RIO DE JANEIRO, JAN. 18, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The schism of the St. Jean Marie Vianney Fraternity, a traditionalist Brazilian group with Lefebvrist leanings, ended officially today.
The fraternity is composed of Bishop Licinio Rangel, who was consecrated by three bishops illicitly ordained by French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre; 26 priests; and 28,000 laymen. The great majority live in the state of Rio de Janeiro, in the Campos dos Goytacazes region.
An official ceremony was held this afternoon in San Salvador Cathedral in Campos, with the reading of the welcome document written by John Paul II, the recitation of the profession of faith, and the singing of the “Te Deum.”
Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, participated in the celebration as the Pope´s representative.
Also present were Archbishop Alfio Rapisarda, the papal nuncio in Brazil; Cardinal Eugênio de Araújo Sales, archbishop emeritus of Rio; Bishop Roberto Guimaraes of Campos; and Metropolitan Archbishop Carlos Alberto Navarro of Niteroi.
Father Fernando Guimaraes, official of the Congregation for the Clergy, told the Vatican agency Fides that the “reconciliation began in 2000, during the Great Jubilee, when the group made a pilgrimage to Rome and was welcomed by Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos with a lunch and dialogue.”
Not long afterward the group sent a letter with a request for reintegration, which was granted by John Paul II in a document that was read during the ceremony, containing indications to be followed.
From now on, the group recognizes the authority of the Pope as Vicar of Christ and Shepherd of the Church; the legitimacy of the Second Vatican Council; and the validity of the Mass approved by Pope Paul VI. But the group has permission to celebrate Mass in Latin (St. Pius V rite), using the Pope John XXIII Missal.
The priests will form the Apostolic Administration of St. Jean Marie Vianney, a form of ecclesiastical circumscription that will be directly under the Pope´s authority.
Their bishop, Licinio Rangel, now officially recognized apostolic administrator, said he and his priests will travel to Rome to thank the Pope personally. Bishop Rangel said that, thanks to John Paul II, the Diocese of Campos is in peace and “in full communion with the Vatican.”
He also said the diocesan prelate will continue to be Bishop Roberto Guimaraes, whom he praised highly, attributing to him the merit for the end of the schism.
In statements to Fides, Father Fernando Guimaraes described the event as “a moment of great historical value because the schism had its apex in this pontificate of Pope John Paul II, and now, during the same pontificate, it is healed.” He added: “This is the first group to request reintegration. Dialogue with other groups remains open, but time is in God´s hands.”
In an official statement, Bernard Fellay, who was consecrated bishop on June 30, 1988, in an act that John Paul II described as “schismatic,” explained that the Brazilian fraternity´s return to Rome in no way changes the position of the St. Pius X Fraternity, founded by Archbishop Lefebvre.
In the text, Bishop Fellay also harshly criticizes the Day of Prayer for Peace of religious leaders, convoked by John Paul II for Jan. 24 in Assisi, Italy.
Followers of the late Archbishop Lefebvre are estimated at 300 priests and about 1 million faithful worldwide.