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.