be grateful if you could let me have your comments as soon as
possible, should you be of the opinion that the above four points
do not render the content of our recent conversation exactly.
Your Excellency, I ask you to accept, with the assurance of
my prayers, my brotherly and devoted best wishes.
Lefebvre's Reply to Cardinal Ratzinger
received your letter of 7 April. I have studied it with great
interest, and willingly recognize that the declaration which
you put forward is very close to that which I believe it would
be possible to sign.
point in particular presents no more problems as soon as "tradition"
and the "rule of theological interpretation" become
the norms that enlighten our judgment of the conciliar texts.
point would be more appropriately expressed as follows:
Lefebvre signed the conciliar Decree on the Liturgy, so accepting
the possibility of reform. He has never affirmed that the texts
of the new liturgical books in their original Latin versions
were heretical or invalid in themselves, but he believes that
the reform of the Liturgy as implemented necessitates grave
reservations, as Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci rightly stated."
point, which aims to place the Society and my work in a regular
position with regard to Canon Law, is subject to acceptance
by the Holy See of the requests put forward in my letters to
the Holy Father and to Cardinal Seper in the course of the past
two years. Might it not be put in the following way:
Lefebvre wishes that an Apostolic Delegate should be appointed,
and should make a Visitation; when the Delegate has seen the
work of the Society and its associated bodies, he could, in
agreement with the Society, propose a project for the regularization
of the Society and of its activities."
point really could be expressed in slightly modified terms:
Lefebvre regrets those of his words and deeds which may have
displeased the Holy See."
it indispensable that subjoined to the declaration or in some
other document there should be indicated the intentions of the
Holy See concerning what would be granted in respect of the
Liturgy and of recognition of the Society.
hope that these explanatory details will enable Your Eminence
to propose a definitive text, I ask you to take note of my feelings
of respect and heartfelt devotion in Christo et Maria.
of Mgr. Lefebvre to Cardinal Ratzinger
return from a journey to the U.S.A. and Canada, I am anxious
to inform you that on learning at Winnipeg in Canada of the
deplorable affair of Father Fernandez-Krohn1
at Fatima, I immediately made a public declaration on Canadian
national television, deploring this act of madness committed
by a priest whom I had ordained.
this statement with some information about this violent tempered
priest, who, alas! has caused us many problems. He left us a
year after his ordination, opposing the Society's loyalty to
the Pope. He repented, and we took him back out of pity, with
the intention of making him more tractable to reason, but he
refused to take up his responsibilities vis-a-vis the Society
and began once more to behave in a violent fashion towards myself
and my brethren.
resolved to distance ourselves from him for good when he perpetrated
this demented act which is truly a source of grief to all the
members of the Society.
best of my knowledge, this information has not yet crossed the
Atlantic. I hope, however, that the Apostolic Delegate to Canada
will have passed it to Rome.
please tell the Holy Father once again of our filial respect,
and accept my expressions of respect and devotion in Jesus and
of Cardinal Ratzinger
you for your letter of 27 May last, and am anxious to inform
you that I have not failed to pass it on to the Holy Father.
Besides, the position that you took in Canada was already known
I am grateful
to you for the sentiments which you expressed on the occasion
of the unfortunate events at Fatima. Do permit me, this notwithstanding,
a personal afterthought. It is quite clear that you are in no
way personally responsible for the sacrilegious attempt upon
the Holy Father's life perpetrated by Father Fernandez‑Krohn.
However, the fact that you agreed to ordain him priest gives
rise to questions about the rigorousness of the criteria as
to worthiness applied in his case. In a more general sense,
are you sufficiently concerned to restrain and combat what must
be called the fanaticism of certain members of the Society of
St. Pius X? Reports recently reached me of a sad example of
this, a sermon preached by one of them at Wurzburg on the occasion
of his first Mass; this showed feelings falling little short
of hatred for the legitimate Pastor of the diocese.
accept, Your Excellency, my feelings of fraternal respect and
devotion in Our Lord.
of Cardinal Ratzinger to Mgr. Lefebvre
received your letter of 21 April last, and I thank you for it.
Please excuse my delay in replying: as I said earlier, I was
first obliged to consult a group of Cardinals of my choice,
then to consult the Holy Father frequently. You know how busy
he has been for the last few weeks.
these discussions, I am now informing you of our conclusions,
and the thoughts which I have had about our meeting in March
and our subsequent correspondence,
to the four points foreseen for some future declaration, as
put forward in your letter.
first point‑concerning adhesion to the teachings of Vatican
II‑ no longer seems to present any difficulties on either
side. Naturally, this implies that the Council, understood in
this way, will no longer be the object of polemical attacks
by yourself, as Cardinal Seper asked of you in his letter of
26 October 1981.
2. In the
matter of the second point, first of all it is too restrictive
to mention acceptance of the possibility of a reform.
The Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium decided upon
a reform of the liturgy and set out the general and particular
norms, often in a highly detailed way.
we do not think it possible to accept the way in which you limit
your acceptance to the Latin text only. Indeed, the Apostolic
See cannot accept the suspicion that most Masses and Sacraments
legitimately celebrated in the Church in the vernacular and
according to approved translations, could be invalid. Accordingly
we think it necessary to return to the formula as before: "applied
in conformity to the Missal and other liturgical books promulgated
by the Holy See."
given that you are said to be the author of a text according
to which: "the new Masses are not only incapable of fulfilling
our Sunday obligation, but are such that we must apply to them
the canonical rules which the Church customarily applies to
communicatio in sacris with Orthodox Churches and Protestant
sects." (in Cor Unum - internal liaisory Bulletin
for members of the Society of St. Pius X, November 1979), we
consider that the projected declaration should contain a formula
which distances itself clearly from such a statement.
an expression of your reservations concerning the concrete realization
of the liturgical reforms, we think it preferable that this
should not figure in an official declaration. You could add
it as a footnote, on your own responsibility, and, of course,
in a moderate form, previously approved by the Holy See.
opening part of the third point, left out of the latest draft
proposed by yourself, is absolutely indispensable. On this issue,
allow me to express my astonishment, my sorrow even, at the
way in which you pursue your visits and activities in various
countries and dioceses, as was recently the case in Canada and
will be soon in Venice‑not to forget the grave and ever
present question of ordinations to the priesthood. All this
can but render more arduous the path to reconciliation.
part, retained by yourself, which concerns the Pontifical Delegate,
presents no special difficulty. It will, however, be necessary
to examine and to elaborate the details of this mission, notably
with regard to the members of the Society of St. Pius X, whose
willingness to commit themselves to an undertaking such as yours
will have to be proved.
formula which you retain for the fourth point involves a considerable
softening of it, which could nevertheless be accepted in a spirit
of magnanimity. However, many bishops have been severely hurt
by your actions in their dioceses; I could give many important
instances. It is accordingly necessary that this last point
should include them in some way in the expression of regrets,
at the very least in a general manner, as follows, for example:
"words and deeds which may have displeased the Holy See
and troubled common order in the Church as established by Canon
furthermore, that as an addendum to the Declaration, or in another
document, there should be indicated the intentions of the Holy
See concerning the Liturgy and the Society of St. Pius X. That
is a question of which careful note has been taken. In the present
state of affairs, I can make you no detailed promises; but I
am anxious to assure you that, on this subject, I am in continual
contact with the Holy Father.
I thank you in advance for the attention that you will doubtless
give the contents of this letter, and the reflection which you
will devote to it in the presence of Our Lord and of the Virgin
Mary. Equally, I assure you of my complete preparedness to meet
you again at a date that you suggest, bearing in mind that I
shall be absent from Rome from 3 July to 6 September next.
allow me to express, together with the assurance of my prayers,
Your Excellency, my feelings of fraternal respect and devotion.