Volume 3, Chapter
Excerpts from a Conference Given by Mgr. Lefebvre at Angers,
23 November 1980
of Liberalism has penetrated the Church. How can such a thing have
happened? Do I really believe that Pope Paul VI had a Liberal mentality?
It is not I who say it, but his great friend, Cardinal Daniélou.
It can be found in his book, The Memoirs of Cardinal Daniélou,
told by His Sister, where it is explicitly stated: “The Cardinal
says of Pope Paul VI that he was one of his best friends, that he
knew him well and that he had a Liberal outlook." That is sufficient
! That explains everything that has happened during his pontificate,
because the Liberal mentality is one which is tempted by the world,
by all those liberties, as if by some sort of enchantment.
were enchanted by the French Revolution. When, fifty years later,
France found itself confronted with revolution it was also faced
with a choice: must the consequences of the revolution be perpetuated
or should they be opposed? There were evidently those who were quite
opposed to the principles of the revolution, and others who simply
said that one should simply oppose the excesses, the abuses the
violence of the revolution. Yes, but it was enough to Christianize
the principles of the revolution a little, and one could come to
terms with them quite well. Well, that was France’s loss.
Pope Leo XIII did not realize that it was really the Masonic leaders
that were controlling France at this time, and believed that terms
could be agreed. The result was the Combe Ministry and all the monks
and nuns expelled from France. The churches plundered, all the wealth
of the Church seized. That is what Liberalism is.
Well, the position
with the Council is much the same. There are those who say that
the principles could be accepted, but not the excesses. But the
Liberal worm is in the fruit. It is a mistake to try to limit the
excesses. If the disease is in the fruit it always comes back again.
In fact, the worm which is in the fruit must be removed, as must
the errors which are at the interior of Liberal thought. One day
there will have to be a return to Tradition. We will be forced by
events or by disasters which God will perhaps send as a punishment
for not accepting the social reign of Our Savior, Jesus Christ.
But they will be forced because there will no longer be anything,
all will be destroyed, all will be demolished. There will no longer
be seminaries, there will no longer be real priests, there will
no longer be the Sacrifice of the Mass. Everything will have vanished.
So what is
to be done? We are surely obliged to return to Tradition if the
Church is to have a true renewal. That is why even without wanting
to win, even without wanting to say that it is we who have won,
deriving a kind of satisfaction at seeing that we are right –
that is not what matters. What matters is the salvation of souls,
the continuation of the Church, the duty which we have towards Our
Savior Jesus Christ Who should reign. It is that which we uphold,
as it is that which makes us steadfast. In any case, we are inevitably
the winners from the outset. Were we have to die, were an atomic
bomb to kill us all, what we have done, what we have taught, what
we have said conforms with the truth, since it conforms with what
has been taught, as St. Paul says, in the early Church. This truth
cannot perish. It is not possible. So, quite simply, we must continue,
as did our parents and our grandparents, to preserve our religion
as it always was.
We shed tears
of blood to see the Church deteriorating to this extent, to see
the wretched state of our churches, of our priests, of our seminaries,
or of those religious orders which sell all their goods. Take, for
example, the Sisters of the Order of the Visitation, founded by
St. Francis de Sales. The Sisters of the seventy-five convents which
remain in France met last year and decided to sell half of them,
and use the others for homes for the old sisters. That is what is
happening to the convents in France – nearly forty Visitation
convents for sale!
people write to me from everywhere. They write to me from Quimper:
"Monseigneur, the minor seminary at Quimper is for sale. Don't
you wish to buy it?"
the seminary at Legé is for sale. Couldn’t you buy
This very morning
someone said to me: "Monseigneur, the major seminary at Nantes
is for sale. Won't you buy it?"
And it is like that everywhere. Every week I am offered sale of
a major seminary, or a convent, or an abbey for sale…
We must know
how to draw distinctions. As you can well imagine, it was a profound
sorrow for me to see some of my priests leave the Society because
they do not agree with a line of conduct which I have followed since
the foundation of the Society. I have always recognized the Pope.
I went to see Pope Paul VI, and I have been to see Pope John Paul
II. I am ready to see Pope John Paul II tomorrow, if he asks me,
but I am ready to speak the truth.
I try to explain
that we must return to Tradition, that there has been an error,
that they are mistaken, that it is necessary to return to a solid
foundation, to the things of faith, to the catechism of old, to
the sacraments of old, to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass of old.
There must be a return, even if they do not abandon all that they
have done since the Council immediately. A tree is judged by its
fruits. Let them at least leave us freedom (i.e., which rite of
Mass to use). I do not agree with those who say there is no pope.
very grave thing to say that there is no pope. Because the Pope
is Liberal, that does not mean that he has ceased to be the Pope.
I do not think
that Pope John Paul II is as infected with Liberalism as was Pope
Paul VI; but, unfortunately, in view of the fact that he himself
professes to be the spiritual son of Pope Paul VI, that he follows
the line of Pope Paul VI, that he is there to defend and continue
the work of Paul VI, that he feels it his duty to continue all that
John and Paul did, whose names he took, we are troubled and we wonder
where it will all end? Must we wait yet again for a new pontificate
[to initiate a return to Tradition]? Yet, despite all that, the
Pope is nonetheless keen to return to Tradition insofar as seminaries,
clergy, Church discipline, and religious discipline are concerned.
When the Pope speaks of these things, he speaks well. We are pleased
to hear him. If only the Pope wished to return in this way in all
I tell you
that, quite simply, because you could ask yourselves many questions,
as I ask myself, wishing with all my heart, praying morning and
evening, night and day, that Tradition might return to the Church.
The Pope himself would be more satisfied and happy than anyone if
it did. We can only live in Our Lord, and by Our Lord with the reign
of Our Lord. Everywhere! Everywhere! In the Liturgy, in social,
political, family life, we can do nothing without Our Savior Jesus
Christ. Do you see what I am trying to tell you? We must keep a
firm line and we must not deviate during these difficult times in
which we live. One could be tempted, justifiably, to extreme solutions
and say: “No, no. The Pope is not only Liberal, the Pope is
heretical! The Pope may well be more than heretical, so there is
That is not
so. To be a Liberal is not necessarily to be a heretic, and as a
necessary consequence, outside the Church. We must know how to make
the necessary distinctions. This is very important if we are to
stay on the right path, to stay in the Church. Besides, where would
this thinking lead us? If there is no longer a pope, there are no
longer any cardinals because, if the Pope isn't pope, when he nominates
cardinals these cardinals can no longer elect a pope, because they
are not really cardinals. Well then, would an angel from heaven
provide us with a pope? The idea is absurd, and not only absurd,but
dangerous because then we would be guided perhaps to solutions which
are truly schismatic. One might go to find the "pope"
of Palmar de Troya who has been excommunicated. He has excommunicated
me, he has excommunicated the Pope and he everybody ! There are
others. One could go to the church of Toulouse, to the church of
Rouen, who knows ? To the Mornlons, to the Pentecostals, to the
Adventists, or everywhere. Souls are lost, and I do not wish to
have such a responsibility.
There are those
who find me severe perhaps, for insisting that those young priests
who do not agree with us, do not agree with that line which I have
always followed, leave us. But I cannot allow the wolf into the
If today I
say there is a Pope, this Pope, we are not obliged to follow him
in everything. It is possible to have shepherds who are not always
good shepherds in the full sense of the word, and we are not obliged
to follow them in everything. But to go from this, to say that we
do not have a pope, no!
And so they
introduce divisions among traditionalists. They introduce division
into the Church, and I want nothing to do with this. I can have
nothing to do with this, while regretting it profoundly…
(One day there
will be a Pope) a pope truly like a St. Pius X, and there will be
no more problems. Holy Church will find herself once more in the
Truth, and we shall be in communion one hundred percent with the
pope who will have found Tradition again. Oh, certainly, I shall
probably not be alive when that happens, but we hope that an arrangement
can be made with Pope John Paul II. I do not in any way despair
of an arrangement being made with him. We ask simply perhaps not
to get into too much discussion over theoretical problems, to lay
aside the questions which separate us, such as that of religious
liberty. We are not obliged to settle all these problems now. Time
will clarify them and bring a solution.
On a practical
level, I ask as I have done so many times, that we be allowed to
experiment with Tradition (qu’on nous laisse faire l'expérience
de la Tradition!). I might be told: “You can do it!"
Yes, but imagine
that the Pope himself said: Leave them in peace." If he would
just say one little word to the bishops: "Let them do it! They
are not doing anything bad. They are doing what we did ourselves
for half or two-thirds of our lives. Let them do it, and we shall
see what happens." That is the only thing that we ask of him.
At that moment
I am certain that Truth would regain its rights, that Tradition
would regain its rights, and that the Church would find a new youth.
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