1, Chapter 8
Under the heading
"Official Information of the Conference of Swiss Bishops concerning
Mgr. Lefebvre's Foundations," the 12 December 1975 issue of
the Nouvelliste (of Sion, Switzerland) reproduced a Dossier
concerning Ecône which had just been released for publication by
the Swiss Bishops' Conference.
comprised the following documents:
1. A letter
from Cardinal Villot dated 27 October 1975 addressed to the Presidents
of Episcopal Conferences.
2. The text
of a typewritten letter signed by His Holiness Pope Paul VI dated
29 June 1975 addressed to Mgr. Lefebvre.
3. The text
of an entirely handwritten letter dated 8 September 1975, from His
Holiness Pope Paul VI to Mgr. Lefebvre.
4. The text
of the handwritten reply from Mgr. Lefebvre to His Holiness Pope
Paul VI dated 24 September 1975.
5. In addition
to these documents the Nouvelliste also published a commentary
on them by Mgr. Pierre Mamie, the Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva, and
are included here in their chronological order, with the exception
of the papal letter of 29
June, which has already been included under that date.
September 1975 - Letter of Pope Paul VI to Archbishop Lefebvre
To Our Brother
in the Episcopate, Marcel Lefebvre
Former Archbishop-Bishop of Tulle
of the mission with which the Lord has entrusted Us led Us on
29 June last to address to you an exhortation that was both urgent
date, We have waited each day for a sign on your part expressing
your submission - or better than that, your attachment and unreserved
fidelity - to the Vicar of Christ. Nothing has yet come. It seems
that you have not renounced any of your activities and, even that
you are developing new projects.
Do you perhaps
consider that your intentions have been badly understood? Do you
perhaps believe the Pope to be badly informed, or subject to pressure?
Dear Brother, your attitude in Our eyes is so serious that - We
tell you again - We have Ourselves attentively examined it in
all aspects, Our primary concern being for the good of the Church
and a particular concern for persons. The decision which We confirmed
to you in Our previous letter was taken after mature reflection
and before the Lord.
has now come for you to declare yourself clearly. Despite the
grief We feel in making public Our interventions, We can no longer
delay doing so if you do not soon declare your complete submission.
We implore you to force us neither to take such a step nor afterwards
take sanctions against a refusal of obedience.
Pray to the
Holy Spirit, dear Brother. He will show you the necessary renunciations
and help you to re-enter in the path of a full communion with
the Church and with the successor of Peter. We Ourselves invoke
Him on your behalf while telling you once more of Our affection
and Our affliction.
- Letter of Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre to Pope Paul VI
- Letter from Cardinal Villot to the Presidents of Episcopal Conferences
If my reply
to the letter of Your Holiness is belated, it is that it was repugnant
to me to make a public act that could have led people to think
that I had the pretension of treating the successor of Peter on
a footing of equality.
On the other
hand, on the advice of the Nunciature, I hasten to write these
few lines to Your Holiness in order to express my unreserved attachment
to the Holy See and to the Vicar of Christ. I very much regret
that my feelings in this regard could have been called in question
and that certain of my expressions may have been wrongly interpreted.
It is to
His Vicar that Jesus Christ confided the responsibilities of confirming
his brethren in the faith and whom He asked to watch that each
Bishop should faithfully guard the deposit of faith, in accordance
with the words of Paul to Timothy.
It is this
conviction which guides me and has always guided me throughout
the whole of my priestly and apostolic life. It is this faith
which I endeavour with God's help to inculcate in the youth who
are preparing themselves for the priesthood.
is the soul of Catholicism affirmed by the Gospels: "on this
I shall build my Church."
my heart, I renew my devotion towards the Successor of Peter,
"The Master of Truth" for the whole Church, "columna
et firmamentum Veritatis."
On 6 May
last, in full agreement with the Holy See, Mgr. Pierre Mamie,
Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva, and Fribourg withdrew canonical approval
from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X, directed by Mgr. Marcel
Lefebvre, former Archbishop-Bishop of Tulle.
of this Fraternity, and particularly the Seminary of Ecône, by
this same action lost the right to exist. Thus a particularly
complex sad affair was settled from the juridical point of view.
have we reached in this matter six months afterwards? Mgr. Lefebvre
has not yet accepted in deeds the decision of the competent authority.
His activities continue, his projects tend to assume concrete
form in various countries, his writings and talks continue to
lead astray a certain number of confused Catholics. It is alleged
here and there that the Holy Father has allowed himself to be
influenced or that the development of the procedure has been vitiated
by formal defects.
It is not simply
alleged "here and there" that there were formal defects
in the legal proceedings against Mgr. Lefebvre, it is Mgr. Lefebvre
himself who makes the claim, and his advocate was prepared to prove
it if granted a proper legal hearing. The fact that the Archbishop
was denied the right to appeal certainly gives credence to his allegation.
to the Church of yesterday is invoked in order to disassociate
oneself from the Church of today as though the Church of the Lord
could change in nature or in form.
In view of
the harm done to Christian people by the continuation of such
a situation and only after having utilized all the resources of
charity, the Sovereign Pontiff has ordered that the following
information, which should contribute towards dispelling remaining
doubts, be communicated to all Episcopal Conferences.
Fraternity of St. Pius X was instituted on 1 November 1970 by
Mgr. Francis Charrière, the then Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva,
and Fribourg. A diocesan pious union, it was destined in the mind
of Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre to be subsequently transformed into a
Religious Community without vows. Until its recognition as such
- which recognition moreover was not given - it consequently continued
to be subject jurisdiction of the Bishop of Fribourg and to the
vigilance of the dioceses in which it carried on its activities.
Such is the position according to law.
it became apparent soon enough that those responsible refused
all control by the legitimate authorities...
This is a straightforward
calumny. The letter from Cardinal Wright cited under the date 18
February 1971 proves that Archbishop Lefebvre was keeping the appropriate
Vatican departments acquainted with the progress of the Fraternity
- and that this progress was regarded with warm approbation by Cardinal
Wright. The only attempt by "legitimate authority" to
exercise "control" was the Apostolic Visitation of November
1974. In his letter of 25
January 1975 (cited in under that date), Cardinal Garrone thanked
Mgr. Lefebvre for the total cooperation which he had given to the
Apostolic Visitor. "We are grateful to you for having given
him every facility to accomplish the mission on behalf of the See."
deaf to their warnings...
This is another
calumny. As no such warnings from "the legitimate authorities"
were received by Mgr. Lefebvre (and not even one is cited by Cardinal
Villot), the Archbishop can hardly be accused of remaining deaf
against the whole world in their chosen direction: systematic
opposition to the Second Vatican Council and to post-conciliar
This is a very
vague and sweeping allegation. It should be noted that opposition
to the Council itself and to the reforms claiming to implement it
are bracketed together. Throughout the entire campaign against the
Archbishop he is invariably ordered to accept the Council and the
Reforms - it is never conceded that a distinction can be made between
them. In this respect I must ask readers to refer to my book Pope
John's Council, where I provide ample documentation to prove
that a good number of the reforms claiming to implement the Council
cannot possibly be justified by specific reference to a Council
document. I also demonstrate that there are, as Mgr. Lefebvre claims,
some badly worded passages in the actual documents which have been
utilized by the Liberals in their efforts to undermine the Church.
Now either these ambiguous passages exist or they do not. If they
do exist, then Mgr. Lefebvre clearly has a duty to draw attention
to them; if his criticisms are unfounded, then this should be pointed
out. At the moment his opponents are not prepared to discuss, let
alone attempt to refute, his criticisms. Their invariable attitude
is that anyone who criticizes the documents of Vatican II is ipso
facto in the wrong.
It was not
acceptable that candidates for the priesthood should be trained
in a spirit of hostility towards the living Church, towards the
Pope, towards the Bishops, and towards the priests with whom they
were asked to collaborate.
Not one word
is adduced to prove that the seminarians were trained in this spirit.
Quite clearly, the testimony of the Apostolic Visitors gave no such
impression or it would have been used against the Archbishop.
urgent to help the seminarists who had thus been trained. Finally,
it appeared necessary to remedy the increasing trouble in several
dioceses in Switzerland and other nations.
In view of
the gravity of this matter and anxious that the inquiry should
be conducted quite dispassionately, the Holy Father therefore
set up a Commission of Cardinals composed of three members: Cardinal
Gabriel-Marie Garrone, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic
Education (who was President of the Commission); Cardinal John
Wright, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; and Cardinal
Arturo Tabera, Prefect of the Congregation for Religious and Secular
Institutes. This Commission had as its task, first to collect
the fullest possible information and to proceed to an examination
of all aspects of the problem, and then to propose its findings
to the Sovereign Pontiff.
phase of its work lasted approximately a year. That is to say
that, contrary to certain allegations, it was done without any
haste and time was taken for profound reflection. The evidence
of a very large number of the witnesses was received. An Apostolic
Visitation of the Fraternity was effected at Ecône (11-13
November 1974) by Mgr. Albert Descamps, Rector Emeritus of
the University of Louvain, and Secretary of the Pontifical Biblical
Commission, assisted by Mgr. Guillaume Onclin, in the capacity
of canonical adviser. Mgr. Mamie and Mgr. Adam, Bishop of Sion
(the diocese in which Ecône is situated), were heard on several
occasions and Mgr. Lefebvre was twice called to Rome, in February
and March 1975. The Pope himself was frequently and scrupulously
kept informed of the development of the inquiry and its results,
which he had to confirm in the course of the summer to Mgr. Lefebvre
(cf. the two Pontifical letters which will be referred to later).
phase resulted in the decision which is known, a decision made
public by order of His Holiness communicated to the Cardinals'
Commission, and a decision without right of appeal since each
of its points was approved in forma specifica by the Supreme
it must be stated that not one shred of document evidence of the
Pope's approval in foma specifica can be produced dated earlier
than his letter of 29 June
1975. It is reasonable to presume that Cardinal Villot forbade
Cardinal Staffa to examine the Archbishop's second appeal in order
to prevent this serious irregularity from being brought to light.
I shall not
deal any further with the history of what happened. If you consider
it useful, you can in effect ask for details from the Pontifical
Representative in your country. He has been instructed to give
you such information should it be needed.
It is therefore
now clear that the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X has ceased
to exist, that those who still claim to be members of it cannot
pretend - a fortiori - to escape the jurisdiction of the
diocesan Ordinaries, and, finally, that these same Ordinaries
are gravely requested not to accord incardination in their dioceses
to the young men who declare themselves to be engaged in the service
of the Fraternity.
makes clear the true purpose of Cardinal Villot's letter. In order
to be ordained, a priest must be accepted (incardinated) into either
a diocese or a religious order. By instructing the world's bishops
to refuse to incardinate the students from Ecône, Cardinal
Villot imagined that he had signed the death-warrant of Ecône,
since students would not go there to study for the priesthood when
there was no possibility of their being ordained. Up to this point
the priests ordained at Ecône had all been regularly incardinated
into dioceses in accordance with the requirements of Canon Law.
for me to present to you the enclosed documents, two letters addressed
by the Holy Father to Mgr. Lefebvre, and a reply from the latter.
Their publication had been delayed until now: the Gospel teaches
that fraternal correction must first be attempted with discretion.
This is also the reason why the Holy See has abstained from all
kinds of polemic from the beginning of this affair and has never
sought to react to the insinuations, lying manipulation of the
facts, and personal accusations so liberally diffused in the press.
But there sometimes comes a moment when silence can no longer
be kept and when it is necessary for the Church to know (cf. Mt.
There had indeed
been a press campaign based on "insinuations, lying manipulation
of the facts, and personal accusations" - but it was in operation
against Mgr. Lefebvre rather than on his behalf. As the entry for
8 May 1975 makes
clear, a lead was given in this campaign by an article in L'Osservatore
Romano, probably written by Cardinal Villot himself.
letter dated 29 June 1975 had been taken to Ecône on
8 July. It has never been answered. You will read in it, as in
the second (8
September) the grief of the Common Father and the hope he
still entertains, even if no sign of real good will has yet been
given him. You will see that his dearest wish is to receive his
Brother in the Episcopate whenever he submits.
from Mgr. Lefebvre certainly shows evidence of personal devotion
with regard to the Pontiff, but unfortunately nothing authorizes
one to think that the author is resolved to obey. It cannot therefore
itself alone be considered a satisfactory reply.
Excellency, if circumstances are such that the problem affects
you in one way or another, you yourself or other Bishops of your
country, you will have it at heart in this Holy Year to work for
peace and reconciliation. The hour is not one for polemics, it
is rather one for charity and for examination of conscience. Excesses
often call forth other excesses. Vigilance in doctrinal and liturgical
matters, clear-sightedness in discerning the reforms which require
to be undertaken, patience and tact in the guidance of the People
of God, solicitude for priestly vocations and an exacting preparation
for the tasks of the ministry, all that is undoubtedly the most
effective manner in which a Pastor can bear witness.
I am sure
you will understand this appeal and, with you, I desire that the
unity of the members of the Church may shine forth still more
in the future.
September 1975 - Letter to Friends and Benefactors2
to me that the moment has come to bring to your knowledge the
latest events concerning Ecône, and the attitude which in conscience
before God we believe we must take in these grave circumstances.
As far as
the appeal to the Apostolic Signature is concerned: the last attempt
on the part of my lawyer, to find out from the Cardinals forming
the Supreme Court exactly how the Pope intervened in the proceedings
being brought against us, was stopped in its tracks by a hand-written
letter from Cardinal Villot to Cardinal Staffa, President of the
Supreme Court, ordering him to forbid any appeal.
As for my
audience with the Holy Father, it has likewise been refused by
Cardinal Villot. I shall obtain an audience only when my work
has disappeared and when I have conformed my way of thinking to
that which reigns supreme in today's reformed Church.
the most important event is undoubtedly the signed letter from
the Holy Father (of 29
June) presented as the Pope's own handwriting by the Papal
Nuncio in Bern, but in fact typewritten, and which takes up again
in a new form the arguments or rather the statements of the Cardinal's
letter. This I received on 10 July last. It calls on me to make
a public act of submission "to the Council, to the post-conciliar
reforms, and to the orientations to which the Pope himself is
committed (orientations qui engagent le pape lui-même)."
letter from the Pope which I received on 10 September urgently
required an answer to the first letter.
through no desire of my own, my only aim being to serve the Church
in the humble and very consoling task of giving Her true priests
devoted to Her service, I found myself confronted with the Church
authorities at their top-most level on earth, the Pope. So I wrote
an answer to the Holy Father, stating my submission to the successor
of Peter in his essential function, that of faithfully transmitting
to us the deposit of the faith.
If we consider
the facts from a purely material point of view, it is a trifling
matter: the suppression of a Society which has barely come into
existence, with no more than a few dozen members, the closing
down of a Seminary - how little it is in reality, hardly worth
On the other
hand if for a moment we heed the reactions stirred up in Catholic
and even Protestant, Orthodox and atheist circles, moreover throughout
the entire world, the countless articles in the world press, reactions
of enthusiasm and true hope, reactions of spite and opposition,
reactions of mere curiosity, we cannot help thinking, even against
our will, that Ecône is posing a problem reaching far beyond
the modest confines of the Society and its Seminary, a deep and
unavoidable problem that cannot be pushed to one side with a sweep
of the hand, nor solved by any formal order, from whatever authority
it may come. For the problem of Ecône is the problem of
thousands and millions of Christian consciences, distressed, divided
and torn for the past ten years by the agonizing dilemma: whether
to obey and risk losing one's faith, or disobey and keep one's
faith intact; whether to obey and join in the destruction of the
Church, whether to accept the reformed Liberal Church, or to go
on belonging to the Catholic Church.
It is because
Ecône is at the heart of this crucial problem, seldom till
now posed with such fullness or gravity, that so many people are
looking to this house which has resolutely made its choice of
belonging to the eternal Church and of refusing to belong to the
reformed Liberal Church.
And now the
Church, through her official representatives, is taking up a position
against Ecône's choice, thus condemning in public the traditional
training of priests, in the name of the Second Vatican Council,
in the name of post-conciliar reforms, and in the name of post-conciliar
orientations to which the Pope himself is committed.
How can such
opposition to Tradition in the name of a Council and its practical
application be explained? Can one reasonably oppose, should one
in reality oppose, a Council and its reforms? What is more, can
one and should one oppose the orders of a hierarchy commanding
one to follow the Council and all the official post-conciliar
That is the
grave problem, today, after ten post-conciliar years, confronting
our conscience, as a result of the condemnation of Ecône.
give a prudent answer to these questions without making a rapid
survey of the history of Liberalism and Catholic Liberalism over
the last centuries. The present can only be explained by the past.
Let us first
define in a few words the Liberalism of which the most typical
historical example is Protestantism. Liberalism pretends to free
man from any constraint not wished or accepted by himself.
liberation: frees the intelligence from any objective truth
imposed on it. The Truth must be accepted as differing according
to the individual or group of individuals, so it is necessarily
divided up. The making of the Truth and the search for it go on
all the time. Nobody can claim to have exclusive or complete possession
of it. It is obvious how contrary that is to Our Lord Jesus Christ
and His Church.
liberation: frees the faith from any dogmas imposed on us,
formulated in a definitive fashion, and which the intelligence
and will must submit to. Dogmas, according to the Liberal, must
be submitted to the test of reason and science, constantly, because
science is constantly progressing. Hence it is impossible to admit
any revealed truth defined once and for all. It will be noticed
how opposed such a principle is to the Revelation of Our Lord
and His divine authority.
liberation: frees us from the law. The law, according, to
the Liberal, limits freedom and imposes on it a restraint first
moral and then physical. The law and its restraint are an affront
to human dignity and human conscience. Conscience is the supreme
law. The Liberal confuses liberty with license. Our Lord Jesus
Christ is the living Law, as He is the Word of God; it will be
realized once more how deep runs the opposition between the Liberal
and Our Lord.
of Liberal principles are to destroy the philosophy of being and
to refuse all definition of things, so as to shut oneself into
nominalism or existentialism and evolutionism. Everything is subject
to mutation and change.
consequence, as grave as the first, if not more so, is to deny
the supernatural, and hence original sin, justification by grace,
the true reason for the Incarnation, the Sacrifice of the Cross,
the Church, the Priesthood. Everything Our Lord accomplished gets
falsified; which works out in practical terms as a Protestant
view of the Liturgy of the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments
whose object is no longer to apply the merits of the Redemption
to souls, to each single soul, in order to impart to it the grace
of divine life and to prepare it for eternal life through its
belonging to the Mystical Body of Our Lord, but whose central
purpose from now on is the belonging to a human community of a
religious character. The whole liturgical Reform reflects this
change of direction.
the denying of all personal authority as sharing in the authority
of God. Human dignity demands that man submit only to what he
agrees to submit to. Since, however, no society can live without
authority, man will accept only authority approved by the majority,
because that represents authority being delegated by the largest
number of individuals to a designated person or group of persons,
such authority being never more than delegated.
principles and their consequences, requiring freedom of thought,
freedom of teaching, freedom of conscience, freedom to choose
one's own religion, these false freedoms which presuppose the
secular state, the separation of Church and State, have been,
ever since the Council of Trent, steadily condemned by the successors
of Peter, starting with the Council of Trent itself.
of Liberalism by the Magisterium of the Church
It is the
Church’s opposition to Protestant Liberalism which gave rise to
the Council of Trent, and hence the considerable importance of
this dogmatic Council in the struggle against Liberal errors,
in the defense of the Truth and the Faith, in particular in the
codifying of the Liturgy of the Mass and the Sacraments, in the
definitions concerning justification by grace.
Let us list
a few of the most important documents, completing and confirming
the Council of Trent's doctrine:
- The Bull
Auctorem fidei of Pius VI against the Council of Pistoia.
- The Encyclical
Mirari vos of Gregory XVI against Lamennais.
- The Encyclical
Quanta cura and the Syllabus of Pius IX.
- The Encyclical
Immortale Dei of Leo XIII condemning the secularization
Papal Acts of Saint Pius X against the Sillon and Modernism,
and especially the Decree Lamentabili and the Anti-Modernist
- The Encyclical
Divini Redemptoris of Pius XI against Communism.
- The Encyclical
Humani generis of Pius XII.
and Liberal Catholicism have always been condemned by Peter's
successors in the name of the Gospel and apostolic Tradition.
conclusion is of capital importance in deciding what attitude
to adopt in order to show that we are unfailingly at one with
the Church's Magisterium and with Peter’s successors. Nobody is
more attached than we are to Peter’s successor reigning today
when he echoes the apostolic Traditions and all his predecessors'
teachings. For it is the very definition of Peter's successor
to guard the deposit of Faith and hand it faithfully down. Here
is what Pope Pius IX proclaimed on the subject in Pastor aeternus:
Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter, that
by His revelation they might make known new doctrine, but that
by His assistance they might individually keep and faithfully
expound the revelation or deposit of faith delivered through
of Liberalism on Vatican II
Now we come
to the question which so concerns us: How is it possible that
anyone can, in the name of the Second Vatican Council, oppose
the centuries-old apostolic traditions, and so bring into question
the Catholic Priesthood itself, and its essential act, the Holy
Sacrifice of the Mass?
A grave and
tragic ambiguity hangs over the Second Vatican Council which is
presented by the Popes themselves3
in terms favoring that ambiguity: for instance, the Council of
the aggiornamento, the "bringing up-to-date"
of the Church, the pastoral non-dogmatic Council, as the Pope
again called it just a month ago.
of presenting the Council, in the Church and the world as they
were in 1962, ran very grave risks which the Council did not succeed
in avoiding. It was easy to interpret these words in such a way
that the Council was opened wide to the errors of Liberalism.
A Liberal minority among the Council Fathers, and above all among
the Cardinals, was very active, very well organized and fully
supported by a constellation of Modernist theologians and numerous
secretariats. Take for example the enormous flow of printed matter
from the I.D.O.C., subsidized by the Bishops' Conferences of Germany
was in their favor, for their demanding the instant adaptation
of the Church to modern man, in other words man who wishes to
be freed from all shackles, for their presenting the Church as
out of touch and impotent, for their saying "mea culpa"
on behalf of their predecessors. The Church is presented as being
as guilty as the Protestants and Orthodox for the divisions of
old. She must ask present-day Protestants for forgiveness.
Church is guilty in Her wealth, in her triumphalism; the Council
Fathers feel guilty at being out of the world, at not belonging
to the world; they are already blushing at their episcopal insignia,
soon they will be ashamed of their cassocks.
atmosphere of liberation will spread to all fields and it will
show in the spirit of collegiality which will veil the shame felt
at exercising a personal authority so opposed to the spirit of
modern man, let us say Liberal man. The Pope and Bishops will
exercise their authority collegially in Synods, Bishops' Conferences,
Priests' Councils. Finally the Church is opened wide to the principles
of the modern world.
too will be Liberalized, adapted, subjected to experiments by
the Bishops' Conferences.
liberty, ecumenism, theological research, the revision of Canon
Law will all soften down the triumphalism of a Church which used
to proclaim herself the only ark of salvation! The Truth is to
be found divided up among all religions, joint research will carry
the universal religious community forward around the Church.
Marsaudon in his book Ecumenism as Seen by a Freemason,
Liberals like Fesquet, are triumphant. At last the era of Catholic
states will disappear. All religions equal before the Law! "The
Church free in the free State," Lamennais' formula! Now the
Church is in touch with the modern world! The Church's privileged
status before the Law and all the documents cited above turn into
museum pieces for an age that has out-grown them! Read the beginning
of the Schema on The Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et
Spes), the description of how modern times are changing; read
the conclusions, they are pure Liberalism. Read the Declaration
on Religious Freedom and compare it with the Encyclical Mirari
vos of Gregory XVI, or with Quanta cura of Pius
IX, and you can recognize the contradiction almost word for word.4
To say that
Liberal ideas had no influence on the Second Vatican Council is
to fly in the face of the evidence. The internal and external
evidence both make that influence abundantly clear.
of Liberalism on the post-conciliar reforms and trends
And if we
pass on from the Council to the reforms and changes of direction
since the Council the proof is so clear as to be blinding. Now,
let us take careful note that in the letters from Rome calling
upon us to make a public act of submission, the Council and its
subsequent reforms and orientations are always presented as being
three parts of one whole. Hence all those people are gravely mistaken
who talk of a wrong interpretation of the Council, as though the
Council in itself was perfect and could not be interpreted along
the lines of the subsequent reforms and changes.
any written account of the Council, the official reforms and changes
that have followed in its wake show how the Council is officially
meant to be interpreted.
Now on this
point we need not elaborate: the facts speak for themselves, alas
all too eloquently.
remains intact of the pre-conciliar Church? Where has the self-destruction
(as Pope Paul called it) not been at work? Catechetics - seminaries
- religious congregations - liturgy of the Mass and the Sacraments
- constitution of the Church - concept of the Priesthood. Liberal
ideas have wrought havoc all round and are taking the Church far
beyond Protestant ideas, to the amazement of the Protestants and
to the disgust of the Orthodox.
One of the
most horrifying practical applications of these Liberal principles
is the opening wide of the Church to embrace all errors and in
particular the most monstrous error ever devised by Satan: Communism.
Communism now has official access to the Vatican, and its world
revolution is made markedly easier by the official non-resistance
of the Church, nay, by her regular support of the revolution,
in spite of the despairing warnings by cardinals who have been
through Communist jails.
of this pastoral Council to issue any official condemnation of
Communism alone suffices to disgrace it for all time, when one
thinks of the tens of millions of martyrs, of people having their
personalities scientifically destroyed in the psychiatric hospitals,
serving as guinea-pigs for all sorts of experiments. And the pastoral
Council which brought together 2,350 Bishops said not a word,
in spite of the 450 signatures of Fathers demanding a condemnation,
which I myself took to Mgr. Felici, Secretary of the Council,
together with Mgr. Sigaud, Archbishop of Diamantina.
analysis be pushed any further to reach its conclusion? These
lines seem to me to be enough to justify one's refusing to follow
this Council, these reforms, these changes in all their Liberalism
like to reply to the objection that will no doubt be raised under
the heading of obedience, and of the jurisdiction held by those
who seek to impose this Liberalization. Our reply is: In the Church,
law and jurisdiction are at the service of the Faith, the primary
reason for the Church. There is no law, no jurisdiction which
can impose on us a lessening of our Faith.
this jurisdiction and this law when they are at the service of
the Faith. But on what basis can they be judged? Tradition, the
Faith taught for 2,000 years. Every Catholic can and must resist
anyone in the Church who lays hands on his Faith, the Faith of
the eternal Church, relying on his childhood catechism.
his Faith is the prime duty of every Christian, all the more of
every priest and bishop. Wherever an order carries with it a danger
of corrupting Faith and morals, it becomes a grave duty not to
It is because
we believe that our whole Faith is endangered by the post-Conciliar
reforms and changes that it is our duty to disobey, and to maintain
the traditions of our Faith. The greatest service we can render
to the Catholic Church, to Peter's successor, to the salvation
of souls and of our own, is to say "No" to the reformed
Liberal Church, because we believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, Son
of God made Man, Who is neither Liberal nor reformable.
objection: the Council is a Council like the others, therefore
it should be followed like the others. It is like them in its
ecumenicity and in the manner of its being called, yes; like them
in its object, which is what is essential, no. A non-dogmatic
Council need not be infallible; it is only infallible when it
repeats traditional dogmatic truths.
How do you
justify your attitude towards the Pope?
We are the
keenest defenders of his authority as Peter's successor, but our
attitude is governed by the words of Pius IX quoted above. We
applaud the Pope when he echoes Tradition and is faithful to his
mission of handing down the deposit of the Faith. We accept changes
in close conformity with Tradition and the Faith. We do not feel
bound by any obedience to accept changes going against Tradition
and threatening our Faith. In that case, we take up position behind
the papal documents listed above.
We do not
see how, in conscience, a Catholic layman, priest or bishop can
adopt any other attitude towards the grievous crisis the Church
is going through. Nihil innovetur nisi quod traditum est
- innovate nothing outside Tradition.
and Mary help us to remain faithful to our episcopal promises!
"Call not true what is false, call not good what is evil."
That is what we were told at our consecration.
the Feast of Saint Pius X, 1975
A few lines
added to the above document will inform you of how our work is
A dozen seminarians
left us at the end of the academic year, some of them because
of the repeated attacks on us by the hierarchy. Ten more have
been called up for military service. On the other hand, we have
25 new seminarians entering at Ecône, 5 at Weissbad in the
Appenzell Canton, and 6 at Armada in the USA.
we have five postulant brothers and eight postulant sisters. You
can see that young people, by their sense of the Faith, know where
to find the sources of the graces necessary for their vocation.
We are preparing for the future: in the United States by building
a chapel at Armada with 18 rooms for seminarians; in England by
buying a larger house for the four priests now dispensing true
doctrine, the true Sacrifice and the Sacraments. In France, we
have acquired our first Priory, at St. Michel-en-Brenne. These
priories, including one house for priests and brothers, another
for sisters and a house of 25 to 30 rooms for the spiritual exercises,
will be sources of prayer-life and sanctification for lay-folk
and priests, and centres of missionary activity. In Switzerland
at Weissbad, a Society of St. Charles Borromeo is putting rooms
at our disposal in a rented building in which private lessons
are being organized for German-speaking students.
That is why
we are counting on the support of your prayers and generosity
in order to continue, despite the trials, this training of priests
indispensable to the life of the Church. We are being attacked
neither by the Church nor by the Successor of Peter, but by churchmen
steeped in the errors of Liberalism and occupying high positions,
who are making use of their power to make the Church of the past
disappear, and to install in its place a new Church which no longer
has anything to do with Catholicism.
we must save the true Church and Peter's successor from this diabolical
assault which calls to mind the prophecies of the Book of Revelation.
Let us pray
unceasingly to the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the Holy Angels,
St. Pius X, to come to our help so that the Catholic Faith may
triumph over errors. Let us remain united in this Faith, let us
avoid disputations, let us love one another, let us pray for those
who persecute us and let us render good for evil.
may God bless you.
Commentary by Mgr. Mamie, published in the Nouvelliste of
Sion of 12 December 1975
In a letter
to friends and benefactors of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius
X (No.9, dated the Feast of St. Pius X, 1975) - which has been
widely diffused - Mgr. Lefebvre writes:
seems to me that the moment has come to bring to your knowledge
the latest events concerning Ecône, and the attitude which
in conscience before God we believe we must take in these grave
In the same
letter he also states:
is because we believe that our whole Faith is endangered by
the post-conciliar reforms and changes that it is our duty to
disobey, and to maintain the traditions of our Faith. The greatest
service we can render to the Catholic Church, to Peter's successor,
to the salvation of souls and of our own, is to say "No"
to the reformed Liberal Church, because we believe in Our Lord
Jesus Christ, Son of God made Man, Who is neither Liberal nor
6 last, on Swiss Television there was a program dealing with intégrisme.5
In this program prominence was given to liturgical initiatives
in the form of Masses celebrated according to the rite of St.
Le Monde, in its issue of 27 November 1975, gives some
information on the same question and in particular publishes a
letter from the Superior General of the Holy Ghost Congregation
which publicly disowns the positions taken by Mgr. Lefebvre.
La Croix, in its issue of 27 November 1975, also informs
its readers in an article entitled "Mgr. Lefebvre Refuses
Obedience to Paul VI."
with the Conference of Swiss Bishops, we have on our part decided
to publish the letters which compose this new dossier. Some comments
1. It is
surprising that Mgr. Lefebvre had not replied to the first clear
and paternal letter from the Sovereign Pontiff.
2. It was
therefore necessary for the Pope to write a new letter in his
own hand in order that Mgr. Lefebvre could acknowledge the authenticity
of the first letter.
3. In his
reply, Mgr. Lefebvre expresses his "unreserved attachment
to the Holy See and to the Vicar of Christ."
as I see it, there is a contradiction between this affirmation
on the one hand, and on the other the continued activities of
the Ecône Seminary, the establishment of new institutions,
certain positions taken against the Second Vatican Council and
the Letter to Friends and Benefactors we have already cited, for
this letter speaks of a "right to disobey."
It is with
great sorrow that we communicate this information. We were so
hopeful that Mgr. Lefebvre would have accepted the demands of
the Sovereign Pontiff. It is more urgent than ever to intensify
our prayers that the faithful, priests, and bishops remain attached
by their actions to the Successor of Peter, for without attachment
and submission to the Pope there is no longer a Catholic Church.
a. That His
Holiness Pope Paul wrote to Mgr. Lefebvre (in his letter of 29
June 1975): "Certainly, problems of another order entirely
preoccupy Us equally - the superficiality of certain interpretations
of conciliar documents, of individual or collective initiatives
deriving sometimes rather from arbitrary wilfulness (libre
arbitre) than from confident adhesion to the teaching of
Scripture and Tradition, of initiatives which arbitrarily evoke
the faith to justify them. We know them, We suffer because of
them, and, for Our part, We strive in season and out of season
to remedy them.
But how can
one use things such as these to justify oneself in committing
excesses which are gravely harmful? Such is not the right way
to do things, since it makes use of ways comparable to those which
b. That His
Eminence Cardinal Villot, Secretary of State, wrote to us (in
his letter of 27
in doctrinal and liturgical matters, clear-sightedness in discerning
the reforms which require to be undertaken, patience and tact
in the guidance of the People of God, solicitude for priestly
vocations and an exacting preparation for the tasks of the ministry,
all that is undoubtedly the most effective manner in which a Pastor
can bear witness."
c. That we
wrote (on 7 June last):
we remain sad (but confident) because we have had to speak publicly
of dissensions in the family of the children of God and of the
sons of the Church. We should have loved to resolve our problems
among ourselves in discretion and silence. We did not succeed
in doing so. Let us pray very much that peace and confidence may
May God enable
us to remain faithful to the Truth with constant Charity.
6 December 1975
February 1976 - Report of an interview granted by Mgr. Lefebvre
to Louis Salleron and published in La France Catbolique-Ecclesia
Monseigneur, not only in France, but throughout the entire world,
there is an immense number of Catholics who have placed their trust
in you because the Seminary of Ecône seems to them the rampart
of their faith during what Father Bouyer has described as "the
decomposition of Catholicism." However, many today are troubled
because the information they read in the newspapers presents you
as disobedient to the Pope.
It seems to me that, on the contrary, my seminary is the clearest
expression of an attitude of obedience to the Pope, successor of
Peter and Vicar of Jesus Christ.
You have however spoken of the "duty to disobey."
Undoubtedly. It is a duty to disobey the prescriptions of those
who themselves constitute disobedience to the doctrine of the Church.
You have a family. If your children receive in the catechism an
official teaching, authorized or imposed, which either distorts
or is silent with regard to the truths one must believe, your duty
is to disobey those who presume to teach this new catechism to your
children. In so doing, you obey the Church.
Cardinal Villot has stated in writing that you refused to accept
control by the competent ecclesiastical authorities. Is that true?
Lefebvre: It is absolutely false. Besides, I have several
times had the pleasure of a visit from Mgr. Adam (Bishop of Sion)
and I have explicitly invited Mgr. Mamie (Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva
and Fribourg) who has always refused to come, because he considered
my Seminary illegal, although he declared in his letter suppressing
it that the Seminary had (as from that moment only) lost
its legal status.
Cardinal Villot also says that you are systematically opposed to
the Council. Is that true?
It is equally false (to say) that I am systematically opposed to
the Second Vatican Council. But I am convinced that a Liberal spirit
was active at the Council and became apparent frequently in conciliar
texts, particularly in certain declarations such as that on religious
freedom, the one on non-Christian religions and on the Church in
the world. That is why it seems to me very legitimate to have considerable
reservations concerning these texts.
theological research calls in question veritable dogmas of our faith,
I cannot understand why I should be condemned for discussing certain
texts of a council which even the Pope himself has recently affirmed
to be non-dogmatic. I am accused of infidelity to the Church while
none of these theologians engaged in research is condemned. There
are truly two weights and two measures.
However, it is the Pope himself who seems to think that you do not
obey the Church.
Then there has been a misunderstanding. My thoughts and my will
in this matter have always been entirely free from any ambiguity.
One day I had occasion to write to the Abbé de Nantes: "I
want you to know that if a Bishop breaks with Rome, it will not
Have you had some discussion with the Pope about this question?
No. It is precisely that which I deplore.
He has not summoned you in order to let you know his mind on this
Not only have I not been invited, but I have never been able to
obtain an audience with him, and for that reason I have been wondering
if my request for an audience had been presented to him. Recently
a Bishop whom I very much esteem has seen the Holy Father in order
to tell him of the upset in his diocese caused by all measures taken
against me which seems to represent a condemnation of my work. And
he asked him to receive me. The Holy Father begged him to discuss
this with Cardinal Villot, who told him: "There can be no question
of this. The Pope could change his mind and there would be confusion."
You see therefore that there is a screen between the Holy Father
In his second letter, the Pope told you that he is perfectly well
informed concerning you.
Since I cannot have an audience with him I have a right to think
that he is not "well informed."
He is probably basing this on the Report of the two Apostolic Visitors
who had been to Ecône and on the Report of the three Cardinals
who interviewed you by express command of the Holy Father.
I don't know what was in these documents. As for the Report of the
two Apostolic Visitors, it was not communicated to me...
It is said to have been favorable to the Seminary at Ecône.
So they say, and I am happy because of that. But in fact I know
nothing, since this report was not communicated to me. As for my
discussions with Cardinals Garrone, Wright and Tabera, I can tell
you the following fact: Cardinal Garrone most courteously asked
me if I had any objection to the discussion being recorded. I willingly
agreed and after the discussion I asked for a copy of the recording
to be given to me. Cardinal Garrone agreed, saying it was my right.
When I came to ask for the promised recording I was told that it
would only be a typed transcript. That wasn't the same thing because
there could be suppressions and modifications on the typed copy.
I was in Rome
for several days. The promised copy should have been delivered to
me. Seeing no sign of it, I telephoned to speed things up - only
to be told that it wasn't possible for me to be given this copy
but that I could come and see it on such and such a day at such
and such an hour. I refused to be a party to this farce. And consequently,
just as I don't know what was in the Apostolic Visitors' Report,
neither do I know what was contained in the Report of the Cardinals'
Commission. If the recording has been neither destroyed nor cut,
I can assure you that it would be interesting to listen to. But,
obviously, the Holy Father has been given only such reports as were
prepared for him, and of which I am totally ignorant.
In short, you have been condemned in a trial without your having
been given the evidence.
It wasn't even a trial, for the Cardinals' Commission wasn't a tribunal
and had never been presented to me as such. I have been condemned,
as you say, in so irregular a manner that I can't see what the word
"condemnation" can mean.
And this, be
it noted, at a moment when we are told that the Church no longer
condemns, and without having been able to be heard by the Holy Father,
who has made dialogue the mark of his government. That is why I
think that all this has been contrived behind his back.
But what difficulty do you find in making the public act of submission
that is being asked of you: i. e. "to the Council, to the post-conciliar
reforms and to the orientations to which the Pope himself is committed"?
I find a difficulty in the equivocation which borders on falsehood.
From the "Council" one proceeds to "post-conciliar
reforms" and from there to the "orientations to which
the Pope himself is committed." One no longer knows what precisely
is involved. What is to be understood by the "orientations
to which the Pope himself is committed"? Must we understand
it to mean such of the orientations as involve the Pope personally
(and what are these?), or the actual orientations of the Church,
to all of which the Pope is committed?
When one sees
what is happening in France - to speak only of our own country -
am I to think that, in its collegiality, the episcopate has submitted
"to the Council, to post-conciliar reforms, and to the orientations
to which the Pope himself is committed"?
I must think so, since no public act of submission has been asked
of the French Episcopate by Cardinal Villot or the Sovereign Pontiff.
Is it therefore to the destruction of the priesthood, to the changing
or the negation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to the abandonment
of moral values, to the politicization of the Gospel, and to the
constitution of a national Church centered on the episcopal conference
and the secretariat of the episcopate that I must subscribe to bear
witness to my communion with the Catholic Church and the Vicar of
Christ? It is absurd. My Catholic faith and my duty as a bishop
forbid me to do so.
I believe that what you are being asked to do is simply to close
the Seminary of Ecône.
But why? It is perhaps the only one that corresponds not only to
the tradition of the Church but also to the Decree of Vatican II
concerning the training of priests. Moreover, I had occasion one
day to say so to Cardinal Garrone, who did not deny it.
If, instead of asking you to make a badly defined act of submission,
the Pope were to give you an express order by a new letter, to close
the Seminary of Ecône, would you close it?
After a trial carried out in a proper way according to the elementary
norms of natural law and ecclesiastical law, yes, I would agree
to close my Seminary.
Let me be told
in an explicit and concrete manner what I am being reproached with
in my activities and in my writings, and let me be given the elementary
right to defend myself with the help of an advocate.
Despite everything, then, you are an optimist?
It isn't a question of optimism. I don't know what will happen,
and sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. But I have confidence
however because, being supported by the millenary tradition of the
Church, which cannot possibly have been mistaken, I cannot see how,
this being so, I can be the subject of condemnation.
which the Church is undergoing can be ended only by a return to
the principles which make her continuous and everlasting.
February 1976 - Letter from Pope Paul VI to Cardinal Villot
is a translation of the text of an entirely hand-written letter,
dated 21 February 1976, from Pope Paul to Cardinal Villot. It was
reproduced photographically in La France Catholique-Ecclesia
of 5 May 1976.)
Villot, Our Secretary of State
We have taken
notice of an interview requested of Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre by the
weekly France Catholique-Ecclesia (No. 1322, of 13 February
errors contained in this interview there is one which We wish
to rectify Ourself: you would seem to be a screen placed between
the Pope and Mgr. Lefebvre, an obstacle to the meeting which he
wishes Us. That is not true.
It is particularly
significant that although the Holy Father does not say what other
"errors" are contained in the interview, concerning the only one
he does refer to specifically he confines himself to denying that
Cardinal Villot acts as a screen between him and Mgr. Lefebvre.
He does not deny that, having been begged to see Mgr. Lefebvre by
an African Bishop-friend of Mgr. Lefebvre, he urged the Bishop to
see Cardinal Villot, who promptly told him that this was out of
the question since it might induce the Holy Father to change his
If this is
not "screening" the Holy Father it is only in the sense
that to use the word "screen " in that context constitutes
that before being received in audience Mgr. Lefebvre must renounce
his inadmissible position concerning the Second Ecumenical Vatican
Council and measures which We have promulgated or approved in
matters liturgical and disciplinary (and by consequence, also
It has hitherto
always been generally understood, and taught, that, far from being
synonymous, the two terms were clearly distinguished. It would have
been different had it been a case of insisting that what was essentially
doctrinal was therefore also a matter of discipline. But to state
the contrary; particularly with reference to post-conciliar reforms,
is ominous indeed since it has hitherto been insisted with wearying
monotony that these were of exclusively pastoral significance and
did not imply any doctrinal change.
alas! he does not cease to affirm by words and deeds. A real change
of attitude is therefore necessary, in order that the desired
interview may take place in the spirit of fraternity and ecclesial
unity which We have desired so much since the beginning of this
painful affair, and above all since We have personally and on
two occasions written to Mgr. Lefebvre.
of April 1976, Jean Madiran adds this footnote:
asks why...it is only of Mgr. Lefebvre that these conditions are
demanded: Paul in effect receives all kinds of people (abortionists,
libertines, stars in immoral shows, freemasons, communists, terrorists,
etc.) whose attitude is quite unsatisfactory, without 'a real
change of attitude' being demanded of them before being received
in audience....It seems increasingly obvious that this inequality
of treatment is neither accidental nor arbitrary; it is an inevitable
practical consequence of the axiom according to which Vatican
II has more importance than the Council of Nicea.6
prior importance accorded Vatican II...has given rise to a new
form of communion. Those who approve or at least applaud the Council
belong to this new communion and are fraternally received by Paul
VI, even if they reject or know nothing of the preceding 20 Councils
and the defined dogmas.
those who remain faithful to the defined dogmas and to the entire
apostolic tradition, but have reservations concerning the Council
and the circumstantial reforms deriving from it, they alas! are
considered as out of communion and find the door shut against
them so long as they have not changed their attitude.
Council has the ambition of summarizing and the function of replacing
everything that preceded it. It becomes the principal criterion
of true and false, of good and evil.
It is only
conciliar evolution which in turn has as much authority as and
more importance than the Council itself.
One has a
right to be more conciliar than the Council; one has no right
to be less. It is only in this perspective that the official attitude
with regard to Mgr. Lefebvre finds coherence, and explanation.
But what a frightening coherence, a terrible explanation."
March 1976 - Letter to Friends and Benefactors (no.
to hope that he will soon give Us, in deeds, the concrete proof
of his fidelity to the Church and to the Holy See, from which
he has received so many marks of esteem and confidence.
We know that
you share this hope; that is why We authorize you to make this
letter public, in accordance with the good wishes and affection
which We feel for you, Our collaborator in the apostolic charge.
The Vatican, 21 February 1976.
and opposition our Work goes serenely ahead, trusting in God and
based on the Faith which does not change and cannot be shaken.
3rd there will be 11 more deacons at Ecône, and many seminarians
will on the same day be receiving Minor Orders. Together with
the dozen seminarians doing military service, Ecône now
counts 110 seminarians. We already have some 40 applications for
as in Armada in the United States, applications are so numerous
that both houses will soon be filled.
in Albano include four Novices and five Postulants. The latter
will receive the habit on Easter Sunday, and if one counts the
four Americans who will be joining them soon, plus the ten or
so applicants for October, then the House where they train will
already be gathering together some 23 aspirants to the religious
be moving to France in October because the house at Albano, originally
intended for young priests, will be occupied by the newly ordained
have two Novices and seven Postulants. They will be gladly received
in our various houses, increasing in number: four in the USA (Armada,
New York, San José and Houston); two in England (Highclere
and Sanderstead); one in Brussels; five in France, one in Germany
(Munich); three in Switzerland; one in Italy (Albano).
It is thanks
to your prayers and your generosity that in a year's time we shall
be able, please God, to have 26 priests at your disposal: 13 are
already at work training students or ministering to souls.
it come about that a Work thus resembling all those of its kind
existing before the Second Vatican Council should be harshly and
pitilessly hounded down by the Roman Authorities, unjustly and
illegally suppressed, accused of breaking off communion with Rome,
is precisely that we are continuing to believe and act as the
Church always has believed and acted. Hence the truth is that
modern Rome has changed. And yet it was clear to see where the
novelties already repeatedly condemned by the Magisterium of the
Church would lead.
for the ten years following the Council is catastrophic in all
departments. Churchmen, herein following numerous bad examples,
thought that they could replace what Our Lord instituted with
institutions better suited to the modern world, forgetting that
Jesus Christ is God "yesterday, today and for ever"
(Heb. 13:8), and that His Work is suited to all times and to all
X condemned them in his masterly Encyclical Pascendi. Such
innovators pervert the faith, bring supernatural means down to
the level of man and destroy the hierarchical constitution of
For a long
time now we have been warned by the Popes. Pius IX had the Documents
of the Alta Vendita of the Carbonari published in which
we read: "In a hundred years' time...bishops and priests
will think they are marching behind the banner of the keys of
Peter when in fact they will be following our flag." (Masonic
Infiltrations in the Church, Barbier.) Fogazzaro at the beginning
of the century, founder of the Modernist lodge of Milan, used
to say: "The Reform will have to be brought about in the
name of obedience." (The Church under Occupation,
Ploncard d' Assac.)7
we hear in Rome that he who was the heart and soul of the liturgical
reform is a Freemason, we may think that he is not the only one.
The veil covering over the greatest hoax ever to have mystified
the clergy and baffled the faithful is doubtless beginning to
be torn asunder.
Now is the
time then to hold more faithfully than ever to Tradition and the
unchanging Church, and to pray to God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary,
and to St. Michael the Archangel to free the Church from the scandalous
occupation of which She is victim.
is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith." (I John
May God bless
you through the intercession of His Holy Mother, and I wish you
all a Holy Eastertide!
April 1976 - Letter from Archbishop Benelli to Archbishop Lefebvre
is important because it states precisely, in writing, for the first
time the real conditions of the submission demanded of Mgr. Lefebvre.
The author of the letter, Mgr. Benelli, who has the title of "Substitute"8
in the Vatican Secretariat of State, was its most notable personage
after Cardinal Villot until he was created a Cardinal and appointed
Archbishop of Florence in May 1977.
It is now
a month since we met. As I offer you my best wishes for the Easter
feast, I should like to repeat how happy I am that our meeting
was so frank, and also how, every day, the expectation grows keener
that you will return to that effective communion with Pope Paul
VI which the celebration of the Resurrection required and of which
our conversation had given hope.
took place in Rome, on 19 March 1976, on Mgr. Benelli's initiative
(he was reviving a request for an audience by Mgr. Lefebvre which,
the year before, had been left unanswered).
certainly remember the step envisaged as most suitable for arriving
at that happy result.
Not at all; imposed in the name of the Pope by Mgr. Benelli, but
he had sent Mgr. Lefebvre nothing in writing.
alone and before God, you will write to the Holy Father informing
him of your acceptance of the Council and of all its documents,
affirming your full attachment to the person of His Holiness Pope
Paul VI and to the totality of his teaching...
A Pope who
thus wishes to impose a full attachment to the totality
of his own teaching - that makes a double difficulty. 1°
As is known, or as should be known, the totality of the teaching
of a Pope (especially of a modern Pope, speaking much and often)
does not involve papal authority in the same degree in all its parts;
it can often happen that that authority is not involved at all,
when he speaks as a private doctor. Full attachment to the
totality of the teaching is an exorbitant demand; it is a
form of unconditional submission. That is the first anomaly, and
it is serious. 2° The second anomaly, no less serious; the question
is of the teaching of Paul VI, by itself; of his personal teaching.
The head of a school can so speak. A Pope does not speak in that
way. All pontifical documents prior to Paul VI attest the fact:
they refer constantly to the teachings of predecessors, and they
confirm, repeat, develop and apply them, and they never seek to
distinguish themselves from them as individuals. Shall we suppose
that this is a stupidity of Mgr. Benelli's? Not at all. He is faithfully
reproducing the thought of Paul VI. For it is the same thought which
Paul VI himself expresses in his consistorial discourse of 24
May 1976, showing plainly that his own teaching has a distinct
individuality: "We think that no one can be in doubt of the
meaning of the orientations and the encouragements that, in the
course of our pontificate, we have given to pastors and to the people
of God, and even the whole world. We are grateful to those who have
made a program of the teaching given with a purpose which was always
sustained with a lively hope, etc". Where his predecessors
used to speak of the teaching of the Popes, of the Holy See, or
of the Church, Paul VI speaks of his personal teaching. Just as
Vatican II is presented to us as the Council, abstracting
from previous councils, so Paul VI presents his teaching as something
separate and particular, so that in isolation it can be taken as
a program, and he expresses his gratitude to those who have so taken
it. On those who have not taken it so, he will impose it: Mgr. Benelli's
phrase about full attachment to the totality of the teaching of
Paul VI is perfectly consistent with the passage quoted from the
as concrete proof of your submission to the Successor of Peter,
to adopt and to get adopted in the houses dependent on you, the
Missal which he himself promulgated in virtue of his supreme apostolic
Enter the new
Missal! Until this date, nothing had been said to Mgr. Lefebvre
of this obligatory adoption. It constitutes the real condition.
This new Mass of which not a word had been whispered in the whole
business during a year - the silence on the subject was trickery.
Now the veil is removed from it, and it is indeed the essential.
More than that, it is not at all a matter of a simple "step
that has been envisaged." It might have been that, in the form
of a hypothesis, in an explanatory conversation and a fraternal
dialogue; but, as indicated on p. 169,
the matter is the notifications of conditions imposed by the Pope:
that will be confirmed in Mgr. Benelli's letter of 12
I can fully
understand how costly such a step must be. That, perhaps, is why
you hesitate to take it. Yet, can there be any other way? I address
myself to you as a brother, with hope and confidence: this step
is possible; it must be taken for the good of the whole Church
and for those outside it who are looking at us; and I desire to
do everything to help you take it.
A few days
ago we celebrated Easter. Christ the Saviour points the way. To
be united with Him there is no other road than to put everything
into His hands. I pray with all my heart that you may reach Him,
and thus give to His Vicar on earth the profound joy that he awaits
Monseigneur, of my devoted fraternal feelings.
If thy brother does thee wrong, go at once and tax him with it,
as a private matter between thee and him; and so, if he will listen
to thee, thou has won thy brother. If he will not listen to thee,
take with thee one or two more, that the whole matter may be certified
by the voice of two or three witnesses. If he will not listen to
them, then speak of it to the Church; and if he will not even listen
to the Church, then count him all one with the heathen and the publican."
The scriptural text is not given in Cardinal Villot's letter, which
includes merely the scriptural reference.
The Ecône Newsletter No.9 has been included at this point
(not in chronological order) because it was referred to by Mgr.
Mamie in a commentary published in the Nouvelliste of 12
December 1975. Readers would not have been able to form a balanced
judgment of Mgr. Mamie's commentary without reading the Newsletter
first. The commentary follows immediately after Newsletter No. 9.
Popes John XXIII and Paul IV.
See Appendix IV for a discussion of
the Declaration on Religious Freedom.
Intégrisme is a very much misused word. However
by intégrisme properly so called is meant the
spirit of those who refuse to accept any changes whatsoever. It
is not to be confused with Tradition which is the handing on of
essential values, not accretions which have long since ceased to
be relevant. Mgr. Mamie implicitly suggests that the traditional
Mass exemplifies intégrisme - in other words,
that it was so overburdened with historical accretions as to be
no longer a vehicle of Tradition.
See Appendix III.
The full text of the Documents of the Alta Vendita, and much
other useful information on the Carbonari, is published in Grand
Orient Freemasonry Unmasked by Mgr. G. Dillon. (Augustine Publishing
Assistant to the Secretary of State.
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109