Invalid Input

Invalid Input

Search the Remnant Newspaper
Saturday, January 18, 2014

FFI and the Mass: It’s Not a Choice, It’s a Conviction

Rate this item
(18 votes)
FFI Founder Fr Stefano Maria Manelli FFI Founder Fr Stefano Maria Manelli

The ongoing saga of the unjust and tragic persecution of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate has demonstrated once again what is actually at the root of the post-conciliar liturgical crisis – namely the issue of doctrine in relation to the traditional Roman Mass versus the Novus Ordo Missae. Like cream rising to the top of a milk pail, recent news has affirmed initial speculations that the friars and sisters were being treated in a heavy-hand fashion because some members were harboring “crypto-lefebvrian and definitely traditionalist drift” as related in a letter by Apostolic Commissar – err, Commissioner - Fr. Fidenzio Volpi.[1]


So just what does this “crypto-lefebvrian and definitely traditionalist drift” actually refer to? According to a few reports, a discrete but general agreement with Archbishop Lefebvre’s (and thus his priestly society’s) theological stance on the Second Vatican Council as well as the problems of the Novus Ordo Missae – specifically, whether it conforms with the liturgical axiom of lex credendi, lex orandi.[2]

In fact, it is safe to presume that this must be the case, for what other position could merit being labeled – or blackballed – as “crypto-lefebvrian” and then additionally accused in an unmistakable negative connotation of having a “definitely traditionalist drift”? In light of this evidence, we are compelled to ask, how severe would Fr. Volpi pen his condemnation of his fellow Capuchin, Padre Pio, who manifested even stronger positions on Vatican II and the forthcoming New Mass?

For those who believe that the Holy See’s persecution of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate stemmed solely (or even mainly) from the number of traditional Masses they were offering to the faithful, guess again. After all, many groups under the umbrella of the Ecclesia Dei Commission are doing much the same, yet they have not suffered a similar curtailment of the Masses they offer (at least not yet).

Once again, we are witnessing an unmistakable recurring pattern. If the flourishing FFI had merely wanted to offer the Mass of All Time as a matter of preference, or due its ascetical, cultural or historical value, then there would have been no problem. Remember a similar situation was visited upon the Fraternity of St. Peter in 2000, merely because its Superior General, Fr. Joseph Bisig, instructed his priests to only celebrate the Immemorial Mass – thus prohibiting the New. Rome’s response to the FSSP was the Lead Mallet Treatment, an unjust sanction that appears to be specifically reserved for those of a traditionalist bent.[3]

Thus whenever the legal or doctrinal legitimacy of the New Mass is called into question (such as affirming the traditional Roman Mass is actually the “ordinary form”), persecution is sure to closely follow. But like “Archbishop Lefebvre, this great man of the universal Church” (to quote Pope Benedict XVI) we should not be deterred, knowing that we have a higher duty to “obey God before men” (to quote the first pope), particularly when it comes to upholding the Catholic Faith and thus ensuring the salvation of souls.

The question now is: how will the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate react to their illegitimate persecution? Fortunately for them, they already have several examples they can follow, from St. Athanasius, to Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer, to the Dominican Sisters of Fanjeaux – to name only a few. One could perhaps even refer them to their holy patron, St. Francis of Assisi, who forsook his natural father in order to follow his Heavenly Father. In the meantime, we must continue to pray for the FFI.


1 Cf. the recent news postings made on the Rorate Caeli blog, also citing La Stampa.

2 Again… see the Ottaviani Intervention for details as well as Fr. Franz Schmidberger’s excellent comparative study, the Theology and Spirituality of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

3 If only this same disciplinary device could be justly and swiftly lowered on liberal dissenters of Catholic doctrine and morals, let alone liturgical law!

Last modified on Monday, January 20, 2014
Louis Tofari

The Remnant is currently supported by dozens of Catholic freelance writers.