Rorate Caeli

Franciscans of the Immaculate as Lorenzo Ricci's Jesuits: "let them be as they are, or not at all"

Sint ut sunt aut non sint

Roberto de Mattei



Sint ut sunt aut non sint” (let them be as they are, or not at all) is a sentence that according to some historians was pronounced by the General of the Jesuits, Lorenzo Ricci, when faced with the plan of “reforming” the Company of Jesus, to adapt itself to the demands of the world. It was in the second half of the XVIII century and the Jesuits represented the bulwark against the attacks from enemies both inside and outside who were crushed. The enemies outside were led by the enlightened “parti philosophique”, and those inside which were indented by heretical currents (Gallicanism, Jurisdictionalism, Royalism and Febronianism) thought they were capable of bending the Church to the will of the absolute States.

The Jesuits, founded by St Ignatius of Loyola, vigorously defended the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, to whom they were bound by a fourth vow of obedience. The absolute sovereigns, influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment, had begun to expel the Jesuits from their kingdoms, accusing them of perverting the social order. This nonetheless was not enough. It was necessary to transform the Society from the inside, but since the General of the Jesuits opposed this, all that could be done was to suppress it, and only a Pope was able to do that.

The opportunity presented itself at the death of Clement XIII, on February 2, 1769. The historian Ludwig von Pastor, in volume XVI of his History of the Popes (tr.it. Desclée, Rome 1943), describes lavishly in his documentation, the maneuvers that took place before, during and after the Conclave, which, after 3 months and 179 votings, saw the election on the 14th May of the Franciscan, Lorenzo Ganangelli, who took the name of Clement XIV. The new Pope was elected on the condition that he would abolish the Society of Jesus. Although he did not put down a formal promise in writing, which would have implied simony, Cardinal Ganganelli made this commitment with the ambassadors of the Bourbon Court.

The Holy Ghost did not fail in assisting the Conclave, but the cardinals’ correspondence with grace was surely not adequate, if their choice had been pinned on a prelate that Pastor defines as “a weak and ambitious character, who aspired to the Tiara” (op. cit. p.66).

On July 21, 1773, with the Papal Letter Dominus ac Redemptor, Pope Clement XIV, suppressed the Society of Jesus, which at the time counted about 23,000 members in 42 provinces. “This Papal Letter of the 21st of July 1773, - writes Pastor – represents the most manifest victory of the Enlightenment and of royal absolutism over the Church and Her Head.” (p.223).

Father Lorenzo Ricci was imprisoned in Castel Sant’Angelo, where he died on November 24, 1775. Clement XIV preceded him into the tomb on September 22, 1774, a year after the dissolution of the order. The Society was dispersed, but survived in Russia, where the Czarina Catherine II, refused to give the exequatur to the letter of suppression. The Jesuits from White Russia were accused of disobedience and rebellion against the Pope, but they guaranteed the historical continuity of the order, while in other nations ex-Jesuits promoted new religious congregations, in the spirit of Ignatius.

In 1789 the French Revolution broke out and a dramatic era opened up for the Church, which saw the invasion of Rome and the deportation of the two successors of Clement XVI: Pius VI and Pius VII. Resistance to the Revolution was assured in this period, above all, by a secret society, the “Amicizie cristiane” (Christian Friendships), founded in Turin by the Swiss former Jesuit Nikolaus von Diessbach.

Finally, after forty years, with the constitution Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum, of August 7, 1814, Pius VII revoked the Papal Letter of July 21, 1773, and disposed the complete reconstitution of the Society of Jesus all over the world “appearing to him a grave fault before God, if at such a calamitous time, those valid oarsmen had been taken away from the barque of the Church.” (Pastor, op.cit., p.421).

A Franciscan Pope, Clement XIV, suppressed the Jesuits in 1773. Will it be a Jesuit Pope, Francis to suppress or still worse, “reform” a Franciscan Institute in 2013?

The Franciscans of the Immaculate do not have the glorious past of the Jesuits, but in their case some analogy is present with that of the Society of St. Ignatius, and above all [the situation] represents a symptomatic expression of the deep crisis in the Catholic Church which is under discussion today:

Founded by Father Stefano Maria Manelli in 1970, the Franciscans of the Immaculate lead an evangelical and penitential life, and have distinguished themselves, from the beginning, by their attachment to traditional morality and faith. The Motu Proprio with which Benedict XVI restituted full citizenship to the Old Roman Rite, represented for them the possibility of living, on a liturgical level, this love for Tradition. Father Manelli never imposed the Vetus Ordo, but suggested it to his Friars and the ordinations to the priesthood in recent years have been done [in this Rite] by eminent Princes of the Church along the lines of Benedict XVI’s “the reform in continuity.”

The Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life, at present presided by Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, is responsible for congregations of both men and women, who have abandoned all or in part their religious habit, who live in moral laxity and doctrinal relativism without any recall whatsoever on the part of the competent authorities. The Franciscans of the Immaculate represent a mark of contradiction, which explains the Congregation’s desire to “normalize them” that is, to realign their religious life to the current standard. The presence of a small nucleus of “dissident” Friars offered the Congregation the opportunity to intervene with the dispatching of a Visitor, Monsignor Vito Angelo Todisco. So without visiting them personally, the Congregation, disposed on  July 21, 2013, an external commissioner upon the Institute, in a Decree which contained the (absolutely illegitimate) prohibition of celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass.

In the subsequent days and weeks we will know more about the plan of the Commissioner, Fidenzio Volpi, of which, however, the broad lines can already be guessed: isolate the Founder, Father Manelli; decapitate the Council faithful to him; transfer the “traditional” Friars to the periphery and assign the central government of the Institute to the dissidents; entrust the house of formation to the Fathers not suspected of “traditionalist” sympathies; sterilize the publications by the Franciscans that deal with “controversies; in particular, avoid Mariological “maximalism”, excessive “rigidity” in the moral sphere, and above all, avoid every criticism, even if respectful, of the Second Vatican Council; open the Institute to “ecumenical dialogue” with the other religions; limit the celebration of the Vetus Ordo to exceptional situations; in short, distort the identity of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, which is worse than suppressing them.

If this has to be the reform, let us hope for a separation between the two “spirits” that at present live together inside the Franciscans of the Immaculate: on the one side the Friars who interpret the Second Vatican Council in the light of the Church’s Tradition, and in which spirit they discovered the Old Roman Rite, with all its truth and beauty; on the other, those who reinterpret the charism of their Institute in the light of post-conciliar progressivism.

The worst thing is the confusion and the crisis of identity. Today, the guarantor of the Franciscans of the Immaculate’s identity is none other than their founder, Father Stefano Maria Manelli, on whose shoulders the responsibility of the recent decisions lies. He is the only one who can repeat, as it has already happened in history: Sint ut sunt aut non sint.

[Source: Corrispondenza Romana; tip and translation: contributor Francesca Romana]

18 comments:

Sarah said...

Thank you for this article.

Bwangi Kilonzo said...

This article is a call to prayer.

Ma Tucker said...

Vetus Ordo?? There is one Latin Roman Rite. It has two forms, the extraordinary form and the ordinary form. It is on the basis of this definition that Roman Catholic priests everywhere have the right to celebrate the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Why are people using the term vetus ordo. This has no basis. The Rite is as it is. There cannot be two rites. There is only one.

Woody said...

"the broad lines can already be guessed: isolate the Founder, Father Manelli; decapitate the Council faithful to him; transfer the “traditional” Friars to the periphery and assign the central government of the Institute to the dissidents; entrust the house of formation to the Fathers not suspected of “traditionalist” sympathies; sterilize the publications by the Franciscans that deal with “controversies”; in particular, avoid Mariological “maximalism”, excessive “rigidity” in the moral sphere, and above all, avoid every criticism, even if respectful, of the Second Vatican Council; open the Institute to “ecumenical dialogue” with the other religions; limit the celebration of the Vetus Ordo to exceptional situations; in short, distort the identity of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, which is worse than suppressing them."

I think Prof. de Mattei is very likely correct in his reading of this situation. If the intent were merely and only to suppress celebration of the Vetus Ordo, it hardly seems likely that removal of Fr. Manelli was needed. Of course, the very existence of the FFI would seem to be a sign of contradiction to the progressive-minded crowd. The very fact that they had to be formed, instead of Frs. Manelli and Pelletieri simply going along with the flow in the existing Franciscan group (I forget whether OFMs or OFM Convs.) would strongly suggest an implicit criticism of the existing order. So perhaps now that implicit criticism has to be quieted.

jeff said...

Young men an women discerning a call to the priesthood or religious life: Ecclesia dei societies or bust. There is no place for you in the mainstream.

I expect that, should de Mattei's worst fears be realised (and let withhold judgement until we KNOW what is ACTUALLY going to happen. Initial signs are hopeful) the defection of numerous novices who only signed up because of the Order's love of tradition.

Matthew said...

Ma Tucker,

That is hilarious. If the Pope says, "Jump!" would you jump?

Perhaps vetus ordo is ridiculous because it is ridiculous that there could be a legitimate "novus ordo."

Two forms of one Rite is a legal fiction based upon wishful thinking, and even the-then Benedict XVI didn't forbid anyone using the terms TLM, vetus ordo, or otherwise.

Magdalene said...

At this time we are seeing some permissions being granted for the TLM. What will happen in the future, God knows.

Woody said...

Frs. Manelli and Pelletieri were OFM Convs. before founding the FFI, per the book "Franciscan Legend of the Immaculata". I hasten to add that nothing derogatory of the OFM Convs. is stated in the book, it being pretty much asserted that Our Lady herself called them to found the new institute.

mic said...

http://www.immacolata.com/index.php/it/35-apostolato/fi-news/235-messaggio-professioni-perpetue

http://chiesaepostconcilio.blogspot.it/2013/08/fi-messaggio-del-commissario-apostolico.html

http://chiesaepostconcilio.blogspot.it/2013/08/come-vengono-perseguitati-i-francescani.html

http://chiesaepostconcilio.blogspot.it/2013/08/francescani-dellimmacolata-linascoltato.html

Ma Tucker said...

Matthew, if there is a vetus ordo and a novus ordo and they are two different ordos then is it possible for a novus ordo ordained priest to have an automatic right to say the vetus ordo? I'm not interested in personal opinions, mine or yours. There are legal restrictions on priests and they are not automatically free to offer mass in rites in which they they have not been ordained. I have no problem with the name TLM. The Extraordinary Form is the same as that. I have never heard or read Pope Benedict/Cardinal Ratzinger use this term "Vetus Ordo". I doubt Cardinal Burke would use it either. Names should not suggest false implications.

Magdalene said...

From the "Franciscan Truth" website:


APPEAL TO THE CONGREGATION FOR INSTITUTES OF CONSECRATED LIFE – MAY 29th 2013

Posted on August 25, 2013


The following document is the evident proof of the inconsistent and malicious work done by the Visitor, backed by few rebels. It easily demonstrate that the Visitation was just embodied by a smart and well conceived questionnaire focused mainly on the latin mass and on the alleged “abuse of power” of the Superior General. There was no answer to this appeal. The only answer issued by the Congregation was finally the decree of appointment of the Commissioner of the Order.

*

Ave Maria!

To the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and and Societies of Apostolic Life

Object: observations concerning the Apostolic Visitation to the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate led by Msgr. Vito Todisco

Several months have passed since Msgr. Vito Angelo Todisco started the Apostolic Visitation to our Institute, after the decree of this Congregation (Decree of July 5th 2012). Time is certainly ripe to express our negative considerations regarding the above said visitation that we accepted in spirit of franciscan deference towards the Ecclesiastical Authority.

The most relevant negative points are therefore outlined in the following points:

1) The formation of the Visitor proved to be inadequate in understanding the real problems of the Institute for several reasons: he is not a regular, he is not an expert of liturgy, he is not an expert of administrative right. Furthermore he is longtime friend of some of the “critical” brothers, sharing with them since longtime their critics to the Founder, thus implying that his judgment could hardly be super partes;

2) The decision to proceed ONLY through a written questionnaire, completely omitting the visitation of the communities, even of the seminaries, despite our invitations.

3) The content of the questionnaire that, beyond the intent to depict a “tendentious” outline of the situation of the Institute, was full of questions not easily understandable by the majority of our brothers.

4) The prohibition to the Superiors to explain the meaning of those questions to the less learned brothers, in order to avoid “any interference” (see the letter of the Apostolic Visitor of Nov. 12th), definitely favored the interference of the critical brothers on them, thus negatively influencing their answers.

From all these evidences it is clear that the Apostolic Visitation has not yet been able to pursue the objectives set in the decree of appointment of the Apostolic Visitor, who received the duty ad inquirendum et referendum “above all regarding the status of the visited communities and of the life of fraternal communion… the formation of the young religious and of the candidates to priesthood…”. All that has not been achieved in primis since there was a complete lack of knowledge of the real situation of our communities, above all of the seminaries. The results of the questionnaire, alone, without verifying that what is written in it actually corresponds to the thoughts of each friar, are unreliable, for the above said reasons.

Our only clear perspective is to reach the next General Chapter scheduled for June 2014, in order to fraternally solve the problems of the actual question, in reverent listening to our Holy Father Francis.

Rome, May 29th 2013

Signed by the Members of the General Council together with the Procurator

LeonG said...

To which the liberal modernists replied, "Not at all!"

Adfero said...

Fr Bonaventure McGuire, FI, aka "Stephen sans silencio McGuire," and Dan Rathernot, you are now officially banned from commenting.

Just didn't want you to keep wasting your time trying to antagonize us to no result. I'm sure you and the "other four" have plenty to do post visitation.

Carlos said...

"The following document is the evident proof of the inconsistent and malicious work done by the Visitor, backed by few rebels. It easily demonstrate that the Visitation was just embodied by a smart and well conceived questionnaire focused mainly on the latin mass and on the alleged “abuse of power” of the Superior General. There was no answer to this appeal. The only answer issued by the Congregation was finally the decree of appointment of the Commissioner of the Order".

APPEAL TO THE CONGREGATION FOR INSTITUTES OF CONSECRATED LIFE – MAY 29TH 2013:

http://franciscantruth.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/appeal-to-the-congregation-for-institutes-of-consecrated-life-may-29th-2013/

Adfero said...


Fr. Boneventure McGuire, please stop trying to comment as "Di Nouvo," Dan Rathernot or anyone else. We have told you that you are banned from commenting here.

As a priest, even as a dissenting Friar, you should still have enough class to respect that. And, frankly, as a priest, you should have something better to do. Or is there nothing left for you to focus on, now that you've wrecked your order?

Barbara said...

Typical modernist tactic - when confronted with the truth, as in this appeal by the FI to the ecclesial authorities - IGNORE - HOPING IT WILL ALL GO AWAY - these modernist ecclesiastics are anything but real Catholics...and anything but really intelligent...have very little supernatural faith (but they always have the SMILE... )at least this has been my experience of liberal modernist priests... come to think of it, the modernist Catholic ,if such an oxymoron exists, is quite boring…

...we know when priests truly love Our Lord Jesus ...and thank goodness there are still many working busily away in the catacombs...oops, sorry... background.... to preserve the faith and the faithful who look on bewildered as the institutional Church, is being emptied of its Catholic Identity by these oxy-morons...

But they won't win...

r said...

Praise God! Fr. Volpi will receive perpetual vows of a number of FI friars tomorrow! The Institute has published his letter to them in advance:

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=it&u=http://www.immacolata.com/index.php/it/35-apostolato/fi-news/235-messaggio-professioni-perpetue&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dmessaggio%2Bdel%2Bcommissario%2Bapostolico%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den

Adfero said...

Wow, Fr. Boneventure, FI, you really need to do some soul searching.

Do you really think we don't know it's you? Do you think more than one person could possibly use the words "crystal ball" and "conjuring cauldron" in back-to-back comments under two names and we wouldn't figure it out?

Does the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate Superior know this is what you do all day?