Seminarians Pray in the Church of the Brazilian Mother House of the "Heralds of the Gospel": Are they the next target of the Congregation of Religious? Too many vocations, too rapid growth, too pious, too friendly to tradition, too Marian?
(Rome) Has Pope Francis already assigned an apostolic commissioner for the next, "too pious" order?
The fate of the Franciscans of the Immaculate could soon befall the Heralds of the Gospel (Evangelii Praecones, EP). This lay community was founded as a youth movement by the Third Order Carmelite João Scognamiglio Clá Dias in Brazil. The inspiration for the name came from the encyclical Evangelii Praecones, which Pope Pius XII. published in1951 about mission.
The Heralds of the Gospel
João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, born in 1939, son of a Spaniard and an Italian, was a member of the Marian Congregation in Sao Paulo and in 1956 a member of the Third Order of Carmelites. He studied law and did his military service in the Airborne Ranger. Subsequently, he turned to the study of philosophy, theology and the right of the Church. At the university, he became a leader of the Catholic student body, which opposed the 1968 student protests.
|Heralds in the Basilica of Our Lady of the|
The real development of the Heralds of the Gospel began at the same time in the 1960s, when João Scognamiglio Clá Días, Pedro Paulo de Figueiredo and Carlos Alberto Soares Corrêa gathered a group of young Catholics in Sao Paulo to pray in silence, deepen their spiritual life, and to discuss current questions in the Church and in the world. The goal was missioning and evangelization.
In the seventies the desire for a common life arose. The founder and two companions retired to a former Benedictine abbey to deepen their spiritual life in silence and prayer. Of the first companions, no one left, but new ones were added. They first arranged a Marian consecration, began to pray liturgy of the hours together and finally gave themselves a first rule. This resulted in the development of a community life for men and, in 1996, of women. The foundation stone was laid for a flowering male branch, the Societas Clericalis Vitae Apostolicae Iuris Pontificii Virgo Flos Carmeli, and a female feminine branch, Societas Vitae Apostolicae Iuris Pontificii Regina Virginum.
The Heralds of the Gospel were recognized in 2001 by Pope John Paul II as an International Private Association of Believers. They are thus the first ecclesial community to receive this recognition in the third millennium. The two societies of Apostolic Life were consecrated in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. canonically established with papal law.
The laity movement also led to the vocation of the priesthood. In 2005, the first priests were consecrated, including the founder of the Heralds himself at the age of 64 .
The Community is now active in about 80 countries, and only 12 years after the first consecration, has already 120 priests and about 20 deacons. The two societies of consecrated life have, after 20 years, more than 4,000 members, two thirds of whom are men, one third of women. Heralds of the Gospel are around 40,000 worldwide. Anyone who reads the figures of the past ten years sees the massive growth of the movement, which was begun under the pontificate of Benedict XVI. João Scognamiglio Clá Días is Superior General of the Heralds and the Society of Consecrated Life. Since 2008 he has also been an honorary fellow at the patriarchal basilica Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.
"Under Francis They Are Already Suspicious of Those Who Had Contact with Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira"
According to "an intimate, internal source", says Tosatti, a "task force" from the Congregation of Religious, headed by the Brazilian Cardinal João Braz de Aviz and the Spanish Franciscan José Rodriguez Carballo, was being assembled to investigate the Heralds. The group is to consist of a bishop, a religious and a church lawyer. "Nothing is known about the reasons for this initiative," says Tosatti, which recalls the Franciscans of Immaculata. Even after four years of the provisional administration, the Vatican has not yet given any reason for the drastic intervention of this traditional order, which had been flourishing until 2013.
It is obvious, according to Tosatti, that the founder of the Heralds of the Gospel, João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, was in touch with Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira to make him "suspicious". Corrêa de Oliveira, who died in 1995, was a mastermind and leader of the Catholic tradition in Brazil. Clá Dias worked for many years in the Brazilian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Private Property (TFP) founded by Corrêa de Oliveira. On Corrêa de Oliveira's initiative, the Knights of the Gospel emerged, which Clá Dias led after his death, but led away from the social-political struggle and intensified religious life. This is a development expressed by the founding of the Societies of Consecrated Life and its own priestly members. Nevertheless, he calls Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira the "prophet of our time".
The community consists primarily of young people who are distinguished by their discipline. The members of consecrated life do not make vows, but commit themselves to celibacy and devote themselves entirely to the apostolate. They live in houses separated by sex. Their daily routine alternates between Liturgy (Holy Mass, Liturgy of Hours), Prayer (Rosary), study and especially evangelization. To this end they are called in dioceses and parishes, they are missionaries in the streets and go to prisons. The emphasis is on youth work. The religious dress, which is modeled on medieval heralds, is striking. It is equal for men and women, and represents the most visible continuity between the Knights of Corrêa de Oliveiras and the Heralds of Clá Dias.
The two societies of consecrated life are active in the field of art, culture and youth education, which is due to the fact that the founder Clá Dias sees a particularly suitable means of evangelization in music. In addition to activities in schools and universities, they are concerned with communities of elderly care, and they are mainly active in marginal areas, which is also to be understood geographically, for example, in the case of Feuerland.
Cardinal Braz de Aviz: "Throwing a watchful eye on new ecclesiastical realities"
"It is unclear for what reason this apostolic visitation will take place," says Tosatti. Cardinal Prefect Braz de Aviz had recently indicated that it was "appropriate" to raise a watchful eye on this "new ecclesial reality". Why? Because founders sometimes turn out to be "unsuitable," the Cardinal says, "to deal with the many vocations. In the case of the Franciscans of the Immaculate Heart, the Congregation of Religious, with the approval of Pope Francis, radically intervened, dismissed the whole order's leadership, and appointed Commissioners without mentioning any reason. The decision of the Order, founded in 1990, to return from the Novus Ordo to the traditional form of the Roman Rite in 2008, was the bone of contention.
|Priests of the Order|
After the Congregation of Religious failed to lay hands on the real estate of the Order with the help of the secular jurisdiction, the pressure on Father Stefano Maria Manelli, who had been deposed and held under house arrest, was recently increased to induce the lay associations to surrender the assets. At the same time, the Congregation of Religious does not shrink from threatening canonical sanctions against the implacable former Superior General, now 84 years old.
The Franciscans of Immaculata have been under the tutelage of the Papal Commissioner for four years. The Commissioner has just recently finished with the Institute of the Word of Flesh (IVE), an Order founded in 1984 in Argentina, which also attracts numerous vocations. Currently, the order includes around 800 priests, 2,000 religious women and more than 700 seminarians. It operates on all five continents, including the ballyhooed geographical and Catholic "periphery" such as Tajikistan, Papua New Guinea, Iceland, Palestine, Russia, Tunisia, Ukraine, Albania, Taiwan and Egypt. The order is divided into ten provinces, one vice-province and three delegations. In the Federal Republic of Germany, there has been a center of faith in the Archdiocese of Berlin since 2010, and since 2016, a branch with support of the pilgrimage church on the Mariahilfberg near Neumarkt in the Upper Palatinate (Diocese of Eichstätt). The branch of the Order of the Virgin Mary, Door of the Sunrise, which includes parts of Central and Northern Europe, also has branches in Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
The Heralds of the Gospel do not yet have branches in the German-speaking world.
"Apart from more or less real problems and more or less justified accusations against the founders, these communities have three essential similarities: they are committed to the tradition of the Church (therefore, the more Thomas than Rahner supporters, are characterized by a strong worship of Our Lady of Fatima and are active in the right to life of unborn children), many vocations (which are more suspicious nowadays in church hierarchies and bishops) and have considerable financial resources. "
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Photo: Arautos do Evangelho (Screenshots)
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