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2001-07-23

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Welcome to Carlos from Timothy

Fr. Timothy Radcliffe OP 

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I wish to share with you my joy at the election of Fray Carlos Azpiroz Costa as Master of the Order, my brother and my friend. When I was elected, Damian, the previous Master, joked that it was hard for an Irishman to announce the election of an Englishman. This time the Englishman had to announce the election of an Argentinean!

When I arrived at S Sabina nine years ago, after my election at the Chapter of Mexico, it was Carlos who welcomed me and took me to my rooms. He was finishing his doctorate studies at the Angelicum in Canon Law, but he had found time to prepare my rooms for me, and decorate them. Now they will be his rooms. He cooked a barbecue for the whole community and he made me feel welcomed and at home. Shortly afterwards he returned to Argentina to be Prior of the noviciate house at Mar del Plata. We all missed him. He returned to Rome five years later to be Procurator General.

Carlos is above all a joyful brother. His deep sense of fraternity must have been learned in his family. He is the eighth of fourteen children. He is immensely sensitive to how each member of the community feels (which cannot always be easy!). His sense of humour transforms meetings into celebrations. He is an excellent mimic, both of animals and of people (especially the former Master of the Order!). This has helped the General Council, and even the General Chapter of Bologna, to get beyond tensions when discussing difficult issues. When we are getting too serious, then one is likely to have the impression that a sheep or a dog has got into the room!

He is a wonderful preacher, as you will discover. When he preaches he is able to involve us all. I remember just before we left S Sabina for Providence, a group of Benedictine nuns came to a Mass which Carlos was presiding. Spontaneously in his homily he was able to bring them in and make them feel at home.

As Procurator General, I have been able to discover his deep understanding of Dominican Government. He was trained as Civil and Canon lawyer, but the purpose of law for him is not to control us. It is the guarantee of our freedom and our dignity. Above all he sees the Rule and the Constitutions of the Order as at the service of our Dominican life and mission. He has helped me to see how they embody a Dominican spirituality, of responsibility and freedom. He understands our democracy not only because he has studied it - his doctoral thesis was on the evolution Provincial Chapters - but because of his deep respect for each brother and for all levels of government.

One of the main tasks of the Master of the Order is to have care of its unity. This Carlos will be able to do so well because he is a man who transcends all ideology. He has the intellectual openness and the imagination to understand other people's positions, their fears and their hopes, but lead them into a larger space, beyond dichotomy.

As Procurator General he has had to examine all the requests for dispensation from the Order, and all the cases of those who have left the priesthood. This can be immensely painful task. Yet I have seen how he has exercised it with an immense compassion for every brother, trying to deeply understand the course of events that brought them to this situation. He has the compassion of Dominic.

These words are beginning to sound like the testimony for a canonisation, but you must be dead to be canonised. Carlos is very much alive, as you will discover. I am sure that you will come to love him as much as I do. Be kind to him and remember that he will sometimes need time to rest! puce


Timothy Radcliffe OP

 

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