On January 18, 2002, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos will read, in the cathedral of Campos, various documents by which Pope John Paul II erects an apostolic administration for the (traditional) priests of Campos and the faithful who are associated with them. Bishop Rangel is recognized as a Catholic bishop and named as the head of the new administration. This administration will have the right to use the 1962 liturgical books, that is to say the Tridentine Mass. The censures “possibly incurred” (sic) will be lifted. The Pope accepts the offer from the priests of Campos to combat heresy in the Church.
Bishop Rangel will make a profession of Faith, in the name of everyone, and a declaration, in which he recognizes John Paul II as Pope, the bishop of the diocese as the legitimate bishop and Vatican Council II as a council of the Catholic Church. He will nevertheless state that he reserves the right to criticize in a positive way that which is not in conformity with Tradition. Likewise for the New Mass, recognized as valid in itself, but which also is subject to constructive criticism.
The Society of Saint Pius X remarks that this outcome is the fruit of a peace separated from itself. In order to obtain it, the Campos priests had to separate themselves, to some extent, from the Society of Saint Pius X. The Society takes note of the hastiness and the partially hidden character of the negotiations that preceded the present recognition. They have abandoned, for example, the condition concerning the Tridentine Mass that would have granted every priest the right to celebrate it freely. All of this is not good, for strength lies in unity. We cannot say either that by this act the crisis in the Church has been overcome. It could be a step in this direction. The future will tell us.
The Fathers from Campos affirm that they will continue the combat for Tradition. It must also be acknowledged that no substantial concession on a doctrinal level has been made. Time alone will determine how Rome permits the development of this work. With respect to this, the choice of the successor for Bishop Licinio Rangel will be of great importance. This question is not decided. The same can be said for the juridical status of the administration, also not decided.
What will be, henceforth, their relations with Rome and with us? It is again time that will determine this. The new situation that has been created will be a test for the future. The Society remains very reserved, and watches apprehensively as close as possible the development of the work, while waiting to see its fruits. It is by its fruits that a tree is to be judged.
It must be acknowledged that, for the first time, a diocesan kind of structure has been granted to Tradition. A traditional bishop is now recognized as such, as fully Catholic.
We pray that all this work together for the good of Tradition and of the Church, despite the mixed feelings that we feel for the time being. We only desire to continue our work in the spirit and according to the principles handed down to us by Archbishop Lefebvre.
On the feast of Saint Marcel,
+ Bernard Fellay
My Brothers in Christ and My Friends,
With great sorrow I read today that you are now “considered perfectly inserted in the Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Church.” I never knew you left. During those memorable days when I visited you in 1991 while doing research for my book on your great and honored Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer, I had the privilege of witnessing the Catholic life of your diocese, the most perfect embodiment of the Catholic life in a contemporary setting which I have ever witnessed and so much more than I could ever imagine. What a blessing you have been granted! What extraordinary graces you have received, undoubtedly through the prayers and sacrifices and work of the unique Bishop who tended the flock of Campos as shepherd for so many decades. In what way were you not then Catholic? In what way were you separated from the Church?
Your announcement that the Holy Father has signed a “letter of entrance,” welcoming you “in full ecclesial communion” along with “the Catholic faithful (you) assist” suggests that there had been some separation with Rome, that you were in fact in some sort of schism. Had not the Catholic Faith been handed down intact and in perfect fullness from Our Lord Jesus Christ through His Apostles and through the Bishops of His Church until it came to be passed throughout the Diocese of Campos in our time by the fully Catholic Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer? What did he teach you which was not Catholic? Where did he lead you that left you separated from Rome and thus needing to “return”?
The sad fact is clear, even though the details are not yet fully revealed. You have signed an agreement with Modernist Rome and thereby turned your back on the great legacy of your great and beloved Bishop who left you in April of 1991, left you because God called him home, left you secure and Catholic and well provided for. His legacy has now been compromised through the compromise which must have been made with the current power players in Modernist and Progressive Rome, distinct and separate itself from Eternal Rome. To affect a compromise, one must assume leaving one’s position and moving toward a middle ground. The position you must leave is the fullness of the Tradition of the Catholic Faith; the new position you must reach is closer to the outskirts of the New Rome, the Rome of bureaucrats and ambiguous talk and ecumenism and collegiality and religious liberty, all the temptations and errors against which your good pastor so courageously and so comprehensively warned and instructed you.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his memorable and insightful address at the Harvard commencement ceremonies in 1978 stated that “a decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outsider observer notices in the West in our days.” For many years the name of the Diocese of Campos has brought to Catholic souls battling error and decay in their own parishes, the clear and resounding call to Catholic courage. In our apostate times, perseverance becomes an act of courage. The colossal moral and spiritual stature of the small human man who was your Bishop stood as a model for Catholic courage. Do you now cut his memory and legacy down to merely human size? Will the name of Campos no longer loudly ring with courage but echo distantly with compromise?
Who can doubt your discomfort or not sympathize with the loneliness you must have felt over the years? A small group of priests, organized together as the Priestly Society of Saint Jean Marie Vianney, carrying on the work of Mother Church in isolation, unnoticed, ignored, except when vilified by the voices of those who long ago made their compromises. But what could be more indicative of your true role as alter Christi if not your work in loneliness and sorrow, with those mocking and derisive voices assailing you? To imagine yourselves now “inserted in the Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Church” is no solution. You may have a few moments in bonhomie with red and scarlet and purple in the cool marble palaces of the Eternal City, but will Tradition continue in the Diocese of Campos after the compromising and celebrating? How have all other traditional groups fared once they have put themselves under the sway of Modernist Rome? I will not give you the litany of loss and change for you are already aware of it; I will just ask you where is the Traditional Bishop promised to the Fraternity of Saint Peter fourteen years ago? Are the prelates in Modernist Rome to be trusted? Will they deliver to you on the promises they have made? I quote the wise Solzhenitsyn again, “Should one point out that from ancient times decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?”
You have announced that in a solemn ceremony to be held in the Cathedral of the Most Holy Savior by His Eminence, Cardinal Msgr. Dario Castrillon, Prefect of the Holy Congregation for the Clergy, in the name of the Holy Father, the Pope, on the 18th January, there will be a reading of documents and the singing of the “Te Deum.” The 18th of January also begins the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” decreed by Rome which will culminate in the Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi on January 24th, the second such ecumenical outrage in recent years, a kind of gathering condemned, as you well know, by earlier popes. Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer in a joint statement with Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre spoke with the voice of Roman Catholic Tradition in condemning the gathering of religions at Assisi in October of 1987 [sic; the event actually occurred in 1986; wb’s], the first such outrageous ecumenical prayer venture. Have you forgotten his wise and proscriptive words? Will you now join your hands in prayer with Modernist Rome as it openly violates the First Commandment of God and prays with Lutherans and Anglicans and Muslims and Deists and animists in defiance of Catholic Tradition and then will you pretend still to be Traditionalists? Have you forgotten your own words when in your public Profession of Faith in 1982 you rejected “the ecumenism that makes the Faith grow cold and makes us forget our Catholic identity, seeking to negate the antagonism between light and darkness, between Christ and Belial…” ?
You may protest that you will maintain Traditionalism in your diocese, that you will still celebrate the Mass of All Time and teach the old catechisms and carry on in the Traditional ways. But do you not understand that in compromising you accept an absurd contradiction, an illogical proposition that any sane mind must condemn – that Mother Church in Her Divine Authority can teach contradictory ideas at different times and pretend they are both true. How can your Traditionalism co-exist with Modernism? How can the Mass of All Time be equivalent with the newfangled human contrivance? How can Catholics be forbidden from ecumenical prayer at one time and then encouraged in such actions at a later time? As Hamlet says, when staring at the skull of Yorick, the “gorge rises at it.” Such a stark and deadly affront to reason is horrifying. Are you now willing to play this absurd Modernist game with Modernist Rome? Many weary and troubled Catholics will feel the weight of your decision. Already the remarks are circulating that you have “sold out” and “caved in” and “given up”. The truth is you have abandoned reason. May I remind you of the words of a prayer you have often prayed? “…Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper et in saecula saeculorum…” As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end.
In his courageous statement of June 30, 1988, in Econe, on the occasion of the consecration of Traditional Bishops by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, your courageous Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer in his message of support and unity spoke the following words: “It is sorrowful to see the lamentable blindness of so many confreres in the Episcopacy and the priesthood, who do not see, or who do not wish to see, the present crisis in order to be faithful to the mission which God has confided to us, to resist the modernism at present ruling.”
You no longer “wish to see the present crisis”; you no longer wish “to resist the modernism at present ruling.” By your action of compromise with the “modernism at present ruling,” you have increased the sorrow of your great Bishop; you have increased the sorrow of your devoted friends. Our Lord in His agony in the garden certainly suffered from the hatred of His enemies, but such suffering was nothing compared to the certain knowledge that He would be betrayed and denied by His friends and disciples.
Be assured of my prayers.
David Allen White