Monday, July 29, 2013

Trouble for the Friars of the Immaculate

Update: Rorate Caeli has the full text of the decree (in Italian).

I do not know the exact policy of the Franciscans of the Immaculate towards the Extraordinary Form, but it should be emphasised that their parish in Stoke, in England, by no means gave the EF a place of prominence: see the horarium here (screenshot posted also for when the website is changed).

It is hard to know what people mean when they suggest that the EF was being 'imposed' by the Superior on the Friars. This horarium looks to me like the cautious and pastorally sensitive introduction of the Traditional Mass for which traditionally-minded priests are well known. Perhaps it is different elsewhere, but there is certainly no basis in England for Mgr Wadsworth's suggestion that the EF was causing pastoral problems. But England is included in the ban: why?

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Messa in Latino and Chiesa has the shocking - in the literal sense - news that the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate have a new Superior, not a member of the Order but a Capuchin, Fidenzio Volpi, and that the priests of the Order have been forbidden to say the Traditional Mass in public or private, without special permission. This is effective from Sunday 11th August.

This superior has been imposed on the Order by higher authority, replacing the founder, Fr Manelli.

I have independent corroboration for the truth of this story. No doubt more details will emerge.

IMG_0046
A Friar of the Immaculate on the Latin Mass Society Pilgrimage
to Walsingham in 2011
The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, an order founded in 1969, have an apostolate in Stoke on Tent in England, where the Traditional Mass is celebrated every Sunday - or has been until now. It was recently announced that they will not be extending the five-year arrangement with the Archdiocese of Birmingham by which they run this parish, and so will in any case be leaving in September. The Sisters of the Order have both active and, at Lanherne in Cornwall, contemplative, houses in England. Lanherne went completely over to the Traditional Mass, Office, and other customs a few years ago.

The order has been moving in a Traditional direction for some years, and has recently been, for practical purposes, bi-ritual. Other orders and communities have developed in a similar way. Whenever there is change in an order, or for that matter resistance to change, there will be disagreements. I hope and pray that the Friars resolve these matters amicably, justly, and with due regard for the pastoral needs of the Faithful they serve around the world.

21 comments:

  1. Absolutely shocking...and scary...

    What next? Who can we turn to this side of heaven , that is?

    May all of heaven and The Immaculata come to our aid!

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  2. http://thatthebonesyouhavecrushedmaythrill.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/franciscans-of-immaculate-restricted-on.html

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  3. If the story is correct, the higher authority is likely to be the Spanish Franciscan, Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, Secretary of the Congregation for institutes of consecrated life, one of the first promotions under the new pontificate. From what I have read of Fidenzio Volpi, he seems rather adept at clerical management-speak. I don't know whether it would be fair to surmise that this would be the first swing of the wrecking ball. I hope not, but one might reasonably assume, if the story is correct, that the intentions of Francis are being put into action - or second-guessed. The rate of vocations will tell its own story.

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  4. One could understand the imposition of an external superior if they'd been doing something demonstrably wrong, but this is reaching bonkers on the incomprehensibility scale.

    I have had little experience of the Fifis, but they strike me as a jolly good thing. I went to one of their Days with Mary, which was excellent, and one of them once heard my confession. He was wonderful - patient, helpful and wise.

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    1. Where does this leave the 'facts on the ground' strategy practised by Ecclesia Dei groups under the previous pontificate, if the Vatican is now willing to destroy these facts? This post lacks any observations about the legality of this move by the Holy See and the steps that the Franciscans of the Immaculate should take in response. If this Vatican approach continues, the likely outcome is that the whole Ecclesia Dei world is going to cease to exist, and that traditionalists are going to either cease being traditionalists or align themselves with the SSPX.

      Of course the existence of diocesan parishes in the old rite is an obstacle to this Vatican policy, as they cannot be suppressed as easily as a religious order. The dispositions of bishops will therefore important in the future of traditionalism outside the SSPX. No doubt some of them will be opposed to a suppression of their traditionalist parishes or simply too uncaring to bother, but it does not look like there will be a great deal of support for the old mass among bishops.

      The SSPX comment will be: 'serves you Ecclesia Dei people right for ignoring the dominance of modernism among the hierarchy, and trying to get the liturgy you like by doing deals with modernists and agreeing to keep silent about dangers to the faith'. I don't see a very convincing comeback to this comment.

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  5. The comeback is obedience and communion with the Successor of St Peter, rather than wilful schism.

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    1. So Lawrence would you obey if the Pope commanded you to pray to Shiva?

      God First the Pope 2nd

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  6. Is it a mere coincidence or a particular mark of disrespect to the Pope of Summorum Pontificum that the decree is dated 11 July, the feast of St Benedict (in the new calendar)?

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  7. John and Lawrence : the confirmation of the SSPX's bad expectations is certainly a major part of the problem with this. That doesn't mean that the SSPX position is the only sensible one.

    John - I don't know enough about the internal issues or the wording of the decree to suggest a response for the Friars. More will come out of course.

    But the facts on the ground issue: let's not get carried away by gloom. This sets a worrying precedent, but we don't know how it will be followed. As John says diocesan provision is in a different situation. So are the Ecclesia Dei groups: part of the problem here is that the Friars were not set up with the TLM. Again, orders with local autonomy are in a different situation.

    It will take a lot more than this to erase the 'facts on the ground'. Will the Pope aggressively seek out and destroy a whole series of groups where there are no internal problems to give some kind of justification?

    I'd still say on balance that is very unlikely.

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    1. It would be madness, but do we live in sane times in the Catholic Church?

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  8. According to the article on Rorate Caeli, this came down from the Pope himself. http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2013/07/important-pope-francis-severely.html

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  9. And so it begins????? Ora pro nobis!!

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  10. Summorum Ponificum says Article 3

    "If an individual community or an entire Institute or Society wishes to undertake such celebrations often, habitually or permanently, the decision must be taken by the Superiors Major, in accordance with the law and following their own specific decrees and statues."

    So as far as I can see this particular decision relating to the Friars of the Immaculate
    "the use of the extraordinary form (Vetus Ordo) must be explicitly authorized by the competent authorities, for every religious and/or community [ie of the Friars] that makes the request."
    is fully in accordance with SP. The decision by a Priest of the Friars to use the TLM "often, habitually or permanently" has to be agreed by the superior of the Order in accordance with their statutes.

    Clearly there is a dispute within the Friars which is unfortunate to put it mildly but the issue may (and I stress "may) relate to individual Priests using the TLM regularly and unilaterally which would not be in accordance with SP.

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    1. No, it's the other way around. It was the superior who wanted them to celebrate the EF, and individual friars who objected. The superior has been removed and the dissident friars have been vindicated.

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    2. So Dr Shaw how are we to trust that the Holy Father will act justly towards those of us dedicated to the Old Rite or indeed anything Traditional?

      Earlier this year + Morlino mandated that all Priests in his Diocese must say Mass Ad Orientam and (I believe) only use the Cannon. Now all Father happy heretic has to do in order to get his own way is to whine to the Vatican and hey presto, that nasty old bishop with his mean ways is removed. You may laugh but removing a Superior (and Founder) is a big step, if Francis is willing to do this just because some friars disagreed with their founder (and didn't do the traditional Franciscan thing and leave) then what next?

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  11. It's not shocking at all.

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  12. Although it is true that this is an internal matter of FI, it seems to be a very unusual decision from the legal viewpoint. While it might be compatible with SP n.3, given that the order now is ruled by an Apostolic Commissary, the privilege for private Masses (SP n.2) given to every priest, secular or religious, is now being revoked for one particular small group of them. Doesn't it look like a punitive measure?

    By the way, it looks also like a repetition of what happened to FSSP in 2001 or is currently happening with IBP.

    I think now it should be among the priorities of the Una Voce International and its national associations to keep a watchful eye on how generously the requisite permissions would be given to the friars to celebrate Masses for lay faithful in the already existing apostolates or special events.

    Andris Amolins

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  13. I do wish everyone would calm down.

    This is the problem of ultramontanism, excessive coverage of what goes on in Rome, and excessive concern about what goes on in Rome.

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  14. http://fatherpaulnicholson.blogspot.ca/2013/07/these-sons-and-daughter-of-pope-francis.html

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  15. http://marymagdalen.blogspot.ie/2013/07/franciscan-friars-of-immaculate.html

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  16. A petition has appeared as a means for the laity to voice their concerns about the above; the link is: http://eponymousflower.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/petition-to-support-franciscans-of.html

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