Archbishop LEFEBVRE and the VATICAN

July 25, 1988

Letter of Cardinals Ratzinger
and Mayer to Dom Gérard Calvet

Cardinals Ratzinger and Mayer wrote this letter in response to one written to Cardinal Ratzinger by Dom Gérard Calvet, superior of the Benedictine Monastery of St. Madeline at Le Barroux, France. To our knowledge, Dom Gérard’s original letter was never released to the public, yet Cardinal Mayer disclosed parts of it in his interview with 30 Days magazine. (See following chapter, p.204.)

The apostolate of Dom Gérard’s Monastery of St. Madeleine was affiliated with that of the Society of Saint Pius X until shortly after Archbishop Lefebvre’s consecration of bishops. Dom Gérard himself assisted at the episcopal consecrations, but then broke his association with the Society. He himself has since concelebrated the New Mass with Pope John Paul II, thus consumating his compromise and that of his monastery. His community now publicly defends the Second Vatican Council’s idea of Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae) as being in accord with Catholic Tradition which it manifestly is not.

Reverend Father,

In response to the letter which you addressed to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on July 8, last, and to the petition addressed to the Pope on the same date, the Cardinal Prefect of that Congregation and the Cardinal Prefect of the special Commission instituted by the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, are happy to communicate together the following.

During an audience granted to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on July 23, 1988, the Sovereign Pontiff deigned with goodness:

  1. To lift all censures and irregularities incurred due to the fact of the reception of sacred Orders from the hands of His Excellency Archbishop Lefebvre, then suspended a divinis, all the members of the communities of St. Madeleine of Le Barroux, and Santa Cruz de Nova Friburgo, who are in this case.
  2. Grant to these same communities the full reconciliation to the Holy See under the conditions already offered by Cardinal Paul Augustin Mayer during his visit to the Monastery of Le Barroux on June 21, 1988, and according to paragraph 6 (a) of the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, that is:

    • the use in private and in public of the liturgical books in force in 1962, for the members of the communities, and those who frequent their houses.
    • the possibility of asking a bishop, according to the existing canonical rules, for conferring the Orders according to the Pontifical cited above, the superior of each autonomous house granting the necessary dimissorial letters.
    • the right of the faithful to receive the sacraments according to the books cited above in the houses of the communities, taking into account the Canons 878, 896 and 1122 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.
    • the possibility to develop a pastoral influence through apostolic works and to keep the present ministries assumed by the communities, according to Canons 679-683.123

These measures shall take effect with the reception of the present letter. Other possible juridical problems will have to be submitted to the competence of the special Commission in charge of the application of the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei.

Concerning the insertion of these two communities in the Benedictine Confederation, the Cardinal President of the special Commission asks the Most Reverend Abbot Primate to take, in union with him, the necessary dispositions, given the wishes expressed in your letter of June 8, 1988, on this subject.

We must add that the Holy Father, touched by the expression of your sentiments of fidelity and attachment to him, does not doubt your sincere desire to contribute to the good of souls through your apostolate in communion with him and with all the Shepherds of the Church and relies especially upon your prayers and of your brethren.

Deign to accept, Reverend Father, our religious and devoted feelings in the Lord.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Paul Augustin Cardinal Mayer


123. These canons all stress that this pastoral work is to be “under the authority and direction of the local bishop.”

Courtesy of the Angelus Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109

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