IN THE SFO RULE AND GENERAL CONSTITUTIONS
SFO Rule, 1978:
As a concrete sign of communion and co-responsibility, the councils on various levels, in keeping with the Constitutions, shall ask for suitable and well prepared religious for spiritual assistance. They should make this request to the superiors of the four religious Franciscan families, to whom the Secular Fraternity has been united for centuries.
SFO General Constitutions, 2000:
1. As an integral part of the Franciscan family and called to live the
charism of Francis within the secular dimension, the SFO has particular and
close relations to the First Order and the TOR .
2. The spiritual and pastoral care of the SFO, entrusted by the Church to the
Franciscan First Order and the TOR, is the duty above all of their general and
provincial ministers. The altius moderamen, of which canon 303 speaks, belongs
to them. The purpose of the altius moderamen is to guarantee the fidelity of the
SFO to the Franciscan charism, communion with the Church and union with the
Franciscan family, values which represent a vital commitment for the secular
1. The general and provincial ministers exercise their office with respect to the SFO through: -- the establishment of fraternities;
-- the pastoral visits;
-- the spiritual assistance to the fraternities at the various levels.
They may exercise this office personally or through a delegate.
2. This service of the religious ministers completes but does not substitute
for the secular councils and ministers to whom belong the guidance,
co-ordination, and animation of the fraternities at the various levels.
1. For all that concerns the SFO as a whole, the altius moderamen must be
exercised by the general ministers collegially.
2. It belongs to the Conference of General Ministers of the First Order and the TOR:
a. to take care of the relations with the Holy See concerning the approval of the legislative or liturgical documents, which need to be approved by the Holy See;
 From Franciscan history and from the Constitutions of the First Order
and the TOR, it is clearly evident that these Orders recognize that they are
committed to the spiritual and pastoral assistance of the SFO in virtue of their
common origin and charism and by the will of the Church. See Constitutions OFM,
60; Constitutions OFM Conv., 116; Constitutions OFM Cap., 95; Constitutions TOR,
b. to visit the Presidency of the International Council of the SFO;
c. to confirm the election of the Presidency of the International Council of
3. Each general minister, for his own Order, sees to the interest of the
religious for the SFO and to their preparation for service to it according to
the respective Constitutions and the Constitutions of the SFO.
1. The provincial ministers and the other major superiors, in the area of
their own jurisdiction, guarantee the spiritual assistance to the local
fraternities entrusted to the jurisdiction. They see to it that their own
religious are interested in the SFO and that capable and well-prepared persons
are appointed for the service of spiritual assistance.
2. It is the specific competence of the major superiors, in name of their jurisdiction:
a. to establish canonically new local fraternities and guarantee them spiritual assistance;
b. to animate spiritually and visit the local fraternities assisted by their own jurisdiction;
c. to keep themselves informed on the spiritual assistance given to the SFO.
3. The major superiors are responsible for the spiritual assistance to the
local fraternities which they have established.
4. The major superiors with jurisdiction in the same territory, are to
establish together the most adequate means to guarantee spiritual assistance to
local fraternities which, because of causes beyond their control, could remain
without such assistance.
5. The major superiors with jurisdiction in the same territory, are to
establish together the most adequate means for carrying out collegially their
mission with respect to the regional and national fraternities of the SFO.
1. By virtue of the vital reciprocity between the religious and the secular
members of the Franciscan Family and in regard to the responsibilities of major
superiors, spiritual assistance to the fraternities of the SFO at all levels
must be assured as a fundamental element of communion.
2. The spiritual assistant is the person designated by the competent major
superior to carry out this service for a specific fraternity of the SFO.
3. To be a witness of Franciscan spirituality and of the fraternal affection
of the religious towards the secular Franciscans, and to be a bond of communion
between his Order and the SFO, the spiritual assistant should be a Franciscan
religious, member of the First Order or the TOR.
4. When it is not possible to give such a spiritual assistant to the fraternity, the competent major superior can entrust the service of spiritual assistance to:
a. religious brothers or sisters of other Franciscan institutes;
b. diocesan clerics or other persons, specially prepared for such service, who are members of the SFO;
c. other diocesan clerics or non-Franciscan religious.
5. The previous authorisation of the superior or the local ordinary, when
needed, does not exempt the Franciscan major superior of the responsibility for
the quality of the pastoral service and of the spiritual assistance given.
1. The principal task of the assistant is to communicate Franciscan spirituality and to co-operate in the initial and continuing formation of the brothers and sisters.
2. The spiritual assistant is by right, with vote, a member of the council of
the fraternity to which he or she gives assistance and collaborates with it in
all activities. The spiritual assistant does not exercise the right to vote in
a. the general assistants give their service to the Presidency of the International Council of the SFO, form a conference, and collegially see to the spiritual assistance to the SFO as a whole;
b. the national assistants give their service to the national council, see to the spiritual assistance to the SFO in the whole territory of the national fraternity and, at the national level,
to the co-ordination of the regional assistants. If they are more than one, they form a conference and give their service collegially;
c. the regional assistants give their service to the regional council and see to the spiritual assistance to the regional fraternity. If they are more than one, they form a conference and give their service collegially;
d. the local assistants give their service to the local fraternity and its
1. The council of the fraternity at each level requests suitable and prepared
assistants from the competent superiors of the First Order and the TOR.
a. the Presidency of the International Council of the SFO requests the general assistant from the respective general minister;
b. the national council requests the national assistant from the major superior, indicated collegially by the major superiors with jurisdiction in the territory of the national fraternity;
c. the regional council requests the assistant from the major superior, indicated collegially by the major superiors with jurisdiction in the territory of the regional fraternity;
d. the local council requests the assistant from the major superior of the
jurisdiction responsible for the assistance.
3. The competent major superior, having heard the council of the fraternity concerned, appoints the assistant according to the norms of these Constitutions and of the Statutes for Spiritual and Pastoral Assistance to the Secular Franciscan Order.