Social Interrelations Secular Franciscan Order


There is obviously a fraternal relationship in these orders, and these deal with the spiritual element in this close knit environment. The constitution describes the ideal. They are to be all brothers anticipating each others needs as he lives the rule.

   In these autonomous environments there are two peoples, one who is a candidate for

profession, and the other, the professed member who’s job as council member may be to decide the fraternal future of these candidates vying for profession. In every human social structure there is the possibility of abuse and discord; this is the reality.

   This brings up some interesting scenerios the candidate may find himself in. It is interesting to note before we go on, is that these autonomous systems defers to a democratic system to carry out its election of new candidates. The decisive factor of a candidate admissibility is made by an elective assigned group of professed members. So there is no consistence of governance in these orders. 

   The only mention of constitutional remedy in a conflicting environment is that a candidate can seek regress in the higher echelons of the SFO regional counsel, having first tried to find a solution in his local fraternity. These national counsels themselves are professed franciscans. The gist hear is to contain any issues the candidate may present within the franciscan environment, therefore not a threat to promotional enlistment and therefore no challenges to it. The candidate is presented with a conflict of interest at this hearing, and he is not guaranteed an impartial hearing. The intent is to convey to the Church a consensus, that indeed they all feel the same way. More fairly, the candidate should present his case to a panel of professed members of differing orders, as well as a monitor of the Church proper, since the fraternity is a part of the Church as is through baptism. There could also be on the panel an appointed diocesan canon representative of the ecclesial community. His task would be to monitor to ensure that by the conferance to the order of this privledge of autonomy, it is indeed taking care of the Catholics within it's charge.

 Of such conflicts that may arise, is how the candidate should deal with personality conflicts. Probability suggests there could indeed be a fault of the professed member of council, and not the candidate. Usually the candidate is taken aside for correction. It should never come to this point of course. The others of the council should settle it with the errant council member on their own *before* it comes to this. Incompetance should be snipped at the bud, and this should be assured every candidate for their welfare. If he dares be truthful and stands his ground, he risks a negative vote to profession. The council member may suggest to him that he is not the right 'material' for the order. This could be wrong, and he is simply expressing a personal bias and not a spiritual conveyance. How many have been swayed to this advise unfairly?. There may be no sin extended for a candidate to fail in his mission, but there is absolutely one left behind to the member who overrides his authority. The order has no official means to handle these potential threats to the candidates who are left to their own. The experiences given me

are the other counsel members attempt a hush up, and behind the scenes simply re-express opinions, but never challenge each other outright.

 Another manifestation is clip boarding. The environment inside the fraternity should not be artificial. Social conditions should be natural,spontaneous and random. The members should not set up test bed situations for the candidates. A member complaint would be, "I had this set out, and he didn't even do <whatever>." In other words he had pre expectations of what should be done prior to the person doing it. He should be assessed through natural events and conditions that arise. In this environment the candidates are bacteria in a petrie dish. It manifests through relations that are demarcated through status lines, candidate and professed. In this environment candidate suggestions are never accepted, and fraternal privileges lean toward the professed. Work assignments would be done by the candidates. There are other tell tale signs.

 Another is Church involvement. There is not enough involvement at lower echelons. The autonomous institute left in incompetent or ill-disposed hands could be a tool of oppression to unsuspecting trusting Catholics. The Church should be involved in every facet of fraternal life. It would simply monitor and take the initiative, and not only respond at the point where things have become seething cauldrons.

 These are three areas I feel need work. But the final thing I would like to mention is

reading material. There is very little, and probably non existent, reading material appropriate to local fraternities that deal with fraternal social structures and how to deal with their social failings in autonomous institutions. What the authors recommend to the candidates is the ideal again. It conveys a promise of well being and joy and everyone frolicking along through the flowers in the fields. It is not always this way. Sometimes fraternities collectively are ill. There could be advice on how a candidate can move progressively in such environments. More doors should be open for private discreet discussion and not through a spiritual director who plays a duel role as counselor AND spiritual director. This not about spirit, but human failings.



Ummm . . . what is your question?


Exactly. What was the question regarding the OFS?




An example of someone that wants to make the Order and Franciscanism as a whole into what THEY think it should be instead of trusting the Holy Spirit, the ideals of the founder, and the guidance of previous Popes.


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