Chiesa and the LMS Chairman today report the stunning, and frankly chilling news that the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate have a new Superior, not a member of the Order but a Capuchin, Fidenzio Volpi, and that the priests of the Order have been forbidden to say the Traditional Mass in public or private, without special permission. This is effective from Sunday 11th August.
According to Sandro Magister, this appointment has been approved by His Holiness Pope Francis who has, by his apostolic authority, utterly contradicted both Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae, embedded into the Law of the Church by the Pope's predecessor, Benedict XVI. Many will be unsurprised by this flagrant contradiction of Church law if only because in this the reigning Pope has form.
'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.'
According to the same journalist, '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.'
|Cardinal Burke celebrates the TLM at the Friars of the Immaculate's seminary
The Franciscans of the Immaculate will not be the only ones who will be stunned and crestfallen by this appointment and decree, but none other than Cardinal Raymond Burke and, one would imagine, all priests in the Catholic Church who have been 'emancipated' by the pontificate of Benedict XVI to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass will doubtless feel confused and betrayed.
|A seagull awaits the election of the new Sovereign Pontiff of the Church
There will be not a few priests who, knowing that the Mass of Ages is not universally popular within even their own congregations, will be concerned that if this can happen to an entire Franciscan Order, affecting each and every of their communities spread around the World, that it can happen to them, despite it being perfectly licit to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form since it was decreed by Pope Benedict XVI to have been 'never abrogated.'
'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.'
'Act bravely, my Brethren; take courage, and trust in the Lord. The time is fast approaching in which there will be great trials and afflictions; perplexities and dissensions, both spiritual and temporal, will abound; the charity of many will grow cold, and the malice of the wicked will increase.The devils will have unusual power, the immaculate purity of our Order, and of others, will be so much obscured that there will be very few Christians who will obey the true Sovereign Pontiff and the Roman Church with loyal hearts and perfect charity. At the time of this tribulation a man, not canonically elected, will be raised to the Pontificate, who, by his cunning, will endeavour to draw many into error and death.Then scandals will be multiplied, our Order will be divided, and many others will be entirely destroyed, because they will consent to error instead of opposing it.There will be such diversity of opinions and schisms among the people, the religious and the clergy, that, except those days were shortened, according to the words of the Gospel, even the elect would be led into error, were they not specially guided, amid such great confusion, by the immense mercy of God.Then our Rule and manner of life will be violently opposed by some, and terrible trials will come upon us. Those who are found faithful will receive the crown of life; but woe to those who, trusting solely in their Order, shall fall into tepidity, for they will not be able to support the temptations permitted for the proving of the elect.
Those who preserve their fervour and adhere to virtue with love and zeal for the truth, will suffer injuries and, persecutions as rebels and schismatics; for their persecutors, urged on by the evil spirits, will say they are rendering a great service to God by destroying such pestilent men from the face of the earth. but the Lord will be the refuge of the afflicted, and will save all who trust in Him. And in order to be like their Head, [Christ] these, the elect, will act with confidence, and by their death will purchase for themselves eternal life; choosing to obey God rather than man, they will fear nothing, and they will prefer to perish rather than consent to falsehood and perfidy
St Francis gave a prophecy concerning his Order shortly before his death
Some preachers will keep silence about the truth, and others will trample it under foot and deny it. Sanctity of life will be held in derision even by those who outwardly profess it, for in those days Jesus Christ will send them not a true Pastor, but a destroyer.'
|A seagull attacks the dove released by Pope Benedict XVI on 26.01.13
Quite what the Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, Cardinal Raymond Burke - who has celebrated Pontifical High Mass with the Franciscans of the Immaculate and whose depth of knowledge of Church and canon law is perhaps unparalleled in the whole Church - makes of this decree is anybody's guess, but I'm in a state of disbelief that following all that the then Pope Benedict XVI laid down in the Church's law by Motu Proprio, the flickering flame of the Mass of Ages can so easily be extinguished!