The Transalpine Redemptorists in New Zealand have become the target of a Vatican investigation.
Under Pope Francis, apostolic visitations and papal commissars have also become an instrument of the one-sided struggle for elimination within the Church when they are used against tradition. Now the sword is also falling on the Transalpine Redemptorists, a traditional religious order that has two monasteries. The main monastery is located on a small island in the Orkney Islands, off the north coast of Scotland. The second monastery was founded at Kakahu on the South Island of New Zealand. A third monastery has been located in the USA since 2020, specifically in the diocese of Great Falls-Billings in the state of Montana. The attacks relate to the second monastery in the New Zealand diocese of Christchurch.
The Transalpine Redemptorists were founded by Father Michael Mary Sim, a Redemptorist who found the liberalization in the Redemptorist Order, especially in the liturgical area, unbearable. In 1987 he took the step to re-establish a traditional Redemptorist order. He was supported by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. The young order retreated to the isolated island of Papa Stronsay in the Orkney Islands and flourished, so that today there are three monasteries on three continents. The Transalpine Redemptorists remained closely linked to the Priestly Society of St. Pius X until 2008. After Pope Benedict XVI., having issued the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, they entered into full unity with Rome. In 2012 the order was recognized under canon law and included among the so-called Ecclesia Dei communities.
New Zealand media reported that an investigation was launched by the Holy See into allegations of “spiritual and psychological abuse.” Since the term “abuse” now has a very one-sided connotation, it is important to expressly point out that it is not about sexual abuse. The Redemptorists of the tradition are accused of carrying out unauthorized exorcisms.
The Vatican sent Australian Bishop Emeritus Robert McGuckin to New Zealand to investigate the Transalpine Redemptorists there. McGuckin is a canon lawyer and has served as a judge on the Ecclesiastical Court for Australia and New Zealand. In May 2012, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him. Bishop of Toowoomba in the Australian state of Queensland. Last May, at the age of 80, he was given emeritus status by Pope Francis, exceptionally late.
Father Magdala Maria, one of the two priests who are in the crossfire of criticism
Msgr. McGuckin was assigned, as a first step, to interview the New Zealand complainant against the Transalpine Redemptorists.
This was preceded by a report by the New Zealand news agency Newshub, whose target was the Transalpine Redemptorists, known in the Anglo-Saxon world as the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer.
In New Zealand people are very surprised by the Roman action, as no comparable step is known and the action was ordered high up. Just two years ago, the public broadcaster Television New Zealand (TVNZ) published a lengthy report. But the Redemptorists of the tradition don't have only friends in the island state.
In a second step, McGuckin wants to interview various people who made allegations against Transalpine Redemptorist priests in the Newshub report. These should also include people who have left the Church.
The Newshub report accuses the Transalpine Redemptorist priests responsible for Canterbury (New Zealand), Father Anthony Mary and Father Magdala Maria, of “manipulative behavior”. They interfered in the family life of believers and carried out several unauthorized exorcisms.
The Transalpine Redemptorists deny wrongdoing. They face the unjustified attacks. They would do nothing other than proclaim the Church's teachings and exhaust its means of grace. The problem is that some in the world cannot tolerate the revealed truth or the Church's means of grace and are offended by it.
Believers from the Transalpine Redemptorist environment confirm this representation. The Newshub report was intentionally scandalous and exaggerated. Ultimately, the Church is being attacked. In order to do this, a community of tradition was chosen because it was known that it could not count on unrestricted solidarity in the Church. The reporters would also know who in the Church has been approved for shooting.
Rome was approached by the local bishop of Christchurch, Msgr. Michael Gielen. In August the bishop visited Rome and held discussions with Vatican authorities about the Transalpine Redemptorists. His input triggered the investigation. The diocesan bishop told Newshub: “I have asked the Holy See for advice. In response, the Holy See has initiated an apostolic visitation and appointed Reverend Robert McGuckin, Bishop Emeritus of Toowoomba, as apostolic visitator.”
Behind the accusation that “unapproved” exorcisms were carried out is Msgr. Gielen, who emphasizes that exorcisms have to be approved by him as the local bishop, but this has not happened.
Behind the Newshub report are Catholics who are calling for the dissolution of the Transalpine Redemptorists.
For further information see the Transalpine Redemptorists website.
TVNZ's film report (2021) about the Transalpine Redemptorists in New Zealand
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: TVNZ/Facebook/papastronsay.com (screenshots)
Trans: Tancred email@example.com