Founder & History

Summary: Due in part to the dysfunctional practices outlined on this blog, the IVE have been under investigation almost as long as they've been in existence.  Their founder, Fr Buela, had to resign for the first time in 1994.  Later, while under vatican investigation, the Argentine bishops under then Cardinal Bergoglio - now Pope Francis - refused to ordain any IVE candidates for three years.  The investigation ended with an order to shut down the IVE seminaries, but a last-minute appeal by Fr Buela to the corrupt Cardinal Sodano helped the IVE escape to Italy, where they set up their new headquarters and re-elected Fr Buela as Superior General.  A few years passed and in Argentina a new investigation began into Fr. Buela.  This investigation called for Buela to resign and separate himself from the Institute.  He did resign in 2010, but his separation has only been enforced since Pope Francis became Pope.  

This entire history with sources is below.  You can read specifically about Pope Francis' long history with the IVE in our post here.   We also recommend reading this in-depth account on the founding of the Instittute written by our friend from Argentina Jack Tollers. 

IVE Founder and History

Until we started this site, there really wasn't anything on the English-language web about the IVE that wasn't written by the IVE themselves.  Due to their roots in Argentina, all the objective press and commentary on this group was in Spanish and you had to search in Spanish to find it.  Over time we've been compiling this information from the Argentine web, reaching out to sources, and connecting the dots so this information can be made available to English speakers.   Below we'll share what we have learned (always a work in progress.)

Because we are 10, 20, even 30 years removed from these events, original sources have been difficult to find online (think of how few of the sites you read in the 90's are still around - or were you even on the internet in the 90's?) As a result, most of what is available is a retelling of past events.  We are very confident in the information we present from the time of the Vatican investigations in the mid-90's and forward.  The time prior to that is a bit murkier, however, because it's not exactly clear how the Vatican investigations began or exactly when and how Buela and his local Bishop Kruk had their falling out (although it's fairly clear they had one.)  We have a number of contacts that were in Argentina, even San Rafael, at the time and we will do our best to make sure the story comes out, but it will take time. 

Still, even we don't feel like we are asking you to choose one story or point of view over another, because after ~1990 there aren't multiple versions of events.  There is only one consistent story that is laid out in the Spanish-language web.  The Institute will even admit to some of it when called out, though they won't put it on their site or wikipedia page, that's for sure (though there have been some 3rd party edits to the wikipedia page in 2013 that have added some of these events.)

You certainly will not hear any of this from the IVE without some real prodding and even then you'll get a very white-washed version of events.  They have purposely endeavored to conceal their past from the public, from discerners, even from novices and beginning seminarians  They say they do so because it "was a difficult time for them" and "it could cause scandal" - though it's certainly a self-serving discretion on their part, is it not?

We think - and common sense would seem to support the idea - that they don't tell the truth because it would scare off vocations (rightly so) and decrease their ever so precious numbers.  Only after about a year, once the seminarians are sufficiently invested, indoctrinated, and cut-off from outside sources of information and advice, will the IVE superiors share a very sanitized, slanted version of the story.

If you are associated with the group then keep in mind that this cover-up by the IVE should be evidence that they no problem lying to you if it serves their interest.

High Level Summary

In the IVE's short 30 year history they have already been investigated on two separate occasions. The founder, Carlos Buela, has been forced to resign twice as superior general (the second after an investigation into his personal behavior.)  The priest who took the reigns in-between Buela's two terms as superior general has since left the Institute for a diocese in Peru.  Argentine Bishops, following the decree of Papal investigators, ordered the IVE seminary in Argentina shut down, exiled Buela to Ecuador, and would not ordain deacons or candidates for three years - in many cases they would not even let IVE priests celebrate mass in their diocese.  Then, with the help of Cardinal Sodano, they eventually found a diocese in Italy that would give them canonical status of diocesan right and allow Buela to again be in charge.

If this all sounds a bit dramatic and far-fetched given the IVE's self-portrayal as a "joyful and growing order", we assure you we aren't making this up:  The IVE admit to most of this.

If you bring this history up to the Institute, you'll hear that it was "liberal Bishops" upset at the IVE's orthodoxy that started the problems and "liberal Papal investigators" that made the recommendation to shut down their seminaries, but this couldn't be further from the truth.  The Bishop that first began investigations in San Rafael was Leon Kruk, the conservative supporter of Argentine military regime who invited Buela to come to the diocese in the first place.  Then the Papal visitor who finished the Vatican's investigation and issued the decree to close the IVE houses of formation was Archbishop Alfonso Delgado... of Opus Dei.  The primate of Argentina overseeing the investigation at the time?  Cardinal Bergoglio - maybe you've heard of him.

In fact, the only liberal Bishops in the story are those helping the IVE such as Cardinal McCarrick, who lives with them at their Washington DC seminary, and Cardinal Sodano. old friend of the Legion of Christ founder Marcial Maciel.

You'll also hear the argument that all of Buela's exiles and resignations were "voluntary", but resigning a post and leaving the country while under threat of investigation, takeover, and shutdown by your authorities doesn't meet any definition of voluntary we've ever seen.

The reality is that the IVE has been investigated a number of times not because of 'ideological persecution', but because it has real and serious problems.  The only occasions of disobedience were from the IVE - not the Argentine Bishops overseeing them - and the only 'liberal church authorities' in the story are the ones helping the Institute.  The IVE's explanation for the investigations just doesn't hold up.  

Out of Buenos Aires to San Rafael

There are conflicting stories floating around the Spanish web about how Buela was inspired to and finally went on to found his institute.  Some say Buela was not happy in Buenos Aires with his chaplaincy at the Liceo Militar General San Martín Military Institute.  There were also priests and some seminarians from the seminary in Paraná who were not happy with changes being made by their new bishop.  It's unclear to us who initiated the contact, but Buela and the group from Paraná eventually met up in San Rafael with the approval of the conservative Bishop, Leon Kruk.  As to what happened next, we've read both that Buela began working at the new diocesan seminary in San Rafael until, unsatisfied, he started his own congregation nearby without consulting Bishop Kruk or the rector of the new seminary.   And with a large donation from unknown parties, Buela purchased the land for the Institute.  

From what we have read, most were not sure of what to think about the IVE it as it began - it's most defining characteristic then, the same as now: numerable seminarians in cassocks.  They were not originally intended to be a missionaries either, though it's not certain whether this move out of country was inspired by missionary spirit, desire to expand their influence, or simply a lack of welcoming dioceses in Argentina.  For as complaints built up, there were fewer and fewer bishops in Argentina that would hand parishes over to IVE priests.

The First Investigation & Resignation 

The problems with authority appear to have begun after bishops received complaints from families with concerns about the Institute's aggressive recruiting and treatment of their children.  According to press reports, the same conservative Bishop Kruk who originally welcomed Buela also began the first investigations into the Institute.  The Argentine Bishops felt that "the necessary prudence did not accompany the process, nor respect for the freedom of the candidates."

The Institute in San Rafael was also rife with strange political influence.  It often hosted controversial members of the Carapintadas military group, such as Mohamed Ali Seineldín, who were involved in multiple coup attempts in Argentina during that decade, as well as founders of the Tacuara and Guardia de Hierro movements, and members of Argentine president Menem's cabinet.

Buela eventually resigned in 1994 (though reportedly did not relinquish any real control.) This was probably an attempt to smooth things over with the local bishops.  A Fr. Jose Luis Solari was unanimously elected Superior General to replace Buela despite the fact that his only previous responsibility had been as mechanic to the Institute's bus and vehicles.  (Later, after the IVE's move to Italy and Buela's re-election as Superior General, Fr. Solari left the IVE and ended up a diocesan priest in Peru.  It's not clear where Fr. Solari is now.  We have written more about Fr. Solari on this blog.)  Still, the lack of cooperation (real or perceived) continued and a papal investigator was called in.   In fact, every bishop in Argentina but one signed a letter to Pope John Paul II asking him to shut down their houses of formation.

In a process that lasted several years, three papal commissioners appointed by the Vatican dealt with case.  The first commissioner was a Salesian priest José Antonio Rico (1995-1998), next the Vincentian priest Aurelio Londoño (1998-1999), and finally Archbishop Alfonso Delgado of Opus Dei in 2000.   He announced the closing of the houses of formation (seminaries and novitiate) in January 2001.  The closure order was contained in three decrees signed in Rome. Buela was exiled to Ecuador. But the IVE resisted the ecclesiastical order in open defiance of the Catholic hierarchy and Buela, in a clearly provocative gesture, returned home and celebrated mass in Mendoza.

Note that during this time the Argentine Ecclesiastical Authorities refused to ordain any IVE candidates for a period of three years beginning around 1998.  This even affected transitionary deacons which means the Bishops (including Pope Francis, then Archbishop Bergoglio) had to have a canonical reason for this action or else be in violation of Canon Law 1030.

The Flight From Argentina

The impasse lasted until Cardinal Sodano of the Vatican curia intervened on their behalf.  Sodano is the same who shielded the Legion of Christ's pervert Maciel in exchange for bribes.  Sodano went over the head of Archbishop Bergoglio to keep the IVE seminary in Argentina open and find them a new diocese, that of Velletri-Segni under Bishop Maria Erba. Sodano even helped them open their novitiate in Chile.    After three years of waiting the IVE had a backlog of candidates to be ordained, resulting in deacons being ordained priests by Bishop Maria Erba (which they boast of on their wikipedia page without explaining why there should have been so many candidates.)

Here is the letter from the Vatican to the ecclesiastical authorities in Argentina, including then Cardinal Bergoglio, informing them that they will be moving the HQ to the Diocese of Velletri-Segni and doing ordinations:  CARTA DE JUAN PABLO II A LOS OBISPOS DE LA ARGENTINA.  While this may have gone through JPII, he was in declining health at the time, so it's more likely this was almost entirely Cardinal Sodano.

Here is the letter from Cardinal Bergoglio et al back to the Vatican, re-affirming their obedience to the  Holy See and thanking them for the three very hard-working investigators the Vatican sent earlier:  RESPUESTA DE LOS OBISPOS AL SANTO PADRE.

Somewhere in this process they were connected with Cardinal McCarrick in DC.  We believe Cardinal McCarrick was instrumental in securing them two parishes in the DC metro area where they could start a novitiate and seminary in the US. After living at the seminary of the Neocatechumenical Way the Cardinal moved into property adjacent the IVE seminary.  The IVE now have three full-time staff (a priest and two seminarians) living at the Cardinal's house and acting as his secretaries.

McCarrick does all their ordinations in this hemisphere. He does their ordinations in Argentina because Bishops there still won't ordain IVE seminarians.  He even travels from the Archdiocese of DC to the Diocese of San Jose, California to ordain candidates who might not meet the minimum criteria of ordination required by DC's Cardinal Wuerl (such as being legal residents of the country.)  We think Bishop McGrath allows this because it provides an easy path of incardination into his diocese if those priests decide to leave the Institute (there are already a large number of ex-IVE priests in the Diocese of San Jose.)

The Second Resignation

More recently in 2010, Fr. Buela stepped down for reasons that aren't entirely clear. A letter appears to attribute his resignation to poor health. Meanwhile, there appears to have been a three year Vatican investigation conducted by Bishop Eduardo María that prompted the resignation.  There were rumors within the congregation of sexual abuse, but publicly the Institute claims Buela stepped down due to "Church Politics."

Buela, however, is still very active in the order. In fact, many in formation are not even aware he stepped down and the few seminarians with professional backgrounds spend much of their time working on his pet projects. As with the previous instance, he probably resigned in name only and is still running the Institute.

Reasons, Explanations, and Why They Matter

As we mentioned at the beginning, the IVE says this was all just persecution for their faithfulness and orthodoxy by liberal bishops.  Even if this were the case, it's a bit far-fetched considering their benefactors are the scandal-plagued Cardinal Sodano and the uber-liberal and equally scandal-plagued Cardinal McCarrick.  Were there no faithful and orthodox Bishops available in the US or Italy to come to their aid?

When confronted with the fact that many of the bishops aligned against them, from their original benefactor Bishop Leon Kruk to the final Papal visitor Opus Dei Archbishop Alfonso Delgado, were actually quite traditional and conservative the IVE will pivot their argument and say that the many IVE vocations drove them to jealousy.

However, as we've documented very well on this site here and here the IVE's current recruiting tactics are incredibly problematic to the point of being immoral and - in many cases - illegal.  If they were using these same tactics in San Rafael (and we imagine they would have been even more aggressive since Buela was constantly present at the seminary in those years) then it's no surprise that the local Bishops took an interest.

There are serious implications to the events that transpired in their history and they are brushed aside very quickly by the IVE's convenient refrain of "We were just too faithful to the Church and were persecuted by jealous, liberal Bishops." In fact, their general silence on these points is morally questionable in and of itself.  These are people that will ask for a vow of what is essentially blind obedience. It would behoove you to know a little bit about their past and get some explanations before entrusting them with one's will, soul, and well-being.

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.

Online References

We've provided links below for information on the Institute of the Incarnate Word's history and Cardinal McCarrick, but you could easily spend some time searching and find them yourself.

Most of the information is on Spanish sites it might be easiest to use Google's Chrome browser, which will give you an automatic translation.

If you find any additional links that we should include below, feel free to send us a mail.

IVE History

Search in Spanish for: "Buela Problemas" "Instituto Verbo Encarnado Problemas" "Instituto Verbo Encarnado Bergoglio" "Instituto Verbo Encarnado Sodano" "Bergoglio Sodano" and you will be able to find this and much more on your own.

Cardinal Sodano

This is the guy that will ordain you if you go to the seminary in Italy.  The local bishops won't ordain IVE candidates any more.  If Sodano isn't available (or if he can't be troubled - eg. when there is only one person to be ordained deacon) the IVE have to search a bit before they find someone that will do ordinations for them.

His past connections to scandal:

His connections to the IVE:

Cardinal McCarrick

This is the guy that will ordain you if you go to the Seminaries in the USA or Argentina.

Keeps information from the US Bishops and the pope, presides over Ted Kennedy's funeral. From EWTN reporter Raymond Arroyo:

Cardinal McCarrick rumors that are well known in DC area seminaries:

General weirdness by Cardinal McCarrick, the guy that would ordain you if you became an IVE priest:

Lots of articles from this media outlet: