Monday, 1 July 2013

Franciscan Joke

A band of Catholic laymen in England decide to sell all they own, give the money to the poor and become mendicant friars in their hometown. The new order is a success with other young Catholic men joining, as they live the mendicant existence, with no permanent address, sleeping wherever they can, relying on the generosity and alms of others to survive, preaching to towns and villages across the South East the glory of the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Their order well and truly off the ground, they set off on pilgrimage to Rome to have their order recognised by the Pope. They beg along the way and make the journey from England to Rome on foot. It takes them a long, long time on foot to get to Rome but they eventually turn up at St Peter's Square, exasperated, hungry and in pain from the tiring pilgrimage in their rags. Their leader makes a request that the band of brothers may have the honour of a private audience with the Pope so that His Holiness may bless the new Order and give it formal Papal recognition.

The Pope, seeing the band of brothers, steps forward, approaches the group of men, all kneeling as they await news of what the Pope will say to them. He reaches them, stops and says, 'Rise, O brothers.'

The men rise but each go to venerate the Office of the Papacy, kissing the Holy Father's hand upon which is the Fisherman's Ring. After a period of expectant silence, the Pope says to the brothers, 'You have come all the way from England, I hear, so that I may give formal recognition to your Franciscan Order?'

Their leader speaks up. "Yes, Your Holiness. We wish to live as Jesus taught us to live, in poverty and simplicity, taking nothing for our journey but trusting solely in His Providence. We have come all this way from England just to see you so that Your Holiness may bless and give your personal Papal recognition to this new Order."

The Pope smiles and says to the brothers, "You came all this way to see me? you haven't heard?'

"Heard what, Your Holiness?" says the leader.

"What an unfortunate co-incidence!" says the Pope. "Only last week, I devolved the recognition of new Orders to the individual Bishops' Conferences for each country. In fact, your local Bishop could have given you recognition. You needn't have come all this way. In fact, because the power to recognise new Orders universally has been given to the individual Bishops Conference for each country, you need to go and see your Diocesan Bishop for formal approval and he will decide in concert with his brother Bishops in the Conference of England and Wales. I'm the Bishop of Rome and I could only give formal recognition to your new Order if you were in my Diocese. I'm terribly sorry, brothers!"

The leader speaks up, "But Your Holiness, our Bishop thinks we're insane! We have done everything you asked of us, Your Holiness, we live in poverty and serve Jesus in the poor. You have inspired us to give up everything for the Lord!"

The Pope says,"Well, I'm sorry its too late, the power to recognise Orders outside of my Diocese has already been divested from the Papacy and I don't want to tread on the toes of my brother Bishops. Would you like some sandwiches? Wait here, I'll go and make them myself, no? Avanti!"

1 comment:

R said...

On a point of Canon Law, the first stage of recognition is and always has been by the local bishop.
Your Franciscans need to borrow a copy of the Code.
Only if they intend to set up in the diocese of Rome, or throughout the Universal Church do they need Papal Approval.

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