The Order currently has twenty-five archbishops and bishops serving around the world. It also has two cardinals. They were created during the last two consistories ordered by Pope Francis. On November 20-22, 2023, eighteen of these Conventual Franciscan bishops came to the General Curia in Rome and stayed at the Friary of the Twelve Holy Apostles. On November 23, the bishops made a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Francis in Assisi. This gathering was part of the 800th anniversary celebration of the confirmation of the Later Rule.

The bishops’ time in Rome began with an evocative Mass in the crypt of the Basilica of the Twelve Holy Apostles. It continued with greetings from the Minister General, Friar Carlos TROVARELLI, who gave a reflection on the Later Rule. Over the next two days, the bishops heard three very detailed lectures. The first was by the Most Reverend Felice ACCROCCA, Archbishop of Benevento, Italy. He talked about episcopal ministry in the light of the Later Rule. The second was by Father Antonio SPADARO, SJ. He lectured on episcopal ministry in the magisterium of Pope Francis. The third was by the Most Reverend Filippo IANNONE, Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Legislative Texts. He discussed religious men being elevated to the episcopate and how the juridical and fraternal ties with their Orders are affected.
In between the lectures, the bishops talked at length about their experiences, creating an open discussion on ecclesial issues and perspectives, as interpreted in different cultures around the world.
On Wednesday November 22, the bishops went to St. Peter’s Square for a general audience with the Holy Father. They wore their religious habit as a tangible sign of their Franciscan identity at the service of the universal Church. They also gave the pope an icon of St. Francis and an envelope containing a financial contribution, symbolizing their solidarity with doing charitable works. Once the audience was over, His Eminence Cardinal Mauro GAMBETTI presided over Mass in the crypt of the basilica, in front of the tomb of the Vicar of Christ. It was also the anniversary of Cardinal GAMBETTI’s episcopal ordination, which took place at the basilica of Assisi in 2020. The morning at the Vatican concluded with lunch provided by our friars at the Vatican Penitentiary.
The pilgrimage to the city of Assisi and the tomb of St. Francis symbolized a return to the source of our charism. It was also an opportunity to meet the General Custos of the Sacred Convent, Friar Marco MORONI, and to celebrate the birthday of His Eminence Cardinal François BUSTILLO.
The cardinals present at the meeting were Friars Mauro GAMBETTI and François BUSTILLO, Bishop of Ajaccio (Corsica) France. The archbishops and bishops present included Friar Marco TASCA, Archbishop of Genoa, Italy; Friar Roberto CARBONI, Archbishop of Oristano, Italy; Friar Jerzy MACULEWICZ, Apostolic Administrator of Uzbekistan; Friar Nicolay DUBINN, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow, Russia; Friar Martin KMETEC, Archbishop of Izmir, Turkey; Friar Dominique Joseph MATHIEU, Archbishop of Tehran-Ispahan, Iran; Friar César ESSAYAN, Apostolic Vicar of Beirut, Lebanon; Friar Patrick CHISANGA, Bishop of Mansa, Zambia; Friar Gregory HARTMAYER, Archbishop of Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Friar John Eric STOWE, Bishop of Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Friar Vincent Long Văn NGUYỄN, Bishop of Parramatta, Australia; Friar Janusz Marian DANECKI, Auxiliary Bishop of Campo Grande, Brazil; Friar Stanisław DOWLASZEWICZ, Auxiliary Bishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia; Friar Giuseppe PIEMONTESE, Bishop Emeritus of Terni-Narni-Amelia, Italy; Friar Berard Toshio OSHIKAWA, Bishop Emeritus of Okinawa, Japan; and finally, Friar Gabriel Enrique MONTERO UMAÑA, Bishop Emeritus of San Isidro de El General, Costa Rica.

Friar Maurizio DI PAOLO, Procurator General