The Holy See
back up


The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" was instituted by John Paul II with the Motu Proprio promulgated July 2nd, 1988, following the schismatic gesture of the illegal episcopal ordinations carried out by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre at Econe in Switzerland.

The Apostolic Letter indicates the goals of the commission. They are to collaborate with bishops, with the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and with other interested circles in order to facilitate the full ecclesial communion of priests, seminarians, communities or individual men and women religious linked, to date, in various ways, to the Fraternity founded by Msgr. Lefebvre who desire to remain united to the Successor of Peter in the Catholic Church, conserving their spiritual and liturgical traditions in the light of the Protocol signed May 5th, 1988 by Cardinal Ratzinger and Msgr. Lefebvre.

The commission has played a twofold role using the special faculties which the pope has granted it:

1. to regularise the canonical situation of a certain number of religious communities of a traditionalist nature which already exist but without recognition on the part of the Church by giving them a canonical form corresponding to their charism. Moreover, an ecclesial integration has been found for a number of traditionalist priests who had not been incardinated.

2. To collaborate with local bishops with a view to satisfying the numerous groups of faithful linked to the Latin liturgical tradition which request a regular celebration of the Holy Mass in keeping with the 1962 rite in their dioceses; these groups exist in Europe (France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, England, Italy), America (the United States, Canada, Argentina, Chile) and Australia.

In this case, the commission can indicate to the local bishop a way to meet these faithful or advise them of the need to "respect the just aspirations of these faithful."

The commission has a president, Cardinal Angelo Felici, a secretary, Msgr. Camille Perl, and several assistants. A group of "permanent experts" composed of representatives of the dicasteries concerned offer their advice and expertise.