Remarks with Respect to the New Bishop
to Succeed His Excellency Bishop de Castro Mayer
Precision seems to me very important in the solution of the problems of jurisdiction of the new bishop with respect to his priests and faithful.
First of all, it must be noted that his situation is not exactly the same as that of Bishop de Castro Mayer. This latter is Bishop Emeritus of Campos, after having been its residential bishop. Hence, one could conclude that he kept, if not a juridical power, at least a moral power, which given the present circumstances, could justify a pastoral action with respect to his former priests and faithful.
This is not the case with the new bishop, who has no other basis for jurisdiction than that which comes from the requests of the priests and the faithful to take care of their souls and those of their children, and who have asked him to accept the episcopacy so as to give them true Catholic priests and the grace of the Sacrament of Confirmation. Thus it is clear that the jurisdiction of the new bishop is not territorial but personal, as becomes also the jurisdiction of the priests.
Inasmuch as the faithful request from the priests and the bishop the sacraments and the doctrine of the Faith, the priests and the bishop have the duty to watch over the good reception and good use of doctrine and the grace of the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments. The faithful cannot request the Sacraments and at the same time refuse the vigilant authority of the priests and the bishop.
In order to watch over the good order of the apostolate and its efficacy, the organization of the Society of the holy Cure of Ars seems very appropriate and ought to reunite obligatorily all the priests who desire to continue the traditional apostolate.
It would seem desirable that the bishop, once consecrated, be named president of the presbyteral council for life, in order that he might hold an authority, which is indispensable for the nomination of priests, for new foundations, for inter-parish activities, for the seminary and religious societies.
Since the jurisdictional authority of the bishop does not come from a Roman nomination, but from the necessity of the salvation of souls, he will have to exercise it with a special delicacy and taking special account of his presbyteral council.
Moreover, the faithful and priests must acknowledge the grace of having a pastor, successor of the Apostles, and guardian of Tradition of the deposit of the Faith, of the eucharistic Sacrifice, of the Catholic priesthood and of the grace of the Sacraments, and they must consequently facilitate the exercise of his authority by a generous obedience.
Since the jurisdiction of the bishop is not territorial but personal and has as its source the duty of the faithful to save their souls, if a group of faithful in the diocese calls upon the bishop to have a priest, this group gives by this very fact, authority to the bishop to watch over the transmission of the Faith and of grace in this group, by the intermediary of the priest that he sent.
Thus, so it seems to me, will be resolved in an order, which is in conformity to the spirit of the Church, the delicate problems which come from an episcopal consecration without the explicit mandate of Rome but with the implicit mandate of the Roman Church, Guardian of the Faith.
The new bishop remains the ontological link with the Church, faithful to its Divine Spouse, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
+ Marcel Lefebvre
February 20, 1991