In an apostolic letter issued by Pope John Paul II on July 2, 1988, ECCLESIA DEI , he provided a definitive statement regarding the schismatic acts committed two days earlier by Msgr. Marcel Lefebvre and a number of associates. In the document, the pontiff did a number of things:
He confirmed the existence of a schism and the consequent excommunication of those directly involved.
He explained the origins of Lefebvre’s move into schism.
He made a direct appeal to the faithful not to support the Lefebvrist schism.
He warned that formal adherence to the Lefebvrist schism was a grave sin (i.e., a mortal one if done with adequate knowledge and deliberate consent) and that it incurs excommunication.
He instituted a commission “whose task it will be to collaborate with the bishops, with the departments of the Roman Curia and with the circles concerned, for the purpose of facilitating full ecclesial communion of priests, seminarians, religious communities or individuals until now linked in various ways to the society founded by Archbishop Lefebvre who may wish to remain united to the successor of Peter in the Catholic Church while preserving their spiritual and liturgical traditions in the light of the protocol signed on last May 5 by Cardinal Ratzinger and Archbishop Lefebvre” (ibid. 6 a).
He affirmed that, in spite of Lefebvre’s move into schism, it was still legitimate to desire to worship according to the Latin liturgical tradition. He therefore ordered a “wide and generous application” of the directives previously issued to facilitate this.
The complete document* Ecclesia Dei* can be seen here:
DISCLAIMER: Catholic Answers has turned over the archive to Catholic-Questions.org and no longer owns, manages, or moderates the forums. For additional apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.