A handful of diocesan priests had been opposing the "too conservative" diocesan bishop since Oliveris's appointment by Pope John Paul II. Several times, with the help of a local daily newspaper, the liberal Secolo XIX, they unsuccessfully intrigued against the bishop.
With the election of Pope Francis, the bishops found an ear in Rome
The situation in the internal Church dispute changed suddenly with the election of Pope Francis. The opponents of the bishop suddenly found themselves an ear Rome about the bishop "di stampo tradizionalista" (traditionalist inclination), as he was called. Bishop Oliveri was a member of the Roman Congregation for Divine Worship and the Order of the Sacraments, as well as a member of the Congregation of Clergy.
The beginning of the end of Msgr. Oliveri as diocesan bishop of Albenga-Imperia was the provisional administration by the Congregation of Religious of the Franciscans of the Immaculata, which was imposed in July 2013 with the approval of Pope Francis. Under Bishop Oliveri, the Order had set up three branches in the diocese, as well as the Marian pilgrimage site and Mass locations in the traditional rite.
Bishop Oliveri was the only bishop to turn to the Holy See in the second half of the year, defending the traditional Father Stefano Maria Manelli. It was a gesture that did not sit well with either the Apostolic Commissioner or the Holy See. The reaction to the episcopal defenses was not long in coming. The Commissioner closed all three religious branches in the diocese shortly before Christmas 2013.
Campaign against Bishop Oliveri
A short time later, the daily Il Secolo XIX, which had already initiated a campaign against the bishop in the previous years, opened a large-scale campaign against Monsignor Oliveri. The newspaper eagerly reported what had been given to it by Church leaders. When the campaign was launched, these insiders apparently had already done some work in Rome, because the newspaper already suggested a possible removal of the bishop.
"Is this the poor church that Pope Francis wishes?"
"Is this the poor church that Pope Francis wishes?" The Secolo XIX revolted by the sight of seminarians in this image with Bishop Oliveri.
"After a long series of scandals involving numerous priests of his diocese," Pope Francis had initiated an investigation. This is what you can read on the Italian Wikipedia page, which is certainly not a guarantor of neutrality. The reality, however, looks different: big headlines, little content.
Pope Francis had been disturbed the "preference" for baroque chasubles and surpluses with lace, according to Secolo XIX. A reproach, which was supposed to suggest "pomposity", actually meant the rejection of the traditional liturgy.
"Is this the poor church that Pope Francis wants?" The daily newspaper Secolo XIX asked with artificial indignation under the picture here, which shows Bishop Oliveri with seminarians.
"Prayed For Benedict XVI"
Priests were also accused of "inappropriate" behavior, and in cleverly formulated sentences they suggested sexual misconceptions of all kinds. On closer examination of the sentences, no concrete accusations were raised, which would be capable of defending successfully if they were prosecuted for defamation.
Priests would "continue" to pray for Benedict XVI. raged Secolo XIX, scandalized that Masses in the traditional rite were close to secret societies ( "semicarbonare", in reference to the Masonic Carbonari in Italy in the first half of the 19th century). In short: the usual ingredients with which secular media nowadays expose a Catholic bishop and Catholic priest to public mockery and leads to social ostracism. Actions of this kind usually take place from antagonistic circles in the Church, who use the help of willing media to carry out their intrigues.
Transitional period 2015: Bishop-Koadjutor Borghetti (front), Bishop Oliveri (behind).
In his little diocese, Bishop Oliveri had more seminarians than some large dioceses. But even that had to be bad since he was "conservative." In the meantime, seminarians are quite undesired in some "modern" and laity-oriented dioceses. The more seminarians, the more "suspect" is a bishop, he is "Conservative" or - even worse - "traditional." Pope Francis "does not like it", said the Secolo XIX 2014, reporting that the seminarians were "wearing the most precious surplices" and in the majority coming from "other dioceses". The first accusation is simply silly, as the picture published in the accusation shows (see above). The second is that young men who are called to the priesthood who seek a seminary in which the sacramental priesthood is not questioned and the formation of a priestly self-consciousness is not hampered. Liberal dioceses are not at the same time reproached for the fact that they have more seminarians from Africa than native ones. It is still problematic that in the dioceses of the German-speaking world, a quarter to one third of the total clergy, whether lent or incardinated, come from Poland and Nigeria.
"Excessive attachment to the traditional liturgy"
The accusation collection of the Secolo XIX, which for a whole year was the driving force against Bishop Oliveri, contained in the same paragraph the accusation of having ordained "gay" priests and ordaining "anti-gays." Both were charged by the newspaper accusingly, whereby - hardly surprisingly - only the allegedly "anti-gay" priests were actually named. The bishop was also accused of having ordained priests who actually take seriously the existence of the devil and hell.
The main assertion can be found only in the last paragraph of a long indictment and slander of the Secolo XIX of October 31, 2014:
"The exaggerated attachment to the traditional liturgy - almost all the altars of the diocese were turned around as a tribute to the Motu proprio [Summorum Pontificum] granted by Ratzinger - will be examined in future by Francis."
With "turned altars" the daily newspaper said that again ad Deum or ad orientem was celebrated and no longer turned to the people according to the Protestant example. This was the real, unheard-of "scandal" of Bishop Oliveri. Bishop Oliveri had been the first diocesan bishop of the world in 2008, according to the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum by Pope Benedict XVI. a pontifical High Mass from the throne. Seven Franciscan nuns of the Immaculata, at that time, made their solemn profession in the Convent of Imperia before the bishop. Someone in the church had been present to observe this unfavorably.
The new bishop: "I do not like to celebrate the Mass on a false altar"
After a year of stiring the pot, Bishop Oliveri was defacto disempowered by Francis on January 10, 2015, without mentioning reasons, by appointing to him a Bishop Coadjutor. On September 1, 2016 Bishop Oliveri became emeritus, and the Coadjutor, Guglielmo Borghetti became the new diocesan bishop of Albenga-Imperia. In the official language it was suddenly said that everything would remain the same, with which, after successful settlements, even the believing Catholics would be reassured.
A year and a half later, things are quite different. Secolo XIX reported on 22 October with satisfaction at the first measures of the new bishop:
"The new course of Borghetti: altar facing the faithful. Stopping the nostalgic priests from celebrating Mass with their backs turned to the people."
Bishop Borghetti is quoted in the Saturday edition with the sentence:
"I do not like to come to parishes and celebrate mass on a false altar: all the churches must have beautiful altars facing the people."
The bishop used the word "posticcio", which means "artificial", "false", "ambiguous".
The Secolo XIX said in the usual aggressive tone:
"No more celebrations with the priest, who turns his back on the people of God, except in small chapels (...) In short, the opening of Benedict XVI. For the Latin Mass has to refer to exceptions, not to a general tendency."
"Little notion of the poor Church of Pope Francis, open to the people of God"
In order to avoid any doubt, Bishop Borghetti promised a drawing that would show the "ideal altar space" according to which the priests would have to address themselves, according to the newspaper.
Of the "sex scandals" drummed up for a whole year, the newspaper knows nothing more than at the appointment of Borghetti as the Coadjutor. A mocking page, however, was also missing in the article of October 22nd. It once again reveals the real, ideologically motivated background:
"Who knows how those priests who have replaced the 'counciliar altar' with the traditional one and who have little idea of the poor Church of Pope Francis and Bishop Borghetti, who have been open to the people of God, have ever anticipated by the Council?"
Whoever defends faith and liturgy in the traditional form has therefore "little knowledge of the poor Church" of Pope Francis and is against the "people of God."
Officially, Bishop Borghetti emphasized several times, not to distinguish between "progressive" and "traditionalists". Such "categories" do not exist for him, but "only Church ecclesiastics. What also applies in the Church is also true in Albenga-Imperia," the bishop said. The rest is a matter of interpretation.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Secolo XIX / MiL (Screenshots)
Trans: Tancred firstname.lastname@example.org