Declaration of the Priests of Campos


The faithful of the diocese of Campos had felt the pain of solitude for many months. Their retired Bishop, Antonio de Castro Mayer, had died on April 25, 1991. Bishop de Castro Mayer had always been a strong, visible presence throughout the diocese, even in retirement, but his increasing ill health and confinement made many feel he had already been removed from them before God called him home. They had faced strong persecution from Bishop Carlos Navarro who had now been replaced by another Bishop, Joao Corso, who ignored them. They had to have a bishop to survive.

On June 28, 1991, the priests of Campos announced that a new bishop would be consecrated for the faithful of Campos. He would have no jurisdiction, as Rome had sent a bishop for the diocese, but would be a bishop for tens of thousands of faithful traditional Catholics. The Consecration which was originally to be have been performed by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, would now, after the death of the Archbishop, be preformed by the bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X, the bishops consecrated at Ecône, where Bishop de Castro Mayer had been co-consecrator.

On the occasion of the episcopal consecration of Msgr. Licinio Rangel, which took place on July 28, 1991 in St. Fidelis, Brazil (in the diocese of Campos), to continue the apostolate of Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer.

Our Doctrinal Position

We are Roman, Catholic, Apostolic, and because of this, we profess the Catholic Faith entirely and completely, such as it was always professed and transmitted faithfully and exactly by the Church, by the Popes, and by the Councils, in perfect continuity and homogenuity, without making an exception of one sole article. In like manner, we reject and anathematize all that was rejected and anathematized by Holy Mother Church. We are neither a sect nor a party, and because of this, we do not have our own doctrine; our doctrine is exclusively that of Holy Mother the Church. We are Catholics, and only Catholics. The complete reason for our resistance is that we are and we will to be always authentic Catholics, with the grace of God. Let it be quite clear that the consecration of a bishop for the faithful of Tradition in Brazil does not signify an act of rebellion, nor of disobedience, contestation, schism, or rupture with the Catholic Apostolic Roman Church, or with the Holy See, but constitutes an act of fidelity and obedience to the supreme law of the Church, the Pope, and “the salvation of souls,” which because of the very grave and abnormal state of necessity which the Church finds herself in, constrains us, for the survival of Tradition and the Catholic priesthood, to not observe certain inferior disciplinary laws, though we do so with hearts filled with sorrow.

The Necessity

A bishop authentically Catholic, that is, faithful to the Tradition of Holy Mother Church, is absolutely necessary in order to pursue exactly the finality for which Jesus Christ founded His Church: to lead men to heaven, teaching them true doctrine and giving them grace by means of the sacraments. Now in the present situation of extraordinary crisis which Holy Mother Church is passing through, with her hierarchy sponsoring directly or indirectly her destruction — “auto-demolition” — and for that matter, only naming, systematically, bishops who have compromised with progressivism, this extraordinary episcopal consecration imposes itself on us as an act that we call “Operation Survival of Tradition.” This crisis can easily be compared to that of Arianism, during which the majority of bishops betrayed the duties of their charge and during which Saint Athanasius, the valiant defender of the traditional faith, was excommunicated by Pope Liberius, who favored the heresy. This situation of crisis gives place to right and the duty of necessity, as St. Theodore Studite well explains: “Because of imperious necessity, in this critical period when heresy dominates, everything is not done exactly according to what was established in time of peace. This is precisely what blessed Athanasius and holy Eusebius did. Both imposed hands outside of the limits (of their jurisdiction). We see that the same thing occurs equally in our days of the present heresy” (Patrologiae Graecae Migne, T.XCIX, Co1.1645-48).

But the will of the Pope?

The juridical will of the Pope is expressed in the “Code of Canon Law” (Can.1752), promulgated by His Holiness John-Paul II which affirms that “the supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls.” Now it is very certain that according to Catholic doctrine, bishops authentically Catholic, that is to say, faithful to Tradition, are necessary for the salvation of souls. The Pope, in so far as he is Pope, cannot not will the salvation of souls and, therefore, traditional bishops. Consequently, the explicit refusal on the part of the Pope to authorize the consecration of Catholic bishops not compromised by the errors of progressivism is an unjust act and juridically invalid, from the fact that this refusal goes against the common good of the Church and places itself in the line of its autodemolition. Moreover, Saint Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church, teaches us that it “is licit to resist the sovereign Pontiff who would attempt to destroy the Church. I say that it is licit to resist him in not accomplishing what he orders and in going against the execution of his will” (De Romano Pontifice, L.II, c.29).

And Schism?

The Dictionary of Catholic Theology (co1.1302) affirms that the theologians always took care to note that schism is an illegitimate separation from the unity of the Church for, according to their teaching, there could be a legitimate separation from authority if, for example, someone would refuse to obey the Pope when he would order something bad or unseemly. And legitimate separation exists when Catholics see themselves as having the obligation to separate from authority so as not to lose the Faith, as did Saint Maximius and Saint Sophronius, vis-a-vis Pope Honorius I, and Saint Athanasius, vis-a-vis Pope Liberius. What’s more, there is a theological and canonical error which affirms that an episcopal consecration without the mandate of the Pope constitutes in itself schism.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, the greatest Doctor of the Church, specifies that “schismatics are those who, by their own will and intentionally, separate themselves from the unity of the Church” (Summa Theologica IIa-IIae, Question 39, Article 1). Now this is absolutely neither our intention nor our will. On the contrary, it is precisely because we wish to continue to be Catholics, Apostolic and Roman, that we are performing this consecration, Operation Survival of Tradition; motivated by the extraordinary situation of the Church. There is not any intention of schism or of rupture.

St. Thomas explains further that an act of disobedience does not constitute a schism, if it is not accompanied by a rebellion against the function of the Pope. Now, there is not any rebellion against the function of the Pope, of whom we recognize the primacy and the government over the Church as well as the power of reserving to himself the consecration of bishops. We hold simply that the present Pope finds himself morally impeded from providing the Church with good bishops, in the measure where he himself presides at its auto-demolition. Later on, the Pope will recognize that the greatest service rendered to the Church and to himself, in these times of crisis, was the consecration of bishops faithful to Tradition.

As the present dean of the faculty of Canon Law at the Catholic Institute of Paris, Father Patrick Valdrini, has clearly explained, “It is not the consecration of a bishop which creates a schism; what constitutes a schism is to confer afterwards upon these bishops an Apostolic mission. For this usurpation of the powers of the sovereign Pontiff would be the proof that a parallel Church would be thus formed.” Now, there has never been a question for us of forming a parallel Church. It is due to this that the consecrated bishop will not have territorial jurisdiction or a diocese. We recognize as the diocesan bishop of Campos the bishop named by His Holiness Pope John Paul II, Dom Joao Corso. The consecrated bishop will only have the duty of suppliance, fortified with a personal, non-territorial jurisdiction, in order to respond to the spiritual needs of the traditional faithful who have a right to the sacraments and to the spiritual succor of the Church. Ordinarily, the jurisdiction of the bishop comes from the hierarchy, but in extraordinary periods, when the hierarchy fails in its principal duty of providing the Church with good bishops, the Church comes to the aid of those souls in danger, herself giving the jurisdiction. The new bishop will be thus provided with a case by case jurisdiction, for each case of necessity, supplied by the Church. There is not then any parallel Church, and, consequently, no schism.

Finally, the Code of Canon Law, both the new and the old, does not place the consecration of bishops without pontifical mandate under the title “of offenses against religion and the unity of the Church,” where the case of schism is found reproved; this demonstrates that the illustrious cardinals, theologians, and canonists who were the editors of the code did not consider that such a consecration constitutes in itself a schism.

What’s more, the fact that the episcopal consecration without pontifical mandate, until 1951, was not punished with ex-communication whereas schism has always been, demonstrates clearly that in itself, of its own nature, such a consecration does not constitute a schism. Pope Pius XII decreed the excommunication because of the consecration of pro-Marxist bishops in Communist China who formed a parallel Church submitted to the Chinese government, which is far from being our case.

And the Excommunication?

It is a general principle of penal law that a punishment does not exist when there is not an offense. But why do they use today the canonical penalties only against those who seek to maintain Tradition? Is this not symptomatic? The present Pope embraces fraternally the schismatic Orthodox, reciting with them a Credo containing a schismatic formula; the head of the Anglican Church, schismatic and excommunicated by the Church, was received at the Vatican and invited by the Pope to bless the people; Protestant pastors — excommunicated — were ordained priests by the cardinal of Naples without having renounced their Protestant errors; bishops, defenders of Communism, once excommunicated by Pius XII — are praised by the present Pope as models for pastors; the public defenders of heresy and of immorality are maintained in their hierarchical positions, etc.

Moreover, the law is not the letter. Exceptions do exist, foreseen by the Code of Canon Law; general principles of law, the moral law and common sense also must serve to guide us. Canon 1323 of the New Code of Canon Law says that “no person is subject to any punishment who, in violating a law or precept, acts urged by necessity, or to avoid a grave inconvenience.” Now it is precisely the case of necessity which obliged us to perform this consecration, as well as the desire to avoid a most serious inconvenience, knowing the danger for souls of losing themselves eternally. The new Code of Canon Law goes so far as to declare licit for Catholics “each time that necessity requires or that a true spiritual usefulness inclines,” when they cannot procure for themselves a Catholic minister, of receiving (valid) sacraments from non-Catholic ministers (Canon 844, par.2).

How well treated are the true schismatics and excommunicates by the new Conciliar Church, when those who are truly faithful to the Church of always have only the right to contempt! Saint Robert Bellarmine, Cardinal and Doctor of the Church, approved the 15th proposition of the theologians of Venice who affirmed, “When the sovereign Pontiff fulminates a sentence of excommunication which is unjust or null, one ought not to take account of it.” Now is it not an injustice to favor those who patronize error and only punish those who are faithful to Tradition? Is it not an injustice to systematically name only those bishops aligned with the new doctrines of the Second Vatican Council, and not to grant the authorization to consecrate traditional bishops, but to excommunicate those who do?

Saint Athanasius was excommunicated by Pope Liberius who favored heresy, an unjust and invalid excommunication, even though given by three letters of the Pope. Later, the Church recognized that the Pope had acted unjustly, canonizing Saint Athanasius, and giving him as a model of fidelity for all Christians. Saint Augustine, in his book, On the True Religion (chpt. 6,11), speaks of Catholics unjustly excommunicated who, for the peace of the Church, support patiently this unmerited affront. And he ends by saying, “the Father, who sees the secret of hearts, shall crown them in secret. This category of men seems rare, but there are not lacking examples and they are even more frequent than one would think.”

Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer once said, “The excommunication does not leave us indifferent. Even invalid, it fills our heart with sadness, for it manifests the lamentable state where the human part of the Church finds itself. It reveals the intensity of aversion that the present members of the hierarchy nourish in regard to what the Church has always done.”

Sacerdotal Union of Saint John Mary Vianney,
Priests of the Diocese of Campos, Brazil, faithful to the Tradition of Holy Mother Church