1, Chapter 4
against Ecône is documented here in chronological order. The source
of most of the information in this chapter is La Documentation
Catholique No.1679 but Mgr. Lefebvre's account of his "trial"
is taken from Itinéraires of July 1975.
On 26 March
1974 a meeting was convened in Rome to discuss the Priestly Fraternity
of St. Pius X (which will be referred to hereafter simply as the
Society of St. Pius X) and its principal foundation, the Seminary
this meeting were Cardinal Garrone, Prefect of the Congregation
for Catholic Education; Cardinal Wright, Prefect of the Congregation
for the Clergy; Mgr. Mayer, Secretary of the Congregation for Religious;
Mgr. Mamie, Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva, and Fribourg - the diocese
in which the Society first obtained canonical authorization; Mgr.
Adam, Bishop of Sion the diocese in which Ecône is located.
It was decided that a report on the Society and Seminary should
speed the requested report was dispatched within four days, on 30
March 1974. It had been compiled by Mgr. Perroud, Vicar-General
of the diocese of Lausanne, Geneva, and Fribourg. This report, accompanied
by a letter from Bishop Mamie, was sent to Cardinal Garrone.
30 April 1974 Mgr. Lefebvre and Mgr. Mamie met at Fribourg.
At some time
in June 1974, Pope Paul is alleged to have convoked the ad hoc
Commission of Cardinals. While it cannot be claimed with certainty
that this is untrue, it is certain that the document convoking the
Commission has never been produced. As will be shown later, this
document was one of the items which Mgr. Lefebvre's advocate would
have demanded to see had not the Archbishop's appeal been blocked.
It is not unreasonable to presume that one reason why the Archbishop
was denied due legal process was that a number of serious irregularities
would have been brought to light. It can hardly be a coincidence,
in view of the criticisms aroused by the doubtful legality of the
proceedings against Mgr. Lefebvre, that when a Commission of Cardinals
was convoked to examine the case of Fr. Louis Coache, a traditionalist
priest who had been deprived of his parish for his defense of the
traditional Mass and catechism, great care was taken to leave no
legal loopholes. The text of this document will be cited under the
date of 10 June 1975. It will also be made clear that not one shred
of evidence proving that the Pope had approved of the action taken
against the Archbishop and his Seminary was produced until 29 June
1975. Pope Paul stated in a letter of this date, which is included
in its chronological order, that he had approved of the action taken
against the Archbishop in forma specifica (this term will
also be explained under the same date). It is not unreasonable to
conclude that this was an attempt to give retrospective legality
to what must certainly be one of the greatest travesties of justice
in the history of the Church.
23 June 1974 the Commission of Cardinals met and decided upon a
canonical visitation of the Seminary.
Visitation of the Seminary at Ecône took place from 11-13 November
1974. The two Visitors were both Belgians: Mgr. Descamps, a biblical
scholar, and Mgr. Onclin, a canonist. The Apostolic Visitation was
carried out with great thoroughness. Professors and students were
subjected to searching and detailed questions concerning every aspect
of life in the Seminary. However, considerable scandal was occasioned
by opinions which the two Roman Visitors expressed in the presence
of the students and staff. For, according to Mgr. Lefebvre, these
two Visitors considered it normal and indeed inevitable that there
should be a married clergy; they did not believe there was an immutable
Truth; and they also had doubts concerning the traditional concept
of our Lord 's Resurrection.1
21 November 1974, in reaction to the scandal occasioned by these
opinions of the Apostolic Visitors, Mgr. Lefebvre considered it
necessary to make clear where he stood in relation to the Rome represented
by this attitude of mind. "This," he said, "was the
origin of my Declaration which was, it is true, drawn up in a spirit
of doubtlessly excessive indignation.
In this Declaration
he rejected the views expressed by the Visitors, even if they were
currently acceptable in the Rome which the Visitors represented
in an official capacity.
In this Declaration,
have always refused to follow the Rome of Neo-Modernist and Neo-Protestant
not even the highest in the hierarchy, can compel us to abandon
or diminish our Catholic faith, so clearly expressed and professed
by the Church's Magisterium for nineteen centuries.
It is difficult
to see how any orthodox Catholic could possibly disagree with Mgr.
Lefebvre concerning this. It is all the more significant, therefore,
that the Commission of Cardinals subsequently stated that the Declaration
"seemed unacceptable to them on all points."
It is also
important to note that this Declaration was not intended as a public
statement, let alone as a Manifesto defying the Holy See. It was
intended to be a private statement solely for the benefit of the
members of the Society of Saint Pius X.
Declaration was leaked without Mgr. Lefebvre's permission, and because
the text, or extracts from it, were being used in a manner which
he could not condone, he authorized Itinéraires to publish
the full and authentic French text in January 1975. An English translation
of this Declaration was published in Approaches 42-3 and
The Remnant of 6 February 1975.
It is particularly
significant that the Commission of Cardinals persistently refused
to view this Declaration in the context of its origin: as a private
reaction of righteous indignation to the scandal occasioned by the
views propagated by the two Apostolic Visitors who had been sent
to Ecône by the Commission of Cardinals.
The full text
of the Declaration follows.
Declaration of 21 November 1974
We hold firmly
with all our heart and with all our mind to Catholic Rome, Guardian
of the Catholic Faith and of the traditions necessary to the maintenance
of this faith, to the eternal Rome, mistress of wisdom and truth.
on the other hand, and have always refused, to follow the Rome
of Neo-Modernist and Neo-Protestant tendencies which became clearly
manifest during the Second Vatican Council, and after the Council,
in all the reforms which issued from it.
all these reforms have contributed and continue to contribute
to the destruction of the Church, to the ruin of the priesthood,
to the abolition of the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments,
to the disappearance of the religious life, and to a naturalistic
and Teilhardian education in the universities, in the seminaries,
in catechetics: an education deriving from Liberalism and Protestantism
which had been condemned many times by the solemn Magisterium
of the Church.
not even the highest in the hierarchy, can compel us to abandon
or to diminish our Catholic Faith, so clearly expressed and professed
by the Church's Magisterium for nineteen centuries.
said St. Paul, "though it were we ourselves, though it were
an angel from heaven that should preach to you a gospel other
than the gospel we have preached to you, a curse upon him"
Is it not
this that the Holy Father is repeating to us today? And if there
is a certain contradiction manifest in his words and deeds as
well as in the acts of the dicasteries,2
then we cleave to what has always been taught and we turn a deaf
ear to the novelties which destroy the Church.
It is impossible
to profoundly modify the Lex Orandi without modifying the
Lex Credendi. To the New Mass there corresponds the new
catechism, the new priesthood, the new seminaries, the new universities,
the "Charismatic" Church, Pentecostalism: all of them
opposed to orthodoxy and the never-changing Magisterium.
deriving as it does from Liberalism and Modernism, is entirely
corrupted; it derives from heresy and results in heresy, even
if all its acts are not formally heretical.
It is therefore
impossible for any conscientious and faithful Catholic to espouse
this reformation and to submit to it in any way whatsoever.
attitude of fidelity to the Church and to Catholic doctrine appropriate
for our salvation is a categorical refusal to accept this reformation.
That is why,
without any rebellion, bitterness, or resentment, we pursue our
work of priestly formation under the guidance of the never-changing
Magisterium, convinced as we are that we cannot possibly render
a greater service to the Holy Catholic Church, to the Sovereign
Pontiff, and to posterity.
That is why
we hold firmly to everything that has been consistently taught
and practiced by the Church (and codified in books published before
the Modernist influence of the Council) concerning faith, morals,
divine worship, catechetics, priestly formation, and the institution
of the Church, until such time as the true light of tradition
dissipates the gloom which obscures the sky of the eternal Rome.
with the grace of God, the help of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph,
and St. Pius X, we are certain that we are being faithful to the
Catholic and Roman Church, to all of Peter's successors, and of
being the Fideles Dispensatores Mysteriorum Domini Nostri Jesu
Christi In Spiritu Sancto.
condemning those who adhere to the Old Mass made by the French episcopate
on 14 November 1974 was certainly aimed against Ecône, for at the
same time the bishops let it be known that they would not accept
any priests from Ecône in their dioceses.3
against the Seminary was then launched laying great stress on the
Archbishop's refusal to use the New Mass. He, on the other hand,
is adamant that no legal obligation to do so exists.
this preparatory stage of the offensive can be found in La Croix
of 17, 18, 21,and 22 January and 1 February 1975.
A change of tactics can be discerned from 8 February onwards, clearly
resulting from a realization that proving the Archbishop wrong with
regard to the legal position of the Mass would not be easy. From
8 February 1975, the charge against Ecône was one of a "Refusal
of the Council and the Pope." Mgr. Lefebvre's Declaration of
21 November 1974 was cited in order to try to justify this charge.
Commission of Cardinals met on 21 January 1975 to discuss the Report
of the Apostolic Visitors.
Report of the Visitors (who seem to have been honest men though
far from impeccably orthodox) was not only favorable to the Seminary
but even flattering. It was therefore quite unusable as a basis
for the condemnation of Ecône.
In the words
of Mgr. Lefebvre:
me of the favorable impression the Seminary had made on the Apostolic
Visitors no further reference was made to the Society or to the
Seminary either on 13 February or 3 March. It was exclusively
a question of my Declaration of 21 November 1974, which had been
made as a result of the Apostolic Visitation.
of Cardinals therefore seized upon the only supposed evidence to
hand - the Declaration of 21 November 1974.
In this connection,
it is important to repeat that, in the opinion of most well-informed
commentators, the action taken against Ecône by the Swiss bishops,
in conjunction with Rome, had been instigated by the French hierarchy,
with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Villot, acting as
As Mgr. Lefebvre
points out, the Apostolic Visitation was the first step towards
the suppression of the Seminary. And this action was taken only
after a prolonged press campaign in which the Seminary had been
subjected to the most odious calumnies, which had been taken up
first by the French bishops and then by the Swiss episcopate. One
French Archbishop had indeed been reported as stating that he would
have "the scalp of the Seminary" before 1975 was out.5
But the most
convincing evidence that the Commission of Cardinals was determined
at all costs to close the Seminary was the fact that nothing more
was heard of the Apostolic Visitation after its report was found
to be favorable.
In a letter
dated 21 May 1975, accompanying his appeal which was lodged at the
Apostolic Signature on 5 June, Mgr. Lefebvre demanded that, if there
was anything in his Declaration which should be condemned, the Commission
of Cardinals should condemn him personally rather than suppress
the Society of St. Pius X, the Seminary, and the other houses which
had been founded by the Society.
has yet to be given one word from the Commission specifying anything
in the Declaration which is alleged to deviate from orthodoxy. He
insists that should such an allegation be made he must be tried
by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the only tribunal
competent to decide in such a matter.
close down the most flourishing and the most orthodox seminary in
the West on the basis of alleged but unspecified unorthodoxy found
in a single document is an unprecedented enormity. It is all the
more outrageous, given the total inactivity (if not the connivance)
of the Vatican concerning the travesty of the Catholic Faith and
priestly formation that has for long been perpetrated in so many
other seminaries, above all in French seminaries.
would have to go to Soviet Russia to discover a comparable caricature
of justice. But concerning even the worst travesties of justice
behind the Iron Curtain, it can at least be said that they are not
perpetrated in the name of Christ's Church, let alone during a Holy
Year of Reconciliation!
24 January 1975, Mgr. Mamie, Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva, and Fribourg,
wrote to Cardinal Tabera, Prefect of the Congregation for Religious.
In this letter he stated that, following the meeting of 21 January
and having made a careful study of Mgr. Lefebvre's Declaration,
he considered it a sad but urgent necessity to withdraw the approval
given by his predecessor to the Society of St. Pius X. More and
more people, he said, were refusing the Mass of Paul VI throughout
French and German Switzerland and it had even been alleged that
Mgr. Adam (Bishop of Sion) was mistaken in claiming that Pope Paul
had abrogated the Missal of Pius V. In such a situation the Seminary
could do no good.
At the same
time he felt bound to admit the existence of certain unlawful aberrations
instigated by those who used the Council as an excuse for withdrawing
themselves from the Hierarchy, the Magisterium, and the Truth. This
problem was preoccupying the Swiss bishops as gravely as the question
of Ecône. They were working daily to rectify what needed rectifying.
They also encouraged those who needed encouraging.
There are several
points in this letter to which attention should be drawn.
date, 24 January 1975, and Mgr. Mamie's admission that he had been
present at the meeting on 21 January when the Cardinals decided
to invite Mgr. Lefebvre to Rome. It is quite clear that Mgr. Mamie's
letter of 24 January had been decided upon during the 21 January
meeting. In other words, the suppression of Ecône was agreed
upon on 21 January 1975, more than three weeks before the
discussion with Mgr. Lefebvre took place.
sincere Mgr. Adam and Mgr. Mamie might be in their belief that the
Pope had abrogated the Old Mass with all the necessary legal formalities,
they both refrain from stating when and in what terms this abrogation
was made public.
Mgr. Mamie concedes that, in Switzerland as elsewhere, many of those
responsible for grave aberrations use the Council to justify their
defiance of the Magisterium, documented evidence of sanctions being
taken against such people by the Swiss (or any other) Hierarchy
is very hard to come by. The frequent references to the existence
of such abuses and the insistence that steps are being taken to
correct them, included (even by Pope Paul VI himself) in public
attacks upon Mgr. Lefebvre, indicate the unease felt by the Archbishop's
critics in the face of their evident observance of double standards.
There are in the Church today two weights, two measures - one for
Mgr. Lefebvre and other traditionalists who wish to uphold the Faith
and one for the Liberals who wish to destroy it.
25 January 1975, Cardinal Garrone, Prefect of the Congregation for
Catholic Education, sent the following letter to Mgr. Lefebvre -
on behalf of the Commission of Cardinals. All three signed the letter.
A close study of this letter reveals how carefully the Cardinals
have concealed the fact that Archbishop Lefebvre is being convoked
before a tribunal which, it would be claimed later, had been constituted
by express mandate of the Holy Father. Nor does the letter give
the least indication that it is the Declaration of 21 November 1974
which is in question. It is simply a request for a discussion with
the Archbishop - "Nous voudrions maintenant nous entretenir
avec vous..." The text of the letter follows:
Cardinal Wright, Cardinal Tabera and I have studied the result
of the visit to the Ecône Seminary by His Excellency Mgr.
Descamps. We are grateful to you for having given him every facility
to accomplish the mission on behalf of the Holy See.
now like to discuss with you some points which leave us somewhat
bewildered following his visit, and concerning which, among others,
we must report to the Holy Father.
Can you arrange
to be free for this meeting at 10:00 a.m.6
on the morning of 13 February next in the premises of our Congregation?
you in anticipation in the name of the three Cardinals entrusted
with this question and assuring you of my respectful and fraternal
13 February, Mgr. Lefebvre met the Commission of Cardinals as arranged.
There was a further session on 3 March.
is Mgr. Lefebvre's own account of the methods adopted by the Commission
of Cardinals in their search for an excuse to suppress the Society
of St. Pius X and its various establishments including the Ecône
Seminary. This statement was published in Itinéraires No.
195, July-August 1975.
Statement of Mgr. Lefebvre
be remembered that even before the proceedings opened, the Seminary
of the Society, from the moment of its very foundation, had been
the victim of a campaign of denigration in the press, more especially
when its attraction for the young and its world-wide reputation
became evident. This campaign of denigration included the odious
calumny that Ecône was a wild-cat seminary.7
such as these were re-echoed first by the French episcopate, in
spite of the fact that the Bishop of Fribourg knew perfectly well
that they had no foundation in fact.
It was obvious
that steps had been taken in Rome to obtain our suppression. On
9 November we received a letter from a Nunciature of Berne, informing
us that a Commission, nominated by the Pope, and consisting of
three Cardinal Prefects of the Congregations involved - Religious,
Catholic Education, Clergy - was sending us two Apostolic Visitors:
His Excellency Mgr. Descamps and Mgr. Onclin.
The two Visitors
arrived at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, 11 November. For three days they
questioned 10 professors, 20 of the 104 students, and myself.
They left at 6:00 p.m. on 13 November without having signed any
Protocol of Visit. We have never been given any information concerning
the contents of their Report.
that this was the first step towards the suppression of our Seminary,
which for long had been the aim of the progressives, and realizing
that the Visitors had come with the aim of bringing us into line
with the changes that had taken place within the Church since
the Council, I decided to make my position clear to the entire
I could not
adhere to the Rome represented by Apostolic Delegates who considered
the ordination of married men both normal and inevitable; who
could not accept the idea of immutable Truth, and who expressed
doubts concerning the traditional concept of Our Lord's Resurrection.
the origin of my Declaration, which was, it is true, drawn up
in a spirit of doubtless excessive indignation.
Two and a
half months passed without any news. Then on 30 January 1975,
I received a letter, signed by the members of the Commission,
inviting me to Rome "to discuss" with them "some
points which leave us somewhat bewildered."
this invitation, I went to Rome, to the Congregation for Catholic
Education, on 13 February 1975. Their Eminences Cardinals Garrone,
Wright, and Tabera, accompanied by a secretary, invited me to
join them at a conference table. His Eminence Cardinal Garrone
asked me whether I had any objection to the discussion being recorded
and the secretary proceeded to install a recording machine.
me of the favorable impression received by the Apostolic Visitors,
no further reference was made either to the Society or to the
Seminary either on 13 February or on 3 March. It was exclusively
a question of my Declaration of 21 November 1974, which had been
made as a consequence of the Apostolic Visit.
Garrone vehemently reproached me on account of this, even going
so far as to imply that I was a "lunatic," that I imagined
myself to be an Athanasius.8
This tirade lasted for some 25 minutes. Cardinal Tabera, going
one better, said: "What you are doing is worse than what
is being done by all the progressives." He also said that
I had severed communion with the Church, etc.
Was I taking
part in a discussion? Or was I rather facing judges? What was
the competence of this Commission? I had merely been told that
it had been mandated by the Holy Father and that it was he who
would judge. But it was clear that judgment had already been passed.
I tried in
vain to formulate arguments or explanations giving the true meaning
of my Declaration. I made it clear that I respected and would
always respect the Pope and the Bishops but added that to me it
was not an evident fact that to criticize certain texts of the
Council and the Reforms which derived therefrom was equivalent
to breaking with the Church. I said that I was making every effort
to discover the deeply rooted causes of the present crisis in
the Church and that everything I had done proved that my desire
was to build the Church, not to destroy it. But not one of my
arguments was taken into consideration. Cardinal Garrone insisted
that the cause of the crisis lay in the media of social communications.
At the end
of the meeting of 13 February as at the end of that of 3 March,
my impression was that I had been deceived. Whereas I had been
invited to a discussion, in fact I was facing a tribunal which
had already decided to condemn me. Nothing was done to help me
towards a compromise or towards an amicable solution. Nothing
in writing was given to me specifying the accusations; no written
monition. Nothing but the argument of authority, accompanied by
invective and threats, was presented to me in the course of five
hours of discussion.
end of the second session, I asked for a copy of the recording.
Cardinal Garrone replied that it was only right that I should
have a copy, that I had a right to it, and he informed his secretary
evening I sent a man with all the necessary equipment to make
a recording from the original tape. But the secretary stated that
there was no question of my having more than a transcription.
I went myself next day to ask for a copy (of the recording). The
secretary went to consult the Cardinal and returned to inform
me that it was indeed a transcription I was to get. This was promised
for the following evening. To be certain that it would be ready
I telephoned the following morning. The secretary then told me
that there was no question of my being given a transcription,
but that I could call between 5:00 p. m. and 8:00 p.m. to see
it. Faced with this kind of behavior I let the matter drop.
after this mockery of a trial concerning a supposedly favorable
Visitation about which there were only some slight reservations,
and after two sessions which concentrated exclusively on my Declaration
in order to condemn it totally, without reservation or nuance
whatsoever, without its being concretely examined and without
my being given anything in writing, one after the other I received
first a letter from His Excellency Mgr. Mamie suppressing the
Society and the Seminary with the approval of the Commission of
Cardinals, and then a letter from the Commission confirming Mgr.
Mamie's letter. All this without the formulation of a formal and
precise accusation concerning what had been discussed. And this
decision, declared Mgr. Mamie, came into effect immediately ("immédiatement
I was therefore
expected immediately to dismiss from the Seminary 104 seminarians,
13 professors, and other personnel. And this, two months before
the end of the scholastic year! One requires only to write all
this down in order to know the reactions of anyone who still retains
a little common sense and honesty. And all this on 8 May of the
Year of Reconciliation !
Holy Father really know of these things? We find it difficult
to believe he does.
15 April 1975, through the medium of Itinéraires, Mgr. Lefebvre
published the text of his reply to the Abbé de Nantes concerning
two articles in the February and March issues of the Abbé de Nantes'
newsletter, La Contre-Réforme Catholique, which appeared
to implicate him.9
All traditionalists would do well to emulate Mgr. Lefebvre's exemplary
restraint and his respectful attitude to the Holy Father, as well
as his uncompromising fidelity to the Eternal Rome, as expressed
not only in the following letter but also in his Declaration of
21 November 1974.
admit, I think, that it is not I who wished that our correspondence
should become public. I have already told you so in writing. Controversy
such as this cannot but weaken the spiritual forces which we require
to combat error and heresy.
of your action is such that I would have kept silent if you had
not written most insidious articles prejudicing me personally
in your last two issues (of La Contre-Réforme Catholique).
concerned a Bishop's breaking with Rome - which you deemed to
be desirable. Undoubtedly, no explicit allusion was made. However,
in the next few lines you mentioned my name in connection with
the Credo Pilgrimage (to Rome), and uninformed readers automatically
linked the person named with the preceding lines. This kind of
thing is odious. I would have you know that if a Bishop breaks
with Rome it will not be me. My Declaration (of 21 November) stated
this explicitly and emphatically enough.
And it is
in this connection that I must also tell you of my utter disagreement
with the commentaries further to this in your last issue, which
say what you wish, what you would like to see, but not what is.
that when the Apostle Paul reproached Peter he kept and even showed
towards the head of the Church the affection and respect due to
him. St. Paul was at one and the same time with Peter, head of
the Church, who at the Council of Jerusalem had given clear directions,
and against Peter, who in practice acted contrary to his own instructions.
Are we not sometimes tempted to feel similarly today? But this
does not authorize us to despise the successor of Peter. It must
make us pray for him with ever increasing fervor.
Paul VI, we denounce Neo-Modernism, the self-destruction of the
Church, Satan's smoke in the Church, and consequently we refuse
to cooperate in the destruction of the Church by the propagation
of Modernism and Protestantism, by involvement in the reforms
which are inspired by these errors, even if they come to us from
As I had
occasion to say recently in Rome concerning the Second Vatican
Council: Liberalism has been condemned by the Church for a century
and a half. It has found its way into the Church via the Council.
The Church is dying of the practical consequences of this Liberalism.
We must therefore do everything to help the Church and those who
govern it to free themselves from this Satanic influence.
That is the
significance of my Declaration.
As for your
illogicalities and the fact of your not having met me at Ecône,
I shall not speak of these. They are trifles compared with the
main problem to which I have just referred.
dear Father, my respectful and cordially devoted greetings in
Christ and Mary .
of Saint Joseph.
a letter to Mgr. Mamie dated 25 April 1975 , Cardinal Tabera stated
that the Commission of Cardinals not only agreed with the request
made by Mgr. Mamie in his letter of 24 January (to withdraw canonical
approval from the Society of St. Pius X), but also urged him to
do so without further delay. Mgr. Mamie was assured by Cardinal
Tabera that his invaluable collaboration in the service of the Lord
and His Church was greatly appreciated.
6 May 1975 Mgr. Mamie wrote to Mgr. Lefebvre stating that after
long months of prayer and reflection he had reached the sad but
necessary decision that he must withdraw all the acts and concessions
granted by his predecessor to the Society of St. Pius X. He also
stated that Mgr. Lefebvre would soon receive a letter from the ad
hoc Commission of Cardinals confirming that this action had
been taken in full agreement with the Holy See. It was the Declaration
of 21 November 1974, he said, which had finally confirmed him in
this course of action. Mgr. Mamie considered the Archbishop to be
manifestly opposed not only to Vatican II but also to the person
and the acts of the successor of St. Peter , His Holiness Pope Paul
VI, and he therefore could not allow him to continue to claim that
the Society had the support of the Bishop of Fribourg. He therefore
could no longer allow the authority of the Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva,
and Fribourg to continue to provide the canonical basis of Mgr.
(he said) took effect immediately and he had informed the relevant
Roman Congregations of his action by the same post, as well as the
Apostolic Delegate and Mgr. Adam, President of the Swiss Episcopal
The two concluding
paragraphs of his letter read as follows:
As for us,
we shall continue to demand that the faithful as well as the clergy
accept and apply all the orientations and decisions of the Second
Vatican Council, all the teachings of John XXIII and of Paul VI,
all the directives of the secretariats instituted by the Council,
including the new liturgy. This we have done and this we shall
continue to do, even in the most difficult of days and with the
grace of God, because for us it is the only way to edify the Church.
It is therefore
with great sadness, Monseigneur, that I assure you of my prayers
and most fraternal sentiments, in union with Christ Jesus, His
Church, and the one who has received the divine powers of confirming
his brothers, the Sovereign Pontiff, the Successor of Peter.
paragraph of this letter merits particularly careful study.
Why this exclusive
preoccupation only with all of the orientations and decisions of
Vatican II and the teachings of Popes John XXIII and Paul VI?
Does Mgr. Mamie
have no interest in previous Councils? After all, they were of far
greater status than Vatican II. For whereas they were dogmatic,
Vatican II was merely pastoral - whatever pastoral may mean.10
And what about
Pope Pius XII? Is he already forgotten in Lausanne, Geneva, and
It is not difficult
to understand why Mgr. Mamie prefers not to remember Pope Pius XII,
who would certainly not have permitted a Roman Congregation to issue
directives permitting laywomen to give Communion in the hand to
standing communicants. In fairness to Pope John, it must be stressed
that neither would he have tolerated such practices. Did he not
dismiss Mgr. Bugnini, who, more than anyone else, has been responsible
for stage-managing the liturgical revolution which the Congregation
for Divine Worship proceeded to impose on the Church?
It is also
not difficult to see why Mgr. Mamie is so determined to condemn
Mgr. Lefebvre's Declaration, which insists that the only attitude
which a faithful Catholic can possibly have to this kind of Reformation
is to refuse categorically to accept it.
It is true
that not even the most ardent Liberal would dare to suggest that
any previous Pope would have tolerated the kind of directives now
being issued by some of the secretariats instituted in the wake
of Vatican II. It is interesting to note that in the very year when
the New Order of the Mass was foisted on the Church in the name
of the Pope by the Congregation for Divine Worship, even Cardinal
Gut, the then Prefect of that Congregation, admitted that the Holy
Father had frequently yielded against his own better judgment in
sanctioning various kinds of unlawful liturgical initiatives undertaken
by priests determined to impose their will on the Church.11
It is also
relevant to note that Mgr. Bugnini is reported to have told one
of his friends that "he had all the difficulty in the world"
in getting Pope Paul to authorize the New Mass.12
It must also be noted that a mere two months after Cardinal Villot
had successfully contrived to have Ecône suppressed, Pope Paul VI
at long last dismissed Archbishop Bugnini, the moving spirit behind
the New Mass, by suppressing the Congregation for Divine Worship,
merging it with the Congregation for the Sacraments, and excluding
Mgr. Bugnini from any position in the new Congregation.13
As for Mgr.
Mamie's much vaunted loyalty to Pope John and Pope Paul, this is,
to say the least, of a very selective nature.
has no right whatsoever to claim that he implements all the teachings
of John XXIII and Paul VI. For example, in his encyclical Veterum
Sapientia (1962) on the importance and value of Latin in the
life of the Church, Pope John stated, inter alia, that the
major sacred sciences must be taught through the medium of Latin
in Catholic universities and seminaries.
Pope John insisted
that bishops and superiors-general of religious orders "shall
studiously observe the Apostolic See's decision in this matter and
obey these our prescriptions most carefully", and added:
In the exercise
of their paternal care they shall be on their guard lest anyone
under their jurisdiction, being eager for innovation, writes against
the use of Latin in the teaching of the higher sacred studies
or in the liturgy, or through prejudice makes light of the Holy
See's will in this regard or interprets it falsely.
say, Mgr. Mamie's zeal to crush the Seminary at Ecône, where Latin
textbooks are still used, is not matched by an equivalent zeal to
insure that this particular teaching of Pope John is observed in
the seminaries of which he approves.
As for Mgr.
Mamie's obedience to Pope Paul, although it was made clear in Memoriale
Domini that the Holy Father wished the traditional method of
receiving Communion to be maintained, Communion in the hand is now
widespread throughout Switzerland, not excluding the Diocese of
Lausanne, Geneva, and Fribourg.
provides yet another example of Mgr. Mamie's selective obedience.
In 1974, the Holy Father sent a copy of Jubilate Deo, a book
containing all the more common Latin chants, as a personal gift
to every bishop in the world. He did so in the hope that this would
impress upon them his concern that the specific teaching of Vatican
II concerning the liturgical use of Latin should be implemented.
At the same time he made it clear that he wanted all the faithful
to be familiar with these Latin chants. Yet despite Mgr. Mamie's
professed loyalty to the teaching of Paul VI, it would be difficult
to find many parishes in his diocese where the Holy Father's wishes
have been respected.
is to Mgr. Mamie rather than to Mgr. Lefebvre that the Commission
of Cardinals should have addressed the words: "It is inadmissible
that each individual should be invited to submit papal directions
to his private judgment and decide for himself whether to accept
or reject them."
As for the
specific teachings of the promulgated documents of Vatican II -
which must not be confused with the innumerable orientations imposed
on the Church in the name of Vatican II, as has already been pointed
out - these are more faithfully observed at Ecône than any other
seminary in the Western world.
Hanu, pp. 206-207
i.e. the Roman Congregations (Departments) presided over by cardinals
which govern the life of the Church, e.g. the Congregation for the
Courrier de Rome, No. 140, February 1975, p. 4.
Vide Mgr. Lefebvre's letter of 15 July 1975 to the editor
of Approaches. It is reproduced below under this date.
Courrier de Rome, no. 146, p. 1.
The time of the meeting was later changed to 9:00 a.m.
This was also the description used in the headline above a most
misleading and slanted report in the English Catholic weekly The
Universe of 6 June 1975. This report would have disgraced any
newspaper, let alone a "Catholic" paper which boasts on
its masthead of Pope Paul's prayerful concern for its efficacy as
an instrument of truth. Moreover, even when the false nature of
the entire report was drawn to the editor's attention, The Universe
refused to print any correction.
Mgr. Lefebvre has never, at any time, compared himself with St.
Athanasius. The fact that a sound basis for such a comparison exists
is made clear in Appendix I.
"Abbé" is a common title given to the clergy
in France. Father Georges de Nantes is one of the best known figures
in the French traditionalist movement. He has been much criticized
by other traditionalists in recent years due to his public criticism
of Mgr. Lefebvre. He is mentioned in Pope John's Council,
(pp. 187-188). He is referred to incorrectly in Vatican Encounter
as "the abbot of Nantes."
The authority of the documents of Vatican II is explained in Chapter
14 of Pope John's Council.
La Documentation Catholique, No.1551, (16 November 1969),
Rev. L. M. Barielle, La Messe Catholique, Est-Elle Encore Permise?
The background to Archbishop Bugnini's dismissal is explained in
Pope John's Council, Chapter XII. A more detailed treatment
will appear in Pope Paul's New Mass.
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