Franciscans of the Immaculate: Father Manelli Initiates Criminal Complaint For Slander
Father Alfonso Bruno
(Rome) The Congregation for Religious' struggle against the Franciscans of the Immaculata is going into a new round. On March 2nd, the legal representatives of the founder and General Superior dismissed by the Vatican, Father Stefano Manelli, has issued a complaint to the state prosecutor of Avellino.
He founded the Order in the 1970s, it was recognized by the Holy See in 1990, returned to the original Franciscan Rule and also followed Pope Benedict liturgically. After the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum he implemented the traditional liturgy internally, while offering the Sacraments in both forms of the Roman Rite for pastoral reasons. Thus the Order was an absolute exception, because it was the only Old Rite religious order of the Congregation for Religious, and not under the Papal Commission of Ecclesia Dei. What appeared to be taken in a special dynamic under Pope Benedict XVI., because the Franciscans of the Immaculata, in contrast to other new ritual orders, was an attractive example of an Old Rite Order that was also missionary in character, became under Pope Francis, the complete opposite. Now the protective umbrella of the Ecclesia-Dei Communities is completely absent.
Slander Campaign Against the Franciscans of the Immaculata
Attorney Enrico Tuccillo lodged a complaint two weeks ago, of slander, and the formation of a criminal organization. In this way the founder is defending himself, in the name of his brothers and sisters against the ongoing "slander campaign," which was directed initially against the men's and subsequently against the women's branch of the order. On November 4. 2015 the Corriere della Sera made an appeal from direct or indirect statements by "concerned parties" in an article series with various horror stories about the Franciscans of the Immaculate. Similar slander campaigns have happened in the past already against other religious communities and have mostly had their origins in inner-ecclesiastical conflicts. The mass media has likewise been ever ready themselves to assist progressive circles.
The Congregation of Religious reacted with the introduction of an Apostolic Commissar to the female order and justified this step just as they did the Commisarate administration of the male branch in July of 2013. The sisters were accused that they "did not succeed in assimilating the riches of Concilar doctrine and the subsequent papal magisterium in their consecrated life in a reasonable way and to use it in the context of their apostolic life and mission."
The Rebellious Within the Order Against Pater Manelli are Given a Name
With the charge, now the opposition within the Order who have triggered and expedited in collaboration with the Roman Congregation of Religious, against the Franciscans of the Immaculata, have a name. Rome has not named till today any reasons for the radical clampdown on the blooming religious order, which from many points of view represent an anomaly among Catholic religious communities. It has been maintained from different sides, that the Congregation for Religious have only reacted based on a petition from members to this Congregation. The internal opponents of the founder, Father Manelli, have never been officially identified. The letter actually does this. Less believable is that it was the catalyst for the various interventions of the Congregation. The Order was a thorn in the side of the Congregation and other heads of religious communities for a long time. Under Benedict XVI., who stood fully behind the Franciscans of the Immaculata, Cardinal Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Religious, dared not move against the young order. Under Pope Francis, who makes no bones about his antipathy to the traditional Rite, the playing field was fundamentally altered.
With Pater Manelli's legal conplaint, the names now lay on the table. That is, "not an easily introduced step, which has become necessary for the protection of many of the Order's brothers and sisters," said Manelli's attorney.
Three Sisters, Six Priests and Two Laity Cited
The complaint is against the three religious sisters or former sisters, Lattanzi, Turturiello und Lovine, against six priests and two laymen. Among the priests there is Pater Alfonso Bruno, who is considered the actual instigator and leader of the uprising against the founder. Father Bruno already belongs to the leadership imposed by the Vatican and was, under the late Apostolic Commissar, Father Fidenzio Volpi, who as his right hand as General Secretary, actually became the new highest ranking member of the Order. Also mentioned in the complaint is Father Alessandro Calloni, who has been the General Delegate of the Order for Italy.
The two laymen are alleged to be guilty of have disseminating an "anonymous dossier with false contents," to discredit the former leadership, who have a severe vow of poverty, among the brothers and sisters, the faithful, the Church authorities and especially the media. "It is no accident that the same subjects now have leading positions within the Order," says the complaint.
"Indeed Impressive and Striking, but False Evidence"
For example, Ilaria Turturiello (formerly Sister Maria Letizia), because she made, "Indeed Impressive and Striking, but False Evidence," alleging abuse she is supposed to have suffered. She was, according to her, forced by her superior, a niece of the founder, to sexually gratify the owner of a supermarket. The women's superior has in the meantime, filed a counter-complaint for defamation and slander.
The former sister also offered the media the story of a "poor fellow sister", who likewise, she said, knew to tell the questionable horror story, which was gleefully broadcast by some of the media. This "fellow sister" was approached by the media for a quote but she denied Turturiello's claims.
The founder, Manelli, must lay his cards before the judge's table.
The smear campaign of Corriere della Sera and other media was commented upon then by Messa in Latino. The traditional site opposed the harsh and unjust attacks against this Order, "which wasn't guilty of anything" compared to the shortcomings and defects of other orders, where the Congregation for Religious sees no impulse to intervene:
"The moral of the story? The new message of Rome to Religious Orders appears to say: if you give in to your sexual desires, lie, steal, betray, deny doctrinal truths and dogmas, disturb ecclesiastical order and promote liturgical abuse, it doesn't matter, the main thing is that you do not hit out at the Vatican Council II and the achievements of the post-conciliar epoch."