Marcel Lefebvre, the traditionalist archbishop whose excommunication in 1988 marked the Roman Catholic Church's first schism in more than a century, died Monday at age 85, hospital officials announced.
A spokesman at the Martigny hospital said he could not immediately reveal the cause of Lefebvre's death, pending discussions with officials at the seminary that the rebel archbishop established in nearby Econe.A seminary spokesman declined comment on the hospital's announcement but said the seminary would issue its own statement later in the day.
Lefebvre clashed with the Vatican over his opposition to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, opened by Pope John XXIII in 1962 and concluded by his successor, Pope Paul VI, in 1965.
Among the changes was the abandonment of Latin as the only language for celebration of the Mass. Lefebvre, in his attempt to halt what he called the church's "neo-modernist and neo-Protestant tendency," also fought openings by the church toward other Christian and non-Christian religions.