Supplement n 5


Nº 5

Bishop Fernando Arêas Rifan

Bishop Rifan has always been a leader. Endowed with a lively intelligence and easy-to-make contact, he had no trouble getting the trust and admiration of all.

Ordained in 1974 by Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer, he was soon to become the secretary of the bishop of Campos.

In 1980, on the occasion of my ordination, Rev. Father Rifan found a way to go to Ecône. Taking advantage of an ad limina visit that Bishop de Castro Mayer paid on that occasion, Rev. Fr. Rifan also visited our monastery in France and Father Gérard OSB soon realized he would be a future bishop. The events will give reason to Fr. Gérard, but quite differently than one might expect at that time. But let us not anticipate.

In Brazil, Father Rifan was prompted by the “Permanência” (Permanence) faithful to pray the Mass in Rio, in a friendly dialogue between Father Rifan and Dr. Julius Fleichman, a cooperation between Campos and Permanence.

– “We can not take the bread of our faithful of Campos to give to the ones of Rio,” said Father Rifan, who wanted to avoid this ministry outside the Diocese of Campos. Campos will always resent a certain legalism that limited the action of Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer and his priests.

– “But the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the table of the children,” said Dr. Julio, and, with this beautiful response, he won the match.

Campos began to serve the faithful of Rio and when Santa Cruz was founded in 1987, Campos thought of trusting such apostolate to us. We only consented to a collaboration, because we did not want to take such responsibility that could disturb the regularity of our monastic life. Our apostolate, according to our founder, Rev. Father Muard OSB, should be more missions than parishes.

It was so until 1989 or 1990, when Father Lourenço OSB took such apostolate in Rio, which was added by Niterói.

But, before, the consecrations of 1988 had taken place. One fine morning, Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer made a decision that surprised his priests. He decided to go to Ecône for the consecrations. That decision was made by himself as Father Possidente repeated on several occasions. Father Rifan followed him, as well as the Rev. Fathers Possidente and Athayde. At the ceremony of consecration Fr Rifan translated the short sermon, or rather, the profession of faith that Bishop de Castro Mayer made to justify his presence in that ceremony and to publicly declare their support to the work of Archbishop Lefebvre. That little sermon profoundly marked those who heard him.

After the consecrations Bishop de Castro Mayer and his priests left for Barroux, where they could not talk to Fr. Gérard as desired. Fr. Gérard avoided them, thus showing the noticeable way he was tending to. Upon leaving Barroux, Father Rifan left a letter for Fr. Gérard about the immense confusion and disappointment that an agreement between Rome and Barroux would bring Tradition.

In Brazil when we received the news of the agreements, we contacted Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer to guide us on what was more prudent to do. Father Rifan, in those difficult times, served as an intermediary to communicate the advice of Bishop de Castro Mayer. His Excellency and the priests proposed that we closed Santa Cruz and settled in the Diocese of Campos. A letter from Archbishop Lefebvre made us decide differently: not to leave the monastery and make a public statement stating the reasons for our break up with Fr. Gérard. The assets of Church belong to Christ the King and they must not be allowed to fall into the hands of the enemies of His universal kingdom. Father Rifan came to Nova Friburgo with Father Tam in order to help us write the declaration.

Later he returned once more to speak especially with Father José Vannier OSB, who had supported Fr. Gérard but had high regard for the priests of Campos. The Rev. Fathers Possidente and Rifan spoke with Fr. José, but without result.

A few days later, Fr. Gérard reported himself to the monastery with Father Emmanuel Butler OSB to try to recover it (the monastery). Father Rifan was here again to help us with the discussions we had with Fr. Gérard. We express here our gratitude for all that help given to Santa Cruz, which contrasts so much with what he does today.

Shortly after these events, or just before, Father Rifan came to help us in our mission in the region, with all his expertise in that field. At the end of the mission, we planted a cross with the inscription “Save your soul.”

The ties between us and the Father Rifan tightened further during a trip to Germany to obtain assistance for the monastery and the parish of Rev. Fr. Rifan. While in Ecône, Archbishop Lefebvre received us with kindness which was characteristic and Father Rifan could pocket substantial assistance for the purchase of land for building a church, the same one where, currently, he advocates submission to Vatican II and liturgical decrees of the Conciliar Church. What would Archbishop Lefebvre say if he could foresee the misuse of their generous help?

After the death of Bishop de Castro Mayer a matter of urgency urged the priests of Campos. Who would replace Bishop de Castro Mayer? That might already have been done in 1988, but Campos had overlooked the occasion. After some deliberation, the faithful clergy decided to choose a bishop, and a small “conclave” was gathered. Bishop de Castro Mayer had stated, before his death, two names: the Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Possidente and Rev. Msgr. Rangel. One can assume that the Rev. Fr. Rifan had none of Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer’s preferences.

The Rev. Msgr. Rangel was chosen. The consecration of Bishop Licinio Rangel took place in the city of St. Fidelis, on July 28, 1991. The consecrating bishop was Bishop Tissier de Mallerais, assisted by Bishop Williamson and Bishop Galarreta. Despite the respect I had for him, Bishop Rangel never belonged to the Campos clergy trio leadership. The Rev. Fathers Possidente, Rifan and Athayde had somehow limited the influence of Bishop Rangel’s action, who was temperamental, rather reserved and a bit shy. There is nothing derogatory in it what is said here about Bishop Rangel or the three most influential priests of his diocese. That is simply a fact. It may perhaps explain, in part, the events that followed.

Invited by SSPX priests to preach the retreat preceding the General Chapter in which Bishop Fellay was elected in 1994 to succeed the Rev. Fr Schmidberger, the Rev. Fr. Rifan became increasingly a reference in Tradition. So when the SSPX contacted Rome after the Jubilee of 2000 and invited Campos to participate, Father Rifan was chosen to represent Campos in those interviews. The drama of Campos would start.

When the conditions presented by Rome seemed unacceptable to the Society of St. Pius X, Campos chose not to turn back. It is difficult to establish the exact liability of each one in these events. What can be said with certainty is that Father Rifan became the man of the situation. While obeying the directives of Bishop Rangel, he was the only party that was present during negotiations in Rome. Father Rifan, it should be noted, already had some increasingly frequent contacts with progressives and he also had the habit of getting permission to pray the Mass of St. Pius V in places that belonged to opponents. Although this is not necessarily bad, it was, I believe, an openness that contributed to the downfall of Father Rifan and the entire diocese. Was the mere contact with these men imbued with modernism and liberalism the starting point for this fall? It’s worth asking yourself that question.

For the great disappointment of Catholics around the world, Bishop Rangel signed an agreement with Rome in the cathedral of Campos on January 18, 2002, in the presence of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, the titular bishop of Campos, Bishop Roberto Guimarães, and other personalities of the ecclesiastical world. It was the death sentence of Tradition in Campos, although Fr Rifan repeated that it was not an agreement but a recognition. All believers have accepted the agreements, deceived by their priests who, in turn, deceived themselves. Actually not all believers have accepted these agreements, but those who resisted were truly the “pusillus grex.” Among them, it is worth mentioning here Mr. Hirley Nelson de Souza.

Bishop Rangel, attacked by cancer, died shortly after that, and the Rev. Fr. Rifan succeeded him as head of Apostolic Administration, founded after the agreements with Rome. Sacred by Cardinal Hoyos, Fr. Rifan will turn out to be the “ralié” [1] par excellence. By becoming friends of our enemies, he would visit all dioceses, embracing those who once he attacked with an ardor that progressives will not soon forget. With the change of side, Bishop Rifan will accumulate the evidence of the sincerity of his “alignment” [2]. As Abel Bonnard said: “A ‘ralié’ is never sufficiently ‘ralié'”. The authority of Vatican II, the legitimacy of the new Mass, the obligation to submit to the “living magisterium” of the liberal popes; condemnation of Archbishop Lefebvre, considered a schismatic: Bishop Rifan was required to accept and proclaim all of that.

However, this was not what the priests of Campos wanted, nor what they had said to the faithful, not even what they had hinted to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos. Proof of it is that they drafted a declaration, in which they affirmed their determination to continue the fight against liberalism, modernism and progressivism that inspired Vatican II. Cardinal Hoyos, after reading the statement, made the following reflection that one of the priests of Campos told me: “Yes, that’s what we agreed. But it is needless to say all this. Simply state that you will allow constructive criticism in compliance with the Code of Canon Law.” “After that, he said to the same priest, our fight is over.” Either by being afraid to grieve for the Pope or Cardinal Hoyos, or due to lack of conviction or because of a shaken faith, or fear of Bishop Rifan, or for any other reason, the fact is that Campos became like a silent dog. The Modernist Rome has nothing to fear from those priests, despite them having been educated in the school of one of the greatest bishops of the twentieth century, who strongly opposed to modern errors. How to explain this? Without wanting to get into the hearts and to go beyond what the facts reveal, I think, certainly, the contact with the authorities who do not profess the integrity of the Catholic faith can only lead, little by little, those who submit to them, to share their ideas and their way of being. Archbishop Lefebvre warned enough about it to Fr. Gérard. In Rome, you do not do what you want, but what Rome wants. Fr. Gérard did not take that into account; Bishop Rifan, even less.

But the reaction would come from the diocese. The faithful themselves realized over the time that something was changing. They appealed to the monastery, and Fr. Antonio-Maria prayed a Mass for them on a farm that has the beautiful name of Santa Fé (Holy Faith). Bishop Rifan was furious. He gathered the “guilty” and warned them hard.

– “Woe to you, if you bring a priest from the monastery or the SSPX here again!”

– “Sir, replied a peasant who knew Bishop de Castro Mayer, it depends only on you. If you persevere in that new chosen direction, I will call a priest of the Society or the monastery to make my Easter, for me and my family, every year. “

Bishop Rifan could not get anything from those brave peasants, who currently are more than 250 in the big feasts in a small church built by themselves, where the priests of Apostolic Administration do not set their feet any longer.

Finally, we notice only that Bishop Rifan concelebrates today with the progressive bishops and says that systematically refusal to pray the New Mass is a schismatic attitude. It’s what we call betrayal: action of lacking loyalty to Catholic principles, because they are entrusted to us by the Church, or by Our Lord. It is a discovery, nothing more. If you prefer another definition of treason, one can apply this one: the crime of a person who goes to the side of the enemy. It’s hard, but it’s a fact. Everyone can see it. May God preserve us from doing the same, as we, in our weakness, we can fall even lower. Currently Bishop Rifan is a friend of those who condemned Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer. He calls John XXIII and John Paul II beatified. He is a friend of liberals, those who dethroned our Lord and promote the dechristianization of society.

May Our Lord and his Blessed Mother preserve us from losing the heritage bequeathed to us with so much suffering by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer, which is one of which St. Paul said: “I convey what I received “(I Cor 11, 23)

Fr. Thomas Aquinas OSB

[1] “Ralié”. Name the French gave those who, according to Leo XIII’s directives, agreed to work with the Republican freemason government of France in the nineteenth century. Policies of Leo XIII proved unwise, and the best French Catholics refused to follow them. That same French government later expelled religious orders from the country, thus forcing them to emigrate abroad.

[2] Thus we translate the term “Ralliement”, and “ralié” will keep the French form.


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