Joint Committee on Franciscan Unity
Following the way of Francis and Clare together
"For the sake of creation, we are called to witness to the essential unity of the church, the Body of Christ, by working towards Franciscan unity in all of its expressions. We will achieve this through dialogue and collaboration among the Orders which follow Christ in the tradition of Francis and Clare."
In 2005, representatives from Episcopal, Roman Catholic and Ecumenical Franciscan Orders gathered in Connecticut and created the first draft of the Elements of Franciscan Unity. These Elements were reviewed, revised and approved by all participating Orders in 2007. These Elements are the foundational principles for the cause that unites our religious communities in the joyful journey towards Franciscan unity.
A. Inclusive of any Franciscan Orders
Any religious community following the tradition of St. Francis and St. Clare is eligible to participate in the work of the Joint Committee on Franciscan Unity
B. Shared Responsibilities
In the spirit of egalitarian relationship, all sponsoring communities share equally the responsibilities of the Joint Committee, including number of representatives.
C. Responsive Dialogue between Join Committee Sponsors
Committee members are responsible for maintaining a flow of communication between the Joint Committee and their sponsoring communities.
D. Model the Unity We Seek
Acknowledging we share a common Franciscan charism and are committed to bear witness to its dedication to the work of Franciscan unity, members of the Joint Committee work together in ways that demonstrate mutual respect, honor, and affirmation of the several gifts each brings to the work of the Committee.
E. Ministry of Reconciliation
Central to the Committee's vision of Franciscan unity is its call to engage efforts toward reconciliation among its sponsoring Franciscan Orders, and the ecclesia they represent.
ELEMENTS OF FRANCISCAN UNITY
Our Franciscan Orders understand that our Franciscan unity springs from our shared relationship with God through Holy Baptism. The waters of our birth in the name of the Triune God signify our unity in one baptism by one God. This unity through baptism is the underpinning for our shared worship and witness as Franciscans.
Our call to Franciscan vocation implies being conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ by means of the radical interior change that the Gospel defines as conversion– taking up our cross daily to follow Christ. Our particular vocation is to observe the Gospel by following the example of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. As members of Franciscan orders, we pledge ourselves, with life-long intent, to live out our Franciscan vocation in community with our brothers and sisters.
As Franciscans, we see in the life of St. Francis of Assisi these gifts of the Holy Spirit: Holy Poverty (humility), love and joy. Through our Rules and through the individual and collective work of our Orders, we seek to manifest these gifts. In our unified emulation of Francis, we seek to express a life that witnesses to poverty, love and joy.
Franciscan spirituality is Christocentric to the extent that Francis fell in love with Jesus. This love transformed Francis’ life. All that Francis did was shaped by what he saw in the Incarnation, and in the ministry and Passion of Jesus. Franciscan spirituality is a way of life that is centered on the person of Jesus. Our unified mission as Franciscans is to make Jesus known to all– and to pray and work for the reconciliation of all creation.
Fundamental to Franciscan spirituality is a commitment to strive for justice and peace among all people– and to affirm the inter-relationship and holiness of all creation. In a world torn asunder by conflict, divisions, intolerance and exploitation, our unified prophetic witness is an expression of God’s light on a dark planet. In our shared understanding of the spirit of Francis, we are called:
to courageous initiatives in the field of peace-making and justice,
to make definite choices in harmony with our faith whenever human dignity is attacked by any form of oppression, violence or indifference, and
to protect and restore all of creation.