Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate

I have no special insight into the current situation of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate apart from odd snippets of gossip and what I have read on the net. 

One thing about them is that they are Franciscan, and what we know of Franciscans from history is that they tend to split, even in Francis' own lifetime there were divisions. Francis was an inspirational charismatic leader but not that good an administrator, therefore we shouldn't be too surprised that his faithful sons and daughters exhibit the same tendency as his first followers.

There are several stories that are quite shocking about Francis' demand for obedience from his followers, for example telling a brother to bury himself to bury himself in a dunghill until he had "died to self". The FFI are a new order and they are flourishing, their founder Fr Stefano Maria Manelli however, who is certainly inspirational, has been accused of  'certain irregularities', hence his removal and replacement by a Capuchin appointed by the Holy See. 
The problem with zealous young orders is that often they lack the restraint of older moderating influences, they grow too quickly, they are charismatic. One of the problems with Manelli seems to have been his reliance on Franciscan obedience, which basically boils down to his will imposing the EF on the FFI rather than a consensus being achieved, though it could be argued that there is a consensus among the younger friars but not the older ones. The Pope's words on Pelagianism in the new religious orders certainly applies to the Legionaries of Christ and might possibly apply to the FFIs, it is the problem the early Franciscans had when they took Francis' will as trumping everything, a problem too for Blessed Theresa of Calcutta's sisters.

With the FFI it seems that some of the original friars wanted to hold onto the original charism of dedication to Mary Immaculate, Manelli seems to have tweeked this slightly by adding 'a preference for the traditional rite'. Whilst the young friars happily seemed to have embraced this decision of the founder, some of the older founding friars have objected that that was not what they had signed up to. Hence the Holy Sees demand that they return to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite from mid-August, presumably until a consensus can be arrived at.

What is beautifully Franciscan about is the docility of the Friars themselves to the Holy See.
Pray for the Friars.


GOR said...

Yes, I’m sure it is painful situation for the Friars and their example is eloquent. It reminds one that many saints suffered unjustly in the cause of right and bore it with patience and resignation. Saints like: St. Padre Pio, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross – to name a few.

And though St. Paul complained about the ‘thorn in my flesh”, he was still resigned to God’s will.

James C. said...

Well, a certain number of those friars were not docile, which is why the order ended up in Rome's hands and the founder was removed. One hopes the Holy See acts as quickly and vigorously against the post-Christian orders of sisters, but I suppose we can't keep our expectations very high.

Catholic Left-winger said...

Amen to that.

Catholic Left-winger said...

Amen to that.

George said...

What seems strange to me is that the true docility would have led the Friars to respect the decisions of their General Chapter and their elected Superior, right?

To me, it seems like the minority now are imposing their views on the majority.

Anyway, I think you (Father) have brought some balance to this discussion.

Somewhere I read that Bishop Bernard Fellay (SSPX) stated that Pope Francis was not ideological. Bp. Fellay described the pope as highly sensitive [my words] to issues of unity, but not ideological.

This seems to ring true from not only what I've observed but from my dealings with South American Catholics, in general.

I think within the Anglosphere, we tend to reduce everything to ideology. Talking to devout, informed Catholics in South American I found them totally not indifferent to such distinctions within the Church.

Rarely will you find a devout family not attending Mass at their local church. Whereas within the Anglosphere, devout Catholics tend to shop around and seek out the pastors and communities which fit their ideological approach.

Genty said...

I'm perplexed. If the quoted figure of six complainants out of 800 members of the order is correct, I don't see how it can be counted as internecine strife. The moving force appears to have come from the USA and (again, if correct} some of those complainants are said to have left the order. It's as clear as mud to me, but the resolution does seem heavy-handed.

Damask Rose said...

Don't you just love Franciscans.

Fiery, emotional, bursting forth with song, charitable, love, maybe even argumentative. Whirlwind. Gentle, kind. Solid as rock. Play with kids. Feed the birds. Love the animals.

Ah, the beauty of the Catholic Church. A religious order to suit every type of character out there.

Damask Rose said...

Thanks for these two threads today, Fr Ray.

Fr Mark said...

Abusus non tollit usum. A very wise, much neglected maxim. It does not seem to me that it has been followed here.

Ma Tucker said...

Is it necessary to have a complete consensus? Obviously not. The fact of the matter is whole pre-vatII orders were forced into the novus ordo against many of their members wishes. These orders were formed under the older form. Could these objecting veterans now insist on the older form for the sake of healing division? Would they be listened too?

John Nolan said...

Also, it applies not only to the community or conventual Mass, which would be within the letter of article 3 of Summorum Pontificum, but also to private Masses. Since all priests of the Latin Rite, regular or secular, have the freedom to use either missal without requiring approval from higher authority (article 2 of SP), in this case SP has been overridden, and since only the Pope can do this, Pope Francis has.

Eric Manley-Harris said...

Thanks for useful information and comments on francisans

Eric Manley-Harris said...

Thanks for useful information and comments on francisans

johnf said...

Fr, you mentioned that historically the Franciscans have split many times. what would happen if they split now and formed a specifically EF sector? Would they be allowed to? who would stop them?