WHO ARE WE?
In this world of ours today, we often hear about many different beliefs and practices. People the world over, since "Vatican II", have become unaccustomed to seeing Religious, especially Religious in their habits (distinctive clothing).
Many people have become ignorant of the great Religious Orders in the Church. We have been labeled incorrectly by many mis-informed or ignorant people. We are quite often asked: "Who are you?", "What religion are you?", etc. We have then put together this little flier in order to answer some basic questions.
People see the brown-robed, barefooted Friars located on Mt. Read Blvd. everywhere - in airports around the country - as they go about their traditional missionary activities. They are by no means limited to the Town of Greece where their modest friary is hardly distinguishable from other dwellings. Their influence extends in all directions of the compass: Europe and Asia, Mexico to the South and Canada to the North. They reach the office of Cardinal Ratzinger in Rome; they are not without a voice in Seminaries around the world - including Rome.
First of all, it would be good to inform our friends and neighbors that our presence in their midst is a blessing from God. Why? Because the Friars pray for all those among whom they live. Their prayers are not only the private prayers of individuals, but they chant the official prayer of the Roman Catholic Church known as the Divine Office. They rise at Midnight to chant these prayers and include all the needs of their neighbors.
Those who are not yet priests, spend a good portion of each day in serious study in preparation for the priesthood. They study three years of philosophy and four years of theology. Our simple abode looks like any other house. But, the highest intellectual activity goes on within its walls which you'd only expect from the greatest and most visibly impressive universities. It is a center of intellectual and spiritual activity. Among other subjects, they study Sociology, Political Science, Economics, and Languages.
Our schedule will give an idea of how our day is apportioned.
We are members of the order of Friars Minor - commonly known as "Franciscans" after the name of our Founder, St. Francis of Assisi. We observe the Rule of the Order of Friars Minor which was approved by the Roman Catholic Church through a legitimate Pope, Pope Innocent III, on April 6, 1210. This Rule was approved verbally by Pope Innocent III and then was simplified into twelve chapters and approved in writing by the Bull of Honorius III in the year 1223. This is the Rule which we Franciscans observe as it was observed by Franciscans for 769 years!
Catholics would be surprised to know that among the many members of the Franciscan Order are to be counted a very large number of canonized Saints and Blesseds: there are 132 canonized Franciscan saints; 242 Blessed. According to the available statistics (1986), there are 36,117 members of the Franciscan Order. Many of our non-Catholic friends may not be impressed by our saints; but that's only because someone has misinformed them of what "saints" really are. Scripturally, we are all called by God to become saints: "This is God's will for you: your SANCTIFICATION." (1 Thess. 4, 1-7).
Unfortunately, we must say YES. What's the difference? It is not in the Rule which we all profess to observe. The Rule is the same. Every Franciscan professes to observe the same Rule.
The difference is in this: We observe the Rule which we have promised to observe and follow the traditions of the Franciscan Order as they have been handed down from generation to generation by St. Francis. What about other Franciscans? Don't they observe the Rule? We prefer that you ask them. St. Vincent Ferrer, a great Dominican preacher did not hesitate to say: "Whosoever observes this rule is a saint and may be canonized after his death."
Defection from the noble ideals of the Rule, laxity of discipline on the part of some, only serves to stir up in others new zeal for the purer observance of the Franciscan life.
Our life-style, then, is a response to the critical situation in the modern world: the manifest and deliberate de-Christianization of society, the undermining of Christian values.
We are ROMAN CATHOLICS. Our Superior, Bishop Louis Vezelis, O.F.M., was ordained in the Franciscan Seminary chapel in Montreal, Canada by Emile Cardinal Leger on June 16,1956.
He was consecrated a Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in the line of Archbishop Ngo-Dinh-Thuc on August 24,1982 at Sacred Heart Church, Buffalo, NY for the specific purpose of providing the essential apostolic succession of the Catholic hierarchy.
One of the marks (signs) of the Church founded by Jesus Christ is that it is Apostolic. That is, it must be able to trace its physical origin (visible) back to the Apostles. There must be an unbroken line from a present bishop, or bishops, all the way back to the apostles. This succession was broken when Paul VI overturned the definitive decree establishing the essential words required for a true bishop to be consecrated. This substitution makes all consecrations using Paul VI's ritual null and void.
Archbishop Ngo-Dinh-Thuc was the older brother of President Ngo-Dinh-Diem of South Vietnam. President Ngo was assassinated to make the Communist takeover of South Vietnam smoother.
Archbishop Ngo had been in Rome for the Council when most of his family were murdered in South Vietnam. He was not permitted to return to Vietnam because of the Vatican-Moscow Agreement whereby the Vatican sold out the Church to Communism. The Archbishop resided with the Franciscans on Mt. Read Blvd. until his abduction, imprisonment and death in a Conciliar Church seminary near St. Louis.
Bishop Vezelis, O.F.M. was sent to South Korea by the highest authority in the Franciscan Order residing in Rome to help establish the Order in Korea.
Bishop worked in Korea from 1957 - 1975. He returned from Korea in June of 1975 for the purpose of becoming fund-raiser for the Korean Mission. At the same time, he sought to establish a Korean newspaper for the many Catholic immigrants coming to the United States.
YES. We are, as the Rule states, bound to obey two authorities: the valid and legitimate successors of a valid and true Pope AND the Roman Church. This implies that there can be situations where a Pope MAY NOT BE a valid and legitimate Pope. Therefore, in such circumstances, one obeys the Roman Church. This is the "Eternal Rome" - at once, seat and symbol of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ. It is to this Church that we adhere with our entire being. There have been forty false popes in the history of the Catholic Church.
As Catholics, we are bound in conscience to obey legitimate Popes when they teach in matters of faith and morals and universal discipline in the Church. We are EQUALLY bound in conscience to reject imposters or heretics whatever high position they may have reached.
That a Pope CAN BECOME A HERETIC (lapse into false, erroneous, doctrine) is proven by the fact that in the prayers of the Church the faithful pray that this terrible thing may not happen: "That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to preserve our Apostolic Prelate and all ecclesiastical orders in holy religion, we beseech Thee, hear us." (Litany of All Saints).
Clearly, it would be theologically incorrect to pray for something that could not happen. It is because a Pope CAN fall into error that we pray God to protect him from such a fall.
This somewhat extended explanation may be of interest to Catholics only. However, it seems good that even those who are not Catholic should know these things if only out of a sense of fairness. An honest judgment cannot be made without knowing the facts.
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