(Rome) The Apostolic Commissioner, the Capuchin Father Fidenzio Volpi OFM Cap from the Congregation of Religious, with the approval of Pope Francis, instead of the Order leadership, with sole decision-making power at the head of the Order of the Franciscans of the Immaculate set (FI), has given the real reason for the drastic intervention in the life of the Order for the first time.
The progressive Vaticanist Mario Tosatti had published a few days ago in the daily newspaper La Stampa a letter from a member of the Third Order of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, in which the radical approach of the Commissioner has been criticized (see separate report "Unrestricted War" against the Franciscans of the Immaculate Conception? The Unspeakable "Blemish" ). The interventions affect not only the male religious branch, but also the Third Order, which was completely paralyzed by Father Volpi.
The Apostolic Commissioner responded with a letter to Tosatti's publication. In it, he explained for the first time the actual reason for the actions of the Vatican against the Order and its founder. The Franciscans of the Immaculate Conception is alleged to have "drifted" in a "Crypto-Lefebvrian, anyways traditionalist" direction. Even Tosatti reads from the extensive letter, in addition to several minor matters, what "the real problem" is.
The Commissioner stated thus confirming what was immediately clear to observers by the prohibition of the traditional rite and in the decree made by the Religious Congregation. The tough measures are directed against the rediscovery of the traditional rite and against the defense of the Church's tradition. Commissioner Father Volpi does not distinguish between "Lefebvrian" and "traditionalist", and thus, not even between the canonically unrecognized Priestly Society of St. Pius X and the canonically recognized Ecclesia Dei communities. Obviously, an attachment to tradition is for the Commissioner basically a "problem". A direction that is not only displeasing to the Capuchin, but must be fought. And he has done so with great zeal since last August. Obviously, it was this aversion that qualified him for the task of the Apostolic Commissioner.
De Matteis "Prediction" Came True
Already in August wrote the well-known historian Roberto de Mattei:
In the coming days and weeks we will know better the plans of the Commissioner, Fidenzio Volpi, but their rough lines can already be guessed: isolate the Founder, Father Manelli; decapitate the heads in the General Council of the Order faithful to him, deport the "traditionalist" brothers to the periphery, give the reins of the Order to the dissidents; entrust the novitiates to Fathers who are not under suspicion of "traditionalist" sympathies; sterilization of the publications and the Franciscan writings that deal in particular with "controversial" issues within the Church "controversial": avoid Marian "maximalism," an "exaggerated" rigor in moral teaching and especially any criticism, be it ever so respectful of the Second Vatican Council, plus opening of the Order for "ecumenical dialogue" with other religions; restriction of Vetus Ordo to special exceptions; in short, the destruction of the identity of the Franciscans of the Immaculate Conception, which is even worse than their removal.
The public response by Father Mario Volpi Tosatti confirmed in black on white, the fears expressed immediately by de Matteis and others. It also reveals what the Congregation of Religious has moved under Cardinal Prefect João Braz de Aviz and apparently Pope Francis, to smash this thriving Order of pious men. An Order that, a few months ago, had access to Pope Benedict XVI.
Different Ways of Handling: a Comparison
As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope in 2005, he personally went and decided against Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ (LC). Benedict XVI. said about Maciel that he revealed "a very serious and objectively immoral behavior that is confirmed by indisputable testimony" and "sometimes in the form of real crimes" and expressed "an unscrupulous life without true religious sentiment". Yet Benedict XVI. did not proceed against the Order, which had distinguished itself in many ways. Due to the commotion in the Order about the Founder and Superior General, and to allow a new beginning, he placed the Order under provisional administration. For this purpose he appointed Cardinal Velasio de Paolis, who accompanied the Order in a fatherly way to start anew. A path that will be successfully completed in early 2014.
As Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope in 2013, he agreed to a decisive action by the Congregation of Religious against the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate to (FI). Neither the Order nor its founder, Father Stefano Manelli were guilty in any way. They had not committed neither shameful crimes, as Marcial Maciel had, nor spread heresies, caused confusion or violated in any other way against Church doctrine and order. It was the alignment of the Order, although recognized in the Church and legitimate and encouraged till February by the previous Pope which do not fit anymore. A direction that has now been referred to the Commissioner responsible, disparagingly, as a "crypto-lefebvrian, anyways traditionalist". Not a Cardinal, but a simple Capuchin, was used by the Congregation of Religious as Commissioner, not a fatherly friend of the Order, but a declared opponent of tradition.
Commissioner Volpi also want to put hand to the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception
Even against the female branch, the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, the Commissioner would like to proceed, although the decree of appointment says nothing about that. Father Volpi has accused the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of being traditional and even more "unruly" than to be the male branch. In reaching this conclusion, the Apostolic Commissioner came to it because the female convents immediately expressed the desire to cling to the Old Rite. The female branch of the Order has insisted on its independence since the announcement of the decree against the male branch. Father Volpi has even accused the CDF last October, and even Cardinal Prefect Braz de Aviz, of not pushing hard enough against the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, because the Commissioner has not been extend a grant of jurisdiction.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
image: Libertà e Pensiero
image: Libertà e Pensiero
Trans: Tancred firstname.lastname@example.org
Edit: looks like they're going after Ecclesia Dei communities next.