In recent years, the religious order has combined its devotion to St. Francis with a strong focus on the traditional liturgy.
The decree issued by the Vatican “ministry” of religious orders aims to “protect and promote the internal unity of religious Institutes and fraternal communion, adequate preparation for religious and consecrated life, the organisation of apostolic activities” and “the proper management of worldly goods.”
The decision comes after Mgr. Vito Angelo Todisco’s apostolic visit which began in July last year.
Capuchin friar Fidenzio Volpi has been appointed “apostolic commissioner” and will assume temporary leadership of the order.
The decree states that Pope Francis has ordered the friars “to celebrate the liturgy according to the ordinary rite.” This means they will have to celebrate mass in the local languages.
“Any individual religious and/or religious community” that wishes to celebrate the Tridentine Latin mass – which Benedict XVI liberalised with the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum – “will need to receive authorisation from the competent authorities.”
After Ratzinger issued the Motu Proprio in 2007, the Franciscans f the Immaculate decided to adopt the “extraordinary form” of the Roman rite, otherwise known as the Tridentine Mass, as their main rite. Indeed, the order’s women religious only used this rite.
But some traditionalist groups exploited this so the Congregation of Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate tried to act as mediators in the unsuccessful negotiations between the Vatican and the Lefebvrians of the Society of St. Pius X, Fr. Alfonso Maria Bruno, the order’s spokesman, told Vatican Insider.
According to Fr. Bruno, in a survey carried out during the apostolic visit, the vast majority of the order’s members had said they did not agree that the Old Latin Rite should be the exclusive form used for mass celebrations, “particularly in the pastoral care programmes of Italian parishes and in the missions.”
In some cases, the Old Rite did not go down particularly well. The spokesman for the Congregation of Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate said that “if people don’t understand, the message doesn’t get through.”
“The friars accept the providential decisions of the Apostolic See with respectful obedience and a supernatural spirit and as children of the Church offer their complete cooperation,” Fr. Bruno concluded.