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Persecution of Friars of the Immaculate Continues

Friars of the Immaculate

The persecution, I do not think that is too strong a word for it, of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate continues apace.  Go here to Rorate Caeli to read the infuriating details.  Here are Father Z’s thoughts:

 

 

 

The Commissar appointed by the Prefect of the Congregation for Religious, has imposed seemingly draconian restrictions and changes on the Friars.

I can’t say I know the inner dynamics of this controversy.  My sense is that the Friars had some serious internal problems.  By the time this all escalated to the point of intervention by the Holy See, I suspect an intervention was needed: they couldn’t handle it on their own, which is not unsurprising for young institute.

That said, having read a little about the interventions made by the Holy See’s Commissar, Fr. Volpi, I must say I find them disturbing.

Fr. Finigan has made some good comments.  He has his own blog but he has closed his combox.  My emphases and comments™:

The Franciscans of the Immaculate have been going through a trying time recently. This seems to be getting worse. Rorate Caeli posted yesterday several documents relating the Franciscans of the Immaculate, including correspondence from Fr Volpi, the appointed Commissioner for the Institute. [I don’t see that “Commissar” is too far off the mark.]

[NB] We could all think of Orders, Congregations and Institutes where members have written against magisterial teaching. [Ohhhh, yes.] Occasionally [read: rarely] there has been some intervention from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and in rare cases an individual has been suspended from teaching in the name of the Church. We all remember the furore over the polite and carefully worded report on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The negotiations with the SSPX broke down over the nuance of an expression concerning the level of acceptance of Vatican II.

In the case of the Franciscans of the Immaculate (who have not contradicted magisterial teaching on faith or morals) [Unlike countless weirdos of one religious order after another who have plagued the Church with their heresy and destroyed the faith and vocations of who know how many…] their superior has been removed, their seminary has been closed, and their members [get this…] are now to be asked to take an oath agreeing that the modern Roman rite is an “authentic expression of the liturgical tradition of the Church.[The first thing that popped into my mind as I read this was “Oath of Supremacy”.] I hope that I am not being intemperate in describing this as rather harsh. [as opposed to … draconian, cruel, drastic, oppressive, severe, brutal, extreme?] I certainly don’t recall others, whether liberal or traditionalist [Oh, Father!  Never a liberal!] being asked to swear to such a specific question of fact. [Let’s imagine the Congregation imposing an oath on the Jesuits not to challenge the legitimacy of the Extraordinary Form or the legitimacy of what Bl. John Paul II called the “legitimate aspirations” of the faithful.] There are after all library shelves full of books by liturgical radicals arguing precisely the opposite: that the Novus Ordo was a a liberation from the encrusted barnacles of tradition and the opening of a bright new future for creative liturgy. Will they be administered an oath in which they must swear that it is an authentic expression of the liturgical tradition? [Rem acu.]

It would be reasonable to require those in communion with the Church to accept that the modern rite is, in itself, a valid rite for the celebration of the Eucharist. (Otherwise you would have to say that the Masses of Blessed John Paul, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis were all invalid.) [Pay attention…] The question of whether it is an authentic expression of the liturgical tradition of the Church is surely a legitimate matter for debate within the wider discussion of the hermeneutic of continuity or rupture. Famously, Cardinal Ratzinger described it as a “banal on the spot product”: are we not allowed any longer to agree with him?  [Oh, dear Father.  You are now veering close to official bad-think.  You are making… and I can barely bring myself to say it… distinctions.  There! See what you’ve done?]

Actually, I think that the oath could be taken in good conscience anyway – the expression is capable of a range of interpretations without even the need for any mental reservation. Certainly the modern rite has many elements that have always been in the Roman liturgy, and has, broadly speaking, a traditional Roman structure with readings, offertory, canon, and communion in the traditional order. It is authentic in being valid for the celebration of the Eucharist, in being promulgated by a Pope and in being legitimate to use. [A person could still say that the Novus Ordo is valid, and even a legitimate expression of the Roman Rite, without ceding that it is as expressive as the older form.]

Please pray for the Franciscans of the Immaculate at this time of trial. Pray especially to Our Lady, Mediatrix, Auxiliatrix, Advocatrix and Co-redemptrix. Pray also to St Maximilian Kolbe.

I will say what I have said before.  Some of you won’t like this.

Right now liberals think they have the big mo.  They will – even in an antinomian way – work to oppress those who simply want to make use of the lawful, universal legislation in Summorum Pontificum.  They will seek to forbid anyone from making reference to the vision Benedict XVI provided and then established with provisions that have juridical force.  They will try to build a wall between Francis and Benedict, as repress those who want the older forms in the name of some new “spirit of Francis”.

Therefore, I urge you to three things.

First, tread carefully.  When you seek the implementation of, or continuation of, or expansion of the use the provisions of Summorum Pontificum, put your most cheerful and happiest foot forward.  You can lose what you have gained.

Second, do not give up.  This is the time to press forward.  Keep working for your legitimate aspirations.  What Benedict set down is not any less needed today than it was a year ago.  It is even more needed.

Third, when there is an opportunity in the parish to get involved with some project involving corporal works of mercy, be the first to volunteer and get involved.

Go here to read the rest.  I respectfully disagree with Father Z.  I think, in the words of Pope Francis, that orthodox Catholics need to go out “and make a mess” about this.  For two generations orthodox Catholics have seen dissidents flourish within the Church while those who seek to uphold the Faith have been treated at best with indifference and, at worst, treated as the Friars are being treated.  This needs to stop and until faithful Catholics stand up and say that this is a betrayal of traditional Catholicism, this type of rubbish will continue.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

19 Comments

  1. In my 50 years, I have seen the Catholic Church pull off its own version of a train wreck. Shortly before I entered Catholic school, the altar rails were torn out, Latin was abolished and the Baltimore Catechism was trashed. It was replaced by felt banners, guitars, and second graders as I was told to stand on the side altar and sing “Great Things Happen when God mixes with Man”. I kid you not, the parish priest gave permission for Terry Jacks’ lame “Seasons in the Sun” to be sung during a Mass. Later we got the laity on the altar reading Scripture, Communion in the hand, and Haugen/Haas/Dan Schutte and the St. Louis Jesuits. Throw in Liberation Theology, the Nuns on the Bus, Notre Dame giving obumbler an honorary doctorate………..

    Did anybody crack down on THAT? NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Whatever problems the FFI faced, Cardinal Aviz and Father Volpi have almost destroyed the order.

    My opinion is that Pope Francis developed a bad view of Traditionalism due to Richard Williamson being in Argentina. Well, we aren’t all Richard Williamson and Pope Francis would do well to remember that.

    I miss Pope Benedict.

  2. I feel obligated to point out in all charity and in accordance with the Magisterium (as most recently articulated by Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI) that the apparent reference to Mary as co-redemptrix is not doctrinally valid. This does not materially affect the rest of post.

  3. Ken: “I feel obligated to point out in all charity and in accordance with the Magisterium (as most recently articulated by Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI) that the apparent reference to Mary as co-redemptrix is not doctrinally valid”
    The Blessed Virgin Mary would not accept any adulation or praise that was not exactly correct. Assigning to Mary any act of redemption could be only through Jesus, as Mary is only human.

  4. Persecution??? What is there about the vow of obedience that you do not understand???
    Pride rears its ugly head once more……! The smell of moth balls in the so called Traditional orthodox church is overwhelming. Doctrinal ignorance and the desire for “the good old days” among those who profess this stance is a disgrace. The Church does not need another shameful schism, Marcel Lefebvre was enough ,thank you. Then add the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests…..well it’s hell open to Christians…..too much to take. Our Holy Father is bringing the emphasis of the Church back to what Jesus and yes, Saint Francis preached and shown us by example ” blessed are the poor in heart….there is the kingdom of heaven.”
    When Francis was told rebuild my church there was no debate, no question, no doctrinal quibbling…..he did what he was told.
    Leave all of your fiddle backs, maniples and shanty lace surplices back in the ecclesiastical museum where they belong PLEASE.

  5. Thank you Frank for that fine example of the tolerance extended by many within the Church to those of us who have the temerity to recall the astounding fact that the Church did not spring into existence in 1965.

  6. Although I most frequently participate in this blog-chat, one thing that concerns me in all the various discussions of substantial and sometimes not so substantial matters in St Blogsphere, is the use of excessive or even inflammatory language. I use a very easy ‘rule of thumb’ [or at least attempt to]: is this particular post, or response etc adding light on a subject or just more darkness; is it adding warmth (in the best sense-not the gushy political correct kind) or just smoke. The Communion of the Church is what is essential; this communion based on the full teachings of the Church, the full sacramental life of the Church, and communion with the Apostolic Governance of the Church [Pope and bishops in union with the pope]-and the deepest dimension and soul of it all, Charity-Agape, the very Presence of the Holy Spirit in the soul of the Church, with the Eucharist as the heart, and Christ as its head.

    The topic “‘what is really happening to or with the Friars of the Immaculate Conception” is an important issue. Why? Because the underlying issues are not what language they are or desire to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass in, nor in which form of the Roman Rite [Extraordinary or Ordinary form] they celebrate the Sacrifice. The underlying issue is the Communion of the Church in both the aspect of the full sacramental life of the Church and full communion with the governance of the Church-communion with the pope and bishops in communion with him.

    The issue seems to center around whether they believe/view/see the Ordinary Form as a valid, licit and genuine expression of the Roman Rite. It is not talking about any prohibition of the celebration of the Extraordinary Form [that has been dealt with once and for all, thankfully, by Pope Benedict XVI. When a group of Italian bishops sought Pope Francis to undo Pope Benedict’s rule, he not only declined to change anything but told them that it was here to stay (my translation lol). So, that is not the issue.

    I am not any expert on this situation, but I do know how to ‘interpret’ Church documents. If the Friars are being asked to sign ‘an oath’ concerning the Ordinary Form there must have been, in their internal dispute, some statements concerning not preferences of one Form of the Roman Rite or the other, but the validity of one of those forms-in this case, the Ordinary Form. That strikes at the fundamental communion with the full sacramental life of the Church-stating in so many words, that a very large portion of the Catholic Church is not even celebrating the true Sacrifice of the Mass, nor receiving the Sacrament of the Body Blood Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. if one takes a step back and sees it in this light, the perspective on this thing changes, and changes drastically.

    It is time for our liturgical wars to end. Would any one of us state the Liturgy in the Melkite, Byzantine, Maronite churches is invalid because of the language they use, whether they use leavened or unleavened bread, of in this case whether they celebrate Mass behind or without an iconostasis? I bet we wouldn’t. There are two forms of the Roman Rite. The Roman Rite is only one of several rites [Roman, Ambrosian, Anglican usuage:(Sarum rite)] within the Latin rite. Many of our arguments are not based on essentials, as important as these issues are. To maintain one form of the Roman Rite is not valid, or is not a legitimate expression of the Roman Rite does strike at the essentials and breaks Communion in an extremely fundamental way.

    BTW while it is accurate to say that “Co-Redemptrix” has not been solemnly defined by the Magisterium of the Church it nonetheless is part of the patrimony of the Church. No less than the Second Vatican Council in Lumen Gentium spoke of Mary as Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, Mediatrix [see LG 61]

  7. It is not talking about any prohibition of the celebration of the Extraordinary Form [that has been dealt with once and for all, thankfully, by Pope Benedict XVI. When a group of Italian bishops sought Pope Francis to undo Pope Benedict’s rule, he not only declined to change anything but told them that it was here to stay (my translation lol). So, that is not the issue.

    Uh huh.

  8. Frank Gentile, you are speaking of things which you do not understand. That much is clear.

    Botolph, the only group I know of that calls itself Catholic and dismisses the Mass of Pope Paul VI is the SSPX. The stink about the FFI began when certain friars were mad about the other friars developing a preference for the Extraordinary Form.

    Given the hostility in much of the Church hierarchy to the EF, Fr. Volpi’s actions do not surprise me. Sadden me, anger me, definitely, but I am not surprised.

  9. Penguins Fan,

    I am sorry to say that I do indeed know not every member of the hierarchy was happy with Pope Benedict’s Summorum Pontificem [Hope I spelled that right]. But none are ‘making’ parishes with the Extraordinary Form to take such an oath—and to be honest, that would be a horrendous travesty.

    I was being a bit careful how I approached the subject. I am aware that the SSPX has grave questions, and in some cases doubts about the Ordinary Form. To be honest I do not want to in any way cause more friction and division than we already have. However, from what I have read (and it is more than the info from Fr Z) there were three splits among the Friars. They were founded and began with what we now term as the Ordinary Rite. When Pope Benedict’s ruling came forward some desired to have the Extraordinary Form. That caused some friction but was not the end of the world. What really blew up was a portion of the group that desired the EF becoming further radicalized, some sources say by some woman religious who was extremely close to if not a member of a splinter group-I am not at all positive it was SSPX-that’s why I did not go in that direction and want to say now, I just do not know the source of that radicalization. The radicalization radically questioned the OF far beyond preferences, likes etc., striking as I said at a much deeper issue: the Communion of the Church. But the radicalization did take place in that third group-tore apart the portion that wanted the EF and caused havoc with that portion of the community still participating in and celebrating the OF. I don;t believe the order is that big so you can just imagine how this sort of division caused extreme stress to such a young order.

    If I am wrong on any of this, I have not intentionally misstated or intentionally attempted to mislead anyone. I learned of it from sources I consider to be objective and truthful. I was curious why it happened, given Pope Benedict’s rule and Pope Francis’ agreement with it. I kept questioning why were the Friars singled out-and this is what I have discovered-so far.

  10. During the life of Saint Francis, some members of his group tried to ouster him (Francis) as head of the Franciscans. In this instance to my understanding, several members of the FI complained to the Vatican, resulting in the oath. In Francis’ time and now, there is nothing stopping the plaintiffs from starting their own branch of FI, much like Mother Teresa of Calcutta did when she started the Missionaries of Charity.

  11. Are we seeing a “Unigenitus moment,” when the “Peace of Clement IX,” brokered in 1669, was brought to an abrupt end in 1705, by Vineam Domini Sabaoth, in which Clement XI declared the Jansenist clergy could no longer hide behind “respectful silence?”

    Eventually, in 1713, Clement XI issued Unigenitus and demanded the subscription of the clergy to it. There was enormous resistance, with bishops and priests appealing to a future Council (and being excommunicated for their pains, in 1718). As late as 1756, dissenters were still being denied the Last Rites.

  12. Botolph: “It is time for our liturgical wars to end.” Well, I submit that the man who specifically crafted the inflammatory title of traditionals as “self-absorbed promethean neo-pelegians”in his very 1st official document( n. 94, in the oxymoronically-named Evangelii Gaudium; as well as many other unflattering jabs at the traditionals in other interviews) hasnt exactly declared a truce. In fact, the pillorying of the Franciscans of Mary Immaculate shows trad groups quite a sharp contradiction to where Pope Francis (PF) stands, and even shows the contradictions in his own thinking (again in EG): later in the same document urges (n.25o) “an attitude of openness in truth and in love [which] must characterize [ecumenical] dialogue.” No love for our own, though. As a case in point going on right now: In San Jose (CA) diocese, commencing over the last few weeks, the local bishop decided to have a show-down over the one Extraordinary Form chapel he has allowed (Oratory of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Santa Clara, CA) , a chapel which had been staffed by the Institute of Christ the King( a trad order “in union” with the Holy See. Now, this bishop has never been friendly to the Latin Mass, and had moved the TLM Mass group to this tiny chapel (it only seats 40 people), which they had to buy and pay for, to be “in compliance” with Summorum Pontificum. However, seeing that the winds had changed with the rise of PF, he recently began to insist on several specific changes and finally gave a list of demands and an ultimatum to the board of the Oratory in November (I have copies of the letters to the Oratory members) insisting that if they didnt comply, he would remove his approval, and he would pronounce them “in schism” (his words: he never was much of a canon lawyer to know that people who are trying to be in union with the Catholic Church cannot likely also be in schism). He apparently wanted to cut back the number of services (even tho’ the chapel is usually overflowing into the street) and it is claimed he may have wanted to insist that the people occasionally sit through a Novus Ordo Mass — these are rumors I havent substantiated yet—but what is clear, he decided if they didnt comply, he wouldnt allow the Institute of Christ the King to continue staffing the chapel —this much is clear in the letter in his own words. The outcome? The board consulted with their membership and decided to request the SSPX take over. And the SSPX did, effective Dec. 15th. They (the SSPX) now have a high-profile site right within two short blocks of Santa Clara University, where the bishop’s worst nightmare is unfolding: a series of Masses with erudite SSPX priests explaining the Lefebvre case, not just over the liturgy, but over the post-Vat2 fractures in Catholic theology (religious freedom; other churches (and non-Christian faiths) equivalent to the Cath Church; universal salvation; etc) and explaining what they stand for. No: the religious wars are no where near over, and one group that shows a spiritual muscularity about being ready to “stand in” to the fight is the SSPX. So much for the “Franciscan” spirit of this papacy.

  13. I know that if there were an SSPX chapel in our area, I’d occasionally go to it (and haul along the boys). Where else are they going to hear the Latin they’ve been studying?

  14. Steve Phoenix

    “ insisting that if they didnt comply, he would remove his approval, and he would pronounce them “in schism” (his words: he never was much of a canon lawyer to know that people who are trying to be in union with the Catholic Church cannot likely also be in schism)”

    And, low and behold, rather than obey their ordinary, they do go into schism, by inviting in the SSPX.

    “[S]chism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him. (c 751)

  15. Ahhh, Michael P-S is judge and jury on the members of the Oratory, pronouncing they are in schism, yet without any specific facts of the matter (which I have indicated are not yet fully known). Glad to hear how cool and calm and objective you are Michael P-S. And also, Michael P-S, if a bishop orders one not to reveal to the police the abuse of children, and one does so, is such a person in schism?. According to your simplistic judgment, such a person is? Glad you arent a canon lawyer, Michael.

  16. The present Pope Francis scares me. I believe he is a liberal and will do much harm to our Church. I miss Pope John Paul ll and Pope Benedict!!!

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