The background for Vatican intervention in the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate
December 19, 2013
The Vatican’s decision to appoint an “apostolic commissioner” to govern the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (FFI), and the restriction of FFI access to the traditional Latin liturgy, has prompted some traditionalists to claim a “persecution” of the Franciscan order. Writing in Catholic World Report, Michael Miller provides a more balanced view of the situation.
The Vatican intervened only after several respected FFI members appealed to Rome for help, citing difficulties with the leadership of the order. A subsequent apostolic visitation confirmed the troubles. In response to a questionnaire submitted to FFI members as part of the Vatican inquiry, 61% of the respondents said that there were significant problems with the FFI leadership, and most said that the problems were not likely to be resolved without Vatican intervention.
Father Stefano Manelli, the FFI founder, had governed with a heavy hand, Miller reports, and more recently has been slow to cooperate with the Vatican’s apostolic commissioner, Father Fidenzio Volpi. Questions have also been raised about Father Manelli’s handling of property donated to the FFI, probably hastening the Vatican intervention.
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