May 2002 Print

The Campos Situtation

This document, released by Bishop Fellay in February [2002], gives some insights into the current matter of the Apostolic Administration of the Priestly Society of Saint John Mary Vianney and its position within the Conciliar Church.

The joining together, at an interval of only a few days, of Rome's recognition of Campos, which some consider to be a recognition of Tradition, and of the day of Assisi, which is totally opposed to Tradition, manifests such a contradiction that we are obliged to take a more profound look at it. The systematic destruction, since Vatican II, of everything that is traditional in the Church, demands that there be a logical consistency in the undertaking of this work. Before accepting the recognition of Campos as the return of Rome to Tradition, we are obliged to ask ourselves if this event could also be considered, and indeed if it must be considered, within the framework of the post-conciliar mindset. It is precisely the day of Assisi that furnishes an argument capable of proving this thesis. If post-conciliar Rome is capable of bringing so many religions together, and we could even say all religions, for a common religious cause, how could it not find also a small place for Tradition?

Must we acknowledge that for Rome these two things are necessarily opposed: on the one hand the continuing of the reforms, and on the other the reabsorbing of "the schism of Tradition" in accepting this Tradition, although it has shown itself up to date exclusive and condemnatory (which also means accepting that Tradition was right against modernist Rome)? It is quite manifest that the continuing of the reforms is maintained as an untouchable and irreversible principle. Hence the condition that Rome must impose for the acceptation of a traditional movement is an agreement in principle on the Council (although nuances and some conclusions would be open to discussion). It is the obvious step. This means the imposition of the entry of Tradition into pluralism under the appearance of recognition by Rome. It is not the return of the post-conciliar Church to Tradition. Cardinal Castrillón rebuked me for exposing this argument. According to him, it is not in the name of pluralism that Rome desires our return, and Rome does not desire to place us in a pluralist situation. And yet...

Bishop Licinio Rangel (left) is embraced by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos in front of the Novus Ordo altar of the Basilica Cathedral of the Most Holy Savior, Campos, Brazil.

Cardinal Castrillón, the architect of the Campos agreement, expressed the condition for bringing about this new prodigy even before the beginning of the discussions, in an article in 30 Days first published in the fall of 2000, and then in La Nef and finally in Campos, during a press conference given on January 19, 2002. Furthermore, Fr. Cottier, the theologian of the Papal household, did not use any other argument: the acceptance of the Council is manifestly the major and determining factor. After it comes acceptance of the New Mass. This is the principle from which the revolution in the Church flowed, and in fact everything follows from it. Given this fact, it seems to me that we find ourselves before one more ambiguity with respect to the conciliar Church. When we say that we accept the Council with restrictions (namely, the refusing of anything that is contrary to the Church's continuous teaching, interpreting ambiguous passages in the light of Tradition, and accepting what has always been taught), it seems indeed that we are saying something quite different from what the Roman authorities understand. For, fundamentally, we consider this Council as the great catastrophe of the 20th century and the cause of incalculable damage inflicted upon the Church and upon souls, whereas they see it as the great miracle of the 20th century, the cause of the Church's rejuvenation. Everything else follows: Fr. Georges Cottier announced that the next step expected from Campos is the concelebration of the New Mass, of course, Msgr. Perl stated that this would be done piano piano, or little by little. Little by little, the Campos priests and faithful will be reintegrated into the diocese and the post-conciliar "Church." Nevertheless, he also predicts that this will take place rather quickly. These thoughts cannot be attributed to Msgr Perl simply on account of revenge for having been kept apart from the negotiations: this is the main reflection of conciliar Rome.

Campos does not want to acknowledge it, The reality will become obvious to them quite quickly. Very likely, it will be too late. They still think that as far as Rome is concerned, this is the recognition of Tradition. But it is the contrary that has just happened. A part of Tradition, a traditional movement, has accepted, albeit it with some reservations, the post-conciliar reality. Rome feels that this is a big enough step. It must, moreover; be said that for the first time one non-dogmatic Council has been made into a criterion that determines one's Catholicity.

Let us wait for the publication of the final statutes of the Apostolic Administration, for they have not yet been communicated to those who are involved. The text that was read to the Campos priests on the eve of January 18 has been taken back to Rome to be improved. One word was missing. Only the traditional Mass and Breviary were foreseen. It contained nothing concerning the administration of the sacraments. Furthermore, the nomination of the Administration's bishop is to be governed by the Church's common law. In the choice of diocesan bishops, the Vatican is not obliged to choose a priest of the diocese. For an administration that has only 25 priests, it could easily be understood that Rome might not want to be bound by such a limitation. It is not certain that the immediate successor of Bishop Rangel will still be chosen from amongst the members of the Priestly Union of Saint John Mary Vianney. However, if it is the case, it will only be by a special and diplomatic "mercy," It is also to be noted that the territorial limits of this personal Apostolic Administration are very strict: the diocese of Campos. Thus the reintegration of the priests into the diocese, which has already been announced by Msgr. Perl, will not be difficult to bring about.

We must admit that we cannot understand how, given the present situation that we are living through, Campos could have jumped into such a chancy enterprise without taking or demanding any measure of protection. One can praise as much as one likes the advantages acquired by the new canonical structure, such as the right to the traditional Mass, and also to a traditional bishop. However the fact remains on paper that nothing substantial has been conceded. The fragility of the administration on the one hand, and the maintaining on the other hand of the Vatican's principle of reform, are sufficient arguments to predict the fall of Campos, despite all their declarations, made with the best of intentions. Furthermore, the lack of the virtue of Faith itself must be distinguished from the failure in the public profession of the Faith that is necessary in certain circumstances, as Bishop de Castro Mayer reminded us so well on the day of the Episcopal consecrations. However a failure to express the Faith such as took place at Assisi, demands such a public profession...that we did not hear coming from Campos.

The situation would only become of special interest to us if suddenly they decided to resist and to bring about a confrontation with modernist Rome.

+ Bishop Bernard Fellay


(Translated from D.I.C.I. [Documentations Informations Catholiques Internationales], No. 44)