Giacomo Bini (23 August 1938 – 9 May 2014) was a Franciscan priest. Ordained in 1964, he worked as a missionary in Africa, and was appointed Minister General of the Order of the Friars Minor (OFM) for the period 1997–2003. He was fluent in Italian, French, English, Spanish and Kiswahili.
In 1982, after expressing a wish to participate in the Africa project of his order, he was incardinated the Vice Province of St. Francis of Africa and Madagascar to establish the Rwanda Order of Friars Minor. Bini’s functions were those of Definitor and Vicar Provincial.The project envisaged three principles:
- Living as a Franciscan fraternity dedicated to listening and service for reciprocal conversion;
- To embody the charismatic ideal of Franciscan poverty and service to the poor, while maintaining close communion with the local Church.
- To live in a small parish in a poor area.
Bini was also active in advocating the development of a renewed relationship, based on ‘theocentric complementarity’, between the Franciscan order and the Sisters of St Claire. Both orders, he argued, from their common roots are “ecstatic”, in a nomadic pursuit of a humble, theocentric lifestyle based on “expropriation”, by which he means a mode of humble existence “sine proprio” (void of all personal attachments). The ascetic discipline conjoins self-impoverishment with an itinerary of seeking a flourishing matrix of relationships with others in a charismatic fraternity. This was the original legacy bequeathed by St. Francis and St. Claire, one that the world easily depauperates, but which, in his vision, the orders have jealously guarded for eight centuries. He admits however, that his own order has, in the past, neglected this foundational tradition of formative dialogue with its sister order. An ‘intrusive “masculism” or exaggerated feminism may have facilitated this separation’ in the past, and Bini argues for the urgency of renovating the relationship between a feminine order that undertook a vow of obedience to St. Francis, and the Franciscan order which assumed the responsibility to care for the sisters of the poor. Both orders began by a reciprocal trust which, while subordinating itself to the primary loyalty of the Church, “instilled in her a seed of gospel folly”, an evangelical folly which has played an important role on several occasions in refreshing the vigour of the wider Catholic order. In a return to their complementarity, Bini sees an important resource for the evangelical renewal of the Church itself.
He died, after a brief illness, on 9 May 2014. After a funeral mass celebrated by the present Minister General of the Order, Fr. Michael Perry, on 12 May at the Church of the Franciscan Sisters Missionaries of Mary in Grottaferrata, he was buried in the family tomb at Marino.