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Order of Franciscans Ecumenical, Inc.                                                                          Abbey of Saint Mary Theotokos, Inc. 

Open Letter To Pope Francis Page

An Eastern Catholic Franciscan Religious Order, Western Rite





Tuesday, December 8, 2015 A.D.

Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
His Holiness Francis
Apostolic Palace
00120 Vatican City State

Your Holiness Francis,

Cordial greetings to you.

The Order of Franciscans Ecumenical is pleased to provide a “home” for married Roman Catholic priests and hopefully to eventually enable them to continue to serve sacramentally within the Roman Catholic Church.
As historically documented, we were canonically created in 1985 as the Catholic Apostolic Church / Eastern Rite / International Ordinariate, later identified as the Federation of Jesus Abbeys and most recently as the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical. We were founded within the Personal Papal Prelature of Pope John Paul II of 1985. Our specific pastoral activity, as well as the desire of Pope John Paul II, was to create a way for married Roman Catholic priests to return home to continue to serve within Roman Catholic parishes.
One day St. Francis of Assisi prayed in the little church of Saint Damian outside the walls of Assisi. He felt the eyes of the Christ on the crucifix gazing at him and heard a voice saying three times, Francis, go and repair my house, which you see is falling down.” This message is just as relevant today as it was in the time of Francis of Assisi.
The Order of Franciscans Ecumenical Rule of Life is: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with your entire mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40) “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
You “were the only Roman Catholic cleric to praise the life of a former bishop [Jerónimo José Podestá] who had left the priesthood to marry ….You knelt at his deathbed and comforted him.” As Archbishop of Argentina, you noted that in the Eastern churches, priests can be married, and “they are very good priests...It is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change.” Obviously, you are very sensitive to the needs of the People of God for the Eucharistic food which only a priest can provide. There is refreshed anticipation that our Church will return to our earliest tradition embracing both married and celibate priests.
The Order of Franciscans Ecumenical is where we embrace priests who have left celibate promises/vows as Roman Catholic priests to marry. Sadly, they have become abandoned by the Church and disheartened, and we seek in the OFE to love and console them. We have within the Order married priests of proven seriousness and maturity who wish to return to sacramental ministry. We select married men who are called to priesthood to make them available to Roman and Eastern Catholic Bishops.
We can say is that the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical is the only formal outcome of a 30 year study presented by the task force created by the Vatican in 1985.
Holy Father, we will be remembering you in our prayers during the Divine Liturgy. We, too, ask to be remembered in your prayers.
In filial devotion,
Abbot Father Michael Cuozzo+, ofe
Abbot General Father Michael Cuozzo+, OFE, DD, STD, PhD                   
Abbey of Saint Mary Theotokos, Inc, Order of Franciscans Ecumenical, Inc.,             
Holy Apostles Monastery, Divine Mercy Brothers of Our Lady of Perpetual Help


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