Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate have issued a series of official statements
correcting errors of fact made in the sensationalized coverage of the recent Vatican
intervention in the government of their religious institute and clarifying
their own position and intentions.
Figuring prominently both in Italian and English on the homepage of the F.F.I. international
website is a brief statement about the Decree of the Congregation for Religious
dated July 11, 2013. The statement affirms that “Fr. Stefano M. Manelli,
together with the whole institute of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate,
submits in obedience to the Holy Father and trusts that this obedience will
bring forth greater graces.”
posted at the F.F.I. website is an “Official Note of 03 Aug 2013: A Response to
Vatican Insider,” taking issue point-by-point
with an anonymous article entitled “Lombardi: On the Latin Mass the Pope does
not contradict Ratzinger,” signed “Editorial Staff” and dated August 2, 2013. The
Vatican Insider article “contains
calumnious statements against our Founder, Fr. Stefano M. Manelli, statements
that we feel the duty to reject. In the
same article there is also untrue or imprecise information to which we wish to
draw attention.” A summary of the clarifications follows.
Manelli never imposed the exclusive use of the Traditional Latin Mass on all
F.I. communities, nor does he want it to become the exclusive use; he himself
celebrates Mass in both the Ordinary and the Extraordinary Forms of the Roman
during, and after the Apostolic Visitation (July 2012-July 2013) the exclusive
or prioritized use of most F.F.I. communities has been the Novus Ordo (Mass and Breviary).
Minister General, Fr. Manelli, together with his General Council, made a
legitimate effort to promote the Extraordinary Form, according to the 2007 motu
proprio Summorum Pontificum, the
related 2011 instruction Universae
Ecclesiae, and the decisions of
their own General Chapter of 2008. A
letter from the General Council of the F.F.I. dated November 21, 2011 and sent
to all the friaries gave guidelines for the use of the Extraordinary Form but
did not make it obligatory. Some friars
challenged the letter, but the Ecclesia
Dei Commission found it in keeping with the mind of Benedict XVI as
expressed in the above-mentioned Instruction.
anonymous journalist of Vatican Insider
also erroneously implied that the F.F.I. had little reason or right to
celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form, because it had been founded after
Vatican II and had never been affiliated with the SSPX. Summorum
Pontificum, of course, is addressed to all institutes of consecrated life
who may want to preserve the precious liturgical heritage of the Church.
F.F.I. spokesman emphasized that, as far as he knows, there has been no survey
of all the members of the Institute; “therefore survey-based statements as to
the will of the majority of the friars appear to us to be completely
“The only official spokesman of our Institute, especially in this delicate
situation, remains our Procurator General, Fr. Alessandro Apollonio.”
Additional response to Vatican Insider” notes that the Apostolic Visitation of
the Franciscan Friars was ordered, not by Pope Benedict XVI, but by the Prefect
of the Congregation for Religious, Cardinal Braz de Aviz.
Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate issued their own statement, noting that
their General Chapter in May 2012 favored the co-existence of both forms for
liturgical celebrations, and proposed the exclusive use of the Extraordinary
Form only for the contemplative communities.
a “Declaration about some recent facts”, the F.F.I. distances itself from an
online petition at the website of the Association “Corrispondenza Romana” collecting
signatures to be sent to the Prefect of the Congregation for Religious
protesting the decree of July 11, 2013. It
“rejects any attempt to use a matter internal to the Institute to attack the
Pope and the Catholic Hierarchy, and appeals to all to maintain silence,
respect, and prayer regarding the matter, in order to allow the competent
authorities to carry out their task in peace for the good of the Church and of
had the decency to post at its Italian website the
complete text of the official statements of the F.F.I. and conducted a brief
interview with the Institute’s spokesman, Fr. Apollonio.