Sanctioning the Faithful-Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate

This post at Rorate Caeli is well worth reading if, like me, are concerned about the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, it's been a difficult week. The post debunks a report from Michael J. Miller in the Catholic World Report attempts to address the speculation about the order. Basically, the worry is that the Vatican is censuring the order for attachment to traditionalism. Apparently, five priests complained about the traditional direction the order was taking and as a result their ability to say mass in the extraordinary form, as guaranteed under Summorum Pontificum was suspended. At the time, assurances were given that this was simply to make sure that those in the order that did not prefer the EF did not have it unfairly forced upon them. Many people were shocked by this, but understood the need for fairness for all in this matter and took a wait and see approach. I was sure Rorate Caeli had it wrong, and chose to trust Pope Francis and the Vatican would make the story look ridiculous in time. At this time, I am very disappointed, and feel I offer Rorate an apology.

In the past few weeks, since Rev. Fidenzio Volpi was appointed as special commissioner to oversee the FFI he
"has closed the friars' seminary and sent its students to other religious universities. He suspended the activities of the friars' lay movement. He suspended ordinations of new priests for a year and required future priests to formally accept the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and its new liturgy or be kicked out. And he decreed that current priests must commit themselves in writing to following the existing mission of the order." Source.
In response to criticism of his actions, Fr. Volpi retorted that the reason for such draconian and disproportionate measures is that:
"the founder and ex- MinisterGeneral, Father Stefano Maria Manelli, in January 2012, had already evaded constructive dialogue with the religious who had complained of a crypto-lefebvrian and definitely traditionalist drift."
Wow! That's a bit scary. I know many people look quizzically at traditionalists within the Church, but to say that this is some sort of problem to be censured and sorted out is really worrying. It also contradicts somewhat Pope Francis espoused intention to decentralisation. There are lots of places where error is being taught, or nothing is being taught. Lots of places and lots of individuals that seem to just make up Church teaching as they go along. Why don't we do something about some of them? As Laurence England points out,
"Nothing has happened to the heretical and ludicrous LCWR, despite their quite apparent departure from the Holy Faith, the Magisterium and widespread movement 'beyond Jesus'."
There does seem a deep irony in the fact that those who value tradition are always deeply orthodox. That's not to say one has to be a traditionalist to be orthodox, by my experience is that if you are a traditionalist, you take your faith very seriously indeed. This is what the Church exists for surely? Tradition is one of the three means, along with Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church which constitute, the way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit the Church contributes to the salvation of souls (see Dei Verbum 10). Tradition means "that which is handed on" from the Latin tradere. As our faith is Apostolic in nature, and grounded in objective reality, the truths taught by Christ must be held in perpetuity. This is the job of the Church and of the Pope. Saint Paul exhorts us to "test everything; hold fast to what is good" (1 Thess 5:21).

If you read my blog you will probably realise that I do not purport to be a traditionalist per se, insofar as I am a child of Vatican II and was brought up with Novus Ordo. I tend to find myself arguing against aggressive traditionalism to traditionalists (as per my most recent analysis of Michael Voris' criticism of Fr. Robert Barron, and Cardinal Dolan), whilst defending traditionalism to progressives.

However, since  Summorum Pontificum, I been introduced to a new understanding of the beauty and depth of the liturgy. I have been able to experience for myself what Mass can be, and I have seen how the EF has informed the OF.

I have concluded that the EF is of enormous importance simply because it re-introduces reverence that has been missing from the liturgy I have experienced. We need to retain a sense of the sacred and a humility before God. We can develop this from an understanding of what is going on in the Mass, i.e. God is truly present in the blessed Sacrament. There are a lot of people who go to Mass today and struggle with Church teaching. It is traditionalists who are working to teach the faith, why would the Church sanction them rather than encourage them?


  1. Exactly. Since Summorum Pontificum, a treasure trove has been opened. It is popular and progressives don't understand it or fear it and so want it put back and buried. Simple as.

  2. I don't know why, but I hadn't understood the situation to be so bad! What is the situation with the Franciscans of the Immaculate in Stoke? I thought they got a dispensation to re-start the EF there?

    This is very worrying indeed but seems to be a recurring theme where the most faithful are persecuted in one way or another. Still, Truth always wins in the end, so that is some consolation.

    The FFIs who were due to be ordained must be suffering terribly. How awful to have ordination taken away from you like that and to have your community broken up.

    I really feel that Pope Francis doesn't have Pope Benedict's intuition so we must redouble our prayers for him to be led by the Holy Spirit on this matter. Why don't we organise some sort of group novena, where we get lots of people to pray the same novena for the FFI?


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