Monday, March 25, 2013

Letter From Rome

We received the below email with permission to publish and it is so thorough we are publishing it below unedited and in its entirety.   Our impression from this mail is one of familiarity.  The IVE has the same problems worldwide.  These aren't isolated experiences.  

I just want to let you know of my experience with IVE as a former novice and seminarian in Rome (Segni and Montefiscone). I found the Institute to be very arrogant and there was a distinct lack of charity there. The Institute believe they are the only faithful order in the Church and that everyone else (especially diocesan priests) are unfaithful, or at least lacking in something. They will constantly criticise other orders within the Church. The following are some of my concerns with the Institute in point form:

•  There is no clear distinction between the interior and exterior forum - superiors will frequently act as spiritual directors and confessors to postulants, novices and less regularly seminarians. This is in breach of what the Church lays out for priestly formation.

•  The Institute frequently breaks its own constitution and spirituality guidelines. For example, the constitutios state that the novice master and seminary rector muct be a minimum of 5 years fully professed and be at least 30 years old. The last 3 novice masters in the Italian province do not meet these basic requirements. The present novice master was appointed just months after his ordination.

•  The constitutions and spirituality state that Sundays and solemnities must be celebrated as feasts but we work every Sunday; in fact in my time with the Institute we worked every Sunday and even on Christmas day and Easter Sunday which I found ridiculous.

•  The Institute take a 4th vow of slavery to Our Lady but in practice there is no clear evidence of this devotion. In novitiate we did pray the rosary as a community daily but in the seminary it was left up to the discretion of each seminarian. But other than this there was no clear visible signs of our committment to live lives of slavery and devotion to our Blessed Mother.

•  The first thing to be sacrificed in the daily routine was Eucharistic adoration - on days where things were busy, or we were travelling somewhere, or something unexpected cropped up, the first thing to be cancelled was adoration. I've lost count of the amount of times adoration was cancelled or shortened ven though the constitutions and spirituality state we must have at least an hour of adoration daily. Interestingly, I cannot recall work ever being cancelled, although I can remember many instances of it being extended.

•  When we travelled to St. Peter's for papal Masses we never queued along with the other members of the public, seminarians and priests queuing. We were always told by our superiors to slip into the queue close to the front. This often led to friction with people who had been queuing for several hours. I was always very embarrassed by this.

•  We were told not to speak to women (even our own Sisters within the Institute) and we were frequently told in talks that the greatest obstacle to our vocation was our family.

•  There was a culture of spying within the Institute which was encouraged by superiors and this led to division and mistrust among members. There were a number of clicks or groups within the novitiate and seminary; those who were willing to spy and report on others (even lie) received special treatment, whilst life was mae extremely difficult for the others and obstacles were placed in the way of their progression.

•  There was a punishment system where you received an asterix for being late or a minor infraction of the rules and these led to puishments such as a weeks service in the kitchen. Interestingly, the "spies" never seemed to receive any punishments.

•  In the seminary the superiors would publish on the notice board what each individual seminarian was costing the Institute, putting pressure on seminarians to ask friends and family to donate money to the Institute.

•  There was clear favouritism within the Institute - some seminarians even got single rooms whilst others where placed 10 and 12 to a room.

•  The priests an deacons ate separately to the seminarians and received better quality food than the seminarians (in full view of the seminarians).

•  There is  huge drop-out rate within the Institute which is not publicised by the Institute. Whenever someone decides to leave or is asked to leave, the superior in his night talk to novices/seminarians often speaks very badly of the person who leaves, on some occasions even accusing them of betraing their vocation and calling (as though the only genuine call was to the Intitute).

•  The Institue's philosophy and theology is largely based on St.Thomas Aquinas. In itself this is good but the Institute hold St. Thomas' work above reproach, at times I felt they placed him above the Magisterium of the Church. For example, in class if you challenged St. Thomas' opinion on the Immaculate Conception or the infusion of the soul, you were attacked for your comments. The Institute would never concede that St. Thomas did not reach the truth about the Immaculate Conception as the Church now understands it.

•  Some favoured seminarians were actually teaching some of the modules in the seminary, especially the philosophy modules, even though they had no qualification to do so.

•  The Institute is not open to even the smallest criticisms; they are extremely proud and arrogant.

•  There is a lot of talk about God's justice and about punishment but very little mention about the love and mercy of God.

•  There is no privacy: you share a small bedroom with 10 to 12 others and a study room with 10 to 12 others also; emails are read and I suspect phonecalls monitored.

•  The Institute goes on trips that only a few can afford (i.e. Argentina) and so those who can afford it head off for a month whilst those who can't must remain behind and continue to work in the seminary. Many get to go home twice a year on holiday whilst others, especially the Africans can only go home once every 2 years.

•  The Institute claim they set up missions even in places where there is no hope of benefactors or vocations, but this is the absolute minority. In information talks we were told by the Provincial and General Superior that priority is always given to setting up missions in areas where benefactors for the Institute and future vocations were plentiful.

•  Many seminarians and novices engage in physical mortifications such as scourging and wearing hair-slips around their waists. I have no problem with this practice but I alway preferred meditation on the Passion in adoration to this (as requested by Our Lord to St. Faustina).

•  Many novices and seminarians in the Insitute are very unhappy but are just trying to keep their head down until ordination. Many are living in fear of being kicked out if they don't appear to go along with everything in the Institute.

These are just a few of the points I would like to make to anyone considering a vocation with the Institute. Whilst the doctrine taught within the Institute is for most part orthodox please don't be fooled by this because the truth without love is meaningless, and there is very little charity or love evident within the Institute. I know because I've experienced this first-hand. No doubt members of the Institute may try to dispute what I've written here but I know that everything I've written is fact because I've experienced this first-hand. You have my permission to publish these points on your blog. I will not give my full name for the sole reason that many of my friends are still in the Institute and I don't want to make life anymore difficult for them than it already is.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Francis and the Institute

Note: Since writing this post we've learned a lot more about the IVE's troubled history.  We encourage you to get the full story on hour History page here.


We can't be sure of the Institute's reaction to an Argentine Cardinal being selected as Pope.  We imagine they are putting a good face on the situation - ie."Yay Argentina!" -  but in reality this was probably not good for the Institute.  His selection has spawned a new round of research and the information we've come across is, um, very interesting.

According to Argentine news reports here and here, Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, was the Primate of Argentina during the first investigation into the IVE.  You can read the articles yourselves (use Google's Chrome browser to translate them automatically), but we'll summarize and give our take below.

After reading these articles it is becoming clear that the Argentine Bishops, led by Cardinal Bergoglio - now Pope Francis - shut down the IVE (probably for the same reasons we decided to start this site.)  They stopped the ordinations, shut down the seminary, and put restrictions on the founder Fr. Buela and the other IVE priests.  So when the Institute of the Incarnate Word tries to blame their Argentine problems on "liberals" and "left-wingers", it's the Pope they are blaming.

What is also news to us is that Cardinal Sodano - the same Cardinal Sodano that got busted taking bribes from and supporting the Legion of Christ's disgraced founder Fr. Maciel - is the person that helped Buela and the Institute get out of their problems with the Argentine Bishops.  

Again from Argentine Press:
In efforts which would not have been outside of (former Argentine President) Menem's former ambassador to the Vatican and current gentleman of the Holy See, and Archbishop Aguer Esteban Caselli, Buela got the powerful Cardinal Angelo Sodano to protect him. Not only did the Vatican reverse the order closing its seminaries, but it managed moving the IVE headquarters to Italy, to the diocese of Velletri-Segni, 60 kilometers south of Rome, where since mid-2001 has its Generalate and Buela parent lives.
In the words of the IVE, Sodano is "so close to our Institute."  The Italian Bishop where they are based even clarifies that he made the decision to let the IVE in "with the continued support of His Eminence Cardinal Sodano..."  Sodano even helped them get the Novitiate opened in Chile.

These moves by Sodano were a "great humiliation" and a "slap in the face" to the Argentine Bishops.  So much so that then Cardinal Bergoglio even traveled to Rome to meet privately with Pope Benedict and express his concern over influence that Ambassador Casselli (and his ally Sodano) still had in appointing Bishops (such as the lone Argentine supporter of the IVE, Bishop Hector Aguer.)  Like an excerpt from a Godfather movie, Casselli, Aguer, and Sodano coordinated together and the Sodano and Casselli families even had close economic ties. 

As the saying goes, "Judge them by the company they keep." If you judge the Institute of the Incarnate Word by the Cardinals that help them out, Cardinal McCarrick and Cardinal Sodano, it doesn't paint a pretty picture.

TO SUM IT UP:  Then Archbishop Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, tried to shut the IVE down 15 years ago.  Cardinal Sodano - the same guy that shielded the pervert Maciel in exchange for bribes - went over the Archbishop's head to keep the IVE seminary in Argentina open, find them a new diocese, and even help them open their novitiate in Chile.

Don't take our word for it.  Go to  and search for "Bergoglio Instituto Verbo Encarnado" (or "Bergoglio Sodano" or "Sodano Buela" or "Sodano Instituto Verbo Encarnado") for much, much more on this and don't forget to use Google Chrome to translate for you automatically.

There is much more on this we will publish as time permits.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Discerning with the Institute - Another Perspective

The Institute of the Incarnate Word will not require any discernment prioring to entering. "Not sure? Don't worry." They will say, "We are different than other orders or the diocese. We don't make you wait. Come and discern here."

They will make young Men feel special by telling them that God may have chosen them for the priesthood. They may even create a sense of urgency telling you "God doesn't want you to wait… he wants you to hurry… saints answer promptly." They wrote a whole book on that.

Neither are they going to require you to fill out an application or do any sort of formal interview process that might slow things down. Some that enter do, but the majority do not fill out or supply any paperwork until after they have already quit school, quit jobs, broken off relationships, and entered. They do not even ask whether you have any canonical impediments to ordination before they let you enter.

Once you are a member of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, any steps toward discernment are still discouraged. What you will be told daily from day one is that you must "persevere in your vocation" even though most there have never discerned what theirs is.

If questions come about you not being sure about your vocation you will be told "You shouldn't worry about discerning your vocation right now. Your superiors will decide for you if you have a vocation. They have a lot of experience in this".

If the question continues to bother you will be told "You just need to practice obedience. You need to stay busy, accept your cross, and not think about it too much, the devil is crafty and will try to steal your vocation" And so on. There is no mention of the "D" word after entering.

If it comes up during spiritual direction, they will tell you not to worry about it and, in addition to the above, to wait for your 30 day spiritual exercises retreat (which comes every other year.) That's where you are supposed to discern your vocation.

Then when you get to the the 30 day retreat and the state of life comes up, they will say "if you are here then you have already discerned your vocation and we are going to skip this part." (really???) So when you get to the part about following the devil or following Christ, the explicit assumption is that following Christ is following them, and leaving is following the devil. One's vocation is never discussed.*

That is how you can go from "I want to serve God better" or "I want to find out my vocation" to spending years at a seminary without ever having actually discerned anything.

(*Note: this is with regard to the spiritual exercises they give to those already inside the order. We are not sure how they approach the spiritual exercises for those not belonging to the order, but based on the feedback we have received they do pressure attendees towards vocations during these retreats, contrary to St Ignatius' instructions.)