Bishop de Castro Mayer, his faithfulness and his death

May 9, 1991

Dear Friends and Benefactors:

A number of you will have been wondering what happened to the Seminary's May mailing. Some of you may have guessed it would consist in a Commemorative Issue of the 'Angelus' for the death on March 25 of the Founder of the Society of Saint Pius X, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. The Seminary has had to shake out its piggy-bank to be sending it to you, but one's Founder dies only once! And then the better we appreciate God's gifts, such as a great Catholic bishop, the more inclined will God be to send us more like him: "If thou didst know the gift of God..." says Our Lord.

And now the bishop who had the honor and glory of being the only bishop in the world to stand by Archbishop Lefebvre in the Church's hour of need, Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer, retired bishop of the diocese of Cameos in Brazil, has also died, one month to the day after the Archbishop, in hospital in Brazil, an April 25. Thus God has seen to it that the companions in arms on earth are also companions in heaven.

Bishop de Castro Mayer was born one year before Archbishop Lefebvre, and became bishop of the diocese of Campos, small city some 200 miles north-east of Rio de Janeiro, in 1948, when he was in his mid-forties. He was strong in canon law and theology, and a Pastoral Letter on "Problems of the Modern Apostolate”, which he wrote for his diocese in 1953, and which contained a "Catechism of Opportune Truths to Oppose Today's Errors", spread far beyond his own diocese, inside and outside of Brazil.

His strength in doctrine was the reason why, when the tornado of Vatican II Struck the Church, neither he nor his diocese were blown off course, a feat achieved by no other bishop with his diocese in the whole Church! Many a bishop during and after the Council must have felt extremely uncomfortable with the new religion being introduced, but unless he had a very clear mind he will have said to himself, "Well, I don't like it and I don't feel it's Catholic, but the Faith doesn't go by likes or by feelings, so if that's what the Pope says, I must obey." Only if he knew with a clear mind that the doctrine of the Faith itself was gravely endangered by the changes, could he quietly and steadily resist them, as did Bishop de Castro Mayer.

What is more — what is much more — his priests stayed with him. When the New Mass came in, they followed him in keeping to the Tridentine Mass, and when he reached the age of 75 and was obliged by the new Church's rules to step down, still the great majority of his two dozen priests kept the Tridentine Mass. No doubt thanks to him, they had understood.

He was replaced by a modernist bishop who proceeded to drive all Bishop de Castro Mayer's priests out of their parishes. A few of them gave up the fight, but it was again the great majority of them who literally took to the streets, and when they decided to build new churches from nothing, then -­ further testimonial to the former bishop and his priests - they were followed by the great mass of the people, so that there are now 11 brand-new churches being built. I saw three of them when I was in Brazil last December. They are not small, and the one that I saw finished was very fine — and already too small! What one good bishop can do!

No doubt Dom Antonio's last great moment was when he stood by Archbishop Lefebvre's side to co-consecrate in the Consecrations of June, 1988. In the course of the ceremony he gave a brief sermon stating why he had come. He said he had been under much pressure to stay away, but for him it was such a duty that he considered he would have committed a mortal sin had he not come.

Archbishop Lefebvre was immensely appreciative of his assistance. Bishop de Castro Mayer was in all respects so completely independent of Archbishop Lefebvre, that when he stood with him against all the world, it was the clear demonstration that the Archbishop was not just inventing everything out of his own head. Quite uninfluenced by the Archbishop, one other Catholic bishop facing the same confusion had arrived at the same dramatic decision: better incur "excommunication" than remain inactive. Thenceforward nobody could dismiss the Archbishop as a lone ecc

Just how much the Archbishop appreciated his companion in arms, let this extract tell, the beginning of a letter written by the Archbishop from Switzerland on December 4 of last year to Dom Antonio, bed-ridden in Brazil:

"Very dear Monsignor Antonio de Castro Mayer,

"Rumors reach me from Brazil concerning your health which they say is declining! Is the call of God drawing nigh? The mere thought fills me with deep grief. How lonely I shall be without my elder brother in the episcopate, without the model fighter for the honor of Jesus Christ, without my one faithful friend in the appalling wasteland of the Conciliar Church!"

"On the other hand there rings in my ears all the chant of the Traditional liturgy of the Office of Confessor Pontiffs!... heaven's welcome for the good and faithful servant! if such be the good Lord's will."

Little apparently did Archbishop Lefebvre guess that he would be the first one home, but from there he clearly did not wait long to draw his companion after him. "Lovely and comely in their life, even in death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, stronger than lions" (II Sam. I,23).

The Archbishop's funeral which I attended in EcĂ´ne on April 2 was solemn, but consoling rather than sad. There are several pictures in the enclosed `Angelus', and a little of the scene at the graveside is evoked in the piece entitled, "What he stood for could not die". The time for sadness will be when, if ever, his work dies.

It continues. There will be Confirmations in the U.S.A. this year as follows: by Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta in E1 Paso (TX) on June 9 (contact Fr. Gonzales (915) 544-7385), in Ridgefield (CT) on June 16 (Fr. Lafitte (203) 431-0201); by myself in Livingstone (NJ) on May 26 (Fr. Paul Wickens (201) 675-1317); in Philadelphia (PA) on June 2, a.m., and in Pittston (PA) on June 2, p.m. (Fr. Young (203) 431-0201); in Atlanta (GA) an June 9, a.m. (Fr. Kimball (913) 437-2471), and in Richmond (VA) on June 9, p.m. (Fr. Terry Marks (804) 222-9533); finally in Colton (CA) on October 13 (Fr. Pazat (602) 268-7673).

This announcement is late because there was no place for it in the letter for April. Worry not, there will be Confirmations next year, God willing. What matters is that the youngsters know and love their Faith. Better — hungry souls, take note — love the Sacraments and not have them than have them and not love them, insofar as God is drawing close to the first state but drawing away from the second.

May Our Lady bless you for what remains of her own month. She will triumph, as we shall see.

Sincerely yours in Christ,