Pat Archbolds’ Open Letter to Pope Francis on Franciscan Friars

Pat Archbold has written an open letter to Pope Francis about the plight of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. Here is a sample.

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….


Holy Father, perhaps the FFI has made some mistakes, but why are they being prevented from moving forward?

Holy Father, After reading the above, I cannot believe that you know the full detail of what is occurring. Holy Father, if these draconian and disproportionate actions of Fr. Volpi are allowed to stand, I fear that one message will be loud and clear:

Faithful Catholic traditionalists no longer have a place in the Church.

Holy Father, I do not believe for one second that this is the message you intend to send.

Please Holy Father, please help.


Read the rest there!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. lsclerkin says:

    Do we know whether or not the Holy Father will ever see this letter?

  2. brhenry says:

    It is somewhat humorous that when leftist groups like the LCWR are disciplined and they retort using words like “draconian” and “drastic” and “disproportionate,” and accuse the Holy See of being authoritarian and too heavy handed, the traddies snigger at them with utter contempt.
    But, when the tables are turned, they use the same childish tactics. I have always maintained that modernists and traditionalists are simply two different sides to the same rebellious coin.

  3. dinsdale says:

    brhenry, the LWCR and other so-called “leftist” groups are complaining although they are clearly dissenting from the teachings of Holy Mother Church. The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate have been faithful to the Church. However, at the risk of sounding trite, one can reasonably expect that the Church should permit those things which the Church permits. The issue here is that a special commissioner has denied priests of their rights under Summorum Pontificum – in other words, the Church is contradicting the Church.

  4. mamajen says:

    I’m really growing impatient with this stuff. What is Pat Archbold’s connection to FFI? How has he determined that Volpi’s actions are “draconian and disproportionate”?

    I think everyone, before writing open letters, declaring themselves persecuted, etc. should read this first (someone posted in another thread):

  5. dans0622 says:

    I can’t get too involved (emotionally) in this controversy. I don’t know all the facts and think the order–which is very young and so it doesn’t have a lot of historical stability–needs to work this out and doesn’t need any input from me. I’d be happy to see no further leaks of documentation and will just pray.

  6. Inigo says:

    I agree totally with brhenry. The biggest enemies of a traditional liturgical renewal in the Church are not liberals, or “modernists”, but people with “ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy” otherwise know as “faithful Catholics in traditionalist circles” . The problem is not with traditon, it’s with forming circles, with adherents thinking they are more Catholic than the pope.

    The hardest thing to do nowadays is to be simply Catholic, belonging to only one circle: Holy Mother Church.

  7. mamajen says:

    Agree brhenry and Inigo.

    “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

  8. Andrew says:

    Truth has a way of asserting itself and of implicating each one of us in the process. “I am out of it” you might say, “I have no part in this”. But, like it or not, you have already taken a stand.

  9. Cordelio says:

    I don’t know what the “real story” is with the FFI, and am embarrassed to say I had never even heard of them until this flap erupted. I’d like to think that I would’ve heard of any religious order as prominent as the FFI that had crypto-Lefebvrian tendencies. If they had/have such tendencies, they must have been very crypto, indeed.

    If the alleged persecutor of their order is the one actually advancing “crypto-Lefebvrian tendencies” as a justification for his actions (which I understand Fr. Volpi to be doing), then that alone would incline me to think that the FFI are suffering an injustice. It would be nice to know with a bit more specificity what constitute such tendencies. If I had to posit a guess, it would be any tendency of opposition to the NO (despite Friars offering it regularly, apparently) based on principle rather than “liturgical preference,” and possibly an opposition that was carried beyond the realm of abstract theory and actually put into practice to any degree.

    Come to think of it, a crypto-Lefebvrian tendency is something of an oxymoron – particularly as applied to the Novus Ordo. It was never a secret what Archbishop Lefebvre thought about it. Perhaps we are misunderstanding poor Father Volpi, and his problem is not with religious having Lefebvrian tendencies (which Pope Pius XII seemed to find exemplary), but with hiding them.

  10. brhenry says:

    Galatians 5:
    “19 Now the doings (practices) of the flesh are clear (obvious): they are immorality, impurity, indecency, 20 Idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies), 21 Envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

  11. Bosco says:

    Now now now. What’s all this gloom? You are perhaps unaware of Pope Francis’ recent revelation that:

    “When a Christian becomes sad, it means he has strayed from Jesus.”

    I shall be certain to buck-up my pastor at Seven Sorrows parish with this caution. The number of abortions, divorces, irregular marriages, apostasies, heresies, sacrilegious Masses got you down? Well, it seems then YOU are the problem my friend. You have obviously strayed from Jesus.

  12. Bosco says:

    Following on my last observation (see CNS story link) and further extrapolating on Pope Francis’ logic, it seems that even Jesus strayed from Jesus:

    ” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to grow sorrowful and to be sad. Then he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me.” (Matthew 26:37 – 38)

  13. Cordelio says:

    Ooh, ooh – random Scripture quoting without any explanation of the application.

    Every one therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven. [33] But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven. [34] Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. [35] For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. Saint Matthew, Chapter 10

    Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians is a good source, too.

    [6] I wonder that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel. [7] Which is not another, only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. [8] But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. [9] As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema. [10] For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Galatians, Chapter 1

    [11] But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. [12] For before that some came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them who were of the circumcision. [13] And to his dissimulation the rest of the Jews consented, so that Barnabas also was led by them into that dissimulation. [14] But when I saw that they walked not uprightly unto the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all: If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as the Jews do, how dost thou compel the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? [15] We by nature are Jews, and not of the Gentiles sinners. Galatians, Chapter 2

  14. Robbie says:

    I’m not growing impatient with this stuff. The Pope has already said he appreciates criticism and the actions taken by Fr. Volpi appear extremely harsh given only five priests out of about 400 complained about the use of the TLM. How they got from that to the closing of seminaries and monasteries is beyond me. With any luck, the Pope will hear some of the complaints and take a second look at whether these actions conform with his previous statements about mercy.

    While this episode may not appear to be as important to some as it does to others, it certainly fits well into a series of actions that don’t look too promising for the traditional wing of the Church. Not only was Cardinal Burke bounced from the Bishops’ Conference, but so were Piacenza and Bagnasco. For Piacenza, it was his second demotion in just three months. And let’s not forget most of Msgr. Marini’s staff were replaced, apparently, after consultation with Archbishop Piero Marini. It certainly seems like the traditional wing is definitely on the outs right now.

  15. Phil_NL says:

    In my earlier comments in other threads I maintained from the beginning that this had all the hallmarks of an internal powerstruggle gone wrong, rather than a genuine dispute over NO vs EF matters. And each passing day only reinforces that hypothesis, especially the talk of oaths, ‘crypto-lefebvrist’ and the like – the attachment to tradition of some has become a beating stick.

    And that should be deplored, regardless of the question who’s right or wrong, and regardless of whether Fr Volpi is going overboard or doing what is needed (according to his judgement of the situation).

    I do think one kind of criticism is justified though: by now, the remedy is well on its way to be worse than the original disease (any interal disciplinarian problems the FFI might have had), as the impact is spreading far beyond the confines of the FFI. And rightly or wrongly, that does sent a message – it’s one of those examples where the imagine painted is the message, regardless whether there is an underlying reason for it.

    I hope that whatever is needed to sort this sorry mess is done fast. If we have to spend a whole year (or longer, knowing the glacial speeds at which the church is wont to operate) to the alleged misadministration of Fr Volpi and the alleged problems that prompted this, we’ll all be there poorer.

    It would be good if the Holy Father would summon all concerned to his office on the 26th, took the necessary decisions, assemble all the FFI on the 31st, announce those decisions, and be done with it, so the FFI can start 2014 afresh, and any festering wounds can begin to close, rather than fester more. I know chances of this happening are about equal to winning the jackpot in the New year’s lottery, but I do think that the primary message to the Vatican should be that this should be sorted. right. the. heck. now.

  16. ecs says:

    What I get tired of is sanctimonious neo-cons who believe in a Church that does not and has never existed and who always look for the opportunity to look down their noses at tradition minded Catholics. I also tire of the neo-cons constant pope worship and complete disregard of any and all contradictions which may be necessary in order to continue said pope worship.

  17. Gratias says:

    El Papa quiere que hagamos lío.

    What is at stake is the survival of the Latin Mass in the Latin Church. We want to keep it. That is why we are alarmed.

  18. robtbrown says:

    lsclerkin says:

    Do we know whether or not the Holy Father will ever see this letter?

    Not necessarily this letter, but I would think that he’s aware of the general reaction.

    I recommend regular reading of Sandro Magister’s columns.

  19. The Masked Chicken says:

    I have read both Archbold’s letter and the CWR article and find neither of them very convincing. Perhaps the CWR article that mamajen linked to is just guilty of sloppy writing. For instance, they wrote (paragraph 7):

    “In 2012, five Franciscan Fathers from the motherhouse at the Casa Mariana Frigento formally petitioned the Congregation for Religious, asking them to intervene, because they had found it impossible to dialogue with Father Manelli about the governance of their tripartite community.”

    Then, later (P. 8):

    “The call to Rome for help came, not from a handful of malcontents, as they are often portrayed, but from friars who had collaborated closely with the Minister General of the Institute.”

    How could they collaborate closely if it were impossible to, “dialogue,” with him? Moreover, how does dialogue fit in with religious life? Such dialogue is, generally, restricted to the covering Council. It does not say that his counselors contacted Rome. That would have been certainly valid (say, if the founder becomes unfit for the job due to, say, a stroke that alters his/her good judgment), but no one has ever said that these five members were his Council. This is the classic definition of malcontent in a religious community. They went over the Superior’s and Council’s head simply because they weren’t getting their way. Rome should have flapped them down, hard. You never go to Rome unless the matter involves a violation of faith or morals, as this does not. So, the Superior likes the EF Mass. Suck it up. Times change, seasons change and in a short time the whole matter may be completely different. In any event, what they do not seem to have done, at least from the information presented in the article, is to trust God to work things out. Have these friars not heard of redemptive suffering?

    Also, in P. 9 the article introduces a statistic that has no clear explanation:

    “The response to the question about the Minister General’s decisions in liturgical matters was similar: almost two to one, the friars admitted that there were problems, and about half of the respondents said that extraordinary measures were needed to resolve them (77 percent of 64 percent = 49.3 percent). Finally, more than half (53 percent) said that relations with the Superior General of the Sisters’ Institute were problematic, and of them, 85 percent considered extraordinary measures necessary.”

    To put this simply, apparently, 64% said their were liturgical problems and of that percent, 77% said that extraordinary measures were required. So, the real percents are 36% just fine, 14.7% said their were problems (but of an ordinary nature) and 49.3% said there were extraordinary problems. Thus, of those responding, 50.7% said there were not extraordinary problems. The article makes the 49.3% sound much more damning than it is. They could have, just as easily said, “more than half found no problem warranting extraordinary measures.” They did not. This looks like is biased reporting at worst, sloppy writing, at best. It is certainly not fair nor objective in simply presenting the facts.

    In paragraphs 14-16, the article states that Fr. Manelli went to a clinic and did not respond to Fr. Vopli’s request for answers, but this paragraph sounds to me like rationalization (Fr. Vopli’s, speaking):

    “VOLUNTARILY he asked and received permission to be admitted to a trusted private clinic, which made it impossible for him to respond to my summons to a conference concerning the situation of the Institute or to receive visits, as the treating physician attested in a certificate addressed to me. At that point, for the purpose of safeguarding the health of the Religious, I decided that the medical prescription should be accompanied by a canonical prescription to the same effect. I then wrote him a letter, asking him to provide his answers in writing. These answers proved to be altogether evasive and unsatisfactory, since he did not reply to some of my simple direct questions…. The isolation in which Father Manelli finds himself is therefore to be ascribed to the responsibility of the healthcare staff, and not to any decision of mine.”

    Of course, it was Fr. Volpi’s decision, since he clearly says, “I decided that the medical prescription should be accompanied by a canonical prescription to the same effect.” He did not have to do that. It was, in fact, his decision. Although Fr. Manelli was prevented from visiting Fr. Volpi, nowhere does it say that Fr. Volpi took the time to visit Fr. Manelli, which he certainly could have done if the answers by letter were unsatisfactory.

    No, this article is hardly convincing.

    Of course, Archbold’s open letter is simply meddling. He is not a member of the Order and all he is doing is stirring up the pot. His open letter would have been far better spent trying to organize a million rosaries to be said for the Institute and their relations with the Vatican.

    This is all just my opinion. No one, here, wants to see the reception of the EF hurt, but letters like this, from someone not privy to all of the facts, does more harm than good.

    The Chicken

  20. mamajen says:


    “What is at stake is the survival of the Latin Mass in the Latin Church. We want to keep it. That is why we are alarmed.”

    Oh, I am very alarmed. I’m alarmed that too many traditionalists don’t know how to keep it, never mind grow it.

  21. HighMass says:

    “Faithful Catholic traditionalists no longer have a place in the Church.”

    Lets be honest folks…..that prejudice is alive and well……S.P. of 2007 was one of the best things liturgy wise that had been done since the Novus Ordo was implemented in 1969…….

    But the dislike for the Mass in the E.F. is still there….We Thank GOD for Pope Benedict’s Pontificate and wish he could have remained on the Chair of Peter….but the Lord’s will be done.

    Pope Benedict we all Love you and Thank YOU!

  22. robtbrown says:

    Masked Chicken says,

    Of course, Archbold’s open letter is simply meddling. He is not a member of the Order and all he is doing is stirring up the pot.

    See above: El Papa quiere que hagamos lío.

    His open letter would have been far better spent trying to organize a million rosaries to be said for the Institute and their relations with the Vatican.

    A million? The pope has commented on such an approach:

    Why don’t they say, ‘we pray for you, we ask…’, but this thing of counting… And these groups return to practices and to disciplines that I lived through – not you, because you are not old – to disciplines, to things that in that moment took place, but not now, they do not exist today…

  23. When drastic measures are taken respecting a religious congregation — whatever the reasons for those measures — I find it very hard to believe the Holy Father doesn’t know about it.

  24. Tantum Ergo says:

    This is just getting uglier and uglier. Summorum Pontificum has indeed been “wounded.” Is the law of the land only for those embraced by the fashions of the times?

  25. dcs says:

    How has he determined that Volpi’s actions are “draconian and disproportionate”?

    Because they are totally out of proportion with the gravity of the crimes of which the FFI and its founder have been accused. We have a recent precedent (the Legion of Christ) by which we can measure.

  26. It seems to me that we should be able to express our concerns to our shepherds in a way that is thoughtful and respectful.

    Does Mr Archbold not have that right?

  27. majuscule says:

    Robbie writes: And let’s not forget most of Msgr. Marini’s staff were replaced, apparently, after consultation with Archbishop Piero Marini.

    Just curious…who were the ones replaced? Do you mean the MCs or the other staff? From the listing on the Vatican website I would say there hasn’t been more than the regular turnover of MCs…but then, I am no expert.

    And Msgr. Guido Marini is still there. :)

  28. Bosco says:

    @Father Z.,
    I agree one should be able to express one’s concerns to our shepherds in a way that is thoughtful and respectful and I think Mr. Archbold had it just about right.
    However, one man’s understanding of ‘thoughtful’ and ‘respectful’ are inevitably another’s understanding of ‘trite’ and ‘rapacious’.
    If anything, I felt Mr. Archbold’s language was a bit cringing in places. There are lions and there are lambs, of course.

  29. Deacon Augustine says:

    But Fr. Z, it seems that for some people having “concerns” is disloyal, as is doubting the infallible wisdom of our leaders’ every prudential decision!

  30. mamajen says:

    He does, Father Z. I just think he blew it with “draconian and disproportionate”.

  31. The Astronomer says:

    “Fr. John Zuhlsdorf says:
    18 December 2013 at 11:43 am

    It seems to me that we should be able to express our concerns to our shepherds in a way that is thoughtful and respectful.

    Does Mr Archbold not have that right?”

    Not if your readers grow really impatient with this ‘stuff’… ;-)~

  32. brhenry says:

    Fr. Z, Yes, sir, to your question.
    But the “respectful” manner would be private, not open and public,
    which has the high potential of fueling passions (against the Vicar
    of Christ) and the Church hierarchy, thus causing grave scandal.

  33. wmeyer says:

    mamajen, That the words draconian and disproportionate have been used by those who object to reining in the LCWR does not make them off limits or inappropriate for use in a thoughtful article.

    SP declared quite plainly that whether a priest was permitted to celebrate the EF was not dependent on episcopal permission., but only on his competence in that rite. And yet, there are bishops who have forbidden the EF in their dioceses. Anyone resident on of those dioceses has reason to be concerned, in my view. Even in my archdiocese, there are currently only two parishes in which the EF will be found. One is 43 miles from me, the other 150 miles away. The only other option is an SSPX chapel. At best, that is a sad state of affairs.

    Card. Castillon Hoyos was quite vocal about his support for the EF. Why then, should any of us be ashamed to support it? Why should we accept being characterized as “more Catholic than the pope”? I grew up in the Latin Mass. Vatican II closed a few months before I graduated from high school. I think it is perfectly natural that I should still prefer the Latin.

  34. Jim of Bowie says:

    Draconian and disproportionate seem pretty apt to me. I’ve been trying to think what the friars, sisters and lay members and parishioners of the FFI could possibly had done to deserve the punishment they have received, including rights guaranteed by the law of the church. It must have been worse than, heresy, support of abortion, support of homosexual ‘marriage’, covering up abuse of children, participation in phoney ordinations, etc., because all those things have received far less severe punishment.

  35. wmeyer says:

    Astronomer, as my confessor is wont to remind me, impatience is a function of sinful pride. Better that some here take a deep breath and pray a bit, then write.

  36. Dundonianski says:

    How does one keep a treasure i.e. The traditional mass, when it is largely and universally denied (despite Summorum Pontificum) and how does one grow that which is de facto so denied? The EF certainly did NOT fare well in the archdiocese of Buenos Aires for example!. There are sober and respected commentators who not unreasonably would apply the terms “draconian and disproportionate” but we observers, all of us, are free to draw our own conclusions as events unfold, as we perceive them!

  37. I have no first-hand knowledge of this FFI matter, so have little or nothing to contribute to any discussion of its substance.

    However, it occurs to me that much of the discussion of it that I see here comports with an approach I have seen followed pretty uniformly at certain very liberal blogs. When confronted with a statement, however politely and carefully it may be presented, with which they disagree, these folks attack not its substance but its author, his right or standing to express his opinion, his syntax and manner of expression, even his grammar and punctuation.

    Reminds me of the old saw about lawyers, “If you can’t argue the facts, then argue the law.” And now, I suppose, if you can’t argue the law, then argue the grammar and manner of expression.

  38. RJHighland says:

    Like I have said before let the order split, those that want the Novus Ordo let them enjoy that and those that perfer the TLM and old rite let them do that and see which one grows and which one whithers. It is very simple in my eyes. This was a growing new order and it just got hammered by Rome. I don’t believe the Novus Ordo and new rites can co-exist in religious communities or in parishes they are nearly two different religions, same core very different in form. That could be said of any Protestant denomination they all came out of the Catholic Church at some point each one has deteriorated at diffenent levels and forms. Simply have parishes that have the new mass, new missal, new catechism and new rites and have those that hold to the old mass, old missal and older rite. We have Eastern Orthodox and Anglican rites in the Church why not a Traditional Catholic Rite and a Novus Ordo Rite. The new was rammed down everybodies throats lets free it up. Is it that complicated. After these actions Church seems to be for anything but Traditoinal Catholic worship. Please Pope Francis let a Traditional Catholic Rite flourish under its own hierarchy with you as the Head. All we want to do is worship as all the Saints have, that is what God has called us to do. By bringing in a seperate Rite there will be no loss of the faithful all will worship as they have been called to worship only growth. Why one or other why not both. Then please clarify the questionable statements in the Vatican II documents and all is good.

  39. TimG says:

    While the use of “draconian” and “disproportionate” can certainly be considered inflammatory language, does it not appear to everyone that the closing of the seminary and other actions are quite drastic because of the assertions of a few?

    There is either a LOT more going on here than we know or someone in a position of authority is not practicing patience, being pastoral, etc., etc.

    This is not a private issue. It’s “out there” and predictably, people are watching / speculating on both sides in the absence of good information. In my opinion it would help if Fr. Volpi and Co were to provide more (and accurate) information to the faithful and given that information has not been forthcoming, I think the letter is spot on.

  40. Robbie says:

    For some, it seems the easiest answer is to just blame the traditionalists. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, it’s their fault. And for good measure, they usually imply SSPX sympathies even though none exist.

    This is a perfect example of why the liberals and modernists continue to win. They play the long game. They never give up. They keep agitating, even if it appears to hurt their cause, because they know, in the end, the right always loses the will to fight. They bide their time and then, when the moment is right, they pounce.

  41. chantgirl says:

    As Fr. Samuel Weber OSB says, “There’s no mean like Church mean.”.

    I wish we could establish some ground rules here. The term “traditionalist” is applied so broadly as to be rendered useless. Many of us younger ones who attend the EF just consider ourselves to be Catholic. We were not around when the battle lines were drawn after VII, and so do not have the trench mentality that many of the older Catholics who are attached to the EF understandably have. Real persecution of these people, laity and clergy, did take place. Some of the withdrawing to catacomb circles is self-imposed, and some of it is sheer survival. I did not realize the extent of animosity towards Catholics who embrace traditional liturgy until I was discerning a call to a third order. I and some of the younger members felt an affinity toward traditional Catholic liturgy and practice, and some of the older members were completely freaked out by that affection. Simply because I knelt for Communion, wore a chapel veil, and attended the EF, the superiors lumped me in with the SSPX. I was accused of thinking that I was “holier than the Church”. They could tolerate Obama bumper stickers on members’ cars, but not traditional liturgy! Well, I still believe that I am called to this third order, but I am biding my time until my kids are a little older and until the biological solution has had some more time to work.

    I don’t know much about the internal strife within the FFI, but with any new good work the devil always meddles. St. John of the Cross was imprisoned by his fellow religious. It is not helpful to use phrases like “ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy” as that judges a person’s interior disposition, and ignores the fact that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our life. How could we be preoccupied with the very source of our life of grace? Are we also preoccupied with filling our lungs with oxygen? Hopefully, if certain elements within the FFI are being persecuted, they will offer it up in silence and win torrents of grace for their religious community and the Church, and hopefully the laity will not get in the way of that happening.

  42. The Masked Chicken says:

    “It seems to me that we should be able to express our concerns to our shepherds in a way that is thoughtful and respectful.

    Does Mr Archbold not have that right?”

    Of course, he does. My criticism is that he is using a concern about an organization of which he is neither a member nor privy to full information about as a source of anxiety for his major concern: the status of traditionalism in the Church. His concern about the traditional aspects of worship within the Church is certainly something he can pass on to our pastors, but using the FFI situation as a frame for this concern weakens his argument because if he has insufficient information about what he is arguing regarding the FFI, then his later concerns about the EF and Traditionals, in general, stands not properly motivated (used in the technical sense in mathematical exposition as a reason for doing something or making a particular argument). If, suddenly, the FFI situation is resolved amicably, does this mean that the EF reception is likewise very much strengthened? That very much depends on exactly what the underlying situations causing the problems within the FFI are, since if the EF is only a minor contributor among the problems, then any resolution should have only a minor influence on the EF within the rest of the Church, but it is, precisely, the relative contribution of Traditional issues compared to other internal issues within the FFI that Archbold’s does not know. He could be dead-on-the-money or he could be stirring up a tempest in a teapot. He does not claim to have insider information and, so, his reaction, it seems to me, is largely visceral.

    While he cannot know that his understanding of the affairs of the EF within the larger context of the Church are accurately reflected in the microcosm of the FFI -Vatican dialogue, he can know, by faith, that a call for charity and prayer will be understood by Heaven.

    One of the reasons I have, largely, stopped making predictions about how this or that action by a world leader will affect the prevailing state-of-affairs in the world is because I find that both God and man’s free will have a way of taking turns I never see coming. Anyone of us commenters could have penned a similar letter to Pat Archbold’s, since all of us share a similar anxiety, but, equally, they would have been more heartfelt than head-considered. The most reasonable stance in the face of restricted or incomplete knowledge is to fall back to First Principles and the first principle of anyone attempting to do good is to be good, to seek good, and to speak good. In other words, rather than expressing anxiety about how the FFI situation might affect the EF, might not a better approach be to call for holiness, participation, and encouragement from the traditional community – to give so strong a witness for its positive effects that no passing dispute within a local religious organization can disparage it? It think writing an open letter to the traditional community within the Church would have been a better use of his time. That’s all I’m saying.

    On the other hand, I seem to be a bit of a grump, today, so, I might be being a little hard on Pat Archbold.

    The Chicken

    P. S. Henry Edwards,

    I think I argued about factual inconsistencies in the CWR piece. I would love to argue the facts in Archbold’s piece, but I am having a problem finding anything other than mere suspicions and assumptions not based on anything other than external information. As I say, neither he nor I, presumably, have insider information and neither of us knows the twists and turns this will take before it is over. I appreciate his concerns, but I question if writing a public letter on the FFI is the way to accomplish his goals.

  43. Let me mention also a logical distinction that might be suggested. The reported measures (assuming they actually were applied) might well be described drastic and perhaps draconian, in comparison with those imposed on any religious order in recent memory.

    The question is whether they were disproportionate, that is, whether or not they were justified. So far as I can see, no one who has commented here has any first-hand knowledge on which to base an opinion. I would very much like to hear from anyone who does have such knowledge.

  44. Rachel K says:

    In studying history, students are encouraged to go back to texts which are directly connected to the original action. For example, to study the Magna Carta directly rather than the reams which have subsequently been written about it.
    I would have thought that the first thing we should be reading, if anything at all, should be Fr Volti’s letter ( which is now in the public domain. Any other resource is secondary to this. Primary sources trump secondary ones.
    This letter is written with a very humble tone and I pity the poor man for having been given this poison chalice of a piece of work.
    Having read it, we should then pray for him and the FFI.
    The letter details some very serious allegations and I am pleased that the Church is taking very seriously the investigation of these.
    Having had close relative who was a member of a new (very orthodox) community which subsequently collapsed after a Vatican investigation, I think none of us can know what goes on behind closed doors.
    Such things as psychological abuse and other forms of bullying are often impossible to see and calculate from the outside, or even from the inside, so how can we take seriously what amounts to second hand gossip from third parties?
    The reason I am pleased that a thorough investigation is going on is that I think a lot of abuse went on in the Church for too long because things were taken at face value and no-one delved deeper when alarm bells were rung. Again, I say that because another very close relative of mine suffered sexual abuse by a priest who was later jailed after a court case. It took nearly 10 years (and a suicide) between my relative’s disclosure of the abuse to the Church authorities and the prosecution of the priest ( for whom I pray) .

    I am in no way suggesting that this type of abuse has taken place in the FFI, but clearly something has gone wrong, this is not a ‘witch hunt’ against the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

    My personal experience of the FFI is that there is a small community of theirs just over 30 minutes away from us. Some local families I know attend their Masses and Family Days and the brothers and priests are loyal Catholics who are trying to support families. However, I am not aware of them offering Novus Ordo Masses, nor being willing to offer them, only EF Masses.

  45. Rachel K says:

    Sorry, Fr Volti….

  46. Rachel K says:

    Brainstorm! Should read Volpi

  47. mamajen says:

    Amen, Chicken. That’s what I wanted to say.

  48. Imrahil says:

    To me, requiring an oath to hold a certain opinion in a matter free to opinion (viz. the authentic traditionality of the Novus Ordo – at any rate in the most intuitive understanding of the words) is a disproportionate measure under any circumstance.

    Also, suppressing petitions to the Holy See for to be dismissed from the Institute and incorporated into a new Institute to be erected (I think I remember Fr Volpi complaining that some do petition so) is, possibly excepting orders with solemn vows, a disproportionate measure under any circumstance.

    In all this seemingly bad news, I would also point to one piece of good news, though.

    Fr Volpi himself in his letter called the suspension of Summorum Pontificum for the order a temporary ad-hoc measure and implied that it would be lifted in the future, once the problems, whatever they be, are over.

  49. Joe in Canada says:

    I found the CWR piece very helpful. I have no difficulty thinking that those who had (before complaining) found it difficult to dialogue were those who had (at the beginning) collaborated. Now, that’s my interpretation but a) it’s an easy one and b) it fits the sense of the article.
    For those who are concerned about what some here call the “Latin Mass” – has this spread beyond the FFI? Have other institutes been affected? Any parish EF Masses been suspended or cancelled? And – if Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI promulgated SP in his position as supreme liturgist of the Church, wouldn’t Pope Francis have the same legitimate authority to deal with internal matters of an Institute, “to strengthen the brethren”?

  50. Marc M says:

    “I don’t believe the Novus Ordo and new rites can co-exist in religious communities or in parishes they are nearly two different religions…”

    Um. Yikes.

  51. Bosco says:

    Father Z.,
    Is this the end of Bosco? [Ummm… I dunno. Is it? If so, I recommend going to confession as soon as possible.]

  52. TimG says:

    Rachel K – thank you for the link. Very informative.

  53. mamajen says:

    Henry Edwards,

    The question is whether they were disproportionate, that is, whether or not they were justified. So far as I can see, no one who has commented here has any first-hand knowledge on which to base an opinion.

    Exactly! And that is my complaint. I am not “playing liberal” and distracting from substance, but simply trying to point out that Archbold, and many others before him, have no factual basis for their accusations against Fr. Volpi and the calls for his resignation/removal.

  54. The Masked Chicken says:

    After doing some thinking, I think I owe Mr. Archbold an apology and I will drop out of the discussion. Job 40: 2-6 is a good reason.

    The Chicken

  55. The Masked Chicken says:

    Yikes. Should be Job 42: 2 – 6.

  56. Imrahil says:

    Forgive me to say so, by the way… if the following scenario happens:

    – Superior tells subordinate: “See me immediately.”
    – Subordinate says: “My doctors have counseled me not to leave my home, due to sickness.”
    – Superior says: “In that case, follow the doctors; and, in fact, by my duty to care for subordinates, I order you to do so and, as your doctors said, not leave your house for any reason. Did you get that?”

    it reminds me a bit of a scenario like:

    – Military superior says on a Thursday: “Whoever is sick enough to report being sick in spite of as important a task as we have today… must be… breathtakingly sick. I really pity him. … And, because your good old Commander takes care for you… I’ll see to it… that he gets proper treatment. At the lowest, it would be irresponsible to let him go home over the weekend.” (inspired by Sven Regener, Neue Vahr Süd)

    Not very sympathetic. Ah, what a world it would be in which there was no punishment apart from actual punitive and disciplinary measures.

  57. RJHighland says:

    Mark M,
    Thank you for catching the typo. Should have read “I don’t believe the Novus Ordo and Old Rites can co-exist in religious communities or in parishes they are nearly two different religions….”

  58. La Sandia says:

    Has anyone read this? I know it’s from more than a month ago, but apparently Cdl. Castrillon-Hoyos met with the Pope, who reassured him that the FFI situation did not represent a general hostility towards those who attend and promote the EF:

  59. Moro says:

    I’m not sue what to think of the FFI situation as I have no real sense of what is going on the order. That said, I wish the Church was at least as swift in dealing with Legion and all it’s problems as it was with the FFI.

  60. Inigo says:

    Mr Chicken is right.

    If any “traditional Catholic” wants to make a good inpression on the pope, bishops, priests or laity, and wants to sincerely further the cause of the extraordinary form: simply be Catholic! Stop whining, pointing fingers, and quarreling, and be joyful! Go out and feed the poor, give drink to those who thrist, and clothe the naked. These aren’t things “modernists invented at Vatican II”, this is also part of tradition, in fact it is older than the traditional latin mass! Tradition is not just about latin, the extraordinary form, or chapel veils or maniples. Work at your parish, and don’t concern yourself with global stuff you actually know nothing about, you just hear it on the internet. It’s none of your business! God deals the cards, not people belonging to vaguely labeled, actually non-existent, selfabsorbed circles.

    Sorry for the rant.

  61. dmreed says:

    The Catholic World Report you cite has been widely discredited. While you may be trying to be fair I’m afraid you are very close to becoming, what Lenin called a “useful idiot”, for those caring out this grave injustice. Recommend following in masked chicken’s steps.

  62. Andrew says:

    Rachel K:

    In the letter of Fr. Volpi, to which you provided a link, I find the following:

    “To all this, I add the covert gathering of the signatures of religious – without informing the undersigned – solicited by some high-profile members ofthe Institute, in Italy and in communities outside of Italy, with which the Holy See was petitioned for the foundation of a new Institute, characterized especially by the adoption of the Vetus Ordo as ordinary.”

    I find it curious that the writer should find it objectionable that some members of the institute petitioned Rome, while he has no objection to five members petitioning Rome to the contrary, as he mentions in the same letter:

    “Following this, the five religious who were the first to appeal to the Holy See-something which they had every right to do …”

  63. mamajen says:


    “The Catholic World Report you cite has been widely discredited.”

    By whom? I rarely read Catholic blogs other than this one–no time. Would appreciate a good link to back up that assertion so I may enlighten myself. I saw the source of the article referred to as “solid” and “orthodox” here in the comments, and I generally respect the opinions of Father Z’s readership, which is the only reason I passed along the link in the first place.

    “I’m afraid you are very close to becoming, what Lenin called a “useful idiot”…

    Gee, thanks. On second thought, you can skip my above request–I don’t think I’m inclined to consider anything else you might say.

  64. Deacon Augustine says:

    Good catch, Andrew, but apparently these days it is the ends which either justify or discredit the means.

  65. Mr. Green says:

    I agree with MamaJen and Br. Henry and Dans0622 and Inigo et al. Mr. Archbold (and anyone else) should read Fr. Sotelo’s sober remarks about this.

    Does Archbold have a right to express his concerns this way? I dunno, it seems to me more like a privilege. We have no rights against God, and even thought He chose to staff his Church with human beings, He could have imposed even greater obligations of respect and obedience on us. (Anything short of a direct order to commit sin, which is of course inapplicable in Archbold’s case.)
    Anyway, I don’t think his letter was as thoughtful as it should have been. (I support the Masked Chicken’s reply — and I don’t think it was at all grumpy, or that he owes anyone an apology for it either.)

    That’s not to say I am against the faithful taking action via petitions in such circumstances, of course. But our petitions should be directed to those who actually know what is going on and what to do about: namely God and the Saints.

  66. Heather F says:


    I think the difference between the two petitions was that one was the initial request for intervention. The other, if I am reading correctly, was a “covert gathering of signatures” after the intervention began, presumably attempting to go over the duly appointed individual’s head, which strikes me as a significant break from proper procedure. Especially when some of these signatures were apparently gathered under false pretenses.

    This is an institute that is clearly having serious internal problems that go far beyond anything relevant to the outside observer. Unless Mr. Archbold has a supernatural gift of clairvoyance by which he is miraculously able to know all the facts involved in a situation that does not actually directly concern him, he should stop throwing oil on the fire.

  67. Dundonianski says:

    Re mamajen’s last post, a quartet of significant eminence and gravitas challenged the Volpi modus oprandi as early as September and still do! Thy are Roberto de Mattei, the distinguished historian and writer, Mario Palmero, philosopher of law,Andrea Sandri, expert in constitutional law and Giovanni Turio another eminent philosopher. When a co-operative of such intellectuals venture a cumulatively formed view regarding what, by any reasoned evaluation, is a crisis , we should accord a serious modicum of respect for their considered opinion, albeit that it challenges the views of those who support Fr Vopi’s actions.

  68. Urget_nos says:

    The author of the article would do well in such a letter to address the Holy Father, in reference to the Divine Liturgy, with the term ‘Holy Mass’ or at least ‘Mass’ (duly capitalized) instead of referring to the Holy Sacrifice as ‘mass’ (which is the amount of weight of a collection of atoms).

  69. Gretchen says:

    The unrelenting counsel to traditional Catholics to “Stop whining, pointing fingers, and quarreling, and be joyful! Go out and feed the poor, give drink to those who thrist[sic], and clothe the naked…” implies that most of them do not.

    Now attending mass at a traditional parish, I am thrilled to let you know that traditional Catholics are doing just that. Exremely active in helping the poor (including mothers and their babies in danger of abortion), reaching out to youth, helpful support to local religious, and so on.

    The dedicated TLM society at my previous parish donate their own time, funds, talents and so on for the TLM so that the parish staff doesn’t have to lift a finger. They serve at youth events and are generally active in giving to the parish in diverse ways.

    I am sure that this is the rule, rather than the exception. Do I have hope that it might stem the tide of calumny against traditional Catholics? Very little.

  70. Jack007 says:

    mamjen, don’t take offense at the “useful idiot” remark. This is as you may know, a common political term. It is not meant to be a pejorative, although it is often used as such.
    Hopefully the commenter (dmreed) was using it in the poli-sci context?
    I would say that a better choice of words might be in order given that this is a blog where nuances are easily lost. Its also not good form given that you are always such a gracious lady whenever you post here.
    dmreed, I think either an apology or a clarification of your remarks would be in order?
    Yes, this is Fr. Z’s blog, but I’m sure he doesn’t mind if we do a little self policing. I don’t know how he does it all myself! Herding cats? :-)
    Jack In KC

  71. dmreed says:

    I apologize. It was not used as a pejorative but purely for shock value, which is not a good reason. But my point remains that those behind this injustice will depends upon dithering by well intentioned individuals to achieve there ends, whatever they may be.

  72. Mr. Green says:

    Bosco: The number of abortions, divorces, irregular marriages, apostasies, heresies, sacrilegious Masses got you down? Well, it seems then YOU are the problem my friend. You have obviously strayed from Jesus.

    Well, it should be obvious, but alas, many folks these days aren’t even familiar with the basics.

    For I am sure that neither the number of abortions nor of divorces,
    neither irregular marriages nor sacrilegious Masses,
    neither apostasies nor heresies,
    nor anything else in all creation,
    shall be able to separate us from the love of God
    which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    This is joyful news indeed. The Pope knows it. The rest of us should as well.

  73. Andrew says:

    Heather F

    What makes one request “covert” and another request “not covert”? And even if some requests are “covert” why is it so important? Why not – in good will – focus on the content of the request instead? Your son asks you for something. Are you going to punish him for asking?

  74. mamajen says:

    Jack007, dmreed: Thank you, both.

  75. kevinm says:

    And now the pushing aside of Cardinal Burke…is it time to start worrying????????????


  76. Cavaliere says:

    @Gretchen, I am sure that this is the rule, rather than the exception. Do I have hope that it might stem the tide of calumny against traditional Catholics? Very little.

    I wish that were the rule but in my experience it is not. Certainly they are helpful and supportive of their own parish. Outside of that I haven’t seen as much.

  77. Inigo says:

    @ Gretchen

    Thank you for pointing out my spelling error, I’m sure you did this in charity, and not to humiliate me. My mother language is not english, I appreciate every help I get to polish my language skills further.

    I’m happy to hear, that everything is OK at your parish, and that the faithful there are living their faith! It is truly wonderful, give thanks to the Lord every day for this community, because sadly, not every group of Catholics who call themselves “traditional” think and live the way you do. What you refer to as “unrelenting counsel” is pointed exactly at people, who identify themsleves with labels that make them stick out of the crowd, point the attention to only themselves and their ideas and wys, and who rather quarrel, than do acts of mercy and charity. This is true for both “sides” , traditional and liberal/modernist as well. My point is exactly this: Both extremes point at the other as being the source of the division, both are overly preoccupied with liturgy, and both hope for a more enlithened pope who will personally further their one and only true cause, and both are in shock and horror, if the pope does not want to adopt neither ideological labels, but wishes to remain simply Catholic. So why call yourself “traditional” Catholic if the only thing you accomplish by labeling yourself is to unknowingly further the divide? Why isn’t Catholic enough?

  78. lana says:


    Regarding your 3-point rebuttal.

    1. I agree there seems to be an inconsistency.
    2. Regarding the statistics. I thought the obvious point there by the author was that a large percentage of FFI (77 percent of 64 percent) wanted a commissioner. This is opposed to the oft-quoted ‘5’ who some think are the only ones who wanted an intervention. Whether a majority (50.3) did not think an intervention was warranted seems beside the point. The point is, much more than 5 wanted an intervention.
    3. Fr Volpi was told by the medical staff that Fr Manelli could not receive visits, so no, he couldn’t go visit him to get clarification on the questions.

    (well….. my self-censorship did not last long, did it? Perhaps I also should go read Job.)

  79. Jack Hughes says:


    Catholic isn’t enough because the modernists who hijcked the Church use Catholic terms whilst meaning very different things by them e.g. Father X talks about the Resurrection, what he actually means is ‘after Jesus was crucified and buried, his disciples made up the story of the Resurrection to convey how much they loved him; when talking about the Blessed Sacrament, he doesn’t actually believe that that IS Jesus, he means the presence of Christ within the community.

    I’ve met several Catholics who think they can be devout Catholics whilst being pro ‘gay marriage’, pro abortion, think they have no need for confession and that Sunday Mass is ‘optional’ and equate devout with turning up 12 times a year (including Christmas and Easter).

  80. Patrick-K says:

    I’m going to have to agree with Rachel K’s insightful comment. Lacking detailed information about the situation, it is imprudent to take offense at this or that action. What little solid facts we do know are not exactly harbingers of the apocalypse. A couple of other points:

    (1) Quaeritur of our esteemed host: Is forbidding the E.F. in violation of S.P.? Is it canonically valid? It would seem to me that since religious take vows of obedience, then it is a valid action. (Not to speak to its judiciousness.) One can, for example, mandate that members of a particular order wear a certain color, say, black, as the Augustinians do. Mandating the wearing of black for that order is not a general law for the Church, and is certainly not an attack on the Dominicans who wear white or the Franciscans who wear brown. I hope no one will be offended if I suggest that this topic is becoming a bit overheated and could use with an injection of some dry, boring canon law.

    (2) It is not kindness to ignore those in your care. Some have asked “Why hasn’t this been done to the LCWR?” Well, it may be that the Vatican is giving them enough rope to hang themselves with. If you love someone, you pay attention to them; sometimes you admonish them.

  81. Long-Skirts says:

    This is not just about the “Latin”/”Tridentine” Mass, it’s about the WHOLE Catholic Faith.


    One day Assisi
    The next day Latin
    One day The Way
    Some use a paten.

    Some let ministers
    Hand out Our Lord
    So you can have your pick.

    Sometimes gay
    Assembly on their feet
    Holding hands in the air
    Kneelers obsolete.

    One Holy Catholic
    Apostolic Church?
    Good for some let others run
    In circles as they search.

    For we are all approved
    Don’t ever rock the boat —
    Like those who open schools have classes
    Teaching souls to float.

    Saintly Thomas More
    Could’ve had it all
    Private Latin Masses
    Behind a purpled wall.

    But no – he chose the scaffold
    Where truth and lie collide

    Heads were cut —

    Entrails gut –

    Ambiguity couldn’t hide!

  82. LadyMarchmain says:

    Mamajen, the article you referenced has quite a few erroneous assertions, not to mention the inconsistencies pointed out by others here. As you, by your own admission, accepted this version without questioning it or reading other more accurate and detailed accounts, it’s understandable that the terms “draconian” and “disproportionate” would seem excessive to you. When more details are known, to the extent that we can know them, it becomes clear that these are very harsh sanctions, indeed, and yet, the cause for applying them seems to be little more than “traditionalist drift”.

    It’s important in a difficult case like this to read as many different viewpoints as possible and to try (to the extent we can) to ascertain the full truth.

    As for the general discussion about what kind of practicing Catholics traditionalists are, this is very very sad to me. People, we are not to judge one another in this way! Log, eye much?

  83. Vecchio di Londra says:

    The problem with accusations of crypto-anything is that evidence is never satisfactorily presented to either confirm or deny, because allegedly it’s ‘crypto’, so hidden away (or non-existent). It may take some time for the truth (or falsehood) to out: it may never emerge.
    My instinct is that this all has some connection I can’t quite follow with the new appointments/dismissals in the Congregation for Bishops and the radical reorganisation of the Curia. Careful treading needed there. When I read the new CfB list, a little light went on.

    Mr Archbold’s letter seems a bit too plangent and clamorous, and a bit ‘victim-y’ and rhetorical. Rome does not usually ‘get’ the Anglo-Saxon tradition of free speech, honest frankness and democratic ‘fairness’, or the right of the ‘little guy’ to his opinion. (‘Mr Smith Goes to Washington’ may not be on their most-watched list of film faves.:-)
    I don’t think we should polarize this issue so broadly. There’s obviously quite enough danger of that happening already, and it could damage the good work so far: we should keep the main spiritual goals in mind (EF provision, faithful pastors, evangelization of true doctrine) and bite our tongues.
    As for “I fear that one message will be loud and clear: Faithful Catholic traditionalists no longer have a place in the Church.” That implied question is far too dangerously ironic: the Roma locuta answer might well be ‘Well, thank you for raising the matter: now you mention it, No They Don’t!’
    This is a confrontation we should avoid imo. The Queensberry rules would not be observed.

  84. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Btw, does anyone have any idea what pre-1969 ‘traditional things….I mean disciplines’ (apart from ‘spiritual bouquets’) the Holy Father dislikes so much as to declare with repugnance, as he did, that ‘They no longer exist’? It might be worth finding out…

  85. LadyMarchmain says:

    Vecchio, We don’t know for certain, but usually the disciplines perceived as pre-1969 would be things like adoration, benediction, novenas, rosaries, use of sacramentals like scapulars and medals, holy hours, possibly he would also be referring to flagellation and other penitential practices.

  86. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Mr Green,

    I don’t think anybody should be reproached because the numbers of abortions, etc. brings him down.

    As Our Lord said, “Blessed are ye who mourn, for they shall be consoled”.

    Does this make what you say untrue? No it does not, but it may legitimately reduce it to a thought in the back of one’s head, not to be denied for sure, but not hindering such grief as is either legitimate or even a religiously good thing, when the said grief comes.

    Does this make what the Pope said unhelpful? I’m sorry. Yes.

    I do not mean to be gloomy, indeed, preferring joy and serenity and, as far as allowed, laxity myself, among other things precisely for that reason (because it would disturb real joy if you always have to be joyful) I’d insist on what I also think to be true:

    There is not the tiniest commandment to smile constantly.

    Indeed the spiritual practice of forcing oneself to smile constantly is probably, for normal men, not even particularly commendable, and possibly unhealthy. Though perhaps there are some people for whom that is not true.

    (Though, dear @Bosco, I wonder what the Bible says that our Lord was. My bible does not say “sorrowful”, but “shaken”. He did weep for Lazarus, though.)

    [And another “though”: It is most-time charitable to the neighbors to be more joyful, because it is more agreeable to talk to joyful persons than to gloomy ones.]

  87. mamajen says:


    “As for “I fear that one message will be loud and clear: Faithful Catholic traditionalists no longer have a place in the Church.” That implied question is far too dangerously ironic: the Roma locuta answer might well be ‘Well, thank you for raising the matter: now you mention it, No They Don’t!’”


  88. Fr_Sotelo says:

    In the interest of full disclosure, I have to warn people. My friends have informed me that according that Lion of the Sacristy, aka ROAR!ate Caeli, I am an “ignorant jerk.” I have been praying for the grace, ex opere operato, to care what they think when I read their blog. Oh wait, I don’t bother to read ROARate Caeli, so I’m not sure when that grace will kick in. I’m sure very soon Pope Francis will read it, fire Fr. Volpi, and then immediately fall on his knees and apologize to that august blog for daring to be elected Roman Pontiff–without their permission! (the nerve)

  89. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Inigo,

    I personally think that the dear @Gretchen was not particularly intending to correct you, but simply giving a citation. There is some rule that you mark spelling mistakes with a “[sic]” to indicate that they are not yours but you don’t dare change the quoted text. That certainly does not mean to humiliate, nor even really to charitably correct, but merely to get one’s own citation right.

  90. Joe in Canada says:

    In Jesuit lingo “the discipline” meant exactly self-flagellation. By extension it could also include the cilice and hairshirt – corporal mortifications. I rather strongly suspect he does NOT mean devotions such as you mention.

  91. mamajen says:


    I’ve been wondering about #1 as well. I found this in Instruction on the Application of the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum:

    19. The faithful who ask for the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria or against the Roman Pontiff as Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church.

    Given what we know of accusations of crypto-Lefebrvianism, the oath, etc. that makes me go “hmmm…”, but then religious aren’t “the faithful” (are they?), so I’m not sure that that particular point could be grounds to deny S.P. to the FFI. Still, it shows that the rights of S.P. don’t come without certain conditions and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

  92. brhenry says:

    Bravo Fr. Sotelo. As I understand it, a priest(or deacon) must have faculties to preach in any given diocese, yet the Internet has seemingly given “universal faculties” to anyone(clergy or lay). Anyone can start a blog and “preach” and it is astounding how many people receive the messages as “authoritative.” There are as many “magisteriums” as there are blogs.

  93. mamajen says:

    Fr. Sotelo,

    I remember you from wayyyy back when you used to help Fr. Z with the Ask Father Question Box (if I’m not mistaken). You were very helpful and informed then, and your current blog is further evidence of that. I appreciate your comments here, too. I know they haven’t hurt your feelings, but I am sorry whoever it is was so out-of-line and frighteningly disrespectful. I just looked it up and it’s out there for the whole world to see. Unbelievable. Oh yes, I’m sure Pope Francis will take their concerns right to heart.

  94. Fr_Sotelo says:


    You have an excellent memory. Yes, Fr. Z was very kind to let me help him with that Question Box way back when (well over 10 years ago). Btw, thanks for being recollected about this sad state of affairs re: the FFI, along with some other excellent posts here.

  95. Gretchen says:

    Imrahil, thank you. That is exactly what I meant. I attempt to be as exact as possible when commenting, due to the nature of blog conversations. I meant no disrespect to Inigo, but simply wanted to express that the quote was exact.

    Inigo, unfortunately we are reduced to labeling Catholics according to flavors. I believe this is the result of the confusion and disorientation since V2. To be able to think of the Faithful as simply Catholics, no more no less, would be a great blessing. Alas, in order to be as clear as possible, we must use labels at this point in time.

    I also want to be clear that I mentioned having experience with ‘traditional’ Catholics in two parishes in my last post. Also, I do not want to assume what types of good works are done by either traditional or non-traditional Catholics. I only can say what I see within the parish structure. I know that most Catholics are very generous with their time, talent, and treasure to a variety of charities and causes, and that this has been true whatever label one wishes to attach to a particular Catholic. Therefore, I continue to be nonplussed at the frequent lecturing of traditional Catholics when I have seen precious little evidence to support that in two very different parishes in widely different geographical areas.

    Jack Hughes, thank you for explaining so well the reason for labels.

  96. Mr. Green says:

    Imrahil: I don’t think anybody should be reproached because the numbers of abortions, etc. brings him down.

    You are absolutely right, and I pretty much agree with everything you said.

    Does this make what the Pope said unhelpful? I’m sorry. Yes.

    …except for this. I don’t think the Pope said anything unhelpful. In fact, I think it is clear what the Pope meant even out of context. After all, he is not a fool; he knows very well that Christians feel sad, and that the world is full of things to feel genuinely sad about. So we know that that is not what he meant; and in context, it is completely obvious. Bosco even posted the link which makes it quite clear:

    Christian joy and hope are grounded in God’s fidelity, “in the certainty that he always keeps his promises,” he said, adding that this joy flows from knowing you are welcomed and loved by God.

    Christian joy is found in Jesus Christ’s faithful and boundless love, he said, that is why “when a Christian becomes sad, it means he has strayed from Jesus.”

    The Christian joy that Francis speaks of is not just a feeling, any more than real love is a “feeling”, or the peace that the world cannot give is a “feeling”. But a lot of people in the world don’t understand that, so it is helpful, it does need to be said. What is unhelpful is when other people quote the Pope out of context and try to make it sound as though he said something he didn’t.

  97. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Lady M,
    You may be right. We really cannot know without (yet another) clarification from him what Francis can have meant in this highly informal ‘audience’, when as he was describing the offer to him of a spiritual bouquet, he referred to a “Pelagian…return to practices and to disciplines that I lived through…to disciplines, to things that in that moment took place, but not now, they do not exist today…”
    But could he really have been referring to the 40 Hours Adoration, Benediction, the Stations, the public recital of the Rosary, the Litanies, and so on? They are not at all in the past, they are devotions found in most churches in my city, even in Jesuit churches. (I know because I used to attend one.)
    And flagellation? Surely not…
    Joe in Canada: The Holy Father was speaking here off-the-cuff (when does he not?) And it looks as if he was using the word ‘discipline’ as loosely as the word ‘thing’. Flagellation (as you say, known technically as the ‘discipline’) was a Jesuit practice in the 16th century, but not in the mid to late 20th century. It can’t have been something the Pope ‘lived through’ or even came across. I suppose he might have known about Opus Dei. But to bundle it together with the gift of a papal spiritual bouquet would be absurd. (Still, you’d think he’d know what the word ‘discipline’ could mean to today’s flighty media…)

    Possibly he was referring to plenary indulgences, those obtained under quite specific and restrictive conditions? and maybe to the detailed regulation of fasting and abstinence?

    Personally, I think just praying whatever words spontaneously come into your mind, until you spontaneously feel like getting up and doing something else, can be so much more ‘Pelagian’ than saying the Rosary and sticking with its full length and number, even when you feel tired or not in the mood for formal prayer. That is devotion, for which another name is discipline – the same discipline one would use in the gym. Without it, the muscles stay flabby.
    Equally, ignoring the traditional fasting prescriptions, and just doing ‘what you can’ in terms of fasting, – isn’t it amazing how perfunctory such ‘relaxed’ fasting always turns out to be, and how little spiritual comfort it seems to give.
    St Teresa wrote very wisely on these matters.

  98. Hank Igitur says:

    Let us pray for the Pope, for Volpi and for the the FFI members that this matter is resolved for the good of all and with the preservation of the Liturgy and standing of Summorum Pontificum. May the conduct of no individual or group lead to any diminution or restriction of the provisions of SP.

  99. Katylamb says:

    Pope Francis has publicly urged people on more than one occasion to pray the rosary, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, so what’s all this nonsense of people implying that he’s against them?

  100. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Katylamb – I agree that the Holy Father couldn’t possibly be ‘against the Rosary’, but from his remarks it’s difficult to know exactly what it is he is against. On 6th June he spoke of his concern about ‘the Pelagian current that there is in the Church at this moment’, and gave as an example ‘an anecdote just to illustrate this…when I was elected, I received a letter from one of these groups, and they said: “Your Holiness, we offer you this spiritual treasure: 3,525 rosaries.”Why don’t they say, “we pray for you, we ask…”, but this thing of counting… And these groups return to practices and to disciplines that I lived through – not you, because you are not old – to disciplines, to things that in that moment took place, but not now, they do not exist today… ‘

    The remark ‘”Why don’t they say, “we pray for you, we ask…” suggests he might be against the dedicatory offering of formal prayer, but it’s difficult to parse. Counting is a vital part of many prayer offerings (the Rosary being one of the most prominent examples). Without the ability to count, even the Kyrie would dissolve into nonsense.

    So perhaps he’s in favour of the Rosary, but not of offering up a number of them? It is difficult to think of what ‘practices’ he might have in mind, that ‘do not exist today’. What are they? And if they ‘no longer exist’, why are they a ‘Pelagian’ problem? Some clear, crisp papal expression would help on this and other questions.

  101. Gretchen and Inigo,

    It occurs to me that your apparently disparate views of traditionals may actually result from observation of two different animals–traditional Catholics on the ground in parishes and TLM communities, versus combox trads whose views I myself see mainly expressed only on the internet.

    In my own rather wide (and lengthy) experience on the ground, it appears that many or most ordinary parish trads are quite visible in general parish activities–teaching RE and RCIA, devotions and prayer groups, in choirs and youth groups, participating in charitable and social service activities, and are especially prominent as pro-life in parish, diocesan and other pro-life efforts. Many of those I attend EF Mass on Sundays are seen at OF Mass on weekdays. On the whole, the traditional Catholics I know personally appear to offer fine examples of everyday Christian living and practice, and to the display the joy and peace that faith promises.

    In contrast with the “whining trads” whose comments and views admittedly are prevalent in certain Catholic blogs, but whom I mostly see only there. Whereas a majority of the dynamism in TLM communities comes from youth and converts carrying no baggage or preconceptions, I often get the impression that the stereotypical “bitter trads” of the internet represent mainly an older generation showing battle scars from past persecutions.

  102. Gretchen says:

    Henry Edwards, a very good point.

  103. The Masked Chicken says:

    I apologized to Mr. Archbold in this comment box, yesterday and I think I need to do the same to Fr. Volpi’s and, perhaps CWR. I do not know Fr. Volpi. I know nothing about this situation except what I read from second-hand sources. It is so easy to form snap judgments of complex situations in the desire to make comments in comment boxes. The printed CWR article is fair game for analysis, so that is less likely to veer into rash judgment.

    I have so very little contact with any of these issues that it seems to me that, other than simply praying, most comments by me or most outsiders on these issues come very close to bring a near occasion of sin.

    I have use a lot more self-caution in making comments on these issues from Rome, in the future.

    The Chicken

  104. robtbrown says:

    Mr Green says,

    …except for this. I don’t think the Pope said anything unhelpful. In fact, I think it is clear what the Pope meant even out of context. After all, he is not a fool; he knows very well that Christians feel sad, and that the world is full of things to feel genuinely sad about. So we know that that is not what he meant; and in context, it is completely obvious. Bosco even posted the link which makes it quite clear:

    A few weeks ago I visited friends I have known for some years. He is an MD, now retired, and their son is a priest. Both have been daily communicants for years and are regulars at Adoration. She has worked in one of the Right to Life groups (Birthright, I think) as long as I’ve known her. Good people with a sense of humor whose faith touches every aspect of their lives.

    She mentioned to me, without being asked, her concern with the pope’s comments about abortion, that she had worked in Birthright for 40 years, and that most of those girls/women were poor. She was stunned that it seemed the pope was not supporting what she and others have been doing.

    What does it say if the pope’s remarks leave good Catholics scratching their heads and wondering what’s up while those who think homosexuality is equivalent to heterosexuality stand and applaud?

    I have said before that IMHO this pope is in OJT. He simply is having to learn that a unified message is necessary (there is the possibility that such a unified approach runs contrary to Jesuit Spirituality). The approach of saying one thing to one group and something different to another is going to lead to misunderstandings.

    IMHO, this Vatican/FFI mess is just another foul up by people who don’t understand that their audience is not a limited group. And it did not help that Fr Lombardi said that the suspension of the right, given in SP, to use the 1962 Missal is not a suspension of the right, given in SP, to use the 1962 Missal.

  105. LadyMarchmain says:

    Vecchio: This is interesting. My very first thought when I heard the word “disciplines” was to think as Joe in Canada did of “the discipline”–far from being a 16th century practice, the little bundle of whips was standard issue in some religious communities well into the 20th century. Its application was optional, but may sometimes have been given as a penance. Because of the plural, I wondered if Holy Father meant other penitential and devotional practices. It’s regrettable but true that there are many parishes which have completely eliminated such devotions, telling the laity “Vatican II did away with all that.” I guess we can’t really know for sure.

    The idea of mortification and penance, even fasting and other penitential acts, is not often at the forefront of our daily lives as Catholics. I first encountered these types of recommendations in the confessional in the context of a TLM community (not SSPX, FSSP, or Christ the King, or sedevacantist, just to be clear).

    Chicken: Thank you for your sober and reflective words. We are all walking wounded; as Holy Father says and Fr Z reminds us, military dressing station and the casualties mounting all around us. Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison.

  106. liquidpaw says:

    I’m not an SSPX chapel member, but it would not be such a bad thing, being known as a “crypto-Lefebverist”…after all he was one of the last few bishops with the courage to stand up for what was Catholic. He admitted there was something extremely wrong with the Church, as he taught nothing different after VII than as he did under Pope Pius XII, who’s exact words describing Archbishop Lefebvre were “my best Apostolic Delegate”. After VII, he was ruthlessly attacked by the liberals and modernists running the show, while those who knew it was wrong remained fearful and silent. Pope Pius the XII was a very holy man, by all counts, and see how his name has been ruthlessly attacked. Think something isn’t wrong with this picture? Contrast those men to many of our “Catholic” leaders today ( with the exception of Cardinal Burke and very few others). They never expressed the warped views expressed by many of these men of VII. Never would they have ever prayed with tribesmen or Hindus or any other false religion, nor would they have ever encouraged Islamic people to “keep the faith”. They lived and taught what the majority in the Church no longer know or teach: Catholic Truth.

  107. LadyMarchmain says:

    liquidpaw: yes.

  108. Katylamb says:

    Vecchio di Londra: I don’t know what his remarks on that occasion meant and I’m not the least bit troubled by them. I don’t blame others if they are troubled by things he says that they don’t understand, but I am not bothered. It is enough to me to know very clearly that he has urged us to say the rosary daily. Therefore, whatever he said that I don’t understand on some other occasion I know he didn’t mean that the rosary is obsolete. I felt some were implying that he meant that, and it isn’t true.

  109. Vecchio di Londra says:

    No, I don’t know either what he meant, but surely most Catholics want to try to understand what the Holy Father is condemning and what he is recommending?
    He certainly has asked the faithful to pray the Rosary on at least two occasions. But on another occasion he also said this: “The Lord tells us: ‘The first task in life is this: prayer.’ But not the prayer of words, like a parrot; but the prayer of the heart: gazing on the Lord, hearing the Lord, asking the Lord” (Oct. 8 daily homily)
    Which is scarcely reconcilable with saying the Rosary – unless every single word of the five or fifteen decades is not a ‘prayer of words’ but a spontaneous gazing and hearing.
    I think most would find this quite a challenge :-)

    Read more:

  110. mamajen says:


    Pope Francis doesn’t want us showing off. Whether the group who offered those rosaries that prompted his remarks actually were trying to show off, or genuinely trying to do something nice and helpful, I don’t know. I will assume the best of them. But, the numbers are not what should matter. It was pretty clear to me.

    “Gazing on the Lord”, etc. is incompatible with the rosary? Really? What if we’re reflecting on the mysteries as we pray? What if we pray while literally gazing at the Lord during Eucharistic adoration? Just a couple examples. It is very possible to just go into “autopilot” and utter words without thinking about them. I wouldn’t say it’s meaningless to pray like that, but of course we can do better.

    He prays 15 decades daily and recently prescribed the rosary as a “medicine”, so it’s abundantly clear that he is not discouraging the rosary.

  111. HighMass says:


    You hit the nail on the head! I am at this point in life…..if we had a St. Pius X Chapel in our are I WOULD BE THERE!

    I am so sick of all of this…..

    Those of us who lived during and thru the VII……This is a repeat of that secenario……we had men in charge during Benedict’s Pontificate that we conservative/moderate… we have a re-surge of the Liberal’s………………It makes me sad :( GOD help us!

  112. Mr. Green says:

    Vecchio di Londra: Matthew 6:7

  113. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Of course prayer is, or should be, a synthesis of the heart and mind. But you have created a helpful synthesis which the Holy Father did not. I’m afraid I didn’t express clearly enough my particular concern with the Pope’s use of the critical word ‘parrot’ in connection with ‘prayer of the word’. It reads like a condemnation of formal prayer. If the Holy Father had only said: ‘Make sure that when you use a prayer of the word, that you make it a prayer of the heart.’ But he didn’t. He made the two kinds of prayer contrary to each other, and even mutually exclusive.
    In my previous post I should have said ‘would scarcely be reconcilable’ to make the subjunctive mood clear – I was expressing what I saw as the extreme opposites set up by the Holy Father’s formulation, not my own view. And I was being a touch ironical.
    Of course I don’t find (who could!) that the Rosary is incompatible with the deepest contemplation, indeed it can lead directly there (as St Teresa said). To set up an antithesis of irreconcilable enmity between the ‘prayer of the heart’ (four-legs-good) and the ‘prayer of words’ (two-legs-bad) as the Holy Father did seems most unhelpful: that was my intended point.

  114. eulogos says:

    I only know a few of the FFI and of course do not know all the details of this situation. But I am a bit upset that some here who know none of them are now imagining dark things. Last Friday evening I happened to see the leader of the local FFI community and some of the young men (novices?) a concert of sacred music. He came over to say hello to the group I was with, from the schola. I was impressed by the peace in his face and movements despite all the turmoil his group is going through.

    I was at the Easter vigil-in the ordinary form-at the friary last year. The young men had created an amazing and elaborate set up for lighting the holy fire and were taking the kind of delight young men take in such things. I was actually pretty delighted myself. What I am trying to say is that I have experienced peace and joy in the FFI I know, as well as complete loyalty to the Church, n

  115. eulogos says:

    continued, sorry, posted too soon

    nothing which would have warranted the stern tone of the letter of Fr. Volpi. Again, I have no inside track and do not know more than a few of them in one place, but I thought I should contribute that view to those who seem to be taking a “where there’s smoke there is fire” approach.

    As for Mr. Archbold’s letter, I think it is just a cry from the heart of someone who sees the good in the FFI priests and brothers that he knows and hates to think of this happening to them. I doubt it will make much difference, but I think he does speak for many lay people who benefit from their ministry.
    Susan Peterson

  116. Mr. Green says:

    Vecchio di Londra: It reads like a condemnation of formal prayer.

    That’s not quite right. You meant: you read it like a condemnation of formal prayer. I didn’t read it that way. MamaJen didn’t read it that way. Lots of other people didn’t read it that way. So we have two interpretations of what the Pope said: one contradicts Church teaching and is rather strange — in fact, bizarre coming from a man who is known to pray the entire Rosary every day, among other things. The other interpretation is expressing a well-known saying of Jesus. Which one should we think is correct?

  117. LadyMarchmain says:

    Mr. Green,
    I imagine that Vecchio, like many of us, is sensitized to Pope Francis’ comments because of previous statements he has made that were critical of the rosary and prayers of repetition.

    I believe there is also some sensitivity resulting from an accumulation of denigration of the rosary generally (sad to say). I’m sure everyone can agree that there has been a tendency to a certain kind of “auto-think” that sets up an “either-or”, assuming that someone saying the rosary is engaged in mindless repetition; that being passionate about observance and the TLM means indifference to the plight of the poor and suffering.

    Mamajen, thank you for drawing my attention to Pope Francis’ personal dedication to daily recitation of the rosary. I read his account of this with great interest.

  118. Mr. Green says:

    Lady Marchmain: I believe there is also some sensitivity resulting from an accumulation of denigration of the rosary generally (sad to say).

    Yes, that is quite true; I am concerned, though, that we ought not take it out on our Holy Father. I am completely sympathetic to sensitivity and confusion — I have often been puzzled myself by things said by Pope Francis… but often all it takes to figure it out is to look up what he said in its proper context. If someone, say, didn’t know that the Pope prays the rosary every day, one should find out before jumping to conclusions. After all, we owe a lot of respect to the Pope, and we have plenty of opportunities to delve into his remarks, including asking other people on sites like this!

  119. Vecchio di Londra says:

    It is reassuring that the Holy Father has recommended the Rosary. I find it all the more confusing and inconsistent that he condemns as ‘Pelagianism’ the communal offering to him of a spiritual bouquet of Rosaries made with a clearly generous intention. And I’m not the only one who is puzzled.

    We’ve strayed rather far from the topic, which is the FFI, and what might be the reasons for the extraordinary measure of depriving them entirely of the traditional Latin Mass that is the right of all the faithful under Summorum Pontificum. My original question related to Fr Volpi’s accusation that the FFI were “crypto-lefebvrist”.
    Does anyone know what the grounds are for this grave charge? Fr Volpi has stated that he is acting at the instigation of the Pope.

  120. LadyMarchmain says:

    Vecchio, Rorate Caeli has posted something new from the FFI sisters, who say there is no basis for Fr Volpi’s accusations (that is, for the accusations and charges concerning matters where the sisters have direct knowledge and can speak authoritatively about). It seems to me that if there had been anything of an incipient schismatic character, we would have seen resistance and insurrection at the time of the initial sanctions. Instead, as I recall, the order, with striking unanimity and humility, acquiesced and seemed earnestly in good faith. This makes recent measures seem extraordinary indeed.

  121. lana says:

    Vecchio, Pope Francis is devoted to St Therese. Perhaps his admonition about counting is along these lines from her:

    “My director, Jesus, teaches me not to count my acts. He teaches me to do all through love, to refuse him nothing…”

  122. Vecchio di Londra says:

    @Lady Marchmain,
    That is most disturbing: it seems to demand an extraordinary degree of humility from the order. If that is so, may God reward them.

    @lana, One’s private charitable acts should of course not be ‘counted’ or told. But the spiritual bouquet is (by definition) the gift of a certain number of Rosaries offered by a group for the Pope’s intention. The number of the prayers in a spiritual bouquet has always been communicated to the papal recipient in the same way that a bouquet consists of a visible number of visible flowers. The numbers represent the many hours of prayer that a group of the faithful have sacrificed freely and in obedience, for the intentions of the Holy Father. It is not publicised or boasted about: it is kept between those offering the prayers, and the Pope who receives the gift. (Unless he chooses to tell others about it, as he did.) The number of prayers attached to the spiritual bouquet is not a matter of pride, but of information; No other pope has ever criticized the tradition, or made of fun of it.

    One thing it is certainly not is ‘Pelagian’.

  123. LadyMarchmain says:

    Or Neo-Pelagian! It was the loving gift of time and devotion on behalf of the Pope.

    Imrahil, it seems the FFI stand in need of our prayers this Christmastide.

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