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Conversation with long-time FI confirms “traditionalist” impression of unfair persecution and ascendance of a narrow cabal January 8, 2015

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, disaster, episcopate, General Catholic, Grace, Holy suffering, horror, Latin Mass, Papa, persecution, scandals, secularism, shocking, Tradition, Virtue.

I have been sitting on this post for some time. I thought it best to put some chronological distance between the event and my publicly revealing it, to make IDing the speaker more difficult.  I have to be very careful what I say, and how I say it, for should the priest in question be identified his already difficult and tenuous situation would instantly become much worse.  I should also say that the “traditionalist” in the lede is just a catch-all for the concerns many pious Catholics – and others – have over the treatment the FIs have received under the apostolic intervention.

Some time back I had a chance encounter with a priest of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. I did not know he was an FI when we were first introduced. When I found out that he was, my first reaction was to exclaim how I had been praying for his order, and to extend my profound sadness and regret at their ongoing sufferings.  I then began to flood him with questions.

Before I begin, I should note that I am going from memory and that we covered a lot of ground very quickly.  We were not able to talk for very long. If there are any errors in the below or details that don’t entirely bear out, they are due to faults in my recollection.  I do recall all the comments being very clear and sensical and really clarifying matters for me.

This priest speaks English fluently.  He has been in the FI for a long time.  He was very glad at the direction Fr. Manelli and the former leadership of the order, prior to the apostolic intervention, were taking them. He very much loved being bi-ritual but plainly preferred not only the TLM but also the pre-conciliar Breviary and all those myriad aspects of piety – especially for religious – that were once common but which were abandoned or mutilated after the Council.  Again, I have to be very careful not to identify this priest in any depth, so I cannot say his country of origin nor where he served in the FI apostolate, but I can say he had a position of some influence (which is now gone) and was well-placed to witness the sad events which have riven that afflicted order since ~July 2013.

This priest confirmed that at every turn, those conducting the intervention have been fundamentally hostile towards the TLM and the traditional practice of the Faith.  There appears to be a marked bias against that ancient practice, which manifests itself in many ways. The concern over that infamous “drift” seems paramount in most all considerations, with mere attraction for the TLM being taken in many cases as an indication of a disordered outlook. In addition, there was no real investigation of any kind, just a survey sent out to the various branches of the order which in normal circumstances would simply be the starting point for an investigation, but in this case – with the outcome seemingly predetermined – it wound up being virtually the sum total of the investigative efforts.  The priest described the activities of Fr. Volpi and the new administration as blundering, simplistic, devoid of nuance, and, again, seemingly fundamentally hostile to a large portion of the order’s members.  He indicated that at every possible turn the investigators/new leadership made mistaken assumptions and followed the advice of a truly tiny group of disaffected members – he said, as has been noted elsewhere, that the number of the disaffected was 5 or 6 – to arrive at very bad conclusions.  Those conclusions have led to enormous suffering among the vast majority of the membership to the extent that many now either simply want to leave or try to form a new religious order elsewhere under the same charism, influences, and outlook as the order enjoyed prior to the intervention.  But when some tried to do so, the reaction was savage (another one of those blundering assumptions by the new leadership of bad faith on the part of the vast majority of FIs) and resulted both in suspension a divinis for some priests, and a ban on incardination in dioceses for at least 3 years.

When queried what was the ultimate driver for this intervention, the priest was very clear: it wasn’t really the increasing desire of more and more members to be a TLM-focused order – which this priest maintained was certainly the case, more and more FIs were clearly embracing the traditional practice of the Faith, and finding in that practice so much that they loved and found so edifying – as it was the publication by the Franciscans of the Immaculate of Msgr. Brunero Gherardini’s book strongly questioning aspects of the Council with respect to the preceding Magisterium, and some symposia held by the FIs that also critically examined some aspects of the documents of Vatican II.  Those efforts were held to be tantamount to heresy and a schismatic act by that very small group (the 5 or 6 mentioned above), and while the investigation begun under Pope Benedict made very little headway, once he abdicated it shifted into high gear and was concluded in a few scant months. I must say, that has been my own supposition as well, that while drifting more and more towards the TLM probably played some part in the vicious treatment this order has received, it was the questioning of Vatican II as a super-dogma that simply would not be countenanced.  Critical examination of Vatican II in the light of the preceding Magisterium, unlike every other Council in the history of the Church (for which one can find many critical histories and analyses), is something the progressive faction in the Church simply cannot allow, for the implications of such are too great for their project of re-making the Church in their own image (let me stress, everything from “I must say” above is my own opinion, and not that of the priest in question.  He offered no real opinion on those examinations of VII).

Essentially, the “outside” view that many pious souls have regarding the reasons for the intervention against the FIs, the very small number of complainants who led to its initiation (and who are now ascendant within the order), and the punishment that is being meted out (and the reasons for that punishment) was confirmed essentially in toto by this insider.  Still, this holy priest appeared to bear no grudge (though he was plainly devastated by what has occurred) and simply asked for prayers, many, many prayers for himself and for this afflicted order.  There is enormous suffering ongoing, already entire classes of seminarians have departed (since the seminary has been shut down and they can make no progress towards ordination), and new vocations are a tiny fraction of what they were previously.  But the priest believed that this trial is ordained by God to offer up many sufferings for the sins of the world and the Church, and that the future of the order is in His all-knowing hands. Still, it is very difficult – I would say, much, much more difficult – when one’s persecutors are within the Church, rather than some external source. It is gut-wrenching to be held in contempt by the Church one has given all to. Right now, this priest is enduring this situation as best he can.

Please do keep the FIs in your prayers!  They need them desperately.  And please pray for this priest.  His pain and confusion were palpable.  It is a grace to be counted worthy to bear such sufferings for our Blessed Lord, but the human aspects of such trials are difficult to endure.  These men (and the ladies of the FSI, too, I fear) have an enormous cross to bear. They need and deserve all the spiritual support they can get.


1. M P P - January 8, 2015

I recently had a conversation with a young man who had once considered the FFI but now is going to a traditional Order and he just completed a semester of study in Rome. While there he had a wonderful spiritual director who had gaven a retreat to the FSI. He spoke so highly of their holiness and how wonderful the sisters are. And they are hanging in there for now. I know another holy young man who also was interested in the FFI but has chosen another path. And a young woman whose director sadly steered her away from the FSI. Who would want to go to a place where the mutinous are running things and badmouthing the holy founders? One cannot be obedient to disobedience even though the dissenters have been able to hide behind the white skirts of the present pope.

The dissent started a few years ago, before the book mentioned was published. A few of them were causing division and calling names back then. And they were in pretty high positions but now want all the control it seems. It will not last. This beautiful charism will one day be restored but not under the present commissioner or blogging friar or the dissenters who managed to depose their holy founder.

2. Woody Jones - January 8, 2015

I have no happiness in recalling that when this whole sad incident first occurred, I said, either here or at Fr. Z’s blog, or elsewhere, that it was likely due to the apparent endorsement of Msgr Gherardini by the FFI leadership. The “blind obedience” crowd, redolent of The Wanderer’s position on these matters, or that of the new Auxiliary Vicar of Opus Dei, Msgr Ocariz (i.e. the designated successor to Bishop Echevarria), just could not take it. Like the proverbial frog in the soon to be boiling water, they will be going down the broad and easy way with the rupture crowd, once again predominant in Rome, apparently, to their destruction.

3. Baseballmom - January 8, 2015

Seems that orthodoxy, not just traditionalism, is the only sin left in the Church. Oh wait, after the encyclical on climate change is published I may have to take my failure to recycle to the confessional as well…

4. Catherine - January 9, 2015

That is all too true. I have witnessed the pain in good friars and sisters of this order and have also spoken to them about the situation. They suffer greatly but speak only love and complete submission to the will of Our Lord and Our Lady. They will never say a word against and even make excuses for their persecutors. For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, it is not difficult to discern where the lines of spiritual battle are drawn in this situation.

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