The Radical Catholic is pleased to present the following exclusive interview with Brother Alexis Bugnolo, author of the From Rome blog and editor of The Franciscan Archive.
|Br. Alexis Bugnolo|
RC: Br. Alexis, what initially drew you to the Order of St. Francis?
Br. A: When I was but a lad, I had the habit of watching TV. I played a game with my brother to see who could identify the good guy and the bad guy first. To win this game, I observed many characters in many movies and tried to synthesize the most accurate criterion to make such a judgement. I determined that it was this: that good guys always told the truth, but bad guys did not always tell the truth. That enabled me to win the game with my brother. After some time, I came to the conclusion that the most noble thing to do was always tell the truth. And I began to love truth for its own sake.
When I heard the Gospel one Sunday at Mass: "I have come to give witness to the truth and all who are on the side of truth, harken to My Voice!" I realized that I must take Our Lord Jesus Christ, whom I already knew as God, to be my leader and teacher. It was months later when I heard the Gospel again, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life", that I felt a terribly strong desire to follow Him and remain loyal to Him forever. But I did not know how. I knew of no religious. I only wanted to imitate the Apostles in a general sort of way.
In college, a member of the Third Order of St. Francis put the Little Flowers of St. Francis in my hands. I was taken by St Francis' example, his love for Christ Crucified and most of all with his logical argument: for St. Francis had said, "If a great king were to offer you a globe-sized lump of gold in exchange for a lump of gold in your hand, would you refuse him? How much more, if Our Lord Jesus Christ would offer you eternal life if you sacrificed your own life to follow after Him?" I found the poverello's logic perfect and indisputable. From then on, I wanted to be a Franciscan. But I did not know of any who were faithful and not Modernists. So when a Carmelite Hermit told me about the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, I joined them.
RC: You recently announced your intention to found a Franciscan monastery of the Ancient Observance, and that you are currently accepting applications from men who desire to live a life of prayer and penance with special dedication to the ancient form of the Roman Rite, i.e. the traditional Latin Mass. What role do you see the Latin Mass playing in the restoration of religious life in the Church?
Br. A: There is only one true Faith, and God has preserved in the Church only one form of the Latin Rite throughout all the ages, which embodies that faith. St. Francis, desiring to be faithful to the Lord Jesus, desired to have this ancient liturgy which comes from St. Peter as the rite of his own order. He obtained this from Pope Innocent III, who was delighted with this inspiration, since that rite had fallen into disuse and remained extant in only three copies of liturgical books, one of which was unusable, one of which was kept in the private chapel of the Pope, and one of which he gave to St. Francis to be copied. His order copied this and spread it to the whole world. It was the Franciscan Order which compiled these books into one tome, and termed it the Missale Regulare, the Missal required by the Rule of St. Francis. When St. Pius V, 300 years later, in his Apostolic Constitution of 1570 made the Ancient Roman Rite the liturgical norm for the dioceses of the Latin Rite, he took the Franciscan Missale and renamed it the Missale Romanum. This Missale God the Holy Spirit, by His Divine providence, chose to spread the Faith to the whole world, from East to West. What better tool for evangelization and conversion can anyone propose, but that which God Himself and His Saints have chosen? There is absolutely no argument against such facts.
RC: Everyone is familiar with the harrowing repression suffered by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate for what has been labelled a "traditionalist drift." Given that you are seeking to found a monastic community dedicated to the traditional Latin Mass and a strict observance of the Rule of St. Francis, are you expecting and/or prepared to undergo similar trials?
Br. A: You have to be.
RC: Br. Alexis, your blog From Rome has devoted substantial space to uncovering and documenting the "Team Bergoglio" Affair, and maintains a detailed chronology of events beginning with the release of Austen Ivereigh's biography of Pope Francis in November of last year. Could you give a brief summary of the key points in the "Team Bergoglio" Affair for our readers, explaining what is at stake and why it is important?
Br. A: Austin Ivereigh alleges that 9 Cardinals collaborated to garnish 25 votes for Cardinal Bergoglio in the first ballot of the 2013 Conclave on March 12 of that year. Their mutually shared intention and collaboration is morally equivalent to an agreement or pact to vote for Bergoglio and not to vote for anyone else. Those who participated by soliciting or promising votes were excommunicated in virtue of the papal law Universi Dominici Gregis of Pope John Paul II, paragraph 81, with ipso facto excommunication. Since that law does not exempt the papal election from the general norms of canon law, and since the 1983 Code does not exempt papal laws from its own norms, unless specified, any irregularity must be judged according to the 1983 Code, which declares invalidly elected those who were excommunicated at the time of the election and/or won their election by counting votes of excommunicated electors. It is highly morally improbable that Cardinal Bergoglio did not collaborate in the work of this group of Cardinals, whom Ivereigh names "Team Bergoglio". Thus, because, as Bergoglio admitted in March of this year, he was elected by no more than 80 votes, 76 being the necessary - thus of the approx 20 cardinals who did promise their votes - it is highly morally improbable that less than 4 met the conditions for excommunication. Thus, it is highly probable that the election was canonically invalid. Thus, the Cardinals should move an investigation and hold a trial, in virtue of the authority granted them in the papal law, paragraphs 4-5.
RC: How would you describe the reactions you have received to your reporting on the affair?
Br. A: Silence from the hierarchy. Consternation from the faithful.
RC: Br. Alexis, you were the initiator of the #Y4Tc (A Year for True Conversion) campaign, offered as a counter-measure to Pope Francis' Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Why were you compelled to launch this campaign?
Br. A: There is nothing more disgusting to my soul than to use religion for the sake of political goals, for it denigrates the Divine Majesty and makes of God a tool for men, which is an abomination.
RC: Now that the Papal Bull Misericordiae Vultus has been issued, do you see your initial concerns confirmed?
Br. A: Yes, as in that Bull there is no call for repentance for sinners, only for mafia, pilgrims and confessors. There is a radical absence of proper theology in it, and it looks like a number of hands attempted to rewrite it to pull it away as much as possible from patent heretical statements. It remains silly, nevertheless, to laud Vatican II with anything, let alone a year of mercy without repentance and recognition of sin which must be repented of.
|St. Bonaventure's Commentaries|
on the Four Books of Sentences of
Master Peter Lombard
RC: Br. Alexis, you are also the editor and publisher of The Franciscan Archive, a web-based resource dedicated to St. Francis and Franciscan spirituality. One of the major accomplishments of the Archive has been the publication of the first volume of St. Bonaventure's Commentaries on the Four Books of Sentences of Master Peter Lombard. When can readers expect further publications? Will this work be continued if your plans with the monastery move ahead?
Br. A: The first tome was published last fall; God willing, the following tomes every two years. Yes, I would expect the friars of the monastery to want to study Bonaventure and make him the patron of studies.
RC: Br. Alexis, thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to answer these questions.
Br. A: You're very welcome.