January 9, 2002
volume 13, no. 3

Econe denies existence of agreement with Rome

Despite rumors that the Pope signed an agreement on Christmas Eve with the Traditional Fraternity of St. John-Marie Vianney of Campos, Brazil, skeptics are concerned about the roadblock the Assisi summit represents in coming to an agreement without 'selling the farm,' so to speak.

Menzingen, December 30 2001 (APIC)

    The Society of Saint Pius X in Menzingen (Switzerland) deny the existence of an agreement between themselves and Pope John Paul II. It has been reported that a decree was signed in Rome by the Pope. This document concerned however only the traditionalists of Campos, in Brazil. In an article published in October, APIC (International Catholic Press Agency) brought out that discussions were ongoing between these traditionalist Brazilian members and Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos. Contrary to the rumours, " no agreement was signed between the Vatican and the Fraternity ", they affirm this in an official statement published this weekend. " According to our information, write the SSPX, the Sovereign Pontiff signed a decree on Christmas Eve. This agreement relates exclusively to the Society of Jean-Marie Vianney of Campos, in Brazil ".

    The Society says it is totally unaware of the exact content of the text. "What concerns us, specifically on the part of Menzingen, is that we are still awaiting a reply to our letter of June 22 2001 ". In other words, Menzingen confirms that there is no new development in its relationship with Rome, and that no agreement is in sight. " Quite to the contrary, we regard the Day of prayer of the religions with Assisi planned on January 24 2002 as a new major obstacle to union with the Vatican ". In open discussion in October with Cardinal Castrillon the Traditionalist Catholic Society of Saint-Jean-Marie Vianney, resulting from the 'schism' of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and located in the diocese of Campos, Brazil, studied this autumn the possibility of returning to full communion with Rome. The APIC brought out last October that discussions then took place in the Holy See with Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos. Discussions, we wrote, which could, according to Vatican sources', end positively.

    Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who received a direct mandate from Pope John Paul II to deal with relations with the traditionalists of Msgr Lefebvre, had discussions in fact with an " emissary " of the Fraternity of Saint-Jean-Marie Vianney, in order to study, according to Vatican sources, the conditions of their reunion into the Catholic Church and their insertion into the Brazilian diocese of Campos, near Rio de Janeiro. This society was set up in 1988 after the 'announced excommunication' of Mgr Lefebvre and currently includes 20 priests and a bishop, Mgr Liciano Rangel, ordained by the four bishops who themselves had been ordained by Mgr Lefebvre. Inside the diocese of Campos (with a population of 900,000, of which 836, 000 are Catholics (92%), they make up a kind of parallel religious constituency with about 20 some parishes and a few thousand faithful. During the last ten years, the relations between the official bishop and that of the society were painful. But the recent nomination as bishop of a priest native to the diocese, Msgr Gomes Guimaraes, obviously alleviated the situation and allowed the opening of a dialogue.

The Agreement

    The Holy See and the diocese of Campos could, we already wrote in October, propose to Mgr Liciano Rangel that he become auxiliary bishop. Even if he has been excommunicated, the ordination of this bishop is valid and a simple legal document would enable him to regain full communion with Rome, just like his priests and faithful. This society of Saint-Jean-Marie Vianney is distinct and independent from the Society of Saint Pius X, led by one of the four bishops, Msgr Bernard Fellay. The approaches to Rome by Msgr Liciano Rangel thus would not have direct effects on the positions of the Society of St. Pius X.,at least according to Vatican sources. The latter indeed still await an answer from Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos to the open letter sent in June by Msgr. Fellay. This letter explained why " the pragmatic solution which is proposed does not solve the basic problem which must be considered at least in principle." (apic/imed/pr) 30.12.2001 - APIC

    Catholic World News added that Bishop Rangel was ordained by the traditionalist bishops who themselves were ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre in the first act of the 'schism.' The episcopal ordinations were 'illicit,' and those who participated-- including Bishop Rangel-- incurred the penalty of 'excommunication.' However, those ordinations were also valid, and the Holy See could recognize Bishop Rangel by a simple act, lifting the 'excommunication,' and making him an auxiliary bishop of the Campos diocese. The talks aimed toward such a solution may have been accelerated by the fact that Bishop Rangel is suffering from cancer.

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For previous articles regarding matters that affect the Ecclesia Dei commission, see Archived installments

January 9, 2002
volume 13, no. 3
Exspectans exspectavimus Ecclesia Dei
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