32 thoughts on “The Scandal of the Franciscans of the Immaculate

  1. So. Some guy you met on the street who spoke in a language you don’t really know said something that proves we all think you hate Our Lady and that proves that we believe that too even though we never said that. Very convincing. Nice try.

    • Pat,

      That is not my point, and you know it. All kinds of lies and half truths have been told or repeated about us by those, who, like you, don’t know what they are talking about.

      No, I am not accusing you of thinking or saying that we hate Our Lady, but I am most certainly accusing you of spreading malicious gossip—like it was fact.

      I would be interested to know what first hand knowledge you have of what it is like in our community(ies). I am not suggesting that journalists and bloggers should be given special access. I am just wondering what kind of rudimentary research you have done. We have five communities in the United States. We publicly celebrate the liturgy in each one. We have public apostolates in each one. The friars preach, teach, hear confessions and give spiritual direction. Nobody has been muzzled. We have a postulancy house and a novitiate. We provide the pastoral care at Cardinal Burke’s shrine in Wisconsin. We publish books and run several websites (aside from this)

      Any of this familiar to you first hand? Do you actually know any friars?

      Three of us came to the United States to start a foundation of the Institute in early 1991. Between then and Summorum Pontificum there is more than sixteen years. Do you have any recollections us during those years? Can you make any factual comparison between then and now, based on what you know and not what you infer from gossip?

      And you know even less about what actually happens in other countries.

      The fact is that the vast majority of those hyperventilating about what is happening in our community have no interest in our charism—you know—that thing the Church actually approved when we got our start. In fact, before we began celebrating the EF, the same people wouldn’t give us the time of day. They would see us in our habit—which, by he way, we still wear all the time—and say: “Certainly, you celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass!” When we answered in the negative they would reply in surprise, “Oh” and then walk away.

      You want to blame Fr. Volpi for the suspensions presumably in defense of the persecuted, but in reality the nameless friars who are under this penalty are just more canon fodder for your little war.

  2. I’m quite certain that the last thing you’d concern yourself with would be accolades, Father. However, as I concluded reading this piece, I distinctly thought that I heard the crack of a bat and the roar of a crowd suddenly rising to its feet. In my mind’s eye, I even imagined a gray robe rounding second base –beard and rosary trailing behind– heading for third. As Red Barber might’ve put it, “Oh (Church)Doctor! That was a great at bat by the veteran Franciscan!”

    • In retrospect– given the gravity of these discussions– I might have thought better of my light-hearted baseball analogy last night. It really was the first thing that came to mind as I considered how well Father made his point; I really heard the crack of the bat and the crowd. I ought to have run with my second analogy, though, which was imagining Father Angelo as Ironsides making an “excellent case for the defense”. A more sober, appropriate imagining of the situation than Father rounding second and chugging for third in his robes.
      (Ironsides? Raymonde Burr? In the wheelchair? Why not Perry Mason? Although Perry Mason was certainly the better show, I figure that defending his point of view and the greater Church in this blog, and in other forums, day and night, must take a lot out of a guy… I thought he’d appreciate having the seat.)

  3. Reverend Father

    Can you understand that some people might have very good reasons to be annoynomous online ? I for example do not post under my given name when engaging proponents of unatural unions, because I worry that such engagement might result in disciplinary action at work (as has happened to others) . Now over at Rorate Caeli Some contributors may post under assumed names if they are lay employees of a Diocese and they know that their traditionalist views would result in a loss of employment, others Such as Father Demetts or Dr Joseph Shaw have no such qualms becuase they are either part of a trad institute or are employed (as Dr Shaw is) in the secular sphere.

    To Give you an example in my own country a Deacon was effectively prohibited from blogging by his Bishop, merely because he had been critical (amongst others) of certain members of the English and Welsh Hierachy. One of your last posts accused me of being a conspiracy theorist, well we see men such as Deacon Donnelly silenced by their superiors invocing Holy Obedience, we begin to smell rats (although to be honest I think I’m being offensive to rats).

    • Jack,

      I have been through this many times before. Blogging and commenting for almost everyone is elective. No one has to do it. But if you freely choose to do so, then you are responsible for what you say. Now if someone wants to blog their kitchen recipes or their craft projects and do it under an assumed name, then fine by me. Or even on more weighty matters, such as theology, as long as they don’t destroy the reputations of other people, or otherwise say things which ordinary men expect others to take personal responsibility for.

      The fact that bloggers fear reprisal is only a pretext for remaining anonymous when one has a gentleman’s duty to take responsibility for what he says.

      A presumed righteous cause is no excuse for injustice or cowardice.

  4. Dear Father

    With the greatest respect I think that your life in religion has blinded you to the realities of the world, even within the Church. for over thirty years the identity of ‘Deepthroat’, whose revelations brought down the Nixon administration was a secret, 10 years ago Mark William Felt was revealed to the world as that man. Now as the actions of Watergate show the Nixon administration skirted and broke the law. then attempted to cover it up and thus Felt thought that there was sufficient reason to use an Nom de Guerre for fear of reprisal when handing the information over to the Post. Secular Journalists use confidential sources all the time in their reporting, as well as changing names to protect identities when they feel that there is sufficient reason to do so blogging under an assumed name is no different.

    I wish as much as you do to dispense with the wilderness of smoke and mirrors but I see the world how it truly is, not how I would like it to be, furthermore I know that my enemies (the modernists) in the Church fight dirty and that those who fight them with polished lances and gleaming shields tend to end up isolated and out of the way where their influence is marginalized. Therefore in the cause of Orthodoxy I would have no qualms about Machiavellian wheels within wheels, cloak and dagger games and political manoeuvring, indeed before I become a Catholic it was as natural to me as breathing.

    • Jack,

      I am not blinded to the realities of the world. But the followers of Christ have never been and cannot be pragmatists. The hold the contrary is tantamount to a denial of the Cross. If you want Catholic journalists to behave like secular ones, then who really is the guardian of Tradition?

      Christ, who is the One Teacher of All, and who alone provides Christians with their exemplar is the model, not of Machiavellians but of Knights.

      This summarizes everything I hate about the version of traditionalism I criticize here:

      Therefore in the cause of Orthodoxy I would have no qualms about Machiavellian wheels within wheels, cloak and dagger games and political manoeuvring, indeed before I become a Catholic it was as natural to me as breathing.

      It is, indeed as “natural” as breathing in fallen man, but it is not supernatural virtue or a function of grace. For all the talk about the supernatural order, the beauty of grace and majesty of God, the problem I am dealing with falls into naturalism over and over. And it is all the more deceptive for its presumed high-mindedness, cultural superiority and piety.

    • Religion certainly doesn’t blind you to the realities of the world. Sins, especially intellectual sins, blind you to the realities of the world.

      I would argue that much of the gossip, untruths, and unsubstantiated accusations promulgated by certain so-called traditionalist groups have given a substantial contribution to the darkness of the mind tha many are suffering from in the Church.

  5. oh yes the chilvary Card

    Tell the French how Chilvary won the battles of Crecy, Agincourt and Poitiers

    As far as I’m conerned Father I would like to be chilvarous, but studying the past 100 years or so of Church history has lead me to the conclusion that Chilvary ends up with liberal inquisitors foisting their hetrodoxy on the People of God, whilst persecuting those who remain faithful to…… the Faith.

    It brought us hetrodox Clergymen and Religious covering up for each over whilst they molested children and presecuting those who sought to bring their crimes to light, it brought us passive agressive liberals who ‘prophtetically’ denied the obligation to follow Holy Obedience when they were out of power, but who insisted that it be followed when they were trying to foist their lies and deceptions upon their congregations once they were in power. The GREAT Archbishop Lefebvre thrown out of the Spritans by his subordinates after a lifetime of devoted service, the proud legacy of St Francis defaced, and presented as a 13th century hippy by many who professed to follow his rule.

    The fruits of this are evident to anyone with eyes to see: Mass apostasy, priests promoting sodomite unions as equivalent to marriage; Catholics divorcing, contracepting and aborting at the same rate as the general population with nary a mention from the hierachy, Dioceses and Religous houses in ruin, the faithful persecuted by wolves in shephards clothing, whilst the NUNS on the BUS get a free pass to wreck the Church from within, Princes of the Church saying we should admit those living lives of perminent and public adultery to Holy Communion, need I go on?

    Before I conclude please may I ask, what is so ‘terrible’ about the Traditional Latin Mass that it is banned from your institute? What prayers of the Mass are offensive to Fr. Volpi ? Does he realise that by attacking such a symbol of orthoodxy, Church Tradition and piety, he has raised a red flag to a bull? that those of us who love and cherish it will in the words of Dylan Thomas “Not go gently into that good night” and fight as the Von Hildebrands and Michael Davies did for the right to worship in the manner of our forbears.

    I do not want to go back to my former ways out of any sort of vain self-agrandizement or vain glory, but because I see the Church in a crises not seen since the arian heresy, and the knights are being slaughtered whilst the modernists advance (albiet at a reduced pace and even pushed back in some areas under BXVI) ,fighting dirty is the only option left. I don’t see Our Lady rushing in to help us, I don’t see the Apostles led by St Peter charging in on white stallions to set the Church to rights, I’m not sure where the phrase, God helps those who Help themselves came from, but I ain’t gonna stand around waiting for him to magically fix everything .

  6. OK Father Tell me what to DO !!!

    As I’ve said before I am desolate, I am watching the Faith I sacrificed SOOO MUCH to follow being wrecked from within by those charged with maintaining, with a Pope who seems to be indifferent just going with the flow.

    Tell me What to DO!! Give me some useful advice beyond Praying the Rosary (which I do every day), Going to Mass and Recieving Holy Communion (4-5 times per week work permitting) and regular Confession (at least once a week, sometimes more like two).

  7. Dear fr. Angelo, as a priest in Gods’ Church I follow with interest the developments in your Congregation and also the articles and discussions on your weblog. I am a Dutch priest, so please forgive me my grammatical errors, but I am sure you will understand what I want to say. I would like to give a reaction to the answer of Jack (at 9.58 A.M.). He says that “the fruits of this are evident to anyone with eyes to see” and then he sums up some serious wrongs in the Church. That is always the case with people who have a need to justify their own disobedience and their own errors. Of course Jack is right that there are serious wrongs. But he refuses to see (in spite that he is someone with eyes) the good fruits of the past decades, fruits of holiness and works of charity. To mention some: the Congregation of Mother Teresa gives a great witness of holiness and charity, for all Mother Teresa herself did so (and she was faithful to the Church of Vatican II), the many new Congregations like The Franciscans of the Renewal, The Franciscans of the Immaculate, the Oasis della Pacis, the Congregation of the Beatitudes, a.o., the many saint priest and lay people who give their life for Jesus and His Kingdom, the many prayergroups all over the world, etc. etc. Why is Jack not able to see that the wrongs are the work of the devil who is always at work to destroy the work of God? Why is he not able to see that Our Lady comes to us, especially for this purpose, to prepare her little ones for her Triumph and the Triumph of the mercyful love of Jesus? Mary came to us since 1830 in Paris and ever since She came in all countries of the world until in our times to call people back to God, to prayer, to the sacraments, to the Word of God, to unity with the Church. Why does Jack not heed Our Lady’s call but keeps trying to solve the problems on his own way by assuming that a certain form of liturgy is the solution to everything? I realy can’t understand that and I am glad that you give some retorts to the allegations on Rorate Caeli. It gives me a more balanced and truthful insight in the situation.
    With fraternal greetings,
    in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,

    fr. Peter Klos, Amsterdam.

    • Dear Fr Klos

      I am not disobedient to the Church, I assist mainly at the Novus Ordo during the week and the TLM offered under the auspices of Summorum Pontificum for my Sunday Mass, the reasons for my preference are too many to go into detail here

      I do not deny that many good congregations have been set up over the past 6 decades and that they do sterling work, however I am talking about the larger picture, and how the modernists have trashed the Church from within by abusing the vows of obedience for decades.

      You ask why I try to solve problems on my own? its because I know of no other way to do so, you have a problem which no one else seems to want to deal with… you deal with it the only way you know how, by fighting fire with fire. Would I love to Hear Our Lady’s call? You bet, as someone whose relationship with his parents is strained (at best) I’d love nothing more than to hear Our Lady’s voice.

      • Jack,

        We all have to start and end with a virtuous life. The apocalypse is never a real obstacle to our perseverance and flourishing in the faith. This has been true since the early Church and will be so also until the end of time.

        Perhaps you would benefit from understanding better what I mean by chivalry.

    • Another “great at bat” by another thoughtful, patient and prayerful cleric (see related comment above) This one coming from a batter’s box in Amsterdam, no less– One of the more libertine, cosmopolitan places on Earth from all reports. You very well might expect him to decry things and wag his finger, but no. God Bless you, Father, for your comment and your discipleship in that worldly bastion! (btw, you’re grammar was just fine).

    • Thank you Father. We indeed have much to be thankful for. On the Solemnnity of St. Francis the seminarians moved into the new house that the Holy Father has provided for us and they began their classes at the Antonianum yesterday. I have also the grace of living with them and belong able to walk to the Angelicum classes. God is good.

  8. Dear Fr. Klos,

    I am so grateful to you for mentioning ‘The Community of the Beatitudes’ (founded in 1973) in your post. I think Fr. Jacques Phillippe is doing an incredible job in his apostolate teaching Catholics about the Holy Spirit, (among many other topics necessary for us all to attain union with God)!!

    If I may share an exerpt from “In the School of the Holy Spirit”:


    “There is a widespread but mistaken idea that holiness is the work of humman beings: that what we need is to have a clear porgram of perfection, set to work with courage and patiennce, and achieve it little by little. And that’s all there is to it.

    Unfortunately (or fortunately!) There is much more to it than that. It does take courage and patience, undoubtedly. But it is certaibly bot true that holiness is the result of a program of life we set ourselves. There are several reasons why holiness is not the work of human beings; here are two main ones:

    1. The Task Is Beyond Our Power
    2. Only God Knows Each Person’s Road…

    But more to the point….I will end with the words of St. Francis de Sales:

    “Within obedience everthing is secure; outside of it everything is suspect. When God puts inspirations in a heart, the first he gives is obedience….Whoevere says he is inspired, and still refuses to obey his superiors and follow their advice, is an imposter. The prophets and preachers that were inspired by God always loved the Church, always adhered to her doctrine, always were approved by her….St. Francis, St. Dominic, and the other fathers of the religious Orders, were called to the service of souls by extraordinary inspiration, but they the more humbly and heartily submitted themselves to the sacred hierarchy of the Church. In conclusion, the three best and most assured marks of lawful inspirations are perseverance, against instability and casualness; peace and gentleness of heart, against worry and anxiety; humble obedience, against stubbornness and extravagance [book 8, chap. 13].

    Father Klos….Jack, et al…lack trust in God as a Good Father. They lack trust in Jesus Christ who said, “he who does not pick up and carry his cross is no disciple of Mine”. They lack trust in the Holy Spirit who is the Paraclete, Counselor, Teacher….
    They do not follow the example of the Immaculate, who with a single word could have prevented her Son’s suffering…but understood that suffering is redemptive, and brings Glory to God.

    Thanks for delighting me with your post, Father Klos! May God bless you with His graces!

    -for love of the Two Hearts!

  9. This reminds me of what Sodano did. Wanted to silence Fr. Gruner, and he had a ton of good reasons to do so. But he went about it in the shadiest way possible, in a way that made it certain the conspiracy theories would proliferate like crazy. That Gruner was clearly guilty and disobedient was not the point. Things still need to be handled with justice and with charity. neither was in his case.

    The way it was done reaked of clericalism and careerism, no matter how much Gruner deserved it. It seems a lot of what’s going on here. While obedience is something that must be done, that still doesn’t change the fact the situation stinks to high heaven, and that certain authority figures piled on the manure, even if they may have had a justification for such harsh treatment.

    I don’t know how life was like before the intervention. I don’t know how things are during it. I do know that everyone involved will come out of it looking less mature and less holy, and that their successors will need to be the adults and clean up the mess.

    • Kevin,

      I am not sure I understand what you object to, unless it is a complaint against “bad form” or the lack of what Italians would call the bella figura.

      You admit that the Church had good reasons to put the kibosh on Father Gruner and imply that Fr. Volpi has just causes also.

      I remember Fr. Gruner from as far back as the early eighties. The distribution of The Fatima Crusader goes way back. He was ordained in Avelino, Italy but resided pretty much from the beginning in Canada, and even if this was all done with permission, he basically operated outside of ecclesiastical oversight. And he used that freedom to do some good things. But he also used his liberty to poke the Vatican and the various popes in the ribs for decades.

      And once again, we don’t know what we don’t know. In all those years, it was not the Vatican that plastered calumny and/or detraction in print and sent it to every simple man and woman in the pew. It was Fr. Gruner.

      Any one with half a teaspoon of common sense would have none the boom was coming. Fr. Gruner pinched, kicked and taunted for years and then finally the Vatican said enough. And what does Fr. Gruner and his followers do? They blame the Vatican.

      You know, it was all a Vatican conspiracy against Our Lady of Fatima and the only one that had the courage to stand up for the truth was “The Fatima Priest.” You know as well as I do, that every defense of Fr. Gruner is based on this sympathy.

      But of course, it is the Vatican’s fault. Why? Because the narrative that made it out first by those who were interested in controlling what was known was that of Fr. Gruner—because that is the way Fr. Gruner always has managed information, and the way he has always dealt with the Church.

      I am not saying there was no fault on the Vatican’s side, but come on, Fr. Gruner made his own bed. He own’s it.

      So, yes, Kevin, I heartily agree. Our case reminds me of that of Fr. Gruner.

      The reek of clericalism and careerism? I am not sure what that smells like or what exactly you are referring to. Whose climbing the ladder, Kevin? It “seems” does it? What, is Fr. Volpi climbing the ladder? The man is seventy-five and has had nothing but grief from the moment he got this job which he did not want. Or who exactly do you have in mind and what would you really know about it?

      We look “less mature and holy?” What does that even mean, Kevin? What if the five who appealed, who between them have something around 185 years of experience in religious life, went to the Holy See because they saw among other things a basic lack of human and spiritual maturity that no amount to theology was going to overcome? What do any of you really know what our seminary was like before the intervention. The assumption is that it was one of the most orthodox seminaries in the Church. Are you willing to vouch for that Kevin?

      You admit you don’t what things were like before the intervention, or even what they are like now. So what in God’s name our you talking about?

      This is exactly the problem, that I am trying to point out. So in order for us to look more mature and holy what do you suggest, Kevin? That we hire a public relations expert to manage information, or that we just make sure that the decisions made conform to your expectations?

      You can find the official explanation of the suspension in Italian here. Just so you know, one of the priests suspended was in Nigeria, where physical violence was used against his superior. And, by the way, the suspensions did not violate canonical form.

      But I suppose that such an explanation just makes us look even less “mature and holy,” while your friends at RC are just heroes for “reporting” the “facts.”

    • Father,

      Yes, bad form has quite a bit to do with it. Someone deserving punishment and then how said punishment is carried out is a thing, and one can say the former is justified while carried out poorly. One can talk about my “friends” at Rorate, and I didn’t know I was friends with them. I don’t speak to any of them on a regular or even semi-regular basis. I’ve corresponded with one of them three times….. over 12 years. Each correspondence was limited to one or two emails. And anything positive I said about them is probably balanced by the negative. At least, such was the case awhile ago, when some of the people at RC surely thought I was being a meanie. So I will ignore the attempt to make this a tribal thing just because I take a contrarian opinion from you.

      “I am not saying there was no fault on the Vatican’s side, but come on, Fr. Gruner made his own bed. He own’s it.”

      And just like I don’t have to view some of the priests in your order as angels to say the entire thing stinks, and the behavior by everyone involved shows why it stinks.

      Here’s what we know. One group uses anonymous sources with limited public information to make a claim. The other uses limited public information to refute that. Both are sniping in a very nasty manner marshaling evidence nobody has any access to so they can confirm or deny it.

      As in, I get you don’t like Rorate Caeli, and it’s really personal between you guys, and has been for some time. And I also get their sticking their thumb in the eye of your order is going to make you a bit bitter. But did it ever occur to you that in the way you respond, you not only stoop to what you think they are, but you end up probably doing more harm than good to your cause?

      There’s more to life than proving you are right to your critics, and sometimes, based on how hard you push it, it’s a lonely victory when everyone else walks away. Just something to think about.

      • Kevin,

        I apologize for referring to those at RC as your friends. I meant it rhetorically in terms of an unequal standard of judgment. To put it in a question, do you just assume that RC is accurate? As hard as it might be for you to believe, it is nevertheless difficult, if not impossible for you to judge accurately if and to what extent the punishments were carried out poorly.

        There is an objective and subjective aspect to “both sides stinking.” The first belongs to the ascertaining of facts, about which you can only make assumptions based on whether you think the various witnesses are credible or not. The other belongs to a judgment about the way things seem in the public regardless of what the facts are, and consequently what ought and ought not be done in response.

        Gossip is a hard thing to deal with. It is a judgment call as to whether one should respond or not, and how one ought to respond. The fact is, we have been put in a position of having to make this decision because those on the other side have decided to take their cause to the public by means of a propaganda war.

        Honestly, looking back at my post, I don’t see it as sniping. I was even willing to argue hypothetically, conceding that for many people RC has a plausible argument. I also offered a personal testimony to the facts as one in a position to know them, and I am willing to take personal responsibility for every word. One has to judge whether they think me credible or not.

        I also attacked the credibility of the other witness, this is true, but I do not think that I erred in taking things personally or by engaging in an ad hominem attack because credibility is relevant here. The witness uses anonymous sources, writes pseudonymously, constantly manages information totally in his own interests, and functions as an unofficial organ of those within the Institute who are unhappy with the Holy See in our regard. The issue of credibility is wholly pertinent.

        I appreciate your concern for me, Kevin, but I honestly rarely look at my stats on this blog. This is not about me being right. This is about the future of our Institute. For everyone who says I should shut up there are several others both within the Institute and outside of it, who have thanked me for the clarifications.

        That being said, I don’t take your admonitions lightly.

  10. Pingback: La diabolica persecuzione dei Francescani dell’Immacolata | Croce-Via

  11. Hello Father

    Excellent post. I think that the people need to see the missionary videos of the FFI (in here http://tvimmacolata.net/) before the SP and realize which is trully their charism. Those who life their faith through (and only through) the TLM charism, don’t do anything wrong of course. But if they want us to believe that the only way to live the Faith is by the TLM, they are mistaken.
    Could anyone say that these chinese people are not receiving the merits of the Cross because they are not saying the TLM? (http://classicalpoets.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/misa-en-refugios-durante-la-persecucion.jpg)


    PD: Is possible that the FFI will not receive more ultra-tradizionalist vocations. But they will still receiving catholic vocations. I think I am called to the FFI, for example.

  12. Can you tell me what has happened with the Sisters? It seems like all change with the friars but not so evident with the Sisters. I do not read the gossip blogs so I do not have their news to go on. As someone who does know what she is talking about and knows exactly what it used to be like with the sisters’ formation I am also keen to know if their formation now encompasses a broader ecclesiality and the introduction of Christian anthropology. I have been praying lots.

  13. “No major superior (or ordinary) responsible for priests is going to allow individual clerics to depart from his jurisdiction without permission and continue to exercise the clerical ministry”.


    The fathers of your institute are imprisioned? If you want to go out the FI and join, let’s say, Society of Jesus, can you do that? If you want to leave FI you will be suspended a divinis? This is crazy, father, I’m sorry.

    I’m curious to know also what do you think about this: http://www.riscossacristiana.it/la-mano-della-gran-loggia-dietro-il-kommissariamento-dei-frati-francescani-dellimmacolata-di-pucci-cipriani/

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