Fr. Z on Fr. Finigan on the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate

His Hermeneuticalness, the mighty P.P of Blackfen, the Dean of Bexley, the indominable Fr. Timothy Finigan opines on the situation the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate are faced with.

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.

Be exemplary in your joyful mien, your determination, and your charity.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Be The Maquis, Benedict XVI, Francis, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liberals, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests, Our Catholic Identity, Reading Francis Through Benedict, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, Wherein Fr. Z Rants and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Legisperitus says:

    The “corporal works of mercy” advice is very important.

    When the fledgling Latin Mass community in my diocese was struggling to start up and stay in existence during the rough years between Ecclesia Dei and Summorum Pontificum, we were helped immeasurably by the leadership of an outstanding gentleman (RIP) who had gained tremendous respect in the Catholic community for his pro-life work, active service to his parish, and just plain goodness. He was the one who could always find us a priest when we needed one; most priests didn’t really want to say the old Mass, but they wouldn’t turn him down. [There it is.]

    If exemplary Catholics get behind Summorum Pontificum, it will lighten the opposition.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  2. acricketchirps says:

    If exemplary Catholics get behind Summorum Pontificum, it will lighten the opposition.

    Crap! I knew there was a catch.

  3. Woody says:

    Many thanks for this, Father. My own hunch (and it is only a hunch, I have no inside knowledge) about the motivation for the harsh measures is that it was a combination of the expansion (but no the point of exclusivity) of the Extraordinary Form in the Institute, plus (and here I think is an important element), the publication of Brunero Gherardini’s books by the FI’s Italian publishing arm, Casa Mariana (note that they have been shut down by Msgr Volpi), and I believe other signs of favor given to Msgr Gherardini, that provoked the repression, which one Italian author is not reluctant to brand Stalinist. To me, this seems to get back once again to the point about the interpretation of Vatican II and an assessment of its usefulness. Gherardini ended up merely asking the Holy Father Pope Benedict for clarification of the many disputed points, and presumably the Holy Father’s health did not permit such a massive undertaking, so we are left with the good old bureaucrats just trying to squelch voices that are asking questions which, one must say, maybe the said bureaucrats and their ilk cannot really answer, and they know it.

    I have said before, you would think that in the exercise of charity, the Pope and his confreres would take the effort to explain things about the Council’s troubled parts clearly to the faithful who are having difficulties with them, but it seems that no such effort is made. For all their talk about compassion and participation and the like, they end up by cramming down our throats the old “pray, pay and obey” message that the Council’s proponents said was being done away with.

    Maybe, to use a Balthasarian theme, the bastions of the Church have not been razed after all, just occupied by a different army.

  4. excalibur says:

    I had linked to several articles regarding this on two other topic pages of this blog. I am glad to see your comments Father ( I had asked for you to comment). I believe I referred to Fr. Volpi as a commissar in one of them. There is a petition being circulated to have Fr. Volpi removed, doubtful it will do any good, but the Lord works in mysterious ways.

  5. juventutemDC says:

    Thank you Fr. Z for your encouragement at the end! We encourage everyone to pray– that all will be spared from having hearts of stone. Juventutem DC is committed to its tag line:

    Extraordinary Joy. Extraordinary Youth. Extraordinary Form.

  6. Siculum says:

    Once again, Father Z is very right about us EF-ers needing to be first in line for corporal works of mercy — other than the unlisted corporal and spiritual work of mercy that can be, indeed, offering the EF to the faithful.

    Remember Cardinal Burke’s quote or paraphrase from Pope Francis in his recent EWTN interview, about Pope Francis and the EF to a wrong-footed bishop: “We need both the old and the new. Go home and help your people to become more holy.”

  7. Robbie says:

    I find this entire episode to be disgusting. It seems the FFI are being punished for promoting traditional theology and the traditional liturgy. If it wasn’t clear before, it ought to be clear now. The right flank of the Catholic Church is squarely in the sights of the modernists and the liberals. Draconian actions like this couldn’t have happened without the blessing of Francis and Fr. Volpi even said the actions were ordered specifically by the Vicar of Christ.

    What’s worse is so little is being said about this. Could you imagine the hue and cry from the Catholic media and the worldwide media, for that matter, had Benedict imposed sanctions like this against the Nuns of the Bus or, heaven forbid, the Jesuits? My goodness, John Allen Jr. and Hans Kung would probably have staged a hunger strike in St. Peter’s Square to highlight such a travesty.

    Sadly though, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this. Since March, portions of the right flank have been called restorationists, triumphalists, legalists, pelagians, and, my personal favorite, promethean neopelagians. Considering that, I guess it shouldn’t surprise me the FFI have been accused of being crypto-Lefebrivists with a definite traditionalist drift (horror of horrors). On the bright side though, these draconian restrictions are better than being fed to the lions! :-)

  8. moon1234 says:

    I wonder what the outcome of the petition by the majority of the FFI to break away and form a new community that follows the EF exclusively will be. I know Fr. Volpi is very against it. One can only imagine that their will be no existing community left if the petitioners request is granted. The few who complained to Rome will be all that is left.

    It is still hard to believe what has happened so far. The founder, ill, transferred to a foreign country and prevented from even speaking with his family. This is WORSE than jail. He broke no law, got Rome’s blessing for all of his traditional changes, etc.

    The seminary closed, the teachers sent to Africa and other far off places. Teachers replaced by those who did the complaining even though they have no degree in the field they are supposed to teach.

    The original overseer from Rome sent away as well after he publicly stated he did not understand why changes were being made.

    This all looks very vindictive with the intent being to destroy the charism of the order. If anything will stoke the fears of the SSPX and other traditionalists it surely will be actions like this. It really makes one wonder what would have happened to the SSPX if they had been reconciled. It seems that this is to be a warning to any current religious order that wishes to incorporate more traditional aspects of the faith.

  9. boko fittleworth says:

    So they said “the Church thinks in centuries” and “today, she (the Church) prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy, rather than the strong arms of severity.” But it was “Who, whom?” the whole time. Got it.

  10. irish-italian mom says:

    @ Woody
    You are right on the money about everything that you said above. I couldn’t have said it better and I DO have inside knowledge.

    But there is one element that is missing in your estimation of what is going on here. And that is that the handful of friars who were in the Family of the Franciscans of the Immaculate and who knew the family’s major weak point (as every family has weak points) has exploited this weak point for their power grab.

    This weak point was not that they openly and honestly ventured to intellectually explore with the highly respected Msgr. Gherardini various aspects of certain Vatican II documents, seeking only clarification. That’s not a weak point – that is something for which any legitimate son or daughter of Holy Mother Church has a right to seek answers.

    The weak point in the Family of the FI was also not in their use of the EF because they were very cautious and discreet in their implementation of Latin Liturgy and paraliturgies in parishes and friaries. And the people loved it!

    And their weak point was not that the people associated with the friars don’t help out in their parishes. This is one element of the MIM (the organization of lay people surrounding the friars) which is integral to their formation – to be involved in the life of your parish. Each person has to report at monthly meetings what they have been doing to help their pastors with parish life.

    Their weak point was that they have had and still do have many enemies in the Vatican who view the perfection with which they exercise their living out of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, all summed up in the Marian Vow, as a reproach to those who do not strive to take seriously these vows. Their enemies hate them because of their virtues! I know this may sound simplistic but it is entirely true! I pray the psalms every morning and evening. People who are not living as they should, hate you if you are! It is as true now as in Biblical times.

    When these ungrateful friars saw that they never had a chance of getting into power because they were in the minority and no one ever voted for them or their ideas at the General Chapters, they exploited the family weak point, that those in the Office of Consecrated Life are extremely liberal and hostile to all who love tradition. And they have been rewarded with the power they had been seeking all along.

    Really this is how it is and this is why there is a petition circulating – because anyone who is associated with this group in any way knows that they exude holiness; they live an angelic life; they inspire holiness in the faithful; and unfortunately as in the days of Our Lord, that really bothers the pharisees in power. As you rightly said, Woody, “The bastions of the Church have not been razed after all, just occupied by a different army.” That army is the pharisees in the Vatican who are brutally bludgeoning the saintly Fr. Manelli and the vast majority of friars who are loyal to him, not because of some psychological spell which he has cast over them – but because he is holy and he teaches them how to be holy too!

    This is what the inside scoop is – holiness of life is a reproach to those who want to talk the talk but find it intolerable to walk the walk. May God have mercy on us all!

  11. gloriainexcelsis says:

    In October the Apostolic Nuncio in France, Luigi Ventura, sent a message to the FSSP on the 25th anniversary of its erection. In the first paragraph there is a thanksgiving for the 25 years. There seems to be a kind of warning(?) in the middle of the message sent to Fr. Ribeton, the superior of the District of France of the FSSP. “By way of the celebration of the sacred Mysteries according to the extraordinary form of the Roman rite and the orientations of the constitution on the Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, as well as by passing on the apostolic faith as it is presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, may they contribute, in fidelity to the living Tradition of the Church, to a better comprehension and implementation of the Second Vatican Council.” “orientations of the constitution on the Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium?” “better comprehension and implementation of the Second Vatican Council?” It sounds to me to be similar to the Franciscans of the Immaculate, in so many words. I think the proponents of the EF as the only form they celebrate are worried.

  12. Gemma says:

    Ditto. Thank you “irish -italian mom”. I too have inside information. They live holiness with a capitial H. Everything you say is true and more. This situation has broken my heart. May God have mercy on us all!

  13. lana says:

    May I add a fourth recommendation? Do not bad-mouth the NO. Nothing turns a neo-con off faster than that.

    There must have been some NO-trashing a la SSPX style by at least some in the FFI if they are requiring this oath. And if there has been, I am glad they have to take that oath. What good does it do to be very reverent to God in liturgy if you then disrespect Him in the person of His pastors and their decisions?

  14. lana says:

    Well, perhaps I jump to conclusions. Perhaps their discontent with the NO did not reach SSPX proportions.

    But to those of us who read these blogs and notice the rampant disrespect to Church authority, it is very easy to jump to the conclusion, or at least have a lot of doubts, whether or not someone who is very very traditionalist has crossed that line. And this oath may be a precaution against that. If they truly are holy they will have no problem with that oath.

  15. Robbie says:


    Should then Cardinal Ratzinger have been required to take an oath of loyalty to the NO since he called it a banal on the spot product?

  16. kpoterack says:

    “orientations of the constitution on the Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium?” “better comprehension and implementation of the Second Vatican Council?” It sounds to me to be similar to the Franciscans of the Immaculate, in so many words. I think the proponents of the EF as the only form they celebrate are worried.
    This statement, in and of itself, is not something to get worried about. I can’t find the quotations, but in the lead-up to Summorum Pontificum I remember prominent Cardinals, like Card. Castrillon Hoyos, arguing that a proper understanding of Sacrosanctum Concilium allowed for the the co-existence of the older form of the Mass. Also, the basic “orientations” (i.e. the basic liturgical theology and NOT the specific reforms) of the liturgy constitution are very compatible with the EF.

    I know everyone is on tender hooks right now but, please, I want to reassure you on this.

  17. mamajen says:

    I suspect the same, lana. It doesn’t seem like such a specific oath would be deemed necessary if everyone was simply enjoying the rights bestowed by Summorum Pontificum and not overstepping bounds. Then again, the people behind the kerfuffle could have exaggerated claims or even made them up altogether, so who really knows. In any case, I don’t think the oath ought to be problematic for anyone who is obedient to the Church.

    I like Fr. Finigan’s last bit about authenticity. I can’t really understand something being legitimate and valid, but not authentic. Without authenticity, how could it be valid? I don’t think years of development is the only way to authenticity. This is not to say that authentic = perfect.

    I do feel bad for FFI. Hopefully this is all sorted out soon.

  18. robtbrown says:

    boko fittleworth says:

    So they said “the Church thinks in centuries” and “today, she (the Church) prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy, rather than the strong arms of severity.”

    I wonder how that line would play with the parents of young sons who were victims of perverted priests.

  19. Bev says:

    When things like this happen, I cannot help but feel the hierarchy involved (the suppressors of the traditional liturgy) do not love me and do not care if I am saved. When an order founded and operated by child sexual abusers gets better treatment than those who are attached to a legitimate form of worship, Catholic devotions, and legitimate discussion of questions concerning faith & morals– that is a day when it is clear that the actors involved either don’t believe in Heaven or don’t care if I get there.

  20. benedetta says:

    Valid, authentic yet banal on the spot product. And getting more banal and strangely on the spot, in some parts of the world, all the time. Praying for these Friars.

  21. RJHighland says:

    Wow priests and bishops no longer required to take the oath of the Syllabus of Errors but now are required to take an oath to the Novus Ordo and the Vatican II council with-out clarification of some very questionable statements in the documents. Does anybody else find this odd. [I think a lot of people find this odd.] This was once a thriving and growing religious group inside the Church now it is fundimentally destroyed. All they were doing was learning, worshiping and teaching the faith as it had been done up until Vatican II. A few in the group questioned the very same documents that have been questioned since Vatican II closed. The question is why will Rome not define these questionable statements in the documents it has been 50 yrs. already. I realize Rome moves slowly but this movement can be measured at a molecular level. I would be conserned if I were in or assisting at mass at an FSSP chapel if some of the members start publically saying what they say behind closed doors about Vatican II and the Novus Ordo will these type of restriction be placed upon them? What Rome should do but would never do is let the Friars split along traditional and post Vatican II lines and see which one grows and which one whithers. This would be nearly a perfect case study, let the chips fall where they may. The one that bares fruit let it continue the other let whither and then cut it off and cast it into the fire. Why on earth does that Vatican do this to a group that is growing when all the other orders are dying off? Sister Lucia pray for us. It will be very interesting to see if the Holy Father gets publically involved in this and if so how. Right now the man he put in charge is ripping the society apart at its core. Please Pope Francis clearly define the questionable statements in the Vatican II documents for the sake of unity and sanity. How long must this go on?

  22. The Cobbler says:

    “today, she (the Church) prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy, rather than the strong arms of severity.”
    Contrasting the medicine of mercy and of severity… that right there, in a nutshell, is the whole sum of the trouble for the Church in this day and age. The medicine of mercy cannot save a man who refuses to open his mouth for it, who thinks because he merely hears of medicine and mercy he can run along his merry way without being treated; the severity is to be used precisely to convince him he actually needs the treatment. Either without the other is worse than useless! Mark my words: correct that one, subtle little error* and everything else problematic surrounding the Church in this day would, however slowly and painfully, right itself almost automatically; fail to do so and every trouble will drag on, extend and multiply indefinitely.

    *I’ll leave it to others whether the man behind the quote commited the error or merely did an uncanny job of expressing a sentiment that too many were unable to distinguish from the error; the worthlessness of the dichotomy remains.

  23. Gail F says:

    “Be exemplary in your joyful mien, your determination, and your charity.”
    So true. But Lana is right also: DO NOT BADMOUTH THE NO. Is it your right to do so? Yup. Will you feel justified in doing so? Apparently — as a commenter did so immediately. But what is it you want, to get other people to listen to you or to be alone in your principles? The fact, whether you like it or not, is that the vast majority of people don’t know or care anything about the NO/EF flap, and when they hear about it you want them to think you are not criticizing them.

    That was my own first experience with a TLM person, and I was curious about the Latin Mass! She ranted to me for 15 minutes about how awful our bishop was, and how awful the regular Mass was, and how oppressed she was… I still thought TLM was interesting, but I figured that if THAT was who went to it, I was never going THERE.

  24. jhayes says:

    Rorate Caeli provides a link to a December 8 letter of Fr. Volpi to “the whole family of the Franciscans of the Immaculate”

    In it, he described the four areas he was sent to deal with, mentioning that it wasn’t only the issue of the Vetus Ordo. He then went on to explain that assets had been transferred to family members of members of the order

    in the letter with which I introduced myself to the Institute I listed four points to which the Commissioner was to give special attention: the manner of government in the Institute, educational and religious formation, the financial management of the Institute, and fellowship among the members of the Institute. These were the areas in which a number of religious-
    including some of the most senior members of the Institute (together with others)-had highlighted difficulties at various times.

    It was not just about whether or not it was opportune to adopt the Vetus Ordo. It went beyond this to include the style of government; questions regarding the formation of both new vocations and the professed; and questions of financial management and administration-in these areas there appeared to be a lack of conformity with the directives and doctrine of the Church. Relations with the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate was, and continues to be, another area of concern.


    there is an extremely serious matter, which only now do I make officially known to you.
    It concerns the transfer of the control of movable and immovable goods of the Institute to members of the laity, persons known to be spiritual children or relatives of the Founder, Fr. Stefano M. Manelli, as well as to the parents of various sisters. These transfers were made after the appointment of the Apostolic Commissioner, and thus manifest the intention to embezzle funds
    away from the control of the Holy See and to deprive the Institute of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate of the necessary means for the maintenance of religious and, especially, for the works of the apostolate, and in particular of the missions.
    These acts are seriously illicit from both moral and canonical points of view, and entail consequences also in the areas of civil and criminal law. Whoever accomplished these deeds or allowed them to take place is guilty of serious fault, and, if he is a religious, is punishable by severe canonical penalties.
    A similar thing has happened in respect of works of the apostolate: the publishing house, the television station ….
    Again, there have been transfers of money-while I was fully in charge as Commissioner-to individuals with no official recognition from us, by persons who no longer had any authority or power of autonomous activity.



    I have no idea whether the letter linked to by Rorate is genuine.

  25. jhayes says:

    That same letter clarifies that it is only the existing seminarians who are required to sign that they accept the Novus Ordo and the documents of Vatican II

    2. Diaconal and priestly ordinations are suspended for one year. In addition, candidates for Orders who are presently in formation must personally subscribe to a formal acceptance of
    • the Novus Ordo as an authentic expression of the liturgical tradition of the Church and therefore of Franciscan tradition (without prejudice to the what is permitted by the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, once the current disciplinary decree of veto, ad hoc and ad tempus, is revoked for the Institute), and
    • the documents of the Second Vatican Council, in accordance with the authority accorded them by the Magisterium.

    Any candidate who does not accept these provisions will be immediately dismissed from the Institute.

    Sounds as if there are questions about what they have been taught to date in the seminary. [Hard to make that jump.]

  26. Robbie says:

    Let’s assume the visitation did discover poor governance and transfer of property to family members and members of the order. What does that have to do with the Vetus Ordo? How does a prohibition against the TLM solve the problems of governance? How does an oath of allegiance to the NO solve the problems with governance? I just don’t see how one has anything to do with the other. Hopefully, more reporting will shed light on this, but the prohibition of the TLM seems capricious and arbitrary.

  27. gracie says:

    This is a thoughtful article written by a British blogger, Laurence England (good friend of Fr. Ray Blake), on the question of the oath required of the Franciscans:

  28. OrthodoxChick says:

    irish-italian mom,

    I went on a day-long mini-retreat (for lack of my recalling the proper name used to describe the event) with the FFI last year. They were just as you described – very holy. And they were very holy in a genuine, sincere way; not the forced, phariseical (if that’s a word) way. One full day with them felt like a week-long retreat, not in the sense that it seemed like it took too long. I say that to mean that after only 1 full day, I felt as refreshed as if I had been on retreat for a week. And there was no EF the day that I was there. Our group was given 2 talks, confession, adoration, and some time for private prayer. And one really fun part was that we brought lunch with us for both our group and all of the friars to share. And we all ate together family style. It was so awesome! I sat next to a wonderful young man who was in formation and he absolutely glowed when he was telling me about a typical day at the friary, work assignments and all.

    I specifically asked the brother who was in charge of the friary if they offered the EF(and one of the other friars had told me that he was rather high-ranking in the order, but had recently arrived to this particular friary because he had just been transferred). The brother told me that they did not because none of the brothers knew it. Then I asked if there were future plans to offer the EF and he told me that if they did, it wouldn’t be anytime soon because he was focusing on their community life first.

    This same brother gave the two talks. He was no SSPX’er. Not by a long shot. Not one negative thing about Vatican II was spoken. He was no liberal either. He was just a disciplined, holy, hard-identity Catholic. And he wasn’t forcing the EF on anyone. If my one day among the FFI was typical, then I really don’t understand what the Vatican is upset about.

  29. James C says:


    It seems the property transfers started taking place AFTER the appointment of Fr. Volpi. Clearly those involved saw the writing on the wall and tried to salvage some things before the order is destroyed. (Historical parallel: local priests and parishioners’ hiding of saints’ images and other treasures from the iconoclastic and greedy commissioners of King Henry VIII in the 16th century).

    Personally I hope they get away with it, because it would be (in moral if not legal terms) theft on Fr. Volpi’s part to seize all that property saved up and donated by the FFI faithful and then keep it for his New Improved Capuchin-Lite Novus Order of the Franciscans of the Immaculate.

  30. Gratias says:

    Thank you Father Z for your recommendations: “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.” A frightening future, no intrinsic rights to what was never abrogated by Sacrosanctum Concilium. Thanks for the two other suggestions as well. Could I add a fourth? Register in your Parish and request envelopes, then write big checks until it hurts. So that you can keep your Mass. Diocesan/Una Voce masses in the US are very precious and an oasis in the desert that is the modern worldwide church. We now have to make efforts to conserve the little we have here of the traditional Latin Mass. The tide has turned.

  31. Susanna says:

    Regarding the comment “jhayes says: 13 December 2013 at 9:05 pm”, there are 2 documents in Italian (I used Google translate…), posted on one of the FI’s official web sites, that shed more light on the financial aspect.
    Perhaps these are already posted in English somewhere?

  32. Joseph-Mary says:

    I read this and helped my feelings on this sad topic:
    “Trials are for triumph, crosses are for resurrection.”

    The Holy Father approves of all the commissioner has done. Many may not like it and not understand it especially when obvious renegades and heretics have been given a pass but there it is. Not much more to say.

  33. lana says:

    Well, i do agrree about ‘if more exemplary Catholics…’. Exemplary Catholics not only help out and do works of mercy, they also always speak with due reverence when they have valid questions.

  34. benedetta says:

    Rumors aside, the way in which the FFI has cooperated with this whole process, with profound obedience, humility, and with complete recognition of the Vicar of Christ, does run counter to the published accusations all the “crypto-” this and that.

    It is undoubtedly true and in fact damaging to the faithful that others have not been similarly disciplined for expressly undermining the Vicar of Christ, Church councils and the most basic doctrine, sowing doubt and discouragement in the hearts of the faithful for decades now whether through incorporation of new age or secularist dogma or through grave omissions.

  35. kpoterack says:

    “• the Novus Ordo as an authentic expression of the liturgical tradition of the Church and therefore of Franciscan tradition (without prejudice to the what is permitted by the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, once the current disciplinary decree of veto, ad hoc and ad tempus, is revoked for the Institute),”

    Does this mean that all restrictions on the EF will be revoked at some point? If so, minor good news.

    Being somewhat facetious, I guess we now know that the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life will survive the reform of the curia.

  36. Jim in Seattle says:

    I am dismayed and saddened by this. What example is the Holy Father setting here? The discontinuity of the church since Vatican II is widening daily. I am not conservative, liberal, traditional or progressive – I am Catholic and my faith is under siege from the top of the church itself.

  37. jhayes says:

    Susanna, those two letters were posted by Fr.Volpi on the order’s website.

    The first is to him from a lawyer who said he represents the family members listed in the letter and they deny they have received anything.

    The second letter is the reply from Fr. Volpi, saying that it’s not those relatives but a different one, whom he names. He explains that that that lay person now controls the funds of the “Association of the Mission of the Immaculate Heart” and the Superior General (now Fr. Volpi, ad interim) has been excluded from having any control over them.

  38. mamajen says:

    I am not a traditionalist (in that I don’t attend the TLM), but I am very supportive of and grateful for the progress that has been made so far… and, well, after taking a gander at some other blogs I am very, very worried that lay people are going to blow things right up. I pray that Pope Francis will deal with whatever specific situation has been taking place in the FFI, and not pay heed to the others who have inserted themselves into the situation.

  39. lana says:

    mamajen, i agree. this is from the second letter ar Rorate Caeli, from Fr Volpi:

    “If I disposed a mere suspension of the lay activities connected to the Institute, it was to avoid every meeting being transformed into an occasion of derision against the Pope, against me and against other friars, something which has already happened.”

  40. benedetta says:

    I can’t imagine that the FFI has some huge amount of money stashed away with relatives. Sounds kind of ridiculous. I don’t sure what all that has to do with this oath however. It’s not as if the Friars themselves are rolling in cash. Do they need money to fund seminary study, I would suppose. So many effectively dissenting orders do have a lot of cash/property though and no one begrudges their riches whilst undermining the Church and doing damage to the faith of laity to the extent that parishes and schools are closed for a whole generation falling away. Both in their activities and the effects on the faithful, they ought to be disciplined for the way they sow doubt and undermine the unity of the Church.

  41. Pingback: Persecution of Friars of the Immaculate Continues | The American Catholic

  42. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Ah, the “great age of the laity” which Cardinal Newman dreamed of and Vatican II “empowered.” Internal fights and meltdowns in a religious order are nothing new. What is new, however, is how each priest with a grievance now goes to his fan club and whines and cries as he recounts all his “suffering” and “persecution.”

    A priest with a grievance can recount this with hyper-drama and panicked alarm to his “groupies” who then take to the streets with their barricades and pitchforks to defend Father whose gullible disciples have canonized as a victim soul and martyr. Now the empowered laity of the People’s Church demand an end to “oaths” and “dismissal” of those in power. The traditionalist, no less than the dissenting liberal, revel in this modern-day storming of the Bastille (read, superiors, bishops, the Pope, or whoever the evil boogeyman is).

    When lay groupies, fan clubs, and “concerned faithful” interfere in the internal problems of a religious congregation, it is worse then the in-laws choosing sides in a civil war of a failing marriage. No good can come of it, much harm is inevitable, and for the priests involved, it is spiritually fatal to their vows and sense of interior peace.

    I wish such laity realized that they were as destructive a force to the Order as the “evil superiors” they glory in going to war with on behalf of their beloved friars.

    [Rem acu.]

  43. teejay329 says:

    Evidently, the Commissioner wants to attack the sister branch, the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, as well. How sad. A house divided cannot stand…
    Actually, it is quite interesting how St, Francis’ admonishments about the “antichrist” coming from within sound eerily familiar here.

  44. Elizabeth D says:

    I think that taking care not to set the usus antiquior in opposition to the novus ordo is truly necessary and a responsibility for all of us who love the Mass. That goes for everyone though, not just those who want the extraordinary form. There should not be any element of attachment to the traditional Latin Mass as a rejection or setting in parentheses of the Second Vatican Council. It should not be a kind of historical reenactment of a former age, there is something much more profound, the real carrying forward of sacred Tradition and the small t traditions that have continuing value, all of which is essentially about handing on of the Word Himself, Jesus Christ being the essential treasure of the Church for all people in every age. I am rather stunned and definitely concerned how the FFI has been treated. Closing their seminary?? Horrible. I don’t think it is helpful to strike against the apparent insult or antagonistic act of asking the FFI friars to affirm the Novus Ordo. There is no problem with them doing so. It is hard to believe how they have been treated, but there may be an opportunity to take the high road in how they handle it. There is a need to live a deep continuity. This requires the TLM celebrated with a sensitive and effective of consciousness of Summorum Pontificum and Vatican II, and a celebration of the Novus Ordo that that respects the preceding liturgical tradition.

  45. Vincent says:

    It seems to me that the battle lines are being drawn. One wrong step and an internal persecution follows. I know someone who worked in a Catholic institute, he was asked “whose side he was on – Rome, or theirs” – and this was meant to be an “Orthodox” institute.

    Love of the Church and the traditions thereof are being reduced to this? This is almost the same offer given to the Society of Saint Pius X. Bishop Fellay was prepared to give Rome the assurance that it views the NO as ‘valid’, but he would make no assurance that they would accept every part of the Second Vatican Council. And so they put the Franciscans in the same tight spot SSPX are in. Do they obey the Vatican and sign, or do they disobey? Just when I thought we were getting somewhere. Or maybe this is proof that we are? In any case, it’s shameful.

    In any case, I’m not sure I could sign. Going to the NO was (coincidentally?) the worst point in my Catholic life, even in a parish where they tried quite hard. Not receiving Holy Communion results in funny looks. Particularly fun when you are in need of Confession.

  46. benedetta says:

    I have to say, the way some dissenters (Schismatic Reporter et al) have taught that VII justifies all the wild and bizarre stuff they teach and promote has undermined my faith way more than any off chance encounter with an SSPXer over the years. Really, what is bigger threat to the faithful. In the U.S. it is the teaching institutions that teach all kinds of junk with the pretense that it’s all grounded in VII without ever letting you actually have a fair reading of the documents or the mindset of the council, and these are myriad, they are everywhere. Maybe oaths aren’t such a terrible thing…let’s talk about how that mandatum is going. From the way some have departed from the authentic teaching and spirit of VII, I believe they aren’t respecting it as all as a legitimate council of the Church, rather, they instrumentalize and manipulate it to their weird and wild ends and gain. If that doesn’t scream oath then I don’t know what does. And it is very damaging, and has been for quite a long time.

  47. Christophe says:

    The FFI imbroglio brings to mind some words of Benedict XVI after he lifted the excommunications of the SSPX bishops:

    “And must we not admit that also from ecclesial circles there have come dissonances? Sometimes one has the impression that our society needs at least one group for which there need not be any tolerance; which one can unperturbedly set upon with hatred.”

  48. rubyroad2013 says:

    We shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells! [How right you are! It chafes, to be sure. You have no idea how I would like to take off the gloves. But this is the hand we have been dealt, and doing so – as some do – would do more harm to the cause than it would do good.]

  49. Athelstan says:

    Dear Fr. Sotelo,

    What is new, however, is how each priest with a grievance now goes to his fan club and whines and cries as he recounts all his “suffering” and “persecution.”

    What evidence do we have that tradition-minded priests in the FFI have leaked details or otherwise whined to lay followers?

    There is much truth in what you say about the unpleasant spectacle of the Church now in the Great Age of the Laity. Yet protests by traditionalists do not lessen the injustice – unprecedented for a religious order (even the Legion!) in the post-conciliar era – that is apparent in what we now know about what is being inflicted on the FFI.

    [I think Fr. Sotelo, whom I have know for years, broadened this out beyond the relatively small saga, intense as it is, of the FFIs.]

  50. Robbie says:

    If some members of the FFI no longer feel comfortable in their order, would they be able to switch to the FSSP or another order than better reflects their views?

  51. Fr_Sotelo says:


    I never said or even implied that the tradition-minded Friars of the FFI had leaked details. Thank you, Fr. Z, for pointing this out. And as for presenting “evidence” you have completely missed my point. I do not want to, nor do I find it helpful or edifying for the laity, to insert themselves into the internal conflict at hand here and prosecute anyone’s guilt (your favorite Friars, or mine) via blog and internet.

    When, in 1981, Fr. Paolo Dezza was inserted as Bl. John Paul’s man to “deal with the Jesuits” there were loud cries of weeping and lamentation from the NCReporter about the destruction of the Society at the hands of an allegedly right-wing papal hatchet man. Nothing written about publicly by the laity, nor their calls for Dezza’s removal, did any good to fix the problems of the Society, and when the dust settled, the Jesuits who wanted to be liberal continued as liberals, and those who wished to be more traditional, continued in that track, as did all the various people in between the left and right.

    Fr. Z’s recommendations for self-restraint, prayer, and support for the Friars along with our own good spirit of charity is excellent advice. Almost every call from the laity to intervene in this way or that way shows, on the other hand, the most gross ignorance of the interior workings of the Church. The laity are not going to help the Friars with public panic attacks and charges of the Bastille, whoever they consider the Bastille to be.

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