Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Il Tempo Di Bernardino Da Portogruaro

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Il Tempo Di Bernardino Da Portogruaro

Article excerpt

1 tempo di Bernardino da Portogruaro. By Giuseppe Buffon. [Francescani in Europa.] (Assisi: Edizioni Porziuncola. 1997. Pp. xxv, 889. Lire 55,000 paperback.)

On October 4,1897, Pope Leo XIII formalized a major institutional reform of the Order of Friars Minor. It was known as the Leonine Union. Four branches of the Order (Observants, Reform, Discalced, and Recollects), each independent of the other but subject to a common Minister General, were amalgamated to become the modern Order of Friars Minor. Neither the Coventuals nor the Capuchins were involved. According to the Bull of Union (Felicitate quadam) unification was necessary for several reasons: the religious fervor characteristic of each group at its birth in the sixteenth century had naturally diminished over the centuries; the decrease in numbers and the damage to morale associated with the suppressions and exclaustrations of modern times; exemptions and privileges proper to each group which made it impossible for the Minister General to exercise his supreme authority in the Order; bitter quarrels, especially between the Observants and the Reform, which were causing public scandal and inhibiting the pastoral ministry of the friars. Exasperated by repeated appeals for their intervention to resolve these disputes, the Congregations for Bishops and Regulars and the Propagation of the Faith had readily agreed with their consultors (a Discalced Carmelite and a Redemptorist) when they suggested union as the answer to the Order's difficulties. Leo XIII needed little encouragement to support the idea and insisted that the matter be discussed at the General Chapter held in Assisi in 1895. Not without some pressure from the Chapter President, Aegidio Mauri, O.P, and subsequent protests, the delegates gave their assent. Two years later Leo decreed the implementation of the union.

Giuseppe Buffon examines the way in which Bernardino da Portogruaro, member of the Reform family and Minister General (1869-1889), promoted a renewal of the four families of the Order the ultimate consequence of which was the union just described. In this lengthy and detailed study he summarizes the state of the Order in Europe in the nineteenth century and demonstrates the complexity of the issues that gave rise to such bitter disagreement between the parties concerned and resulted in Rome's definitive intervention in 1897. …

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