A Look Back...
Brazilian Bishop Joins Archbishop Lefebvre in "Cry of Alarm" to Pope

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
Bishop Antonio de Castro-Mayer

(Reprinted from The Remnant, January 15, 1984)

Editor’s 2005 Note:  During the run up to Bishop Bernard Fellay of the Society of St. Pius X’s August 29th meeting with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, there were murmurings in some quarters that a deal simply must be struck between the SSPX and the Vatican, especially since, these voices assured us, Archbishop Lefebvre himself would absolutely be amenable to the idea were he still alive today.  But is this necessarily so?  Has the situation in the Church improved so vastly since 1988 that it becomes a simple matter to predict that Archbishop Lefebvre would now reverse his historic resistance?  To shed some light on this interesting speculation, we have decided to reproduce here the joint statement signed by Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro-Mayer in 1983.  If the situation in 1983 struck these two men as being so dire that a strong statement of public resistance was warranted, would it not be curious if our situation 22 years later would strike either of them as anything less than dramatically more precarious? Certainly, the election of Pope Benedict may suggest a change for the better is in the offing; but as there has been no real evidence of this thus far, perhaps Bishop Fellay’s meeting with the new Pope was a mere attempt to ascertain if the winds of change are really beginning to blow in tradition’s direction, or if the dead calm of the last 40 years is to linger on....  One wonders what he learned. MJM

According to a Religious News Service report, the retired Bishop Antonio de Castro-Mayer, 79, of Campos, Brazil, has joined Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre of the Society of St. Pius X and together they have issued a public statement or ‘cry of alarm’ to Pope John Paul.  The RNS report said that Bishop Castro-Mayer’s decision to join with the Archbishop “means that Archbishop Lefebvre is no longer the only prelate to be involved in (the movement’s) leadership.”

Bishop Castro-Mayer’s involvement in the movement was announced December 9 by the Rev. Richard Williamson, Northeast District Superior of the Society in the U.S., at a New York press conference and in France by Archbishop Lefebvre himself.

At the New York press conference, Fr. Williamson released the text of the two bishops’ statement of November 21.  Repeating past criticisms of Vatican II reforms, they said their appeal to the Pope was “rendered all the more urgent by the errors, not to say the heresies, of the new Code of Canon Law and by the public ceremonies and addresses honoring the fifth centenary of the birth of Martin Luther.”  “Truly,” the bishops exclaim, “this is the limit.”

Fr. Williamson described Bishop Castro-Mayer as “the only diocesan bishop daring to permit the Latin Tridentine Mass as the public form of worship” in Brazil.  He said the prelate had become distressed when his successor, Bishop Carlos Alberto Navarro, “immediately instituted every Modernist kind of reform” upon assuming leadership of the Campos diocese.

The joint statement released Nov. 21 by Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Castro-Mayer and signed by both prelates reads as follows:

Open Letter to the Pope

Episcopal Manifesto

      Rio de Janeiro

                                                                                                                             Nov. 21, 1983

Holy Father:

May Your Holiness permit us with an entirely filial openness, to submit to you the following considerations:

During these last twenty years the situation in the Church is such that it looks like an occupied city.

Thousands of members of the clergy and millions of the faithful are living in a state of anguish and perplexity because of the ‘self-destruction of the Church’.  They are being thrown into confusion and disorder by the errors contained in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the post-conciliar reforms and especially the Liturgical Reforms, the false notions diffused by official documents and by the abuse of power perpetrated by the hierarchy.

In these distressing circumstances, many are losing the faith, charity is becoming cold, and the concept of the true unity of the Church in time and in space is disappearing.

In our capacity as Bishops of the Holy Catholic Church, successors of the Apostles, our hearts are overwhelmed at the sight, throughout the world, of so many souls who are bewildered and yet desirous of continuing in the faith and morals which have been defined by the Magisterium of the Church and taught by her in a constant and universal manner.

It seems to us that to remain silent in these circumstances would be to become accomplices to these wicked works (cf.II Jn.II).

That is why, considering that all the measures we have undertaken in private during the last fifteen years have remained ineffectual, we find ourselves obliged to intervene in public before Your Holiness, in order to denounce the principal causes of this dramatic situation and to beseech Your Holiness to use his power as Successor of Peter to “confirm your brothers in the faith” (Lk.22,32) which has been faithfully handed down to us by Apostolic Tradition.

To that end we have attached to this letter an appendix containing the principal errors which are at the origin of this tragic situation and which, moreover, have already been condemned by your predecessors.

The following list outlines these errors, but it is not exhaustive:

1.            A “latitudinarian” and ecumenical notion of the Church, divided in its Faith, condemned in particular by the Syllabus, No. 18 (DS 2918).

2.            A collegial government and democratic orientation in the Church, condemned in particular by Vatican Council I (DS 3055).

3.            A false notion of the natural rights of man, which clearly appears in the document on Religious Freedom [of Vatican II] and was condemned in particular by “Quanta Cura” (Pius IX) and in “Libertas praestantissimum” (Leo XIII).

4.            An erroneous notion of the power of the Pope (cf DS 3115).

5.            A Protestant notion of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments, condemned by the  Council of Trent, session XXII.

6.            Finally, and in a general manner, the free spreading of heresies, characterized by the suppression of the Holy Office.

The documents containing these errors cause an uneasiness and a disarray so much the more profound as they come from a source so much the more elevated.  The Clergy and the faithful most moved by this situation are, moreover, those who are the most attached to the Church, to the authority of the Successor of Peter, to the traditional Magisterium of the Church.

Most Holy Father, it is urgently necessary that this disarray come to an end, because the flock is dispersing and the abandoned sheep are following mercenaries.  We beseech you, for the good of the Catholic Faith and for the salvation of souls, to reaffirm the truths contrary to these errors, truths which have been taught for twenty centuries by the Church.

It is with the sentiments of St. Paul before St. Peter, when he reproached him for having not followed “the truth of the Gospel” (Gal. 2, 11-14), that we are addressing you.  His aim was none other than to protect the faith of the flock.

St. Robert Bellarmine, expressing on this occasion a general moral principle, states that one must resist the Pontiff whose action would be prejudicial to the salvation of souls (De Rom. Pon. 1,2,x.29)

Thus it is with the purpose of coming to the aid of Your Holiness that we utter this cry of alarm, rendered all the more urgent by the errors, not to say the heresies, of the new Code of Canon Law, and by the ceremonies and addresses on the occasion of the fifth centenary of the birth of Luther.  Truly, this is the limit.

May God come to your aid, Most Holy Father, we are praying without ceasing for you to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Deign to accept the sentiments of our filial devotion –

Signed: Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre

Seminaire International S. Pie X

Econe 1908 Riddes (Switzerland)


Signed: Mgr. Antonio de Castro-Mayer

Rua Riachuelo, 169

C.P. 255

28100 Campos (RJ) - Bresil