2, Chapter X
29 July 1977 edition of the National Catholic Reporter carried
the news of the reconsecration of Queen of Angels Church in Dickinson,
Texas. The local bishop had sold the building in the belief that
it would be demolished to make way for a parking lot. He was extremely
indignant when he learned that it was to be used as a church again.
Built in the Spanish Colonial style, it had been restored fully
to its former beauty, and was reconsecrated by the Archbishop on
10 July 1977. It now forms the center of one of the most successful
traditionalist "parishes" in the world, and is also the
location of The Angelus Press-the official English-language Publishers
and Editor for Archbishop Lefebvre and the International Society
of St. Pius X. Hundreds of thousands of books and pamphlets explaining
the traditionalist Catholic caused have been printed in Dickinson
and distributed throughout the world.
Reporter article mentioned that: "Lefebvre told his
supporters in Dickinson, Texas, that 'they must be careful adopt
not to adopt positions of being schismatic-carrying resistance of
Vatican policy to the point of denying the jurisdiction o f the
Pope over the Church’.”
then referred to the fact that the Archbishop had been refused entry
to Mexico. This incident is not without some ironic humor. According
to the Vatican II Declaration on Religious Liberty the State should
not prevent any individual expressing his religious views in public.
Indeed, State interference is condemned by this document (see Volume
I, Appendix IV). But, according to the Reporter: " A
spokesman for Mexico's Interior Ministry said the government consulted
on Lefebvre's visit 'with several sectors, especially the Mexican
bishops,' according to wire service reports." This report seems
to confirm a long article in the 20 July 1977 issue of the French
daily L 'Aurore, claiming that the Vatican had launched a
massive diplomatic effort to minimize the effect of the Archbishop's
visit to South America. It stated that furnished with messages from
Cardinal Villot, the Apostolic Nuncios in South America visited
governments and national hierarchies demanding that the Archbishop
should not be allowed to pass ("Mot d'ordre: Mgr. Lefebvre
ne doit pas passer"). The same article also reported a
second Vatican campaign, emissaries of the Pope pretending to be
sympathetic to the traditionalist cause, had visited Econe, obtained
details of seminarians and their families, and then pressured the
families into persuading the seminarians to leave.1
It claimed that a dozen had done so.
was the only country which actually prevented the Archbishop from
entering, but difficulties were placed in his way in other countries
by the State authorities, and he was subjected to a veritable tirade
of abuse from spokesmen for national hierarchies. Some idea of this
invective can be gained from a report in The Citizen (Ottawa),
16 August 1977:
during, and after his visit Lefebvre was the target of a hostile
barrage from Roman Catholic prelates in Latin America. The
friendliest comment came from Argentine Archbishop of Parana,
Adolfo Tortolo – a conservative-who said: "Not everything
is negative in the demands of Monsignor Lefebvre. But his
way of going about things is completely negative."
Church leaders were less inhibited. Chilean Cardinal Raul
Silva Henriquez said Lefebvre was "a traitor to the Church
and to the Pope, a Judas.” Colombian Cardinal Anibal Munoz
pronounced: “Those who are loyal to Monsignor Lefebvre are
disloyal to the Pope.” The Archbishop of Buenos Aires threatened
any priest who let Lefebvre use church facilities with punishment
according to Canon Law. A Patagonian bishop said he prayed
daily to "God and the Holy Mother to preserve me from
such attitudes” as Lefebvre's.
Lefebvre sailed for home Church authorities prepared the faithful
at ports of call. Montevideo Archbishop Carlos Parteli drew
up a pastoral letter in which he said Lefebvre was “scandalizing
the faithful” with his behavior. Parteli also denounced the
use of Latin in the Mass saying: “The Church cannot go on
using an archaic language which nobody understands any more.”
Rio de Janeiro, bishops' conference president, Monsignor Aloisio
Lorscheider, himself something of a conservative, fired a
parting volley by saying that anyone who takes part in a Mass
given by Lefebvre is committing a mortal sin.
is, then, hardly surprising that many of those who would like
to have heard what the Archbishop had to say were browbeaten
into staying away.
visiting Colombia and Brazil, the Archbishop arrived in Chile. The
following report appeared in The Times (London) on 19 July
July 18: About 800 people defied the Chilean Roman Catholic
hierarchy here last night to hear Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre, the
rebel archbishop, celebrate the traditional Latin Mass in
the reception room of a luxury hotel.
ended with shouts of "long live the faithful archbishop"
and the singing of the Chilean national anthem.
the service Mgr. Lefebvre declared: "We cannot change
religion. For the last 15 years we have been well aware that
there are those who wish change. The heart of the Church remains
Pope has accused him of provoking a schism in the Church after
his refusal to accept reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
The local hierarchy had advised Catholics not to attend any
ceremonies he might perform.
he flew in from Colombia, 500 people greeted him at the airport.
were no moves to ban his visit here as happened in Mexico
last week when he was refused an entry visa. But apparently
there are plans to prevent his arrival in Argentina which
he plans to visit later this week.
Argentine Ambassador in Bogota informed his French counterpart
yesterday that the Argentine government would consider such
a visit inappropriate. - Reuter.
Archbishop next went to Argentina.
among those supporting him during his visit to Argentina were members
of fascist and anti-semitic organizations. It was explained in Volume
I that the Archbishop has never been associated with any right-wing
political movement, and that if members of such movements give him
public support or distribute literature outside buildings in which
he is present there is nothing he can do about it. Not surprisingly,
the Archbishop's enemies used the support of these fascists as an
excuse to brand him with their opinions. The report in The Citizen
(Ottawa), which was very hostile to the Archbishop, admitted
that he and his permanent entourage were appalled by some of the
views expressed by the fascist groups. The committee which had sponsored
his visit issued a statement saying that the Archbishop "is
not an ex-Nazi, is not anti-Semitic nor anti anything else. He is
only preaching the traditional doctrine of the Church."
following report on his visit to Argentina appeared in the 7 August
1977 issue of The National Catholic Register:
Aires (NC): Police prevented Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre from
saying Mass at a makeshift altar in a suburban barracks and
told some 300 of his followers there that security laws did
not allow any public demonstrations.
200 persons had welcomed him at Ezeiza International Airport
July 20, but only one priest responded to repeated invitations
by an organizing committee to greet the French churchman.
Lefebvre had been warned that his presence would not be welcomed
in Argentina. Argentine diplomats in Switzerland, where he
has his headquarters, and in Colombia, where he visited a
sister, had said that the government was supporting the Vatican's
stand in suspending the archbishop, and did not want to allow
further public display of disobedience.
learning of the ban on the Mass at the barracks, the archbishop’s
followers angrily called police “Communists.”
Lefebvre has repeatedly denounced the Church renewal that
followed the Second Vatican Council and said it has opened
the Church to Communist infiltration. Under Argentina's rightist
military regime, police and security forces have been repressing
leftist groups under state of siege, allegedly to protect
national security. In this context, observers said, calling
police "communists" makes little sense.
Lefebvre's followers are identified in Argentina as members
of several conservative organizations: Phalanx for Faith,
the Knights of Queen Mary, and groups affiliated with the
Defense of Family, Fatherland and Property organization.
of the rightist magazine Roma also joined Faith Forever,
the umbrella organization that made preparations for the visit
of the Archbishop.
30 persons attended a Latin Mass Archbishop Lefebvre said
at a private home in Buenos Aires a few hours after his arrival.
Newsman and photographers in large numbers gave coverage to
every move by the archbishop. Spokesmen for Faith Forever
said he was to spend six days in Buenos Aires but did not
plan to visit other places in Argentina.
Minister Oscar Antonio Montes said that Archbishop Lefebvre
had been admitted into the country under "freedom of
Juan Carlos Aramburu of Buenos Aires issued a warning to all
pastors, reminding them that "no place of Catholic worship
should be made available to the archbishop for any religious
services, under pain of canonical sanctions."
must also abstain from participating in any Mass offered by
the archbishop, the warning said. Instead, they "should
pray so that the Lord will touch his heart and Archbishop
Lefebvre will renounce his rebellious attitude," the
Raul Primatesta of Cordoba, who chairs the Argentine Bishops'
Conference, said the French prelate's visit should not be
magnified and reminded Catholics they can identify the true
Church by the time-proven formula: "Where Peter is, where
his successor the Pope is, there is the Church."
announced plans to open a seminary in Argentina under Archbishop
Lefebvre's Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X, from which the
Vatican has withdrawn recognition. The archbishop was suspended
of all priestly functions a year ago after performing illicit
at a stormy press conference, Archbishop Lefebvre said he
does not have "bellicose intentions" in his opposition
to Church renewal and the Vatican.
150 local followers of the suspended French archbishop entered
the hall of a downtown hotel where the press conference took
place and booed 50 newsmen every time the followers disapproved
of the questions.
bitterest reaction came when a newsman asked whether a book
written by Archbishop Lefebvre, A Bishop Speaks, did
not raise the issue of disobedience and arrogance.
calm was restored, Archbishop Lefebvre replied that obedience
is a relative obligation. He stated:
soon as authority fails its mandate, it also loses its right
to obedience. When the Pope by his policies leads us into
contacts with Protestants and other religions, in such a way
that we lose our faith, in that case the Pope forfeits the
right to obedience by his subordinates."
another point the followers of the Archbishop requested that
photographers leave the hall. After vigorous protests from
the press, organizers said they could stay.
how he felt about his suspension from priestly ministry by
the Vatican a year ago, Archbishop Lefebvre commented:
have no awareness of committing a grave sin by keeping my
said that, in his view, the post-conciliar liturgical changes
“are leading the faithful, almost unconsciously, to a conversion
another question the archbishop replied that he did not seek
to form “another church.”
hold no bellicose intentions, I do not wish to fight anyone.
I am not opposing the Pope, I am just asking him to be the
Pope, the successor of Peter. I am perhaps the son who loves
the Pope most, but I pray to God that he may show a constant
concern to preserve the Catholic faith in every place and
at each opportunity,” he said.
The relevant section of the article reads, in French; "La seconde
offensive, plus secèrte encore, se déroule à Ecône même. Des émissaires
du pape, envoyés en observateurs, et qui se montrent au début plutôt
bienveillants à I'égard de I'exérience 'traditionaliste,' passent
en revue les séminaristes, contactent leurs familles, et, progressivement,
s'efforcent de les ramener dans le 'droit chemin' de I'Eglise."
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109