Remember the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate? Remember how the guy the Vatican put in charge of the whole demolition project, Fr. Volpi, tried to squeeze them for real assets valued at a total of about 30 million Euros? And how Fr. Volpi accused Fr. Manelli, the saintly founder of the FFIs with embezzlement and fraud? Yeah, that’s what these people are like. Welp, the court, after a thorough investigation by disinterested third parties, discovered that the assets belonged perfectly legitimately to other people – a pair of lay groups associated with the FFIs, but not them – and that Fr. Volpi was guilty of defamation. He was ordered to return the assets to the people who owned them – from whom he had already confiscated them – pay 20,000 E in fines and issue a press release making a full apology and retraction of his slanders.
What did he do? Well, I don’t think we heard much more about it after, and it’s a little hazy what happened to the property (since Volpi also tried to abolish or suspend all the lay associations of the FFIs) but we know what he did do next: he died. And that, we thought, was that.
It was a massive scandal, of course, but it has not budged the Vatican on their course of destroying the FFIs, not one bit. Even though there has been no credible reason given from the demolition, and even the vague claims of financial misdeeds have been totally discredited by the courts, and no accusation against the FFIs or the sisters has ever been formally made, the steam roller just keeps on rolling. (And how quaint the “crypto-lefebvrian and definitely traditionalist drift” slander sounds now that the pope has gone to such a lot of trouble to be seen to be making mooney-eyes at the SSPX.) The new Commissioner has now said he’s aiming at rewriting the order’s constitutions – mainly to write out their special devotion and consecration to Our Lady… because lawks a mercy! Can’t be having that sort of thing these days, now can we?! (If you’re interested in seeing what the “secret vow” inuendos were about, click here to read Fr. Manelli’s “Traccia Mariana” the order’s Marian manifesto, that, in my opinion, is what all this fuss is really about.)
What we didn’t know was that the V’s were having another go at the money.
The heritage is not insignificant: about 59 buildings, 17 parcels of land, 5 photovoltaic plants, 102 cars, more numerous bank accounts. These were places seized by the earlier Commissioner [Volpi]. The judge decided that they had to be dissequestrati [de-sequestered] and riaffidati [returned] to the associations of lay people who were the owners, because of the absolute vow of poverty practiced by the FFI.
Rejected by the ordinary justice, the Congregation [for Religious] has increased pressure against the 83 year old Father Manelli, forced by the Vatican into a form of seclusion… Among other things, Father Manelli, recently, has been formally asked on behalf of the Pope, to confirm his loyalty and obedience to the Pope himself. Which he did.
About a fortnight ago Father Manelli has, however, received a letter from the Congregation for Religious in which he was asked to put in the availability of Church temporal goods now under the control of lay associations.
Yep. It’s the same package of assets that Volpi tried to get out of them by main force, backed up by threats. Now isn’t it funny that even after the secular courts found Volpi to be a fraudster and a thug, the Braz de Aviz gang didn’t budge an inch on the whole Crush Kill Destroy routine with the FFIs. The steamroller just kept on crushing. And now, a few years later – we get the Vatican just casually saying, “Well, come on now. Just give us the money, OK? Don’t be difficult. Hand it over, there’s a good chap.”
Does that number sound familiar? 30 million Euros…
Oh, right! Parolin got 30 million out of the Knights of Malta, after basically exactly the same kind of take-over bid, just bullying it out of them, using disaffected “dissidents” from within to push the claims. And now we’ve got the New Improved Knights of Malta. We know that Parolin is his own man and is not, in point of fact, a Franciscreature, so we may have seen the formation of a new faction in all that.
Well, Cardinal Braz de Aviz certainly is a Francisman… in spades. The Brazilian head of the Congregation for Religious – with his buddy the new Francisappointment, José Rodríguez Carballo of odious ill-fame – is the one under whom the FFI persecution really started.