The illicit consecration of four bishops by traditionalist Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre grieves the entire Roman Catholic community, the Most Rev. William K. Weigand, bishop of the Salt Lake diocese, said at a press conference this week.
Lefebvre, who has rebelled against the church's Second Vatican Council reforms of 1962-65, was excommunicated by Rome following the consecration ceremony held in Switzerland Thursday.A statement from the Vatican condemned the act as a schism, something unseen within the church for over 100 years.
Weigand said he was saddened by the choice Lefebvre made, accepting dismissal from the church instead of conforming to its doctrine.
"The archbishop sees the world from his own perspective," said diocese spokeswoman Sister Margaret Spechschulte. "The church doesn't try to silence its critics or say it isn't open to criticism, but this is canon law."
The 82-year-old Lefevbre has spoken out in opposition of the modern Mass, celebrated in the local language, in favor of the 16th century Tridentine Latin rite. He also has rejected the church's formal recognition of other religious faiths.
The consecration of the bishops, along with the ordination of several priests, was an attempt by the aging archbishop to continue his traditionalist movement, he said in a homily prior to the ceremony.
Pope John Paul II sent Lefebvre a telegram Wednesday urging him to change his mind. Sister Margaret said the Vatican had attempted to avoid a break with the archbishop up until the final act of disobedience.
"This was the last straw," she said.