Fr. Saverio Cannistra's Letter to the Holy Father on behalf of all Discalced Carmelites:
Our family of Discalced Carmelite friars, nuns, and seculars bids you the warmest welcome. With the simplicity our fathers and mothers in Carmel have handed down to us, we open the doors of our hearts to you. Count on us, Your Holiness; on us, your sons and daughters in Christ Jesus.
Our Holy Mother Teresa taught us to live the gift of faith in a communion of love with the Church, in the spirit of obedience to the Vicar of Christ, placing our lives at the service of the Kingdom. This we have done with your predecessors and this we will do with you.
Keeping in our hearts a profound gratitude towards your predecessor, Benedict XVI, whose life has helped us so much to set our eyes on Christ, we have lived with trusting serenity, expectant prayer, and elated joy the election of a new Pope. Every day we told the Lord: “Show us who you have elected to guide the barque of Peter in this time of grace.” Now that we have seen you, we welcome in Your Holiness he whom God has sent to us.
Our heartfelt thanks for having said yes. We imagine it was not easy to do, faced with the arduous tasks awaiting you. But we have seen in your countenance the true humility of he who offers himself as an instrument of the Lord, who allows Him to work through his words, his decisions, his actions. In Your Holiness we have once again recognized the work of the Spirit, his renewing strength, which contains continual surprises for his faithful, and for that we give thanks to God.
Holy Father, we want to tell you with a bit of daring that we want to be your friends. We want our family of Carmel to be like a new Bethany for Your Holiness, where you can rest from your labors and where, together, we can talk about what we most love: our Friend Jesus Christ, his Church, the poorest of our times. The name
you have chosen encourages us to do so: the name of who, following the footprints of Christ, has always wanted to be the smallest among his brothers.
We will be missionaries with you when you undertake the journey to announce the Gospel to the whole world. We will join Your Holiness when you proclaim with courage and strength the peace and justice of the Kingdom of God. When the cross appears, you will have us beside you to embrace it with you. And we will
also be at your side when you retire in prayer to speak to the Heart of Jesus.
We place your pontificate under the protection of Mary, who for us is the “Flower of Carmel, fruitful Vine, Splendor of Heaven, Virgin Mother, Mother most tender, Star of the Sea.”
May God bless you!
Your sons and daughters of the Discalced Carmel.