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					                         LET US SAVE HUMANITY! LET US SAVE CREATION!
                         Easter Letter of the Minister General OFM – 2010

                         My Dear Brothers, May the Lord give you peace!

    It is Easter, the Feast of Life! It is Easter, the triumph   realities scandalously present in our world. There
over death and sin. It is Easter, an indescribable joy           are men and women, children and adults, who lack
for all who believe in the Risen Christ, who is our              the basic essentials, such as a morsel of bread or
justice and hope for all who mourn because of death,             a glass of potable water or basic medicine in order
desolation, and misery. It is Easter, an invitation to           not to die from a simple fever and live. Subhuman
solidarity without borders, solidarity with men and              situations, such as those we have seen in Haiti,
women, our brothers and sisters; and solidarity with             and which we see daily in other continents, are an
sister mother earth (cf CtC 9).                                  aggression to the dignity of the person; and what
                                                                 is worse is that the causes are well known, such as
    On the occasion of the feast of Easter 2010,                 the hoarding of riches by a few, the corruption of
I wish to share with you, my dear brothers and                   many, indifference, and irresponsibility by almost
sisters, some reflections on two themes that are                 everyone.
intertwined: 1) the theme of poverty and 2) the
theme of integrity of creation. These two themes,                   Sharing a few facts. 2,800 million people (i.e.
so familiar to Franciscan spirituality are in harmony            40% of the world’s population) live in regions with
with both the first and seventh goals of United                  different levels of water scarcity. 1,800 million
Nations’ Millennium Development and with the                     people experience a serious drought.         1,000
message of the Holy Father. The latter has just                  million people experience hunger. About 32% of
made an appeal in his message for the World Day                  the population in the countries of the Southern
of Peace “to renew the covenant” between the                     Hemisphere lives below one dollar daily; and the
human person and the environment. The title of his               number of people worldwide living with this figure
message was, If You Wish to Promote Peace, Protect               has increased from 1,200 million in 1987 to 1,500
Creation. As Franciscans, we must always keep in                 million currently. If this tendency continues, this
mind the relationship between man and the earth                  figure will reach 1,900 million in the year 2015.
and the need to secure environmental sustainability.             Everyday 28,000 children die as result of poverty.
                                                                 While 20% of the richest population worldwide
                                                                 controls 85% of the world’s riches, 20% of the
   On the side of the poor                                       poorest only has 1.5%.

    I hope that the painful images of the recent                    Can we, Friars Minors or members of the
earthquake that has devastated the inhabitants of                Franciscan family, remain indifferent before such
Haiti will not be forgotten. The images of death,                facts? We who have voluntarily chosen poverty and
destruction, and misery everywhere are vey much                  solidarity with the least and minors of the earth can
impressed in our minds. Behind these images                      no longer be content with merely complaining or
are also the bleak images of the tsunami that left               allocating blame, or less still by being crossed arms.
so many people of that continent immersed in                     Much is expected of us. We are expected to be on
misery. If the thousands of deaths due to natural                the side of those who suffer poverty and hunger and
phenomenons touch our sensitivity deeply, then                   of those who mourn their dead. We are expected to
our sensitivity should be as much touched when we                love and serve the face of Christ right there where
witness so many of our brothers and sisters actually             he is present, i.e., in the new material, moral, and
living in misery.                                                spiritual poverty produced by contemporary society.
                                                                 The cries of Jesus on the cross we hear with renewed
   Based on what we have seen and heard, we                      intensity on Good Friday reveal how he took evil
should then ask ourselves, “How can the world                    upon himself in order to redeem us. Our vocation
allow something like this to happen? Why is that                 continues the vocation of Jesus, and like him, we
while some waste – and that also includes ourselves              are called to take upon ourselves the pain and sin of
– others are lacking the necessary to subsist? How               the world by being consumed by love (cf. Walking
is it possible that our consumerist society can                  with Christ 27). By making Jesus’ mission our own,
remain unmoved before situations like these? It                  we cannot stop proclaiming the Gospel to all men
seems incredible! Yet, we have seen, no matter how               and women for their salvation, while paying special
incredible it may seem, that misery and hunger are               attention to the poor in the various dimensions of
poverty. As John Paul II said, the option for the poor      and to care for the environment. Now more than
is inherent to the dynamic itself of the love lived out     ever, we are aware that the theme of both poverty
according to Christ (VC 82), and we, Franciscans,           and hunger in the world must be faced from the
should feel especially involved in it in a singular         perspective of the use we are making of the planet’s
manner.                                                     resources. According to the message reaching us from
                                                            different sources, the way we are using the planet
   Within this context, I need to express my                is flawed because we are seriously throwing off the
appreciation for the efforts that many of the brothers      ecosystem and climate balance. Both are common
make in all the continents to reach out to both the         goods and gifts of God we are called to protect now
poor and marginalized in their pain and poverty.            and for posterity. Hence, the ecological crisis has
Thusly, they seek to promote a life of justice and          become both an ethical and a moral problem.
solidarity. Thank you, brothers, for showing your
solidarity with the neediest through your condition             Deforestation, denaturing in food, out-of-control
as minors. Thank you for being minors among minors.         industrialization, the development of applied
                                                            techniques, and the irrational exploitation of human
    The Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church         resources – among other factors – are throwing off
affirms that, “it is necessary to abandon the logic of      the organic balance of the earth. In specialized
mere consumerism”. The same compendium invites              environments, terrible words such as planeticide,
us also to renew “the awareness of interdependence          earthicide, terracide are already circulating. The
which unites in itself all the inhabitants of the earth.”   human person is altering our “common home” in
In the face of the drama of poverty and misery in which     such a way, that if we don’t react now, the more
so many of our brothers are plunged into and of the         we delay, the more difficult it will become to find
economic crisis that affects millions of inhabitants,       food; both water related diseases and lack of
what is being asked of us is a deep sense of solidarity     sanitary conditions will increase; there will be
with all who suffer; to be aware of the sufferings of       forced migrations, resulting in an increase number
peoples who are most affected by this situation; and        of refugees and a greater risk of armed conflicts over
to reassess our way of life, so many times marked           the possession of natural resources.
by consumerism, that it may be humbler and
austere, both personally and communally. We are                Throughout this path of destruction of nature,
being asked to overcome the narrow-mindedness of            the poor are the first victims. In fact, according
individualism and the exclusive attention to one’s          to Alert International, today there are 46 countries
own interest, both so detrimental to human co-              (all on the Southern Hemisphere of the planet [i.e.,
existence. From our condition as minors among the           2,700 millions of inhabitants]), where the effects of
minors, we are being appealed to be sympathetic, to         climate change interacting with economic, social,
enlighten reality through the Gospel, and contribute        and political problems, may trigger a greater risk of
that every human being may have a dignified social          violent conflicts.
life, for God is Father of all.
                                                                With this information in hand, it is, therefore,
    Within this framework, I ask all our Entities to        necessary, dear brothers and sisters to be aware of
reflect on this situation and, at the same time, to         this situation and consider the impact that the use
show their solidarity to the neediest through signs         of our resources is having on the environment. This
and gestures – each according to his means. I               may seem inconsequential at the thought that our
remind you that in the General Curia, we have the           own resources will not change its present course of
St. Francis Solidarity Fund which relies on voluntary       contamination and destruction of creation. Even if
donations. Through it, we reach out to the needy,           it may seem to be what it is happening – which is not
both within the Order and outside of it, as we are          the case at all – nevertheless, by curtailing the impact
doing now with Haiti, for example. It is always good        of our resources we will already be denouncing a
to remember what Jesus said in the Gospel, Truly, I         situation that cannot be allowed to persist for a long
say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my   time. In this way, we will be giving concrete answer
brethren, you did it to me (Mt 25, 40).                     to the drama caused by the imbalance of creation.

                                                               Our General Constitutions reflects the concerns
   In Defense of Creation                                   of the Order over safeguarding creation. Article 71,
                                                            for example, is very explicit about it. The feeling
   In the teachings of Benedict XVI, one of the most        of respect toward sister earth impedes us from
reoccurring themes is the call to be attentive to the       being neutral in the face of its deterioration caused
situation of our planet, the need to defend creation,       by man’s action. According to the Constitutions,
                    making fraternal use of creation          I propose that all fraternities assess how it is
                    involves being informed and           living this dimension of Franciscan spirituality of
                    facing the situation with all         respect for nature. I also propose that each fraternity
                    the means available; to take          celebrates Earth Day (April 22) and the World
upon oneself, through the ethic of responsibility,        Environment Day (June 5) in close collaboration
the defense of creation; to care for creation; to         with the laity. Let it be done in such a way that
celebrate in awesome wonder, as St. Francis did,          awareness is raised of everyone’s responsibility to
the awe-inspiring works of the Creator. Through a         care for creation.
Franciscan vision, creation is more than a resource
to-be-exploited or merely admired. On the contrary,          Dear brothers and sisters, again, it is Easter! Let
for the believer and Franciscan, creation is both a       us come out of our tombs; and with the strength of
“sign” and “sacrament” of the Creator.                    the Risen Christ, let us proclaim the Gospel of life to
                                                          the whole world. It is Easter! “In order to restore
    Safeguarding creation is also asking of us, dear      the face of the Father to the human person, Jesus not
brothers and sisters, to make moderate and sober          only had to assume a human face, but also to load
use of its natural resources; to know how to enjoy the    himself of the ‘face’ of sin” (Novo millennio ineunte,
little things of daily life; and avoid the superfluous    25). Let us, therefore, fight against sin and its ill-
and wasting. If consumerism has become a way of           fated consequences in both the life of the human
life and an unquenchable thirst to devour everything      person and in his relationship with creation. In this
on its path (things, people, values, time, images,        way, we will manage to save humanity, creation,
etc), then it is urgent to strive for an ascetic way of   and ourselves.
life that is both free and responsible. “Franciscan
asceticism is the result of perfect joy”. Anyone who        It is Easter! Let us rejoice in the Lord! It is Easter!
is joyful, also celebrates”. Anyone who shares, also      Christ is Risen, Alleluia! Alleluia!
does justice to the Creator and is considerate of
creation” (Pilgrims and Strangers in the World, pp
64).                                                         Your brother and servant,

19 March 2010
Solemnity of St. Joseph

                                                                               Br. José Rodríguez Carballo, ofm
                                                                                          Minister General OFM

Prot. 100652