by Martin Newland A DECREE this week from the Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, has formally confirmed the excommunication of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the four bishops he consecrated to the Society of St Pius X last month, and the retired Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer of Campos who assisted in the illegal consecrations.
In a seperate Apostolic Letter dated July 2 the Pope spoke of the "grievous wound inflicted on the unity of the Church" by the consecrations, and upheld the "ongoing and living nature of tradition", a doctrine that is at the root of Vatican disagreement with the archbishop.
Turning to those Catholics sympathetic to Lefebvre the Pope appeals for loyalty to the
reforms of Vatican 11, and warns that "formal involvement" with the Society incures automatic excommunication.
Apart from the establishment of a Commission to maintain unity with wavering traditionalists the Pope has decreed that those who want the Tridentine Rite are to be "strongly respected". In dealing with such people the Pope has asked bishops to implement a 1984 Vatican initiative which allows for local bishops to allow the use of the Rite under certain conditions.
These are: that a specific group must specifically request a Tridentine Rite Mass (it must not be made a regular event), and those who request it must satisfy the local bishop that they have no argument with the modern liturgical rite.