Papal Commissioner imposed on the Heralds of the Gospel

What happens, generally, when a commissioner or “commissar” is appointed to oversee recently founded or forming groups which lead toward traditional Catholic values and are, therefore, succeeding?

The latest commissar was announced to take care of the Heralds of the Gospel. From Vatican News HERE

Following the Apostolic visitation begun in 2017, Pope Francis has approved the appointment of a Pontifical Commissioner for the International Association “Heralds of the Gospel” (Arautos do Evangelho), along with its two branches of consecrated men and women. The announcement was made by the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, headed by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, on 25 September and made public on 28 September.

On 23 June 2017, the Holy See Press Office published a press release expressing how the Congregation, in agreement with the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, had called for “an Apostolic Visitation of the Association known as Heralds of the Gospel, of which the International Public Association of the Faithful of Pontifical Right, Heralds of the Gospel, the Society of Priestly Apostolic Life, Virgo Flos Carmeli, and the Society of Female Apostolic Life, Regina Virginum, are members”.

“After carefully studying the conclusions of the visitors, and having obtained the approval of the Holy Father, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life appointed a Pontifical Commissioner” to the International Association and the two Societies of Apostolic Life. The Commissioner is Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, Archbishop Emeritus of Aparecida, with José Aparecido Gonçalves de Almeida, Auxiliary Bishop of Brasilia, and Sister Marian Ambrosio I.D.P., Superior General of the Sisters of Divine Providence, as his assistants.

The “Heralds of the Gospel” is an International Association of the faithful of Pontifical Right, the first to be erected by the Holy See this century, on 22 February 2001. Members are present in various countries around the world and are recognizable by their brown and white habit, with a large cross on their chest, similar to that of the medieval knights. Two Societies of Apostolic Life that grew from the Association, obtained Pontifical recognition in 2009. Their founder is Msgr. João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, a former member of the Brazilian traditionalist and counter-revolutionary Catholic association TFP (Tradition, Family and Property), which was later dismembered. The “Heralds of the Gospel” was born from a branch of TFP that had become completely autonomous.

The reasons for the Apostolic Visitation, and the decision to appoint an Pontifical Commissioner for the Heralds, are linked to shortcomings concerning the style of government, the life of the members of the Council, the pastoral care of vocations, the formation of new vocations, administration, the management of works and fundraising.

As in similar cases, the decision of the Holy See should not be considered a punishment, but an initiative intended for the good of the Association, and an attempt to resolve existing problems.

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  1. ArthurH says:

    And I am the Easter Bunny.

    Believe either–the last paragraph above or my claim– and I have a bridge in NYC you might be interested in purchasing.

  2. Amerikaner says:

    I think there was some dust up about them and some bad exorcisms or some such thing. Interestingly the devil supposedly said a meteor would hit the Atlantic ocean…

    The Heralds sure do have a ton of vocations!

  3. gaudete says:

    Do we really have to distrust every commissioner just because the group to be looked into is professing tradition?
    I wonder whether you would have formulated this insinuating question also with regard to the Legionaries, surely leading toward traditional Catholic values and, therefore, succeeding, some years ago?

    Yes, there’s the benefit of the doubt and presumption of innocence, but let’s also be conscious of the fact that traditional attitudes of a majority do not shield from possible abuse and corruption of some, even in authority.
    Let’s pray for the truth to come out, either way.

  4. Benedict Joseph says:

    Looking forward to the day when the Society of Judas is subjected to the same scrutiny.

  5. JumpJet says:

    Another orthodox group heading for the gallows.

  6. Johann says:

    So when will a Papal Commissioner going to be appointed to oversee the Society of Jesus?

  7. Maximilian75 says:

    Excuse my ignorance, but I’m not following.

    Are the Heralds under Vatican inquiry, or being more formally recognized by the Vatican?

  8. TonyO says:

    Max, the Heralds already have canonical status from the Vatican, apparently. That’s the implication of being an association “of Pontifical Right”. A so-called “visitation” is an formal investigatory tool to look into allegations or suspicions of serious problems – problems that could theoretically lead to major sanctions from the Vatican. In theory a visitation is “merely” an investigation, in that ANYONE can be accused, and there is a presumption that merely being accused is not actual evidence of wrongdoing. But generally, the Vatican wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) initiate a visitation unless the allegations are credible, which implies some kind of evidence of a real problem.

    In practice, the Vatican does so few visitations that the rare instances where it occurs has the connotation that there is some MAJOR bad news waiting to be uncovered. Also, because the visitation is not (so far as I am aware, though I could be mistaken) bound by any definitively restrictive rules for obtaining evidence and for establishing wrong-doing or bad practices, a visitation CAN have the connotation of being nothing but a “fishing trip” to find something with which to nail the order or association to the wall. Effectively, the people in charge of a visitation can take interviews with any crank, busy- body, or offended person with an axe to grind, and create a major case out of it with creative story-making.

    Presumably, the appointment of a Commissioner is the response of the Vatican upon finding something seriously concerning, which will need corrective behavior by the Association, and for which the Vatican believes that ongoing oversight is necessary. That’s the theory. Unless the actual deficiencies are clearly spelled out and are constituted of objective matters (like specific rules in their rule of life), though, the Commissioner’s task could end up being an open-ended affair which looks like nothing other than “I don’t like the way you do business, you’re going to change so that when we’re done you’re like what I like to see”. Which (unless the Commissioner is of like mind with the founders of the Association) is almost guaranteed to remake the Association into something completely other than the whole point of their founding.

    In the hands of a willful, manipulative supreme authority, the threat of a visitation or commissioner can be effectively a threat to cut the heart out of an institution and remake it into something completely different.

  9. Les Buissonets says:


  10. Marion Ancilla Mariae II says:

    Home-based Bible studies are very uncommon in Catholic circles, but Protestants have them, and they sometimes aren’t any part of their official ecclesial structure. Which raises the question: what advantage(s) are there to founding a pious association of the lay faithful as an official entity within the Catholic Church . . . as opposed to founding it completely “off the books” . . . ?

    (I can think of at least one disadvantage!)

  11. The Astronomer says:

    Here comes the FFI treatment…….

  12. JustaSinner says:

    Point of order question…
    If lay Catholics form a Catholic-centered organization/group/club, does the Pope or the Vatican organs have a legal right to impede?

  13. Fr. Kelly says:

    They were first approved in 2001 (JPII) and the two Societies of Apostolic Life (men’s and women’s) were approved in 2009 (BXVI).
    It is hard not to see this as a blow by the current pontificate on works of the two previous ones.

  14. The Cobbler says:

    If I recall correctly, TFP got in trouble with the Church long before Francis was pope.

    Then again so did the SSPX, and we all know how that turned out.

    gaudete, while I don’t disagree in general (do we believe in Paul rather than in Christ?), I think it’s worth noting that the Legion was never very traditional, despite some show of opposition to progressive Catholics In Name Only. Their spiritual exercises were either newly written by Maciel or plagiarized (presumably off contemporary authors; established spiritual guides would have been recognised) and were specifically supposed to be special because God gave some kind of new super-grace to him; they stuck with the Novus Ordo however conservatively; and in some cases, if I’m not mixing them up with some other outwardly strict movement, they played fast and loose with the prohibition on contraception. There wasn’t much to back up the claim of being conservative uber-Catholics (which actually isn’t surprising considering the whole thing was Maciel’s attempt to pass off predatory abuse as piety; on the list of not really traditional elements we might even add, their seminary rules supposedly for chastity didn’t actually seem directed toward that virtue – and I mean not as in “this is overly strict” or “this would backfire” but as in “this sounds more like sexual grooming, exactly the opposite of chastity.”)

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