The "rebellious" Poor Clares leave the monastery of Ravello.
(Rome) They have resisted for a long time: Now the "rebellious" nuns Massimiliana Panza and Angela Maria Punnacka have left the monastery of Santa Chiara in Ravello after Pope Francis had made an example of them.
The town of Ravello is located in the enchanting countryside of the Amalfi Coast in the southern Italian region of Campania. The city with the great panoramic view was able to survive as a Byzantine territory for a long time. It was not until the 11th century that it briefly came under Lombard rule, which was replaced by the Normans in 1073. It was also the Normans who made Ravello a diocese.
At the end of the 13th century, a Poor Clares cloister was built on the outskirts of the town. Since then, cloistered nuns have lived there, whose charism is worship. The small three-nave church and monastery were given their present appearance in 1722. The high altar is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and shows representations of St. Francis and St. Clare. The oldest fresco, a blessing Christ, dates back to the presumed founding year 1297 or shortly before. In the right aisle, a door with a grille allows conversation with the nuns, who adhered to the strict cloister until the end, which is why the monastery cannot be visited. For many of today's mostly hurried tourists, a visit to such a place would be nothing anyway. They are more drawn to the famous Villa Cimbrone, which adjoins the monastery just to the west.
"We take a discreet look behind these walls, where silence is sacred," wrote the Ravello-born minorite, historian and archaeologist Fr. Oreste Maria Casaburo in his description of the monastery and church. When he entered the novitiate of his native town in 1942, life and the cultural landscape on the Amalfi Coast were somewhat different, but life in the Poor Clares monastery of Ravello hardly changed. The square in front of the church is as sun-drenched as ever. The monastery complex on the ridge offers a fantastic view over the Gulf of Salerno and into the Vallone del Dragone, the dragon valley, in the northwest.
For more than 700 years, the Poor Clares have lived on this mountain and have survived all attacks, turmoil and natural disasters. The monastery is thus one of the oldest continuously inhabited monasteries in the country. In its heyday in 1577, 41 sisters, three novices and two converses lived here. The large dormitory was then located above the nave.
When the Tridentine church reform was implemented in the 17th century, the monasteries of the Augustinian hermits and the Minorites in Ravello were closed. The monasteries of the Benedictines and the Poor Clares, however, remained. The Poor Clares monastery also survived the anti-monastic Napoleonic turmoil, because at that time there were more than twelve sisters in the monastery, which were prescribed by the French rulers as a minimum number. When, later in the 19th century, Italian unification was carried out under anti-Church auspices and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was incorporated into the new Kingdom of Italy in 1861, the hour seemed to have struck for the Poor Clares monastery of Ravello in the course of the great abolition of the monastery. The decree of repeal had already been signed by the new rulers, but it was never implemented, because even now, despite the ban on admission, the number of sisters never fell below the minimum limit that would have allowed their expulsion.
Now, 150 years later, under Pope Francis, a wind is blowing in the Church that is not very friendly to the cloistered monasteries. Like the "Enlightenment" thinkers of the late 18th century, Santa Marta does not seem to see any "benefit" in adoration sisters shut off from the world.
Three Poor Clares lived in Ravello. Too few, said the Roman Congregation of Religious, to "justify" the continued existence of the monastery, and last year decreed the abolition of the convent and the division of the three nuns among three other monasteries. In order to save their convent, the two younger sisters Massimiliana Panza and Angela Maria Punnacka and their 97-year-old sister Maria Cristina Fiore, who has lived in the convent since 1955, resisted. The citizens of Ravello formed a committee to support the sisters. However, negotiations with the ecclesiastical authorities were inconclusive. In the diocese and in the order, reference was made to Roman requirements.
In order to save the convent and to prevent the monastery from becoming the object of real estate speculation, the sisters donated the entire complex, whose value is estimated at 50 to 60 million euros due to the fantastic location, to Pope Francis. In a petition to the Pope, they announced the donation and asked him for his protection. What was intended as a saving anchor in desperation, however, turned out to be the opposite. Pope Francis did not think of taking the nuns under his protection. However, the donation was accepted by him and makes him the owner of a considerable fortune. As soon as the transfer of ownership was completed, the resistance of the nuns of Rome was classified as a "rebellion" and answered with maximum severity.
On February 3, the two younger sisters left the convent after all, because the Holy See made a hard example of them. Both were released from their vows because of their "disobedience" and dismissed from the religious state. The penal decree was personally signed by Pope Francis.
When the sisters were shown the Pope's signature under the decree last week, their world collapsed. Pope Francis expressly prohibited the sisters from appealing the decision. Then they capitulated. The 46-year-old Sr. Massimiliana, who lived in the monastery in Ravello for 18 years, returned to her family. For the time being, she also accommodates her younger sister Angela Maria there.
From their 97-year-old sister, the two said goodbye on Friday morning only briefly. To spare her a stir, they didn't tell her about their personal tragedy. According to the Vatican decree, Sr. Maria Cristina is allowed to stay in the monastery because of her old age. The absurd thing: For their care, two other nuns were transferred to Ravello by the Congregation of Religious, which means that three sisters continue to live in the monastery.
"It's a piece of Ravello's history. Although only three nuns remained, it is important to preserve the monastery (...) We are disappointed and confused by the Vatican's decision, especially after they threw out these two sisters, only to let two others move in," Gino Schiavo, who heads the citizens' committee to save the monastery, told the press.
A group of people said goodbye to the now former sisters on the short way from the convent to the car that took them away. "We promise them to continue fighting for the preservation of the monastery," Gino Schiavo said to the two women and presented them with a ceramic bowl with a thank you and a dedication.
Sr. Massimiliana explained to those present that they had not been transferred, but dismissed, and said goodbye with the words:
"We came with nothing and leave with nothing. We don't want anything for ourselves. We were born Franciscan poor when we entered the Order and we want to die that way."
Text: Giuseppe Nardi Image: MiL/Wikicommons/SalernoNews (Screenshots)
Bishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon finds himself more and more in Rome's line of fire hostile to tradition. The picture shows him celebrating a Pontifical Mass in the traditional Rite for the international pilgrimage Populus Summorum Pontificum ad Petri Sedem in St. Peter's Basilica. On the right, Abbé Claude Barth, the spiritual assistant of the pilgrimage.
(Paris) It goes in quick succession. The Holy See, through the Dicastery of Bishops, has ordered an Apostolic Visitation of the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon. The reason is named with an adjective: Bishop Dominique Rey is "traditional".
The diocese in Provence has become an exceptional diocese under its bishop. In relation to size, it has far surpassed all other French dioceses for many years. Although it comprises only two percent of the Catholics of France, ten percent of all seminarians in Fréjus-Toulon prepare for the priesthood there.
The reason for this is that Bishop Dominque Rey treats both forms of the Roman Rite equally. The traditional Rite has a firm place in his diocese. Seminarians are trained in both forms. In addition, it promotes the establishment of traditional religious orders. Some were even constituted by him in his diocese, including an ancient Benedictine monastery and a Bi-ritual missionary order.
The ancient Benedictine monastery founded and built by monks in the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon
These facts are a thorn in the side of some in France and Rome. The 70-year-old Msgr. Rey was appointed in the Holy Year by Pope John Paul II. Under Benedict XVI, who held him in high esteem and personally appointed him synodal member of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization where he developed. Under Francis, however, the wind changed. Nevertheless, Bishop Rey pressed ahead in 2017 and declared as the only diocesan bishop at the time that priests of the SSPX can perform weddings in all churches of his diocese.
Then, however, Pope Francis issued his infamous motu proprio Traditionis custodes in the summer of 2021. In June 2022, Rome shocked with a ban on Bishop Rey to administer the already fixed diaconate and priestly ordinations. Katholisches.info wrote at the time to a picture showing a smiling Pope Francis shaking hands with Bishop Rey: "The smile is deceiving".
The accusations made against Bishop Rey last year resemble the stereotypes that are part of the stereotypical anti-conservative and anti-traditionalist repertoire. With the ban, it was clear that the bishop, his diocese and his thriving seminary were targeted by Rome. Those who hoped for calm misjudge the dynamics that drive forces hostile to tradition. It is said that they need enemies like daily bread, and if there were none, they would have to invent them.
The prohibition of ordination eight months ago is now followed by an Apostolic Visitation. An announcement that frightens connoisseurs of the matter. Under Pope Francis, the procedure in other cases means that after the visitator the retirement of Bishop Rey could follow.
Pope Francis gave an in-depth interview to AP's Nicole Winfield on current issues.
(Rome) Interviews by popes are only given very rarely. Under Pope Francis, this has changed. He uses the interview as a main means of communication. Recently, he granted one to the Associated Press (AP), one of the Big Three international press agencies. The interview published yesterday was conducted by the AP Vatican scholar Nicole Winfield in Spanish with a potpourri of topics from Benedict XVI. to Cardinal George Pell to papal critics and the wealth of Africa, from the Ukraine conflict to the arms trade to the trivialized People's Republic of China and a ridiculed Cardinal Zen, from homosexuality and the sexual abuse scandal, from the women's diaconate to the Amazon Synod and synodality to the only "so-called synodal way" of the German bishops and from his own resignation, the Rupnik case to a visit to Argentina – with some interesting statements.
Pope Francis granted an interview to the magazine Mundo Negro of the Comboni Missionaries. Also present was Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso (right).
(Rome) The magazine Mundo Negro of the Comboni Missionaries, based in Madrid, published an interview with Pope Francis on 13th January. It is not the first he granted to this magazine. In it, Francis again denounces proselytism as a "grave sin". So much is widely known. It is more remarkable that Francis also says that he "cannot explain" the vocations crisis. He also regrets that the "liturgical ferments" that existed after the Second Vatican Council have disappeared.
The interview, which was conducted on December 15 but only now published, lasted 35 minutes. It was led by the editor of Mundo Negro, Fr. Jaume Calvera. Also present was Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot. Francis had appointed Cardinal Ayuso titular bishop in 2016 and president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (now Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue) in 2019. In the same year he also created him cardinal.
According to Francis, the mission of the Church has changed "thank God" through the Second Vatican Council. He refers to "two interesting signs":
"The first careless ferments of the Council have already disappeared. I am thinking of the liturgical ferments, which are almost non-existent. And an anti-conciliar resistance is forming, a resistance to the Council, which did not exist before and which is typical of every process of maturation. But many things have changed... On the missionary side, respect for cultures, the inculturation of the Gospel, is one of the values born as an indirect consequence of the Council. Faith is inculturated and the Gospel takes on the culture of the people, there is an evangelization of culture. Inculturation of faith and evangelization of culture are these two movements, and when I speak of the evangelization of culture, I do not mean the reductionism of culture or the ideologization of cultures or all that is a serious temptation today, but I speak of evangelization, of proclamation and nothing else, with great respect. Therefore, the gravest sin a missionary can commit is proselytism. Catholicism is not proselytism."
InfoVaticana describes Francis' frequent criticism of "proselytism" as an "obsession" of the Pope, deliberately keeping the term vague, as well as "clericalism" or "rigidity," to name two other buzzwords of papal vocabulary. They are not precisely defined but are used for harsh accusations: "The gravest sin a missionary can commit is proselytism."
"I don't see any explanation"
When asked whether the West is a "mission territory" today, Francis is surprised, almost perplexed. A few sentences earlier, the Pope called the Second Vatican Council a great achievement that had changed so much. For almost 60 years, the official ecclesiastical line has been that the Council has brought a "new spring". However, nothing of this can be seen and felt. Faced with reality that contradicts this narrative, Francis declares that he has no explanation for it.
"Five countries—Belgium, Holland, Spain, Ireland and Quebec—have filled the world with missionaries. Today, there are no vocations in these five areas. It's a mystery. And that in less than 100 years. How can we explain this? I don't see any explanation for that."
The inexplicable does not seem to give Francis sleepless nights, because when asked immediately afterwards whether this development worries him, he said:
"No, it does not worry me, in the sense that we are melting away, this is a sign of the times that signals worldliness, that signals a level of development that sets values elsewhere. It signals a crisis. There are crises, and crises must be lived through and overcome."
Text/Translation: Giuseppe Nardi Image: InfoVaticana
Pope Francis with Bishop Heiner Wilmer of Hildesheim on 17 October 2022. Will Wilmer become the new Prefect of the Church?
(Rome) Should the Church really recover from the German creature? So it seems. In the past, however, this was already associated with blessings and curses. After the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has been led most of the time by Germans over the past 40 years with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and Gerhard Cardinal Müller, a German is now to step again at the head of the most important Roman Congregation in matters of faith, which has been renamed a Dicastery, since last July.
However, the journey should now go in a completely different direction. Pope Francis is known for this unless certain necessity forces him to look for the most progressive candidates. After he got rid of the Prefect of the Faith Müller in 2017 without naming a reason that he had yet to take over from Benedict XVI, the Church in the Federal Republic of Germany got out of hand. The progressives have been great ever since. They set sail and set sail to reach other shores, especially homosexuals.
The flag of the ordination of women was also hoisted in second place on the main mast, which – from a theological point of view – is understandable since it also has to do with homosexuality.
Unity or truth?
Instead of the Church flag to identify themselves safely from afar, they wanted to raise another one. However, one did not think of the German national colors of 1848, which a Martin Luther would not have wrapped himself in if he had already known about it, nor the EU flag, or even better a world flag. As such, the gay flag seems to be particularly popular in certain circles at the moment. The drive that is supposed to provide the wind is called: Synodal Way.
In order not to endanger the unity of the Church, which is a high good, but must not stand higher than the truth, Pope Francis admonished the high-spirited Germans to take some time. In return, he adopted the synodal path for the whole universal Church and called it the synodal process. So everything will go a little slower, but in unity. This is Santa Marta's approach, which stops at the formal level, but says nothing about the content level. But what about the truths of faith? Will they become predators of German dissidents? Is there even congruence in the point of view?
Is it more important to defend the truth and ward off gay heresy, or to preserve unity at the price of the homo-heresiarchs prevailing not only in Germany, but worldwide? However, a mandate for unity in apostasy cannot be derived anywhere from Sacred Scripture and Tradition.
For the time being, it is only a rumor, and must be treated with due restraint. However, the very fact that there is such a rumour is frightening enough. The information comes from Messa in Latino, a traditional site with much, though not always accurate, information from the Vatican. The site refers to sources "at the highest level". Pope Francis, however, is unpredictable until the last second, who even in his closest environs overturns plans that were already believed to be in place.
According to Messa's sources, Msgr. Heiner Wilmer SCJ is to become the new Prefect of the Dicastery of the Faith (formerly the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith). Msgr. Wilmer has been Bishop of Hildesheim appointed by Francis since 2018. Previously, the farmer's son from Emsland was Superior General of the Sacred Heart Priests, who are better known outside the German-speaking world as Dehonians. The Dehonians, on the other hand, especially in Italy, where they have a focus, are an ultra-progressive order. This call also hangs on Bishop Wilmer. For this it is sufficient to hear his defense of the theologian Eugen Drewermann, who was condemned by the Church. However, here, too, he follows in the footsteps of someone else.
It was Pope Francis who rehabilitated Drewermann in an irritatingly bizarre catechesis without ever mentioning him by name. With the Judas catechesis of Francis, which is based on an arbitrary Drewermann interpretation of a column capital in the basilica of Vézelay, he opened the door to a variant of the erroneous doctrine of universal salvation. Even more decisive is the rehabilitation of the German rebel theologian, who threw his priesthood into the nettles and even left the Church in 2005.
Cardinal Ladaria has been a Prefect of the Faith on call for months
The mandate of the incumbent Prefect of the Faith Luis Cardinal Ladaria Ferrer SJ expired on 30 June 2022. Pope Francis tacitly leaves him in office, as is customary in the Roman Curia. This means, however, that the Pope can dismiss him at any time and appoint a successor without becoming brute.
Wilmer was enthroned as Bishop of Hildesheim on 1 September 2018. When the new bishop ingratiated himself with the non-church media, he went so far as to claim in a ludicrous interview with the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger on December 14, 2018:
"The abuse of power is in the DNA of the Church."
Last January, Wilmer praised the gay campaign of 125 church employees who professed to be homosexual. In the meantime, not least with Wilmer's support, the labor law of Church employees has been changed so that homosexuality is now "in". And priestly celibacy "shines" even more beautifully, according to Wilmer, if it is not mandatory.
Four weeks ago, Wilmer was in Rome with his German confreres for an ad limina visit. He was only one of 62 when he was received in audience by Francis on November 17. The Roman admonitions of Cardinal Ladaria and Bishop Prefect Ouellet were obviously not heard or understood by the President of the German Bishops' Conference Georg Bätzing.
A month earlier, however, on October 17, Bishop Wilmer had already been in Rome. On this occasion he was received in audience alone by Pope Francis. According to the Vatican rumor, Francis informed him on this occasion that he wanted to appoint him as the new Prefect of the Faith of the Holy Church.
KNA, the press agency of the German bishops, reported at the time:
"The Bishop of Hildesheim is considered to be well connected in Rome."
The press office of the diocese of Hildesheim announced that the conversation had been "among other things about the German synodal way". In addition, reference was made to Wilmer's position as President of the Commission for Social and Social Issues of the German Bishops' Conference "and as head of the German Commission Justitia et Pax". But these are at best sideshows that are no reason for an official audience with the Pope.
In the run-up, Francis had already listened to other German bishops – Hesse, Genn, Overbeck, Cardinal Marx, Timmerevers and Meier – individually, in order to obviously influence the synodal path, whose pace and rhythm he tries to reconcile with his synodal process, but probably also to capture moods, to collect first-hand information and also to get a personal impression of to make individual.
A few days after his return from Rome, Wilmer presented himself as a pugnacious progressive, who announced:
"The Church does not need reforms, but real conversion."
Commenting on the recent Vatican rumor of such an appointment, Messa in Latino said:
"Unfortunately, if confirmed, this would be a terrible Christmas present from Santa Marta, as it would also confirm the ultra-progressive positions of the infamous German 'Synodal Way'. Instead of the Christmas season, we seem to be entering a late winter for the Church."
Text: Giuseppe Nardi Image: VaticanMedia/Wikicommons/Synod.va/Vatican.va (Screenshots)
(Rome) On Saturday, September 17, Pope Francis received pilgrims from the Italian Diocese of Alessandria and young people from the Archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia preparing for Confirmation in the large [and ugly] “Paolo VI” Audience Hall in the Vatican. For this reason, Francis divided his speech into two parts and addressed the pilgrims from Piedmont in the first part. However, the papal address was not so much intended for them, but as a message apparently intended for a different, far larger audience, since the reason for the pilgrimage was the 450th anniversary of the death of Pius V, that holy pope who is inseparably connected with the traditional Rite.
Francis warned in his assessment of Pius V against an "anachronistic error" and against reducing the holy pope to a "nostalgic, embalmed memory". Instead, it is about “grasping his teaching and his testimony”, but Francis himself seems to have his problems with that. Contrary to history, the reigning Pope gives the impression that the “Tridentine” Mass was autocratically unilaterally introduced by Pius V, while the liturgical reform of 1969 was introduced by the Second Vatican Council. However, the Council had already ended in 1965 and by no means had decided on the Novus Ordo Missae subsequently created by Annibale Bugnini.
The Dominican Antonio Michele Ghislieri, born in Bosco Marengo near Alessandria in 1504 and died in Rome on May 1, 1572, ruled the Church for six years. With the Bull Quo primum in 1570 he established the Missale Romanum as the so-called Tridentine Mass "forever" and prohibited its abolition or change. During his pontificate, the Battle of Lepanto, victorious for Christianity, also took place, ending the Islamic threat in the Mediterranean after centuries. In 1712 he was canonized.
After years of unequivocally expressing his rejection and even more his complete lack of understanding for those priests and faithful who are connected to the traditional Rite, Francis took action with the motu proprio Traditionis custodes and went on to the frontal attack. Pope Francis countered the Missale Romanum written “forever” by St. Pius V by saying that the liturgical reform introduced in 1969 was the “single form of expression of the lex orandi of the Roman rite”.
Francis warned his listeners accordingly in his address on Saturday. An exhortation apparently not addressed to the pilgrims from the Diocese of Alessandria, but to the priests and faithful committed to the traditional rite. In doing so, Francis even attempts a hussar ride by suggesting that the life and work of Pius V must be “interpreted”, which Francis does immediately in the spirit of the post-conciliar liturgical reform.
"Pius V was a reformer of the Church who made courageous decisions, but..."
“Dear brothers and sisters of the Diocese of Alessandria, the 450th anniversary of the death of Saint Pius V, the only Piedmontese Pope born in Bosco Marengo, in what is now the Diocese of Alessandria, gives rise to some very timely reflections.
Pope Pius V, born Antonio Ghislieri, faced numerous pastoral and governmental challenges in just six years of his pontificate. He was a church reformer who made bold decisions. Since then, the style of Church governance has changed and it would be an anachronistic mistake to assess certain works of Saint Pius V with today's mentality. Likewise, we must be careful not to reduce him to a nostalgic, embalmed memory, but to grasp his teaching and testimony. From this we can see that faith was the backbone of his entire life.
How can we interpret his teachings today? First, they invite us to search for the truth. Jesus is the truth, not only in a universal sense, but also in a corporate and personal sense; and the challenge is to live the search for truth today in the daily life of the Church and Christian communities. This search can only be done through personal and community discernment, starting from the Word of God (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 30, 50, 175).
This commitment, translated into discernment, makes a community grow in an ever more intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ; and then he, the truth, the Lord, becomes the basis of community life woven with bonds of love. Love is expressed in acts of sharing, from the physical to the spiritual dimension, acts that reveal the mystery that we carry in our 'clay pots' (cf. 2 Cor 4:7).
The Word of God comes alive especially in the celebration of the Eucharist, both at the 'Table of the Word' and at the 'Table of the Eucharist', where we touch, as it were, the flesh of Christ. Pius V was concerned with reforming the liturgy of the Church, and after four centuries the Second Vatican Council introduced another reform to better meet the needs of today's world. Much has been said in recent years about the liturgy, especially its outward forms. But the greatest effort must be made to ensure that the celebration of the Eucharist actually becomes the source of community life (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10).
In fact, faced with the crossroads on the path of communities, as well as the crosses of our personal life, the liturgy incorporates us into the priesthood of Christ and gives us a new modality that Saint Paul sums up in this way: 'I rejoice in suffering 'which I bear for you, and make up what is lacking in my flesh from the sufferings of Christ, for the sake of his body, which is the Church' (Col 1:24). At the end of the liturgy, having touched the Eucharistic flesh of Christ, the evangelizing community is sent out and 'puts itself into the daily lives of others through works and gestures, shortening distances, humiliating themselves if necessary, and embracing human life, in which they come in contact with the suffering flesh of Christ as a people.' (Evangelii gaudium, 24)
And then we must not forget that Saint Pius V recommended prayer, especially the Rosary. In fact, 'the Church's first steps in the world were preordained by prayer. The apostolic writings and the great record of the Acts of the Apostles give us the image of a Church on the way, an active Church, but which finds in the prayer meetings the basis and impetus for missionary activity' (Catechesis, November 25, 2020 ).
In this way, dear friends from Alessandria, I have reminded you of the four coordinates that guide us in our ecclesial journey, as it says in Acts 2:42: 'They clung to the teaching of the apostles and to the communion, in the breaking of the bread and at the prayers.' Follow the teaching of the apostles, the teaching of the Church; live in community, not at war among us; living the Eucharist, breaking bread and praying: beautiful, isn't it? It is possible."