Important news from Rorate Caeli regarding Pope Francis restriction of the Traditional Latin Mass.

CP&S Note: All followers of the Mass of Ages should be deeply concerned by the following.


IMPORTANT: Pope Francis severely restricts the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate from celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass, imposes the Novus Ordo on all their priests
UPDATE: FULL TEXT OF THE DECREE that abrogates Summorum for the FFI

Rorate note: A clear attempt to minimize the importance of this decree is taking place here and there in the blogosphere, as expected. We are being told that this isn’t really something to worry about; that this is just a particular situation, limited to a particular religious institution, and has nothing to do with how Pope Francis views Summorum

Against these manifestations of the spirit of denial that we have come to know so well since February 28 of this year, we raise the following points. 

1) First, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate are not just a small religious Order or congregation occupying a tiny niche of the Traditional Catholic world; with more than 130 priests, they are the second largest canonically-regular religious congregation or society among those that primarily or de facto exclusively offer the Traditional Latin Mass. (The FSSP is the largest.) The family of female monasteries and convents under the spiritual care of the FFI have no other parallel in the Traditional Catholic world outside the SSPX. Anything that restricts the ability  of the FFI to offer the Traditional Latin Mass will of necessity be deeply felt by the Traditional Catholic world. 

2) One justification now being raised is that the FFI’s application of Summorum Pontificum had caused discord in many communities and that the Traditional Latin Mass was “imposed” brutally on priests who did not want it. On the contrary, we in Rorate, who have been closely observing the FFI since 2008, can affirm that the opposite is the case: Summorum was applied in a very gradual manner by the FFI, the Novus Ordo was never forbidden in their houses and sanctuaries, and in many parts of the world the FFI continued to offer the Novus Ordo predominantly. It ought to be noted as well that the FFI, in their promotion of the “Forma Extraordinaria”, have been remarkably free of polemics and public attacks on the Novus Ordo. 

3) Yet another justification now being used is that this action is acceptable because the FFI were not founded with the TLM as an essential part of their charism. This excuse is incomprehensible as it completely ignores the rights given by Summorum Pontificum to religious priests. Furthermore, if the dissatisfaction of a few is enough to get a whole religious congregation or Order restricted from making use of Summorum Pontificum, this opens an easy way by which the opponents of the old Mass can eventually expel the TLM from all non-“Ecclesia Dei” institutes. 

4) Lastly, and most importantly, the decree — by specifically restricting the Traditional Latin Mass — is a clear indication that it is seen as something problematic, something that must be excised from the life of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. If this whole crisis in the FFI is not really about the Traditional Latin Mass, then why is it the target of exclusion and of restrictions, and why does the decree devote so much space to it, and why does the decree take the trouble of noting that this restriction was personally commanded by the Holy Father himself? If the crisis in the FFI is due to the misbehavior of some, then why is the deprivation of the Traditional Latin Mass extended to all?


Sandro Magister’s latest column (For the First Time, Francis Contradicts Benedict) has the details. The emphases in the quote below are by Rorate. In our update, the full text of the decree.

The importance of this decree — exquisitely dated July 11, the feast of St. Benedict in the calendar of the Novus Ordo — is difficult to overstate. In the aftermath of Summorum Pontificum the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate — the largest “strict observance” movement to be established in the Franciscan family of religious Orders and congregations after the general relaxation of observance in the post Conciliar era — became far and away the largest religious congregation to adopt the Traditional Latin Mass as their favored form of the Roman Rite, albeit without completely abandoning the Novus Ordo. The FFI soon came to occupy an important place in the “canonically regular” Traditionalist Catholic world, being involved in numerous important conferences promoting Tradition and playing an important part in organizing many Pontifical Masses especially in Rome.

Many Traditional Latin Mass sites are open only because of the ministry of FFI priests; it remains to be seen how many of these Masses will have to be ended because of this decree. As of today we have already been informed that some of nuns under the spiritual care of the FFI are looking for priests to continue celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass for them after the August 11 ban comes into force.

In addition, the decree virtually ousts from his position the founder and superior of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, Fr. Stefano Manelli FFI, who is in his eighties, whose writings are known for their intense Marian devotion and fidelity to the traditions of Catholic asceticism and mysticism, and who is venerated by not a few as a living model of holiness.

The decree bears the date of July 11, 2013, the protocol number 52741/2012, and the signatures of the prefect of the congregation, Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, a focolarino, and of the secretary of the same congregation, Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, a Franciscan.
Braz de Aviz is the only high-ranking official in the curia of Brazilian nationality, and because of this he has accompanied Francis on his voyage to Rio de Janeiro. He has a reputation as a progressive, although that of a scatterbrain fits him better. And he will probably be one of the first to go when the reform of the curia announced by Francis takes shape.

Rodríguez Carballo instead enjoys the pope’s complete trust. His promotion as second-in-command of the congregation was backed by Francis himself at the beginning of his pontificate.
It is difficult, therefore, to think that pope Bergoglio was unaware of what he was approving when he was presented with the decree before its publication.
The decree installs an apostolic commissioner – in the person of the Capuchin Fidenzio Volpi – at the head of all the communities of the congregation of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.
And this in itself is cause for astonishment. Because the Franciscans of the Immaculate are one of the most flourishing religious communities born in the Catholic Church in recent decades, with male and female branches, with many young vocations, spread over several continents and with a mission in Argentina as well.
They want to be faithful to tradition, in full respect for the magisterium of the Church. So much so that in their communities they celebrate Masses both in the ancient rite and in the modern rite, as moreover do hundreds of religious communities around the world – the Benedictines of Norcia, to give just one example – applying the spirit and the letter of the motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum” of Benedict XVI.
But precisely this was contested by a core group of internal dissidents, who appealed to the Vatican authorities complaining of the excessive propensity of their congregation to celebrate the Mass in the ancient rite, with the effect of creating exclusion and opposition within the communities, of undermining internal unity and, worse, of weakening the more general “sentire cum Ecclesia.”
The Vatican authorities responded by sending an apostolic visitor one year ago. And now comes the appointment of the commissioner.
But what is most astonishing are the last five lines of the decree of July 11:
“In addition to the above, the Holy Father Francis has directed that every religious of the congregation of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate is required to celebrate the liturgy according to the ordinary rite and that, if the occasion should arise, the use of the extraordinary form (Vetus Ordo) must be explicitly authorized by the competent authorities, for every religious and/or community that makes the request.”
The astonishment stems from the fact that what is decreed contradicts the dispositions given by Benedict XVI, which for the celebration of the Mass in the ancient rite “sine populo” demand no previous request for authorization whatsoever:
“Ad talem celebrationem secundum unum alterumve Missale, sacerdos nulla eget licentia, nec Sedis Apostolicae nec Ordinarii sui” (1).
While for Masses “cum populo” they set out a few conditions, but always guaranteeing the freedom to celebrate.
In general, against a decree of a Vatican congregation it is possible to have recourse to the supreme tribunal of the apostolic signatura, today headed by a cardinal, the American Raymond Leo Burke, considered a friend by the traditionalists.
But if the decree is the object of approval in a specific form on the part of the pope, as it seems to be in this case, recourse is not admitted.
The Franciscans of the Immaculate will have to comply with the prohibition on celebrating the Mass in the ancient rite beginning Sunday, August 11.
And now what will happen, not only among them but in the whole Church?
Rorate has learned from its own sources that the “internal dissidents” were led by an American member of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate who was notable for his opposition and hostility to the any criticism of Vatican II, in direct contrast to the Italian friars of the FFI, many of whom adhered to the “Gherardini line” of loyal but unflinching criticism of at least some elements of the Conciliar documents.



The text of the decree in Italian is transcribed below. The last paragraph, with the specific papal order abrogating Summorum Pontificum for the priests of the FFI, is exactly as reported by Magister.

Full text (Italian – source Messa in Latino):


PROT. N. 52741/2012


La Congregazione per gli Istituti di vita consacrata e la Società di vita apostolica, attese le consiedrazioni formulate nella Relazione presentata dal Mons. Vito Angelo Todisco a conclusione della Visita Apostolica disposta con decreto del 5 luglio 2012, al fine di tutelare e promuovere l’unità interna degli Istituti religiosi e la comunione fraterna, l’adeguata formazione alla vita religiosa e consacrata, l’organizzazione delle attività apostoliche, la corretta gestione dei beni temporali, ha ritenuto necessario nominare un Commissario Apostolico per la Congregazione dei Frati Francescani dell’Immacolata con le conseguente attribuite dal diritto particolare ed universale al Governo Generale del citato Istituto religioso.

Atteso che la suddetta decisione il 3 luglio 2013 è stata oggetto di approvazione in forma specifica a norma dell’art. 18 della cost. ap. Pastor Bonus dal Santo Padre Francesco, con il presente decreto si nomina

il Reverendo P. Fidenzio Volpi O.F.M. Cap.
Commissario Apostolico
ad nutum Sanctae Sedis,
per tutte le Comunità e i sodali della Congregazione dei Frati Francescani dell’Immacolata

Nell’espletamento delle sue mansioni, il P. Volpi assumerà tutte le competenze che la normativa particolare dell’Istituto e quella universale della Chiesa attribuiscono al Governo Generale.

Sarà inoltre sua facoltà avvalersi, se lo riterrà opportuno, di collaboratori scelti a sua discrezione e da lui nominati previo assenso di questo Dicastero, a cui potrà chiedere il parere quando lo riterrà necessario.

Il P. Volpi ogni sei mesim, dovrà informare questo Dicastero del suo operato, inviando una dettagliata relazione scritta circa le dicisioni adottate, i risultati conseguiti e le iniziative che riterrà utili realizzare per il bene dell’Istituto.
Infine, spetterà all’Istitutodei Frati Francescani dell’Immacolata sia il rimborso delle spese sostenute da detto Commissario e dai collaboratori da lui eventualmente nominati, sia l’onorario per il loro servizio.
In aggiunta a quanto sopra, sempre il 3 luglio u.s. il Santo Padre Francesco ha disposto che ongi religioso della Congregazione dei Frati Francescani dell’Immacolata è tenuto a celebrare la liturgia secondo il rito ordinario e che, eventualmente, l’uso della forma staordinaria (Vetus Ordo) dovrà essere esplicitamente autorizzata dalle competenti autorità per ogni religioso e/o comunità che ne farà richiesta.

Nonostante qualunque disposizione contraria

Dato dal Vaticano, l’11 luglio 2013 Joao Braz Card. de. Aviz

+ José Rodrìguez Carballo, O.F.M.
Arcivescovo Segretario


About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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33 Responses to Important news from Rorate Caeli regarding Pope Francis restriction of the Traditional Latin Mass.

  1. Frere Rabit says:

    Total disaster. I have been following this all day. Carballo was the first curial appointment of Pope Francis. I know him personally. He is from Compostela and he used to exchange greetings with me when I was on the Camino. He is absolutely no friend of the traditional Mass. The Capuchins have now done the unthinkable: this moribund bunch have now retaken control over the most vitalic Franciscan traditional reform movement. Christ and Francis must be weeping.


  2. Gertrude says:

    Things are not looking good when one Pope (or Bishop of Rome as he prefers) can, in one stroke rescind the Motu Proprio of the previous Pope.
    God help our Faith.


  3. Toad says:

    Surely, this is about total consistency?
    A Catholic – that is to say universal – Mass ought to be identical all over the world.
    In whatever form the current Pope considers correct.
    Or what? Can’t have everyone each doing their own thing.


  4. Gertrude says:

    I don’t speak Spanish, but for those who do I believe this is quite enlightening:


  5. Laura says:

    Is there a message being given with this decree given on the Feast day of St. Benedict? This really disturbs me but I will have to remain calm and await further information.


  6. johnhenrycn says:

    I hope this doesn’t signal a new dawn when the TLM will be accessible only to the very few, because if so, those of us on the sidelines who are intrigued by the old form may never get the chance to experience an important part of our Catholic heritage. I thought to be Catholic meant to safeguard the past, to safeguard tradition. That’s a big reason why so many of us have come over.


  7. Laura says:

    I will add that I do trust the Holy Father, I just am uncertain as to whether this would affect TLM elsewhere. There must be a reason for the FFI and one that we don’t understand yet. We have to wait for more information to come to light.


  8. The Raven says:


    How can one have a universally consistent Mass in a babel of vernacular languages and a plenitude of more or less useless translations?

    And what about the Eastern Rites? The Melchites, Maronites and Ukrainians have as much right to the title “Catholic” as us Latin-rite Catholics.


  9. The Raven says:

    If one is to believe Sandro Magister, this move has followed complaints from within the FFI about the exclusive use of the old Mass.

    My hope is that, over the coming days, we see that permission to celebrate the old Mass is freely given to those houses of the FFI which desire it and that this extraordinary decision serves a purpose of safeguarding those Friars who, for their own reasons, have an attachment to the 1960s version.

    My heartfelt prayer is that the internal dissension within the FFI over this issue can be laid to rest.

    I would hate to think that this is the first step in the retreat to the catacombs for the old Mass.


  10. Frere Rabit says:

    Raven, I hate to disappoint you. I have been exploring this all day. The complaint from a group group of dissenters within the Franciscans of the Immaculate relates to urban ministries (in largely English speaking provinces of the order) where they have tended to exercise a more popular appeal in the demotic. Like many Franciscan arguments over the centuries, this one began as a social class issue. How it would have resolved under Benedict XVI (and the process began in 2012) would have been quite different. What happened was that Jose Carballo, Pope Francis’ first curial appointment and no friend of the EF, went in heavily. The moribund OFM and Capuchins never liked the way the Franciscans of the Immaculate broke away and went for tradition. Now Carballo has put a Capuchin in charge. It is a terrible blow to a young and vital community. The forces of Vatican II control freakery have never been so obvious as in this action.

    Jesus and Francis will be weeping. We should all be weeping.


  11. Frere Rabit says:

    “In whatever form the current Pope considers correct.”

    So everything changes according to “current” fashion, Toad? An odd view of Catholicism, but then you always did have. Or so thinks Rabit. He may be wrong of course.


  12. Giovanni A. Cattaneo says:

    The Pope we deserved and not the one we needed.


  13. Frere Rabit says:

    Nice irony, Giovanni, and there is some truth in that, but it is not God’s truth! Whatever we deserve, He likes to give us riches. Instead we are being fed a mess of pottage by cretins.


  14. A truly awful thing to do. I wonder what Pope Benedict will do? Surely he has some influence over Pope Francis? Our new Pope is making it hard for us to love him but love him and pray for him we must! Rosaries a go go!


  15. Giovanni A. Cattaneo says:

    It’s called chastisement Rabbit.


  16. johnhenrycn says:

    As for the last few comments, dissing the Pope at any time, but especially without waiting for the full story to emerge, is regrettable. Why not wait until we’ve all had the chance to consider these developments, and in the meantime spare us all these knee-jerk insults?


  17. Frere Rabit says:

    JH nobody is insulting anyone, and the only jerk is in your knee, pal. If you cannot think things through and see the writing on the wall, do not reprimand those who have done. The waiting is over. He has declared his hand.


  18. Would you say the same thing if he had done this to the ordinary rite? There would be an outcry like you’ve never heard before! But when we object because the old mass is being attacked (again!!), we’re overreacting? It is my duty to love and pray for the pope but not to approve of every thing he does.


  19. johnhenrycn says:

    FR, this story broke earlier today, pal. Your reaction is a classic knee-jerk. What do you think this forum is – News of the World? Thank You & Goodbye.


  20. Frere Rabit says:

    JH, your usual pantomime is uncalled for. I have been following the story and was first to report it here, many hours ago. We are used to your rough manners and your lack of decorum but this matter is quite important, as witnessed by thousands of anquished writers across the Catholic blogosphere. Your “What is all the fuss about?” attitude would be fun if you dropped the aggression.


  21. Frere Rabit says:

    Oh yes, and another thing JH. “What do you think this forum is?” I think this forum is precisely the one we set up in 2010, and if I had not taken the trouble to remove Mundabor from controlling it, you would not even be commenting here, so have a little sense of the history. OK? Read his disastrous blog on this subject tonight and you will see what I mean.


  22. johnhenrycn says:

    “I have been following the story and was first to report it here, many hours ago.”

    Thank you, FR, aka Mr Cub Reporter. That scoop proves my point about your knees.
    And you’re quite the one to talk about aggression, pal. First off, why don’t you look at my original comment on this thread at 22:03? Does it evince an aggressive or blasé attitude to the subject under discussion? It does not. As for your opinion about my “rough manners” and “lack of decorum”, it’s your other pal, Giovanni, who says we don’t need this Pope. It’s you who implies the Pope is part of a group of cretins. It’s you who states there is no need to reflect any further, that “the waiting is over” and that Pope Francis has “declared his hand”. Your attitude is – what’s the word – aggressive?


  23. johnhenrycn says:

    Rabit, whether or not you conducted a coup d’état against another blogger here two or three years ago is of no interest to me. You forget your own past conduct, which I’m also ready to forget, if you ask nicely.


  24. Laura says:

    This makes me feel better:

    What we need to keep in mind is that this decree is more about a division in a religious community than it is about Summorum Pontificum.

    The FFIs were not founded as an Extraordinary Form community, as some others were (e.g., the Institute of Christ the King). After Summorum Pontificum, a faction within the FFIs were making the Extraordinary Form the only form. As I understand the situation, other FFIs were unhappy about this, for various reasons. Division ensued. A Visitation resulted. The Holy See executed a take-over with regard to Summorum Pontificum. The FFIs will now have supervision, because they couldn’t get along over this matter.

    Taken from:

    I had a sneaking suspicion this was the case, however, as we can clearly see, it is a headline to drive people to arguments which is not very JOYFUL or CHARITABLE. We don’t want to re-live uncharitable moments when face-to-face with Jesus.


  25. Peter Northcott says:

    It seems to me we have a nascent Neo-Sedevacantism spawning in our midst…


  26. Toad says:

    “Toad: How can one have a universally consistent Mass in a babel of vernacular languages and a plenitude of more or less useless translations?”

    I don’t know myself, Raven, bur surely God would find a way, if He considered it worth His while? I wasn’t personally advocating such a circumstance, merely asking if that’s what the Pope is aiming at.
    Possibly, the “new” Mass was a mistake, in retrospect.
    I didn’t think so at the time. and still don’t, but I usually turn out to be wrong.
    However, the cat has long been out of the bag, and clearly ain’t getting stuffed back in. any time soon.
    So let’s, maybe, have two Official Masses – one for the poor and ignorant, one for the rich and learned.
    I will be interested to see which one the Post-Neo-Sedevacantists attend.

    Fascinating mysteries.

    Such as why Toad is moderated, apparently eternally, while others who shall be namelessJH and Rabit, in fact – never are. No matter, He will offer it up for the souls (and animals) in Purgatory.


  27. That is so disconcerting. Thank you for sharing it. I do not get over to the site that you are quoting enough to have seen that right away.
    By the way, I have nominated you for an award. I have been getting to know your site recently and I think it is worthy of the “Most Influential Blogger Award.”
    If you would like to accept, just drop by here for the rules:
    God bless you! 🙂


  28. The Raven says:


    Judging from the composition of the congregation at the Old-Rite Masses that I very occasionally get to, the “poor and ignorant” (as well as those recently come from the third world) are over-represented at the Old Mass.

    And it’s been a long-standing criticism of the New Mass and post V2 spirituality generally that it is a pursuit for the affluent, educated middle classes, rather than an accessible means to experience the grace of God:


  29. Frere Rabit says:

    Why are you moderated, Toad, and others who shall remain nameless like JH and Rabit are not, is just as much a load of JH doing his drama queen stuff. Carry on with your games here. You and JH do a lovely line in inane nonsense. Enjoy.

    Meanwhile, as far as the TOPIC under discussion is concerned.there is more serious debate occurring elsewhere. I am out of here.


  30. johnhenrycn says:

    [the moderator writes: Rabit, JohnHenry, enough of the personality clash, please]


  31. Toad says:

    Toad stands justly rebuked, Raven.

    (Though it wouldn’t make an iota of difference what variety of Mass was being served up where I live. We-d still all go, anyway. And none of us are, “educated, affluent, middle-class,” anyway. So that’s all right.)

    Can Rabit really have hopped off in a huff? Fie, JH!


  32. 000rjbennett says:

    Laura wrote, “What we need to keep in mind is that this decree is more about a division in a religious community than it is about Summorum Pontificum.”

    I hope Laura is right, but I can almost hear a small voice whispering in my ear: “This really IS about Summorum Pontificum – and its eventual abrogation everywhere.”


  33. Frere Rabit says:

    “[the moderator writes: Rabit, JohnHenry, enough of the personality clash, please]”

    It is not my personality clash, squire. It is JH’s personality clash. (Flounce stage right.)


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