Rorate Caeli

The total destruction and reconstruction of the FI

New "wrecker" of the Franciscan Sisters a final death knell for true FI charism?

We've been doing our best to bring you, our readers, everything we can on the tragic and chilling situation of the Franciscans of the Immaculate (FI) under intervention -- ordered by Pope Francis.

There are so many unexplainable moves -- and naked attempts to stomp out tradition and orthodoxy within one of the few flourishing orders -- by the Vatican in this matter you'd think you were reading a fiction novel by Malachi Martin.
Yet, unlike the villains in Martin's stories,  those attacking the Church from the inside aren't the sly, skillful enemies playing expert Machiavellian politics -- they're ham-handed amateurs who just don't care that anyone knows their true motives because there's seemingly so little anyone can actually do to stop them.
Cue the latest news, concerning the beloved Sisters of the Immaculate:
By Mauro Faverzani, Corrispondenza Romana
Translated by Rorate readerSeamus O'Halloran

The Wind of Beijing is Blowing on the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate
Well, by order of His Eminence João Cardinal Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of the Consecrated Life, Sister Fernanda Barbiero, from the Institute of the Sisters of St. Dorothy, has become the new “Visitor” or “Wrecker” of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate.
It is a rather bizarre choice, because the new Commissar has absolutely nothing in common with their charisma. Certainly nothing with the male branch of the religious Family founded by Father Manelli, where at least they sent a Capuchin (Fr. Fidenzio Volpi) [Rorate note: that gives us no comfort whatsoever, for all the evident reasons]. The task given to Sr. Fernanda is rather like forcing a healthy patient to take medicine: there is no reason for it. Leaving aside any harm it might cause, because medicines also have side-effects, especially when they are taken for no reason.
Who exactly is this Sister Fernanda Barbiero? One may begin to get an idea by reading what she said in an article entitled “Religious Sisters in the Church,” published on 28 January 2012 by the Italian LCWR. What immediately strikes the reader is the reference she makes to the Fourth World Conference on Women by the United Nations at Beijing in 1995. Sr. Fernanda goes overboard in stressing the “great importance” of the Conference on Women, saying that it is the first stage on the path towards “women’s power,” which will give women a new sort of “citizenship” in “society, politics, economics, the Church, and academia.”
Actually, Beijing turned out to be something completely different: it was the first stage on the path towards promoting “gender equality” at world level, a concept which has been ideologically, speciously, and falsely understood as a synonym for freedom and “orientation.” Beijing in 1995 was the starting point for many current evils: the second edition of the preparatory document uses the term “gender equality” in almost every paragraph.
Notable on the other hand is the complete absence of any reference to maternity and to the roles of husbands and wives. They only ever speak about the concepts of “man” and “woman,” and thus try to impose gender equality upon every aspect of the UN policy. A disaster.
Indeed, immediately after the Conference the Holy See statements and corrections in a document entitled “Reserves and Declarations concerning Interpretation,” although it is still only available in Spanish on the Vatican website. It heavily criticises the “platform of action” at Beijing as an attack on marriage and the family, as a promotion of abortion, homosexuality, and contraception when using the false language of “reproductive health,” “sexual health,” “reproductive rights,” “family planning,” and “regulating fertility,” all of which are defined by the Holy See as “morally unacceptable.”
The Vatican document repeats the firm and total opposition of the Holy See to any sort of law giving legal rights to abortion, and asks for these “reserves” to be included in the final report of the Beijing Summit. Now, the fact that Sister Fernanda has nothing better to do than see in this devastating Conference a “starting point” is seriously worrying.
Sister Fernanda Barbiero absolutely loves the new “Church of Mercy,” as can be seen in an editorial she wrote on 26 January this year about “Consecration and Service,” taking her cue from a book on the same subject by Cardinal Kasper, where he talked about the upcoming Consistory on the Family. Sr. Fernanda just cannot hold herself back: “The symphony of God’s mercy is music you can hear throughout the Bible,” and then she goes on to define it as the “defining principle of God” and the “key to understanding all the Gospel” before coming to her final apotheosis,  “Let us all live a life of mercy!”
She doesn’t stake out her territory, doesn’t feel the need to make any distinctions, doesn’t hold back, doesn’t express any whys or wherefores; the danger – a very real danger – is that the whole order of things will be changed, and cheap sociology will take the place of transcendent faith. According to the Italian news agency Adnkronos, Sr. Barbiero, President in 1998 of the Pontifical Institute Regina Mundi, was asking for some very loose and ill-defined “overall reform” in the life of Nuns, and was asking the Nuns themselves to “set out on a path of liberation,” using a language more commonly found in feminist tracts than in convents.
In that article in 2012 she more or less preached the same mantra, shining the light of sociology on the life of Nuns and bringing out “women’s questions” with references to an ongoing “difficult period of transition.” The life she spoke of was one of alienation, frustration, and unsatisfied desires so far away from the spiritual fullness and internal calm of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate. They do not need any sort of ideological “emancipation,” nor have they ever asked for it. If only people would leave them alone. Then they could get on with their life of prayer.
LET US PRAY that the Sisters hold strong through their passion -- as they did in December of last year, when they issued an official statement courageously attacking Fr. Volpi's accusations against them as totally unfounded