Superior General's Letters

Press release from SSPX Bishop Bernard Fellay
with respect to the priests of Campos

January 16, 2002
Feast of Saint Marcel

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