Letter of Cardinal Hoyos to Mgr. Rifan, November 2002

Source: FSSPX News



The Vatican, 16th November 2002


Most Reverend Excellency,

On the 1st May last, Your Excellency presented to this Congregation a question concerning the pastoral care of those faithful sensitive to the traditional liturgy prior to the reforms of the Ecumenical Council Vatican II, and who find themselves outside of the jurisdiction of this personal Apostolic Administration.

All of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia concerned, that is the Congregations of the Bishops, of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, have been consulted. This Congregation can now reply to the question set out by Your Excellency, recalling here the current universal norms and their modes of application in the specific case of the personal Apostolic Administration "Saint Jean-Marie Vianney"of Campos.

1. With regard to the question of communities of the faithful with an attachment to the previous liturgical tradition, and who would reside in the dioceses: it is up to each diocesan bishop to grant to his own faithful who request it, and in the churches specially designated by the Ordinary, the use of the so-called rite "of St. Pius V", according to the liturgical discipline approved by Blessed John XXIII in 1962. In order to receive this concession, these groups of faithful must formally declare their support for and obedience to the Holy Father John Paul II, recognize the validity of the Ecumenical Council Vatican II and the legitimacy of the liturgical rite approved by the Sovereign Pontiff Paul VI in 1970 (cf. John Paul II, Motu proprio Ecclesia Dei adflicta, 2.7.1988, AAS 80 (1988) 1495-1498; Congregation of Divine worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Letter Quattuor abhinc annos, 3.10..1984, AAS 76 (1984) 1088-1089).

2. The diocesan bishop also has the ordinary faculty, having taken into account all the circumstances, to set up – and, consequently, also in favour of these groups of faithful – personal parishes, rectories or chaplaincies, according to what is laid down by canons 518; 556-557 §1; 564-566 §1; 571-572 CIC.

3. Nothing prevents the diocesan bishop, in agreement with the apostolic administrator of the personal Apostolic Administration "Saint Jean-Marie Vianney" to nominate a priest of the clergy of this administration to take pastoral charge of such a personal parish, rectory or chaplaincy. However, in this case the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop remains exclusive: it is he who is the Ordinary of this territory, who will have sole responsibility for the activity the priest develops there, respecting however, the proper characteristics of the personal Apostolic Administration. It will therefore be necessary to establish a special convention which would define the rights and duties of the priest, in conformity with the norm of canon 271 §§ 1-3 of CIC.

4. Indeed, the personal Apostolic Administration "Saint Jean-Marie Vianney"of Campos, set up in the territory of the diocese of the same name, is governed by the norms of the common law, apart from that which is specified as right proper to the Administration by the Decree Animarum bonum promulgated by the Congregation for the Bishops on 18th January 2002 (cf. art.11 of the decree cited).

5. The above mentioned faculties, specified by the current universal discipline, and applying to all clerics of the Latin rite Church, are pastorally very timely in the specific case of the faithful attached to the previous form of the traditional liturgy, in order to guarantee them full communion with the Church and to generously apply, on the part of the local Ordinaries, that which the Holy Father John Paul II asked for in the Motu proprio Ecclesia Dei adflicta already quoted.

6. Nevertheless, it is appropriate to proceed gradually in this matter. Therefore, in the first two years, each diocesan bishop, at the request of the personal apostolic administrator, or in agreement with him, will be able to entrust to a priest of the personal Apostolic Administration, the pastoral care of the faithful – resident in his diocese – who recognise their identity in the previous liturgical tradition anterior to the present reform of the Roman rite, without, for all that, establishing any permanent structure (that is to say without yet setting up a parish, rectory or chapel). After these two years, in the light of positive experience, one could proceed with the permanent establishment of parishes, rectories and chapels, according to the above cited legal principles.

In the hope that this official response may contribute to the establishment of a complete and effective collaboration between your personal Apostolic Administration and the dioceses, I take this opportunity to once more, assure you and your co-adjutor, with the expression of my esteem and most cordial respect, of my full devotion in the Lord.