Apostolic Letter of 25 December 2001

Author: Pope John Paul II


Pope John Paul II

Holy Father sets up Apostolic Administration in Brazil for reconciled schismatics

On 15 August last year, Bishop Licinio Rangel, together with 25 priests of the Union of St John Mary Vianney Campos, Brazil, addressed a letter to the Holy Father in which he expressed his act of full submission to the Catholic Church asking to be absolved from the excommunication incurred on 28 July 1991, when he accepted ordination to the office of Bishop without papal mandate. On the Solemnity of Christmas 2001, the Holy Father sent an Autograph Letter to Bishop Rangel, absolving him from the excommunication and receiving him back into full Catholic communion. Subsequently, the Pope appointed him administrator of a new Apostolic Administration with headquarters in the Diocese of Campos for the pastoral care of the faithful who remain attached to the Tridentine Rite. The Papal Letter, at the request of the Holy Father, was presented to Bishop Rangel in the course of a celebration in the Cathedral of Campos on Friday 18 January, by Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. During this celebration, Bishop Rangel made his profession of faith and took the oath of fidelity to the Supreme Pontiff, declaring at the same time that he accepted all the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

This is a translation of the Latin Autograph Letter of the Holy Father.

To my Venerable Brother
Licinio Rangel
and the beloved Sons of
the Union of St John Mary Vianney
of Campos, Brazil

The unity of the Church is a gift that comes from the Lord, Shepherd and Head of the Mystical Body, but that also requires the certain response of each of the members, who heed the Redeemer's pressing prayer: "that they may all be one; even as you, Father in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn 17,2 1).

With the greatest joy we received your letter of 15 August 2001, with which the whole Union renewed the profession of Catholic faith, declaring full communion with the Chair of Peter, recognizing "his Primacy and the government of the universal Church, her pastors and her faithful", and likewise declaring: "for no reason do we wish to be separated from the Rock (Peter) on which Jesus Christ founded his Church".

With profound pastoral joy we noted your desire to collaborate with the Successor of St Peter in spreading the faith and Catholic doctrine, in being zealous for the honour of the holy Church—who is raised as a sign for the nations (Is11,12)—and in the fight against all who attempt To shake the Barque of Peter, but in vain, for "the powers of death shall not prevail against it' (Mt 16,18).

Let us give thanks to the Lord One and Triune for such good spiritual dispositions!

Having considered all things, and having before our eyes the glory of God, the good of holy Church and her supreme law, that is the salus animarum (salvation of souls; cf. can. 1752, CIC), warmly consenting to your request to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church, we canonically recognize that you belong to her.

At the same time, Venerable Brother, we inform you that the legislative document is being prepared, that will establish the juridical form of the recognition of your ecclesial reality in which respect for your particular situation will be confirmed.

In this document, the Union will be canonically established as a personal Apostolic Administration, directly dependent upon this Apostolic See and with territory in the Diocese of Campos. It will be a cumulative jurisdiction with that of the local Ordinary. Its governance will be entrusted to you, Venerable Brother, and your succession will be assured.

The faculty of the Apostolic Administration to celebrate the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours according to the Roman Rite and the liturgical discipline codified by my Predecessor St Pius V, with the adaptations introduced by his Successors up to Bl. John XXIII, will also be confirmed.

Thus with deep joy, in order to effect full communion, we declare the remission of the censure referred to in can. 1382 of the Code of Canon Law,in all that concerns you, Venerable Brother and, likewise, the remission of all censures and the dispensation from all irregularities incurred by other Members of the Union.

The significant date on which your Letter was signed did not escape our attention, that is, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We entrust this act to her, Holy Mother of God and of the Church, with the hope, that becomes prayer, for an ever more harmonious coexistence among the clergy and faithful ofthis Union and of the beloved Diocese of Campos, for the renewed authentic missionary vigour of the Holy Church.

We wholeheartedly impart a special Apostolic Blessing to all the members of the Union of St John Mary Vianney.

From the Vatican, 25 December, the Solemnity of the Birth of the Lord, in the year 2001, the 24th year of Our Pontificate.

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, President of Ecclesia Dei

Cardinal presents Letter of Canonical Establishment at Campos, Brazil

On Friday, 18 January, in Holy Saviour Cathedral, Campos, Brazil, on the occasion of the establishment of the personal Apostolic Administration "St John Mary Vianney", Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and President of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", presented the Holy Father's Autograph Letter to the Apostolic Administrator. Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos gave the following allocution in Italian. Here is a translation.

1. In the ineffable reality of the Mystical Body of Christ which is the Church, I magnify the Lord who in his tender compassion has prepared this moment of holy joy.

I like to think that the Blessed Virgin Mary, who hastened the hour of the Lord at Cana of Galilee (cf. Jn 2,1-5), who in the Upper Room was the heart of the Church, showing herself to be Mother and Queen of the Apostles (cf. Acts 1,12,14), has guided this journey, in her constant concern.

The Holy Father realized that the letter addressed to him by our dear Brother, Bishop Licinio Rangel, together with the priests of the Union of St John Mary Vianney was written on the date of the Solemnity of the Assumption (15 August 2001). The Pope of the Totus tuus could not but accept, his heart overflowing with joy, your request to be accepted into the fullness of communion and to receive the juridical recognition of your reality as Catholics in the one Church.

I thus bring you the fatherly heart of the Vicar of Christ, the universal Pastor, the Rock, on whom Christ chose to found his Church. I bring you the wide open arms of John Paul II, the Peter of today; his are arms that, like the colonnade of St Peter's, are open in a universal embrace, that is also a pressing invitation to unity, communion and mission!

2. It is true that our time is difficult, it is true that the barque of the Church must sail through stormy waters, stirred up by winds of ideologies and cultures that are anti-human and for this very reason, anti-Christian. It is true that disagreements on the historical and human front can cause the waves to seep into the boat, as happened when the Apostles fearful and dismayed, on the Lake of Gennesaret, appealed to Christ who seemed asleep: "Save us, Lord, we are perishing" (Mt 8,25).

This is true indeed, but a sovereign voice rises above all our troubles, doubts, perplexities and tears, "the" voice: "Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?" (Mt 8,26). "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it" (Mt 16,18). Yes, Peter's barque can find itself in stormy seas, but it enjoys the certainty of divine assistance—"ever tossed on the waves, and ever victorious", an act of faith St Alphonsus Mary de' Liguori liked to repeat.

Christ the Lord is in the boat, Peter, the perpetual principle and visible foundation of the Church's unity is at the helm and the Immaculate Virgin continues down through history to crush the head of the serpent until the end of time (cf. Gn 3,15).

This is the faith that has conquered the world, this is the faith that we glory to profess!

3. Before putting into practice what the Holy Father John Paul II has disposed, I would like to address truly fraternal and cordial thanks to the Venerable Brothers, Bishop Roberto Gomes Guimarães of this Diocese, for his generous and cordial collaboration, and Bishop Licinio Rangel, for his good will and courage in taking this step. My sincere gratitude goes to their patient and generous spokesman, Fr Fernando Rifan. My warm thanks also to the priests of the St John Mary Vianney Association, and to the priests of the Diocese of Campos who, from this day on, will be united in the heart of the Good Shepherd.

However, I must also say an emotional "thank you" here, in the Lord's presence, to all of you, lay people, men and women religious and priests everywhere who have followed, supported and enclosed this process in prayer, and continue to support the holy cause of the seamless garment of Christ.

All labour for this holy cause for which the Saviour prayed (cf. Jn 17,6-26) will always be done joyfully, and I believe that none of us will ever refuse the fatigue.

4. "Where charity and love abide, there God is ever found"! (ex Lit.).

May charity and love abound ever more in this Diocese of Campos and in this Apostolic Administration of St John Mary Vianney, established today through the intercession of Mary, Full of Grace, thereby fulfilling the exhortation of Pope St Leo the Great: "the structure of our unity can not remain firm if the inseparable force of the bond of love has not bound us with inseparable power" (Letter to Bishop Anastasius, 14,1-2,11).

This is my wish, that becomes a prayer.  

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
6 February 2002, page 5

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