PopeWatch: Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate

The squalid war against the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate continues apace, and Rorate Caeli gives us the grim details:


  • The FSI (Sisters) were assigned a commissioner (Noris Adriana Calzavara of the Suore Rosarie di Udine) and two co-commissioners by a decree of the Congregation for Religious. Since the Congregation did not have its decree approved in forma specifica by the Pope, it was open to be challenged in the Signatura. The challenge resulted first in a reduction of the powers of the commissioners. It looked as though a further challenge would lead to the decree being be overturned altogether early this year. 
  • However, before it was overturned, the Congregation went to Pope Francis and got his personal approval for a fresh assignment of the same commissioner. This was obviously very demoralizing for the sisters, who thought they were about to regain their autonomy.
  • The FSI have been ordered by their commissioner not to accept postulants for three years. The Sisters, which we are told numbered around 500 before these attacks, now amount to half of that.
  • The FSI are closing their House in New Bedford, Massachusetts, which ends their North American Mission as there will be not a single convent left in the United States. 
  • The FFI (Friars) were forced to close and end their Australian Mission earlier in the year. We hear the Sisters may leave as well, but do not have solid enough reporting on this to say it’s 100%. But we feel compelled to report it if there’s any chance of exposure and pressure stopping the move. 
  • About that same time of the Austrian Mission ending, Archbishop Ramon Cabrera Argüelles of Lipa, was “resigned” from his episcopacy. He was guilty of having approved a public association of the faithful made up of ex-FFIs, but since that’s not a crime, he was accused of — and apparently framed for — something unrelated.
  • In late January/early February, the FFI commissioners spoke of having the General Chapter of the Institute this past September. The Chapter would approve the new constitutions and elect the new Minister General, and the Congregation’s approval of this would end the period under a commissioner. Multiple sources tell us the principal targets of the reform appear to be the Marian Vow and poverty in common (i.e., the rule that not only individual members, but also the Institute as a legal person, are not capable of having property).
  • The Marian Vow has, in the view of many Friars, been eliminated in the new formula of profession promulgated with “dubious legality” and used in the professions in Italy in September of last year. The Friars did not vow to live in total consecration to the Immaculate (which comports three juridical obligations defined in their present constitutions), but vowed total availability to go to the missions in view of their consecration (which is the third of those obligations). 
  • It was surprising to those who asked for a commissioner that the issue of the traditional Latin Mass has disappeared and been replaced by other changes they did not desire. Some sort of prohibition in this sense might be included, but it is clearly not the main interest of the commissioners.
  • The General Chapter has obviously not been held. It is reasonable to think that this is because it would not achieve the desired end (the gutting of the constitutions), although no reason has been announced. 
  • The number of Friars interested in eliminating the Marian Vow could probably be counted on one hand, and perhaps on one finger. Therefore it is necessary (1) to significantly stack the deck in terms of voting members of the chapter, or (2) to convince those voting that the Marian Vow has not been eliminated, but merely clarified, or (3) to find Friars willing to vote for constitutions they don’t like but are willing to accept for secondary motives (exaggerated respect for the Holy See, fear of suppression, etc.)
  • Another possible (and likely) reason why the General Chapter has not taken place is that the commissioners have still not succeeded in getting control of the goods the Institute uses. These goods belong to non-profits, which are controlled by laymen, so that the Institute does not have effective ownership of anything. At the beginning of February, when the Congregation and the commissioners thought they could hold the chapter is September, Fr. Stefano M. Manelli was ordered to hand over ownership of the goods to the Institute, but he simply replied he has no legal power to do so.
  • While we can say the Sisters have been halved to 250 with some confidence, we cannot report on the current number of Friars, although we know of many who have left the order to another, or left for the world. We know of seminarians — some who were ready to be ordained to various positions the day after the seminary was closed! — who lost their vocations. There used to be a yearbook listing all of of the friaries and Friars, but the commissioners no longer publish them. They don’t even distribute a list of addresses and phone numbers for the friaries.

Go here to read the rest.  This war against the faithful is the current pontificate in miniature.  This Pope is not technically an anti-pope, but he is certainly the almost complete opposite of what a pope should be.  May God forgive him and the Cardinals who elected him.


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  1. Do the Franciscan Friars have an Argentine chapter? I’d be fascinated to know the source of the venomous campaign against them.

  2. If any man still holds to the delusion that this Pope is benign but
    misunderstood, he has only to read about Francis’ slow strangulation
    of the FFI to correct that notion. What Francis is doing is malicious,
    it is premeditated, and it is absolutely without mercy.

    Any future concern-trolling this Pope might do about the vocations
    crisis should be taken with a very large grain of salt. He floats the
    idea of re-examining the practice of priestly celibacy, and gives
    attention to advocates for ordaining women to the diaconate, all
    in the name of necessity because of the dearth of vocations. And
    yet he has gone out of his way to crush a congregation that was
    bursting with seminarians. Ah, but they were the wrong sort
    of vocations…

  3. I don’t doubt the questionable-ness of this Pope, but why the FFI and the Sisters? Has he attacked the FSSP or the Institute of Christ the King? And he has made some nice overtures to the SSPX (as is my understanding).
    Are the FFI/FSI just the right size/age for attack? And the other congregations are older with a deeper root system? Perhaps they are next on the docket?

  4. When an innocent priest is accused of a heinous crime and then is wrongfully sentenced for that crime, the sufferings to come are not unlike the sufferings of Christ prior to crucifixion. I hope the innocent priest recalls that abuse and joins his prayers to Jesus in an offering of redemptive suffering.

    So too for the Order.
    I hope the Friars and Sisters seize the opportunity to unite their sufferings to Christ.
    Maybe by offering their sufferings to Jesus they can have a profound effect upon those who have wrongfully attacked their order. Including those in authority who preach mercy yet show none to Our Lady’s orders; Sisters of the Immaculate and Francisan Friars.

    Unknown to us but known only to God, is the ramifications of their prayers and the good that will be brought about. After all, if you happened upon Christ’s crucifixion as you we’re coming into Jerusalem, how could you know that what you were witnessing was the greatest act of love in all time?

  5. I don’t doubt the questionable-ness of this Pope, but why the FFI and the Sisters?
    I’ll wager someone’s very personal vendetta.

  6. The FFIs did –maybe still do?–have an apostolate in Argentina which was just out of the reach of the Cardinal. One report said they moved to be out of his reach but not sure about that. He was known to not be in favor of traditional things even then.

  7. I believe the FFI have a connection to St. Maximilian Kolbe’s efforts to fight Freemasonry, perhaps were founded to combat its evils. If there are strong connections to Freemasonry in the Vatican, as many are positing these days, that could be why. (This is the only way I could make sense of it all.)

  8. Not an anti-pope?

    And if not, what actions would an anti-pope do that are different from this pope’s? Thinking…

    Still thinking…

  9. Why the FFI? Even the brief synopsis above clearly specifies the target of the Bergoglian onslaught:the Marian Vow. St Maximilian says of the Immaculata: Behold our Ideal! The goal of Total Consecration is to “become Her” by being more closely conformed to Her Son in every way.

    But Bergoglio holds before us an incompatible “ideal”–our own sinful self-indulgence, repackaged as “the best we can do” and “all that can be expected of anybody.” For his Amoris agenda to gain traction, his first and necessary accomplishment must be to eradicate authentic Marian devotion–which is exactly what he set out to do.

    That is why Total Consecration, specifically in its Kolbean form, is the antidote to our present ills and the pathway from here to Heaven.

  10. This brought to mind the letter written by Pascal’s sister Jacqueline, a nun of Port Royal, when it was threatened with suppression: “What are we afraid of? Banishment and dispersion for the nuns, confiscation of temporal goods, prison and death, if you will? But isn’t this our glory and shouldn’t it be our joy?”

    She adds, with more than a trace of her brother’s satiric wit, “I know very well that it is not up to girls to defend the truth, although one might say, on the basis of the recent sad events, that since the bishops currently have the courage of girls, the girls must have the courage of bishops. Nonetheless, if it is not up to us to defend the truth, it is up to us to die for the truth and prefer anything rather than abandoning it” [Letter of 23 June 1661].

    It was this same Jacqueline who, on 24 March 1656 had applied the relic of the Sainte Épine (a thorn from the Crown of Thorns) to the eye of her niece, Marguerite Perier, who had suffered for 3½ years from a fistula lacrymalis. The bones of her nose had become carious and the palate perforated.

    The cure was complete and immediate. Word spread, people flocked to Port Royal, Soon, there were another 14 cures, then 80.

    The king ordered the chapel of Port-Royal to be closed to the public, leading to some wit affixing a sign to the door:

    « De par le roi,
    Défense à dieu
    De faire miracles
    En ce lieu »

    [The king forbids God to work miracles here]

  11. Helen Weir and MPS..

    Yes Helen…mini-co-redeemers if you will but only with, in and through the Immaculata, hence belonging completely to her. “…that you may use me for the coming of the Kingdom of Jesus in the whole world.”. (part of our daily renewal prayer of Total Consecration.)
    She is not as white as snow in a discrimination of her union with the Holy Spirit. She is whiteness itself hence her words to St. Bernadette; “I Am the Immaculate Conception.”


    Great story. Weak Bishops? Wow.
    History repeating itself.
    Strong girls? You bet. Our Sisters in the faith are mountain movers.

  12. Steve Phoenix wrote, “what actions would an anti-pope do that are different from this pope’s?”

    Refuse submission to a legitimate pope. In other words, to be an anti-pope, there must be a pope he opposes

  13. To Mr.Patterson-Seymour.

    I, too, am reminded by this pope’s action of Pascal. So I read again the first chapters of his “ provincial Letters.” The Jebbies have not changed.

  14. The fundamental problem is that we Catholics have a Pietyphobic Pope.

    Do you remember when he stopped to pry apart the hands of the altar boy in the Vatican Crypt?

    He is put off by piety.

    He is not complicated.

    He visibly cringes at simple piety and holiness and the FSi are too holy and pious for his liking.

    No, if you want to keep Francis comfortable, surround him with trannies, circus clowns, Italy’s most famous abortionist, hand-holding queer clergy etc

  15. @ MPS: Don’t drink too much of that gnat-soup, save space for the main course. Camel. Of course.

    Still thinking..

  16. John Schuh
    “”Know then that their object is not the corruption of manners [corrompre les mœurs] – that is not their design. But as little is it their sole aim to reform them- that would be bad policy. Their idea is briefly this: They have such a good opinion of themselves as to believe that it is useful, and in some sort essentially necessary to the good of religion, that their influence should extend everywhere, and that they should govern all consciences. And the Evangelical or severe maxims being best fitted for managing some sorts of people, they avail themselves of these when they find them favourable to their purpose. But as these maxims do not suit the views of the great bulk of the people, they waive them in the case of such persons, in order to keep on good terms with all the world. Accordingly, having to deal with persons of all classes and of all different nations, they find it necessary to have casuists assorted to match this diversity.” – Les Provinciales V

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