Saturday, 14 December 2013

On Fr Lombardi’s Defence of Fr Volpi

I feel I have to disagree with Fr Lombardi on what the letter calling for the ousting of Fr Volpi demonstrates. According to The News Tribune, Fr Lomardi has stated that,

"While the situation seems difficult and painful, it appears the letter is yet another demonstration that the naming of a commissioner was necessary and that he knows what to do with the powers he has.” 

With all due respect for Fr Lombardi, the letter (and the associations of lay Catholics collecting signatures to ask for the dismissal of Fr Volpi) can be equally seen as showing that there are concerns beyond the FI Order about the actions taken by Rome against the FI; that people perceive an overly punitive (and therefore destructive) attitude towards a fast-growing Order of younger people who are in fact living in full communion with the Holy Father and the Church’s Sacred Magisterium. That being so, unless the FI was to state as an Order (as do the SSPX) that they reject the Novus Ordo as a faithful expression of the Catholic Faith and that they do not accept the documents of Vatican II, no action needed to be taken in the arenas of liturgy, ordinations etc., but only in regard to (any) financial irregularities.

Further, any scandal goes beyond what is actually being done to the FI to the reasons behind it; reasons which may easily be seen by some as demonstrating two things; first, an aversion to Tradition (which is problematic since Tradition is a vehicle of Divine Revelation as Vatican II reminded us); second of all, a fearful, irrational over-protectiveness of the Novus Ordo.  Why may the actions be seen as demonstrating a fearful, over-defensive, irrational attitude? Because the Novus Ordo was not being criticised or rejected by the FI; rather, the Order was happily living in union with those who celebrate according to the Novus Ordo; was not denying its celebration to members of the Order, and was not writing or speaking against the Novus Ordo. Even if a majority of their priests were to celebrate using the Usus Antiquior it would not suggest anything other than a preference for the said Form. I prefer it, and I know many who do. We do not reject the legitimacy or validity of the Novus Ordo; we do not call for it to be banned; we simply enjoy the depth of the prayers, the expressive ritual and historical pedigree of the Usus Antiquior. What is wrong with that?

I repeat again what I have said before: those who, for whatever reason and whatever authority in the Church, would like to see the Usus Antiquior banned or re-restricted ought first to heed the Word of God in scripture: “Do not interfere with these men but let them go. If this movement of theirs is of human origin it will break up of its own accord, but if it is from God you will not only be unable to stop them, you might find yourselves fighting God." cf Acts 5.

A Comment Received...(copied and pasted as received) on the previous Post:

Reading the life and trajectory of Francis and his followers, the First Franciscans, I discovered a lot of detail and historical facts that lead to the conclusion that the Franciscan order since its early beginnings was full of contradictions and internal power struggles. And this has led to the formation few variations of the Franciscan order. 
Recently I read that there is a petition in support of this Franciscans that is being circulated in few blogs. A letter of petition in support of a particular order of the Catholic Church is perhaps not the best approach in this case. If the Pope decided to intervene is probably because there is a serious problem of internal fight among these Franciscans. If some Catholic Bloggers think they can use letters of petition in support of this Franciscans/, they are challenging Pope Francis. I am wondering to what extent it is the right thing to do? The issues of the Catholic Church cannot be dealt as if there were matters of Local government. The same approach has been advocated by those Relativists who demand abortions or women's rights to the priesthood. These are the same people who claim that the Church is old fashioned and should be reformed. The Dogma of Christ is clear on one thing: There is truth and the rest is error.

...and a Response:
I agree that the Franciscan Order has fallen into several variations since the time of St Francis. This may have arisen from internal divisions, but it is also possible that it arose being blessed with several charisms. 
A petitioning letter may or not be the best way to voice concerns, but it is very difficult to find another mode in which several (or numerous) persons can seek the same end on the same issue at the same time.  I personally cannot see this as a challenge to Pope Francis himself. If there are things which need to be sorted out in the FI --which would include the mishandling of temporal goods of the Order-- then it is clear someone had to be appointed by Francis to rectify the problems. However, Fr Volpi’s actions as they are currently being related to us might well be called 'draconian' by some, and as such, unhelpful to the overall situation. I have to add that if it is Tradition that is truly the bug-bear here, then the FSSP, ICKSP et al are all in danger of the same kind of intervention, to say nothing of Diocesan priests such as myself who faithfully celebrate both forms of Mass and preach according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

I agree that the Church does not work as though things were a matter of local government alone, which is why talk of extending powers to Episcopal Conferences is worrying. That said, centralised power (as the summit and model of authority?) ought to be clear, firm and charitable. We can only wait to see if this charitable manner is indeed the case here; that Fr Volpi has acted and is still acting in sound charity. While the issue/situation is still in play, it is impossible to say.


  1. Fr Lombardi must think us stupid to make such a vacuous statement.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Lynda.
      I think Fr Lombardi's statement is unlikely to encourage anyone or bring calm to the situation; it is rather more likely to add fuel to the fire, sadly.


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