Volume 3, Chapter
and the Cardinal's Response
11 January 1982
has recently died. Now as you doubtless know, he had been appointed
in a personal capacity (not as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation
for the Faith) as the intermediary between the Pope and myself,
in the course of the audience which the Pope had graciously granted
me on 18 November 1978, at the conclusion of which he summoned Cardinal
Seper to inform him of his appointment.
It is on account
of the interest which you have shown under various circumstances
in bringing to an end the situation in which I and the Society find
ourselves that I take the liberty of submitting these few lines
if this problem concerned only myself and the Society it would be
of little importance, but it concerns very many priests and hundreds
of thousands of the faithful. It cannot be denied that these priests
and these faithful have chosen to protect at all costs their Catholic
Faith, and accordingly the survival of the Catholic Church, despite
the difficulties that their attitude causes with respect to the
majority of members of the hierarchy who consider that they are
obliged in conscience to accept all the novelties that were introduced
into the Church following upon the Second Vatican Council.
then, a grave problem here, even if it is that of a minority in
the Church. The persecution of which this minority, and especially
the Society of St. Pius X, is the object, and the suspension illegally
imposed upon me, are the more odious because at the same time ecumenism
is practiced towards all heresies and errors, and religious liberty
-no longer merely tolerance is being proclaimed. We, however, are
not even entitled to toleration.
resolved by Cardinal Seper, not even the appointment of an apostolic
visitor who could have given the Holy Father a truthful report upon
the situation of traditionalist groups and of the Society of St.
Pius X. Cardinal Knox's inquiry, the results of which were published
in the Notitiae of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship,
served to veil the Pope's eyes to the actual situation. No attention
is paid to all the opinion polls and inquiries that have been made.
The bishops themselves are very often unaware of how extensive these
groups are, for they are not in touch with them.
Even if this
minority only included a small number of priests and faithful, it
would be significant because of its vitality, its vocations to the
priestly and religious life, and the way it bears witness to the
Faith, to piety and to generosity in doing its duty; in fact, many
families are involved, and there are flourishing groups of young
people. How can we ignore this vibrant Catholicism at a time when
the opposite is to be noted in every diocese?
Such a deliberate
wish to discredit those who are manifesting the vitality of the
Church cannot but call down God's curse upon those who are wilfully
blind, those who refuse at any price to recognize the errors that
have been committed and who continue to defend them and to accept
their terrible consequences.
Let us be
permitted the freedom to continue, and to extend our experiment,
and, in a little while from now, the seminaries will be full, convents
and monasteries will multiply; we shall see, by God's grace, abandoned
buildings come back to life. We should be able to provide as an
example an international Seminary/University in Rome, where the
Latin tongue would be honored once more, with the curriculum recommended
by the Popes and by the Second Vatican Council.
if your presence in Rome, in the most important Congregation, obtains
this for us from the Holy Father, despite all the obstacles which
will arise in your path, the Church will be in your debt.
If you wish to meet me, either in Munich or in Rome, I remain at
your disposition and assure you, Your Eminence, of my most respectful
devotion and my unceasing prayers.
+ Marcel Lefebvre
Reply of Cardinal Ratzinger
9 February 1982
receipt of your kind letter of 11 January and thank you for it.
You will doubtless understand that I cannot yet reach any decisions
on questions which concern the contents of your letter, as I have
scarcely taken office. Nevertheless, I have informed the Holy Father
that I have received your letter. His Holiness will probably entrust
me with continuing the mission concerning your case which was previously
dealt with by Cardinal Seper. You may take it for granted that I
shall be most painstaking in so important a mission.
My Lord, please
accept my sincerest regards, yours in Christo,
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109