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Bearing witness to the Gospel by promoting ecumenical and interreligious dialogue and dialogue with culture following the methods and example of St. Francis of Assisi. It is this spirit that inspired friars minor to open a new Franciscan Fraternity in Smyrna (modern-day Izmir), in central-western Turkey. The General Curia of the Order of Friars Minor informed Vatican news agency Fides, the current Minister General Fr. Michael A. Perry and his General Definitory have decided to set up a new community in Smyrna to flank the existing one in Istanbul.
These are international fraternities composed of friars who hail from every corner of the world, Fides reports: It was Friar Hermann Schalück, former Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor who in 1995 had the intuition to establish an international Franciscan presence during a visit to Bartholomew I. Subsequently, the first fraternity for ecumenical and interreligious dialogue was built in Istanbul. It bears testimony to an evangelical way of life, promoting ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, being in communion with the local Church and offering a permanent training service to the Order. 12 years on, the project has grown and a second fraternity is now born.
Istanbul-based Franciscans explain that “the dimension of evangelization is primarily lived in the development of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. Among the various annual activities, there are: the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, exchange and visits to Muslims brothers during Ramadan, a permanent formation course on ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, which has reached its 12th edition (the one in 2016 will be held in Istanbul from October 13 to 28), an interfaith prayer meeting in the spirit of Assisi, as well as various activities in the local Church”.