Archbishop José Antônio Peruzzo of Curitiba, Brazil, is giving the boot to the local chapter of the Institute of the Good Shepherd — a traditional apostolate in full communion with Rome.
On Dec. 27, Abp. Peruzzo published a letter to the faithful laying out guidelines for the application of Traditionis Custodes in the Curitiba archdiocese. Quoting Christus Dominus, the Second Vatican Council's decree on the pastoral office of bishops, Abp. Peruzzo justified his course of action by stating that "the Second Vatican Council must be respected" and, therefore, pastors "should also wholeheartedly devote themselves to those who have strayed in any way from the path."
The letter establishes that, beginning on Feb. 1, Masses in the Extraordinary Form are to be celebrated exclusively by two diocesan priests, Fr. Anderson Bonin and Fr. Emmanuel Portela Cardoso, or "by other cleric duly appointed by the competent ecclesiastical authority."
The institute's priest in Curitiba, Fr. Thiago Gaspar Bonifácio, wasn't named in the letter — an omission that leaves the institute unable to perform its ministry.
Archbishop Peruzzo has also forbidden the administration of "any other sacraments and sacramentals which are not included among the approved rites after the constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium and in consonance with the Paul VI Missal." These resolutions were the outcome of much "dialogue and consultation with the presbyteral council and college of advisors ... and in communion with presbyters concerned with evangelization."
This determination applies the rules established by the Responsa ad Dubia ("answers to doubts") recently published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments regarding the application of Traditionis Custodes. The document denies the ability "to celebrate the sacraments with the Rituale Romanum and the Pontificale Romanum, which predate the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council."
The Institute of the Good Shepherd is a society of apostolic life that was founded in Rome in 2006. It promotes the Traditional Latin Mass with the mission to disseminate "within the whole Church ... the treasure constituted by the Catholic Tradition, both liturgical and doctrinal."
The group's seminary in France is booming with vocations. It has houses spread throughout France, Italy, Poland, Uganda, Colombia and the United States — plus a thriving presence in Brazil (where it is present in several cities).
The Institute of the Good Shepherd has been officially operating in the archdiocese of Curitiba since 2018, with authorization from Abp. Peruzzo himself (who has been in charge of the Curitiba archdiocese since the beginning of 2015).
The deliberate exclusion of the institute wasn't an unexpected event. A few weeks after the publication of Traditionis Custodes in July, Fr. Bonifácio was summoned by the archbishop to discuss the implications of the motu proprio. On that occasion, Abp. Peruzzo alerted the priest about the possibility of the extinction of the Institute of the Good Shepherd's apostolate in the archdiocese. Father Bonifácio asked the archbishop to listen to the faithful and reconsider the decision, but the meeting was followed by an extrajudicial decree suspending Fr. Bonifácio.
On Dec. 20, the superior of the institute's Latin America district, Fr. Daniel Pinheiro, published a statement asserting that the extrajudicial decree from Abp. Peruzzo was "invalid and null according to natural law and the Code of Canon Law" and that the institute had filed a canonical appeal to override the decree. Father Pinheiro also reassured the faithful that the apostolate would continue to serve them as "we remain faithful to the Catholic Church, the Holy Father and the Catholic hierarchy. The Good Shepherd does not abandon His sheep."
The institute's appeal was upheld, and Abp. Peruzzo's decree was nullified "for lack of legal basis." On Dec. 29, Abp. Peruzzo canceled an appointment with Fr. Bonifácio and a few members of the faithful. Later that same day, Fr. Bonifácio was informed he would no longer be welcome to celebrate Mass in the two diocesan churches where he had previously been assigned.
Currently, Fr. Bonifácio remains in Curitiba. "We will still attend to the faithful," the priest stated. "The bishop can't forbid private Masses. The Masses in Curitiba remain, privately, in the priest's house or in a rented hall."
To show support for the Traditional Latin Mass in Curitiba, the Institute of the Good Shepherd launched an online petition pleading with Abp. Peruzzo for the preservation of its apostolate in his archdiocese. The petition has garnered nearly 14,000 signatures as of press time. Addressing the archbishop, it states, "The formal authorization issued by the archdiocese of Curitiba in the beginning of our apostolate was given with full knowledge of the institute's charism regarding the celebration of the Holy Mass and other sacraments according to the traditional Roman Liturgy of the Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Church."
"This Liturgy undoubtedly expresses Catholic ecclesiology," it goes on to state.
The application of Traditionis Custodes has raised the question of what will become of Ecclesia Dei communities such as the Institute of the Good Shepherd. The pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei was established in 1988 to help Catholics devoted to the Latin Mass be in communion with the Holy See. In 2007, when Benedict XVI allowed the widespread use of the Tridentine rite, the commission was put in charge of regulating religious institutes that Rome allowed to be set up to celebrate Mass and the sacraments exclusively in the Old Rite. Pope Francis dismantled the commission in 2019, transferring related duties over to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
According to a source who spoke to La Croix earlier this month, "The Vatican is currently working on other texts regarding the Liturgy. It is understood that the Vatican is preparing a new decree for release in March on the so-called Ecclesia Dei institutes."
The newspaper followed up with an article on Jan. 19 about the "uncertain future" of communities devoted to the older form of the Roman rite, saying, "It's not clear what will become of recently founded institutes attached exclusively to the pre-Vatican II Mass now that Pope Francis has strictly curtailed the Old Rite."