Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer

A brief biography on the "Lion of Campos", Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer, who helped to defend Tradition with Archbishop Lefebvre.

This brief biography originally appeared in the July 1991 issue of The Angelus upon Bishop De Castro Mayer's death.

Dom Antonio de Castro Mayer, Bishop of Campos, Brazil, departed to God in his 87th year on April 25, 1991. Born in 1904, Dom Antonio was from Campinhas in Sao Paulo. He studied theology at the Gregorian University in Rome, where he obtained a doctorate. Before becoming a bishop, as a priest of the Sao Paulo diocese, he successively and successfully filled the posts of professor in the Provincial Seminary of Sao Paulo, was canon of the cathedral, parish priest of St. Joseph of Belem in the eastern section of Sao Paulo, and finally that of Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Sao Paulo. He was, at the same time, General Counsellor of Catholic Action for the Archdiocese and, in that function, he wholeheartedly supported Catholic lay organizations in their efforts to check Communist infiltration.

In 1948 he was appointed and consecrated coadjutor bishop of Campos, assuming the direction of the diocese one year later. In the 1950's, Bishop de Castro Mayer published a lengthy and timely "Pastoral Letter on Problems of the Modern Apostolate," in which he attacked Modernism, whose ravages he already had foreseen. During the 1960's, Bishop de Castro Mayer fought against the Communists on the home front and against the Modernists in Rome. In 1964, Brazil was barely kept from falling into the Communist bloc—this due to devotion to Our Lady of Fatima and the regular recitation of the Rosary by large multitudes of the people. But the Brazilian episcopate was divided on the question of the socialist land reforms, which were the beginning of Communism. Many of them approved this reform but Bishop de Castro Mayer, along with Archbishop Sigaud, led the minority of bishops who opposed it, thus playing a central role in the defeat of Communism in Brazil.

In Rome he was again associated with Archbishop Sigaud in the formation of the Coetus lnternationalis Patrum, an organization of traditional bishops to counter the Modernists' attempts to take over the Council. This organization founded by Archbishop Lefebvre and presided over by Archbishop Sigaud, amongst other things, had a petition signed by over 450 bishops asking for the condemnation of Communism. It was Bishop de Castro Mayer who presented this petition to the Council, although to no avail.

Bishop de Castro Mayer was especially outstanding for his refusal to accept the post-conciliar changes in the liturgy. Until his forced retirement in 1981 the traditional Latin Mass was celebrated throughout his diocese, along with all the other traditional Catholic practices and devotions—and he was to continue this battle even when replaced by Bishop Navarro. The majority of the priests in the diocese of Campos (336 of them!) resisted the Modernist orientations of the new bishop and remained faithful. Bishop Antonio was thus able to maintain a completely traditional "diocese" within a diocese, with around 40,000 faithful, which he organized in parallel chapels to protect the faithful from the enemies within.

His association with Archbishop Lefebvre strengthened further in 1983 when they wrote a joint Open Letter to the Pope in which they publicly exposed the proliferation of errors within the post-conciliar Church that all of their private efforts had until then done nothing to stop. [In 1985 he wrote another joint letter with Archbishop Lefebvre to Pope John Paul II—Ed] His understanding of the gravity of the crisis of faith in the Church was so profound that he was to be found at Archbishop Lefebvre's side on the occasion of the Episcopal Consecrations of 1988. His so crucial presence was, as he himself explained, "to accomplish my duty: to make a public Profession of Faith."

Soon after this historic event he began to lose his physical strength and eventually died of respiratory failure on April 25, 1991 (exactly one month after Archbishop Lefebvre). He was buried on the following day, at 4:00 p.m., in a chapel crypt of Our Lady of Carmel in Campos.

BOOK: Catholic, Apostolic and Roman (by the priests of Campos)