Rorate Caeli

Remembering 1988

Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus has a welcome and balanced reminder of the issues involved in the dramatic events of 1988 which led to the consecration, by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer, of the four bishops of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX/SSPX), including the similarities and differences regarding the current developments.

The history of the Rome-SSPX negotiations of late 1987-early 1988 which, in the end, led to the consecrations, is quite complex and it involves many passionate views from all sides. It is important, though, to remember that even after the traumatic Assisi events of 1986, Archbishop Lefebvre never gave up talking to Rome, reaching the point of actually signing with then-Cardinal Ratzinger the famous protocol of May 5, 1988.

Strange things happened on both sides immediately thereafter -- including tremendous pressure on Pope John Paul himself, which prevented Cardinal Ratzinger from presenting the details (implied in the Protocol) which he had promised the Archbishop.


  1. If the concluding remarks at the linked site are any indication, it would appear that the solution is for Rome to admit it was wrong, and concede to those who defied her, whatever the reason. A solution, perhaps, but... balanced?

  2. Not exactly, Mr. Alexander -- at least, that was not the way I saw it. The "archbishop's solution", in the linked site's words, was a timely fulfillment of what had been agreed in 1988 -- and more. If something happens, there will not be any kind of mutual condemnation or confession of culpability...

  3. New Catholic, thanks for the plug. I've been quite pleased with the way you've presented the developments this far, offering, perhaps, one of the fairest presentations avaliable.

    David, while I think Rome lacked the needed backbone in 1988 (I suspect they had the same threats of outright schism by the French bishops and such that were rumored after the 2000 talks) I don't think any of these men would admit they made an error. We can look at Campos as a model here. Bishop Rangel (who was consecrated by the SSPX bishops) was never formally absolved of some schism or excommunication, it all just disappeared without any condemnation.

    I've posted an update to the article. Rome has always left a few of the very pertinent questions unanswered (particularly the issue over Canons 1324 and 1325) and could always invoke those and not have to admit any fault. They could even justify it, saying that with new information it is clear that there was no ill will or bad intention. The alternative is for the SSPX to admit fault, which they also clearly will not do.


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