Alfonso Ruiz de Galarreta, SSPX (born 14 January 1957), is a bishop of the Society of Saint Pius X. He was declared excommunicated latae sententiae by Pope John Paul II because of his unauthorized consecration by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988, deemed by the Holy See to be "unlawful" and "a schismatic act". The SSPX denied the validity of the excommunication, saying that the consecrations were necessary due to a moral and theological crisis in the Catholic Church. The automatic excommunication was remitted by the Holy See on 21 January 2009.
Early life and ministry
Galarreta was born in 1957 at Torrelavega in Spain, but emigrated early in life with his family to Argentina. In 1975 he entered the seminary at La Plata, where he remained for three years. In October 1978 he entered the Society of St. Pius X's International Seminary of St. Pius X at Écône in Switzerland.
In August 1980 he was ordained a priest by archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in Buenos Aires. After ordination he served first as a professor at the SSPX seminary in La Reja, Argentina. From 1985 to 1988 he was superior of the SSPX district of South America.
Consecration and excommunication
In June 1988 Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre announced his intention to consecrate Galarreta and three other priests as bishops. Lefebvre did not have a pontifical mandate for these consecrations (i.e. permission from the pope), normally required by Canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law. On 17 June 1988 Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops sent Galarreta a formal canonical warning that he would automatically incur the penalty of excommunication if he were ordained by Lefebvre without papal permission.
On 30 June 1988 Galarreta and the three other priests were consecrated bishop by Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Antônio de Castro Mayer. On 1 July 1988 Cardinal Gantin issued a declaration stating that Lefebvre, de Castro Mayer, Galarreta, and the three other newly-ordained bishops "have incurred ipso facto the excommunication latae sententiae reserved to the Apostolic See".
On 2 July 1988, Pope John Paul II issued the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, in which he reaffirmed the excommunication, and described the consecration as an act of "disobedience to the Roman pontiff in a very grave matter and of supreme importance for the unity of the Church", and that "such disobedience — which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy — constitutes a schismatic act". Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, head of the commission responsible for implementing Ecclesia Dei, has said this resulted in a "situation of separation, even if it was not a formal schism".
Galarreta and his supporters denied the validity of the excommunication, saying that the consecrations were necessary due to a moral and theological crisis in the Catholic Church.
Following his episcopal consecration Galarreta was appointed rector of the seminary of La Reja. In 1991, he assisted in the consecration of Licínio Rangel as bishop for the Priestly society of saint John Mary Vianney after the death of its founder, bishop Antônio de Castro Mayer.
In 1994 he became superior of the Society of Saint Pius X district of Spain and Portugal. In 2002 he became second assistant of the Society.
By a decree of 21 January 2009 (protocol number 126/2009), which was issued in response to a renewed request that Bishop Fellay made on behalf of all four bishops whom Lefebvre had consecrated on 30 June 1988, the prefect of the Congregation for bishops, by the power expressly granted to him by pope Benedict XVI, remitted the automatic excommunication that they had thereby incurred, and expressed the wish that this would be followed speedily by full communion of the whole of the Society of saint Pius X with the Church, thus bearing witness, by the proof of visible unity, to true loyalty and true recognition of the pope's magisterium and authority.
The canonical situation of the four bishops thus supposedly became the same as that of the other clergy of the Society, who are suspended a divinis.
Dialogue with the Holy See
It was reported that bishop Galaretta had been named chairman of the SSPX commission in charge of the theological discussions with the Holy See.