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Brother can you spare a dime? – updates and the latest on the FFIs

Received the following via email from a kind donor: “Hilary, I hope that your new home is comfortable and geologically stable.”

Just the basics, right? You just need to live in a place where the ground does not experience the urge to periodically behave like the surface of a trampoline. (There was another biggish one in Norcia this week. just a 3.6… just enough to remind us all…)

But down here in the Perugian lowlands, things on the home front have settled pretty well. Not too many boxes left, and we’ve moved on to large scale landscaping, so great is the confidence here that the house won’t fall down.

Like everything in life right now, it ain’t fancy, but it works. At some point, I’m going to make a trip to the local Mercatino Usato – a chain of second hand shops a bit like Value Village, that are often filled with beautiful old things that Modernian Italians don’t like anymore. There are often lovely old religious objects.

I’ve set up the oratory (in Catholic, a “chapel” is where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved; an oratory is room reserved for prayer.) Obviously it’s not done yet, but it’s pretty good. The acoustics are pretty nice too. All that marble floor.

The book is toodling along. I rewrote a chapter this week, and am almost finished the other one, the one I started with. That’s already about 9500 words.

And of course, the Francismachine just keeps on rolling.

Heard the latest?

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.

This is the latest from our friend Marco Tosatti:

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.

It crossed my mind; you can sure buy a lot of Conclave votes with that kind of dosh, hey?


It’s never dull. But it certainly does keep one busy.

Today I was going to head up to Norcia to take a wee break. I received a really happy and welcome bit of news from the monks that their new chapel is ready to go, and the first Mass is tomorrow. Bouncing up and down in my seat, I immediately set about dropping everything to take off for the rest of the weekend up to the hills…

Aaaand …


I got up early, sang the morning Office, fed the kitties, tidied up and threw some stuff in a bag, and headed for the village to get the train. Had to stop by the wifi bar to check email because my home internet is finished, and thought… I’ll just take a look at the accounts…

Nope. Not going to Norcia this weekend.


I’m not completely broke and I’m still doing articles for Mike Matt at the Remnant, but the book is really taking up huge swathes of time. It’s for pay, but (sensibly) I’m not going to see a red cent until I’ve actually produced something. (Apparently the person I’m working for knows writers, and understands what motivates them.)

I’ve been putting this off, but I guess we’re at the three month mark. I’m trying to keep the blegging down to quarterly. But the time’s come at last.

If you’ve enjoyed the coverage and commentary, snark and laughs, I’d sure appreciate some help. Anything you might want to throw into the tip jar would be most welcome.



10 thoughts on “Brother can you spare a dime? – updates and the latest on the FFIs”

  1. Hilary White says:

    Dunno. Never met him.

  2. Richardson says:

    Is Fr Manelli as charismatic as Fr Corapi was?

  3. louiseyvette says:

    Lovely oratory. 🙂 Sending in my subscription to the blog!

  4. Hilary White says:

    The money certainly is a factor, but it’s clearly also ideological. They did more or less the same routine to the Bon Pasteur, a group of TLM priests who were supposedly being sheltered by Ecclesia Dei… except not so much. There was just a little too much theological traddiness there – as opposed to the harmless “We just love the old Mass for the pretty sparkles” Traddiness – and lo and behold, an election was overturned by Rome and a more Vatican II-friendly superior imposed. No money changed hands.

  5. TLM says:

    Of course Michael…….Its. All. About. The. Money. If you look back on Church history, this kind of thing has been happening like forever. Funny how Opus Dei donated literally millions to Rome and a very short time later……..Wella! They are in! This was under John Paul ll. This kind of maneuvering has been going on in the Church probably since the beginning. Maybe not to this extent, but never the less it has. I hope Bishop Fellay is not so naive. He. Wants. Their. Money.

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  8. Hilary White says:

    Geoff, at the top of every page you’ll find the Paypal donate button. (To stave off any questions, no, there’s no other platform for donating.)

  9. Geoff Kiernan says:

    How can I make a small donation?

  10. Jim Dorchak says:

    Hello Hillary

    I skimmed over the ‘ “Traccia Mariana” the order’s Marian manifesto” and did not find anything that would give cause or alarm. Can you please give your detailed opinion as to where the “Implied” offense lies? Thank you in advance. Jim Dorchak (Chile South America)

  11. Michael Dowd says:

    “The pope has gone to such a lot of trouble to be seen to be making mooney-eyes at the SSPX.)”

    Making eyes at the money maybe?

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