Archbishop LEFEBVRE and the VATICAN

August 24, 1988

Declaration of Dom Tomás Aquino

The original declaration is in Portuguese and was signed by Dom Tomás Aquino, Prior of the Monastery of Santa Cruz [Monastery of the Holy Cross], Nova Friburgo, Brazil. It was sent on August 25, 1988 to Dom Gérard Calvet, Prior of the Monastery of St. Madeleine, Le Barroux, France, and also to Cardinals Joseph Ratzinger and Paul Augustin Mayer, at the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican.

As Prior of the Monastery of Santa Cruz at Nova Friburgo, and after serious reflection and prayer before Almighty God, considering my responsibilities to this monastery, and for my eternal salvation, I come in front of my superiors, in front of my brothers, and in front of Holy Church, to fulfil my duty to declare the following:

The Monastery of Santa Cruz refuses the agreement entered into between the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the person of Cardinals Ratzinger and Mayer and Dom Gérard Calvet, Prior of the Monastery of St. Madeleine du Barroux.

Without us having been consulted, even though we were present at Le Barroux during these negotiations and our disagreement was known, our monastery had been included in the terms of the agreement which we hereby reject.

Here are the reasons for our rejection:

  1. This agreement signifies our insertion and our practical engagement into the “Conciliar Church.” This is a direct conclusion from the canons quoted in the agreement, which put us in a close relationship with the diocesan bishop and under his control. According to Canon 679 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which is a part of the agreement, the diocesan bishop, whose guiding spirit remains that of the new Church, has even the power to expel us from his diocese.
  2. The agreement foresees our full reconciliation with the Apostolic See according to the terms of the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, a document which has proclaimed the excommunication of Archbishop Lefebvre. Now, we have never been separated from the Holy See and we continue to profess a perfect communion with the Chair of Peter, but we separate ourselves from the modernist and liberal Rome which organized the meeting at Assisi and praises Luther. With that Rome, we want no reconciliation!
  3. The agreement is based upon the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei which excommunicates Archbishop Lefebvre. Therefore, taking part with this agreement we would have to acknowledge the injustice perpetrated against Archbishop Lefebvre, Dom Antônio de Castro Mayer, and the four new bishops, whose excommunications were null and void. We do not follow Bishop de Castro Mayer or Archbishop Lefebvre as party leaders. We follow the Catholic Church, but at the present time these two Confessors of the Faith have been the only two bishops to stand against the auto-demolition of the Church. It is not possible to separate ourselves from them. So, as in the fourth century at the time of Arianism, to be “in communion with Athanasius” (and not with Pope Liberius), was a sign of orthodoxy, so now to be united with Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer is a sign of fidelity to the Church of all times. St. Paul the Hermit gives us an enlightening example by asking St. Anthony, Patriarch of the Coenobites, to bury him in St. Athanasius’ coat. The reason, according to St. Jerome, was to clearly indicate that he wanted to die in the faith and communion of St. Athanasius, Defender of Orthodoxy against the Arian heresy.
  4. The desire manifested by all our Brazilian benefactors leads us also to refuse this agreement. In doing so, we respect Canon 1300 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

We feel our duty, out of love for our Faith and vocation, to repeat to our superiors the words of St. Godfrey of Amiens and St. Hugh of Grenoble to Pope Pascal II: “...God forbid, since you would thus lead us away from your obedience.”

And St. Bernard teaches us: “He who does evil because he has been commanded does not perform an act of obedience but rather of rebellion. He upsets the order: he neglects obedience to God in order to obey men.”132

Dom Tomàs Aquino
On the Feast of St. Bartholomew the Apostle
In the Year of Our Lord 1988

On August 26, 1988, the Friends of the Monastery of Santa Cruz published a text entitled “Reasons to Refuse the Road Proposed by Dom Gérard Calvet.” They expressed four points of concern:

  1. By the agreement, Dom Gérard will be too much in contact with many modernist influences, from which it will be very difficult to protect himself and his monastery. These modernists do not have the Catholic spirit. Gustavo Corção expressed it beautifully by saying, “Give us back Catholicism.”133
  2. It was imprudent to disregard Archbishop Lefebvre’s judgment, since the past has proved that he was the only bishop who had been capable of efficiently resisting the invasion of Modernism.
  3. The sincerity of the Vatican in granting the requests of Dom Gérard may be put in question since it comes at the same time they condemn Archbishop Lefebvre. Are they not trying “to divide and conquer”?
  4. Dom Gérard loses the support of Archbishop Lefebvre, the Society of Saint Pius X and many other traditional communities: it will be very difficult to resist modernist influences after having thus isolated himself.

    To the third reason, one may add that many conservative monks (e.g., Monastery of Fontgombault) or priests have asked for the traditional Mass and Sacraments. If the Vatican was sincerely desirous to grant Tradition, it seems rather logical that they should grant it first to those who have been “obedient,” rather than to those who have been (apparently) “disobedient.” Now, they have not followed this logical order: Fontgombault received its indult only much later. Therefore, one can really raise doubts on the sincerity of the Vatican’s desire to grant Tradition. Their real desire seems more frankly expressed by Cardinal Gagnon: we have been “too swift”; therefore, let us give these poor slow-moving faithful more time to adopt the changes.

    There is another possible explanation: those in authority in the Vatican consider loyalty to their own authority more important than loyalty to Tradition. Therefore they use Tradition in order to bring back these so-called “disobedient” religious orders to a certain loyalty to their own authority. They, themselves, are concerned for maintaining their authority over both sides (Progressives and Traditionalists) much more than they are concerned for maintaining the purity of Faith and morals.

    We, on the contrary, consider that authority is a service: all authority in the Church is established by God in the service of the Deposit of Faith and of the salvation of souls! Our Lord Himself gave the example: “I am in the midst of you as He that serveth” (Lk. 22:27).


132. Complete Works of St. Bernard, Charpentier, Book I, Ep. VII.

133. i.e., the true worship of the True God!

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

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