(Rome) The Commissar appointed by Pope Francis has de facto dissolved a traditional
fraternity. Not one reason for the drastic measure was mentioned. The Priestly Societt of Familia Christi is the first genuinely Italian Ecclesia Dei community. This is the name given to the traditional communities that are committed to the traditional form of the Roman rite and are therefore subordinate to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, today a division of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It also appears to be the cause of the profound aversion to the Society which progressive Italian Churches hold against them and the Archbishop, who recognized them as ecclesiastical.
The Priestly Fraternity Familia Christi (FSFC) is ecclesiastically a clerical society of Apostolic life of diocesan right. Its founder, at that time still as a lay association, is the Vatican diplomat Msgr. Giuseppe Canovai, who died in 1942 at the age of only 37 years. Before joining the diplomatic service of the Holy See, Canovai was a student pastor in Italy. In this capacity, he founded the lay association Familia Christi, which was recognized in 1938 under canon law. His spiritual diary, which he kept from the age of 15, is considered a special treasure and aid for personal sanctification. His beatification process is under way. After a long journey, priestly vocations grew out of the lay association, eventually leading to the founding of the fraternity. In 2014, after a long examination, it was first recognized by the then Archbishop of Ferrara-Comacchio, Msgr. Luigi Negri, and canonised on 8th September 2016, the Feast of the Nativity, with the benevolence of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei according to diocesan law.
Archbishop Negri, who was praised by Pope Benedict XVI., among the diocesan bishops of Italy. He was attacked accordingly. After the election of Pope Francis, his opponents tried to get rid of him as soon as possible. At the same time, people did not shy away from public discrediting. Although Msgr. Negri remained in office until the age of 75, it was not one day longer. In his book he spoke in connection with these hostilities, of a "climate of retribution". The change at the Church hierarchy at the top made it possible.
With his retirement, though in good health, the problems for the Fraternity of Familia Christi began. The appointment of the successor meant a provocative break with Negri's line. The new archbishop was Msgr. Giancarlo Perego, a "street priest" who "works on the margins" in February 2017, as he was officially described. A "super-progressive migration advocate", as the Vaticanist Marco Tosatti put it.
The same was repeated in Ferrara, which had previously happened in the archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels. There, too, Pope Francis retired Archbishop André Joseph Leonard, hated in progressive church circles, as soon as he was 75 years old. Previously, he had already denied him the cardinalatial dignity, which is traditionally associated with the most important diocese of Belgium. No sooner had Leonard's successor, the progressive Jozef De Kesel been installed than he began to dismantle Leonard's acknowledged, New Rite, but "too conservative" brotherhood of the holy apostles.
The numerous priestly vocations of the Society did not speak well for them, but were a thorn in the side of the progressive church circles with their empty seminaries. Finally, the Priestly Fraternity, whose priests were very popular in the parishes entrusted to them in and around Brussels, was banished from Belgium by De Kesel, whom Francis, unlike Leonard, was immediately called to be a Cardinal, and dissolved by Pope Francis.
Christmas Mass 2017, the Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity, blesses Santa Maria in Vado.
Like De Kesel, Msgr. Perego immediately showed an open aversion to the traditional fraternity of Familia Christi. He deprived the priests of the parish church of Santa Maria in Vado, an ancient basilica in the center of Ferrara, where in 1171 a Eucharistic miracle took place, which had been
entrusted to them by Archbishop Negri. The expulsion took place under the pretext of a "structural reform" through parish mergers to pastoral units. On October 1, 2016, Archbishop Negri, in the presence of the mayor of Ferrara and other officials, had canonically appointed the Superior General of the Society in the traditional rite as Pastor of Santa Maria in Vado and other Friar Ministers as chaplains.
Further unfriendliness by Archbishop Perego followed. He banished the Brothers to a secluded church and denied them the public celebration of Holy Mass in the traditional rite of the churches entrusted to them. At the same time he set up a "people's altar" in a central chapel of the Ferrara Cathedral, where Archbishop Negri celebrated Mass in the traditional rite.
On December 1, 2018, the Prefect of the Roman Congregation of the Faith, Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer SJ, appointed the Auxiliary Bishop of Rome, Archbishop Daniele Libanori SJ, as "the Commissioner Plenipotentiary sent by the Holy See". Father Libanori, co-brother of the Pope in the Order of the Jesuits, was appointed as auxiliary bishop by Francis in November 2017.
The Commissar, with all authority, took over the leadership of the Society with the task of clarifying whether "the elements and conclusions" that had emerged in the course of a canonical visitation were well founded, and "if necessary to establish future paths for the fraternity".
What "elements and conclusions" were found, is still unknown.
Marco Tosatti wrote:
"And again the question arises: what such a serious thing can these priests have done to attract the canonical attention of a church, such as the Franciscans of the Immaculate, the Gospel of the Gospels, or the Sisters of Laval, to any kind of doctrinal and theologically approves and favors bizarre and affirms prelates without hesitating in important and delicate offices, which speak out for the gay marriage and the women's priesthood. "
Archbishop Perego had had a canonical visitation of the Brotherhood in 2018 and sent his report to Rome on September 30. The wish he expressed in it was promptly fulfilled by the Holy See: Rome sent a Commisar.
Tossati in December 2018:
"And then one wants to make us believe that this pontificate is merciful, rich in dialogue and tolerant of the various sensitivities and by no means biased and hostile to certain ecclesial realities," Tosatti said in December 2018.
On 30 June, the Commissar issued a decree unbinding all priests, novices and subjects of all promises and commitments. In a nutshell, he dissolved the Society and sent home all those who are not yet ordained priests. Although the Society of Familia Christi was not dissolved by formal law, all its activities are prohibited. It may no longer accept, arouse, or look after any vocations. The Society members, who are already ordained priests, "remain in a kind of limbo," according to the traditional side Messa in Latino.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Priestly Fraternity Familia Christi (screenshot)
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