Interview: Fr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo, Minister General of the Franciscan Order
Date: October 21, 2007
Fr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo, Minister General of the Franciscan Order, visited Medjugorje on October 8th, 2007. He was in Herzegovina from October 7 to 10, visiting the friars of the Herzegovinian Franciscan Province of the Assumption of Mary. Dragan Soldo spoke with him for Radio Mir Medjugorje.
Fr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo: First of all, I would like to greet everyone with the Franciscan greeting: Peace and Good. I would like to say that I am truly glad to be for the second time in Herzegovina. I am here for a fraternal visit to all the friars that live in Herzegovina. In the Rule, Saint Francis asked his successors, General Ministers, to regularly visit all the friars of the Order. This is not a canonical visit, but a fraternal visit with a double objective: first of all, to encourage the friars to live better the Gospel, as we have promised in our Profession. In the second place, if necessary, to admonish and to correct them fraternally. In this circumstance, as we are preparing for the eighth centenary of the foundation of the Order, I came here also in order to share with the friars how, in this moment, the Order is making preparations for the year 2009, in which the entire Order will renew our religious Profession. From here, I will go to Sarajevo, where all the Provincials from Europe will meet in order to speak, among other topics, about the dialogue as a permanent challenge for the Order.
Could you tell us some words about your experience with the Franciscans in this parish?
Fr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo: I am convinced that the friars who live here in Medugorje are doing a great service, first of all for people of the place, for the parishioners. This is a parish, and we know which are the duties of the religious who are parish priests, in charge of this particular ministry. According to what I know, I can say that the friars are truly dedicated with all their forces to the service of the faithful of this parish. Moreover, the friars are also at the service of all those who come to Medugorje. And finally, I would emphasize the great importance of the social works in favor of the poor; they truly give an evangelical witness, also in front of those who do not share our faith. For this I can say that I am satisfied about the work that my brothers are doing in this parish of Medugorje.
We can notice here numerous pilgrims from all over the world. How would you comment their coming into this specific parish?
Fr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo: For me, the fact that so many are coming to Medugorje is speaking about the thirst for God among our contemporaries. Only God can totally fill the human heart, reminded us Benedict XVI during his recent pilgrimage to Assisi. My desire therefore is that all those who come to Medugorje, as all those who go to other centers of spirituality, can truly meet God, can follow Christ in a closer way. In my conversation with the friars of this community, I have insistent that they have to be instruments, so that people who approach Medjugorje can meet Christ, can follow Christ, can make of the Gospel the heart of their life. I want to emphasize that my presence here is a fraternal presence, a visit to the brothers who work here, in order to encourage them and to let myself be encouraged in order to follow more close the Christ as Friars Minors.
What is the message of Saint Francis for this world? Does the Order need major changes?
Fr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo: From the beginning, when we have thought about this centenary, I thought about it in the terms of conversion, to follow every day more closely Jesus Christ, poor and crucified. I am convinced that we have to change, convinced that this is not a simply folkloristic celebration or commemoration, but a celebration that must bring us to rediscover and to live with more enthusiasm our following of Christ. We want to make ours the program that offered John Paul II to the entire Church: to make memory of the past with gratefulness, to embrace the future with confidence, to live the present with passion. And for this, we have divided this period in three moments:
Year 2006 - “Lord, what do you want me to do?” - Discernment.
Year 2007 - the year of the life project - to put the Gospel at the center of our life.
Year 2008/2009 - to celebrate the gift of the vocation. We want to say to the world that we are happy to be Friars Minors, that we are grateful to the Lord for this call, and to people for all their love.
I wish repeat my greeting of peace and good, and remind what Benedict XVI is always asking from us: let us open our lives, our existence to Christ; because when He enters into our lives, he is not taking away anything, but giving everything.
Jose Rodriguez Carballo Medjugorje