Fernando Arêas Rifan is a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church from Campos, Brazil. He is not, however, the bishop of Campos, who has been Roberto Gomes Guimarães since 1996 [1]. He is currently the Apostolic Administrator of the Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney, which is also called the Priestly Union of Saint Jean-Marie Vianney.


Fernando Arêas Rifan was born in São Fidélis in the diocese of Campos, Brazil on 25 October 1950, and was ordained as a priest of that diocese on 8 December 1974.

He joined the Priestly Union of Saint Jean-Marie Vianney, founded by Bishop Antônio de Castro Mayer, who was Bishop of Campos from 3 January 1949 until his retirement on 29 August 1981, and who had refused to accept in his diocese the revision of the liturgy of the Roman Rite by Pope Paul VI. On 30 June 1988, Rifan acted as assistant presbyter at the Ecône Consecrations by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Bishop Castro Mayer.

On Bishop Castro Mayer's death on 25 April 1991, the Priestly Union, also known as the Sacerdotal Society of St. John Marie Vianney, chose as its leader Licínio Rangel, who was then given episcopal consecration by three of the four bishops of the closely associated Society of St. Pius X.

As a result of contacts initiated by Darío Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission in 2000, the members of the priestly union formally requested on 15 August 2001 reconciliation with the Holy See, as a result of which the Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney was established with effect from 18 January 2002, with Bishop Rangel as Apostolic Administrator.

For health reasons, Bishop Rangel asked Pope John Paul II for an auxiliary bishop, but the Pope recommended a coadjutor bishop. The Pope had promised to ensure episcopal succession for the Apostolic Administration, and a coadjutor would have automatic right of succession. Accordingly, Rifan, whom Bishop Rangel had chosen as his vicar general, was appointed Titular Bishop of Cedamusa and Coadjutor to the Apostolic Administrator on 28 June 2002. His episcopal ordination was held on 18 August 2002, with Cardinal Castrillón as principal consecrator, assisted by Bishop Rangel and Archbishop Alano Maria Pena of Niterói.

On Bishop Rangel's death on 16 December 2002, Bishop Rifan thus immediately became head of the Apostolic Administration.


In his first pastoral letter to the clergy, religious, associations and other faithful of the Apostolic Administration,[3] Bishop Rifan stressed the importance of the papal mandate or canonical mission given to him, quoting the Council of Trent's anathema against any who would say that one who lacks it is a lawful preacher of the word of God and minister of the sacraments.

He also warned those to whom he addressed his pastoral letter against two errors. One is heresy, attacks against the traditional Faith. He saw as a defence against that the traditional Latin liturgy and liturgical discipline that the Apostolic Administration keeps. The other error is schism, attacks against the unity of governance of the Church. Members of the Apostolic Administration must be on their guard against this too, he said, especially since their rightful efforts to preserve the Catholic faith had some unfortunate effects, in particular the onset of "a certain schismatic spirit that showed itself in a general taste for systematic criticism of Church authorities, a spirit of resistance, disobedience, disrespect, suspicion, backbiting, independence from the Church's Hierarchy and Magisterium, contentment with the abnormality of the situation, uncharitableness, a feeling of owning the whole of truth, a sectarian attitude that made us out to be the only good people ... with the underlying notion that 'the gates of Hell' had prevailed against the Church - something that, through the infallible help of our Saviour, is impossible."

In another pastoral letter, written on the occasion of the election of Pope Benedict XVI as Pope, Bishop Rifan declared very pertinent to the present moment the words of Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Mystici Corporis, 41: "They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. They have taken away the visible head, broken the visible bonds of unity and left the Mystical Body of the Redeemer so obscured and so maimed, that those who are seeking the haven of eternal salvation can neither see it nor find it."[4]

He has also stated that a "situation of separation of traditional Catholics from the hierarchy, provoked by the crises in the Church, besides being abnormal, must be temporary and momentary; it should inspire in us an anxiety for regularization and union rather than a complacency with our situation."[2]

In a May 2003 interview with La Nef, Bishop Rifan spoke of the Apostolic Administration's relations with the Society of St Pius X as follows:

We have tried to be as friendly as possible with the SSPX and its superiors, but after we had informed them that we had serious reasons for continuing our contacts with Rome, which they did not intend to keep up, they began to criticize us severely, attempting also to dishonour us by putting in doubt our intentions and trying to create divisions among our faithful. After our recognition by the Holy See, the SSPX leadership removed our name from the lists of traditional Masses and began to foster Masses in the areas where we celebrate. Does that mean that the traditional Mass is good only when it is cut off from the Hierarchy? But thank God our faithful distinguish between love for the traditional Mass from the evil attitude that makes the traditional Mass a banner to wave against the Hierarchy.[3]

The Society of St Pius X has reproached Bishop Rifan for allegedly concelebrating Mass according to the revised rite on 8 September 2004.[4] Although Bishop Rifan accepts the validity of Mass celebrated according to the present rite used by the overwhelming majority of priests of the Latin Rite, he denies this allegation, saying only that he occasionally attends, as a bishop of the Catholic Church, Mass concelebrated by other priests and bishops.[5]

Preceded by
Licínio Rangel
Personal Apostolic Administrator of Saint John Vianney
16 December 2002–present
Succeeded by


  1. [1]
  2. Old Rite Renaissance
  3. Una Vox - Documenti
  4. [2][dead link]
  5. "In my 30 years in the priesthood," Bishop Rifan said, "I have offered only the Traditional Latin Mass." He said that, because he is a bishop in the Universal Church, he sometimes must attend Masses offered using the Missal of Pope Paul VI. "However, just because I attend these Masses occasionally, does not mean that I necessarily agree with everything that goes on," he said (San Francisco Latin Mass).

External links

Episcopal Lineage
Consecrated by: Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos (principal), Alano Maria Pena (con-consecrator), Licínio Rangel (co-consecrator)
Date of consecration: 18 August 2002

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