Old Evangelization Leads To Persecution

When you evangelize and present the Catholic faith as it has been taught for centuries, you will be persecuted.

Some of that persecution will be from within the Church.

A most trenchant example is the latest persecution of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (FFI). That Rorate Cæli link has a thorough explanation of what’s gone on most recently.

The problems started when a small group within the order petitioned Rome, complaining that the order was too traditional.

Note that no substantiated claims of wrongdoing have been presented to the public. There is a possibility that the FFI brought this upon themselves through some misdeeds, but the main reason that has been presented to the public has been that they were becoming too traditional.

For other orders, when problems like this arise, Rome is often content after an Apostolic Visitation to send a few suggestions, but otherwise let things go on pretty much as they had been.

Not so with the FFI.

The Pope imposed the following measures to handle the situation:

  • Removed the head and founder of the order from his position and appointed an Apostolic Commissioner over the order, using a method that leaves no avenue for an appeal in canon law.
  • Forbade priests from saying the Traditional Latin Mass, in direct defiance of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum.

The Apostolic Commissioner has since done the following:

  • Relieved many in the order with greater responsibilities from their roles, and sent them off to remote areas.
  • Elevated those from the group of complainants into the roles of greater responsibility.
  • Prevented the founder of the order from traveling or receiving visitors.
  • Forbidden any diaconate or priestly ordinations this year.
  • Closed down the FFI house of studies, interrupting the studies of the order’s seminarians.
  • Moved the seminarians to other, presumably less traditional seminaries.
  • Required that seminarians, in order to continue their studies, sign a statement of “formal acceptance of The Novus Ordo as an authentic expression of the liturgical tradition of the Church”
  • Formally suspended the third order/lay group affiliated with the order until they formally declare “adhesion to the new authority”.
  • Required all members of the order to sign a similar formal declaration.

This is, not to put too fine a point on it, pure persecution.

Contrast this to the way the Legionnaries of Christ situation was handled. The founder of the Legionnaries was known to be a scoundrel. An inner circle in the order assisted and enabled his knavery. The Vatican responded by removing those responsible, and then spending multiple years working slowly to rebuild the order and return it to the good charisms for which it was popularly known.

The founder of the FFI has been accused of, at worst, an alleged misuse of funds. Not appalling sexual sins as in the Legionnaries case. But that portion of the investigation is not yet complete.

Instead of working slowly to return the FFI to its past glories (which until recently were present glories), they are working to cripple the order. Even if its founder is ultimately found guilty of theft, or pederasty, or any major sin, there is no reason whatsoever to punish the rank and file of the order this harshly.

The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate are being punished this way for one thing and for one thing only: believing in and living traditional Catholicism.