Rorate Caeli

Tenth Anniversary
of the Personal Apostolic Administration
of Saint John Mary Vianney - Campos, Brazil

On January 18, 2002, the Holy See made public the autograph letter signed by Pope John Paul II on the preceding Christmas Day, in response to a letter sent to him months earlier by the Bishop and Priests of what was then called "Priestly Union of Saint John Mary Vianney", the followers of the bravest of all residential bishops in the world, Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer, assured them he would establish, in the course of the following months, a canonical structure in which they would be free to celebrate, and all the Catholic faithful would be free to attend, the Traditional Latin Mass and all sacraments of the traditional Roman Rite exclusively. On the same day, the decree Animarum Bonum of the Congregation for Bishops was promulgated, with the canonical foundation of the Personal Apostolic Administration "Saint John Mary Vianney" [AAS 94 (2002), 305-308].

Ten years later, in the new world of Summorum Pontificum, the Apostolic Administration of Campos remains the only one in the world with a canonical structure and a bishop dedicated to the Traditional Mass, living side by side and peacefully with the existing Diocese, its Ordinary and clergy. We thank God for this gift - but pray that more similar structures will be available, sooner rather than later, around the world.

[Image: faithful fill the Main Church (Cathedral) of the Apostolic Administration in the ordination of its two most recent priests - December 18, 2011.]



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 17,21).

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 (Is 11,12) - 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 of this 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.



  1. If the late Pope did this for those in Campos, why does the SSPX not make the same application to the present Pontiff? Surely they could expect an identical response? For this we must pray.

  2. Please God, the SSPX will be next...

  3. Do they have the obligation to celebrate the novus ordo mass? I think so. That would be unacceptable for the FSSPX , I believe.

  4. Prof. Basto2:12 AM


    They have no such obligation in Law.

    However, I believe that a praxis was established whereby they do attend the Chrism Mass of the Diocese of Campos, as a display of the Catholic unity of the two ecclesiastical jurisdictions established within the territory of Campos.

    The decree Animarum bonum, that erects the Apostolic Administration, also makes the establishment of new personal parishes of the Administration conditional upon consultations by the Apostolic Administrator with the Diocesan Bishop of Campos; the Apostolic Administrator is however free to erect other churches not with the rank of parish.

    No member of the Apostolic Administration is required to use the novus Ordo.

    However, the present Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Rifan, has decided to take part in concelebrations of the Mass in the Novus Ordo rite on such occasions as the Opening and Closing Liturgies of Plenary Assemblies of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil. Bishop Rifan is, of course, a full member of the Conference, and given that all members concelebrate the Eucharist on those occasions, he has decided to take part, and that decision has attracted criticism from those who expected him never to use the Novus Ordo.

    The Administrator, however, defended his decision, indicating that he would also concelebrate in the novus Ordo, for instance, if summoned to the Synod of Bishops. In that situations, even Eastern Bishops and Patriarchs, although they are of other rites, concelebrate the Latin rite with the Holy Father.

    The decree Animarum bonum confirmed the faculty of the Administration to use the Usus Antiquor as its proper rite in broader terms than the earlier papal letter. Due to a concern raised by the Union St. John Vianney when the papal letter was made public, the Decree includes explicit mention of the other Sacraments and of "all other liturgical actions", thus authorizing the usus antiquor not only for the Mass and the Divine Office, but for every liturgical act:

    "Administrationis Apostolicae facultas tribuitur sacram Eucharistiam, alia sacramenta, Liturgiam Horarum ceterasque liturgicas actiones celebrandi secundum Ritum Romanum ac disciplinam liturgicam ad Sancti Pii V praescripta, una cum acommodationibus quas Successores usque ad Beatum Ioannis XXIII induxerunt".

    Mons. Rifan's Episcopal Consecration in 2002 remains to this day the only Episcopal Consecration approved by Rome that has taken place with the traditional rite since the 1970's.

  5. Maynardus4:36 AM

    The S.S.P.X. could have this "deal" - Campos writ large, as someone more erudite than myself has dubbed it - tomorrow if regularization was all they were seeking. Alas, as much as I agree with them, I'm afraid it has become rather personal. Bishop Rifan, whom I am proud to call a friend, has been inordinately maligned for the small but prudent steps he has taken toward reconciliation with the other 99.9 of the Church; but it is ultimately his approach that will build bridges and bear fruit. One cannot judge the S. S. P.X. harshly for holding out for the best "deal" they can get, but - again, all the while recognizing the legitimacy of their principles - one must take account of the cold hard facts and realize that there will probably never be a better opportunity for them to reintegrate with Our Lord's divinely-institured but humanly-flawed Church than under our presend Holy Father. He's not getting any younger...

    Meanwhile, bom para excelencia Dom Fernando!

  6. Gratias6:02 AM

    Here's to many more years of traditional Latin Mass in Brazil. Congratulations Bp. Rifan and thank you Pope John Paul II.

    It would be nice if the traditional orders such as FSSP and ICK could have similar arrangements, including their own bishops.

  7. P.K.T.P.9:36 AM

    A very small correction: the Decree of Erection was actually signed on Christmas Eve, not Christmas Day. I remember very well the entire event.

    Supertradmum is spot on: now, while the opportunity remains, it is necessary to approve in some way the S.S.P.X, even imperfectly. This Pope should see to this soon, very soon. These long delaying games have become much too dangerous. It is like playing Russian roulette with the Grim Reaper. The Octave of Unity is upon us.


  8. P.K.T.P.9:40 AM

    Prof. Basto:

    There is a duty to consult, yes, but the Bishop of Campos does not have the power to forbid the erection of a personal parish of the Apostolic Administration. Also, while the priests of the A.A. may attend the chrism Mass, they do not concelebrate it. Moreover, any one of them is free to absent himself altogether.


  9. P.K.T.P.9:48 AM

    Dear Maynardus:

    I get the feeling that the deal being considered is less than regularisation. I get the feeling that the Pope may go beyond a public recognition that their Masses fulfil the obligation. He will, I think, recognise all their Sacraments on the grounds of a credible belief in a case of necessity. I also think that a coming revision of the Code might help this new status.

    Until the doctrinal differences can be resolved, I cannot see how a full regularisation is possible--or desirable--at this time. I'm afraid that, to that extent, Mr. McFarland has changed my mind a bit.

    Whatever the Pope may do, I pray ardently that he do it soon. Nobody lives forever and he's not as spry as your average fifty year-old, to put it mildly. But for a fuller reconciliation, there will need to be more than this Pope can bear. This Pope is still a disciple of the 1960s revolution. He can only go so far. Bishop Tissier may be right: at the very least, a regularisation will take thirty more years. In the mean time, there's the small problem of consecrating new Society bishops. That will also likely be addressed in a revision of the Code ....


  10. We have to mention the actual dates of documents, those are their official dates of signing. The letter is dated Dec. 25, the Decree, as we said, was promulgated on Jan. 18, both were made public on Jan.18/Jan.19 - we also remember it well, used the proper words, and thus reject your "correction".


  11. They may not have such an obligation what does it matter when Bishop Rifan acts as if they do? The SSPX could never accept such nonsense, concelebrate a mass which they have rejected for 40 years as dangerous in the name of some imaginary 'eclessial unity'? I think not.

    As great as the structure is, the problem of treating the TLM as a second class liturgy remains, that is they are not completely free of the NO and thus the doctrinal issues which underlie the struggle of tradition are not properly understood or preached.

    I do understand however that they were in a more desperate situation than the SSPX as they had set up a completely alternative diocesan structure.

  12. Thanks much for your answers. Now, in three days time they are supposed to approve the neocatecumenal way liturgy, with all the abuses and shenanigans. Let us prey for the best.

  13. Querymeister2:19 PM


    You say that with the doctrinal differences remaining unresolved, there cannot be full regularisation.

    What about the Ecclesia Dei groups? Any number of their priests have a number of the same doctrinal concerns and reservations, yet they have full canonical status.

    Come to think of it, how well would [or would not] the Doctrinal Preamble go over with priests from FSSP and ICR? [Yes, I used the 'R'!]

  14. P.K.T.P.8:29 PM


    Perhaps he pre-signed it. At the time, the reports said that he signed it on Christmas Eve. They all said that. Perhaps it was dated for Christmas Day. The signing was not made public until mid-January.


  15. P.K.T.P.8:33 PM


    The S.S.P.X was suppressed in 1975 and its priests were suspended a divinis from 1976. So, for it, it is a matter of the Society refusing regularisation until doctrinal problems can be resolved. Rome offered to regularise the Society; it was the Society that refused, not Rome.

    The Ecclesia Dei societies were born as canonical structures. They hold no 'positions' at variance with those of the present curia. Perhaps some of their members do--even most of them--but that is a different matter.


  16. Querymesiter12:17 PM


    How can FSSP and ICR stand for tradition or be traditionalist in any meaningful sense of the term, if they hold no positions at variance with the present Holy See?

  17. Many of the Diocesan Bishops do not believe in the Pope as Supreme Pastor, but in a status of "first among equals" - Pastor inter Pares, as did the, pre-Vatican II 'Anglo-Catholics'.

    These bishops and their 'Conferences', in Collegiality, see themselves as, in effect, National Churches - much as exists in the CofE/Anglican communities at present.

    So, who the Hell actually acknowledges the true status of the Papacy?

    Recent surveys appear to confirm that large swathes of hierarchy, clergy and pew fodder believe in Transubstantiation - is such not De Fide? So who, actually, is a Catholic?

    There are those calling that 'black' is 'white', because the backed Vatican II [as orchestrated in practice] and are attempting to defend the indefensible.

    Nitpicking as regards the status of SSPX, a situation created by psuedo-Catholic hierarchies, is rendered puerile in the light of the state of Mother Church to-day.


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