Rorate Caeli

Antonio Socci: In the Vatican there is a NEW PROGRESSIVE INQUISITION, and their first victims are the Franciscans of the Immaculate

We would just like to remind our readers that Antonio Socci, the great Italian journalist and religion pundit, is inclined to more conservative views but is far from being a Traditionalist, and has been consistently positive in all his views of Pope Francis. So his viewpoint is that of an outsider and it is a very nice summary of the intervention in the Franciscans of the Immaculate and how it has been conducted so far.


Antonio Socci

Libero - January 5, 2014

Does the Pope know what they are doing (in his name) to the “Franciscans of the Immaculate”? Just two days ago Francis rightly stated that “ the Gospel is not proclaimed with beatings, but with love and kindness.”

Yet, without reason or wrongdoing on their part, the Franciscans of the Immaculate have been stormed, thrashed and trashed. They are razing to the ground one of the few religious orders which is orthodox and full of vocations (and which was esteemed and supported by Benedict XVI).

The worst thing is that the destruction is being perpetrated in the name of Francis. But is it possible that the Pope of kindness approves of these methods and persecution?


Moreover, the “Franciscans of the Immaculate” in the all-over disaster of religious orders (without vocations, often in doctrinal and disciplinary crisis, with many well-known errors) should be held as an example: in fact they live radically in poverty - living by charity, they have many vocations, lead a tough ascetic life, they do many works of charity for the poor and outcast, proclaim the Good News with missionary zeal and are obedient to the Church (during these past months of repression they have suffered everything in meekness and silence).

Many of the faithful have been shocked at the great tenacity by which the FFI have been targeted. There are people who are crying because of the forced removal of these good friars from the communities where they had been working up until now.

I have never had anything to do with them [directly] but, as an impartial observer, I admire them. And I wonder: why is there such harshness against religious who represent a great example of life and are a true spiritual reference for the faithful?

And yet, never has there been such great tenacity not even in the cases of religious, priests and theologians where there were great doctrinal or disciplinary problems (and others).

For example, the post- Council era was a catastrophe. Tens of thousands threw away their religious habit: “ideas contrasting the revealed Truth which had always been taught, were scattered around [everywhere]” affirmed John Paul II, “very real heresies were spread, in the fields of dogma and morals, creating doubts, confusion, rebellion and the Liturgy was even tampered with; immersed in “intellectual and moral relativism, and therefore in permissiveness, Christians have been tempted to atheism , agnosticism, vaguely moralistic illuminism, and by a sociological Christianity lacking defined dogmas and objective morality.”


Also the Society of Jesus, as Bergoglio knows well, has been in the eye of the storm too and some of its members have fostered theological confusion. Yet there were no measures taken against them like the ones adopted today against the “Franciscans of the Immaculate”

According to official statistics from 1965 (when the Council ended) to 2005, the Members of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) fell by 45 per cent, the Salesians by 45 percent, the Friars Minor by 41per cent, the Capuchins by 29 per cent, the Benedictines by 35 percent and the Dominicans by 39 per cent.

By contrast the “Franciscans of the Immaculate” a religious family founded in the Seventies, by Father Stefano Maria Manelli and Father Gabriele Maria Pellettieri, immediately attracted many vocations.

Recognized by the Church in 1990, with a pontifical decree in 1998, today there are around 400 friars in 55 houses worldwide and the same number of sisters with 47 houses around the globe. Also vocations – which are languishing in every diocese - are growing at an impressionable rate with the FFI. A community indeed blessed by God.

So, last July 11, the Vatican Congregation for Religious decided to target this flourishing religious family with an external commissioner.


Since then, the founder, Father Stefano Manelli, has been forced into isolation (his friars cannot write to him, nor telephone him, nor go and visit him, not speak with him in any way); all of the friars who had roles of responsibility were exiled to remote places, sometimes abroad; the lay movements linked to the Congregation have been put into hibernation; the seminary has been closed and ordinations for deacons and priests suspended.

The commissioner was unable to take hold of the magazines published by the Order because they belong to lay people, so he forbade the religious of the Congregation to collaborate with them. In substance, an iron fist was used.

No-one can believe that the Pontiff of tenderness wanted or authorized such a thing. The contradiction between his teaching (“love and kindness, not beatings) and the concrete practice, which brings to mind the ghosts of the Inquisition, would be too great. It is also true that in the past the Inquisition - whose methods were swept away thanks to Joseph Ratzinger - targeted several saints during the course of its history.

The last one was Padre Pio. As is well-known the saintly Capuchin, between 1960 and 1961, had to endure very harsh restrictive and punitive measures – under the so-called “Good Pope”. They were totally unjust, as was demonstrated in his complete rehabilitation by Paul VI and in the canonization of the stigmatized friar by John Paul II.

It is surprising that a saint like him was so persecuted, while at the same time in the Church they were praising theologians like Karl Rahner, who Roncalli nominated among the consultants of Vatican II.

Rahner had a very evil influence on post-concilar theology (it is enough to know that Hans Kung was his worthy pupil). His theory of “ anonymous Christians” was real poison. Nevertheless Rahner is still untouchable today. There are theologians that dare to put up for discussion the dogmas of the Catholic Faith, Our Lady and the saints. But Rahner cannot be discussed.

On the contrary, among the courageous initiatives of theological reflection that “the Franciscans of the Immaculate” embarked on in the past years, was in fact a conference of studies significantly entitled “Karl Rahner: a critical analysis”. This, in net contrast to the dominant “progressive theology” of today.


Many suspect that facts of this kind contributed in making the “Franciscans of the Immaculate” a target for the clerical powers, where today sit ecclesiastics who in the past, had a part in “Liberation Theology” such as the Brazilian Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, who is the actual head of the Congregation which decided on the external commissioning.

In an interview some time ago, the prelate told of how he experienced that phase of his life, but curiously, there he did not agree with the condemnation of the errors of Liberation Theology which was signed by both John Paul II and Joseph Ratzinger. Rather he affirmed: I remain convinced from that experience, that anyway, something great happened for the entire Church.”

Yes – a great catastrophe.

And now we have new “progressive” disasters, like the annihilation of the “Franciscans of the Immaculate”. If these Friars had been followers of Rahner, Kung or Liberation Theology, their persecution would have stirred up a scandal in the media. Instead they are faithful to the Church, so nobody defends them.

There are those who sustain that this is a sort of oblique vendetta against Benedict XVI for the “Motu Proprio” which liberalized the Traditional Mass. It provoked strong reactions and opposition in the Curia and among bishops.

Whereas the “Franciscans of the Immaculate” faithfully carried out the “Motu proprio” because they wanted to be in communion with the Pope. Is this then their wrongdoing?

I believe that their destruction will damage the present Pope greatly. As it annihilates a precious charisma for the Church and it will bring grist to the mill of the “Lefebvrians” who have attacked Bergoglio publically. Now the “Lefebvrians” can say: “See, in Francis’ Church there is room for everyone, except for Catholics.” 

Having always defended the Pontiff from these attacks, I hope that by being informed of the facts, he will bring an end to this incredible persecution as soon as possible and reestablish truth and justice.
[Source. Translation by Contributor Francesca Romana]