The Vatican

Letter of the Supreme Tribunal
(Translation of the original document published in Latin)





PROT. N. 20012/88 C.A.
(Armée de Marie - Pontificium Consilium pro Laicis)

The Association “ARMY OF MARY”, founded by Mrs. Marie-Paule Giguère, was canonically established on March 10, 1975, by the Most Eminent Cardinal Maurice Roy, Archbishop of Quebec. However, since, with time, it strayed into dangerous paths not exactly orthodox, it was first warned by the same Cardinal Roy and then by his Most Eminent successor, but in vain. So then the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith intervened to condemn the errors which were being spread with the danger of scandal to the faithful. However, this same association, after its moderators refused to sign, within the time limit set, the document prepared by the Most Eminent Archbishop of Quebec, Louis-Albert Vachon, was suppressed by a decree of this latter on March 4, 1987.

A hierarchical recourse having been made, the Pontifical Council for the Laity confirmed the above-mentioned decision by a decree of March 25, 1988, giving the following reasons: “The analysis of the dossier and of the questions concerning the Army of Mary which are at its origin, have led to the conclusion that the foundations and the doctrinal principles upon which rest the statutes, the teachings and the activities of the Army of Mary are not in conformity with the teachings of the Church, and that thus the goals of the Army of Mary do not correspond to the goals of the associations of the faithful provided for by the code of canon law (can. 298 ss.).”

Against the decree of suppression confirmed by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the above-mentioned Association, through its own Defenders, appealed to the Altera Section of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, affirming that:

- “in procedendo”,

1) the right to defence had been neglected;

2) the Association had been suppressed without judicial procedure, which was required in this case because of the economic effects and the penal sanctions “latae sententiae”;

- “in decernendo”,

1) the facts upon which the decree of suppression is based do not exist or are not contrary to the doctrine and the law of the Church;

2) the Association, in this decree, has been considered as public, whereas it is private; hence the arrangements of its goods are not determined by can. 123;

3) the decree by which the Pontifical Council for the Laity confirms the decision of the Ordinary of Quebec, established “something new”, “a new accusation”, substantially outside the petition and consequently the law would have been thus violated as much in procedure as in substance.

* * *


Having gone over the acts of the case and the statements of the Defenders, as well as the opinion of the designated Promoter of Justice and the response of the plaintiff;

Taking into consideration that the arguments brought forward by the plaintiff’s defender against the lawfulness of the decree being attacked appear bare of any juridical foundation, because:

in procedendo”:

The procedures prescribed by the Code of Canon Law for the suppression of a public association (can. 320, §§2-3) was followed, and it is more inflexible than that required to suppress a private association (cf. can. 326, §1), which, according to the plaintiff, is the nature of the “Army of Mary”; with all the more reason, then, one must say that all the prescriptions of can. 326, §1, regarding suppression, have been observed;

In order to proceed with the suppression of an association, no other reason is demanded save that prescribed by can. 320 in the case of public associations, and by can. 326 for private associations, the cann. 50-51 being observed: all of this was done;

Consequently, in no way can one speak, in this case, of neglect of the right to defence;

The economic effects of suppression must not be confused with the suppression itself;

Nor, in this case, must the suppression of the Association be considered a penalty, and, in the suppression itself, no penalty “ferendae sententiae” was inflicted, nor was there any declaration of a penalty “latae sententiae”.

in decernendo”:

The facts upon which the decree of suppression is based are quite clear in the acts; moreover, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith itself had already passed a judgment on the serious doctrinal dangers and had foreseen the possibility of suppressing the Association, unless it adopted a better disposition in that regard, something the Association refused to do in its unwillingness to sign the document. Now, the judgment on the doctrine is not the business of the Apostolic Signatura but of the above-mentioned Congregation;

The nature of the Association – private or public – does not, in this case, affect the lawfulness of the suppression;

The question of the arrangement of goods, as has been mentioned above, must be distinguished from the suppression itself; this is a consequence of the suppression, not its cause;

Besides the arrangements of the goods, in this case, is governed by the statutes;

in procendendo” and “in decernendo

With reference to the accusation brought against the Pontifical Council for the Laity, it must be remembered that this same Council has acted in regard to a hierarchical recourse which is regulated, among others, by can. 1739.

In the assembly of the Congressus held before the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, March 17, 1989

it was decreed:

that the recourse should not be admitted for discussion as it is manifestly lacking any foundation.

Given in Rome, from the seat of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, March 17, 1989.

Achille Cardinal Silvestrini, Prefect
+ Zenon Grocholewski, Secr.
(Retranscription of the original)

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