PopeWatch: Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate



The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate and the Pope had a meeting on June 10.  Father Z gives us the details:


Oddly, we didn’t hear about this meeting before.  It happened on 10 June.  Usually the Pope’s meetings are listed in public sources, such as the Bolletino.

From Vatican Insider with my emphases:

The Pope speaks with the young Franciscans of the Immaculate

The meeting, which lasted an hour and a half, took place on Tuesday 10 June in the chapel of Santa Marta. On the Council, Francis endorsed the hermeneutic proposed by Benedict XVI


The meeting was held on Tuesday 10 June in the chapel of the Santa Marta Residence in the Vatican, despite the fact the Pope had been feeling under the weather and cancelled some appointments the previous day. For an hour and a half, Francis entertained around sixty Franciscans of the Immaculate, the order founded by father Stefano Manelli that last year the Holy See put under temporary receivership to resolve internal differences regarding the government, administration, relationship with the female branch and the use of the by new exclusive [sic] old missal and the interpretations of the last Council. Around forty seminarists, novitiates, and theology and philosophy students were present, along with their teachers and the pontifical commissioner, [aka Commisar] father Fidenzio Volpi.

The Franciscan Friars sang the Ave Maria di Fatima and renewed in the hands of the Pope their vows of total consecration to the Immaculate. Questions were then put to Francis on the most contested themes regarding the internal operations of the institution. Pope Bergoglio proved to be well informed on all issues, following the matter closely, and several times showed his appreciation for father Volpi, quelling rumours that the actions of the government of the commissioner and his collaborators were undertaken without the Pope’s knowledge. [So, the Pope knew what was going on.]

Following the assignment of commissioners and restrictions applied to the use of the old missal, which, as opposed to what happens under motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum”, in the case of the Franciscans of the Immaculate it can be used without prior authorisation from superiors, there were defections in the friars and the seminarists. Of 400 members in the world, around 40 have requested to be released from their vows, and around half of these are seminarists and therefor still students who had only made temporary vows.

[NB] On the motu proprio, [Summorum Pontificum] Pope Francis said he did not want to deviate from the line of Benedict XVI, and reiterated that the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate remained free to celebrate the old mass, even if for the moment, [?] in light of the controversies surrounding the exclusive right to use that missal – an element that did not constitute part of the founding charisma of the institution – they required “a discernment” with the superior and with the bishop if it concerned celebrations in parish churches, sanctuaries and teaching houses. [Excuse me, but… why?] The Pope explained that there must be freedom, both for those who wish to celebrate with the old rite, and those who wish to celebrate with the new rite, without the rite becoming an ideological banner. [And clearly it had.  But, now that this trip to the woodshed (fairly or unfairly) has been prosecuted, why not just let them get on with life?  Also, if Pope Francis is okay with the juridical changes made by Benedict, then why is the group getting hammered?  Is this a way of testing them?  Is this something that a former Jesuit provincial would do?  Force the group to make choices and test them?]

One question concerned the interpretation of the II Vatican Council. Francis once again expressed his appreciation for the work of Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, defining it as “the best hermeneutic” of the Council. [DI YOU HEAR THAT, FISHWRAP?  Remember what Pope Francis wrote to Marchetto?  HERE] He then responded to the objection according to which the II Vatican would only be a castoral [sic… I don’t think “beaver-like” but rather “pastoral”] council, which has damaged the church. The Pope said that although it is has been pastoral, it contains doctrinal elements and is a Catholic council, reaffirming the line of the hermeneutics of reform in the continuity of the one-subject church, presented by Benedict XVI in his speech to the Roman Curia in December 2005. He then reminded them that all councils have provoked uproar and reactions, because the demon “does not want the church to become strong”. [“the demon… il demonio”, which is The Devil.] He also said that we must move forwards with a theological and not ideological hermeneutic of the II Vatican.

Francis also said that he had wanted the closure of the theological institute within the Franciscans of the Immaculate (STIM), so that the seminarists would study in the pontifical theology faculties of Rome. He then explained that the Church guarantees orthodoxy through the Pope. [His Holiness, if he thinks that, should pay closer attention to his old colleagues at the Gregorian.]


Meanwhile, the fact of this meeting makes me scratch my head a little.  What I have been hearing is that some of the men want to leave the FFIs, maybe to form something else, perhaps under the aegis of the PCED.  So, it could be that some people are getting nervous.  Could it be that the powers that be have become aware of how many people are watching the situation of the FFIs?  Could this be damage control?  It’s pretty ugly, after all.

Go here to read the rest.  Father Z has a follow up post:

I turn to my email and find a link to a piece by the Vaticanista Marco Tosatti who writes for La Stampa. He drills into the travails of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. HERE  (My translation)

In sum, in the absence of serious and grave reasons [behind the treatment of the FFIs] I have to think that we are dealing with an internal war, waged in the Pope’s name, with the cruelty characteristic of closed environments and of all that touches on the liturgy.  In the guise of mercy.  But beyond the exemplary case of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, there has been a proliferation of individual cases, small things and less small, which make someone who is experienced with the ecclesiastical world, think that there has been set in motion an undeclared process [NB: “processo” has also an overtone of “trial” or “proceeding” – images such as kangaroo court and star chamber popped into my mind as I hit that phrase.  And then there is a classic phrase “undeclared war”.], but, even so, not any less effective.  One might think that the Pope doesn’t love all that has to do with traditionalism, and in particular with liturgy; and that, even if he officially defends the decisions of John Paul II and of Benedict XVI in this vein, certainly choices of openness toward that world [of traditionalism], deep down he has different sensibilities.

We all know about persecution of strong-identity Catholics from outside the Church.  We are also used to internal persecution.

But never fear!  There has been a statement from the Holy See Press Office about both the FFIs and the Legionaries of Christ! HERE

FFIs and the Legionaries?  Addressed together?  On the one hand, there men and women who, with the founder, were trying to live Franciscan ideals. More and more, over time, they turned to the traditional form of the Roman Rite to sustain their spiritual and apostolic lives.  They had an internal dispute that was fairly small but it was blown up into a huge deal.  Now they are being pretty much hammered by the Holy See.  On the other hand, you have a group that was massively dysfunctional because of the machinations of their founder, a lying incestuous deviant monster.   Disbanded?  Nahhh.

I guess that desiring what St. John Paul II called “legitimate aspirations” is pretty awful and must be stamped out before it gets, you know, out of hand.

Go here to read the rest.  The persecution of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate is despicable.  PopeWatch is fearful that there are forces within the Church that would prefer no Catholicism at all in preference to the traditional Catholicism of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.  Pray for us Prisoner 16670.

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  1. It was always obvious that the application of Summorum Pontificum to capitular and conventual masses would be a potent source of discord.
    Article 3 provides that “If an individual community or an entire Institute or Society wishes to have such celebrations [the extraordinary form] frequently, habitually or permanently, [saepe vel habitualiter vel permanenter] the matter is to be decided by the Major Superiors according to the norm of law and their particular laws and statutes.” Quo Primum, one recalls, referred the matter to the whole chapter.
    One might have expected the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei to provide more detailed guidance, but their Instruction simply provides that “The use of the liturgical books proper to the Religious Orders which were in effect in 1962 is permitted”
    Certainly, the Holy Father would not appear to be departing from SP by requiring “a discernment” with the superior; indeed, this would appear to accord both with the letter and the spirit of Art 3.

  2. How, then, after the period of both growth in vocations and Mass attendance, is it possible to view this particular requirement of discernment as a usual result of the Article, especially when the 1962 liturgical books were permissible and enough time went by to provide for the growth?

    It would seem, to a distant observer, that only certain intellects, with hearts faithful to Sacred Tradition, the Magisterium, and Sacred Scripture, maybe the Latin language of the Roman Church, are the chosen targets of ideologues in pastoral cloaks.

  3. Pat
    The reference to “iturgical books proper to the Religious Orders” refers to those that did not use the Roman Missal or the Roman Breviary, such as the Carmelites the Carthusians and the Dominicans, who had their own missals, or the monastic orders, Carthusian, Benedictine, Cistercian (both observances) that had their own breviaries, based on the Rule of St Benedict.

    Article 3 says that the use of the extraordinary form (not the particular rite of an order pre-dating 1962, such as the Dominican rite) “frequently, habitually or permanently” is to be decided by the Major Superiors, subject to the laws and statutes of the order, if there are any applicable and to the general law of the Church.

  4. “Following the assignment of commissioners and restrictions applied to the use of the old missal, which, as opposed to what happens under motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum”, in the case of the Franciscans of the Immaculate it can be used without prior authorisation from superiors, there were defections in the friars and the seminarists. Of 400 members in the world, around 40 have requested to be released from their vows, and around half of these are seminarists and therefor still students who had only made temporary vows.”

    I have to comment that this bothers me. Padre Pio, now St. Pio of Pietrelcina, unarguably was persecuted in his time by some of his religious superiors. Did he request to be released from his vows? No, he did not. He lived out his life in humility despite what was thrown at him.

    Here we have a traditionalist religious order of whom 10% of its members cannot find some way to stick with their mission and somehow make it work despite the obstacles that unfairly or not are thrown in their way. They are voting with their feet. I don’t know the full story. Perhaps I would leave too. But this looks to be a rather modernist outcome for a traditionalist order.

    Everyone in this story needs a lot of prayers.

  5. Pope Francis and father Volpi stepped in it when dealing with the FFI. I do not know how much Pope Francis realizes this. Nobody does.

    We continue to see and hear of disobedient priests, bishops, nuns and lay Catholics, but only the FFI gets busted. Don’t dare question anything from Vatican II, ever.

  6. Unseen is the virtue of mercy in the Holy Fathers treatment extended to the FFI. That which is so loudly
    Suggested that we peasants attain to ….. Is missing

    To compare these holy men to the Legionaries of Christ is a very public beating. Not even administered in the woodshed. What a ‘catty’ insult ! They have been mauled long enough ! I’m surprised that Father Manelli hasn’t had a heart attack.

    How do I know they are holy? I have attended so many of their Masses (all Novus Ordo) that I am firmly convinced. Reverent Masses they are. Homilies that have left me in tears…..of joy! Ah, the truth rings
    Clearly from their mouths. Clear as a bell!

    The quality of mercy is strained here…..

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