Monday 1980, Archbishop Lefebvre offered Mass in the Church of
San Simone Piccolo. Twenty students and a number of priests of
the seminary at Albano, near Rome, had travelled to Venice for
the Mass. I had a personal interest in this particular Mass as
I had been staying at the seminary during Holy Week, prior to
meeting Cardinal Seper on the evening of Easter Monday. The Cardinal
had expressed a wish to meet me after having been given some of
my books by Archbishop Lefebvre. I had gone to the Rome terminus
to see the seminarians off, and I was most interested in the outcome
of the Mass as the Patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Cé, made public
his displeasure at Archbishop Lefebvre’s decision to offer Mass
in his diocese. A justification of Mgr. Lefebvre's practice in
intervening within the dioceses of other bishops is included in
my commentary on the protest made by Mgr. Elchinger when the Archbishop
came to Strasbourg .
concerning the Venice Mass are included here. They are an account
of the Mass provided by a seminarian, the Archbishop’s sermon,
a report which appeared in The Times, and a characteristic
example of Universe gutter journalism from Ronald Singleton.
It is interesting to compare this report with his account of the
condemnation of Hans Küng.
Visit to Venice
a Seminarian from Albano1
completing their second year of studies at the Society of St.
Pius X's house near Rome were able, during Easter week, to benefit
from a five-day holiday in Venice provided by the generosity of
Italian benefactors. Under the direction of our Director, Father
Didier Bonneterre, we left Albano after chanting Vespers in the
seminary chapel. A picnic supper had been provided by the Sisters,
and we very much appreciated it during the long journey by train
as far as Padua.
a modem thriving metropolis whose history goes back well before
the time of the Holy Roman Empire when it was already an important
religious, cultural, artistic, and commercial center. Today its
chief claim to fame is its magnificent medieval basilica built
to house the remains of St. Anthony, the great Franciscan preacher
whose name is popularly invoked in the search for mislaid objects.
The hotel at which we were to stay was situated very near the
basilica, and from six 0' clock each morning seminarians could
be seen dotted all over this huge church, making their early morning
meditation and reciting their breviary.
had the opportunity of visiting other churches in Padua, whose
expansive medieval city-center is still very much unspoiled by
the industrial development springing up in the suburbs. In the
Benedictine Monastery of Santa Guistina, for example, a majestic
sixteenth-century church surmounted by eight domes, we were able
to pray at the tomb of St. Luke the Evangelist and author of the
Acts of the Apostles. It is at such venerable sites of Christendom
as this that one is more painfully aware of the sorrows of today's
Church. Since St. Luke and the other Apostles and Evangelists
first began to preach the Word of God, never has the Faith been
so disturbed, so endangered as in the present century; the Benedictine
monk in the emerald-green shirt, one of the "guardians"
of this holy place, was living proof. We should remember in our
prayers the modern day pastors of Christ's flock, that they may
continue to spread the truth of Christ, and to safeguard the Deposit
of Faith handed down to us by the Apostles.
half an hour from Padua, the city of Venice is approached by a
three-mile long road-rail bridge built in 1933. Stepping outside
from the railway station the first view of Venice is impressive
- the Grand Canal with its endless stream of gondolas and vaporetti,
and immediately opposiye, the steps rising out of the water, the
Church of San Simone Piccolo.
small but imposing building was to be the scene of a much publicized
and controversial event this past Easter
Monday: Mgr. Lefebvre, Superior of the Society of St. Pius X,
was to celebrate a Solemn Pontifical Mass - his first public Mass
in Italy since the Vatican attempt to suppress the Society and
the Mass of St. Pius V back in 1975. As we arrived in Venice early
that morning a large crowd was already gathering around the church,
and television cameras were being fixed into position on the bridge
across the Grand Canal.
San Simone the atmosphere was relatively peaceful. A group of
local supporters was succeeding in separating the newspaper reporters
and the curious from the worshippers at the entrance, and the
church was quickly filled by several hundred Catholic faithful,
who, in a general air of expectancy, quietly recited the Rosary,
or followed the Low Mass being celebrated in one of the side chapels
by Father Bonneterre.
As last minute
preparations were being made in the sacristy a loud commotion
outside the church announced the arrival Archbishop Lefebvre,
who had travelled down to Venice from Ecône the night before.
Despite his long journey His Grace showed no signs of fatigue,
and acknowledged the enthusiasm of the crowds as he made his way
through the church to the sacristy. With proverbial Italian exuberance,
the faithful clapped and cheered, and kneeling to receive his
blessing and obviously grateful to have the opportunity of showing
their loyalty and devotion to this faithful pastor and all he
arrived in the sacristy where the priests and seminarians were
vesting for Mass. Soon the procession had formed and, after bowing
to the Cross, it slowly made its way towards the door into the
church. As the processional cross appeared in a cloud of incense
the enthusiasm of the faithful burst forth again, this time in
the singing of the Sacerdas et Pantifex. Arriving at the
high altar resplendent in its Easter decorations, each seminarian
in turn genuflected and made his way into the choir. The Introit
was solemnly intoned and Monseigneur began the prayers at
the foot of the altar. The ancient chants and ceremonies of the
Easter liturgy continued: Hæc est dies - "This is
the day that the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad therein."
deacon had completed the singing of the Gospel announcing the
Resurrection of Our Lord, he incensed the Archbishop who then
proceeded to address the faithful. In a sermon in which he criticized
condemnation of the Society - a condemnation made without any
pretense at a fair trial - the Archbishop reaffirmed his refusal
to compromise the Faith and his continued belief that any renewal
within the Church must come through Tradition. He also criticized
the attitude of those traditionalists who take an extreme position
in regard to Rome, and refuse to acknowledge the lawful and divine
authority of the official Church. Never has he worked against
the Church - Ecône and its more than two hundred seminarians are
working for the Church and within the Church. To prove this point,
Mgr. Lefebvre reminded the congregation of the words of St. Pius
X, Cardinal Patriarch of Venice before he was elected to the Throne
of Peter, that the friends of the people are not the progressives
and the innovators, but rather those who remain faithful to Tradition.
sermon the congregation rose to its feet to profess its faith
in the singing of the Credo. The Mass proceeded, and soon
a hush descended on the church as the warning bell was rung for
the consecration. As the Archbishop paused and bent over the paten
to whisper the words of consecration, the sacred stillness was
suddenly broken by the triumphant pealing of the church bells,
jubilantly proclaiming to the outside world the presence of Our
Lord Jesus Christ on the altar.
As the Mass
came to an end, the congregation knelt for the pontifical blessing.
The Archbishop made the triple sign of the cross over the people,
and as choir and congregation joined in the final hymn, Christus
vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat, the clergy began
the procession out of the church.
changing out of our surplices and saying a prayer of thanksgiving,
it was time to leave. Monseigneur arrived looking relaxed and
cheerful, and we began the perilous descent of the steps down
to the Grand Canal - perilous because of the enormous crowd of
reporters and cameramen jostling each other in a frantic attempt
at getting a personal interview with the Archbishop. With cameras
clicking furiously, and microphones being brandished in all directions,
Monseigneur looked the picture of serenity as he boarded the motor
launch and waved to the crowds.
benefactors had arranged a banquet at a restaurant outside the
city, and after such a long and physically tiring day everyone
was more than happy to relax in pleasant surroundings and enjoy
the hospitality of our hosts.
in the afternoon we were taken by bus to Riese, the birthplace
of St. Pius X. For Archbishop Lefebvre, as well as for the majority
of the seminarians, this was their first visit to this shrine,
and although only a fleeting pilgrimage, the tour was made very
special by the presence among us of the great-niece of St. Pius
X. This wonderful old lady still lives in the home of the Sarto
family where St. Pius X was born and spent his childhood. It is
a simple house, typical of the dwellings of the region, a house
which has retained all of its charm, thanks to the care of the
Sarto family who have also established behind the house a museum
dedicated to this great and holy man. In the town of Riese - now
known as Riese/San Pio Decimo - the memory of this Pope lives
on. His name is to be seen everywhere you look: Giuseppe Sarto
Street, Pius X Boulevard, St. Pius X Pharmacy, and so on. It was
refreshing to see such devotion to our heavenly patron in these
times when his successors in the hierarchy seem to prefer to forget
the teachings of such a staunchly traditionalist and anti-liberal
is Happening In The Church?
7 April 1980
A Sermon Pronounced by His Excellency Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
at the Church of St. Simon Piccolo, Venice2
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.
My dear brethren,
I hope you
will excuse me if I am not very fluent in your language but I
hope that you will understand my words.
are some among you who are having doubts. They are maybe wondering
why Archbishop Lefebvre has come here to Venice, without having
been invited by Cardinal Cé. My presence here creates a situation
which, in the Church, is not normal.
This is true.
When I was Archbishop of Dakar, if a bishop had come to my diocese
without having asked me and without having been invited, I would
have been very surprised. I realize this, that we are dealing
with an abnormal situation. We definitely have to ask ourselves
what the present situation in the Church is.
would I have wanted to do anything contrary to the Church! All
of my life has been devoted to the service of the Church. In my
fifty years of priesthood, thirty-three of them as a bishop, I
have done nothing but serve the Church as a missionary, as a bishop
in France, as Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers, and
as a missionary bishop. The young seminarians and the priests
that you see here with me represent a very small part of all those
presently studying in my five seminaries.
ago I began this work - this Society of St. Pius X - with the
intention of wanting always to serve the Church. Why, then, is
Cardinal Cé, Patriarch of Venice, not happy that I have come here?
Why does he not understand the reason? How can I best explain?
Obviously, he is not happy that I have continued my duties unchanged
since the day of my ordination to the priesthood. I have never
changed in any way, whether it was when I established new seminaries
in Africa, or when, as Apostolic Delegate of His Holiness Pope
Pius XII, I visited the sixty-four dioceses of French Africa during
the course of eleven years. I visited all the seminaries, laying
down to the diocesan bishops the standards for the new ones to
I have never
changed. I have preached and done what the Church has always taught.
I have never changed what the Church said in the Council of Trent
and at the First Vatican Council. So who has changed? Myself or
Cardinal Cé? I don’t know, but I think that considering the way
things are - that is, the fruits of the changes made in the Church
since the Second Vatican Council - as Catholics we can observe
the fruits for ourselves, you can see it with your own eyes.
How are things
going in the Church today? Ask His Grace Monseigneur Pintonello,
former Chaplain to the Armed Forces, who has made a detailed report
on the present conditions of the Italian seminaries: a disaster!
A real disaster! How many seminaries have been sold or closed?
The Seminary of Turin with three hundred places - empty! And how
many others have you seen closed in your own dioceses? So then,
surely, something is wrong in the Church, because if there are
no longer any seminaries there will in the future be no more priests
- thus, there will no longer be the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
What will become of the Church? All this is unbelievable! They
have changed, yes. They have changed, but why? They have done
this, of course, with the idea of saving the Church, of doing
something new. Before the Council there was a real decrease of
fervor and therefore they thought that by changing, the Church
would become more alive. But one cannot change what Jesus Christ
has established. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Sacraments,
the Creed, our catechism, the Sacred Scriptures - all come from
Jesus Christ. To change them is to change the establishment of
Jesus Christ. Impossible! One cannot say that the Church has been
mistaken; if something is wrong one must look for the reason somewhere,
but not in the Church. They also say that the Church must change
as modem man changes, that as man has a new way of life, so too
the Church must have another doctrine - a new Mass, new Sacraments,
a new catechism, new seminaries - and, in this way, everything
has gone to ruin. Everything has been ruined!
is not responsible. It is not the Church but rather the priests
who are responsible for the deterioration of Catholicism. Pope
St. Pius X, your Holy Patriarch of Venice, in the first pages
of his encyclical Pascendi, writes that already in his
time there were errors and heresies not outside but inside the
Church; within the Church and not only among the laity but, more
to the point, amongst the priests. St. Pius X saw these enemies
from the very beginning of this century. Today we can add that
if St. Pius X were still alive, he would see them not only amongst
the priests but amongst the bishops and cardinals as well. It
is certain, unfortunately, that there are even some cardinals
who are diffusing error.
does the Dutch Catechism originate? Certainly not from the Catholic
Catechism, even though it was approved by cardinals and bishops.
Even the French catechism, with which I am acquainted, contain
errors. It is no longer the true Catholic doctrine which has always
been taught. We are dealing with a very serious situation.
the world, everywhere I have been, I have visited groups of Catholics
like you, who ask themselves: "What is happening in the Church?"
The Church is hardly recognizable today. The ceremonies - the
half - Protestant, half-Catholic liturgy - are a circus; it is
no longer a Mystery. The Sacred Mystery of the Holy Sacrifice
of the Mass - a great Mystery, heavenly and sublime - is no longer
considered such. One no longer feels the supernatural character
of the Mass; those who are present have a feeling of emptiness
and no longer know whether they have been at a Catholic ceremony
or at some king of secular gathering.
This is an
inadmissible situation. The faithful, good and simple people,
are opposed to it. Because they intuitively know that there is
something which is not right in this reform. They see seminaries
empty; the novitiates of religious communities empty throughout
the world. This, too, is inadmissible.For the good of the Church
we must resist without being against those in authority.
I have always
had a great respect for the Holy Father, for the bishops and cardinals.
I am not capable of pronouncing uncharitable words in the confrontation
with Cardinal Cé, but that does not stop me from affirming Catholic
doctrine because I want to remain a Catholic.
When I was
baptized, the priest asked my godparents: "What does this child
ask of the Church?" They replied: "Faith. He asks Faith from
the Church." And even today I still ask Faith from the Church
- the Catholic Faith. Why do the godparents ask Faith of the Church
for the child? They do so to enable him to obtain everlasting
life. If it is the Faith that obtains everlasting life, then it
is this Faith that I want- and I don’t want to change it!
Faith is the Catholic Faith. The Creed is the Creed. They cannot
be changed. One cannot change the Catechism; one cannot change
the Mass, transforming it into a meal as the Protestants have.
is a Sacrifice, the Sacrifice of the Cross and, as the Council
of Trent says, it is the same Sacrifice as Calvary, with the only
difference being that one is bloody and the other unbloody. But
the two are the same; the same priest - Jesus Christ, and the
same Victim - Jesus Christ.
If the Victim
is truly Jesus Christ, God, our Creator and our Redeemer, who
shed all His Blood for our souls, it is impossible to receive
Him in our hands like just any piece of bread. And it is therefore
impossible for a Catholic not to have respect and adoration, if
he truly believes that in the Blessed Sacrament is Jesus Christ
- God Himself - the Creator, our Judge, who will be seen coming
in the clouds of heaven to judge the entire world. Like you, I
am also scandalized, I am saddened and it pains my heart to see
it - they even show it on television - pictures in which a cardinal
or bishop approaches the Blessed Eucharist without making a genuflection
or any other sign of respect towards the Blessed Sacrament - nothing!
Once again, this is inadmissible and does not reflect the attitude
of the Catholic Church. We must keep the Faith in this storm through
which the Church is passing - a storm that has lasted for a long
time and that we hope will soon be over so that the Church can
return to the Faith that she had before. We must have a little
go to Rome five or six times a year to plead with the cardinals,
the Pope himself, to return to Tradition and to give back to the
Church her Catholic spirit. I quote again from St. Pius X: "Who
are the friends of the people? The true friends of the people
are neither the revolutionaries nor the innovators but rather
the traditionalists." Those are the words of St. Pius X to
the French bishops. The true friends of the people are neither
revolutionaries nor the innovators - and it was precisely the
innovators who condemned St. Pius X - but rather the traditionalists.
We want to be in the same spirit of St. Pius X whom for this reason
I have chosen as patron of our Society, which is recognized by
in fact, was officially recognized ten years ago by Rome and by
the Bishop of Fribourg in Switzerland
in which diocese it was founded. Afterwards, progressive bishops
and Modernists saw in my seminaries a danger for their theories.
They were enraged with me and said to themselves: "We need to
destroy these seminaries, we need to finish off Ecône and the
work of Archbishop Lefebvre, because it presents a danger to our
progressive and revolutionary plan." They addressed themselves
to Rome in this calumnious manner and Rome consented.
But as I
said to His Holiness John Paul II, the suppression was carried
out in a manner contrary to Canon Law. Not even the Soviets pronounce
judgments as the cardinals at Rome have done against my work.
The Soviets have a tribunal, a kind of tribunal to condemn someone,
but I have not even had this tribunal - nothing! I have been condemned
without having had anything, not even a forewarning or a summons
- nothing! One fine day a letter arrived to tell me that the seminary
would have to be closed.
I have repeated
this to the Holy Father that not even the Soviets behave like
this. I told him that I have continued because this is not how
the Church acts - it is the enemies of the Church that want her
seminaries closed down. The Catholic Church cannot just forget
her Tradition, it is impossible. It is the enemy, as St. Pius
X said, the enemy who is working within the Church because he
wants the Church to be finished with her tradition; because he
is in a fury against her Tradition.
It is up
to you to judge the facts. In my seminaries we have over 200 seminarians
and many vocations to the religious life. When a house opens it
is soon filled with many new vocations. Why? Because the youth
seek to find the Church - Tradition. There, where one finds Tradition,
one also finds the Church. Through a priest all finds its ideal;
all his heart is in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. To go unto
the altar of God, to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to
give Our Christ, the true Victim - to souls. Thus the fullness
of the priesthood and the priests. My seminarians, such as those
at Ecône, know this; they prepare themselves for the priesthood
upon this basis.
and thank those who have invited me to come. I hope that my visit
has encouraged Catholics to maintain the Church of all time, the
Catholic Church. In Rome it has been said of me that I have done
nothing other than halt, impede, progress in the Church. In that
alone I would be doing a splendid thing! If only this, to halt,
to impede the ruin of the Church!
That is not
our only purpose. Not only do we wish to halt this ruin but we
desire also to reconstruct the Church, a living Church. For this
end I preach to you a crusade, a true crusade of all Catholics
who desire to maintain the Faith. In order to do so you must gather
about good priests who wish to conserve the Faith by assuring
life in the Church.
I ask all who are gathered around this altar, a true altar with
a true priest, I ask you to continue the Holy Sacrifice of the
Mass. We pray also for your children that they may see and know
the Catholic religion, that they may frequent Catholic schools.
Indeed, there are great trials for Catholic parents. These children
must also conserve Tradition. We invoke, to this end, our highly
venerated Patriarch of Venice, Pope St. Pius X, who was a saint
who foresaw the future.
course of this Mass let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to whom
we must have a great devotion, especially through the invocation
of the most holy Rosary, let us ask her to terminate this crisis
in the Church and return to the Church the peace and grace of
the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Ghost. Amen.
Church at Point of Catastrophe, says Rebel Prelate"
Peter Nichols, Rome, April 7
8 April 1980 - A Report In The Times
Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre, the traditionalist prelate suspended by
the Vatican for disobedience,
said in his sermon preached in a Venice church today that change
had brought the Catholic Church to the point of catastrophe.
the celebration of the Latin Mass, the first in Italy
since his suspension by Pope Paul VI for disobedience, he said
that he would never do anything against the Church which he had
served all his life. He had not changed. He still said and preached
the things that the Church had always taught. But the fruits of
the changes around him were now clear.
have been sold or closed with the risk that, in the future, there
will be no more priests and no more Masses."
had been, he said, before the Vatican Council a falling off in
fervor, and people had thought that by changing things, the situation
would improve. "But you cannot change things pertaining to
for the situation were those bishops and cardinals who spread
error and a Catholic doctrine which was no longer what it used
to be. For the good of the Church, he said, "one must resist."
" I have
asked, and continue to ask, several times a year, the cardinals
in Rome to return to the tradition, but these progressive and
Modernist bishops have seen in my seminaries a danger and they
want to destroy them, and with them my work. Not even the Soviets
are as intransigent as the cardinals of Rome have been toward
said, was not the Catholic Church but the enemy within the Catholic
Church. "To brake the ruin of the Church is one of our aims. The
other is to build a living Church."
about 600 people in the church. Scuffling was caused because of
an order to ban all press photographers.
Lefebvre himself appeared quite calm, ignoring the numerous placards
outside the church criticizing his challenge to the Vatican.
Archbishop was preceded by twenty students from his seminary at
Ecône in Switzerland,
and eight priests.
was heckled both during and after the services by young parishioners
from a nearby Liberal Roman Catholic church. At one point the
Archbishop's traditionalist followers appeared on the point of
breaking into fist fights and police moved between the two groups
outside the tiny church of San Simeon Piccolo to prevent violence.
As Mgr. Lefebvre
arrived at the church he was met by about twenty protesters shouting:
"Fascist" and "throw him into the water."
with the account of the Venice Mass by the seminarian, and the
text of the Archbishop's sermon, it will be clear that this report
describes what took place and summarized the Archbishop's sermon
in a reasonably objective manner. The contentious epithet "rebel
prelate" is unfortunate, but it has been used so frequently
in the Catholic press it is now almost a sine qua non for
secular journalists. It is consoling to think that had there been
newspapers in the fourth century the same epithet would have been
applied to St. Athanasius.
Challenge by the Rebel Archbishop"
8 April 1980- A Report In The Universe
Cherubic, pink-cheeked, and immensely self-confident Archbishop
Lefebvre, 74, zoomed into Venice by motorboat and celebrated a
Tridentine Mass that was a challenge to the Pope.
A crowd shouted:
"Throw him in the lagoon!"
400 Catholics who reject Vatican instructions on how Mass must
be said went to his service at a building, once the church of
St. Simeon Minor.
sermon contained not words of joy, but acrid accusations of all
bishops gathered about the Pope. As usual they were his favorite
villains and "Abominations." He pointedly ignored the Holy Father.
were shocked. Cardinal Patriarch Cé, and diocesan Church and lay
leaders were outraged.
included so-called princes, princesses, counts and dukes.
into the building past black-cloaked men who told correspondents,
"No photos! No tape recording! No notebooks! No notes! No
were limited to cards: "A Mass will be said in the Latin
Gregorian Rite in the church with the green dome past the canal
in front of the railway station."
Archbishop had the support of Countess Elisabetta Marcella Vendramin,
but not of Count Pier Fillippo Grimani, descendant of three Dogs
and "Leader" of Venetian aristocracy, who observed: "This Lefebvre!
What are we coming to!"
of the ceremony was Sirio Cisilino, 80, who said: "I am proud
of the fact that I have never once said Mass in Italian!"
was given permission to say Latin Masses in the church by the
last Cardinal Patriarch Luciani (Pope John Paul I).
was celebrating Mass "to help the beatification cause of Padre
angry Cardinal Patriarch Cé telephoned the Pope a few days ago,
then wrote in a pastoral letter: "The Mass will take place explicitly
against the ruling of the Church authorities in violation of the
rules concerning the use of the building involved, which is for
official said: "If the Archbishop continues trying to score points,
the Holy Father is bound to intervene."
citizens who shouted: "Throw him in the lagoon!" were answered
by others who waved banners and called "Long live Lefebvre!"
There were fights. Thirty police intervened.
* * *
It is hardly
surprising that there is such a widespread prejudice against Mgr.
Lefebvre when it is remembered that the typical Catholic will
form his opinion of the Archbishop from reports such as this.
A lack of professionalism is, unfortunately, a characteristic
of the Liberal Catholic press. It is only reasonable that any
journal should be entitled to its viewpoint, and to use its columns
to promote this viewpoint, but any journal claiming to be a newspaper
should make the classic distinction between news, which should
be sacred, and comment, which should be free but fair .The
Universe had every right to criticize Mgr. Lefebvre for offering
Mass in Venice without the permission of Cardinal Cé, but it should
have used its opinion column to do this and not what purported
to be a news report. When The Universe report is set beside
that of The Times, the abysmal lack of professionalism
which characterizes this squalid propaganda sheet becomes apparent
immediately. In his sermon the Archbishop mentioned the fact that
the treatment he had received from the Vatican
was more reminiscent of Soviet Russia than the Catholic Church.
The manner in which The Universe has consistently vilified
Mgr. Lefebvre also brings to mind the manner in which the Soviet
press conducts its campaigns against such men as Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
The same motive can be discerned in both cases: fear of the truth.
It is worth
examining the Singleton report in some detail, as has been done
on previous occasions, to discern the techniques used by the journalists
of conciliar Catholicism engaged in character assassination. It
should also be noted that The Universe rarely publishes
letters defending those whom it has denigrated, and that the techniques
it employs are typical of the official Catholic press throughout
claims that the Mass which the Archbishop offered was a challenge
to the Pope. Let us hope that the Pope did not consider that offering
Mass in a rite dating back in all essentials to the epoch of St.
Gregory the Great constituted a "challenge" to him. Mgr. Lefebvre
has never been in any diocese to challenge any bishop’s authority,
but simply to minister to the pastoral needs of traditional Catholics,
the orphans of the Conciliar Church. Hans Küng travelled all over
the world undermining the faith of Catholics in diocese, both
before and after his condemnation. Singleton on no occasion terms
this "a challenge to the Pope."
shouted: ‘ Throw him into the lagoon!'" The Times report
reveals this "crowd" consisted of only twenty youths from
a local Liberal parish. As they also shouted "Fascist" at the
Archbishop it would appear fair to describe them as left-wing
Catholics who assisted at the Archbishop's Mass "reject Vatican
instructions on how Mass must be said." The number was actually
600, and they were all, it seems, very naughty Catholics who reject
Vatican instructions. It is definitely arguable that there has
never been any canonically valid legal prohibition of the Tridentine
Mass, but leave that aside. As is made clear in Inæstimabile
donum, Vatican instructions on the way Mass must be said are
widely ignored throughout the Catholic world, and in a manner
that undermines Eucharistic devotion. But even if were ignored
in Venice, attendance at this Mass could only have served to strengthen
the Eucharistic devotion of those present. I am certain that Singleton
would never have described those attending a Küng lecture as "Catholics
who reject Church teaching."
Archbishop’s sermon contained not words of joy, but acrid accusations
of all bishops gathered about the Pope. As usual, they were his
favorite villains and abominations." A photograph of the Archbishop
had the caption: "Acrid: Archbishop Lefebvre."
under the impression that every sermon must contain "words of
joy"? It would be hard to find any terms of joy appropriate
for the present condition of the Church. One must presume that
Singleton would have censured Our Lord for weeping over Jerusalem.
Unlike the readers of The Universe, readers of this book
are able to compare Singleton's description of the sermon with
what the Archbishop actually said. It will also be noted that,
unlike The Times correspondent, Singleton made no attempt
to report the Archbishop's actual words. The only word he quotes
is " abominations" - claiming that the Archbishop applied
this term to " all the bishops gathered about the Pope -
his favorite villains." Readers will have noted that the
word "abominations" does not appear anywhere in the
sermon, but most Universe readers would have believed that
Mgr. Lefebvre had actually used this expression. They will also
note that the sermon was very far from being acrid. It provided
an accurate assessment of the state of contemporary Catholicism,
and offered words of encouragement, inspiration and hope to those
remaining faithful to Tradition. The Archbishop did indeed criticize
cardinals and bishops, and with very good reason. As he mentioned,
the notorious Dutch Catechism could hardly be described as Catholic,
and yet it has received the approval of cardinals and bishops.
The Archbishop’s judgment is corroborated by Professor J.P.M.
van der Ploeg, O.P., one of the most outstanding biblical scholars
in the world today. Professor van der Ploeg stated:
Dutch Catechism is, from one end to the other, a manual of Modernism
for which it aims to win an acceptance everywhere. In order not
to alarm its readers the true import of its teaching is frequently
concealed by deceptive and ambiguous phrasing, although at times
the authors have the insolence to flaunt it openly. The Dutch
Catechism has already caused incalculable harm throughout the
world, as a Roman Cardinal confided to me recently.
the Dutch Catechism is indeed a "manual of Modernism"
which has caused incalculable harm throughout the world, then
Mgr. Lefebvre not only has a right but a duty to criticize cardinals
and bishops who endorse it. Such criticism, far from being acrid,
is courageous, constructive and a duty to the Faith.
was obviously disappointed that Mgr. Lefebvre had not criticized
the Pope. But such is his pathological dislike for the Archbishop
(which I referred to in Apologia II, p. 37), that he even
uses this as an excuse to abuse the former Apostolic Delegate
to the whole of French-speaking Africa. The Archbishop, he claimed,
"pointedly ignored the Holy Father." Just as there is no
obligation for any preacher to include "words of joy" in
every sermon, there is equally no obligation for him to mention
the Pope each time he preaches. I have heard many hundreds of
sermons in which the Pope has not been mentioned, but it never
struck me that the preacher was "pointedly ignoring" the Holy
Father! Once again, unlike the readers of The Universe, readers
of this book will be aware that Singleton is stating something
which is totally false. There are, in fact, several references
to the Holy Father in the sermon, and all in the most respectful
terms. Indeed, the Archbishop was equally respectful when referring
to the bishops whom Singleton claimed he had accused in acrid
terms as "villains and abominations": "I have always
had a great respect for the Holy Father, for the bishops and cardinals.
I am not capable of pronouncing uncharitable words in the confrontation
with you Cardinal Cé, but that does not stop me from affirming
Catholics doctrine because I want to remain a Catholic." The negativea
impression which most Universe readers would have formed
of the Archbishop after reading the Singleton report would have
been very different had they been able to read what Mgr. Lefebvre
had actually said. It is not difficult to understand why The
Universe has such a fear of the truth.
It is clear
that had Mgr. Lefebvre criticized Pope John Paul II in his sermon
he would have been denounced by Singleton as some sort of apostate.
If criticism of cardinals and bishops is unacceptable, then criticism
of the Pope is unthinkable. But is this necessarily the invariable
view of The Universe? Not so. Its editor has gone on record
as stating quite clearly that criticism of the Pope can be legitimate.
What matters is who is criticizing him, and why. In July 1983
the Holy Father was attacked by Mgr. Bruce Kent for failing to
endorse the policy of unilateral disarmament. Mgr. Kent had been
excused from his priestly duties by Cardinal Hume so that he could
devote himself full-time to undermining the defense of the West.3
also had a very poor opinion of the Pope’s attitude to women and
his view of the life of the clergy. In both cases he castigated
the Pope's attitude as "unbelievable." The Monsignor received
a good deal of criticism for his attack upon the Pope, but in
its 22 July 1983 edition The Universe sprang to his defense.
Criticism of the Pope, it appears, is not wrong providing the
criticism comes from Liberals. "We are concerned," explained
The Universe, "with the principle that criticism of
the Pope is not forbidden by the Church. Criticism should not
be taken for disloyalty." The editorial might have added: "Except
in the case of Mgr. Lefebvre."
Singleton, Venetians could be divided into two classes that Easter
Monday: those who were shocked and those who were outraged. Most,
it appeared, came into the former category. It is far more likely
that most Venetians were totally indifferent, if their attitude
to the Faith bears any similarity to that of Catholics of most Western
countries today. It would be interesting if Singleton could reveal
precisely how he was able to ascertain the opinion of "most
Back to Singleton
included so-called princes, princesses, counts and dukes." What
does Singleton mean by this? Either these people did possess the
titles to which they laid claim or they did not. As Singleton
does not adduce one word of evidence to suggest that any of them
were frauds then he had no right to make such an imputation.
was somewhat irate at the refusal to let reporters into the Mass
with their equipment. In view of the vilification to which the
Archbishop and his Society have been treated by the press this
precaution appears to be no more than common sense.
It will be
noted that when reporting the condemnation of Hans Küng, comments
were obtained only from admirers of this Liberal hero. The
Universe published three comments on the Mass in Venice, all
from individuals hostile to Mgr. Lefebvre, including one from
a mysterious "Vatican official," whose remarks were so inane that
he might well have been a gardener or a cook. One notes, too,
that thirty police had to intervene to stop a fight which, according
to The Times did not take place. Had there been a fight
it would evidently have been provoked not by supporters of the
Archbishop, but by the Liberal hooligans who had come solely with
the object of abusing a prelate who had been a giant in the Church
long before they had been born.
The Universe, and the Catholic press in general
might consider themselves to have been successful, to have won
a victory, in their reporting of the Venice Mass and countless
similar incidents involving Archbishop Lefebvre. They have deceived
their readers, and they have covered up their deception. They
have been successful in building up the image of the acrid "rebel
bishop" in the minds of the ordinary faithful. In the best
tradition of Dr. Goebbels, they know that if you tell a lie often
enough, most people will come to accept it as the truth. The Archbishop
can take comfort in the recollection that the enemies of his Divine
Master needed to call upon the testimony of false witnesses. The
same tactic was used in the trial of St. Thomas More. Satan does
not change the methods which he employs from one century to another
in his war against those who uphold the Truth.