“The pioneers of Catholic resistance were principally, in the temporal sphere, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, who in April 1974 publicly declared his resistance against the Vatican Ostpolitik with communist countries; and in the spiritual sphere, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who in [June] 1976 made public his resistance against the post-conciliar Vatican religious orientation by ordaining priests without the Holy See’s permission.”
– Atila Sinke Guimarães, Michael J. Matt, John Vennari (RIP), Marian Therese Horvat, PhD 1
When the Second Vatican Council opened in 1962, it welcomed as some of its periti certain theologians associated with the school of the “new theology,” against which Pope Pius XII had issued a warning, but which nevertheless gained favor during the pontificate of Pope John XXIII.
Because progressive bishops and theologians had influenced the majority of the Council Fathers, after the Council French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre wanted to continue the work of the traditionalist bishops affiliated with the International Group of Fathers (Coetus Internationalis Patrum).2 Among those whom he contacted were the two Brazilians, Archbishop Geraldo de Proença Sigaud and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer, who, during that same decade of the Council, had seen their country seriously threatened by Communism, bringing a reaction among the nation’s population that was led by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira.
In the midst of these developments within the Church and in society in the second half of the twentieth century, Archbishop Lefebvre and Prof. Corrêa de Oliveira emerged as the two leaders, episcopal and lay, of a traditionalist reaction within the Church when the Church herself was becoming increasingly divided, the reaction described by the four authors quoted above. One of these authors, Atila Sinke Guimarães, has provided an account of a more recent intervention by Our Lady of Good Success, who in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries had appeared to Mother Mariana de Jesús Torres in Quito, Ecuador. Mr. Guimarães reports on another event in addition to the now widely known accounts of the apparitions, one that took place in the twentieth century. In 1968 a group of laymen conducted a campaign in the square in Quito near the cathedral, the presidential palace, and the convent of the Conceptionist nuns, when they saw some of the nuns nearby. When the laymen approached them, the sisters told them that the mother superior wanted to speak with them.
These laymen soon learned from the Conceptionist nuns that Our Lady had appeared to some of the sisters in the 1930s, telling them to pray for the founder of their lay apostolate, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, who later inspired an international network of societies known as Tradition, Family and Property (TFP). In 1978 the Conceptionists sent someone to São Paulo, Brazil, requesting that TFP members assume the role of carrying the Statue of Our Lady of Good Success on those occasions when it was presented for public veneration.
These events marked the beginning of a lay collaboration with the Conceptionist nuns that ultimately led to the spreading of this devotion throughout the world. In 1987 the TFP in the United States published a biography of Mother Mariana written by the postulator for the cause of her canonization, Msgr. Luis E. Cadena y Almeida.3 Then, soon afterwards, a priest friend of the TFP, Father Rafael Navas, who had been ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, learned of the book and showed it to Archbishop Lefebvre, who mentioned it during his sermon at the episcopal consecrations in Ecône, Switzerland in June 1988.
Because of these events, the devotion to Our Lady of Good Success not only became known worldwide, but also priests and laity affiliated with the Society of St. Pius X began making pilgrimages to Quito, for the annual processions with the Statue – processions which, because of the request and authorization they had received from the Conceptionist nuns, had for years been organized and led by members of the TFP. However, according to the account of Atila Sinke Guimarães, disagreements began to arise between members of the Society of St. Pius X and the TFP. Eventually the former archbishop of Quito became involved, and the TFP members were removed from their traditional role, which was then turned over to the Franciscan Friars, who, decades earlier according to Atila Sinke Guimarães’s account, had abandoned this role, and had become involved with liberation theology.
As a result of these developments, devotion to Our Lady of Good Success has become a point of controversy in Quito, involving the traditional priests (the Society of St. Pius X) and the laity (the Societies for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property – TFP) on one hand, and the archdiocese of Quito on the other hand. Our concern here is primarily with the disagreements between the priests of the FSSPX and the laymen of the TFP. Why were there deep and at times bitter disagreements regarding a common devotion, shared by both priestly and lay societies, the devotion to Our Lady of Good Success?
To respond to this question, Preserving Christian Publications is now distributing E. Mary Christie’s new book, Our Lady of Good Success and Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, along with Roberto de Mattei’s book, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira: Prophet of the Reign of Mary. Our Lady of Good Success foretold the terrible crisis that the Church and society would undergo in our time, while at the same time She offered hope for the Church’s final victory. In the seventeenth century She prophesied the role of a “prelate” who would restore the spirit of the priests, and E. Mary Christie argues that Archbishop Lefebvre fulfilled Our Lady’s description of this prelate.
Similarly, in telling some Conceptionist nuns in the twentieth century to pray for the work of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Our Lady was preparing the Conceptionists to establish the collaborative role that the TFP would play in promoting the devotion, both among the Catholics of Quito itself, and among Catholics throughout the world, as Msgr. Cadena y Almeida observed in the conclusion to his biography of Mother Mariana.
February 2 is the local feast of Our Lady of Good Success, and therefore an appropriate occasion for us to invite our readers to learn more about two Catholic leaders of the twentieth century, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, who were the two leading “pioneers of Catholic resistance” during the present crisis, as mentioned two decades ago by Atila Guimarães, Michael Matt, John Vennari and Marian Horvat. Three of these writers later questioned the application of the prophecy about the “prelate” to Archbishop Lefebvre, and even some of the priests of the Society of St. Pius X have shared their doubts. Meanwhile some of its priests have questioned the role of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira and members of the TFP. But we firmly believe that the time has come for a healthy and charitable debate among Catholics of Tradition on these disputed questions, and we offer the books of E. Mary Christie and Roberto de Mattei as solid foundations for such a debate._______________________
1 “We Resist You to the Face,” published in 2000 in The Remnant and Catholic Family News, and subsequently by Tradition in Action, Los Angeles, California.
2 Cf. Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, The Biography: Marcel Lefebvre (Kansas City, MO: Angelus Press, 2004), pp. 382-384.
3 Mons. Dr. Luis E. Cadena y Almeida, Madera para Esculpir la Imagen de una Santa (Mt. Kisco, New York: Foundation for a Christian Civilization, 1987), and in English, A Spanish Mystic in Quito: Sor Mariana de Jesus Torres, 1990.