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Strange recent developments in the Franciscans of the Immaculate August 13, 2015

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, disconcerting, error, foolishness, General Catholic, Holy suffering, martyrdom, persecution, religious, sadness, scandals, self-serving, the return, the struggle for the Church, Tradition.

The article below via Eponymous Flower is a bit hard to make out, but it appears that there have been more revelations of strange behavior among the leadership of the Franciscans of the Immaculate in recent months, including the re-instating of a priest who had been removed from the order by founder Fr. Stefano Manelli, and some threats of lawsuits associated with the revelation of that reinstatement.  Also interesting in the below is the claim that Fr. Angelo Bruno, one of the prime instigators of the “coup,” if you will, against the order’s founder and former leadership, how has sole authority over the order aside from the Apostolic Commissioner.  This is different from the previous leadership of the order, which consisted of a number of individuals, if what I can tell from the article is correct (and it seems to correspond with what I already knew).

I try to clean up some of the language below, and add comments where necessary:

Since last June, the Order of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate have been assigned  the Salesian priest Sabino Ardito, a canon lawyer, as the new Apostolic Commissioner. [Since the death of former Commissioner Fr. Fidenzio Volpi] Yet there is still a demon in the Order, says Messa in Latino.  Father Alfonso Bruno was responsible and  the ultimate beneficiary of the palace coup against Founder Manelli. [Messa in Latino is an Italian blog of traditional bent]

Alfonso Bruno, the father with a penchant for self-expression, [not sure what that was supposed to mean……that he has a large and loud presence?] already belonged to the old leadership the order, where he was responsible for its media presence. At that time he was only one among several. Then came the dismissal of Minister General Father Stefano Maria Manelli and the whole Order leadership by the Vatican. Alfonso Bruno was the one who made the news public through his media contacts and thus – at least initially – of the urgency  of a  radical intervention.

Apostolic Commissioner Father Fidenzio Volpi was then appointed, who was ran like a bulldozer over the Order. [An apt description, according to the FIs I have spoken with] The first official act of the Commissioner was the appointment of Father Alfonso Bruno as Secretary General of the Order and thus his right hand.  Excepting the Commissioner, who belongs to the Capuchin Order, Father Alfonso Bruno has since been at the top of the Order of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, and completely alone. [Implying a difference from the previous leadership, which consisted of a number of men.  Instead, Bruno is described as having sole power apart from the Commissioner]

The decisions by which the clear-cutting was done were signed by Commissioner Volpi. Partially also by the Secretary General, in part he remained in the background, as he had done well in advance of the palace coup against the Founder, who embodied the Order’s charism  and the Old Rite. But his handwriting appears on the endless flood of corrections, warnings, notifications, which were all issued  since the coup in July 2013,  against those who expressed criticism  of the actions of the Holy See and the Commissioner. [And there has been a great deal of criticism, and many have left.  Vocations have all but ceased.  And yes I have understood that Fr. Bruno, along with an accomplice or two, have been responsible for attempts to re-make the order to their liking.]

So here the coverage gets a bit muddy.  The gist is this: a certain Fr. Scozzaro was dismissed with cause from the Order in 2007.  He appealed his dismissal to the Congregation for Religious in 2008 but the dismissal was confirmed.  However, he was reinstated by Fr. Volpi and Fr. Bruno earlier this year.  This is surprising since the Congregation of Religious had confirmed the dismissal.  There is evidence that Scozzaro was dismissed for stridently opposing the more traditional direction the order was taking, and did so publicly.  He may have even been an early leader of the disaffected faction.  After an Italian Catholic site reported this reinstatement, they received a cease and desist notice from an Italian lawyer retained by Scozzaro.  The lawyer claimed the website had libeled Scozzaro  but since they were only reporting public facts it seems the main intent of the threat of  legal action was to intimidate the website into pulling down an embarrassing revelation.

All in all, the turmoil seems to continue within the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. Interestingly, I haven’t seen much on what is happening with the Franciscan Sisters (FSI).  Certainly, whatever is occurring hasn’t received anything like the publicity surrounding the bulldozering of the Friars.  Perhaps no news is good news? I know the FSI’s retained good canon lawyers and seemed to be more ready for the intervention based on the sad experience of their brethren. Anyone know any more?

Regarding Fr. Bruno, there is a fairly obvious implication from the original article – could it be that this whole sad saga had its origin in the desire of a handful of disaffected men in the order for personal aggrandizement and the desire for “power?”  It seems surprising, but men have certainly made others suffer for much less in the tragic history of the human race.  Struggles for authority over religious orders have many times in the past descended into the worst vice, vindictiveness, and general ugliness. Yes there are obvious theological/ecclesiastical implications in the seeming destruction of this formerly blossoming order (thou shalt not raise critical questions of Vatican II), but sometimes those are just the cover for something uglier and baser.

Will probably make a really good book at some point, but I don’t the full story ever gets told.



1. John Laws (@jlaws) - August 14, 2015

Interesting that Fr. Bruno’s media connections played into the coup. The CIA’s doctrinal warfare program targeting the Catholic Church utilized the media to engineer desired outcomes. Could this power struggle be one of many planned by the American government? See http://jonahintheheartofnineveh.blogspot.ca/2015/08/john-courtney-murray-timelife-and.html

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