The Pope Muzzles the Movements: The Only Surprise Is That He Has Only Done It Now.
14 Giugno 2021
Dear friends and enemies of Stilum Curiae, we are happy to reprint an article that appeared at Korazym.org, a site you know well, on the topic of ecclesial movements and the General Decree just issues by the Dicastery for Laity and the Family. What is surprising is actually not so much the decision to issue the document, but rather the fact that it has happened only in the eighth year of the pontificate. The reigning pontiff, as those who follow the Vatican know well, is one who could be called in English a “control freak” – a person obsessed with control. Our network of informants who cover the Sacred Palaces and its environs tell us about the control exercised over phones and the internet. There are cardinals who arrive in office with their own internet key in order to avoid using the Vatican network. Some days ago a friend who works and lives in the Vatican sent me a message, lamenting that the articles on Stilum Curiae were not opening. I advised him to try with his smartphone, and there everything was normal…Now, it is not surprising that he has extended the web of control over the most living, free, and flourishing thing in the Church in recent decades, but rather that he has waited so long to do it. The facts demonstrate how much clericalism is powerful and pervasive in its manifestations, all empty talk aside. Enjoy your reading.
“Pope Francis’ Bomb” is what La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana and Il Tempo are calling the General Decree Le associazioni di fedeli issued by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life, which regulates the exercise of government in the international associations of the faithful, both private and public, and the other entities with juridical personality that are subject to the direct oversight of the same Dicastery, published in the June 11 Daily Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office N. 375, signed on June 3 by the Secretary Fr. Alexandre Awi Mello, I.Sch., and the Prefect, Cardinal Kevin Farrell (who, living in the same house of serial homosexual predator former Cardinal and former priest Theodore McCarrick, never saw anything strange or abnormal). The Decress intervenes in the most intrusive way in the internal life of the free associations of the faithful. But what exactly does it mean to be “free”?!
I know all too well what has been explained by Nico Spuntoni in the article for La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana (found below). And so, at the time of the foundation of Korazym.org on 4 April 2003 (in the wake of World Youth Day in Toronto and the Meeting in Assisi) for a group of young aspiring communicators belonging to the Conventual Franciscal youth – who in this way were given a practical school of journalism, following which almost all of them entered the profession – I followed the wise advice of my late spiritual father (a Conventual Franciscan) and I did not formalize the project as an international association of the faithful. This move was frowned upon by the leadership of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, who have always refused projects in common with the media or entities owned or controlled by them, because – they said – we were not “their thing” (that is, not controllable).
Now, after having emphasized this, with regard to the “bomb” it must be said that the discussion about movements, lay associations, and new communities is a chapter that ought to be analyzed “case by case.” In saying this we are right on topic, since “diversity” is a term used in the pontifical document with a negative meaning. In the sense that, not all the movements, lay associations, and new communities have used the same instruments in the same way.
We think that each of these different realities has its own story, since each has been founded on a particular individual charism, which is inevitably born, grows, and develops in a path that ought to lead always to the Lord, remaining faithful to Catholicity at the same time. The good that exists in a lay reality will certainly not be lost, if the foundations are solid. Foundations on which strongholds of faith have been constructed, which will not be disturbed by this “update” by Pope Francis.
On the other hand, we are convinced that not all movements, lay associations, and new communities are born well, and not all have followed their path well. Some have shipwrecked, others have had difficulties respecting the rules, others have difficulties recognizing themselves as part of the Church like all the others in equal measure. Holiness is always good, charisms are sometimes good, but sometimes not, above all when they create uncertainty and confuse the faithful.
It was always our conviction (and we reflect on it every day, in our communicating through Korazym.org for more than 18 years) that every reality, founded on a new charism, ought to have the task of “carrying” the faithful to Christ by means of the Church. However, in some cases the faithful have been led to detach themselves from the ecclesial family itself, creating in some ecclesial realities a useless and harmful “sub-group of a pseudo-Church” which was never a good experience for anyone. In some cases even the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments had its “work to do” with the approval of statutes and the verification of the competence of the same. We cannot forget the glaring cases of the past regarding statutes presented to the Congregation in charge which were not the same as the statutes that were actually followed, which had been presented for approval ad experimentum.
In our opinion, if a movement “distracts” the attention of the faithful from the rules of a Creed, which every Christian and Catholic ought to respect, this is a not a good thing. Reforms of movements, lay associations, and new communities are welcome, if all this leads to the transparency of a path of Faith, which remains within the ecclesial family, without individual protagonists who feel that they are free and exempt from respect for clear rules, present for some time within the ecclesial family.
We want to believe that the good of the past cannot be erased by a reform that imposes new provisions. What is good is also solid and will survive the test of time and adversity. We know that the first examination of integrity to which a movement is subjected is surviving its founder. Now we know that the second examination is surviving the bombardment of the reforms of Pope Francis. That is to say, anyone who survives this Pontificate will be able to say it is ready to survive any cataclysm. Meanwhile, as believers, we pray that the Lord may give us the strength of resilience to be patient and also shorten the time of our trial. And let’s pray for the Pope, always.
Francis’ Bomb on the Movements: Term Limits
by Nico Spuntoni
La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, 12 June 2021
By means of a decree, the Vatican is entering into the organization of international associations of the faithful. A term limit has been introduced for the members of the governing organs of these movements, founders included. And the reason given is to avoid “self-referentiality” and “true and proper abuses.” Thus closes an era begun by John Paul II in 1985 in Loreto.
Term limits, having been scrapped by the Five Star [Cinque Stelle] Movement that consecrated them to success, now lands in ecclesiastical policy for the governance of international associations of the faithful. A new general decree of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life orders the introduction of a maximum duration of five years for each term within the central organ of government of these associations. Furthermore, a maximum limit of ten years has been set for the exercise of any particular office of government: anyone who has held a position for at least ten years cannot be re-elected, even after taking a break from office.
The decree, which enters into force three months after its promulgation, has received the approval of the Holy Father. These novelties will obligate the associations of the faithful to convoke their respective general assemblies to modify any aspects of their statutes that are not in accord with the content of the provision. In the Explanatory Note published by the Dicastery, the spirit of the changes is explained, which maintains that “experience has shown that a change in generations inside governing bodies through a rotation of responsibilities benefits the vitality of the association.” The Note further does not spare a pull of the ears which facilitates the understanding of the provision: “Not infrequently, for those called to govern, the absence of limits in terms of office favors forms of appropriation of the charism, personalization, centralization and expressions of self-referentiality which can easily cause serious violations of personal dignity and freedom, and even real abuses. Furthermore,” the Note continues, “bad government inevitably creates conflicts and tensions which injure communion and weaken missionary dynamism.” Founders can be dispensed from limits if given specific permission from the Dicastery.
This is a provision that has important implication for the life of the Church, since it affects – among many others – realities like the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, and the John XXIII [Movement] but also entities and juridical personalities subject to the supervision of the Dicastery like the Neo-Catechumenal Way. Although in the explanatory note continuity with the past is emphasized, it is not difficult to interpret this provision as a re-dimensioning of the influence of the ecclesial movements. The Jesuit Ulrich Rodhe, Dean of the Faculty of Canon Law at the Pontifical Gregorian University, is the author of a comment on the decree published in L’Osservatore Romano, in which he writes that “up until now the organs of government in the associations of the faithful have not been the object of many canonical norms” and that “the associations enjoy a high level of freedom – perhaps too high – in what concerns the way of conferring offices and the maximum duration of terms of office.” In particular, the sign given by the decree of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life is of great interest to the Italian Church in a synodal climate.
The downsizing of the weight of lay associations, in effect, may be interpreted as the closing of the season opened at the ecclesial Conference in Loreto in 1985 by Saint John Paul II, who decided to focus on the movements to restore balance to the Church, clashing with the Italian episcopate aligned with the positions of Ballestero and Martini. This arm wrestling continued in the Synod of 1987, when the then-Archbishop of Milan openly argued against the Wojtylian strategy, maintaining that the movements ought to “let themselves be subjected to the evaluation and judgment of the bishops.” This was a very different opinion from the one manifested by the Polish pope who suggested to the leaders of Sant’Egidio – who were intending to found a secular institute in the 1980s – that they should remain lay people and not place themselves “under the umbrella of the Congregation for Religious.” The predilection of John Paul II for the movements was so indigestible to Cardinal Martini that it justified Martini’s deposition to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints against John Paul’s canonization. Martini argued that John Paul’s excessive support for lay associations led him to “de facto neglect the local Churches.”
Pope Francis’ Bomb on CL, Sant’Egidio, Neo-Cat: Obligatory Resignation of their leaders after 10 years – Il Tempo, 11 June 2021
Away with Julian Carron from CL, Away with Chico Arguello as the head of Neo-Cat. Away with Marco Impagliazzo from Sant’Egidio. Away with Salvatore Martinez from Rinnovamento dello spirito. Away with Chiara Mirante from Nuovi Orizzonti. Pope Francis is wreaking havoc on Catholic movements and associations by imposing a decennial spoil system on all of them by decree. By means of a decree that has already been signed, no one will be able to remain in office at the head of any movement for more than ten years, because otherwise [so the decree claims] inner circles are created and the charism is abused.
The same rules obviously apply for all the others, even if Catholic Action already changes heads every three years – and all the associations and ecclesial movements that call themselves Catholic (something which can only be done with the explicit authorization of the Vatican). In the history of the Church no Pope has ever done this or intervened so heavily in the internal life of the free associations of the faithful. But Francis has always been wary of the ecclesial movements, and few have managed to enter into his heart….
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