Letter from the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate on the FFI intervention

This is an intertesting letter from the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate. It is their response to the FFI intervention currently being undertaken by the Vatican through Commissioner Fr. Volpi.

The original text is here: cuoreimmacolato.com/component/content/article/18-aggiornamenti/42-nota-ufficiale-di-chiarimento

English translation:

**"It is with deep sadness and consternation we learn that in the circular letter of the 8th December, addressed to all the Friars of the Immaculate, the most Reverend Father Volpi, accuses some of the most prominent exponents of the Sisters of the Immaculate, “of having contributed to the creation of a ‘distorted mentality’ in the Friars, strongly influencing their lifestyle.”

We retain that such accusations are totally unfounded, and because of the generalizations, they offend our entire Institute, and consequently, we refute them completely, at the same time recalling the words of our Pope Francis “Whoever speaks badly about his brother, kills him." (2.9.2013) while “mercy changes the world.” (17.3.1013).

On our part, we endeavor to follow the invitation from the Vicar of Christ “to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord; to edify the Church with the blood of the Lord, shed upon the Cross; and to confess the only glory: Christ crucified. And like this the Church goes forth.” (14.3.2013).

Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate"**

This translation is from Rorate Caeli: rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2013/12/important-franciscan-sisters-of.html

Let us trust Holy Mother Church to do her job in sorting things out and not get caught up in this. Obedience to the Holy Father is paramount for all religious communities.

We have done our best to keep our readers abreast of the truth behind the unjust and unnecessary interdiction of the Franciscans of the Immaculate by the Vatican via Commissioner Fr. Volpi at the order of Pope Francis.

Now, we bring you a letter from the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, punching back hard at accusations made of them by Fr. Volpi, translated by Rorate’s Francesca Romana.

What locus standi does Rorate possess giving them authority to interfere with internal issues concerning any religious order? And, who leaked this letter to people outside of the order?

It’s posted on the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate website (the site I linked to). I don’t think it was “leaked” by anyone, as far as I know it’s just a public statement.

Sometimes I think the internet is from the devil. :frowning: Why would an order post a letter like this in public? It is no one’s business but their own.

My apologies. I ought to have checked the site before Rorate’s. All the same, one ends up with plenty of queries on internal matters being made public by the order.

No problem, I probably should have called it a “statement”, I guess “letter” kind of implies private corrospondence, but yeah, as far as I know it’s a public statement from the Sisters themselves.

Does anyone know if the title “Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate” refers to the Sisters and the Brothers, or does it refer only to the Brothers?

“Friars” are men so, FFI will refer only to the Brothers.

I mean is the intervention with both the Brothers and the Sisters, or only the Brothers? I had been under the impression that it was only the Brothers, but this letter made me unsure.

Find the whole business confusing actually as I don’t know how and why the sisters are now in the picture. Br JR will be in a better position to reply to your query.

It does seem very odd to see a religious order airing its’ issues with the Vatican in public.

do they have a bus ?

I read the original letter in Italian. One has to be very careful when one translates. Words are easy to translate, feelings are not. Sometimes the feelings are more important than the words.

Here is my take on the letter. I don’t have the same take that RC has. The sisters are not striking back. They’re not attacking Father Volpi either. Someone said that the sisters were guilty of influencing the friars toward a Levebrian mindset. Apparently, Father Volpi ran with it. Whether it’s true or not is another question.

Now to the sister’s letter. What they are doing is clearing their good name. They are saying that this never happened and that it does harm to their institute. They conclude by saying that they are faithful to the pope.

They have right to clear their good name. If Father wrote a letter and someone got their hands on it and put it out there, the statement in the letter is no longer confidential. It’s all over the place. The sisters have a right to clarify. Had the letter not been leaked, then the sisters would have been out of order, because they should have spoken directly to Father.

Those who are going around sticking their noses into this situation are not helping at all. This is the result when people go around digging up memos and letters in order to push their own agenda. Innocent people are hurt.

The comment that RC makes is uncalled for. Words such as persecution, unjust interdiction by the Vatican by order of pope Francis is stirring the pot.

Who said that they were under an interdict? Unjust is a matter of opinion. To determine if a disciplinary act is unjust one has to ask whether proportionality has been violated. We have to know that there were other options that were less restrictive and were not chosen. We have to hear from the people themselves.

For example, the sisters felt that what was said about them was unjust. The spoke up. The friars have no spoken up other than to say that they are happy with the actions of the Holy See so far. If there is more from the friars, I have not heard about it.

The two communities are autonomous. Their relationship is fraternal, no juridical. Their third order and their lay apostolate are different. Those have a legal relationship. Father Volpi did try to explain that he put them on pause because there is too much talking among them about what’s happening with the friars. He was trying to put a pause on the comments from laity. Was this going to work? Obviously it did not work, because others have taken it upon themselves to comment. Maybe he doesn’t know the Traditionalist movement very well and how reactive some people in the movement can be. I’m only guess at this point.

To close, when you see the term “friar” it’s only men. Friar comes from the French “frere” meaning Brother.

Wait, if I understand correctly, the Friars are under an intervention and the Sisters are not. Yet it seems that the Sisters are getting blamed for having a “negative” influence on the Friars. This is very confusing :confused:

Thanks for the links M. I have not read them yet. But, I will pray for all involved.

What did the Friars allegedly do wrong?

Someone and I don’t know who it was, said that it was the sisters who first started to insist on EF masses only. The friar priests are their chaplains. It was said that this was how the friars came to embrace the EF.

Embracing the EF is not illegal. But Franciscans may not embrace the EF Franciscans must embrace their tradition. Their tradition is to go with the Latin Church. The ordinary form of the mass in the Latin Church is the Ordinary Form. That’s how the sisters were drawn into this situation. The sisters are now saying that this was not true. They didn’t encourage the friars to make the EF ordinary the Ordinary extraordinary.

If the sisters are right, then the information given to Father Volp was inaccurate. This may take years to unravel.

Apparently their superior general gave them permission to celebrate the EF for the laity and for the local communities in which they live. He can do this. The law allows him to do it. What non of us Franciscans can do is to make the EF mass the norm in any house or parish. It must always be extraordinary.

Five friars complained to Pope Benedict XVI that their confreres were so enamored the EF that they started to celebrate it on a regular basis. When you do this, EF becomes the norm and the OF, which Pope Benedict clearly said is the norm for the Catholic Church becomes the exception.

It is against Franciscan tradition to make the exception the norm. Franciscans have always used whatever liturgy. was available. according to the missal waht was hande.

All it takes is one friar, not five, complain to the pope that that there are ,too many EF masses being celebrated or that they simply don’t want the EF in their house. If they don’t the EF dies there. The friars do not have the authority to introduce something like that. If Sumnorum Pontificum says that the EF is the extraordinary, then the friars are bound to treat it as extraordinary. YOu can’t divide you community, because many people wan what is extraordinary.

Another complain that Pope Benedict received was that the FI were becoming sympathetic to Archbishop Lefebvre. From what I have hard. This did not come from the superior, but from the ranks. The superior allowed it. He probably should have regulated it so that the celebration of the tridentine was not so frequent. This throws off the rhythm of the community… The two missals use different calendars. It really divides a house.

Pope Francis inherited the problem. He appointed Fr. Volip, a Capuchin Franciscan, to take over the order’s government for the time being and to bring it into harmony with the rest of the Franciscan family when it comes to liturgy.

It is also said that as Volpi went through papers and books, he also found that the finances were not in order. I have no idea what Father found in the books.

He also ordered that the seminary be closed and that the student friars go to universities to study philosophy and theology. This is a bone of contention with Trads, be they religious or lay. Trads want to see every religious community have seminaries. But seminaries are not part of Franciscan tradition. The seminary system was embraced by Franciscans around the 19th century in imitation of clerical orders. But Franciscans are not suppose to be clerical. One does not join the Franciscans to be a priest. One joins the Franciscans to be a son of St. Francis.

It seems as if the FI were ordaining too many priests. This is not where the Franciscan family wants to go. The target it to bring down the number of priests while maintaining the total number of friars in solemn vows in order to return the family to an order of religious brothers where priests disappear into the crowd of friars. The Capuchins and the Conventuals are very good at this, Their numbers have dropped, but no one is worried about it. The drop in numbers is because men who want a guarantee that they will be priests are not getting it from our Franciscan communities. So they join other communities or dioceses where they do get this guarantee. Eventually, the number of Franciscan men will be a fraction of what it was in 1960, but it will be closer to what it was in the13th century when the priests were few. Most friars were not priests. The idea of a seminary is a point of contention, because it does protect your men from the outside world, but it also encourages clericalism.

Finally, from what has been made public, every friar has to take an oath in which he swears that the OF of the mass is valid and licit. It is the ordinary form for the order, because the order follows the Church and that unless they have special permission, they will celebrate the OF. Pope Francis has said that for the time being they cannot use the EF, until they read an agreement on these pieces.

Some people are interpreting it to mean that he has revoked the permission for the EF mass. However, the pope has not said that.

In a nutshell, what did they do? Apparently a large enough number of men adopted the EF for celebration. As long as one person says that he wants the ordinary form of the mass, the EF cannot that ove.

I have heard all of these like everyone else, on the Internet. I did see a comment a long time ago from someone in a position of authority who asked that we who are not FI not comment, not write letter and not protest. There is a circular letter being passes around asking for the dismissal of Fr. Volpi. Will it happen? I doubt it.

The Council of Trent said that only the pope could suppress an institution. Only the pope can take out a superior. Fr. Volpi the pro-tem superior. On he pope can remove im or accept his resignation. No one else had a voice in the matter. People can certainly make their views known, but we can’t make demands on the affair of a religious community.

Remember, this can all be bits and pieces taken out of context. We’re not hearing it from the friars.


Thank you, that helps a lot!

Thank you, BroJR, in helping and remind us again what it means to be a Franciscan and how it effects how one’s life is ordered and directed…

The clarity and insight it must helpful…

God Bless…

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