There was an "Apostolic Visit"… that nothing found
As has already been widely disseminated, the "Heralds of the Gospel" were the subject of an "Apostolic Visit", promulgated by a Decree of D. Braz de Aviz, dated June 2017. This Decree had been predetermined three years earlier in 2014, as can be seen by its own Protocol number.
According to repeatedly declared the "visitors", they found nothing to dispay life, behavior, government, administration, vocational pastoral care, training, especially of the younger… Not anything that was opposed to the doctrine of the Church, nor to the Moral taught by Our Lord Jesus Christ, nor against ecclesiastical laws.
To employ the usual expression: "They found nothing against the Faith or customs of the Church," which in Latin is said with the simple locution of "fide et moribus".
But why did so-called "Apostolic Visit" begin?
The "visitors" declared to ignore the accusations that weighed against the Heralds that would have led them to enact the "Apostolic Visit"
It causes perplexity (to say the least) that visitors have repeatedly declared nothing to know about the "suspicions" that led Mr Braz de Aviz to enact the "Apostolic Visit".
Visitors repeatedly declared nothing to know about the "suspicions" that led Mr Braz de Aviz to enact the "Apostolic Visit"
The VisitDecree only gave as a need to determine such a "visit", the fact that they arrived at the Congregation chaired by D. Braz de Aviz "troubling information" (not specified) about:
- The style of government
- The lifestyle of members
- Vocational pastoral care
- Training, especially new and young vocations
- Sources of funding
- The administration
- The management of apostolate works and activities
A sequence as generic as possible, as you can see. Deep down, it covers, it is said in passing all the activity of the institution…
Such "suspicions", based on "troubling information", would ask, for each of them, an independent and credible justification.
If a Police Delegate received "troubling information" about a person, suspected of "child mistreatment", "car theft", "embezzlement of government funds", "drug trafficking", "racial violence"… each of them may constitute an autonomous offense – or a crime – which independently needs serious evidence for the authority to open an investigation, perhaps sending a radio patrol to investigate the actions of the alleged offender.
"Serious evidence" of such disparate issues, such as "racial violence," "car theft," or "drug trafficking," are asking for totally different evidence. And the whistleblower has an obligation to present credible motives for each of them. "Onus probandi incumbit ei qui asserit" says the can. 1526 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law: "The burden of proof rests with those who claim". It is the Law of the Church, it is the law of any civilized human group.
If the whistleblower does not present serious facts or indications, the delegate may send the whistleblower to a health post, and perhaps recommend his referral to a psychiatric evaluation, for amalgamating so much without any credible foundation in a single Suspect. If it is that the delegate does not suspect that so many charges without evidence are not a serious indication (of himself punishable) of jealousy or envy, of desire for revenge, of hidden hatred, retaliation for some innocuous fact that the accused made to the unbalanced whistleblower. It is not impossible for the accuser to be unguilty of "hate crime."
If D. Braz de Aviz (the whistleblower) states (in the 2017 VisitDecree and prepared since 2014) to have "troubling information", he must present the "evidence" of such disparate matters or at least one for each alleged offense. It is the Law of the Church remembered above: "Onus probandi incumbit ei qui asserit – The burden of proof rests with those who claim."
But it seems to be so ingent the absence of evidence, or rather we would say, so insignificant the "troubling information", that the Cardinal did not even want to communicate them to those who he was tasked with cleanthe certainty of the supposed deviations: the "visitors". Perhaps by the derisory evidential value of the "troubling information".
Why hide what "troubling information" was from the themselves in charge of discovering the veracity, or falsehood, of "information"?
Why hide what "troubling information" was from the themselves in charge of discovering the veracity, or falsehood, of "information"?
It's like the deputy sent the radio patrol warning, "Look for So-and-So, who seems to be doing something wrong…" What is this generic "something wrong"? Theft? Racial violence? Tax evasion?
The "visitors" were prevented from the beginning of satisfactorily fulfilling the task given to them, of "understanding the real foundation of the problems", as well as "the possible causes". What's more: to determine "the responsibility attributable to religious individually." As the VisitDecree emphasizes.
We already draw attention to the absolute legal error of calling "religious" to members of two "societies of apostolic life" or a "private association of laity". They are the "shortcomings" of the Decrees of D. Braz de Aviz, these, yes, really "worrying"; and this is not a simple "information", but of facts proven by the simple reading of the text of the Decree. As they say in the legal language of the Church: "ex actis et probatis" – by the documents and the evidence presented (cf. can. 1606, 1608).
Why did Mr Braz de Aviz not communicate to the "visitors" or the "visited" "serious indications" and "worrying information"? Do they really exist? Do you have any likelihood? Or are inventions arising from some other reason? Will there be envy or hatred? Should we suspect there is a "hate crime"?
A "visiting process" in which the suspects could not know what they were accused of
Moreover, the "visited" – that is, the "suspects" of the hail of possible crimes inserted by D. Braz de Aviz in the Visit Decree – were not notified of what the "troubling information" were, in order to help the "visitors" to "understand the real the basis of the problems."
What were the "problems"? Why imagine that there are problems of "financing" or "administration" in both societies of apostolic life? Has any serious evidence been found? Where does the mirabolante suspect that there are deviations in the "vocational pastoral" or in the "formation of new and young vocations"?
This, which could apply to a society of apostolic life, that is, a group of consecrated persons, how can it be referred to a private association of the faithful? Can one speak of "vocational pastoral care" in a fray of the third, which is often legally recognized as a private association of the faithful?
To the Heralds of the Gospel, known worldwide for their kindness and good treatment, they were denied knowing that they were suspected: why?
The visited could not know of what unlawful acts were suspected by D. Braz de Aviz. Why is that?
The Heralds of the Gospel work in 78 countries, their collaboration with diocesan and parish pastoral care is recognized by thousands of written testimonies, from Cardinals of the Holy Church to nuns or simple catechists of chapels in rural or economically disadvantaged; and this in Spain, Italy or Portugal, Canada, all the Americas, the Republic of Cameroon and Mozambique, Africa, the favelas of Brazil or the Amazonian territories…
Such cooperation with the Church's governance structures was once again expressed in the extreme attention that the "visitors" were objected to over the months of travel, surveys, questions, etc., to all those who wanted and about all that they wanted.
To these Catholics, known worldwide for their kindness and good treatment, was denied knowing that they were suspected! Why is that?
Process of "visit" worse than the inquisition promoted by Bishop Cauchon against St Joan of Arc: the defendant is not accused of anything
A canonist, a member of the Heralds of the Gospel, noted to one of the "visitors" – canonist too, D. Sérgio de Deus – that the process brought by Bishop Braz de Aviz against the Heralds was legally worse than that promoted by Bishop Pierre Cauchon (in collaboration with Cardinal Henry Beaufort) against Saint Joan of Arc. This process culminated in the unjust condemnation of the bonfire of the Virgin of Lorraine, which was actually condemned as "collapse, excommunicated and heretic". And taken to The Old Market Square in Rouen, France, where she was burned alive, on May 30, 1431, and a poster was placed to him with the words: "heretic, relapse, apostate and idolatrous".
However, the Virgin of Lorraine was, in the albores of the wicked case, informed of the 70 false accusations that bishop Cauchon had invented and his auxiliaries (26/3/1431). His defense cleared of nothing served and invented another libel of indictment, with 12 new suspicions. These were not communicated to the prisoner, since the former had been hit.
Saint Joan of Arc was wrongly sentenced in a process that became the paradigmatic example of abuse of power in the Church
And it was based on this new "libel of 12 charges" that his death sentence was prepared, which was unfairly executed in the presence of Bishop Pierre Cauchon of Cardinal Henry Beaufort, the inquisitors, dominican friars violating the secret of Confession, of the judges and cronies of this infamous attempt against innocence, abusing the power of the Holy Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Against the Heralds, however, no charges were filed, but only vague "troubling information" not communicated. Will anyone be wanting, like Cauchon or Beaufort, to take the Heralds "to the campfire"? Or, as they say in Rome, "al Campo dei Fiori", that is, to the square where the executions of those sentenced to death by gallows, decapitation or fire were carried out? Why is that?
In the conversation between the Herald canonist and the visiting canonist, he agreed with the similarity between the two processes.
The same fact was repeated during the act in which D. Raymundo Damasceno and D. José Aparecido (he also canonist) tried to notify the Decree of presumed commissariat to the Heralds. The herald canonist, present, repeated the comparison, addressing the canonist commissioner, D. José Aparecido. Who only responded with silence…
Why the silence?
At the end of the Visitthe "visitors" still asked to answer "Eight Questions" taken from the internet and from people outside the Church
After 12 months of "Visit", exhausted interrogations and perquisitions in the houses of the heralds, the "visitors" asked to answer in writing the "Last Eight Questions".
The origin of these "question-accusations" against orthodoxy and morale of the Heralds had as their main source, according to the "visitors themselves," a shadowy secondary teacher named Orlando Fedeli, who died in a certain breach of communion with the Church Catholic, which has been termed by Catholic commentators as "the Luther of Brazil". For Fedeli and his sequazes, neither the last Popes were Popes, nor is the Second Vatican Council orthodox, nor is the CNBB Catholic… Even the Heralds of the Gospel are! This is so public, they proclaim it impudly on their website.
How can "visitors", lacking grounds of inguilt against the Heralds, have gone to pick up as a whistleblower a person who passed away outside ecclesial communion and perhaps as unbalanced as the whistleblower imagined above?
Faced with such abstrusive guilt, teachers of the Herald seminary, professors and university professors elaborated a 572-page clarification.
"Answers to visiters' Final Questions" and the 18,000 pages of documents and testimonies attached
"Answers to the Final Questions of Visitors", showing the inanity of such "fedelian" suspicions, can be considered, in a procedure prior to criminal proceedings (which is how both the "Visit" and the presumed Commissariat are configured ), such as the claim of defense of the inguilty, at the end of the "instructional phase".
Indeed, the procedure "ad inquirendum et referendum – aiming to investigate and refer", as is classified as the "Apostolic Visit" in the Decree of Commissioner (9/21/2019) – should have as an important part seriously evaluate this defense of the Heralds against unfounded "worrying information". "Answers" dismantle the empty and unfair "Last Questions of visitors", as well as any other accusations circulating on the internet or elsewhere against this movement founded by the evangelizing charism of Mons. John Scognamiglio Clá Dias.
None of this looks like it was done.
At the time of the attempt to notify the Commissariat Decree, D. Damasceno and D. Aparecido declared that they had not become aware of these "Answers".
To the "Last Eight Questions" of the "visitors", the Heralds answered with a study of 572 pages, accompanied by 72 annexes containing more than 18,000 pages of testimonies and documents
Why did they ignore the Heralds' defense?
Another resemblance to the false inquisitorial process against Santa Joan of Arc. Bishop Cauchon presented the 70 points of indictment, which she refuted in four hours of defense, as stated in the minutes and was remembered above. What did Bishop Cauchon do? He had other different points of accusation prepared (this time only 12), as we also commented above, and sent her to trial, without giving the Virgin of Lorraine the possibility of becoming aware or showing the voidness of the new charges.
More than 18,000 pages of testimony and documents were attached to the 572 pages of "Answers to the Last Visitor Questions". No comma or a doctrinal error point was shown. Deviation from the realities of facts or concealment of an event?
Why ignore these allegations from the Heralds? Just to resemble the process of Bishop Cauchon and Cardinal Beaufort?
The "Final Report" of the Apostolic Visit was not communicated to the accused
The "visitors" elaborated, at the end of their work, a "Final Report", as required in the VisitDecree and they themselves declared that they would do so. The Commissariat Decree refers to this report with the expression "the conclusive report of the work carried out".
Such a report would have confirmed "the existence of problematic situations and serious need", according to the Commissariat Decree. However, the Decree does not point to any particular lack or problem, and merely repeats the volley listed above in the Visitdecree, without specifying anything.
However, such final report was not brought to the attention of the visited.
Why is that?
The Heralds were prevented from defending themselves from the imputations
This concealment of a very important document in criminal proceedings prevented the accused from defending themselves.
Now, the Law of the Church recalls:
"Before ploughing a singular decree, the authority collects the necessary information and evidence, and, as far as possible, listens to those whose rights may be harmed" (can. 50).
The attempt to commissariat the Heralds sought to coarctar their right to free self-government, without hearing them or giving them the opportunity to defend themselves
Members of the Private Association of Herald faithful of the Gospel were the subject of a serious injury by the Commissariat Decree, as there was an attempt to coarctage their right to free self-government as a private association of faithful. However, they were not heard before the issuance of the Commissariat Decree to defend themselves against any charges contained in the Final Report.
Or was the Final Report so favorable to the Heralds that they wanted to keep it a secret?
Another resemblance to the wicked inquisitorial process against Santa Joan a d'Arc.
Why so much secret about the Final Report?
Who takes advantage: justice or injustice?
News appears in the press saying he is aware of the accusations against the Heralds and the desire to destroy the Institution
Despite this secrecy kept by Mr Braz de Aviz about the accused, who would say respect for the blame against the Heralds, several press agencies said they had access to such unfounded inculpaments.
For example, Madrid magazine Vida Nueva – whose ideological bias is well known – published two reports signed by his correspondent in Rome, Dario Menor (19 and 26/10/2019), which, repeatedly, claims to know by "Vatican sources" of the accusations that led to the attempt of commissariat: "presumed crimes, sins and irregularities", "more than sufficient reasons", "parental alienation", "abuses of power", "ecclesiological deviations"… Something also vague, but different from what is contained in the Decrees of D. Braz de Aviz.
How could Vida Nueva's correspondent have information about what neither the Heralds nor the "visitors" – and perhaps not even the presumed commissioners – know?
How could Vida Nueva's correspondent have information about what neither the Heralds nor the "visitors" – and perhaps not even the presumed commissioners – know? Is this correspondent telling the truth?
He states that, according to his informants "in the Holy See, there is full conviction" that they will eventually "take the reins of the Heralds of the Gospel." The anonymous informant reportedly said, "Let's move on with the intervention." And yet, "we rely on real information and not on speculation."
Where are the "real information"? Were they shown to anyone? Not to members of the Heralds; to "visitors" also do not; commissioners, everything indicates that neither do they. They only know them (from what is deduced from the news) the anonymous informant and journalists, such as Vida Nueva, and whom he has wanted to communicate. Certainly also D. Braz de Aviz.
Why not be able to scan this secret so that, as the anonymous informant declares, everything is done "without prior judgments or convictions, but from the truth"?
It has already been shown that the Visiting Decree was filed (i.e. drafted) three years before it began; and at a little later date, also in 2014, even before the beginning of the "Apostolic Visit", the Decree of Commissioner was filed (i.e. written) the Decree of Commissioner. Is this acting "without prior convictions, but from the truth"?
Cardinal Braz de Aviz should give a clear explanation, "from the truth" of all these strangers (to say little!) maneuvers to conceal motives, procedures, press filtrations… all so similar to the maneuvers of Bishop Pierre Cauchon in 1431, in contunium with Cardinal Beaufort.
Absence of fraternal dialogue between accusers and accused
The violation of the regulations that is in the can has already been shown. 1341. This canon declares the need to seek to correct any "crimes, sins and irregularities" (to employ the expression of the anonymous informant of Vida Nueva magazine) through "fraternal correction", "reprimand" or "other means of solicitude) pastoral care."
Contrary to charity and the law, he hears a total absence of fraternal dialogue between the accusers and the accused
It is the legal application of our Lord's teaching:
"If your brother sins against you, he and he will correct it alone! If he hears you, you'll have won your brother if he doesn't listen to you, take one or two more people with you, so that the whole matter is decided under the word of two or three witnesses. If he doesn't listen to you, tell him to the Church. If not even to the Church he hears, be treated as if he were a pagan or a publican" (Mt 18:15-17).
St Luke also alludes to this fundamental Divine Law, taught by the Master of Nazareth:
"If your brother sins, scold him. If he repents, forgive him" (Lk 17:3).
And São Paulo reminds him over and over again. For example, the Galatians he writes:
"In case someone is surprised in a foul, you who are spiritual, correct him, in spirit of meekness" (Gal 6:1).
None of this was done by Archbishop Braz de Aviz in relation to the Heralds of the Gospel: neither to follow the counsel of Scripture, nor respect canonical regulations.
There was a total absence of fraternal dialogue between the accusers and the accused.
The unfair and invalid Decree of presumed Commissariat was given to the press before it was even notified to interested parties, without possibility of defense
It is a question that, having been delivered to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life the Final Report of "visiters", and the "Answers to the Last Questions" were also received in this dicastery, with the 42 volumes of annexes, without mediating any call to the amendment of "crimes, sins and irregularities" that the anonymous informant of the Holy See says exist in the two societies of apostolic life and in the private association of faithful, a Decree of Commissariat is exarated and given to the public in the Santa Sé Press Room, with no possibility of those indicted defending themselves.
In this whole process, there is a "worrying situation" of "serious need" for disrespect ing the teachings of the Divine Redeemer and canonical legislation by Mr Braz de Aviz
In legal-canonical language, this right of defense is called "ius defensionis". It is currently declared in the can. 221:
- It is up to the faithful to legitimately claim the rights enjoyed in the Church, and to defend them in the competent ecclesiastical forum according to the rules of law.
- If they are called to court by the competent authority, the faithful still have the right to be judged in compliance with the rules of law, applied with fairness.
- The faithful have the right not to be punished with canonical penalties except by the rules of law.
The right of a private association of the faithful to self-govern is in the can. 321:
"The faithful run and govern private associations, according to the requirements of the statutes."
So it is the legitimate defence of a right (cf. cân. 221 § 1).
In this administrative process promoted by D. Braz de Aviz, the "norms of law" (can. 221 § 2), in relation to the faithful members of the Heralds of the Gospel. The punishment of the commissariat attempt was not applied "according to the rules of law" (can. 221 § 3).
In this whole process, there is a "worrying situation" of "serious need" for disrespect ing the teachings of the Divine Redeemer and canonical legislation by Mr Braz de Aviz.
To the guise of conclusion: lack of dialogue on the part of D. Braz de Aviz
The "visitors" did not communicate absolutely any observation of disability regarding the government, life, customs, behavior, doctrine and morality of the Institution. They only asked for clarification on some questions raised by a small group of angry disaffections, which have unfolded in defaming and slandering the Heralds of the Gospel, among them the various groups arising from metastases disciples of the late secondary teacher Fedeli. These clarifications were presented at the time in the "Answers to the Last Questions" of more than 500 pages, accompanied by 72 annexes, as we have already said.
We see a regrettable lack of dialogue in these measures taken against the Heralds of the Gospel, whose conduct has always been characterized by the whole ecclesial communion… and now lacks reciprocity
There has always been an openness to dialogue with all legitimate authorities, both of the Church and civil society, as is evident and witnessed in numerous documents and witnesses. This dialogue, in the case of the "Apostolic Visit" and the presumed Commissioner, was not reciprocal. A minimum of legality was not even observed in all this administrative criminal proceedings that tried to culminate with a commission.
Even in the unjust judgment of Our Lord there was a certain simulacrum of legal procedure on the part of the scribes and Pharisees. But the current model established by D. Braz de Aviz dispenses with facts, evidence or arguments.
It is evident the lack of transparency in the manipulation of information by the Holy See, disseminating data to the press that were kept hidden to the entities concerned themselves.
In addition to the "filtrations" referred to the Spanish magazine Vida Nueva, the Brazilian weekly Veja (10/10/2019) claims to have had exclusive access to the "testimony of a former member of the Heralds of the Gospel that is included in the file of the research promoted by the Holy See". It is not understood that the press has access to material by its reserved nature and of which not even the "visitors", the commissioners or the accused were aware.
The news of the commissioner was made known to the international press in an untimely and untimely manner by the Press Service of the Holy See itself, before the Commissioner officially notified the interested parties, which allowed it to be used in a way that unscrupulous ly by the sensationalist press, thus illegitimately injured the good fame of the Society and its members, which no one is lawful to do (cf. can. 220).
Everything patents a regrettable lack of dialogue in these measures taken against the Heralds of the Gospel, whose conduct of its members (lay people of the private association of faithful, priests or consecrated societies of apostolic life) has always been characterised by the complete ecclesial communion.
(*) José Manuel Jiménez Aleixandre, Spanish, studied Architecture and Journalism at the Complutense University of Madrid, and holds a PhD in Canon Law from the Pontifical St. Thomas Aquinas University (Angelicum) in Rome.