For so many years now we have both broke and chronicled the news of Pope Bergoglio’s destruction of the Franciscans of the Immaculate — both the Friars (FFI) and the Sisters (FSI). So much has happened, often in the shadows, and has gone unreported.
Below are simple bullet points of what we’ve been told recently. They come from multiple sources both inside and outside the order. But all must be recorded for history, so we post it today. We do this, as we have for years, while facing both harassment and threats for doing so. It is worth noting that about half of the FFIs who called for the original visitation are no longer in the order. Like the Imperial Prosecutor accusing St. Bernadette, they now know they were wrong, and are hopefully repenting. Please see our notes below, as well as an educated prediction of what comes next for the order.
The FSI (Sisters) were assigned a commissioner (Noris Adriana Calzavara of the Suore Rosarie di Udine) and two co-commissioners by a decree of the Congregation for Religious. Since the Congregation did not have its decree approved in forma specifica by the Pope, it was open to be challenged in the Signatura. The challenge resulted first in a reduction of the powers of the commissioners. It looked as though a further challenge would lead to the decree being be overturned altogether early this year.
However, before it was overturned, the Congregation went to Pope Francis and got his personal approval for a fresh assignment of the same commissioner. This was obviously very demoralizing for the sisters, who thought they were about to regain their autonomy.
The FSI have been ordered by their commissioner not to accept postulants for three years. The Sisters, which we are told numbered around 500 before these attacks, now amount to half of that.
The FSI are closing their House in New Bedford, Massachusetts, which ends their North American Mission as there will be not a single convent left in the United States.
The FFI (Friars) were forced to close and end their Australian Mission earlier in the year. We hear the Sisters may leave as well, but do not have solid enough reporting on this to say it’s 100%. But we feel compelled to report it if there’s any chance of exposure and pressure stopping the move.
About that same time of the Austrian Mission ending, Archbishop Ramon Cabrera Argüelles of Lipa, was “resigned” from his episcopacy. He was guilty of having approved a public association of the faithful made up of ex-FFIs, but since that’s not a crime, he was accused of — and apparently framed for — something unrelated.
In late January/early February, the FFI commissioners spoke of having the General Chapter of the Institute this past September. The Chapter would approve the new constitutions and elect the new Minister General, and the Congregation’s approval of this would end the period under a commissioner. Multiple sources tell us the principal targets of the reform appear to be the Marian Vow and poverty in common (i.e., the rule that not only individual members, but also the Institute as a legal person, are not capable of having property).
The Marian Vow has, in the view of many Friars, been eliminated in the new formula of profession promulgated with “dubious legality” and used in the professions in Italy in September of last year. The Friars did not vow to live in total consecration to the Immaculate (which comports three juridical obligations defined in their present constitutions), but vowed total availability to go to the missions in view of their consecration (which is the third of those obligations).
It was surprising to those who asked for a commissioner that the issue of the traditional Latin Mass has disappeared and been replaced by other changes they did not desire. Some sort of prohibition in this sense might be included, but it is clearly not the main interest of the commissioners.
The General Chapter has obviously not been held. It is reasonable to think that this is because it would not achieve the desired end (the gutting of the constitutions), although no reason has been announced.
The number of Friars interested in eliminating the Marian Vow could probably be counted on one hand, and perhaps on one finger. Therefore it is necessary (1) to significantly stack the deck in terms of voting members of the chapter, or (2) to convince those voting that the Marian Vow has not been eliminated, but merely clarified, or (3) to find Friars willing to vote for constitutions they don’t like but are willing to accept for secondary motives (exaggerated respect for the Holy See, fear of suppression, etc.)
Another possible (and likely) reason why the General Chapter has not taken place is that the commissioners have still not succeeded in getting control of the goods the Institute uses. These goods belong to non-profits, which are controlled by laymen, so that the Institute does not have effective ownership of anything. At the beginning of February, when the Congregation and the commissioners thought they could hold the chapter is September, Fr. Stefano M. Manelli was ordered to hand over ownership of the goods to the Institute, but he simply replied he has no legal power to do so.
While we can say the Sisters have been halved to 250 with some confidence, we cannot report on the current number of Friars, although we know of many who have left the order to another, or left for the world. We know of seminarians — some who were ready to be ordained to various positions the day after the seminary was closed! — who lost their vocations. There used to be a yearbook listing all of of the friaries and Friars, but the commissioners no longer publish them. They don’t even distribute a list of addresses and phone numbers for the friaries.
The Sisters’ future is linked with that of the Friars. Since their legislation is similar, if the Friars approve the new constitutions, the Sisters will be expected to pass similar constitutions.
FINAL NOTE: Our best, educated prediction for how this plays out is that the Friars refuse to approve the new constitutions. Most of them know what it would mean to approve them. And even some of the Friars who started this mess over their hatred for the TLM didn’t want the vows touched. And the Sisters will eventually refuse as well. When the commissioners and Francis finally decide there is no viable path forward for new constitutions, they will suppress the order in its entirety.
While shocking, it shouldn’t be. The Bergoglian Destruction has been going on now for nearly five years. Heretical prelates and priests and failing orders thrive under this Pontificate — those who adhere to Christ’s Word and the Tradition of the Church are persecuted.
At least we have Advent, Christ is coming!
Watch this video of Franciscans of the Immaculate Seminary the day it was shuttered by Commissioner Volpi and Pope Francis