– Blessed Mark of Aviano OFM Cap (1631-1699) – Franciscan Capuchin Friar, Priest, Preacher, Spiritual Advisor, Political Advisor, Peace-maker, Miracle worker and the inventor of Cappuccino


Saint of the Day – 13 August – Blessed Mark of Aviano OFM Cap (1631-1699)

Saint of the Day – 13 August – Blessed Mark of Aviano OFM Cap (1631-1699) – Franciscan Capuchin Friar, Priest, Preacher, Spiritual Advisor, Political Advisor, Peace-maker, Miracle worker and the inventor of Cappuccino – born on 17 November 1631 at Aviano, Italy as Carlo Domenico Cristofori and died on 13 August 1699 of cancer in Vienna, Austria.bl mark - header 1

Carlo Domenico Cristofori was born in Aviano, a small community in the Republic of Venice (Italy).   Educated at the Jesuit College in Gorizia, at 16 he tried to reach the island of Crete, where the Venetians were at war with the Ottoman Turks, in order to preach the Gospel and convert the Muslims to Christianity.   On his way, he sought asylum at a Capuchin convent in Capodistria, where he was welcomed by the Superior, who knew his family and who, after providing him with food and rest, advised him to return home.

Inspired by his encounter with the Capuchins, he felt that God was calling him to enter their Order.   In 1648, he began his novitiate.   A year later, he professed his vows and took his father’s name, Marco, becoming Fra’ Marco d’Aviano.   On 18 September 1655 he was ordained a priest in Chioggia.   His ministry entered a new phase in 1664, when he received a licence to preach throughout the Republic of Venice and other Italian states, particularly during Advent and Lent.   He was also given more responsibility when he was elected Superior of the convents of Belluno in 1672 and Oderzo in 1674.

His life took an unexpected turn in 1676, when he gave his blessing to a nun, bedridden for some 13 years, she was miraculously healed.   The news spread far and wide and it was not long before the sick and many others from all social strata, began to seek him out.

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Among those who sought his help was Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, whose wife had been unable to conceive a male heir.   From 1680 to the end of his life, Marco d’Aviano became a close confidant and adviser to him, providing the irresolute and often indecisive emperor with guidance and advice for all problems, political, economic, military or spiritual.   His forceful, energetic and sometimes passionate and fiery personality proved a good complement for Leopold’s Hamlet-like tendency to allow endless doubts and scruples to paralyse his capacity for action.

As the danger of war with the Ottoman Turks grew near, Marco d’Aviano was appointed by Pope Innocent XI (Memorial yesterday) as his personal envoy to the Emperor.   An impassioned preacher and a skillful mediator, Marco d’Aviano played a crucial role in resolving disputes, restoring unity and energising the armies of the Holy League, which included Austria, Poland, Venice and the Papal States under the leadership of the Polish king Jan III Sobieski.   In the decisive Battle of Vienna (1683), the Holy League succeeded in inflicting a defeat on the invading Ottoman Turks.   This marked the end of the last Turkish attempt to expand their power in Europe and the beginning of the long European counter-offensive that was to continue ultimately until the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire in 1918.   This may therefore be considered one of the decisive battles of history.   It also put an end to the period of Ottoman revival in Europe.

From 1683 to 1689 Marco participated in the military campaigns, playing a crucial role in promoting good relations within the Imperial army and encouraging the soldiers.   He was present at the liberation of Buda in 1686 and at the siege of Belgrade in 1688.   He always maintained a strictly religious spirit, to which any violence and cruelty were repugnant.   As a result, at the siege of Belgrade several hundred Muslim soldiers successfully appealed to him personally, in order to avoid being massacred upon capture.

In the 2012 Polish and Italian historical drama film The Day of the Siege: September Eleven 1683 about the Battle of Vienna, Marco d’Aviano is portrayed by F. Murray Abraham.

Legend has it that when the Ottomans fled before the European army, they left behind a lot of their strong, bitter coffee.   The Christian soldiers, to make this liberated coffee more palatable, mixed it with honey and milk and named the drink after Mark’s Order, the Capuchins and thus Cappuccino was created.    It is probably just a fable but I favour believing it, allowing the reminder of a quick prayer to Blessed Mark whenever I drink one.   We can never have too many intercessors, can we?

In the judgement of historians, Marco’s influence over Leopold was exercised responsibly, in the sole interests of Christianity and of the House of Austria.   In one of his private letters to the Emperor, Marco actually scolds him quite forcefully for granting a benefit to one of his brothers, reminding him that, by so doing, he was only providing ammunition for the enemies of their cause.

Blessed Mark died of cancer on August 13, 1699 in Vienna.   He is buried in the Kapuzinerkirche, in whose vault the Habsburg emperors are buried.   He was Beatified on 27 April 2003 by St Pope John Paul II.

garments and relics - bl mark
Relics of Blessed Mark
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JPIC-DPI Gathering for EACC and CONCAO, Portiuncula Franciscan Family centre, Nairobi, Kenya 3-7 July 2018.

After four years of grassroots work, regional animators of  Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) and  the Damietta Peace Initiative (DPI), from both the East African Capuchin Conference (EACC) and Conference Des Capucins de L’Afrique di l’ Ouest (CONCAO), gathered again at the Portiuncula Franciscan Family centre on 3-7 July 2018.  The theme of the meeting was “JPIC As a Way of Life for Franciscans” with the objectives- to review, evaluate, plan and train friars and other Franciscans in the values and strategies of JPIC with a special focus on Africa.

The five days conference brought together 47 participants mostly Capuchin friars from 22 different countries including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, , South Africa, Benin, the Central African Republic, Chad, Angola, Burundi, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mozambique, Algeria, France, and Cape Verde.


group picture

During the conference, a range of topics geared towards empowering participants in the theory and practice of ‘JPIC as a way of life‘ were presented. These included: Values and Methodology of JPIC, Resource mobilization for social projects, Networking and Collaboration, the Universal Periodic Review process, the DPI and Interreligious dialogue in Africa, and  Advocacy and Mobilizing for Social Transformation in Africa.

On the last day of the conference participants celebrated the 3rd anniversary of the release of the Pope’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato si.  Apart from the presentation on the encyclical, the participants visited the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) headquarters in Gigiri, Nairobi and the JPICFA’s projects for the poor in the Mukuru slums in Nairobi.

In the end, plans were made to strengthen JPIC and DPI in the two African conferences. consequently, a coordinating team was elected including Br. Hailegabriel from the province of Ethiopia,  Br. Jean from the  CAR-Chad and Br. Samuel from Mozambique.

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visit at the UNEP, Gigiri Nairobi



Topic Presentation



DPI group meeting

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“The Witness: Capuchin Franciscans in Papua New Guinea”

In the early morning hours of Holy Thursday 2018, chaos broke out. The Friars had just finished Morning Prayer and were making liturgical preparations for the day ahead when suddenly they heard a disturbing noise and commotion coming from the neighbouring village where the church is located. “Wah! Wah! Wah!” They noticed a group of clansmen chanting war songs while brandishing guns, bush knives and other lethal weapons. Given the experience of past conflicts in the Tari region, the friars immediately realized that Bilas tribesmen, adorned in their traditional battle dress, were on a mission to retaliate against a rival clan in revenge for the fatal shooting of some of their fellow tribesmen a few days before. Pandemonium reigned! Houses were being torched, farms and property were being destroyed, and everything belonging to the enemy clan was subject to plunder.

An American missionary who had lived in Tari for more than 50 years and understood the local language and culture,  rushed to the scene, accompanied by a younger friar from Kenya. Wearing their Capuchin habits and carrying a large cross, they attempted to stop the killings and the destruction of property. Using the local language, the friars shouted to the angry tribesmen: “Tumbu! Tumbu!” – an appeal to their traditional values which do not allow revenge killings and destruction.

As a result of the friars’ appeal, the clansmen decided not to torch the church and the adjacent mission school, however, they did proceed to burn down the village of the other clan. All the villagers escaped for fear of their lives, and to date, very few have returned. Although the area is now largely deserted, the Capuchin friars have remained among the local community to bear witness to and to promote the values of peace, reconciliation, faith and hope.

It was not until 50 to 70 years ago when the missionaries penetrated the Highlands that the number of inter-tribal conflicts significantly subsided. For more than 60 years, the Capuchin friars of the Pennsylvania Province in the USA have evangelized and contributed much to the human development efforts and peace-building in the Diocese of Mendi and the surrounding areas in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highlands Province and Hela Province.

Nonetheless, in certain areas of the Highlands, such as Enga and Tari in the new Hela Province, inter-tribal clashes are still common. I witnessed the effects of several of them during my visit to Tigibi and Kupari in the Tari region. Especially along the Mendi-Tari highway, rampant crime has given rise to a great deal of insecurity. No one is exempt from being hijacked or robbed of their valuables, including the bishop, missionaries, United Nations staff personnel, etc

Inter-tribal rivalry and fear for one’s personal safety are not the only concerns affecting the Southern Highlands region of PNG. On Monday, February 26, 2018, a massive earthquake of 7.5 magnitude struck the area, followed by a number of aftershocks, killing more than 200 people and affecting an estimated 465,000 more. The epicenter of the quake was located in the Diocese of Mendi where our Capuchin missionaries live and work. Every structure shook violently for almost five minutes, causing landslides, toppling towers, knocking buildings off their moorings, and splitting homes in two. The effects of the earthquake can still be seen and felt in Mendi, Tari, Hela and the surrounding area. Several of our Capuchin houses, churches and schools were also destroyed in the quake.

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Landslides following the quake 

The Diocese of Mendi and the Capuchin Mission continue to support the victims of the earthquake, both spiritually and materially. One missionary friar remarked, “Our friary is destroyed, but we have to help our people first and only then can we begin to think about rebuilding the friary.” More recently UNICEF has started educational- and other disaster- management activities in the region, especially aimed at women and children. It’s astonishing how little attention has been given by the international media outlets to this natural disaster that has caused so much human suffering in PNG.


UNICEF has set up tent schools and trauma healing centres

Towards the end of my visit to the region, I took the opportunity to share my experiences and reflections with the Capuchin friars, with other missionaries serving in the Mendi Diocese, and with the UNICEF staff working in the region. Since Capuchins have served in the region for so long and are well-respected by the local community, I believe that they could do several things to help ameliorate the conflict and violence occurring in the Southern Highlands.


I was indeed privileged to meet and share my experiences and reflections with Mr. Gianluca Rampolla, the UN Resident Coordinator in PNG and with Mr. David McLoughlin, the UNICEF Representative for PNG. Both expressed their appreciation for the great work accomplished over many years by the Capuchins and the Catholic Church in general in the Southern Highlands of PNG. They, too, expressed the urgent need for coordination, collaboration and networking in the areas of peace-building, disaster management, and other social justice issues. In coordination with the UN mission in Mendi, we hope to provide a capacity building workshop for our friars, missionaries and social workers.

Visit at the UN in Port Moresby

Br. Benedict Ayodi, OFMCap

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“Set Out into the Deep”- The Pacific Asia, Capuchin Conference- JPIC Assembly.

The Pacific Asia Capuchin Conference (PACC) – Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) conducted the Second PACC – JPIC assembly at the Capuchin Retreat Center in Lipa City, Batangas, the Philippines on 1 – 6 May 2018 with the theme: “Set Out into the Deep”.  Thirty-four (34) delegates from the different countries of the Pacific Asian region attended the gathering.  The Capuchin circumscriptions represented in this assembly were: Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Korea, Malaysia, Medan – Indonesia, Pontianak – Indonesia, Nias Isles – Indonesia, and the Philippines.  The assembly was also attended by Br. Victorius Dwiardy, the General Councilor for PACC, Br. Benedict Ayodi the director of the Capuchin JPIC office, Br. Eugenio Juanito Lopez, the provincial of Philippines and the president of PACC, and Br. Henryk Cisowski,  JPIC international commission member. Four delegates from the OFS of Malaysia also participated.

PACC, JPIC meetng

While the assembly gave an opportunity to JPIC animators of Pacific Asia an opportunity to regather after three years, it also helped them to review, consolidate and plan for proactive future action for the conference and the region. The assembly started with a recollection based on the Gospel passages taken from Mark 6:30-32 where Jesus invites his apostles to go out into a quiet place to rest. The JPIC Animators likewise received inputs on the following topics: Challenges of Advocacy for the environment – given by Sr. Minerva Caampued, FAS; Inter-religious Dialogue: The Damietta Peace Initiative – by Sr. Lilian Curaming, FMM;  Empowerment of Indigenous People through Education -by Sr. Aristea Bautista,FMM; JPIC animation and values –  by Br. Benedict Ayodi; Working among the Urban Poor – by Br. Henryk Cisowski,OFMCap;  Updates on the Working Mechanisms in the United Nations – given by the Franciscans International team        consisting of Mr. Budi Tjahjono, Mr. Cedric Chatelanat and Fr. Ajaya Kumar Singh

Four new office bearers of the PACC JPIC were elected, namely: Br. Edgardo Dumaual, of the Philippine Province (PACC JPIC President), Br. Supralika Kemit of Medan, province (PACC JPIC Vice – President), Br. William Chang,  of Pontianak, province (PACC JPIC Secretary) and Br. Hezekieli Manao, of Nias Isles, (Treasurer).

new officers for pacc

The new coordinating PACC-JPIC team

The gathering reflected the zeal of the PACC JPIC Animators to continue collaborating with each other and to come up with common goals and aspirations amid the challenges faced in the Pacific Asian region.

Prior to the conference, the JPIC delegation visited social projects in Sta Ana Cagayan. It was good to meet the Capuchin postulants among the Agta tribal community. Since last year the postulants have been raising funds to construct a traditional health centre for the Agta tribal community of Domasag in Sta Ana. We were glad to visit their project and to support it. The JPIC delegation also visited the elementary school and water project at the Turod community. Both projects need more financial support to continue serving the local community.


One interesting project that the JPIC delegation was very excited to visit was the urban organic farming in Manila. The JPIC office of the Philippines province supports about 45 women groups around Manila to plant and sell their organic products. This project is done in collaboration with the SM Mall of Asia, one of the biggest chain of malls in the Philippines. The idea is to identify needy women farmers in the metropolitan area and support them to plant natural organic products including vegetables and flowers, in the little available space. The friars then help them to sell their products in supermarkets and other organic stores around the city. This is not only a livelihood support project for the urban poor but also an environmental project that JPIC promotes.



Prepared by: Br. Joel de Jesus,OFMCap, Philippines

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“Beat Plastic Pollution”: World Environment Day 2018

beat plastic

World Environment Day is the UN’s most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Since it began in 1974, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries.

“Beat Plastic Pollution”, the theme for World Environment Day 2018, is a call to action for all of us to come together to combat one of the great environmental challenges of our time. The theme invites us all to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on our natural places, our wildlife and our own health.

Released today, a new report from UN Environment finds a surging momentum in global efforts to address plastic pollution. The first-of-its-kind accounting finds governments are increasing the pace of implementation and the scope of action to curb the use of single-use plastics.

In what is framed as the first comprehensive review of ‘state of plastics’, UN Environment has assembled experiences and assessments of the various measures and regulations to beat plastic pollution in a report: “Single-use Plastics: A roadmap for Sustainability.”

This global outlook, developed in cooperation with the Indian Government and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, presents case studies from more than 60 countries. The report analyzes the complex relationships in our plastics economy and offers an approach to rethink how the world produces, uses and manages single-use plastics.

Among the recommendations are specific actions policy makers can take to improve waste management, promote eco-friendly alternatives, educate consumers, enable voluntary reduction strategies and successfully implement bans or levies on the use and sale of single-use plastics. The report was launched in New Delhi today by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim on the occasion of World Environment Day.

“The assessment shows that action can be painless and profitable – with huge gains for people and the planet that help avert the costly downstream costs of pollution,” said Erik Solheim Head of UN Environment, in the report’s foreword. “Plastic isn’t the problem. It’s what we do with it.”

Among the key findings, the report states that government levies and bans – where properly planned and enforced – have been among the most effective strategies to limit overuse of disposable plastic products. However, the report goes on to cite the fundamental need for broader cooperation from business and private sector stakeholders, offering a roadmap for upstream solutions, including extended producer responsibility and incentives for adoption of a more circular economy approach to plastic production and consumption.

The report recognizes that single-use plastic waste generation and waste management practices differ across regions. While no single measure against pollution will be equally effective everywhere, the authors outline 10 universal steps for policymakers to tackle the issue in their communities.

Under the theme: “Beat Plastic Pollution”, World Environment Day 2018 is issuing a call to action to individuals, governments, the public and the private sector to examine joint solutions to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on our natural places, our wildlife and our own health.

Key Facts:

  • This year alone, global manufacturers will produce an estimated 360 million tonnes.
  • In the next 10-15 years global plastic production is projected to nearly double.
  • Production is scheduled to reach 500 million tonnes by 2025 and a staggering 619 million tonnes by 2030.
  • Avoiding the worst of these outcomes requires a complete rethinking of the way we produce, use and manage plastic.
  • The most common single-use plastics found in the environment are in order of magnitude, cigarette butts, plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle caps, food wrappers, plastic grocery bags, plastic lids, straws and stirrers, glass beverage bottles, other plastic bags, and foam take-away containers. .
  • The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) estimated at 1.3 billion USD the economic impact of marine plastics to the tourism, fishing and shipping industries in that region alone.
  • In Europe alone, the estimated costs for cleaning shores and beaches reaches €630 million per year (European Commission, 2015),  and studies suggest that the annual economic damage of plastic to the world marine ecosystem is at least 13 billion USD (UNEP, 2014)
  • Of the 24 African countries having introduced national bans on plastic bags, more than half (58%) have been implemented between 2014-2017

Key Figures:

  • Up to 5 trillion plastic bags are used each year
  • 13 million tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean each year
  • 17 million barrels of oil used on plastic production each year
  • 1 million plastic bottles bought every minute
  • 100,000 marine animals killed by plastics each year
  • 100 years for plastic to degrade in the environment
  • 90% of bottled water found to contain plastic particles
  • 83% of tap water found to contain plastic particles
  • 50% of consumer plastics are single use
  • 10% of all human-generated waste is plastic


Taking Action: JPIC-PACC group planted several trees at the Rumah Pelangi Capuchin Conservation farm in Pontianak, Indonesia

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Earth Day 2018: End Plastic Pollution

plastics, used on earth day

On Sunday, April 22nd we celebrate Earth Day. This Earth day 2018 is dedicated to providing the information and inspiration needed to fundamentally change human attitude and behaviour about plastics. From poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our waste streams and landfills, the exponential growth of plastics is now threatening the survival of our planet. Together, we can act to change this situation and save our mother earth.  Here are some suggestions to take action to End Plastic Pollution on Earth Day and beyond

Pope Francis writes, “Do not be afraid to set your sights higher, to allow yourself to be loved and liberated by God. Do not be afraid to let yourself be guided by the Holy Spirit.” (34)
We invite you to join us in stepping out of our day-to-day lives to make the most of one extraordinary moment, protecting creation and all those who share it. This Earth Day, people around the world are coming together to weave creation care into worship and advocate for our common home. 400+ people have answered the call and are hosting events. Will you join us?

  • In Johannesburg, 12 parishes will hold events and send postcards to their diocese.

  • In Florida, the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will hold a Laudato Si’-themed Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and plant a tree in the convent garden.

  • in Buenos Aires, Our Lady of the Valley Parish will hold a mass for youth and invite the parish to a workshop on care for our common home.


Caring for our common home serves the most vulnerable of our sisters and brothers. It’s a way to pass on the love we’ve been so graciously given.

By coming together as one, we build the community of hope. As Pope Francis says in his exhortation, “the saints are joyful and full of good humour. Though completely realistic, they radiate a positive and hopeful spirit.” (122)

PS:  Save the date for a multi-lingual prayer service for Earth DayApril 20 at 9:00 AM New York / 10:00 Buenos Aires / 14:00 UK / 16:00 Nairobi /21:00 Manila. Register here.




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Varias generaciones han experimentado dentro del escepticismo, la incredulidad, el fatalismo y la esperanza el tema de la protección de la Amazonía como fuente de vida para todos los seres humanos, por ser el pulmón del mundo y tener un incalculable inventario de fauna y flora, que cuenta con una de las mayores fuentes de agua dulce como es el gran río Amazonas, catalogado como el más caudaloso del planeta.  Otra riqueza de suma importancia que contiene la Amazonía son las numerosas comunidades indígenas contactadas y otras en aislamiento voluntario que conservan una cultura rica en lenguas, sabiduría de vida, buen vivir, medicinas y tradiciones mitológicas que han permitido un perfecto equilibrio entre el ser humano y su entorno vital.

El papa Francisco ha realizado diferentes llamados a proteger el medio ambiente especialmente con la encíclica Laudato Si, así como en los discursos pronunciados en sus visitas pastorales a los países de Colombia (2017) y Perú (2018).  Nuestra Iglesia con el fin de no quedarse solo con el reflexionar acerca del impacto ambiental negativo sobre la Amazonía, ha fundado la Red Eclesial Pan Amazónica (REPAM) para que las numerosas jurisdicciones eclesiásticas, comunidades religiosas, laicos y organizaciones gubernamentales y no gubernamentales aúnen esfuerzos para configurar acciones que contrarresten toda modalidad que vaya en contra de este gran bioma y de los pueblos indígenas, en definitiva, de la vida.

El panorama descrito tiene que llevar a los capuchinos a no quedarse “balconeando” este caos ambiental en al Amazonía sino a tener la obligación moral y carismática de involucrarse[1] en este escenario creacional en pro de su cuidado y defensa.  El tener a San Francisco de Asís como fundador y ser proclamado como patrono de la ecología, exige que tomen opciones valientes y preferenciales por el jardín amazónico que Dios ofreció al hombre y a la mujer para que lo labrara y los cuidara (Gn 3, 23).

Para que los capuchinos puedan tomar o retomar opciones en pro del cuidado de la creación teniendo como prioridad la ecología humana, el papa Francisco invita a renovar el encuentro personal con Jesucristo o dejarse encontrar por Él[2] y convertirse en profetas y mensajeros de su Evangelio[3], de las buenas noticias, de la salvación integral.  San Francisco de Asís, en el siglo XIII, se encontró con el Crucificado que le inspiró reparar su Iglesia que estaba en ruinas, más tarde se encontró con el Evangelio que le definió la forma de cumplir con la misión encomendada mediante la pobreza, la penitencia (continua conversión), la minoridad (sin búsqueda de protagonismo), la fidelidad eclesial, la observancia del santo Evangelio y la fraternidad cósmica.

Encontrarse con Jesucristo implica dejarse renovar personal y comunitariamente con la novedad del Evangelio que hace romper con los esquemas pastorales instalados y probados para dar paso a la creatividad divina volviendo a las fuentes que señalan nuevos caminos y métodos creativos[4].  San Francisco de Asís no quiso reparar la Iglesia siendo monje que era lo más normal dentro de la estructura eclesial del siglo XIII, sino que eligió ser fraile, ser hermano de todos y de todo, siendo peregrino para configurar una Iglesia en salida[5] que salga al encuentro de Jesucristo principalmente en los leprosos, los pobres, sus hermanos y la creación, en definitiva, para tener “olor a oveja”.[6]

Es cierto que los capuchinos fueron una de las comunidades religiosas que primerearon[7] en la Amazonía cuando muchos frailes europeos llegaron hace más de 100 años a esta área geográfica suramericana y abrieron trochas para que los valores evangélicos de la paz y el bien llegaran hasta los más recónditos lugares de la selva.  Primearon porque fundaron parroquias, colegios, poblaciones, internados indígenas y obras sociales.  Fueron uno de los primeros que realizaron estudios etnográficos, lingüísticos y sociológicos que permitieron comprender el modus vivendi de las comunidades indígenas.

El papa Francisco está haciendo un llamado a la Iglesia y a los capuchinos a “Primerear”, a volver a tomar la iniciativa de atender el clamor y el llamado de los pueblos indígenas a no dejarlos solos, a volver con fuerza y contundencia pastoral, pero sin el más mínimo protagonismo, a apostarle a la vida, a aportar el granito de arena carismático en bien del cuidado integral de la Amazonía.  Están llamados “acompañar” a los pueblos ancestrales del gran Amazonas en sus desafíos ante la indiferencia de algunos gobiernos de los nueve países que tienen injerencia en este territorio vital y la voracidad de las multinacionales que a cualquier precio y vidas trata de despojar a los indígenas sus territorios con el fin de extraer del suelo y de los ríos materiales que son preciados por naciones del “primer mundo”.


Volver la mirada hacia la Amazonía significa que los capuchinos no se quedarán pasivos en los conventos y templos ante esta realidad desafiante[8], significa arriesgar, re-estructurar, ser eclesiales y obedientes a nuestra Iglesia, significa dejar miedos, y los excesivos cálculos económicos y de hermanos, dejar el “exceso de diagnóstico”[9] para evaluar la factibilidad de este llamado eclesial, significa quitar el predominio de lo administrativo sobre lo pastoral[10].  El papa Francisco prefiere “una Iglesia accidentada, herida y manchada por salir a la calle, antes que una Iglesia enferma por el encierro y la comodidad de aferrarse a las propias seguridades”,[11] es decir, salir de la “globalización de la indiferencia”[12] hacia el hermoso jardín de la selva amazónica que está siendo devastado.

“Optar por la fraternidad”[13] como lo hizo San Francisco de Asís, conlleva a construir una permanente cultura del encuentro para descubrir a Jesús en el rostro de los indígenas, “en su voz, en rus reclamos”[14] para crear “vínculos profundos y estables”.[15]  La cultura del encuentro, la fraternidad cósmica implica asumir con Jesús crucificado, las agresiones injustas o ingratitudes en busca de la felicidad de los demás.[16]

El Sumo Pontífice hace referencia al importante papel que tienen las universidades y las escuelas católicas en anunciar el Evangelio de forma interdisciplinaria e integradora[17].  Estoy seguro que la única universidad con la que cuentan los capuchinos en conjunto con las numerosas escuelas y colegios que acompañan en distintos países, son verdaderos medios que permiten tomar consciencia del cuidado del medio ambiente y de realizar aportes en beneficio de la Amazonía. No hay duda que un eje transversal de la educación lo integra la educación ambiental y más si son instituciones educativas con impronta franciscana-capuchina para establecer relaciones fuertes entre el ser humano y su ecosistema.  Los planteles educativos capuchinos no pueden estar desvinculados de la misión de los capuchinos en la Amazonía.

El Magisterio de la Iglesia, la Palabra y los Padres de la Iglesia animan el compromiso con la búsqueda del bien común, es decir, de la política, el papa Francisco refuerza esta tarea tomando las siguientes palabras de los obispos católicos de Estados Unidos: “el ser ciudadano fiel es una virtud y la participación en la vida política es una obligación moral”[18].  La búsqueda del bien común comprende que los capuchinos trabajen por la paz, la justicia, la dignidad de la persona humana,[19]  que tengan opción preferencial por los pobres[20], por los seres frágiles e indefensos como también lo es la creación y en este caso por la Amazonía.[21]  El papa Francisco quiere “una Iglesia pobre para los pobres”[22], tal cual como lo hizo San Francisco de Asís con los leprosos y con los pobres de su tiempo. “Si bien el orden justo de la sociedad y del Estado es una tarea principal de la política, la Iglesia no puede ni debe quedarse al margen en la lucha por la justicia”.[23] Los capuchinos están llamados a fortalecer en cada circunscripción el trabajo de las comisiones capuchinas de Justicia, Paz e Integridad con la Creación (JPIC).

Tomar la Amazonía como una de las opciones preferenciales de los capuchinos “implica un profundo deseo de cambiar el mundo, de transmitir valores, de dejar algo mejor detrás de nuestro paso por la tierra.  Amamos este magnífico planeta donde Dios nos ha puesto, y amamos la humanidad que lo habita, con todos sus dramas y cansancios, con sus anhelos y esperanzas, con sus valore y fragilidades.  La tierra es nuestra casa común y todos somos hermanos…Todos los cristianos, también los Pastores, están llamados a preocuparse por la construcción de un mundo mejor”[24]

Optar por la Amazonía, es asegurar la llegada de nuevos jóvenes a consagrar sus vidas y sus sueños en Jesucristo por medio de la vida capuchina.  El papa Francisco nos explica que el fervor apostólico de las comunidades entusiasma las vocaciones a la vida sacerdotal y a la vida consagrada.[25]  “Donde hay vida, fervor, ganas de llevar a Cristo a los demás, surgen vocaciones genuinas”.[26]  “¡Que bueno es que los jóvenes sean <callejeros de la fe>, felices de llevar a Jesucristo a cada esquina, a cada plaza, a cada rincón de la tierra!”

En alabanza de Cristo y del pobrecillo de Asís, amén.

Hno. Manuel Alfonso Vargas Reales OFMCap.

Leticia, Amazonas, 20 de marzo de 2018.


[1] Papa Francisco, Exhortación Apostólica “Evangelii Gaudium”, Nro. 24.

[2] Ibid., Nro. 3.

[3] Ibid., Nro. 4-5.

[4] Ibid., Nro. 11.

[5] Ibid., Nro. 20.

[6] Ibid., Nro. 24.

[7] Ibid., Nro. 24.

[8] Ibid., Nro. 15.

[9] Ibid., 50.

[10] Ibid., 63.

[11] Ibid., 49.

[12] Ibid., 54.

[13] Ibid., 91.

[14] Ibid., 91.

[15] Ibid., 91.

[16] Ibid., Nro. 91.

[17] Ibid., Nro. 134.

[18] Ibid., Nro. 220.

[19] Ibid., Nros. 218-219.

[20] Ibid., Nro. 199.

[21] Ibid., Nro. 215.

[22] Ibid., Nro. 198.

[23] Ibid., Nro. 183.

[24] Ibid., Nro. 183.

[25] Ibid., Nro. 107.

[26] Ibid., Nro. 107.

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