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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A New Herod’s Offensive against the Children of the Immaculata

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franciscans“A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not” (Matthew 2:18)

The coming of the Savior brings not only joy but suffering. Christmas Day is immediately followed by the Feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr. Two days later we commemorate the Holy Innocents slain in place of the Holy Child. Herod, a usurper of the rightful authority in Judea, is filled with rage and anger when he hears of the possible arrival of the true authority within his dominion. He cannot find the Holy One so as to lay hands on Him and so he unleashes his fury on the Holy Innocents, those new to life and unable to defend themselves. All illegitimate tyrants eventually lash out in injustice for deep down they know their position is ultimately untenable.


For fifty years, a tyrant authority has usurped governance of the Body of Christ. This authority is not a single man, pope or bishop. It is called Modernism.[1] It has installed itself in the highest offices of the Church whose function is to guard and transmit the Deposit of Faith. It has unjustly and illicitly exercised the highest authority in the Church, acting through holders of those offices—whether they be willing or unwilling collaborators of Modernism is not for us to judge—not for the ends for which those offices were created but to inject deadly viruses of novelty and confusion into the Body of Christ. Yet, notwithstanding all the unjust innovation, the Body retains a faint pulse. Tradition not only survives the viral attack but it slowly but steadily grows, attracting new generations to the beauty of the True Faith and Liturgy.

The Franciscans of the Immaculata (referred to as the FI) have not been and are not Traditionalists. They were not founded by Archbishop Lefebvre nor have they ever had a formal or informal relationship to the Society of St. Pius X. From their founding they accepted and used the Novus Ordo Missae. Yet, the FI adopted a faithful adherence to the spirituality of St. Maximilian Kolbe. Faithfulness to the authentic spirit of St. Maximilian inevitably must lead to conflict with the reigning Modernist tyranny in the Church.

Modernism seeks to synthesize all, to negotiate a truce with the enemies of the Church, especially the spirit of Freemasonry.   Recently in a moment of real clarity Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, the Cardinal personally closest to Pope Francis and chosen by him to lead his Council of Eight Cardinals, explained that this reconciliation with Modernism was at the heart of the “1789 in the Church,” as Vatican II was described by Cardinal Suenens:

The Second Vatican Council was the main event in the Church in the 20th Century. In principle, it meant an end to the hostilities between the Church and modernism, which was condemned in the First Vatican Council. On the contrary: neither the world is the realm of evil and sin –these are conclusions clearly achieved in Vatican II—nor is the Church the sole refuge of good and virtue. Modernism was, most of the time, a reaction against injustices and abuses that disparaged the dignity and the rights of the person.[2]

Since Modernism was a reaction to the Traditional teaching and praxis of the Church, clearly the Cardinal considers these things to be “injustices” and “abuses.” Here we have an honest assessment by the most influential Cardinal in this Pontificate making clear that the last century involved a combat between Modernism and the Pre-Vatican II Church with, in his view, Modernism triumphing at the Council. The FI have not laid down their arms and joined this unholy cease fire. The result has been their ongoing persecution.

The combat of St. Maximilian was clearly a part of this struggle. He aimed is efforts particularly at the helpmate of Modernism in the temporal sphere, Freemasonry. Freemasonry rejoiced at the result of Vatican II which freemasons openly proclaimed as a victory for Freemasonry. Thus, a commitment to the combat of the Immaculata will inevitably lead to a confrontation with Modernism. Engagement in such a combat will eventually lead one to see the perennial weapons that have been successful in this battle, the Mass of All Ages and the immutable doctrine of the Church preserved for centuries and only obscured under a cloud of ambiguities at Vatican II. Yet, to find the Mass and the Traditional Doctrine, will inevitably lead to confrontation with the internal enemies of the Church.

Bishop Bernard Fellay recently commented that the FI’s faithfulness to St. Maximilian is what has brought the FI closer to the Traditionalists and into conflict with the forces controlling the highest offices in the Church.

This is very interesting, because Maximilian Kolbe desires a combat for the Immaculata, a combat by the Immaculata, the victory of God over the enemies of God—we really can use that term—namely the Freemasons. It is very interesting to see that. This combat against the world, against the spirit of the world made them [the FI] close to us, almost by nature, one could say, because to enlist in a combat against the world implies the Cross somewhere. That implies the eternal principles of the Church: what is called the Christian spirit. This Christian spirit is expressed magnificently in the old Mass, in the Tridentine Mass. So that when Benedict XVI published his Motu Proprio, which once again made the Mass widely available, that congregation decided in their Chapter, in other words a decision by the whole congregation, to return to the old Mass, and really to do so across the board, realizing that they would have a lot of problems since they have parishes, but that nevertheless these problems were not insurmountable. A few of them also began to pose certain questions about the Council.

As a result, some malcontents, a handful if you consider the number of them (there are around 300 priests and brothers in all), maybe a dozen protested to Rome, saying “They are trying to impose the old Mass on us, they are attacking the Council.”[3]

The forces of Modernism cannot destroy the Church and Sacred Tradition. Our Lord’s promise of indefectibility precludes them from so doing. Likewise it was impossible for the usurper Herod to kill Our Lord before the fullness of time for His redemptive sacrifice. Yet, Herod could unleash his anger at the innocent and helpless who were “close” to Our Savior, i.e., in the area of Bethlehem.

The FI are in a certain sense like the Holy Innocents. They are not Traditionalists but as Bishop Fellay notes “close” to defending Tradition unambiguously and consistently. In recent years the FI could be seen as moving towards a “rebirth” as a fully Traditionalist community. They are potentially in the early stages of such a transition, encouraging and permitting wide use of the Traditional liturgy and maintaining an open mind to considering the place Vatican II and its aftermath holds in the combat of the Immaculata. Yet, as is clear, they still maintained the use of the Novus Ordo Missae.

The forces of Modernism, unable to stamp out Tradition in the Church and unable to ensnare what in retrospect may have been a practical trap for the SSPX in a canonical recognition, are attempting to destroy the essence of the FI in case it might be a source of Modernism’s ultimate defeat.

The FI was founded in 1970, interestingly the same year as the SSPX, and has grown to include priests, sisters, tertiaries and third order members, houses of study, book publishing and distribution, and other lay apostolates. The FI was elevated to diocesan right in 1990 and Pope John Paul II raised them to pontifical right. They today have over 500 members on six continents. Although accepting the Novus Ordo Missae as normative for the FI prior to Summorum Pontificum, the FI did stay faithful to the Franciscan charism as expressed by St. Maximilian. They speak often and passionately about Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces (a doctrine snubbed at Vatican II) and her Coredemption. Following Summorum Pontificum the FI deliberated, and, according to the rules governing their decision making, overwhelming voted to promote and facilitate the wide and generous use of the Traditional liturgy although allowing individual priests to offer the Novus Ordo Missae. Yet, even this prudential and moderate position was too much for Modernism, and, following the election of Pope Francis, the Vatican acted upon the complaints of a handful of malcontents (as the Vatican acted against the FSSP in 1999, following the complaints of a handful of members wishing to celebrate the New Mass who eventually left the FSSP).

Now it will be recalled that for decades the hierarchy turned a deaf ear to the serious accusations of homosexual abuse of minor children by priests. Offenders were coddled and sheltered and shuffled off to new assignments. Cardinal Law, who sheltered offenders for decades, was not deposed as bishop but voluntarily resigned to accept a promotion to a cozy position in Rome (where he is safe from any potential arrest in the United States).

The CDF investigated female religious orders in the United States and found shocking evidence of heterodoxy and although some discussions were held with the leadership council no religious order was taken over, no superiors deposed.

No Apostolic Commissioner was appointed to take over the Diocese of Los Angeles when it went bankrupt due to the multimillion dollar payouts to victims of abuse.

Yet, now after a few FI priests who do not like the decision taken by their entire congregation with broad consensus complained that they are being made to feel that they should offer the Traditional Mass even though they are perfectly free to do otherwise. What is the Vatican’s reaction? Move in with a nuclear weapon.

Consider the following disciplinary measures which can only be described as immoral and unjust persecution, have been taken to date.

1)    The duly elected superiors of the FI, including the founder and Minister-General Father Stephano Maria Manelli, were summarily removed and replaced by a Vatican appointed Commissioner, Father Fidenzio Volpi.

2)    The 80 year old Father Manelli is reported to have been placed effectively under house arrest having been forbidden to receive visitors or go out to meet anyone.

3)    In direct contradiction not only to the natural and divine law but also the positive law of the Church as expressed in Summorum Pontificum, Father Volpi has prohibited the offering of the Traditional Mass by members of the FI.

4)    The temporal resources of the FI have been seized by Father Volpi.  

5)    Father Volpi closed the seminary/house of studies until further notice.

6)    Those in the course of study, if and when Father Volpi decides they can resume their studies, will be sent to specified institutions not affiliated to the FI. The Marian House connected to the house of studies is ordered by Father Volpi to close.

7)    Father Volpi has canceled the ordinations to the diaconate and priesthood scheduled for this year.

8)    Once ordinations are permitted to resume, Father Volpi has ordered that all candidates for Orders who are presently in formation must personally subscribe to a formal acceptance of:

a.    The Novus Ordo as an authentic expression of the liturgical tradition of the Church and therefore of Franciscan tradition (without prejudice to what is permitted by the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, if the illegal ban on the Traditional Mass currently enforced by Father Volpi is lifted), and

b.    the documents of the Second Vatican Council, in accordance with the authority accorded them by the Magisterium.

9)    Any candidate who does not accept these provisions will be immediately dismissed from the Institute.

10)Every religious in the Institute must clearly and formally express in writing his willingness to continue his journey in the Institute of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, according to Marian-Franciscan charism, in the spirit of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, according to the directives concerning religious life contained in the documents of the Second Vatican Council.

11)Father Volpi has suspended the Mission Immaculate Mediatrix groups in Italy until these groups make a formal declaration of adhesion to the new authority, presumably meaning Father Volpi.

12)Father Volpi has suspended the Third Order of St. Francis with no assurance of reestablishment but only a statement that Father Volpi will appoint three religious to whom the members of the said groups may refer for eventual clarifications.

13)Father Volpi suspended the distribution to the public of "Casa Mariana Editrice" publications, which include many books and articles sympathetic to a moderate Traditional Catholic viewpoint on the liturgy, on theology, and on Vatican II.[4]

This list is breathtaking. When priests and bishops facilitated the abuse of little children, were the properties of a single diocese seized? Following numerous reports of the encouragement and even exaltation of homosexuality in seminaries (See the book Good Bye Good Men by Michael Rosefor an example), were any of the offending seminaries closed? Were any ordinations cancelled to make sure the candidates were not pedophiles? Has Hans Kung or anyone like him been prohibited from distributing books calling into question perennial teachings of the Church such as the bodily resurrection of our Lord?

Obviously, the answer to these is an unequivocal No. Yet, a religious institute is subjected to the most severe persecution merely for reverencing Catholic Tradition.

When the outrage of such unjust persecution was called into question in the Italian press, Father Volpi responded by letter defending his harsh persecution. What crime does he invoke to justify these extreme measures? Some unspecified “religious” complained “of a crypto-lefebvrian and definitely traditionalist drift” in the FI community and Father Manelli “had already evaded constructive dialogue with” these unspecified religious. There is also an ex post facto complaint about an unspecified and unproven attempt to retain some of the property after the Commissioner dictator was installed. (Obviously, even if something happened after the take-over, logically it cannot be a reason for the take-over.)

So there you have it! The only crimes in the Church which produce severe penal measures today are being “crypto-lefebvrian” (whatever that means), having a “traditionalist drift” and refusing to engage in “constructive dialogue” with inferiors who complain about the legitimate decisions of their congregation. The criminal law of the Church in the past fifty years is effectively reduced to “Thou Shalt Not Be Even Close to a Traditionalist.” You can abuse children, write and preach heresy, cover up secular crimes and you get promoted and kept on as a priest in good standing. But dare to have a “traditionalist drift” and you are finished. This is so insane that it seems unreal, but it is real—a real persecution of the innocent by authorities in the Church claiming to act on the express approval of the “highest authority,” Pope Francis.

It is interesting to note that all the actions of Father Volpi since his appointment is exactly what Archbishop Lefebvre predicted would have happened if he agreed to Pope Paul VI’s 1974 demand that he turn the entire SSPX, its seminary in Econe, and its priories over to a Commissioner appointed by Paul VI. The Archbishop refused because he claimed the seminary would be closed, the seminarians would be forced to enter seminaries following the new orientation, the Mass would be suppressed and the faithful depending on the SSPX would be left abandoned.

Once again the Archbishop’s foresight has been vindicated. What has happened to the FI would have happened to the SSPX in 1974 if the Archbishop had faltered. Where would the Traditional Mass be today if that had happened? Likely there would have been no 1984 Indult, no 1988 Indult, no Summorum Pontificum, no Fraternity of St. Peter (as they would have had no SSPX from which to withdraw), etc.

What are the FI to do? What anyone being oppressed by unjust persecution may do, especially when the honor of God or our own or another’s salvation require it—respectfully refuse to comply with unjust and illicit commands. The FI should all refuse this outrageous demand for an oath of allegiance to the New Mass and Vatican II. Has Hans Kung ever been forced to swear an oath of fidelity to Trent or Vatican I on pain of losing his faculties? Never! No Catholic is required to swear an oath to Vatican II and the New Mass to attain salvation. Otherwise every saint before these anomalies would have been lost. The FI should simply continue their work, which has been approved by Pope John Paul II no less. The FI is an approved congregation in the Church. The coup that has taken them over is unjust and illegal as they have committed no offense. Continue to live the combat of the Immaculata and offer the Traditional Mass, relying on the authority of Pope Benedict XVI in Summorum Pontificum when it states:

In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962 . . . Celebrations of Mass as mentioned above in art. 2 may - observing all the norms of law - also be attended by faithful who, of their own free will, ask to be admitted. (Articles 2 and 4)

Communities of Institutes of consecrated life and of Societies of apostolic life, of either pontifical or diocesan right, wishing to celebrate Mass in accordance with the edition of the Roman Missal promulgated in 1962, for conventual or "community" celebration in their oratories, may do so. If an individual community or an entire Institute or Society wishes to undertake such celebrations often, habitually or permanently, the decision must be taken by the Superiors Major, in accordance with the law and following their own specific decrees and statues. (Article 3)

Even if the FI had decided to move to the Traditional Mass permanently, they were permitted to do so if the decision were made by their superiors according to their internal governance law, which it was. They only decided to facilitate and encourage it but not move permanently to use the Traditional Mass.

The FI has committed no offense justifying a termination of their religious studies and formation. They are an institute approved by the highest authority of the Church, and, once such approval is granted, it can only be removed for just cause. Being a “crypto-lefebvrian” or having a “traditional drift” amount to a charge fabricated out of legal thin air, a technique worthy of the vast number of totalitarian secular regimes that dominated the last century. All of these penalties are null and void under natural, divine and even ecclesiastical positive law. As St. Thomas quoting St Augustine reminds us, an unjust law is no law at all but rather an act of violence. Continue your studies and formation as you have always done. What was perfectly legal last year must be legal today.

Perhaps the temporal properties of the FI are forever lost to Father Volpi but perhaps this is a sacrifice the Immaculata is asking of her children to prove their fidelity to her combat against Freemasonry and Modernism. They are Franciscans after all! They should be willing to let the property go and rely on the generosity of the faithful to support their combat but they should not cease the combat. Ask yourself, would a mother of one of the Holy Innocents have sinned if she avoided the unjust order of Herod and gotten her child out of Jerusalem? Would she be guilty of disobedience? Obviously not. She had no obligation to comply with his unjust persecution. Traditional orders, groups, associations and ordinary Catholics, we have a duty to come to the aid of the FI. If they show themselves willing to carry on the combat of the Immaculata using the invincible weapons of the past, we have a duty to come to their temporal aid. If the FI make a stand for the Immaculata and the Church and the Mass of All Ages we must be ready within our means to come to their temporal aid.  

It would appear that this persecution of the FI may signal a final battle, a final offensive of Modernism against the Church from within. St. Lucy told us decades ago that the devil was in the mood for a decisive battle against the forces of the Immaculata. She also warned that religious men and women were at the heart of that battle. Perhaps this pontificate will mark the most trying stages of that final battle for the soul of the Church. If it is to be so we must be willing to sacrifice all for the Immaculata and her Divine Son and his Mystical Body.

The words of Winston Churchill to the besieged island of Great Britain in September 1940 could be applied with apt analogy to the position in the Church at the moment. May the members of the FI and all in the cause of Tradition heed this call of every man to his post which comes not from a prime minister but from the Immaculata herself:

Every man and woman will therefore prepare himself to do his duty, whatever it may be, with special pride and care. Our fleets and flotillas are very powerful and numerous; our Air Force is at the highest strength it has ever reached, and it is conscious of its proved superiority, not indeed in numbers, but in men and machines. Our shores are well fortified and strongly manned, and behind them, ready to attack the invaders, we have a far larger and better-equipped mobile Army than we have ever had before. Besides this, we have more than a million and a half men of the Home Guard, who are just as much soldiers of the Regular Army as the Grenadier Guards, and who are determined to fight for every inch of the ground in every village and in every street. It is with devout but sure confidence that I say: Let God defend the Right.

May the Holy Innocents pray for us and in particular Intercede for the resolve of persecuted Franciscans of the Immaculata this Christmas Season!

[1] By usurp I do not mean that the men holding the highest offices in the Church do not hold those offices but rather there has been a usurpation in them of the Christian spirit by Modernism.
[2] For text of one of the occasions on which this statement was made see,
[4] This list has been compiled from statements and commentary available on

Last modified on Saturday, December 21, 2013
Brian McCall | Remnant Columnist

 Brian M. McCall holds the Orpha and Maurice Merrill Endowed Professorship in
at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. A Professor of Law, he received his B.A. from Yale University, Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, 1991He also received his M.A. from Kings College University of London, Fulbright Scholar, 1992 and his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, Summa Cum Laude, Order of the Coif, 1997.  Brian has been a regular contributor to The Remnant since 2004 and his most recent book, The Church and the Usurers, was published in 2012. Along with his wife and six young children, he lives in Oklahoma.