the Holy Spirit, commit
themselves through profession to live the Gospel in the manner of St. Francis,
in their secular state, following the Rule approved by the Church.
4. The Holy See has entrusted the pastoral care
and spiritual assistance of the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO), because it
belongs to the same spiritual family, to the Franciscan First Order and Third
Order Regular (TOR). These are the
"Institutes" who are responsible for the altius moderamen, referred to by Canon 303 of the Code of Canon Law.
5. The Secular Franciscan Order is a public
association in the Church. It
is divided into fraternities at various levels: local, regional, national, and
international. Each one has its own
juridical personality within the Church.
1. The vocation to the SFO is a specific
vocation that gives form to the life and apostolic activity of its
members. Therefore, those who are bound
by a perpetual commitment to another religious family or institute of consecrated
life cannot belong to the SFO.
2. The SFO is open to the faithful of every
state of life. The following may belong
the laity (men and women);
the secular clergy (deacons, priests,
secular state characterizes the spirituality and the apostolic life of those
belonging to the SFO.
secularity, with respect to vocation and to apostolic life, expresses itself
according to the respective state, that is:
the laity, contributing to building up the Kingdom of God by their presence in
their life-situations and in their temporal activities;
the secular clergy, by offering to the people of God the service which is
properly theirs, in communion with the bishop and the presbytery.
Both are inspired by the gospel options
of Saint Francis of Assisi, committing themselves to continue his mission with
the other components of the Franciscan Family.
vocation to the SFO is a vocation to live the Gospel in fraternal
communion. For this purpose, the members
of the SFO gather in ecclesial communities which are called fraternities.
SFO is governed by the universal law of the Church, and by its own: the Rule,
the Constitutions, the Ritual, and the particular statutes.
Rule establishes the nature, purpose, and spirit of the SFO.
3. Rule 3 The Constitutions have as their purpose:
to apply the Rule;
indicate concretely the conditions for belonging to the SFO, its government,
the organization of life in fraternity, and its seat.
1. Rule 3 The authentic
interpretation of the Rule and of the Constitutions belongs to the Holy See.
practical interpretation of the Constitutions, with the purpose of harmonizing
its application in different areas and at the various levels of the Order,
belongs to the General Chapter of the SFO.
clarification of specific points which require a timely decision is the
competence of the Presidency of the International Council of the SFO
(CIOFS). Such a clarification is valid
until the next General Chapter.
international fraternity of the SFO has its own statutes approved by the
fraternities have their own statutes approved by the Presidency of the
International Council of the SFO.
regional and the local fraternities may have their own statutes approved by the
council of the higher level.
All regulations not in accordance with
the present Constitutions are abrogated.
OF LIFE AND APOSTOLIC ACTIVITY
FORM OF LIFE
Secular Franciscans commit themselves by their profession to live the Gospel
according to Franciscan spirituality in their secular condition.
seek to deepen, in the light of faith, the values and choices of the
evangelical life according to the Rule of the SFO:
Rule 7 in a continually renewed journey of
conversion and of formation;
Rule 4,3 open to the
challenges that come from society and from the Church's life situation,
"going from Gospel to life and from life to Gospel;"
in the personal and communal dimensions of
1. Rule 5 The spirituality of the Secular
Franciscan is a plan of life centered on the person and on the following of
rather than a detailed program to be put into practice.
2. Rule 4,3 The Secular Franciscan, committed to following the example and
the teachings of Christ, must personally and assiduously study the Gospel and
Sacred Scripture. The fraternity and its
leaders should foster love for the word of the Gospel and help the brothers and
sisters to know and understand it as it is proclaimed by the Church with the
assistance of the Spirit.
Rule 10 "Christ, poor and
crucified", victor over death and risen, the greatest manifestation of the
love of God for humanity, is the "book" in which the brothers and
sisters, in imitation of Francis, learn the purpose and the way of living,
loving, and suffering. They discover in
Him the value of contradictions for the sake of justice and the meaning of the
difficulties and the crosses of daily life.
With Him, they can accept the will of the Father even under the most
difficult circumstances and live the Franciscan spirit of peace, rejecting
every doctrine contrary to human dignity.
that the Holy Spirit is the source of their vocation and the animator of
fraternal life and mission, Secular Franciscans should seek to imitate the
faithfulness of Francis to His inspiration.
They should listen to the exhortation of the Saint to desire above all
things "the Spirit of God at work within them."
inspiration from the example and the writings of Francis and, above all, filled
with the grace of the Holy Spirit, each day the brothers and sisters faithfully
live the great gift which Christ has given: the revelation of the Father. They should bear witness to this faith before
in their family life;
in their work;
in their joys and sufferings;
in their associations with all men and women,
brothers and sisters of the same Father;
in their presence and participation in the
life of society;
in their fraternal relationships with all
2. Rule 10 With Jesus, obedient even to death,
they should seek to know and do the will of the Father. They should give thanks to God for the gift
of freedom and for the revelation of the law of love. In order to carry out the will of the Father,
they should accept the help which is offered to them through the mediation of
the Church by those who are constituted as authority in her and by their
confreres. They should take on the risk
of courageous choices in their life in society with decisiveness and serenity.
3. Rule 8 The brothers and sisters should love
meeting God as His children and they should let prayer and contemplation be the
soul of all they are and do. They should seek to discover the presence of the
Father in their own heart, in nature, and in the history of humanity in which
His plan of salvation is fulfilled. The
contemplation of this mystery will dispose them to collaborate in this loving
1. Rule 7 Secular Franciscans, called in earlier
times "the brothers and sisters of penance," propose to live in the
spirit of continual conversion. Some
means to cultivate this characteristic of the Franciscan vocation, individually
and in fraternity, are: listening to and celebrating the Word of God; review of
life; spiritual retreats; the help of a spiritual adviser, and penitential
celebrations. They should approach the
Sacrament of Reconciliation frequently and participate in the communal
celebration of it, whether in the fraternity, or with the whole people of God.
2. In this spirit of conversion, they should
live out their love for the renewal of the Church, which should be accompanied
by personal and communal renewal. The
fruits of conversion, which is a response to the love of God, are the works of
charity in the interactions with the brothers and sisters.
3. Traditional among Franciscan penitents,
penitential practices such as fasting and abstinence should be known,
appreciated, and lived out according to the general guidelines of the Church.
1. Aware that God wanted to make of us all a
single people and that he made his Church the universal sacrament of salvation,
the brothers and sisters should commit themselves to a faith-inspired
reflection on the Church, its mission in today's world and the role of the
Franciscan laity within it. They should
take up the challenges and accept the responsibilities that this reflection
will lead them to discover.
2. Rule 8 The Eucharist is the center of the
life of the Church. Christ unites us to
himself and to one another as a single body in it. Therefore, the Eucharist should be the center
of the life of the fraternity. The
brothers and sisters should participate in the Eucharist as frequently as
possible, being mindful of the respect and love shown by Francis, who, in the
Eucharist, lived all the mysteries of the life of Christ.
3. They should participate in the sacraments of
the Church, attentive not only to personal sanctification, but also to
fostering the growth of the Church and the spreading of the Kingdom. They should collaborate in achieving living
and conscious celebrations in their own parishes, particularly in the
celebrations of baptism, confirmation, marriage, and the anointing of the sick.
4. The brothers and sisters, as well as the
fraternities, should adhere to the indications of the Ritual with respect to
the different forms of participating in the liturgical prayer of the Church,
giving priority to the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours.
5. In all places and at all times, it is
possible for true worshippers of the Father to give him adoration and to pray
to him. Nevertheless, the brothers and
sisters should try to find times of silence and recollection dedicated
exclusively to prayer.
1. Rule 11 Secular Franciscans should pledge
themselves to live the spirit of the Beatitudes and, in a special way, the
spirit of poverty. Evangelical poverty
demonstrates confidence in the Father, creates interior freedom, and disposes
them to promote a more just distribution of wealth.
2. Secular Franciscans, who must provide for
their own families and serve society by means of their work and material goods,
have a particular manner of living evangelical poverty. To understand and achieve it requires a
strong personal commitment and the stimulation of the fraternity in prayer and
dialogue, communal review of life, and attentiveness to the instructions of the
Church, and the demands of society.
3. Secular Franciscans should pledge themselves
to reduce their own personal needs so as to be better able to share spiritual
and material goods with their brothers and sisters, especially those most in
need. They should give thanks to God for
the goods they have received, using them as good stewards and not as owners.
should take a firm position against consumerism and against ideologies and
practices which prefer riches over human and religious values and which permit
the exploitation of the human person.
4. They should love and practice purity of
heart, the source of true fraternity.
1. Rule 9 Mary, Mother of Jesus, is the model of
listening to the Word and of faithfulness to vocation; we, like Francis, see
all the gospel virtues realized in her.
brothers and sisters should cultivate intense love for the most holy virgin,
imitation, prayer, and filial abandonment.
They should manifest their own devotion with expressions of genuine
faith, in forms accepted by the Church.
2. Mary is the model of fruitful and faithful
love for the entire ecclesial community.
Secular Franciscans and their fraternities
should seek to live the experience of Francis, who made the Virgin the guide of
his activity. With her, like the
disciples at Pentecost, they should welcome the Spirit to create a community of
ACTIVE PRESENCE IN THE CHURCH AND IN THE WORLD
1. Rule 6 Called to work together in building up
the Church as the sacrament of salvation for all and, through their baptism and
profession, made "witnesses and instruments of her mission," Secular
Franciscans proclaim Christ by their life and words. Their preferred apostolate is personal
the environment in which they live and service for building up the Kingdom of
God within the situations of this world.
2. The preparation of the brothers and sisters
for spreading the Gospel message "in the ordinary circumstances of the
for collaborating in the catechesis within the ecclesial communities should be
promoted in the fraternities.
3. Those who are called to carry out the
mission of catechists, presiders of ecclesial communities, or other ministries,
as well as the sacred ministers, should make the love of Francis for the Word
of God their own, as well as his faith in those who announce it, and the great
fervor with which he received the mission of preaching penance from the Pope.
4. Participation in the service of
sanctification, which the Church exercises through the liturgy, prayer, and
works of penance and charity, is put into practice by the brothers and sisters
above all in their own family, then in the fraternity and, finally, through
their active presence in the local Church and in society.
For a Just and
1. Secular Franciscans are called to make their
own contribution, inspired by the person and message of Saint Francis of
Assisi, towards a civilization in which the dignity of the human person, shared
responsibility, and love may be living realities.
2. Rule 13 They should deepen the true
foundations of universal kinship and create a spirit of welcome and an
atmosphere of fraternity everywhere.
They should firmly commit themselves to oppose every form of
exploitation, discrimination, and exclusion and against every attitude of
indifference in relation to others.
3. Rule 13 They should work together with
movements which promote the building of fraternity among peoples: they should
be committed to "create worthy conditions of life" for all and to
work for the freedom of all people.
4. Following the example of Francis, patron of
ecologists, they should actively put forward initiatives that care for creation
and should work with others in efforts that both put a stop to polluting and
degrading nature and also establish circumstances of living and environment
which would not be a threat to the human person.
1. Rule 14 Secular Franciscans should always act
as a leaven in the environment in which they live through the witness of their
fraternal love and clear Christian motivations.
2. In the spirit of minority, they should opt
for relationships which give preference to the poor and to those on the fringe
of society, whether these be individuals or categories of persons or an entire
people; they should collaborate in overcoming the exclusion of others and those
forms of poverty that are the fruit of inefficiency and injustice.
1. Rule 14 Secular Franciscans, committed by
their vocation to build the Kingdom of God in temporal situations and
activities, live their membership both in the Church and in society as an
2. As the primary and fundamental contribution
to building a more just and fraternal world, they should commit themselves both
to the generous fulfillment of the duties proper to their occupation and to the
professional training that pertains to it.
With the same spirit of service, they should assume their social and
1. Rule 16 For Francis, work is a gift and to
work is a grace. Daily work is not only
the means of livelihood, but the opportunity to serve God and neighbor as well
as a way to develop one's own personality.
In the conviction that work is a right and a duty and that every form of
occupation deserves respect, the brothers and sisters should commit themselves
to collaborate so that all persons may have the possibility to work and so that
working conditions may always be more humane.
2. Leisure and recreation have their own value
and are necessary for personal development.
Secular Franciscans should maintain a balance between work and rest and
should strive to create meaningful forms of using leisure time.
1. Rule 15 Secular Franciscans should "be in
the forefront ... in the field of public life." They should collaborate as
much as possible for the passage of just laws and ordinances.
2. The fraternities should engage themselves
through courageous initiatives, consistent with their Franciscan vocation and
with the directives of the Church, in the field of human development and
justice. They should take clear
positions whenever human dignity is attacked by any form of oppression or
indifference. They should offer their
fraternal service to the victims of injustice.
3. The renunciation of the use of violence,
characteristic of the followers of Francis, does not mean the renunciation of
action. However, the brothers and
sisters should take care that their interventions are always inspired by
1. Rule 19 Peace is the work of justice and the
fruit of reconciliation and of fraternal love. Secular
Franciscans are called to be bearers of peace in their families and in society:
they should see to the proposal and spreading
of peaceful ideas and attitudes;
they should develop their own initiatives and
should collaborate, individually and as a fraternity, with initiatives of the
Pope, the local Churches, and the Franciscan Family;
they should collaborate with those movements
and institutions which promote peace while respecting its authentic foundations.
2. While acknowledging both the personal and
national right to legitimate defense, they should respect the choice of those
who, because of conscientious objection, refuse to bear arms.
3. To preserve peace in the family, the
brothers and sisters should, in due time, make a last will and testament for
the disposition of their goods.
In the Family
1. Rule 17 Secular Franciscans should consider
their own family to be the first place in which to live their Christian
commitment and Franciscan vocation. They
should make space within it for prayer, for the Word of God, and for Christian
catechesis. They should concern
themselves with respect for all life in every situation from conception until
Married couples find in the Rule of the
SFO an effective aid in their own journey of Christian life, aware that, in the
sacrament of matrimony, their love shares in the love that Christ has for his
Church. The way spouses love each other
and affirm the value of fidelity is a profound witness for their own family,
the Church, and the world.
2. In the fraternity:
the spirituality of the family and of
marriage and the Christian attitude towards family problems should be a theme
for dialogue and for the sharing of experiences;
should share the important moments of the family life of their Franciscan
brothers and sisters and they should give fraternal attention to those
single, widows, single parents, separated, divorced who are living
Rule 19 they should create conditions suitable
for dialogue between generations;
the formation of groups of married couples
and of family groups should be fostered.
3. The brothers and sisters should collaborate
with the efforts undertaken in the Church and in society to affirm both the
value of fidelity and respect for life and to provide answers to the social
problems of the family.
Out of the conviction of the need to
educate children to take an interest in community, "bringing them the
awareness of being living, active members of the People of God" and
because of the fascination which Francis can exercise on them, the formation of
groups of children should be encouraged.
With the help of a pedagogy and an organization suitable to their age,
these children should be initiated into a knowledge and love of the Franciscan
life. National statutes will give
appropriate orientation for the organization of these groups and their
relationship to the fraternity and to Franciscan youth groups.
Joy and Hope
1. Even in suffering, Francis experienced
confidence and joy from:
the experience of the fatherhood of God;
the invincible faith of rising with Christ to
experience of being able to meet and praise the Creator in the universal
fraternity of all creatures.
Rule 19 Following the Gospel,
Secular Franciscans, therefore, affirm their hope and their joy in living. They make a contribution to counter
widespread distress and pessimism, preparing a better future.
2. In the fraternity, the brothers and sisters
should promote mutual understanding and they should see to it that the
atmosphere of their meetings is welcoming and that it reflects joy. They should encourage one another for the
1. Rule 19 The brothers and sisters, progressing
in age, should learn to accept illness and increasing difficulties and to give
a deeper sense to their life. This
should be undertaken with increasing detachment as they set out for the
Promised Land. They should be firmly
convinced that the community of those who believe in Christ and who love one
another in Him will go forward into eternal life as the "communion of
2. Secular Franciscans should commit themselves
to create in their environment and, above all, in their fraternities, a climate
of faith and hope so that "Sister Death" may be regarded as a passage
to the Father, and all may prepare themselves with serenity.
LIFE IN FRATERNITY
1. The fraternity of the SFO finds its origin
in the inspiration of Saint Francis of Assisi to whom the Most High revealed
the essential gospel quality of life in fraternal communion.
2. Rule 20 "The SFO is divided into
fraternities of various levels," the purpose being to promote, in an
orderly form, the union and mutual collaboration among the brothers and sisters
and their active and communal presence in both the local and the universal
Church. The SFO shall also support the
commitment of the fraternities in their service to the world, and specifically
to the life of society.
3. The brothers and sisters gather in local
fraternities established in connection with a church or a religious house, or
in personal fraternities, constituted for specific and valid reasons recognized
in the decree of establishment.
1. Local fraternities are grouped into
fraternities at various levels: regional, national and international according
to criteria that are ecclesial, territorial, or of another nature. They are co-ordinated and connected according
to the norm of the Rule and the Constitutions.
This is a requirement of the communion among the fraternities, of the
orderly collaboration among them, and of the unity of the SFO.
2. Rule 20 These fraternities, that each have
their own juridical personality in the Church, should acquire, if possible, a
civil juridical personality for the better fulfillment of their mission. It pertains to the national councils to give
guidelines concerning the motivations and the procedures to be followed.
3. National statutes should indicate the
criteria for the organization of the SFO in the nation. The application of these criteria is left to
the prudent judgement of the leaders of the fraternities concerned and of the
1. The brothers and sisters are co-responsible
for the life of the fraternity to which they belong and for the SFO as the
organic union of all fraternities throughout the world.
2. The sense of co-responsibility of the
members requires personal presence, witness, prayer, and active collaboration,
in accordance with each one's situation and possible obligations for the
animation of the fraternity.
3. Rule 25 In a family spirit,
each brother and sister should make a contribution to the fraternity fund,
according to each one's means, to provide the financial means needed for the
life of the fraternity and for its religious, apostolic, and charitable works. The brothers and sisters ought to provide the
means necessary for supporting the activities and the operations of the
fraternities at higher levels, both by their financial assistance and by their
contributions in other areas as well.
1. Rule 21 On various levels,
each fraternity is animated and guided by a council and minister (or
president). These offices are conferred
through elections, in accordance with the Rule, the Constitutions, and their
own Statutes. Only by way of exception
or in the first phase of their establishment may fraternities exist without a
regular council. The council of the
higher level will make the arrangements necessary for this inadequate situation
only for the specific amount of time it takes to get a fraternity back on sure
footing or to establish a new fraternity; to give its leaders the proper
formation and to carry out the elections.
2. The office of minister or councilor is a
fraternal service, a commitment to hold oneself available and responsible in
relation to each brother and sister and to the fraternity so that each one will
realize his or her own vocation and each fraternity will be a true community,
ecclesial and Franciscan, actively present in the Church and in society.
3. The leaders of the SFO at every level should
be perpetually professed, convinced of the validity of the Franciscan
evangelical way of life, attentive to the life of the Church and of society
with a broad and encompassing vision, open to dialogue, and ready to give and
receive help and collaboration.
4. The leaders should see to the spiritual and
technical preparation and animation of the meetings, both of the fraternities
and of the councils. They should seek to
inspire life and soul into the fraternities by their own witness, suggesting
appropriate means for the development of the life of the fraternity and of
apostolic activities in the light of the fundamental Franciscan options. They should see to it that the decisions made
are carried out and they should promote collaboration among the brothers and
1. The ministers and councilors should live and
foster the spirit and reality of communion among the brothers and sisters,
among the various fraternities, and between them and the Franciscan
family. They should, above all, cherish
peace and reconciliation in and around the fraternity.
2. Rule 21 The ministers' and councilors' task to
lead is temporary. The brothers and
sisters, rejecting all ambition, should show love for the fraternity with a
spirit of service, prepared both to accept and to relinquish the office.
1. In the guidance and co-ordination of the
fraternities and of the Order, the personality and capacity of the individual
brothers and sisters and of the individual fraternities should be
promoted. The plurality of expressions
of the Franciscan ideal and cultural variety must be respected.
2. The councils of higher levels should not do
what can be adequately carried out either by the local fraternities or by a
council of a lower level. They should
respect and promote their vitality so that they fulfil their duties properly. The local fraternities and councils concerned
should commit themselves to carry out the decisions of the international
council and of the other councils of higher levels, and to implement their
programs, adapting them when necessary to their own situation.
situation and the needs of the members require it, sections or groups which
gather members sharing particular needs, common interests, or the same choices,
may be established within the fraternity under the guidance of the one council.
groups can give themselves specific norms relative to their meetings and
activities, firmly remaining faithful, however, to the requirements which arise
from membership in the one fraternity.
National statutes may establish criteria suitable for the formation and
functioning of these sections or groups.
1. Secular priests who recognize that they are
called by the Spirit to participate in the charism of Saint Francis of Assisi
within the secular fraternity should find in it specific attention in
conformity with their mission among the People of God.
2. Secular Franciscan priests may also gather
in personal fraternities in order to pursue the ascetical and pastoral
incentives which the life and doctrine of Francis and the Rule of the SFO offer
them to live their vocation in the Church better. It is proper that these fraternities have
their own statutes which envision concrete forms for their composition, their
fraternal meetings and for spiritual formation as well as for making their
communion with the whole Order living and functional.
1. The brothers and sisters who commit
themselves with private vows to live in the spirit of the beatitudes and to
make themselves more disposed to contemplation and to the service of the
fraternities, can be a great help in the spiritual and apostolic development of
2. These brothers and sisters may gather in
groups according to statutes approved by the national council, or when these
groups spread beyond the borders of a nation, by the Presidency of the
International Council of the SFO.
3. Such statutes should be in harmony with the
ENTRANCE INTO THE ORDER AND FORMATION
1. Rule 23 Membership in the Order is attained
through a time of initiation, a time of formation, and the profession of the
2. The journey of formation, which should
develop throughout life, begins with entrance into the fraternity. Mindful that the Holy Spirit is the principal
agent of formation and always attentive to collaboration with Him, those
responsible for formation are: the candidate, the entire fraternity, the
council with the minister, the master of formation, and the assistant.
3. The brothers and sisters are responsible for
their own formation, developing in an ever more perfect way the vocation
received from the Lord. The fraternity
is called to help the brothers and sisters in this journey by means of a warm
welcome, prayer, and example.
4. The elaboration and adoption of means of
formation, adapted to the local situations and offered as a help to those responsible
for formation in the individual fraternities, belong to the national and
regional councils in common agreement.
The Time of
1. Rule 23 The time of initiation is a phase
preparatory to the true and proper time of formation and is intended for the
discernment of the vocation and for the reciprocal acquaintance between the
fraternity and the aspiring member. It
should guarantee the freedom and the seriousness of entrance into the SFO.
2. The duration of the time of initiation and
the forms employed in its development are established by the national statutes.
3. It belongs to the fraternity council to
decide possible exemptions to this time of initiation, keeping in mind the
guidelines of the national council.
1. Rule 23 The request for admission to the Order
is presented by the aspirant to the minister of a local or personal fraternity
by a formal act, in writing if possible.
2. Conditions for admission are: to profess the
Catholic faith, to live in communion with the Church, to be of good moral
standing, and to show clear signs of a vocation.
3. The council of the fraternity decides
collegially on the request, gives a formal answer to the aspirant, and communicates
this to the fraternity.
4. The rite of admission is performed according
to the Ritual. The act is to be registered and preserved in
the records of the fraternity.
The Time of
1. Rule 23 The time of formation lasts at least
one year. The national statutes can
establish a longer period. The purpose
of this period is the maturation of the vocation, the experience of the
evangelical life in fraternity, and a better knowledge of the Order. This formation should be carried out with
frequent meetings for study and prayer and with concrete experiences of service
and of apostolate. These meetings should
be held, as far as possible and opportune, in common with the candidates of other
2. The candidates are guided to read and
meditate on Sacred Scripture, to come to know the person and writings of
Francis and of Franciscan spirituality, and to study the Rule and
Constitutions. They are trained in a love
for the Church and acceptance of her teaching.
The laity practice living their secular commitment in the world in an
3. Participation in the meetings of the local
fraternity is an indispensable presupposition for initiation into community
prayer and into fraternity life.
4. A style of teaching which is Franciscan in
character and which fits the mentality of the persons concerned should be
The Profession or Promise of Evangelical Life
1. Rule 23 Having completed the time of initial
formation, the candidate submits to the minister of the local fraternity a
request to make his or her profession.
Having heard the master of formation and the assistant, the fraternity
council decides by secret ballot on the admission to profession, gives its
reply to the candidate, and informs the fraternity.
2. The conditions for the profession or promise
of evangelical life are:
attainment of the age established by the
active participation in the time of formation
for at least one year;
the consent of the council of the local
3. Where it is held to be opportune to lengthen
the time of formation, it must not be extended to more than a year beyond the
time established by the national statutes.
1. Profession is the solemn ecclesial act by
which the candidate, remembering the call received from Christ, renews the
baptismal promises and publicly affirms his or her personal commitment to live
the Gospel in the world according to the example of Francis and following the
Rule of the SFO.
2. Rule 23
Profession incorporates the candidate
into the Order and is by its nature a perpetual commitment. Perpetual profession, because of objective
and specific pedagogical reasons, may be preceded by a temporary profession,
renewable annually. The total time of
temporary profession may not be longer than three years.
3. Profession is accepted by the minister of
the local fraternity or by his or her delegate in the name of the Church and of
the SFO. The rite is carried out
according to the norms of the Ritual.
4. Profession does not only commit those
professed to the fraternity, but also, in the same way, it commits the
fraternity to be concerned with their human and religious well-being.
5. The act of profession is registered and
preserved in the records of the fraternity.
national statutes establish:
Rule 23 the minimum age for profession which,
however, may not be less than eighteen years completed;
the distinctive sign of membership in the
Order (the "Tau" or other Franciscan symbol).
1. Begun by the preceding stages, the formation
of the brothers and sisters takes place in a permanent and continuous way. It should be understood as an aid in the
conversion of each and
everyone and in the fulfillment of their proper mission in the Church and in
2. The Fraternity has the duty to give special
attention to the formation of the newly professed and of the temporarily
professed, to help them become fully mature in their vocation and develop a
true sense of belonging.
3. Ongoing formation accomplished by means of
courses, gatherings, and the sharing of experience aims to assist the
brothers and sisters:
Rule 4 in listening to and meditating on the
Word of God, "going from Gospel to life and from life to Gospel;"
reflecting on events in the Church and in society in the light of faith, and
with the help of the documents of the teaching Church, consequently taking
discerning and deepening the Franciscan vocation by studying the writings of
Saint Francis, Saint Clare and Franciscan authors.
1. The promotion of vocations to the Order is a
duty of all the brothers and sisters and is a sign of the vitality of the
brothers and sisters, convinced of the validity of the Franciscan way of life,
should pray that God may give the grace of the Franciscan vocation to new
2. Although nothing can substitute for the
witness of each member and of the fraternity, the councils must adopt
appropriate means to promote the Secular Franciscan vocation.
THE FRATERNITY AT THE VARIOUS LEVELS
1. Rule 22 The canonical establishment of the
local fraternity belongs to the competent religious major superior at the
request of the brothers and sisters concerned and with the prior consultation
and collaboration of the council of the higher level to which the new
fraternity will be related according to the national statutes.
The written consent of the local Ordinary
is necessary for the canonical establishment of a fraternity outside the houses
or churches of the Franciscan religious of the First Order or the TOR.
2. For the valid establishment of a local
fraternity, at least five perpetually professed members are required. The admission and profession of these first
brothers and sisters will be received by the council of another local
fraternity or by the council of a higher level which will have provided for
their formation in appropriate ways. The
acts of admission and profession and the decree of establishment are preserved
in the records of the fraternity. Copies
are sent to the council of the higher level.
3. If there is not yet a fraternity of the SFO
in a nation, it belongs to the Presidency of the International Council of the
SFO to make provision in this regard.
1. Rule 22 Each local fraternity, the primary
cell of the one SFO, is entrusted to the pastoral care of the religious
Franciscan Order that canonically established it.
2. A local fraternity may pass to the pastoral
care of another religious Franciscan Order in the ways determined by the
1. In the case of cessation of a fraternity,
the patrimonial goods of the same, the library and the records are acquired by
the fraternity of the immediately higher level.
2. In the case of revival according to the
canonical laws, the fraternity will repossess any remaining goods, its own
library, and records.
1. The council of the local fraternity is
composed of the following offices: minister, vice‑minister, secretary,
treasurer, and master of formation.
Other offices may be added according to the needs of each
fraternity. The spiritual assistant of
the fraternity forms part of the council by right.
2. The fraternity, meeting in an assembly or
chapter, discusses questions regarding its own life and organization. Every three years, in an elective assembly or
chapter, the fraternity elects the minister and the council in the way
established by the Constitutions and statutes.
1. It is the duty of the council of the local
to promote the initiatives necessary for
fostering fraternal life, for improving the human, Christian, and Franciscan
formation of its members and for sustaining their witness and commitment in the
to make concrete and courageous choices,
appropriate for the situation of the fraternity, from among the numerous
activities possible in the field of the apostolate.
2. The duties of the council are also:
decide on the acceptance and admission to profession of new brothers and
b. to establish a fraternal dialogue with
members in particular difficulties and to adopt consequent measures;
c. to receive the request for withdrawal and to
decide on the suspension of a member from the fraternity;
d. to decide on the establishment of sections
or groups in conformity with the Constitutions and the statutes;
e. to decide on the destination of available funds
and, in general, to deliberate on matters concerning financial management and
the economic affairs of the fraternity;
f. to assign duties to the councilors and to
the other professed members;
g. to request from the competent superiors of
the First Order and the TOR suitable and prepared religious as assistants;
h. to perform such other duties as are required
by these Constitutions or which are necessary to carry out its proper purposes.
The Offices in
1. While firmly upholding the co-responsibility
of the council to animate and guide the fraternity, the minister, as the
primary person responsible for the fraternity, is expected to make sure that
the directions and the decisions of the council are put into practice and will keep
the council informed about what he or she is doing.
2. The minister also has the following duties:
a. to call, to preside at, and to direct the
meetings of the fraternity and council; to convoke, every three years, the
elective chapter of the fraternity, having heard the council on the formalities
of the convocation;
b. to prepare the annual report to be sent to
the council of the higher level after it has been approved by the council of
c. to represent the fraternity in all its
relations with ecclesiastical and civil authorities. When the fraternity acquires a juridical
personality in the civil order, the minister becomes, when possible, its legal
d. to request, with the consent of the council,
the pastoral and fraternal visits, at least once every three years.
e. to put into effect those acts which the
Constitutions refer to his or her competence.
1. The vice‑minister has the following
a. to collaborate in a fraternal spirit and to
support the minister in carrying out his or her specific duties;
b. to exercise the functions entrusted by the
council and/or by the assembly or chapter;
c. to take the place of the minister in both
duties and responsibilities in case of absence or temporary impediment;
assume the functions of the minister when the office remains vacant.
2. The secretary has the following duties:
a. to compile the official acts of the
fraternity and of the council and to assure that they are sent to their
respective proper recipients;
see to the updating and preservation of the records and the registers, noting
admissions, professions, deaths, withdrawals, and transfers from the
c. to provide for the communication of the more
important facts to the various levels and, if appropriate, to provide for their
dissemination through the mass media.
3. The master of formation has the following
a. to co-ordinate, with the help of the other
members of the council, the formative activities of the fraternity;
instruct and enliven the inquirers during the time of initiation, the
candidates during the period of initiation formation, and the newly professed;
inform the council of the fraternity prior to profession, concerning the
suitability of the candidate for a commitment to live according to the Rule.
4. The treasurer, or bursar, has the following
a. to guard diligently the contributions
received, recording each receipt in the appropriate register, with the date on
which it was given, the name of the contributor, or the one from whom it was
b. to record in the same register the items of
expense, specifying the date and the purpose, in conformity with the directions
of the fraternity council;
c. to render an account of his or her
administration to the assembly and to the council of the fraternity according
to the norms of the national statutes.
5. The provisions regarding the rights and
duties of the vice‑minister, the secretary and the treasurer apply, with
the appropriate adaptations, to all levels.
Participation in the Life of the Fraternity
1. Rule 24 The fraternity must offer to its
members opportunities for coming together and collaborating through meetings to
be held with as great a frequency as allowed by the situation and with the
involvement of all its members.
2. Rule 6; 8 The fraternity should come together
periodically, also as an ecclesial community to celebrate the Eucharist in a
climate which strengthens the fraternal bond and characterizes the identity of
the Franciscan family. Where, for
whatever reason, this particular celebration may not be possible, they should participate
in the celebration of the larger ecclesial community.
3. Insertion into a local fraternity and
participation in fraternity life is essential for belonging to the SFO. Appropriate initiatives should be adopted
according to the directives of the national statutes, to keep those brothers
and sisters united to the fraternity who for valid reasons of health, family,
work, or distance cannot actively participate in community life.
4. The fraternity remembers with gratitude its
brothers and sisters who have passed away and continues its communion with them
by prayer and in the Eucharist.
5. The national statutes can indicate special
forms of association with the fraternity for those who, without becoming a
member of the SFO, want to participate in its life and activities.
1. In cases where the fraternity of whatever
level has property or real estate at its disposal, the procedures necessary for
that fraternity to acquire a juridical personality in the civil order must be
followed in conformity with the national statutes.
2. Based on the respective civil legislation,
the national statutes must establish precise criteria regarding the purpose of
the juridical person, the administration of its material goods and the relevant
internal controls. They must also
contain instructions so that the establishing document may provide for the disposal
of its property in case the juridical person ceases to exist.
national statutes must also set up precise criteria for local fraternities that
possess or administer property or real estate, so that the respective council,
before its term of office is finished, has the fraternitys financial and real
estate situation audited either by an expert who is not a member of the council
or by the fraternitys board of examiners.
brother or sister, for any reasonable cause, desires transfer to another
fraternity, he or she first informs the council of the fraternity to which he
or she belongs and then makes the request, including the reasons for the
transfer, to the minister of the fraternity to which he or she wishes to belong. The council makes its decision after having
received the necessary information in writing from the fraternity of origin.
1. Rule 23 Members
who find themselves in difficulty may ask, with a formal act, temporary withdrawal
from the fraternity. The council will
evaluate the request with love and prudence, after a fraternal dialogue between
the minister and the assistant with the person concerned. If the reasons appear to be well founded,
after the brother or sister in difficulty has been given time to reconsider,
the council agrees to the request.
2. The repeated and prolonged default in the
obligations of the life of the fraternity and other conduct in serious
opposition to the Rule have to be discussed by the council in dialogue with the
person at fault. Only in the case of
obstinacy or relapse may the council decide, with a secret vote, to suspend
someone. It communicates its decision in
writing to the person concerned.
3. Voluntary withdrawal or the provision for
suspension must be noted in the registers of the fraternity. It involves exclusion from the meetings and
activities of the fraternity, including the right of active and passive voice,
but membership in the Order itself is not affected.
1. In the case of voluntary withdrawal or of
suspension from the fraternity, the Secular Franciscan may ask to be readmitted
by addressing an appropriate written request to the minister.
2. After examining the reasons offered by the
person involved, the council evaluates whether the causes which led to the
withdrawal or suspension can be considered as overcome. If the conclusion is affirmative, it readmits
him or her and the decision is recorded in the proceedings of the fraternity.
1. The brother or sister who intends to
withdraw definitively from the Order, communicates so in writing to the
minister of the fraternity. The minister
and the assistant of the local fraternity, with charity and prudence, discuss
the matter with the person concerned and keep the Council informed. If the brother or sister confirms the
decision in writing, the Council takes notice and communicates it in writing to
the person concerned. The definitive
withdrawal is recorded in the register of the fraternity and communicated to
the council of the higher level.
2. In case of serious causes, provided that
they are external, imputable, and juridically proven, the minister and the
assistant of the local fraternity, with charity and prudence, discuss the
matter with the brother or sister concerned and keep the council informed. The brother or sister is given time to
reflect and to discern, eventually with the help of an external and competent
expert. If the time set aside for
reflection passes without any result, the council of the fraternity requests
the council of the higher level to dismiss the brother or sister from the
Order. The request must be accompanied
by all the documentation relative to the case.
council of the higher level will issue the decree of dismissal after having
collegially examined the request with the relative documentation and having
verified observance of the directives of the Law and of the Constitutions.
3. The brother or sister who publicly rejects
the faith, or defects from ecclesiastical communion, or upon whom an
excommunication is imposed or declared, by the fact itself ceases to be a
member of the Order. This does not mean,
however, that the council of the fraternity should not discuss the matter with
the person concerned or offer fraternal help.
The council of a higher level, upon request of the council of the local
fraternity, collects the proofs and officially declares that the person has
ceased to be a member of the Order.
4. The decree of dismissal or the declaration
that the person has ceased to be a member of the Order, in order to become
effective, must be confirmed by the national council to whom all the
documentation will be sent.
If anyone is convinced that he or she has
been wronged by a measure adopted, that person may appeal within three month to
the council above the one that adopted the decision in question and, in
successive cases, to further levels all the way up to the Presidency of the
International Council of the SFO and, in the final instance, to the Holy See.
said in these Constitutions with respect to the local fraternities is valid, to
the extent that it is applicable, for the personal fraternities also.
1. The regional fraternity is the organic union
of all the local fraternities existing in a territory or which can be
integrated into a natural unity, either by geographic proximity, or by common
problems and pastoral circumstances. It
assures the link between the local fraternities and the national fraternity in
respect to the unity of the SFO and in accord with the cooperative efforts of
the Franciscan religious orders to provide spiritual assistance within the
2. It is for the national council to compose
the regional fraternity according to the Constitutions and to the national
statutes. The competent religious
superiors, from whom spiritual assistance must be sought, should be informed of
3. The regional fraternity:
is animated and guided by council and a
is ruled by the national statutes and by its
has its own seat.
1. The regional council is constituted
according to the provisions of the national statutes and of its own regional
statutes. At the heart of the regional
council there can be set up an executive council (or board) whose duties are
determined by those same statutes.
2. The regional council has the following
a. to prepare the celebration of the elective
b. to promote, animate, and co-ordinate the
life and activities of the SFO and its insertion into the local Church within
the regional area;
detail the action plan of the SFO within the region according to the directives
of the national council and in collaboration with it and to publicize that
program to the local fraternities;
d. to communicate the directives of the
national council and of the local Church to the local fraternities;
e. to provide for the formation of those
responsible for animation;
f. to offer to local fraternities activities
which support their formative and operative needs;
g. to discuss and approve the annual report to
the national council;
schedule, when circumstances recommend so, the fraternal visit to the local
fraternities, even if it is not requested;
i. to make decisions regarding the use of
available funds and, in general, to deliberate on matters regarding the
financial management and the economic affairs of the regional fraternity;
j. to have, before its term of office is
finished, the regional fraternitys financial and real estate situation audited
either by an expert who is not a member of the council or by the fraternitys
board of examiners;
k. to perform such other duties as are
indicated by the Constitutions or necessary to achieve its own aims.
1. While firmly preserving the co‑responsibility
of the council for the animation and guidance of the regional fraternity, it is
the duty of the minister, who has the primary responsibility, to see that the directions
and decisions of the council are put into practice. He or she will keep the council informed
concerning his or her activities.
2. In addition, the regional minister has the
convoke and preside at the meetings of the regional council; to convoke every
three years the elective chapter of the fraternity after having listened to the
council on the formalities of the convocation;
preside at and to confirm the elections of the local fraternities either in
person or through a delegated member of the regional council, with the
exception of the spiritual assistant;
c. to make fraternal visits to the local
fraternities, personally or through a delegate who is a member of the council;
d. to participate in the meetings called by the
e. to represent the fraternity whenever it has
acquired a juridical personality in the civil order;
f. to prepare the annual report to the
g. to request the pastoral and fraternal visits
with the consent of the council, at least once every three years.
regional chapter is the representative organ of all the fraternities existing
within the confines of a regional fraternity, with elective and deliberative
national statutes provide for the formalities of convocation, its composition,
frequency and powers.
1. The national fraternity is the organic union
of the local fraternities existing within the territory of one or more states
which are joined and co-ordinated among themselves through regional
fraternities, wherever they exist.
2. It is the duty of the Presidency of the
International Council of the SFO to provide for the establishment of new
national fraternities upon request and in dialogue with the councils of the
fraternities concerned. The competent
religious superiors of the nation, of whom spiritual assistance will be
requested, should be informed.
3. The national fraternity:
is animated and guided by a council and a
is governed by its own statutes;
has its own seat.
1. The national council is constituted
according to the provisions of the national statutes. At the heart of the national council there
can be set up an executive council (or board) whose duties are determined by
those same statutes.
2. The national council has the duty:
a. to prepare the celebration of the national
elective chapter, according to its own statutes;
b. to make known and to promote the Secular
Franciscan spirituality in the whole area of its own national fraternity;
c. to decide upon programs of annual activities
of a national character;
d. to seek, indicate, publish, and distribute
the necessary instruments for the formation of the Secular Franciscans;
e. to animate and co-ordinate the activities of
the regional councils;
f. to maintain the connection with the
Presidency of the International Council of the SFO;
make sure that the national fraternity be represented in the international
council and to assume the responsibility for the expenses involved;
h. to discuss and approve the annual report to
Presidency of the International Council of the SFO;
i. to see to the presence of the SFO in the
ecclesial bodies at the national level;
schedule, when circumstances recommend so, the fraternal visit to the regional
and local fraternities, even if it is not requested;
k. to make decisions regarding the management
of the available funds and, in general, regarding the economic affairs of the
have, before its term of office is finished, the national fraternitys
financial and real estate situation audited either by an expert who is not a
member of the council or by the fraternitys board of examiners;
m. to perform such other duties as are indicated
by the Constitutions or necessary to achieve its own aims.
1. While firmly preserving the co‑responsibility
of the council for the animation and guidance of the national fraternity, it is
the duty of the minister, who has the primary responsibility, to see that the
directions and decisions of the council are put into practice. He or she will keep the council informed
concerning his or her activities.
2. In addition, the national minister has the
convoke and preside at the meetings of the national council; to convoke every
three years the elective chapter of the national fraternity, according to the
national statutes, after having listened to the council on the formalities of
b. to direct and co-ordinate with the national
leaders the activities at the national level;
c. to give a report to the national council and
chapter on the life and activity of the SFO in the country;
d. to represent the national fraternity in
contacts with ecclesiastical and civil authorities. When the national fraternity has a civil
juridical personality, its legal representation belongs to the minister;
preside at and to confirm the elections of the regional fraternities either in
person or through a delegated member of the regional council, with the
exception of the spiritual assistant;
f. to make fraternal visits to the regional
councils, personally or through a delegate who is a member of the national
g. to request the fraternal and pastoral
visits, with the consent of the council, at least once every six years.
1. The national chapter is the representative
organ of the fraternities existing within the confines of a national
fraternity. It has legislative,
deliberative, and elective powers. In conformity
with the Rule and the Constitutions, it may make legislative decisions and give
norms valid within its national confines.
The national statutes determine the composition of the national chapter,
its frequency, its powers, and how to convoke it.
2. The national statutes may envisage other
forms of meetings and assemblies to promote the life and apostolate at the
1. The international fraternity is constituted
by the organic union of all the Catholic Secular Franciscan fraternities in the
world. It is identical to the SFO. It has its own juridical personality within
the Church. It is organized and it
functions in conformity with the Constitutions and its own statutes.
2. The international fraternity is guided and
animated by the International Council of the SFO (CIOFS), with its seat in Rome
(Italy), by its Presidency and by the general minister or international
1. The international council is composed of the
following members, elected according to the norms of the Constitutions and its
professed brothers and sisters of the SFO;
representatives of the Franciscan Youth.
addition, the four General Assistants to the SFO form part of the international
2. The Presidency of the International Council
of the SFO is constituted within the international council of which it forms an
3. The International Council convened in
General Chapter is the highest governing body of the SFO with legislative,
deliberative, and elective powers. It
can make legislative decisions and give norms in conformity with the Rule and
4. The international council meets every six
years in elective general chapter, and at least once between two elective
general chapters, according to the norms established by the Constitutions and
by the international statutes.
1. The purposes and duties of the International
Council of the SFO are:
a. to promote and sustain the evangelical life
according to the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi within the secular condition
of the faithful living throughout the world;
b. to increase the sense of unity of the SFO
while respecting the pluralism of the persons and groups, and to strengthen the
bond of communion, collaboration, and sharing among the national fraternities;
c. to harmonize the sound traditions, according
to the original nature of the SFO, with advances in theological, pastoral, and
legislative fields, with a view to a specific evangelical Franciscan formation;
d. to contribute, in line with the tradition of
the SFO, to the spreading of ideas and initiatives which are valuable for
promoting the availability of Secular Franciscans in the life of the Church and
e. to determine the orientations and establish
priorities for the actions of its Presidency;
f. to interpret the Constitutions according to
2. The international statutes specify the
composition of the international council and how to convoke its meetings.
1. The Presidency of the International Council
of the SFO is composed of:
the general minister;
the presidency councilors;
a member of the Franciscan Youth;
the general assistants of the SFO.
2. The presidency councilors are elected
according to the international statutes, which determine their number and the
and tasks of the Presidency are:
see that the decisions and orientations of the general chapter are carried out;
co-ordinate, animate, and guide the SFO at the international level, in order to
make the interdependence and reciprocity of the SFO a reality at the various
levels of fraternity;
c. to intervene in a spirit of service,
according to the circumstances, providing fraternal aid in the clarification
and resolution of grave and urgent problems of the SFO, informing the national council concerned and
the next general chapter;
d. to strengthen reciprocal relationships of
collaboration between the SFO and the other components of the Franciscan family
at the world level;
e. to organize meetings or assemblies,
according to the norms of the international statutes, to promote the life and
the apostolate of the SFO at the international level;
f. to collaborate with organizations and
associations which defend the same values;
g. to fulfill the other duties indicated in the
Constitutions or needed in order to reach its own proper goals.
1. While firmly preserving the co‑responsibility
of the Presidency of the International Council of the SFO in the guidance and
animation of the international fraternity, it belongs to the general minister,
who has the primary responsibility, to see that the directions and decisions of
the general chapter and of the Presidency are put into practice and to inform
them concerning his or her activities.
2. In addition, the general minister has the
a. to convoke and preside at the meetings of
the Presidency according to its own statutes;
b. to convoke the meetings of the general
chapter, with the consent of the Presidency, and to preside at them;
c. to be a visible and effective sign of the
communion and life-giving reciprocity between the SFO and the general ministers
of the Franciscan First Order and the TOR, among whom he or she represents the
SFO, and to preserve the bond with the conference of general assistants;
represent the SFO at the world level before ecclesiastical and civil
authorities. When the international fraternity has a civil juridical
personality, its legal representation belongs to the minister;
e. to make the fraternal visit to the national
councils, personally or through a delegate;
f. to preside at the elections of the national
councils, personally or through a delegate;
g. to request, with the consent of the
Presidency, the pastoral visit by the Conference of the General Ministers of
the First Order and the TOR;
h. to intervene in urgent cases, informing the
Presidency of them;
i. to sign the official documents of the
exercise, with the consent of the Presidency, the property rights of the
international fraternity together with another councilor of the Presidency
designated by that same body;
every general chapter, have the financial and property situation of the
international fraternity verified by a qualified accountant who is not involved
in the economic and financial management of the Presidency.
specific duties of the international councilors are determined by the
ELECTION TO AND TERMINATION OF OFFICES
1. The elections at the various levels will
take place according to the norms of the law of the Church and of
convocation should be carried out at least one month in advance, indicating the
place, the day, and the time of the election.
2. The elective assembly, or chapter, will be
presided over by the minister of the immediately higher level, or by his or her
delegate, who confirms the election.
The president or the delegate cannot
preside over the elections in his or her local fraternity, nor the elections of
the council of a higher level, of whose council he or she is a member.
spiritual assistant of the immediately higher level or his delegate is to be
present as a witness of the communion with the First Order and the TOR.
representative of the Conference of General Ministers of the First Order and
the TOR presides at and confirms the elections of the Presidency of the
International Council of the SFO.
3. The president of the chapter and the
assistant of the higher level do not have the right to vote.
4. The president of the chapter designates,
among the members of that chapter, a secretary and two tellers.
1. In the local fraternity, the perpetually
professed of the same fraternity have active voice, that is can elect, and
passive voice, that is can be elected.
The temporarily professed have only active voice.
2. At the other levels, the following have
active voice: the secular members of the outgoing council, the representatives
of the immediately lower level and of the Franciscan Youth, if professed. It belongs to the particular statutes to
establish more concrete norms in application of the preceding norm, taking care
to assure the broadest elective base.
The perpetually professed Secular Franciscans of the corresponding area
have passive voice.
3. Both the national and the international
statutes each for its own area can establish objective qualifications
regarding who can be elected to the various offices.
4. The presence of more than half of the number
of those having the right to vote is required for the valid celebration of an
elective chapter. For the local level,
the national Statutes can establish a different norm.
1. An absolute majority of the votes of those
present, cast in secret, is required for the election of the minister. After two inconclusive ballots, the voting
continues between the two candidates who have obtained the largest number of
votes or, in case there are more than two, between the two candidates who are
oldest by profession. If there is still
a tie after the third ballot, the older by profession will be considered
2. The election of the vice‑minister
proceeds in the same manner.
3. For the election of the councilors, after a
first ballot without an absolute majority, a relative majority of the votes of
those present, cast in secret, is sufficient, unless the particular statutes
require a greater majority.
4. The secretary announces the result of the
elections; the president confirms the election according to the Ritual if
all has been carried out properly and those elected have accepted their office.
1. The minister and vice-minister may be
elected for two consecutive terms of three years each. For a third and final successive election to
the office of minister or vice-minister, a majority of two-thirds of the votes
of those present, which must be obtained on the first ballot, will be
2. The out-going minister cannot be elected
3. The councilors may be elected for additional
successive terms of three years. Beginning with the third successive election,
a majority of two-thirds of the votes of those present, which must be obtained
on the first ballot, will be necessary.
4. The general minister, vice-minister and
presidency councilors can only be elected for two consecutive terms of six
5. The council of the higher level has the
right and duty to invalidate the elections and to call them anew in all cases
of inobservance of the preceding norms.
particular statutes may include further directives concerning elections, as
long as they are not contrary to the Constitutions.
1. When the office of minister remains vacant
as a result of death, resignation or other impediment of a definitive
character, the vice-minister assumes the office until the end of the term for
which the minister was originally elected.
2. If the office of vice-minister becomes
vacant, one of the councilors is elected to the office of vice-minister by the
council of the fraternity, to serve until the next elective chapter.
3. When the office of councilor becomes vacant,
the council will proceed to substitute for him or her in conformity with its
own statutes, to serve until the next elective chapter.
following are incompatible:
a. the office of minister at two different
b. the offices of minister, vice‑minister,
secretary and treasurer at the same level.
1. When a minister of whatever level resigns
during a chapter, that same chapter can accept the resignation.
minister resigns outside the time of chapter, that resignation must be
presented to the council. If the
resignation is accepted, it must be confirmed by the minister of the higher
level; if the general minister is resigning, the confirmation comes from the
Conference of General Ministers of the First Order and the TOR.
2. The resignation of other offices is
presented to the minister and to his or her council, who are competent to
accept the resignation.
1. In the case in which the minister does not
fulfill his or her duties, the council concerned manifests its concerns in a
fraternal dialogue with the minister. If
this does not produce positive results, the council should inform the council
of the higher level whose competence it is to examine the case and, if needed,
by secret ballot, decide to remove the minister.
2. For a serious, public, and proved reason,
the council of a higher level, after a fraternal dialogue with the person
concerned, may, by a secret ballot, order the removal of a minister of a lower
3. When there is a serious reason to remove
those who hold other offices of the council, it is the responsibility of that
council to which they belong to make its decision by a secret ballot after
there has been a fraternal dialogue with the person involved.
4. A recourse, which by itself suspends the
action to remove someone from office, can be presented within thirty days to
the council of the level immediately higher than the one which imposed the
5. The removal of the general minister belongs
to the competence of the Conference of the General Ministers of the First Order
and the TOR.
6. When there is a case of serious lack of
concern or evidence of irregularities on the part of a minister or a council,
the council of the next higher level conducts a fraternal visit of the council
in question and, eventually, requests a pastoral visit. With charity and prudence, it will evaluate
the circumstances uncovered and decide on the best way to proceed, not excluding
the eventual removal of the council or leaders involved.
SPIRITUAL AND PASTORAL ASSISTANCE OF THE SFO
1. As an integral part of the Franciscan family
and called to live the charism of Francis within the secular dimension, the SFO
has particular and close relations to the First Order and the TOR.
2. The spiritual and pastoral care of the SFO,
entrusted by the Church to the Franciscan First Order and the TOR, is the,
above all, of their general and provincial ministers. The altius moderamen,
of which Canon 303 speaks, belongs to them. The purpose of the altius moderamen is
to guarantee the fidelity of the SFO to the Franciscan charism, communion with
the Church and union with the Franciscan family, values which represent a vital
commitment for the Secular Franciscans.
1. The general and provincial ministers
exercise their office with respect to the SFO through:
the establishment of fraternities;
the pastoral visits;
the spiritual assistance to the fraternities
at the various levels.
exercise this office personally or through a delegate.
2. This service of the religious ministers
completes but does not substitute for the secular councils and ministers to
whom belong the guidance, co-ordination, and animation of the fraternities at
the various levels.
1. For all that concerns the SFO as a whole,
moderamen must be exercised by the general ministers collegially.
2. It belongs to the Conference of General
Ministers of the First Order and the TOR:
a. to take care of the relations with the Holy
See concerning the approval of the legislative or liturgical documents, which
need to be approved by the Holy See;
b. to visit the Presidency of the International
Council of the SFO;
c. to confirm the election of the Presidency of
the International Council of the SFO.
3. Each general minister, for his own Order,
sees to the interest of the religious for the SFO and to their preparation for
service to it according to the respective Constitutions and the Constitutions of
1. The provincial ministers and the other major
superiors, in the area of their own jurisdiction, guarantee the spiritual
assistance to the local fraternities entrusted to the jurisdiction. They see to it that their own religious are
interested in the SFO and that capable and well-prepared persons are appointed
for the service of spiritual assistance.
2. It is the specific competence of the major
superiors, in name of their jurisdiction:
a. to establish, canonically, new local fraternities
and guarantee them spiritual assistance;
b. to animate spiritually and visit the local
fraternities assisted by their own jurisdiction;
c. to keep themselves informed on the spiritual
assistance given to the SFO.
3. The major superiors are responsible for the
spiritual assistance to the local fraternities which they have established.
4. The major superiors with jurisdiction in the
same territory, are to establish together the most adequate means to guarantee
spiritual assistance to local fraternities which, because of causes beyond
their control, could remain without such assistance.
5. The major superiors with jurisdiction in the
same territory, are to establish together the most adequate means for carrying
out collegially their mission with respect to the regional and national
fraternities of the SFO.
1. By virtue of the vital reciprocity between
the religious and the secular members of the Franciscan Family and in regard to
the responsibilities of major superiors, spiritual assistance to the
fraternities of the SFO at all levels must be assured as a fundamental element
2. The spiritual assistant is the person
designated by the competent major superior to carry out this service for a
specific fraternity of the SFO.
3. To be a witness of Franciscan spirituality
and of the fraternal affection of the religious towards the Secular
Franciscans, and to be a bond of communion between his Order and the SFO, the
spiritual assistant should be a Franciscan religious, member of the First Order
or the TOR.
4. When it is not possible to give such a
spiritual assistant to the fraternity, the competent major superior can entrust
the service of spiritual assistance to:
a. religious brothers or sisters of other
b. diocesan clerics or other persons, specially
prepared for such service, who are members of the SFO;
c. other diocesan clerics or non-Franciscan
5. The previous authorization of the superior
or the local ordinary, when needed, does not exempt the Franciscan major
superior of the responsibility for the quality of the pastoral service and of
the spiritual assistance given.
1. The principal task of the assistant is to
communicate Franciscan spirituality and to co-operate in the initial and
continuing formation of the brothers and sisters.
2. The spiritual assistant is by right, with
vote, a member of the council of the fraternity to which he or she gives
assistance and collaborates with it in all activities. The spiritual assistant does not exercise the
right to vote in financial questions.
a. the general assistants give their service to
the Presidency of the International Council of the SFO, form a conference, and
collegially see to the spiritual assistance to the SFO as a whole;
b. the national assistants give their service
to the national council, see to the spiritual assistance to the SFO in the
whole territory of the national fraternity and, at the national level, to the
co-ordination of the regional assistants.
If they are more than one, they form a conference and give their service
c. the regional assistants give their service
to the regional council and see to the spiritual assistance to the regional
fraternity. If they are more than one,
they form a conference and give their service collegially;
d. the local assistants give their service to
the local fraternity and its council.
1. The council of the fraternity at each level
requests suitable and prepared assistants from the competent superiors of the
First Order and the TOR.
a. the Presidency of the International Council
of the SFO requests the general assistant from the respective general minister;
b. the national council requests the national
assistant from the major superior, indicated collegially by the major superiors
with jurisdiction in the territory of the national fraternity;
c. the regional council requests the assistant
from the major superior, indicated collegially by the major superiors with
jurisdiction in the territory of the regional fraternity;
d. the local council requests the assistant
from the major superior of the jurisdiction responsible for the assistance.
3. The competent major superior, having heard
the council of the fraternity concerned, appoints the assistant according to
the norms of these Constitutions and of the Statutes
for Spiritual and Pastoral Assistance to the Secular Franciscan Order.
THE FRATERNAL VISIT AND THE PASTORAL VISIT
1. Rule 26 The purpose of both the pastoral and fraternal
visits is to revive the evangelical Franciscan spirit, to assure fidelity to
the charism and to the Rule, to offer help to fraternity life, to reinforce the
bond of the unity of the Order, and to promote its most effective insertion
into the Franciscan family and the Church.
2. With the consent of the appropriate council,
the request for the fraternal visit as well as for the pastoral visit is made:
a. by the minister of the local and regional
fraternity, at least every three years, to
the council of the immediately higher level and to the respective conference
of spiritual assistants;
b. by the national minister, at least every six
years, to the Presidency of the International Council of the SFO and to the
conference of general assistants;
c. by the general minister, at least every six
years, to the Conference of General Ministers.
3. For urgent and serious reasons or in case of
failure on the part of the minister or the council to request it, the fraternal
and pastoral visit may be carried out upon the initiative of the respectively
competent council or conference of spiritual assistants.
1. In the visits to the local fraternities and
to the councils at the various levels, the visitor will verify the evangelical
and apostolic vitality, the observance of the Rule and Constitutions, and the
insertion of the fraternities into the Order and into the Church.
2. In the visits to the local fraternities and
to the councils at the various levels, the visitor will in time communicate the
object and the program of the visit to the interested council. He or she will
examine the registers and the records, including those relative to the
preceding visits, to the election of the council and to the administration of
visitor will draw up a report of the visit carried out, appending it to the
records in the appropriate register of the fraternity visited, and will inform
the council of the level which has held the visit.
3. In the visit to the local fraternity, the
visitor will meet with the entire fraternity and with the groups and sections
into which it is divided. He or she will give special attention to the brothers
and sisters in formation and to those brothers and sisters who may request a
personal meeting. Where required, he or
she will proceed to the fraternal correction of the shortcomings eventually
4. If it is useful for the service of the
fraternity, the two visitors, secular and religious, may make the visit at the
same time, agreeing beforehand on the program, in a way most consonant with the
mission of each of them.
5. The fraternal and pastoral visits, carried
out by the immediately higher level, do not deprive the visited fraternity of
the right to appeal to the council or to the conference of spiritual assistants
of a higher level.
The Fraternal Visit
1. The fraternal visit is a moment of
communion, an expression of the service and concrete interest of the secular
leaders at the various levels, so that the fraternity may grow and be faithful
to its vocation.
2. Among the various initiatives to achieve the
purpose of the visit, the visitor will give special attention:
to the validity of the formation, both
initial and permanent;
to the relations entertained with other
fraternities at the different levels, with Franciscan youth, and with the
entire Franciscan family.
to the observance of the directives and of
the guidelines of the International Council of the SFO and of the other
to the presence in the local Church.
3. The visitor will check the report of the
previous audit or verification of the financial and property management of the
Council, the register of the accounts and every document pertaining to the
property of the fraternity and, if applicable, the condition of the juridical
personality in the civil order, including the fiscal aspects. In the absence of the required audit of the
financial and property management of the council, the visitor can commission such an audit, to be paid by the
visited fraternity, to an expert who is
not a member of the council concerned.
Wherever he or she deems it opportune, the visitor will obtain the
assistance of a competent person in these aspects.
4. The visitor will check the records of the
election of the council. He or she will evaluate the quality of the service
offered to the fraternity by the minister and by the other leaders, and will
study with them the solution to problems which may arise.
whatever reason, he or she should find that their service does not meet the
needs of the fraternity, the visitor will promote appropriate initiatives,
taking into account also the provisions concerning resignation and removal from
office, given special circumstances.
5. The visitor may not carry out the visit of
his or her own local fraternity, nor of the council of another level of which
he or she is a member.
The Pastoral Visit
1. The pastoral visit is a privileged moment of
communion with the First Order and the TOR. It is carried out also in the name
of the Church and serves to guarantee and promote the observance of the Rule
and the Constitutions and fidelity to the Franciscan charism. The visit is
carried out with respect to the organization and the law proper to the SFO itself.
2. Having verified the canonical establishment
of the fraternity, the visitor will give attention to the relations between the
fraternity and its spiritual assistant and the local Church. The visitor will
meet the pastors (bishop or parish priest) when this is opportune for fostering
communion and service for building up the Church.
3. The visitor will promote collaboration and a
sense of co-responsibility among the secular leaders and the religious
assistants. The visitor is to examine
the quality of the spiritual assistance given to the visited fraternity,
encourage the spiritual assistants in their service and promote their
continuing spiritual and pastoral formation.
4. The visitor will give special attention to
programs, methods and experiences of formation, to the liturgical and prayer
life, and to the apostolic activities of the fraternity.
THE FRANCISCAN YOUTH
1. The SFO, by virtue of its very vocation,
ought to be ready to share its experience of evangelical life with the youth
who feel attracted to Saint Francis of Assisi and to seek the means of
adequately presenting it to them.
2. The Franciscan Youth (YouFra), as understood
by these Constitutions and in so far as the SFO considers itself to be
particularly responsible for it, is formed by those young people who feel
called by the Holy Spirit to share the experience of the Christian life in
fraternity, in the light of the message of Saint Francis of Assisi, deepening
their own vocation within the context of the Secular Franciscan Order.
3. The members of the Franciscan Youth consider
the Rule of the SFO as an inspirational document for the growth of their own Christian
and Franciscan vocation either individually or in a group. After a suitable period of formation, of at
least one year, they confirm this option with a personal pledge before God and
in the presence of the brothers and sisters.
4. The members of the Franciscan Youth who wish
to belong to the SFO should satisfy the requirements of the Rule, the
Constitutions, and the Ritual of the SFO.
5. The Franciscan Youth has a specific
organization, methods of formation, and teaching methods adequate for the needs
of the world of youth, according to the existing realities in the various
countries. The national statutes of the
Franciscan Youth should be approved by the respective national council of the
SFO, or in its absence, by the Presidency of the International Council of the
6. The Franciscan Youth, as a component of the
Franciscan family, requests from the competent secular leaders and religious
superiors, respectively, fraternal animation and spiritual assistance.
1. The SFO fraternities will promote the
vocation to the Franciscan Youth by
means of appropriate and dynamic initiatives.
They should see to the vitality and the expansion of the Franciscan
Youth fraternities and will accompany the youth in their journey of human and
spiritual growth with proposals for specific activities and contents.
2. The SFO fraternities commit themselves to
give to the Franciscan Youth fraternities a fraternal animator, who together
with the spiritual assistant and the council of the Franciscan Youth guarantees
an adequate Secular Franciscan formation.
3. To promote a close communion with the SFO,
all leaders of the Franciscan Youth at the international level and at least two
members of the national council of the Franciscan Youth are to be professed Secular
4. A representative of the Franciscan Youth is
to be designated by his or her council to form part of the SFO council of the
corresponding level; a representative of the SFO, designated by his or her own
council, forms part of the council of the Franciscan Youth of the same
level. The representative of the
Franciscan Youth has a vote in the SFO council only if he or she is a professed
5. The representatives of the Franciscan Youth
in the international council of the SFO are elected according to the
international statutes which also determine how many there are, what
fraternities they represent, and what their responsibilities are supposed to
IN COMMUNION WITH THE FRANCISCAN FAMILY AND THE CHURCH
1. Rule 1 Secular Franciscans should seek to
live in life‑giving reciprocal communion with all the members of the
Franciscan family. They should be ready
to promote common initiatives or participate in them with the religious of the
First, Second and Third Orders, with Secular Institutes, and with other lay
ecclesial groups that recognize Francis as a model and inspiration in order to
work together to spread the Gospel, remove the causes of marginalization, and
serve the cause of peace.
2. They must cultivate a special affection,
which expresses itself in concrete initiatives of fraternal communion, towards
the sisters of the contemplative life who, like Saint Clare of Assisi, bear
witness in the Church and in the world and by whose mediation they expect the
abundance of grace for the fraternity and for the works of the apostolate.
1. Rule 6 As a living part of the people of God
and inspired by the Seraphic Father, the Secular Franciscans, "living in
full communion with the Pope and the bishops", should seek to know and
deepen the doctrine proposed by the teaching Church through its more important
documents and they should be attentive to the presence of the Holy Spirit who
vivifies the faith and charity of the people of God. They
should collaborate in the initiatives promoted by the Holy See, in a particular
way in those areas in which they are called to work by virtue of their secular
2. The SFO, as an international public
association, is connected by a special bond to the Roman Pontiff from whom it
has received the approval of its Rule and the confirmation of its mission in
the Church and in the world.
1. The vocation to "rebuild" the
Church ought to induce the brothers and sisters sincerely to love and to live
the union with the local Church in which they develop their own vocation and
realize their apostolic commitment, aware that in the diocese the Church of
Christ is truly functioning.
2. The Secular Franciscans should fulfil with
dedication the duties with which they are occupied in their relations to the
local Church. They should lend their
help to activities of the apostolate as well as to the social activities
existing in the diocese. In
the spirit of service, they should make themselves present, as the fraternity
of the SFO, within the life of the diocese.
They should be ready to collaborate with other ecclesial groups and to
participate in pastoral councils.
3. Fidelity to their own charism, Franciscan
and secular, and the witness of building fraternity, sincerely and openly, are
their principal services to the Church, which is the community of love. They should be recognized in it by their
"being," from which their mission springs.
1. The Secular Franciscans should collaborate
with the bishops and follow their directions in so far as they are the
moderators of the ministry of the Word and of the Liturgy and the co-ordinators
of the various forms of apostolate in the local Church.
2. The fraternities are subject to the
vigilance of the Ordinary in so far as they perform their activities within the
1. The fraternities established in a parish
church should seek to co-operate in the animation of the parochial community,
in the liturgy and in fraternal relations.
They should integrate themselves into the pastoral apostolate as a
whole, with preference for those activities more congenial to the Secular
Franciscan tradition and spirituality.
2. In the parishes entrusted to Franciscan
religious, the fraternities constitute the mediation and the secular witness of
the Franciscan charism in the parochial community through their exercise of the
fruitful life‑giving reciprocity.
Therefore, united with the religious, they see to the spreading of the
gospel message and of the Franciscan lifestyle.
1. Remaining faithful to their own identity,
the fraternities will take care to make the most of each occasion for prayer,
formation, and active collaboration with other ecclesial groups. They should welcome with pleasure those who,
without belonging to the SFO, wish to share its experiences and activities.
2. The fraternities will promote, wherever
possible, fraternal relations with non-Catholic associations inspired by
by the Vatican December 8, 2000