Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 2, Chapter XIX

Letter of Cardinal Seper to Archbishop Lefebvre


16 March 1978


Sacra Congregatio
pro Doctrina Fidei 
00193 Romae, 
Piazza del S, Uffizio,11

Prot. N. 1144/69

Your Excellency,

On 28 February last you were kind enough to bring personally to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith your answer to the letter it had sent you on 28 January and which had been delivered to you by the Apostolic Nunciature in Switzerland on 10 February following.

I thank you sincerely for your answer and for the rapidity with which you brought it. It goes without saying that your long letter will be studied attentively by our Congregation. However, I think it necessary first to ask you for some supplements. I do that the more easily as you yourself said you were ready to provide them as required.

The fact is, a first examination of your answer in comparison with the questions put to you by our congregation shows that several of the objections made against you have not been given a precise answer. I take the liberty, therefore, of stating them again briefly, with the necessary references to my letter of 28 January in the enclosed annex, and I ask you, as before to be so kind as to let me have your answer within the prescribed time of a month.

I thank you in advance and assure you of my prayers; and I beg you to accept the expression of my respect and devotedness in Our Lord.

Franc. Card. Seper


Annex to the Letter of 16 March 1978

1. About the Ordo Missae:

a) Catholic may not cast doubt on the conformity with the doctrine of the faith of a sacramental rite promulgated by the Supreme Pastor (p. A3);

b) the sacrificial and propitiatory character of the Mass is reaffirmed absolutely, in conformity with the Council of Trent, in the Institutio Generalis of the Roman Missal (p. A4);

c) your declarations about the Ordo Missae and your opposition to its use are spreading distrust, confusion, and even rebellion, among the faithful (ibid.).

2. Your general declarations (on the authority of Vatican Council II and of Pope Paul VI) are linked with an activity which raises the question: are we facing a schismatical movement? (p. A6). Indeed, you ordain priests against the formal will of the Pope and without the litterae dimissoriae required by Canon Law - and you have continued to do so after being suspended a divinis - you send those priests to priories where they exercise their ministry without authorization from the Ordinary of the place; you make speeches calculated to spread your ideas in dioceses where the bishop has refused his consent; with the priests you have ordained you are beginning whether you mean to or not, to constitute a group likely to become a dissident ecclesial community (pp. A7 and 8).

3. You consider that the priests ordained by you have the jurisdiction provided in Canon Law for cases of necessity. Is not that to argue as though the legitimate Hierarchy had ceased to exist? (p. A8).

4. The Pope has "the supreme power of jurisdiction" "not only in things pertaining to faith and morals but also in what belongs to the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world" (Conc. Vat. I, Const. Pastor Aeternus, DS 3064) (p. A 9), so the obedience due to him is not limited to doctrinal matters.

5. By your declarations on submission to the Council and to the post-conciliar reforms of Paul VI - declarations which are in keeping with a whole pattern of behavior, and in particular with illicit ordination of priests - you have fallen into grave disobedience which leads logically to schism (p. A10).

Franc. Card. Seper


Chapter 18

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