Interfaith Activities at Assisi Brought to a Halt by Papal Decree

November 30, 2005

Source: The Indian Express

On November 30, 2005 The Indian Express reported, "Imams, rabbis, Buddhist monks, Hindu holy men and followers of Confucius have strolled the chalky white and pink stone courtyards of the massive basilica here. Anti-globalisation activists with raised fists and Communist atheists have conversed with the gentle Franciscan monks who control the shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, the much-beloved and storied founder of the Franciscan order. Such gatherings, particularly a pair of interfaith meetings between world religious officials and Pope John Paul II, attracted wide media attention... With a stroke of the pen earlier this month, Pope Benedict XVI put the future of such varied events in question. In a decree published on November 19, the pope placed the Franciscans in Assisi under the threefold control of a new local bishop, the Italian Bishops Conference and a yet-to-be-named papal overseer. The edict overturned autonomy granted in 1969 by Pope Paul VI that in effect made the Franciscans ambassadors to peace movements and to outside cultural and religious groups... Reaction to the Vatican's move was strong across Italy. 'The stronghold of dialogue has fallen. Now the Franciscans have their hands tied and can no longer be a bridge between the church and society,' said Livia Turco, a member of the largest party in Italy's opposition coalition, the Democrats of the Left."