Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 3, Chapter XXIX

Lourdes -1980

L’Aurore – 27 May 1980

Chapter XXI of Apologia II consists of an account of a traditionalist pilgrimage to Lourdes, and describes
the appalling discrimination and harassment to which the pilgrims were subjected.

The chapter was concluded with the following words : “Who knows, the time may come once more when those who wish to worship in the churches of Lourdes in the manner of St Bernadette will be freely permitted to do so. The greater the extent to which traditionalists obey the call of the Blessed Virgin to pray and do penance, the sooner that day may come.”

In what seems to be an almost miraculous fashion, that day came in May 1980,when a traditionalist pilgrimage was permitted to use all the facilities of the shrine, including the use of the sanctuary for the Tridentine Mass. The following report by Yann Clerc appeared in the French daily, L’Aurore :

Lourdes: Confidence and Peace
During the Traditionalist Pilgrimage

I do not believe that it amounts to taking John Paul II's name in vain if I approve the way in which he used his influence to bring about the happy agreement reached for time between those responsible for the sanctuary at Lourdes and those in charge of the traditionalists' Whitsun Pilgrimage. The thought of the Pope's forthcoming to France will doubtless have encouraged the opposing parties to be reconciled, so as to avoid scenes which would be especially unfortunate at the present time.

What is more, the Holy Father’s strongly worded plea that the Eucharist should be made a sign of unity was understood in this particular case as an appeal for tolerance.

On the very morning of May 24th, the first day of the pilgrimage commended by Mgr. Lefebvre, and directed chiefly by Fr. Andre, Fr. Coache, and Fr. Aulagnier, it had not been possible to reach an agreement on the proposals put forward in April by Fr. Borde, principal of the Basilica of Lourdes.

When they got out of the pilgrims’ trains, the traditionalist priests were asked to see the subprefect, Monsieur Emile Caralp, who wished to do his best to prevent a violent demonstration. The discussion proved unhelpful. “In reply to our every entreaty he began to talk about his responsibility" (i.e., for the maintenance of public order), Fr. Borde explained.

Nevertheless, this initiative was a preliminary to, and perhaps facilitated, a prompt meeting between Fr Borde and Canon Burdette, general secretary for the Sanctuary (of Lourdes) on the one hand, and Fr. Andre and Fr. Coache on the other, both groups accompanied by lay people of good will.

No more than a little good will was needed to reach an understanding; the rules of the Sanctuary, which all pilgrims accept, were to be observed by the Traditionalist. In return, the latter were to be allowed, provided they followed set time-table and kept a low profile, to make use of the upper basilica and the open space opposite the grotto to celebrate, in accordance with Tradition, the services of their choice, competing processions were not to be organised , so as not to create the insufferable spectacle of a monstrance becoming a factor of division.

In the end, despite some minor time-tabling problems, the pilgrimages were this year, at one in their charity and fervour. Fr Borde was to be seen in the upper basilica, and in the sacristies, priests and religious of the Sanctuary prepared garments in a courteous way, and a good many Catholics from all over the world were able to congregate to say the Rosary in Latin or quietly to sing the Creed and hymns to the Virgin here and there, in the universal language of the Church.

Fr Bode said to me: “I hope that this understanding reached with the whole-hearted consent of Mr Fonue, Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes will encourage dialogue to resolve an unnecessary dispute."

At the same time, Fr. Andre gave his pilgrims a final watch-word- Confidence and Peace.”


Chapter 28

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