Letter from the Minister General of the Secular Franciscan Order

Madrid, February 18, 2003

To the National Councils
To the International Councilors
To all brothers and sisters of the Secular Franciscan Order

My dear brothers and sisters:

In these delicate and dramatic moments of our international situation,
when we find ourselves under the threat of war, I send you, with renewed
conviction, the salutation revealed to Francesco: May God grant you
peace! (Testament, 23)

Peace is God's gift, placed in human hands, fragile gift which must be
preserved because it touches every level of life: personal, family,
social, political, economic, ecologic& We Secular Franciscans are called
to be "bearers of peace, knowing that peace must be built up
unceasingly." (Rule 19)

Let us maintain the hope for peace, living it ourselves and offering it
to all those around us as "the fruit of justice, of reconciliation, and
of fraternal love, sharing peaceful ideas and attitudes, in our
individual initiatives, as Franciscan Fraternity and Family,
collaborating with all the movements and institutions that promote
peace." (CC.GG.23.1) Let us support, with our prayers and our sincere
commitment, all the initiatives that the Holy Father is promoting to
avoid a war.

Let us also have the courage to be involved with "courageous
initiatives" in harmony with our Franciscan vocation, to promote an
authentic spirit of peace, recognizing and supporting the truth that
human beings cannot be assaulted in their dignity by exploitation and
oppression, by the marginalization of their rights, by injustice and
powerlessness. The ethics of peace has at its roots an ethics of justice
that involves substantial change in the economic order and in the
development of solidarity among peoples. Without justice there is no
true peace, "the work of justice will be peace, the result of
righteousness quietness and trust forever." (Is. 32:17)

As Franciscan-Christians, we cannot remain insensitive or indifferent.
We are called to act as yeast in our environments, "through the
testimony of our fraternal love and our well defined Christian
motivations" (CC.GG. 19.1), realizing that PEACE is a universal benefit,
indivisible, gift and possession of all people of good will. Peace
cannot be imposed. God has given it to us "not as the world gives" (John
14:27), but as fruit of the commandment to love.

In these actual circumstances, a small gesture that would identify us
with peace wouldn't be too much: placing a candle or light in our
window, a white banner or flag with the colors of the rainbow in a
balcony or a door; a monthly fraternity meeting open to other people,
dedicated to prayers for peace; the Rosary prayed to Mary, Queen of
Peace; Saint Francis's peace prayer&

Let us all be united in prayer, in supplication to the God of Life and
of Peace, "fountain of all our good: that God, who calls us to freedom
from oppression and conflict and to cooperation for the good of all,
will help everyone in every corner of the earth to build a world of
peace, rooted ever more firmly in the four pillars that Blessed John
XXIII showed to us all in his encyclical: truth, justice, love and
freedom." (Message of the Pope in the World's Journey for Peace).

Your sister and minister,
Encarnación del Pozo