Catholic Identity and You

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

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

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

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

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

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

I repeat.  Do not stop.  Do not flag.  Do not relent.  Keep working for your goals and legitimate aspirations.  Push forward.

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  1. Pingback: Spanish Speaking Pope Has Vatican Racing to Learn Spanish

  2. Gratias says:

    The TLM faces a difficult time. The FFI commisariat points to the peril for Summorum Pontificum. We should push forward but make a point of keeping what we had with Benedict XVI.

  3. iPadre says:

    It’s all very sad. And at the same time, the nuts at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Boston take part in the “gay pride” march. Many of the Frankies of that province have openly supported active homosexual relationships. Yet, they continue this evil work without any repercussions.

  4. StMichael71 says:

    While other people might be trying to make the FFIs into a mascot for oppressed traditionalists (read: Rorate), I am not convinced that this is the case in the least. Instead, I really don’t see anything other than a localized problem of religious life in a relatively new institute. It doesn’t mean every other religious institute is doing great, but it shouldn’t be taken to be a criticism of permission for the Extraordinary Form. If Papa Francesco wanted to suppress the EF, he’d just do so with a Motu Proprio – if he wanted to suppress all traditionalist religious orders, he could – if he wanted to suppress Ecclesia Dei, he would in a flash of a pen stroke. In reality, as opposed to fears and rumors, he hasn’t done anything like that. He might not have a particular love for the EF, but that’s quite a long way from what has actually happened in the limited instance of the FFIs.

    I don’t have my knickers in a twist worrying about persecution of traditionalists as a consequence. The rumors of “processes” against people who like the EF are just that – rumors – and remind me of the kind of nonsense over at Rorate that seems to imply Vatican II was a Masonic plot. Give me a break. Frankly, the FFI is not a traditionalist order devoted to exclusive use of the old rite. If there are community squabbles over the Mass, I am in wholehearted agreement with the Pope that the best thing might be to have communities individually petition for the EF until an investigation is over and tempers have settled. If the Pope is in error and the investigation is biased, it isn’t a statement about the EF or even about the FFI charism. On the other hand, if they can’t get on with continue to practice their kind of strict poverty according to the Rule of St. Francis in a vibrant religious life with only the Ordinary Form, something is terribly wrong. The Franciscans were not founded merely to say the EF Mass. The agitation of traditionalists who think this is a fight over the EF, however, only makes such a situation worse for everyone involved.

    Finally, to be completely honest, if someone thinks religious life is only about the EF and thinks religious life cannot exist without it (as some FFIs have seemed to believe, given the comments in some traditionalist blogs), he has a serious vocational problem. I can understand joining a traditionalist institute because one only wants to say the EF Mass, but we can’t confuse a particular set of liturgical rubrics from 1962 with the charism of a religious institute or, even worse, with the importance of the Mass itself (coming from a lover of the Dominican Rite and Byzantine Liturgy). The latter seems to me to be a real problem we can’t ignore among some traditionalists. One can hold that the EF Mass is great, beautiful, and even the hands-down best way to worthily celebrate the Mass, but it seems entirely too much to think that the rubrics of this form are our salvation.

  5. Uxixu says:

    I’d echo that. The news is decidedly one sided on this and alarmist without enough good cause, though many of us with affinity for the Usus Antiquior and a larger reform of the reform are naturally wary.

    The Holy Father seems more indifferent to the liturgical details. This is definitely bad PR, though, and many of the actions just look bad, especially how the founder of FFI has reputedly been treated.

  6. ppb says:

    I am not convinced that there is a new persecution of the EF going on, undeclared or otherwise. I certainly don’t see that in my area. While the excitement and growth of the immediate post-SP years has leveled off, I think in many places EF communities are stable and are deepening their roots in their dioceses in various ways. There are always problems, of course, and I’m always sad to hear of places where EFs have been cancelled; but on the other hand, in many places the atmosphere for the EF is *MUCH* better than it was 10 years ago. If someone can provide hard statistics indicating that large numbers of TLMs are being cancelled throughout the world, I might reconsider my opinion; but at this point I don’t see it. I do think a small segment of the traditionalist movement is overreacting.

  7. Robbie says:

    After reading this story, I feel like I should cover my eyes and pretend I didn’t read it so I can say everything is fine. Ugh.

  8. Priam1184 says:

    I don’t know what the deal is with the FFI. There are malicious opponents of the ancient Liturgy in the Vatican (and everywhere else in the Church hierarchy) and they will doubtless exploit every opportunity to remove it from the life of the Church but the FFI it seems like they did everything they could to make it easy for them in this case and that was stupid on their part.

    If the haters in the Vatican ever want to make a real assault on Summorum Pontificum we will know it because they will go after Norcia.

  9. Gratias says:

    Many EF masses that were offered by FFI priests have been lost to Catholic faithful. To cite one, the daily early Mass at the Church of the Annunziatta, at Lungotevere Vaticano 1 a few hundred meters from the Vatican, attended by people working for the Curia before going to work, is now gone. I think everyone’s right to the TLM is endangered by the suppression of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. Many of us think that we will need the EF to right the direction of the Church. The post-Vatican II Church is on the wrong track.

    We should continue pouring our time and money into the very few Diocesan EF masses allowed. We have some in the USA and Europe but in Latin America the EF has been almost completely suppressed. We may have to stay under the radar screen to keep what we have for the benefit of future generations. We are a tiny minority which has grown only slowly. But each one of us makes a big difference. Siempre adelante.

  10. kpoterack says:


    Thank you. Amen to everything you said. I still go with what tipped me off almost a year ago. Two FFI priests supported the intervention. They were denounced as “liberals” by online commentators. Turned out not only were they doctrinally orthodox, they both celebrated the EF regularly. Folks, this is much more complicated. I am not saying everything is fair nor that there are no people with nefarious motives. What I am saying is that I have seen this sort of thing happen before and that it is not helpful to see it as a cosmic death struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. I have seen so much good and so many walls broken down by SP and very recently – e.g. a bishop who practically wanted to ban kneeling for communion ten years ago, valiantly struggle to get on his knees (he clearly had very bad knees) and then struggle to get up after communion at an EF ordination Mass. If the FFI situation is the beginning of a campaign against the EF, he certainly didn’t get the memo.

  11. jacobi says:

    It is now sometime since the initial assault, “waged in the Pope’s name”, on the FFI, time for re-consideration and re-assessment. And yet this restriction, indeed suppression, of an orthodox, holy, Catholic order continues. It is frankly baffling.

    What role the Holy Father has in this is not clear and there are many theories. What is certain however is that this matter is a disgrace, indeed has now become a scandal.

    If there is some unknown reason why this order should be suppressed then we should be told. This is the 21st century after all of educated laity and universal communication. If there is no such reason then things are in a sorry state indeed.

  12. Johnno says:

    “If Papa Francesco wanted to suppress the EF, he’d just do so with a Motu Proprio – if he wanted to suppress all traditionalist religious orders, he could – if he wanted to suppress Ecclesia Dei, he would in a flash of a pen stroke. In reality, as opposed to fears and rumors, he hasn’t done anything like that. ”

    I believe what you are missing is the fact that this is about playing politics. Supposing the Pope does indeed want to end the EF, but wants to maintain the ‘peace’ and appear ‘tolerant’ and ‘welcoming’ and blah blah blah without raising the lio he proposes; then going about it this way is precisely what any two-faced politician would do.

    You don’t hang everyone at once, that would raise alarm bells and call attention to yourself. Instead, hang them all separately, one by one, little by little, piece by piece, turning the flame up slowly, incrementally…

    This has ALWAYS been the Modus Operandi of undermining any structure. Patience and steady deliberate destruction under the guise of minor flimsy un-obvious and vague excuses while taking advantage of people’s naivete and gullibility.

    I don’t buy it. I really do believe given the history of Pope Francis and all his subsequent actions that he is either deliberately behind it while trying to play both sides of the aisle; or it’s being whispered to in his ears by wormtongues intent on using him to destroy every last vestige of TLM and anything that came before so as to prop up the ‘NuChurch’ they’ve been building like cuckoos. Don’t allow cognitive dissonance to cloud you from the tough responsibility required of you to protect that Church and her liturgy that is under assault from the very men assigned the task of protecting her. The pattern’s been very clear for 50 years now.

  13. Pingback: PopeWatch: Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate | The American Catholic

  14. jacobi says:

    Whatever the facts are Father, I agree that the way the FFI have been treated is bad, very bad, particularly in the case of Fr Manelli.

    Clearly there is an internal conflict waging. The orthodox Catholic tendencies of the FFI are seen as a threat, presumably by a revived liberal/relativist faction who hope that in the present Holy Father they might have an ally.

    Interestingly, you use the term “Holy See” the sovereign state of the Vatican. Clearly there are many in the organisation who are against Continuity, I suspect, in liturgy and in doctrine.

    This conflict is far from over and will yet determine whether the present mess in the Church is healed, or further declines.

  15. benedetta says:

    I am in agreement with what StMichael71 says above on this matter.

  16. robtbrown says:


    You used the phrase “religious life without the EF” without saying what it means. Because the current practice without the EF is (with a few exceptions, none of which is in the US) liturgy in the vernacular, mass versus populum, I’ll assume that’s what you mean.

    1. Although “religious life without the EF” is possible, we know that in the past 40 years no group has flourished in that situation with two exceptions: La Communaute’ de St Jean and the Legionaries. The Legionaries’ problems are well known, and now it appears that the sisters’ branch of the St Jean is fighting amongst themselves.

    2. On the other hand, Fontgombault has flourished. In the US its foundation Clear Creek and the Fraternity of St Peter are both growing so fast to necessitate building projects.

    3. I find it interesting that you insist “religious life without the EF” is possible, but you then mention the Dominican Rite. For 700 years it was considered intrinsic to the OP life. Don’t you find it a bit fishy that for most of the past 50 years it has been considered all but irrelevant?

    It’s also worth mentioning that Veterum Sapientia seems to indicate the value of Latin in the religious life.

    4. Obviously, you’re right that the FFI’s problems were internal, and I don’t pretend to know the in’s and out’s. But a few things are obvious: a) They are no longer strictly internal because the Congregation of Religious has intervened, making them public; b) They have something to do with the EF, cf., the restrictions contra SP, despite the denials; c) The Brazilian who is Prefect of the Congregation, along with his hand-picked Secretary, have made a big freaking mess of the situation. Half the novices and scholastics have left, perhaps as many as half the priests want to leave and start their own group. Now the klutzy Prefect and Secretary are trying to get the toothpaste back in the tube.

    5. One other point: It is manifest ignorance to say that the difference between the EF and OF is just rubrics. If that were true, then there wouldn’t have been the war waged on it the during the years after VatII. Further, Paul VI himself called the Novus Ordo an innovation and novelty

  17. Uxixu says:

    As religious vowed to obedience, wouldn’t it be something if the FFI inclined towards the EF obeyed without demur and would instead celebrate a Latin NO with Chant, IOW, the Mass as actually envisioned in Sacrosanctum Concilium. Could/would Fr Volpi prohibit that, as well?

    Not that we know they are not obeying without demur. We just don’t really know what’s going on except that the tactics appear heavy handed, if not unjust. Too much hearsay and not enough first hand reporting.

  18. robtbrown says:

    Uxixu says:
    As religious vowed to obedience, wouldn’t it be something if the FFI inclined towards the EF obeyed without demur and would instead celebrate a Latin NO with Chant, IOW, the Mass as actually envisioned in Sacrosanctum Concilium. Could/would Fr Volpi prohibit that, as well?

    It is problematic that the Novus Ordo, even in Latin ad orientem, is what was envisioned by SC. That notwithstanding, I see your point. IMHO, the dispute in the Church is not between EF and OF, but rather between Latin ad orientem and vernacular versus populum.

  19. PA mom says:


    That is what I would hope for them as well. To use this as a chance to firmly implant and spread the ‘reform of the reform’. Quick before the momentum is lost, the idea is corrupted and the growing skills for it abandoned.

    Heal the rift between the two gently and clearly with ‘the Perfect reform of the reform’ Mass, asking all to be supportive of it, allowing Pope Benedict the chance to see his idea catch fire.

  20. Matt R says:

    Uxixu, they began with that as their liturgical norm and returned to it in all their houses, at (virtually) all times after Fr. Volpi was placed in charge. In fact, the FI is one of the few Franciscan orders that regularly uses the solemn liturgical chants; historically, the Franciscans adopted simpler melodies so that all the brothers might participate without a division between cooperator and clerical brothers (though the Franciscans have over time become more and more clericalized). However, it is obvious that for many friars there was still something missing, and so they turned to the Vetus Ordo. They used to have a weekly Solemn High Mass in their novitiate house in this country, and it is obvious to me that being the face of traditional Franciscan life with a strong devotion to the Immaculate led to the majority of their recent American and European vocations. Their Filipino branch is a bit of a different story.

    Having had contact with Franciscans of the Immaculate, I disagree entirely with StMichael71. Summorum Pontificum made clear that one did not have to be a member of an “Ecclesia Dei” institute to celebrate the Vetus Ordo, and it gave provisions for houses to fully use the traditional liturgy, which the FI were in full compliance with. And the traditional liturgy might be described as being like candy, since it is so hard to give up. But it is so much richer than that. It forms one so that the soul clearly desires heaven in a particular way that the Novus Ordo cannot do. There is something to say for ritual efficacy in addition to the graces poured forth in the Sacrament.
    Of course it’s not about the “rubrics!” Good grief. No one is suggesting that it is about the rubrics, and it’s bizarre to claim that. More reasonable is that they determined that their salvation was best aided by the Vetus Ordo, hence its widespread adoption by the order’s priests and in its houses.

    The Dominican Rite was mentioned at least once. It is worth mentioning that the OP is closely connected to its distinctive rite, and that the two major provinces in this country are both actively supporting the Dominican Rite. It would seem that to be a Dominican in the best way requires a connection to the Dominican Rite. Also, there are members of the Community of St. John in this country who use the Vetus Ordo.

  21. robtbrown says:

    I would not say that the two Dominican provinces in the US are promoting SOP masses but rather permitting them.

    No doubt that certain members of the Community of St John say the EF , but the group was founded 30 years before SP.

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