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Sisters of the Immaculate Placed Under Visitation

 

 

Well, I guess the ongoing persecution of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate was not sufficient for the powers that be at the Vatican.  Rorate Caeli gives us the disheartening details:

 

 

There can be no further doubts for anyone who still had any. There exists a plan for the systematic destruction of the Franciscans of the Immaculate and Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, the two Religious Institutes founded by Fr. Stefano Maria Manelli currently caught up in the storm.

On Monday 19 May 2014 João Cardinal Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, informed the Superior General of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate that he was to appoint, with immediate effect, a “Visitor” for the Institute with utmost powers which would make her a sort of “Commissar.” At the Generalate in Frattocchie near Rome, Sister Fernanda Barbiero of the Institute of the Sisters of St. Dorothy, a “grown-up” and “up-to-date” nun with moderately feminist tendencies and a follower (although somewhat later than all his other followers) of Jacques Maritain, has already been installed.

The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate are a Religious Institute of Pontifical Right distinguished by its very young average age, high number of locations, and especially the strictness of their charism in accordance with the Rule of St. Francis. Many of them are living an intense missionary apostolate in Africa, Brazil, and the Philippines, and others are living the contemplative life in a spirit of asceticism and prayer. The Sisters, drawing inspiration from St. Maximilian Kolbe, run publishing houses, radio stations, and print many popular magazines. This great apostolate, together with their love for Tradition, is certainly one of the reasons for the hatred many feel towards the Sisters and towards their Confreres (the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate).

On 11 July 2013, Cardinal Braz de Aviz entrusted running of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate to an “Apostolic Commissar” who, in less than one year, has shattered the Order and forced some of the best Friars to ask for dispensation from their vows and to leave an Institute which now looks like a bomb site, and they have tried to live their vocation to the Priesthood elsewhere. Continue Reading

10

PopeWatch: Friars of the Immaculate

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

Rorate Caeli has a report, translated from a story by Sandro Magister, which indicates that the ordeal of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, go here to read about it, may be coming to an end.

 

 

On Sunday, April 6, Pope Francis celebrated a mass in the Roman parish church of San Gregorio Magno alla Magliana. What he did not expect was for the pastor to introduce him to a couple, last name Manelli, six of whose nine children are members of the Franciscan Friars (two of the children) and Sisters (four of the children) of the Immaculate.

5

PopeWatch: Progressive Inquisition?

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

Rorate Caeli has commentary by Italian journalist Antonio Socci, a long time observer of the Vatican:

Libero  January 5, 2014

Does the Pope know what they are doing (in his name) to the “Franciscans of the Immaculate”? Just two days ago Francis rightly stated that “ the Gospel is not proclaimed with beatings, but with love and kindness.”
Yet, without reason or wrongdoing on their part, the Franciscans of the Immaculate have been stormed, thrashed and trashed. They are razing to the ground one of the few religious orders which is orthodox and full of vocations (and which was esteemed and supported by Benedict XVI).
The worst thing is that the destruction is being perpetrated in the name of Francis. But is it possible that the Pope of kindness approves of these methods and persecution?
THEY ARE AIMING TO STRIKE THE BEST
Moreover, the “Franciscans of the Immaculate” in the all-over disaster of religious orders (without vocations, often in doctrinal and disciplinary crisis, with many well-known errors) should be held as an example: in fact they live radically in poverty – living by charity, they have many vocations, lead a tough ascetic life, they do many works of charity for the poor and outcast, proclaim the Good News with missionary zeal and are obedient to the Church (during these past months of repression they have suffered everything in meekness and silence).
Many of the faithful have been shocked at the great tenacity by which the FFI have been targeted. There are people who are crying because of the forced removal of these good friars from the communities where they had been working up until now.
I have never had anything to do with them [directly] but, as an impartial observer, I admire them. And I wonder: why is there such harshness against religious who represent a great example of life and are a true spiritual reference for the faithful?
And yet, never has there been such great tenacity not even in the cases of religious, priests and theologians where there were great doctrinal or disciplinary problems (and others).
For example, the post- Council era was a catastrophe. Tens of thousands threw away their religious habit: “ideas contrasting the revealed Truth which had always been taught, were scattered around [everywhere]” affirmed John Paul II, “very real heresies were spread, in the fields of dogma and morals, creating doubts, confusion, rebellion and the Liturgy was even tampered with; immersed in “intellectual and moral relativism, and therefore in permissiveness, Christians have been tempted to atheism , agnosticism, vaguely moralistic illuminism, and by a sociological Christianity lacking defined dogmas and objective morality.”
THE JESUIT DISASTER
Also the Society of Jesus, as Bergoglio knows well, has been in the eye of the storm too and some of its members have fostered theological confusion. Yet there were no measures taken against them like the ones adopted today against the “Franciscans of the Immaculate”
According to official statistics from 1965 (when the Council ended) to 2005, the Members of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) fell by 45 per cent, the Salesians by 45 percent, the Friars Minor by 41per cent, the Capuchins by 29 per cent, the Benedictines by 35 percent and the Dominicans by 39 per cent.
By contrast the “Franciscans of the Immaculate” a religious family founded in the Seventies, by Father Stefano Maria Manelli and Father Gabriele Maria Pellettieri, immediately attracted many vocations. Continue Reading
8

Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Strike Back

Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate

 

Rorate Caeli has a response by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate to Father Volpi’s letter:

 

 

It is with deep sadness and consternation we learn that in the circular letter of the 8th December, addressed to all the Friars of the Immaculate, the most Reverend Father Volpi, accuses some of the most prominent exponents of the Sisters of the Immaculate, “of having contributed to the creation of a ‘distorted mentality’ in the Friars, strongly influencing their lifestyle.”

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Rorate Caeli Responds to Catholic World Report on the Friars of the Immaculate

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Yesterday in the comboxes there was a link to an article in the Catholic World Report on the persecution of the Friars of the Immaculate which painted a fairly rose colored picture of the situation.  Rorate Caeli responds with a report from  what they describe as a very well-informed source:

 

 

Michael J. Miller, writing for Catholic World Report, wishes English-speaking readers to hear the “other side” of the Franciscans of the Immaculate controversy, namely, the Commissioner’s side. Unfortunately, he has done so by uncritically repeating arguments, some of which were answered months ago, and others more recently.

 
Perhaps the first point he makes that is worthy of comment is the matter of the survey or questionnaire that was apparently the principal means by which the Apostolic Visit was conducted. It is surprising that anyone would trot this out again three months after it was debunked, but there it is.
 
 
For those who missed this the first time, we summarize: the percentage of friars who chose each of the four possible responses was not presented in a straightforward way like A, B, C, D. Instead, the public was given A, B/(100%-A), (C+D)/(100%-A). The fairly obvious intent was to boost the apparent percentages of those who thought that there was some problem, and especially to associate as high a percentage as possible with option D (a Commissioner is needed). Despite requests by the public to have separate figures for C and D, and to know how many friars responded (since it was certainly not all the friars), no further information was forthcoming. Since it was not, we are unable to determine the total who responded A, B, or C, that is, those who thought that if there were problems, they could be resolved by the Institute itself in a General Chapter.
 
Releasing manipulated data was a PR disaster, as Fr. Alfonso M. Bruno implicitly recognized by distancing himself in a letter to La nuova Bussola Quotidiana published 28 September. He wrote: “It is of no importance, for the purpose of this evaluation [as to whether or not a Commissioner was necessary] what the proportion among the various responses was.” So why were the percentages published in the first place?  Continue Reading
28

A Plea to the Pope

Pope

 

 

Pat Archbold has been on fire lately.  I gladly join him in his plea to the Pope:

Dear Holy Father,

I urgently need your help and so do others. I have heard all you have been saying for months and I want to believe it is true. I want to believe the you want to decentralize the authority of the Church. I know that you don’t want us to be hung up rules that limit our worship to just one way of doing things, that you want to do away with arbitrary rigidity. I know that you are concerned about the little guy, those in the Church with no voice.

Well, this is where I need your help. Holy Father, there is a group within the Church that currently has no voice and is being abused by that arbitrary, rigid, and centralized Church that is so destructive of evangelization.

Holy Father, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate need your protection from that very Church. As you know, months ago you appointed Rev. Fidenzio Volpi as special commissioner to oversee the FFI after five priests complained about the traditional direction of the order, with Mass in the extraordinary form a particular concern.

At the time, their ability to say mass in the extraordinary form as guaranteed under Summorum Pontificum was suspended. We were assured at the time that this was simply to make sure that those in the order that did not prefer the EF did not have it unfairly forced upon them. While the move was shocking to me and to many in traditionalist circles, we understood the need for fairness for all in this matter and we took a wait and see approach.

We have waited and we have seen. What we have seen has frightened and scandalized us to no end.

In the past few weeks, Fr. Volpi “has closed the friars’ seminary and sent its students to other religious universities. He suspended the activities of the friars’ lay movement. He suspended ordinations of new priests for a year and required future priests to formally accept the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and its new liturgy or be kicked out. And he decreed that current priests must commit themselves in writing to following the existing mission of the order.”

Holy Father, we have rarely if ever seen such sanctions even against groups in open defiance of the Church and in open heresy. But why is the Church, this centralized authoritarian Church, dealing so severely with this group? There have been no public accusations of wrongdoing or heresy. Nothing like that.

Fr. Volpi himself has stated, in response to criticism, that the reason for such draconian and disproportionate measures is that “the founder and ex- MinisterGeneral, Father Stefano Maria Manelli, in January 2012, had already evaded constructive dialogue with the religious who had complained of a crypto-lefebvrian and definitely traditionalist drift.

Crypto-lefebrvrianism? A traditionalist drift?

Dear Holy Father, is faithful traditionalism within the Church now a crime? Is becoming more traditional a sign of deficiency within an order? Holy Father, that cannot be! Continue Reading

16

Story on the Friars of the Immaculate Goes Viral

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Rorate Caeli has succeeded in having the story of the persecution of the Friars of the Immaculate, go here to read all about it, go viral, the story having been picked up by the Associated Press:

Below you will find a story from the Associated Press following our report on the breathtaking crackdown on the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (FI) by order of Pope Francis. Good reporting from AP’s Nicole Winfield ensures this story is told to a world-wide audience and that, God willing, relief for the order will come soon.

 
Read Rorate’s report here for what prompted this story to now go viral.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis may have been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year, but he has come under scathing criticism from a growing number of traditionalist Catholics for cracking down on a religious order that celebrates the old Latin Mass. The case has become a flashpoint in the ideological tug-of-war going on in the Catholic Church over Francis’ revolutionary agenda, which has thrilled progressives and alarmed some conservatives.
The matter concerns the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, a small but growing order of several hundred priests, seminarians and nuns that was founded in Italy in 1990 as an offshoot of the larger Franciscan order of the pope’s namesake, St. Francis of Assisi.
Then-Pope Benedict XVI launched an investigation into the congregation after five of its priests complained that the order was taking on an overly traditionalist bent, with the old Latin Mass being celebrated more and more at the expense of the liturgy in the vernacular.
While the order was in turmoil, the dispute at its core comes down to differing interpretations of the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council, which include the use of local languages in Mass that some considered a break with the church’s tradition.
Benedict, a great admirer of the pre-Vatican II Mass, had relaxed restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass in 2007.
The Vatican in July named the Rev. Fidenzio Volpi, a Franciscan Capuchin friar, as a special commissioner to run the order with a mandate to quell the dissent that had erupted over the liturgy, improve unity within its ranks and get a handle on its finances. In the same decree appointing Volpi, Francis forbade the friars from celebrating the old Latin Mass unless they got special permission, a clear rollback from Benedict’s 2007 decision.
In the weeks that followed, four tradition-minded Italian intellectuals wrote to the Vatican accusing it of violating Benedict’s 2007 edict by restricting the Latin Mass for the friars, saying the Holy See was imposing “unjust discrimination” against those who celebrate the ancient rite.
Volpi though was undeterred: He sent their founder, the Rev. Stefano Maria Manelli, to live in a religious home while he set about turning the order around [Rorate note: Fr. Manelli is basically on house arrest, not even permitted to speak to his family or friends].
And on Dec. 8, he took action, issuing a series of sanctions in the name of the pope that have stunned observers for their seeming severity: He closed the friars’ seminary and sent its students to other religious universities in Rome. He suspended the activities of the friars’ lay movement. He suspended ordinations of new priests for a year and required future priests to formally accept the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and its new liturgy or be kicked out. And he decreed that current priests must commit themselves in writing to following the existing mission of the order.
In a letter detailing the new measures, Volpi accused friars loyal to Manelli of seeking to undermine him and even accusing some of embezzlement. He denounced a cult of personality that has grown around Manelli, saying it “reveals a great spiritual poverty and psychological dependence that is incompatible with” the life in a religious community.
The sanctions seem harsh when compared to recent actions taken by the Vatican against other much larger religious orders or groups found to have doctrinal or other problems, such as the Holy See’s crackdown on social justice-minded American nuns or the Vatican’s reform efforts of the disgraced Legion of Christ. In both cases, a papal envoy was named to rewrite constitutions or statutes and oversee reforms, but Volpi’s actions with the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate would appear to go much further.
Traditionalists have charged that a double standard is at play, with a conservative, tradition-minded order being targeted for particular sanction on ideological grounds by a pope with a progressive bent. Continue Reading
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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. Continue Reading