Card. Darío Castrillón Hoyos
President Ecclesia Dei
Aparecida, May 14, 2007
in Aparecida, May 16, 2007]
Dear and Venerable Brothers,
I allow myself to present a brief information on
the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei and on the state of the pastoral reality which the Holy Father has placed under its
This Commission was created by the Servant of God John Paul II in 1988, when a notable group of priests,
religious, and faithful, who had made manifest their discontent with the Conciliar liturgical reform and who had congregated
themselves under the leadership of French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, separated themselves from him because they were not
in agreement with the schismatic action of the ordination of Bishops without the appropriate pontifical mandate. They preferred,
therefore, to stay in full union with the Church. The Holy Father, by way of the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, entrusted
the pastoral care of these Traditionalist faithful to this Commission.
Nowadays, the activity of the Commission is
not limited to the service of those faithful who, at that time, wished to remain in full communion with the Church, nor to
the efforts made to put an end to the painful schismatic situation and to attain the return of these brothers of the Saint
Pius X fraternity to full communion. By the will of the Holy Father, this Dicastery extends its service, moreover, to satisfy
the just aspirations of those who, due to a particular sensibility, and not having kept links to the above-mentioned groups,
wish to keep alive the ancient Latin Liturgy in the celebration of the Eucharist and of the other Sacraments.
the most important effort, which concerns the entire Church, is the search for an end to the schismatic action and to rebuild
the full communion, without ambiguities. The Holy Father, who was for some years a member of this Commission, wishes it to
become an organ of the Holy See with the proper and distinct end of preserving and maintaining the worth of the Traditional
Latin Liturgy. Yet it must be said with all clarity that it is not a turning back, a return to the time before the 1970 reform.
It is, instead, a generous offer of the Vicar of Christ who, as an expression of his pastoral will, wishes to put at the disposal
of the whole Church all the treasures of the Latin Liturgy which for centuries has nourished the spiritual life of so many
generations of Catholic faithful. The Holy Father wishes to preserve the immense spiritual, cultural, and aesthetic treasures
linked to the Ancient Liturgy. The retrieval of this wealth is linked to the no less precious one of the current Liturgy of
For these reasons, the Holy Father has the intention of extending to the entire Latin Church the possibility
of celebrating Holy Mass and the Sacraments according to the liturgical books promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962. There
is today a new and renewed interest for this liturgy, which has never been abolished and which, as we have said, is considered
a treasure, and also for this reason [the interest] the Holy Father believes that the time has come to ease, as the first
Cardinalatial Commission of 1986 had wished to do, the access to this liturgy, making it an extraordinary form of the one
There are good experiences of communities of religious or apostolic life recently erected by the Holy See
which celebrate this liturgy in peace and serenity. Groups of faithful who attend these celebrations with joy and gratitude
assemble around them. The most recent establishments are the Institute of Saint Philip Neri, in Berlin, which functions as an Oratory, and which is also present, and well received, in the Diocese
of Trier; the Institute of the Good Shepherd, of Bordeaux,
which gathers together priests, seminarians, and faithful, some of them from the Fraternity of Saint Pius X. The proceedings
for the recognition of a contemplative community, the Oasis of Jesus Priest, of Barcelona,
are well advanced.
In Latin America, as is well known, we must thank the Lord for the return of a whole diocese, that
of Campos, Lefebvrian in the past, which now, after five years,
presents good fruits. It was a peaceful return and the faithful who have enrolled themselves in the Apostolic Administration
are glad to be able to live in peace in their parochial communities; furthermore, in effect, some Brazilian dioceses have
made contacts with the Campos Apostolic Administration, which has placed priests at their disposal for the pastoral care of
the Traditionalist faithful in their local churches. The Holy Father's project has been partly proved in Campos, where the peaceful cohabitation of the forms of the only Roman Rite in the Church
is a beautiful reality. We have the hope that this model will yield good fruits, also in other places of the Church where
Catholic faithful with diverse liturgical sensibilities live together. And we hope, furthermore, that this way of living together
will also attract those Traditionalists which still remain far away.
The current members of the Commission are Cardinals
Julián Herranz, Jean-Pierre Ricard, William Joseph Levada, Antonio Cañizares, and Franc Rodé. Its consultants are the Undersecretaries
of some Dicasteries.
Several communities spread throughout the world have been up to now under Ecclesia Dei. 300 priests,
79 religious men, 300 religious women, 200 seminarians, and several hundreds of thousands of faithful. The interest of the
young curiously increases in France, the United
States, Brazil, Italy,
Scandinavia, Australia, and China. At the moment of its return, 50 priests, around 50
seminarians, 100 religious women, and 25,000 faithful came from Campos.
the group of the Lefebvrians includes 4 Bishops who were ordained by Mons.
Lefebvre, 500 priests, and 600,000 faithful. Several contemplative monasteries, and some male and female religious groups
have joined the group, which has parishes (they call them priories), seminaries, and associations. They are present in 26
Let us ask the Lord that this project of the Holy Father may soon be accomplished for the unity of the Church.