Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 2, Chapter XX

Letter of Archbishop Lefebvre to Cardinal Seper


13 April 1978

Your Eminence,

I cannot believe that you do not understand the exact reason for my attitude, which is that of thousands of Catholics and of many priests among those most faithful to the Catholic Church to the Papacy.

The problem at the root of our perseverance in Tradition, in spite of orders from Rome to abandon it, is the grave and profound change in the relations of the Church with the world.

Our Lord and the Church after Him have related themselves to the world in a very precise way. The world has to be converted and baptized, and submit to the gentle Reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the one and only way to salvation. "Go, teach all nations..." That is clear. Apostles must be sent to all nations so that they become Catholics and accept the Reign of Our Lord.

But in the world there are forces at enmity with Our Lord and His Reign. Satan and all the auxiliaries of Satan, conscious and unconscious, refuse that Reign, that road to salvation, and they fight for the destruction of the Church.

Hence the Church, with her Divine Founder, is engaged in a gigantic struggle. All means have been and are being used by Satan for his triumph.

One of the latest and most effective stratagems is to destroy the fighting spirit of the Church by persuading her that she has no more enemies, so she must lay down her arms and enter into a dialogue of peace and understanding.

That sham truce will allow the enemy to penetrate everywhere with ease and to corrupt the opposing forces.

That truce is Liberal Ecumenism, a diabolical instrument for the auto-destruction of the Church.

That Liberal Ecumenism will demand the neutralization of weapons, which are the Liturgy with the Sacrifice of the Mass, the Sacraments, the Breviary, the liturgical feasts, and the liturgical feasts, and the neutralization and then the closing of Seminaries-there is no longer a need of fighters when there is no fight. Ecumenism in education means theological research-dogmas open to doubt.

It means also pluralism applied to Catholic States, so that they are suppressed and become Ecumenical States.

It means that the monasteries and the religious societies are stopped from fighting, they who were the vanguard. That amounts to a sentence of death.

To that devilish undertaking begun by the Council, especially in the Documents on "Non-Christian Religions," "The Church in the Modem World," and "Religious Liberty," and continued incessantly since the Council, we offer a flat refusal. We will not become Liberal Ecumenists, betraying the cause of the Reign of Our Lord and the cause of the Church: we wish to remain Catholics.

Who is the instigator of that false ecumenism in the Church? Who is (or who are) answerable for it? We prefer not to know. God knows.

They can lay us under as many interdicts and censures as they like, but we mean, with the grace of God and the help of the blessed Virgin, to remain in the Catholic faith, and we refuse to collaborate in the destruction of the Church.

We ask for something very simple and very legitimate: recognition that the Church of all time, the Church of our childhood, has the right to continue. It is a right based on Scripture, Tradition, the Magisterium of the Church and the whole history of the Church.

That, I think, is clear enough.

Eminence's respectful and fraternally devoted in Christ and Mary.

+Marcel Lefebvre

P.S. Enclosed, the answer to your request for clarity, with some documents.


Reply to the Annex to the Letter of 16 March 1978

General considerations on the state of the Church since Vatican Council II which alone permit of an adequate reply to the questions asked about the Ordo Missae, our continuation of the activity of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X in spite of the interdictions received from the Bishops and from Rome.

1) We deny nothing of the theological and canonical principles concerning the Church, the Pope, the Bishops. On the contrary, it is because we believe them with all our soul that we cannot accept a utilization of authority against the end for which that authority was received. That end is explicitly affirmed in the Professions of Faith, in the oaths taken many times by the Pope and the Bishops. It consists particularly in the faithful and exact transmission of the deposit of faith.

2) Well, we have to state with sorrow that that transmission is no longer faithful.

The basic error which undermines Vatican Council II and the post-conciliar reforms, as well as the greater part of episcopal writings and acts, is a Liberal Ecumenism which corrupts the Church's fundamental Mission.

The Catholic Church is a missionary Church according to the Mission given by Our Lord Jesus Christ: "Go, teach all nations, baptize them…" She alone possesses the Truth. She alone is the true religion because she alone was founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

She goes through the nations to convert souls to Jesus Christ. That is true dialogue arising from true charity.

Liberal Ecumenism supposes that the other religions, the other ideologies, also have the truth, that the Church has to learn something from them-which is a lack of faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ. That ecumenism dialogues with error on an equal footing, and so has the same regard for error as it has for Truth.

It is the Liberal error, condemned so many times by preceding popes.

3) From that Liberal error emerge all the new initiatives, all the post-conciliar reforms: all the attitudes of ecclesiastics acquired from that error show its effects, and the same for their writings.

It is a general corruption.

The liturgical reforms are realized in that ecumenical spirit, on the admission of the Reformers themselves.

Catechetics, Seminaries, Catholic Universities, all spread that ecumenical spirit, seeking Truth from error. So error and vice get in everywhere, under cover of evangelization, human responsibility, human dignity, the rights of man, liberation theology .The souls and hearts of the young are thus corrupted by Catholic teachers, who call on rabbis, pastors, etc., to help them…

That spirit of compromise inevitably extends to political, social and economic ideas, and links up with the principles of freemasonry and the principles of Marxism. Pluralism is then applied to all Catholic States under cover of “Religious Liberty.”

4) That is the abandonment of the Catholic spirit of Mission and of conversion to Our Lord Jesus Christ, of true charity towards God and towards our neighbor based on humility, the spirit of poverty and mortification. It is no longer Our Lord and Our Lord Crucified who is preached but a false gospel of license under pretext of Liberty.

Thus our Catholic faith is adulterated and compromised by the ecclesiastical authorities themselves.


5) We have many times taken an oath to keep our Catholic faith intact, whatever happens. We will not be perjurers. Faithful Catholics no longer know where they are; their souls and the souls of their children are in danger: Our duty is to come to their aid, putting them on their guard against the poison of Liberal Ecumenism and bringing them all the help of the Catholic Church.

If we were rebuked, beaten, persecuted by our brethren for our Catholic faith, we should not be the first to suffer that kind of persecution.

We have resolved that with the grace of God we will continue to train Catholic priests, Catholic religious, men and women, the hope If of the Church of tomorrow. That will ensure the continuation of the true Mission of the Catholic Church of all time, that of leading souls to Jesus Christ and of extending His Reign everywhere, so that “His Will may be done on earth as in heaven.”

6) We desire with all our heart to find ourselves again in full communion with the authorities in the Church, but we can achieve that only in the unity of the Catholic faith and not in Liberal Ecumenism.

Some Special Considerations

† The change in conception of the Mission of the Church has had as a consequence the corruption of Canon Law and the public law of the Church, and the enfeeblement of their basic principles.

† Ecclesiastical authority loses sight of its real end and turns, necessarily to abuse of power and to arbitrariness.

† Promulgations of law are doubtful, falsified. The rights of defense are no longer respected. Procedure is no longer in conformity with law. Injustice takes the place of justice.

† That is true of the promulgation of liturgical decrees.

† It is true of our condemnation in which everything was arbitrary and against the law.

† The elementary principles of morality and law so clearly recalled by Pope Leo XIII in his Encyclical Libertas praestantissimum teach us that in these cases authority loses its right to obedience.

That being so, it is no contempt to authority not to obey. Rather it is a reminder of the respect it should have for the authority it has received from God and which obliges it to act according to the law established by God.

† With regard to jurisdiction, we are appealing to the extraordinary circumstances for which provision is made in Canon Law and to the extreme need in which the souls of the faithful are placed.

† Enclosed are some documents which will confirm what we have presented above:

  • an article from Rivarol:
  • an extract from Documentation Catholique:
  • a minor work, Pro Missa Traditionali, by Don Pace of Turin;
  • a copy of a letter of Cardinal Seper concerning the documents of the catechesis of the CNPL of Paris.1

1. These four documents are not included in this book.


Chapter 19

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