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Defending Fr. Volpi Against Another Calumny

The blog Rorate Caeli has leveled a new accusation against the authority of the Institute of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.  In a recent post there, the blogger makes the accusation that the Apostolic Commissioner, Fr. Fidenzio Volpi, with the approval of Pope Francis, has engaged in the purposeful destruction of the Institute.

The latest “evidence” shown for this is Fr. Volpi’s alleged prohibition of a yearly Christmas Novena of Masses that had been offered in one of our contemplative houses for some time previously.  The blogger quotes an unnamed source, which he claims to be one of our former seminarians.

Furthermore, according to this unnamed source the alleged prohibition of the novena has placed a financial burden on the community that threatens its very survival.  The blogger then is careful to end the piece by exhorting his readers to pray for the poor friars, especially those in this isolated friary that has been allegedly deprived of this financial help.

Please note the following facts:

Novena of Masses

The Apostolic Commissioner of the FI has never prohibited the celebration of novenas of Holy Masses because he has never questioned the merits of the practice.  Only after the departure of the previous superior in Amandola, who initiated the practice, did the new superior of the house question the Institute’s curia about the legality of the stipends collected, as to the manner of applying masses to groups of persons.  The curia quite simply indicated the general rules by which the Code of Canon Law and the decree Mos iugiter regulate the matter.

One also must take note of the manner in which the novena of Masses has been advertised on the Internet, and of the Church’s canonical norms that are designed to avoid even the slightest appearance of profit or simony.  The superior judged within his competence that it was best to discontinue the collection of stipends.  This is not an accusation against anyone else, but simply a statement as to the true reason why the practice was discontinued.

No seminarian of our Institute, as suggested by the post of Rorate Caeli, would be in a position to be aware of the details of the history of the actual deliberation of the curia.

Current Situation

The community of Amandola in the Sibillini Mountains is not “isolated,” if by this one understands that it has been marginalized or neglected by the authority of the Institute.  The Commissioner is always quite prompt in action and solicitous in regard to both material and the spiritual needs of each friar and community of the Institute.

Amandola is only isolated in the sense that such a thing would be desirable.  It is a contemplative house of the Institute and its location has been chosen for its support of a solitary life.  Those who are assigned to any of our contemplative houses are so assigned by their own request.

The members of our Institute are poor by choice, and those in contemplative communities are isolated by the nature of the contemplative vocation, but none of them are financially neglected by their superiors.

The current superior of Amandala has confirmed as of two days ago the following: “We have no material difficulties given the three confrere priests who are able provide support through the stipends they receive.”


The accusation leveled against Fr. Volpi, and by implication, against Pope Francis is a very good example of what I believe is wrong with the Catholic Internet.  This is not news.  It is gossip and calumny.  And the fact that it is gossip about very serious issues pertaining to the salvation of souls and the immediate personal welfare of persons does not make it newsworthy.  It just makes the excuse to engage in gossip more tempting.

In certain circles the reputations of Pope Francis, the Commissioner and anyone obedient to them have been destroyed by means of a concerted public campaign.  So at this point any accusation seems to have a measure of plausibility, even if it is made without tested evidence.  This is truly unfortunate and unjust.

Filed under: Catholicism, Church, Holy Father, Liturgy, Religion Tagged: Father Fidenzio Volpi, Franciscan Friars the Immaculate, Novena of Masses, Rorate Caeli

Fr Angelo

Author Fr Angelo

I am Franciscan Friar of the Immaculate, and a priest for more than twenty years. I am now studying in Rome for my licentiate in Theology.

More posts by Fr Angelo

Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • Steve D says:

    Me thinks someone has a guilty conscience for instigating this whole mess to begin with.

  • Augustine Thomas says:

    What more evidence does one need than the fact that the order was thriving when it was free to use the Latin Mass and now, thanks to the “wisdom” of Novus Ordo heretics who have near destroyed the rest of the Church, it’s on the verge of death?

    • Fra Roderic says:

      We are doing fine. Just in the US 8 postulants, many construction projects, growing congregations. MaryVictrix, and AirMaria are busy as ever. We continue with our Missio Immaculatae magazine, and have published several new books from our Academy of the Immaculate. We have never been busier. Thanks be to God for giving us Fr. Volpi.

    • Fr Angelo says:

      Augustine Thomas,

      Your statement illustrates the precise problem. You assume the institute was thriving because it used the TLM (not true) and you assume that those who objected to the problems within the Institute hated the TLM (not true) and promoted the Novus Ordo (not true) because they are heretics (not true).

      That is the problem in a nutshell. If one disagrees with certain alarmist interpretations of reality and one becomes the anti-Christ.

  • tony says:

    There are so many religious orders, diocese, universities, charity organizations etc. that have been in chaos and open defacto schism for decades and now one order might be “too devouted” to the traditional Mass and the church provides a heavy handed response…refusing to allow the traditional Mass, closing seminary, dismissing members…we aren’t stupid and we have had enough.

    • Fra Roderic says:

      Ave Maria!
      There are many orders and organizations that are problematic on the liberal side, but the disastrous experience of the Vatican’s quite mild efforts with the LCWR shows how unreformable the hardened liberals can be. Not only are they not showing any signs of changing but are doubling down on their dissent and have gone from being forgotten relics of 1960’s to a national sensation complete with annual bus tours, books and a film, all of which is enabled by the publicity garnered from the Vatican’s praiseworthy efforts to bring them toward orthodoxy. Simply put they are not interested in reform. Our institute, on the other hand, actually asked for Vatican help and are grateful for it and we are making fast progress. The seminary was closed but the Pope himself went out of his way to help us start a new one. The Traditional Latin Mass was never our charism and we thrived before we adopted it and now we are again after it has been restricted. We are still doing many TLMs. Deo Gracias!

  • John Dominic says:

    Why has Msgr. Brunero Gherardini’s book “The Ecumenical Vatican Council II: A MUCH NEEDED DISCUSSION” been suppressed? It was translated into English and distributed by the FFI printing house, but then distribution ceased. I had to borrow a copy through interlibrary loan in the U.S. Fortunately Mount Angel Seminary library had a copy. Does this kind of censorship demonstrate good faith by Fr. Volpi?

  • Observer says:

    Why again is the FFI undergoing a thorough dismantling? What were the charges?

  • tony says:

    uhmm…the issue is lack of proportionality and pastoral insight…which is the greater offense to be too attached to the traditional latin mass in a world governed by secular humanism…or decades long apostates? Why is there so much tolerance for one type of problem and no tolerance for a much lesser problem. Why is there is so much tolerance for those who seek to conform to the world and no tolerance for those who seek to challenge the age? A handful of people complained and the Pope decided to basically shut down the order …we got it…we aren’t stupid and we had enough. You might be fine. But we are leaving.

  • tony says:

    I red your post that summarized the issue. And while I compliment you for your honesty and forthrightness, I still have no idea why the remedy is proportionate to the disease. When only 5 out of 325 friars have a concern and the most substantial charges are vague characterizations about attitudes and arbitrary decision making, the most prudent course would have been to say nothing and try to take something positive from the situation. Your concerns about associating with traditionalist sympathizers seems to contradict Pope Francis command that we accompany those on the periphery. And that’s part of the problem with the treatment of FFI, it is disproportionate, does not consider the pastoral situation of these people and the world in which they live and is one sided. It seems that if drastic action were necessary, it should be taken against a group that was pushing the spirit of the age.

    I am not a traditionalist. I believe every word of V2. I loved JP2 and think he is one of the finest people to ever live. I have never attended a TLM. But I also have eyes. I know that secular humanism and moral relativism present a lethal danger to the Church in the West and the real possibility whether there will be a next generation of Catholics. If a handful of people in this desperate situation over zealously cling to “Tradition” and the reverence of the TLM as a bulwark against this onslaught, we should be more inclined to address the onslaught than the bulwark. While the remedy might be just in your situation, it is terrible outcome for the church at large. We need communities all over the place that are over committed. If only to provide a stumbling block for the innumerable children of the age.

    I would strongly encourage Fr. Volpi and his sponsors at the Vatican to read how Abraham Lincoln led a fractious nation through a terrible calamity. The current style is loosing lots of people including me. I have stopped attending Church because of this type of nonsense.

    After reading several of your posts, you are obviously very intelligent but may be too much for your own good. I didn’t see any issue where the opinion of few should over ride the many and I don’t see how shutting down the FFI is anything but negative for the church universal.

    • Fr Angelo says:

      The original appellants were five in number, to which were added shortly afterward another sixteen signatories. And however one analyzes and interprets the results of the questionnaire answered by the solemn professed during the visitation, even a quarter of the community (though it was more) asking for an intervention is far more than the misrepresentations like yours admit. At this stage, such a misrepresentation is not easily excused.

      Beyond that the Holy See knows that if even as small a percentage as a quarter are asking for intervention that there is a real problem. You minimize the reality of arbitrary government because for you this discussion is academic. You bear no responsibility for the vocation and you have no real investment in the community. But the friars who asked for the intervention have both a responsibility to be faithful to their vows and to take responsibility for their membership in the community, which means they are responsible for the common good. They also know what they are talking about because they did not learn about the situation through scattered factoids on partisan blogs, but from actually living in the community.

      Furthermore, you assume you know more than you do. That the primary motive for the appeal was a disdain for the TLM was a misrepresentation from the beginning. That arbitrary government is something that the Holy See could easily overlook, is also an assumption, because you have no idea what it means. In fact, what it means is that the Institute was effectively in the complete control of one person, which is both country to canon law and the particular law of our Institute. It furthermore means that there was a false theology of obedience into which the friars were being formed—in affect a greater attachment to a single charismatic personality than to the law of the Church and the Church itself, which has been evidenced by the tragic spectacle of disobedience that has taken place since the intervention.

      But in the end, of course, I am sure we both agree—being orthodox Catholics—that it really is not about a democratic process, but about adherence to the Church, which is what religious profess to do by the vows they freely undertake. For the FI includes an explicit promise to obey the Holy Father.

  • Fr Angelo says:

    John Dominic,

    Msgr. Gherardini’s book was never published by our Institute in the United States. The editors of Academy of the Immaculate chose not to publish it so the friars in Italy published it in English.

    Which is to say that the controversy within the Institute about the correct interpretation of Vatican II, existed as early as 2009.

    Many of us did not want to be associated with this book, or any interpretation that did not take Pope Benedict’s hermeneutic of continuity as a starting point. In fact, Msgr. Gherardini was not censored. Those who disagreed with him were censored. No book or article was permitted to be published in which there was clear disagreement with Msgr. Gherardini.

    Fr. Volpi merely dissociated the friars from the publishing house in Italy, because the former superiors, when they realized they would no longer be in control, saw to it that the publishing house was put into the hands of lay people loyal to them.

  • tony says:

    With all due respect, I don’t assume more than I know. If you re-read my concluding paragraph, I clearly state the facts as you presented them don’t seem to warrant the cure. I also said “While the remedy might be just in your situation, it is terrible outcome for the church at large. ” That is my point. You are there. I am not. But I am an an on the ground catholic and you (the clergy, bishops etc) are failing. Winning this argument might be very important to your personal situation ultimately the clergy are supposed to be a vocation of service. And given the circumstances in the world, this approach takes no account of the pastoral situation of these people in particular and the world in general and is of no service. These types of decisions have caused me to stop attending Mass. And I have never attended a TLM and believe every word of V2. I already did the tragedy, someone else can do the farce.

    I also never said that the primary motive for the appeal was disdain for the TLM. I said, given the current circumstances in the world, the overzealous clinging to either the TLM or Traditionalism should have been met with more understanding and should have been addressed with more pastoral care.

    While I can’t comment on friaries, in the business world, I can tell you just about everyone thinks that their bosses decisions are arbitrary and the agreement of 25% of your co-workers wouldn’t even warrant a meeting.

    After reading several of your posts, you are very intelligent but I think you need to take a break from this issue. You jump to conclusions and you seem to have a sharp tongue for someone whose primary role is supposed to be peacemaker.

    • Fr Angelo says:


      I am speaking up against calumny and would be happy to be silent on the matter were it not for the injustice of unmortified typing fingers. The gossip and calumny has flowed freely and casually from people who are either dishonest or simply do not know what they are talking about, and the result, which I know from first hand experience, has been extremely destructive to the people I live with, and with whom I share a common good.

      My post is sedate and well-measured and simply addresses facts which have been distorted by those with an axe to grind.

      With all due respect, your comment was gratuitous, as though the facts in the present case make no difference whatever because, as you say, the cure is worse than the disease. Well, the disease is calumny, gossip, lying, reportage without facts and disobedience to the Supreme Magisterium. It seems that my disagreement with you over what is worse is more than well-grounded.

      You may not like my style and that is fine with me. But what those who have opposed the Holy See fail to understand—and many of them never will—is that all they have accomplished is to make their situation much, much worse. Against all odds, they have succeeded to remove all doubt from those in the Holy See that this is a movement which is sectarian and only willing to obey when it suites, and that if the Holy See does not capitulate to public pressure and ultimatum tactics (like character assassination), then the response will be to double down.

      Unfortunately, now there is a undeletable digital trail, thousands and thousands of pages long, that lead right back to religious who are explicitly vowed to obey the Holy Father, which, among other things, not only pit the two forms of the Mass against each other and show contempt for Vatican II in se, but also make apocalyptic prophetic claims, as well as claim that those now responsible for the Institute are Freemasons and that the Holy Father is a heretic, etc., etc.

      Shake your first at Fr. Volpi if you like, but that is just to be blind to the real problem.

      Lastly, in regard to your first comment: the Friars of the Immaculate are just as committed as they ever have been to the true faith, the service of the Church the consecration to the Immaculate. Anything to the contrary is just another assumption.

      Happy Solemnity of the Immaculate.

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