Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 2, Chapter XXV

Letter of Archbishop Lefebvre to Cardinal X


8 August 1978

(This letter was sent to four cardinals following the death of Pope Paul VI.)



Your Eminence,

The twilight to which you alluded at our last meeting has come to a sudden end. And Holy Church now faces the tragic problem of tomorrow. Will the sorrowful Calvary of the last fifteen years continue, or will it cease? No doubt the future belongs to God, like the present and past. But God does not want to do without us.

That is why I beseech Your Eminence to use all possible means to stop the scandal of concessions to the enemies of the Church made by those who occupy the posts of authority in the Church, and to do everything in your power to get us a Pope, a true Pope, successor of Peter, in line with his predecessors, the firm and watchful guardian of the deposit of faith.

We have learnt to our cost, and to the cost of the Church, what progressive clerics are capable of. Their clamour in the Council is still ringing in our ears; and then their subversive speeches, their public and secret organizations, their scandalous connections with secret societies. They stop at nothing to succeed in dominating the Church and occupying her key positions.

There is no doubt they will act in the same way in this Conclave. They have occupied the Vatican for fifteen years and they hold a hand of trumps you are well placed to know that.

To foil their devilish projects you have few human means, but you have the omnipotence of Truth and of the Holy Spirit which shows itself the more as human means are limited.

There seem to be very few of you determined to block the road against the progressives, the modernists and the false ecumenists. But those Cardinals whom you know better than I do are personages in the front rank, worthy to wear the tiara, whose influence in the Conclave could be great when united with yours.

Yet the contribution of the votes of the cardinals aged 80 and over could be decisive. And that raises the serious question of the validity of the election of the Pope.

The fact is, that law Aggravescents aetate is certainly null. It is enough to read again the magnificent texts of Leo XIII in the Encyclical Libertas of 20 June 1888, texts concerning the definition of law, the conditions of its validity, to conclude without possible doubt that the decree is null, being doubly contrary to the definition of law: " An ordainment of reason to promote the common good." "If any power were to decree anything not consonant with the principles of right reason and harmful to the common good, the decree would not have the force of law, for it would not be a rule of justice and it would draw men away from the good for which society was fashioned."

That decree is clearly opposed to right reason and common sense, Whatever is left in humanity of human wisdom objects to such a decision. And it is plainly contrary to the good of society to derive it unduly of he assistance of its wisest and most experienced members.

It appears, therefore, that, this law being null, the eighty-year-old cardinals have a strict right to present themselves at the Conclave, and their enforced absence will necessarily raise the question of the validity of the election.1 It will in any case cast a doubt over the whole business and increase the confusion which already exists among the faithful.

I was anxious, Your Eminence, to share these reflections with you, so that you could eventually pass them on to those who may be concerned.

Catholics faithful to the Church and to Rome are counting much on you to save the Church from the peril which threatens her.

May Our Blessed Lady come to your help and give you the heroic courage of the saints who, in the tragic hours of the Church's history, delivered her from the hands of her enemies. We are praying earnestly for that intention.

With deep respect and fraternal feelings in Christ and Mary,

+Marcel Lefebvre



1. Although the Archbishop expresses doubt as to the validity of a papal election from which cardinals over the age of eighty had been excluded by a law of Pope Paul VI (Aggravescente aetate), he withdrew these reservations after the papal elections as is made clear on p. 372, and in his letter to Pope John Paul II on p. 378 (the March 1980 letter).


Chapter 24

Courtesy of the Angelus Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109

Home | Newsletters | Library | Vocations | History | Links | Search | Contact