I must confess it: I was shocked by the number of religious communities listed by Archbishop Vigano as having been mangled by the current regime in septem collibus. (How useful it is when a Nuncio decides to spill the beans ... is there an Italian proverbial expression analogous to our "spilling beans"?).
It is, frankly, upsetting to think of pious religious being dragged from their knees and interrogated; tricked by cunning and devious 'Visitors', whose agenda will include building up a case against their charism and spirituality, so that they can be dispersed or subjected to alien structures and patterns.
In the world of education, there are different but similar processes. If management decides to take steps against somebody, the victim is allowed to have (what is colloquially called) a 'prisoner's friend' present at the procedings. And also present will be an official of the victim's professional association. (The latter will make interjections with the formula "It is my member's view that ...". For some reason, I found the reiteration of the phrase "my member" more than a little comical.)
I was once a Prisoner's Friend. I enjoyed it immensely. The 'prisoner', very wisely, had efficiently maintained an extensive Paper Trail, which I was able to use, to devastating effect, against the Prosecution. I found the entire process incredibly [have you noticed how ubiquitous that adverb has become in the last few months?] exhilarating, rather like taking a powerful drug. (Not, of course, that I have ever done that.) We won!
Visitated religious, I realise, are not formally being forensically prosecuted. They might have more protections if they were! But I think the parallels are close enough to merit the following suggestion.
When the interrogation of each Visitated individual Victim is taking place, that Victim should be accompanied by a sympathetic and acute canon lawyer who has been carefully briefed on the particular circumstances. That canonist would be able to spot devious snares and traps and to give useful advice on dealing with them. And he/she would have the opportunity of building up an overall picture of the case being built up; of how the Victims are, to use S John Henry Newman's phrase, being "practised upon" both individually and collectively.
I know that this would not be quite within the Spirit of Peronism. Could we live with that?
My readers would rise up in fury against me if I were, even in the merest jollity and fun, to use such a phrase as "Banana Pontificate". Idcirco talem opinionem omnino praetereo. But will anybody deny that the life of Christ's Church would be strengthened ... and purged ... if a dash of our Anglo-Saxon tradition of openness in public affairs were introduced in atria domus Domini?
Among the mangled by the "apostolic visitations" of the Pontiff Francis, perhaps the very first, were the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (FFI). The two men chosen to destroy the FFI Franciscans were two "other Franciscans" from a different order of Franciscans, the Order of Friars Minor (OFM).
The man chosen by PF to help visit destruction upon the FFI Franciscans is Jose Carballo, the very first appointee of PF, who was whisked to Rome in late 2013, having served ten years as Director General of the OFM Franciscans, until May 2013.
It is interesting that in 2014, shortly after Bishop Carballo vacated his position as Director General of the OFMs, and took up residence in Rome, as "second-in-charge" of the Congregation for Consecrated Life ("governing" all "non-diocesan" religious orders...world-wide) a story about the OFM Franciscans by Nick Squires appeared in the UK Telegraph, informing that Carballo's successor as OFM Director, Michael Perry, wrote an open letter revealing that the OFMs found themselves in a "grave situation", with millions of euros missing from its accounts. Perry wrote that the OFM "finds itself in grave, and I underscore 'grave', financial difficulty, with a significant burden of debt." The revelations included off-shore Swiss bank accounts, involved in arms and drug trafficking, and money-laundering. "Miraculously," Jose Carballo was somehow rewarded by being transported to Rome, where PF granted him a share in governing of all "non-diocesan" religious orders world-wide.
But did Jose Carballo, now "vice-presider" of the Congregation for Religious Life, together with his new boss, Cardinal Braz, choose to "visit" their apostolic governance upon the OFM Franciscans?
Surprisingly – they instead opened an investigation of the FFI Franciscans, a new, reformed order of Franciscans started by Fr. Manelli of Italy, under Pope John Paul II, who were devoted to the way of Maximillian Kolbe, and had begun increasingly to celebrate the EF of the Mass. Carballo assigned another OFM priest, Rev. Volpi, to sieze control of the FFI. According to a civil court in Italy, which decided in a law suit by people defending Fr. Manelli, Volpi had spread false stories about the elderly Fr. Manelli, suggesting that Manelli had stolen money from the FFI, and the court found Volpi guilty of defamation against Fr. Manelli. The law suit was brought in civil court by the family of Fr. Manelli, after seeking justice from Cardinal Braz and Bishop Carballo and the Pontiff Francis, but alas, no justice was to be had from the Church of Francis. Braz and Carballo, at the behest of Francis, had the FFI seminary closed, and the priests and nuns literally exiled from Italy, mostly I understand sent to the Phillipines. The crime of the FFI? Well, its a mystery, and certainly an "apostolic secret," but apparently – they revered Catholic tradition – an offense too abhorrent for the Pontiff Francis and the OFM Franciscans.
And I wonder to this day, and this is my own speculation, did the Congregation for Religious Life under Braz and Carballo, with the support of the Pontiff Francis, intend to sieze the real estate owned by the FFI Franciscans, to sell it, and then give the proceeds to the OFM Franciscans, to pay the debts of their "irregularities" under the direction of Carballo?
How "un-Christ-like", dare we say even "unpastoral," that men like Carballo, incompetent at best, and possibly even involved in the irregularities he presided over in bankrupting the OFM, are rewarded with global governance of priests and nuns, while holy priests and nuns like those of the FFI are falsely accused by the very same, and then destroyed.
Dear Father, Of course your loyal followers know that you would never use the term 'Banana Pontificate' to describe the current papacy. I myself hope to live long enough to see a 'Spaghetti Pontificate', headed by a traditional Italian prelate, preferably of noble Roman extraction, who will choose the name Pius XIII. Just a thought...
To spill the beans - rivelare un segreto ? Vuotare il sacco ?
I vote for more than just a dash of Anglo-Saxon openness. We need an overdose of it! Abuse in the name of obedience, with trumped charges and pre-conceived outcomes, is the trademark of the Bergoglio pontificate. How abused Christ Himself is in the faithful members of His Body by the bigotry against the orthodox that we are witnessing. And, once again, how correct was Archbishop Lefebvre to refuse to subject himself and his foundation to such unmanly and unchristian persecution. Had the Society of St. Pius X accepted Francis's "sweet musings" a while back, now they would be scrambling for cover and for ways to preserve both the Faith of the Ages and their communal life. Michael Matt of "The Remnant" said it best when he printed, in a black-edged box in his paper, the following at the time of Francis's "invitation" to canonical regularity: BISHOP FELLAY, DON'T DO IT! No more than that---and it was sufficient and excellent advice.
"When the interrogation of each Visitated individual Victim is taking place, that Victim should be accompanied by a sympathetic and acute canon lawyer who has been carefully briefed on the particular circumstances."
Agreed. Two difficulties, however. Finding competent canon lawyers who would have time for this kind of work is difficult. Paying canon lawyers means the consecrated religious must obtain permission from his or her superior. Generally, religious superiors are inclined to discourage this kind of representation. (These observations are based on direct experience.)
Br. John-Bede Pauley, O.S.B.
I completely agree with you. Fairness and justice demand such a provision.
The blatant disregard for canonical norms (all too evident in Traditionis Custodes) is in part, I suspect, a mixture of Jesuit authoritarianism (blind obedience like a cadaver and all that) and Peronism.
I recall a Dominican observing that, for the Thomistic tradition in which he was schooled, blind obedience makes as much sense as blind learning.
Mind you, Cardinal Pell tried to introduce some Anglo-Saxon openness into Vatican finances - and look what happened to him!
Of course, the Franciscans have been short of cash since the massive theft in 2014. At the time, I wondered how they had so much money in the first place? Aren't they supposed to be married to Lady Poverty?
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