Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 2, Chapter XXVI

Letter to Friends and Benefactors (No. 15)


8 September 1978



Dear Friends and Benefactors,

Since the appearance of our last Letter notable events have occurred in the Church: the death of Paul VI and the election of John Paul I. These events, to be sure, are of no small importance to us, so great is our desire to see the Church liberated from the Modernists and progressives who occupy it. For nearly twenty years now we have been praying God to give His Church true Apostles animated by the Catholic Faith, that Faith which has furnished the Church with her Martyrs, Confessors, Doctors, Virgins and all the Saints who render her history illustrious and prove the fruitfulness of her doctrine, Sacrifice, and Sacraments.

We tremble at the thought that this infiltration of Modernism, of Naturalism, in the Church might continue. The consequences of this veritable cancer are the worst that the Church has had to undergo in her long history, namely: the corruption of the Catholic faith of numerous bishops and of a great number of priests, brothers, and nuns. These churchmen think like Protestants and Modernists: the recently published book Des Evêques disent la foi de l'Eglise catholique (Bishops expound the Faith of the Catholic Church) is yet another proof of this. The concepts of sanctifying grace, of original sin and its consequences, of mortal sin, of the expiatory and satisfactory nature of the Sacrifice of Our Lord continued on our altars, are wholly corrupted.

Here once more are all the errors of Liberalism, Americanism, Sillonism, and Modernism condemned by the Sovereign Pontiffs.1 Add to these the "Liberation Theology" which is a Marxist interpretation of the Gospel, tantamount to a sacrilegious outrage against Our Lord, and we can hardly be surprised if the patience of God shows signs of running out. Everything around us seems to be collapsing because He has been abandoned Who is the Foundation of all things, the Truth, the Way, and the Life: Our beloved Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

Confronted with this situation, we are resolved to remain all the more faithful to Our Lord, to His Reign, His Cross, His Sacrifice, His Sacraments, and His Teaching faithfully handed down by the successors of Peter for nearly twenty centuries.

Let us ask Saint Pius X to guide the steps of John Paul I. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, as jealous of the integrity of the Faith as she is sensitive to all that betrays her Divine Son, come to the aid of His Church.

By the grace of God and the support of your prayers and generosity, the Society of Saint Pius X, priests, brothers, sisters, and auxiliaries, is expanding so rapidly that it is becoming difficult to supply you with news that is complete. We hope, then, that each District Superior, or the Superior of each independent priory, will furnish more detailed information for his own area.

On 29 June last, we ordained 18 priests, two of whom are attached to the Bédoin Monastery of Dom Gérard, while the remaining 16 are members of the Society. All will be taking up their ministry during this month of September. We would need, however, to ordain four times as many priest's in order to respond to all the requests which are coming to us from every continent and country. Everywhere the faithful feel abandoned or betrayed by the clergy. They can no longer find the Catholic Church, but only a Modernist worship and doctrine. Parents are filled with anxiety for their children.

Japan, India, Australia, South America, South Africa, without counting all the countries where we have already sent missionaries, are begging us to send them true priests. Likewise, vocations are emerging on all sides. Last year was notable for the number of vocations from Italy and South America. This year we have 65 new aspirants to the priesthood who will be entering our three seminaries. A fourth seminary will be opening in March 1979 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The German-speaking seminary has been transferred from Weissbad to Zaitzkofen in Germany (located between Munich and Regensburg). Weissbad will henceforth be used as a house of preparation for the major seminary. In Madrid in Spain and Brussels in Belgium centers have been opened where the Society will begin to exercise its ministry. Albano in Italy will be housing all the second-year students of Ecône who are spending the year in the vicinity of Rome in order to improve their Latin and acquire familiarity with the city at the heart of Catholicism.

The Society has acquired an important center in St. Marys, Kansas in the United States. This center, which includes a large sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, may be used for pilgrimages, retreats, and perhaps later as a college.

Eleven new postulants have requested entry to the Brothers' Novitiate while the Sisters' Novitiate at St. Michel-en-Brenne has fifteen postulants and the Carmel in Quiévrain, Belgium twelve. If, in addition, all the new vocations of those Congregations which are maintaining their sane traditions are taken into account, one cannot but marvel at this true renewal of the Church, a renewal where verily the fruits of the Holy Ghost are shining forth, and not the aberrations of the Charismatics.

How can one avoid the conclusion: there where the faith of the Church is, there also is her sanctity, and there where the sanctity of the Church is, there is the Catholic Church. A Church which no longer brings forth good fruits, a Church which is sterile, is not the Catholic Church.

Certainly, we ourselves are of no great importance and the good that is done by us comes from Our Lord. But it is precisely for that reason that we are confident, for out of nothing Our Lord can make much. The whole history of the Church proves this. Our Lord does not require of us to succeed. That is His concern. What He does want from us, however, is our good will and that we be ready to accept whatever He sends us, the trials and crosses just as gladly as the blessings.

Should these few lines reach priests, brothers, and nuns who are striving to preserve the Faith, and by that very fact, the Tradition, and in particular the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, let them know that the Society is ready, as far as its means allow, to assist them spiritually, morally, and materially.

Dear Friends and Benefactors, how we wish to be at your service for your sanctification, for the education and spiritual support of your children. We especially hope to open schools for boys. The future of Christian families depends on this. We are very aware of your needs. That is why we already have schools in New York and Houston in the United States and are taking over the school of St. Michel at Châteauroux in France.

On the other hand, we are also counting on you and we trust that your prayers, sacrifices, and generosity towards us will continue as they have done up to now. May God through Mary and Joseph repay you with abundant blessings.

+ Marcel Lefebvre

Feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Virgin Mary



European Modernism was given a considerable boost by the publication in France of the biography of a Liberal American priest, Father Isaac Hecker. It was probably the impact of "Americanism" within Europe that prompted its condemnation even more than its growing influence in the USA. In his Apostolic Letter Testem Benevolentiae, 22 January 1899, addressed to Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore, Pope Leo XIII described the heresy as follows:

You are aware, Beloved Son, that the book entitled The Life of Isaac Thomas Hecker, chiefly through the action of those who have undertaken to publish and interpret it in a foreign language, has excited no small controversy on account of certain opinions which are introduced concerning the matter of leading a Christian life. We, therefore, on account of Our apostolic office, in order to provide for the integrity of the Faith, and to guard the security of the faithful, desire to write to you more at length upon the whole matter.

The principles on which the new opinions We have mentioned are based may be reduced to this: that, in order the more easily to bring over to Catholic doctrine those who dissent from it, the Church ought to adapt herself somewhat to our advanced civilization, and, relaxing her ancient rigor, show some indulgence to modern popular theories and methods. Many think that this is to be understood not only with regard to the rule of life, but also to the doctrines in which the deposit of faith is contained. For they contend that it is opportune, in order to work in a more attractive way upon the wills of those who are not in accord with us, to pass over certain heads of doctrines, as if of lesser moment, or to so soften them that they may not have the same meaning which the Church has invariably held. Now, Beloved Son, few words are needed to show how reprehensible is the plan that is thus conceived, if we but consider the character and origin of the doctrine which the Church hands down to us. On that point the Vatican Council says: "The doctrine of faith which God has revealed is not proposed like a theory of philosophy which is to be elaborated by the human understanding, but as a divine deposit delivered to the Spouse of Christ to be faithfully guarded and infalliby declared. That sense of the sacred dogmas is to be faithfully kept which Holy Mother Church has once declared, and is not to be departed from under the specious pretext of a more profound understanding."

Nor is the suppression to be considered altogether free from blame, which designedly omits certain principles of Catholic doctrine and buries them, as it were, in oblivion. For there is one and the same Author and Master of all the truths that Christian teaching comprises: the only-begotten Son Who is in the bosom of the Father. That they are adapted to all ages and nations is plainly deduced from the words which Christ addressed to His apostles: "Going therefore, teach ye all nations: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world." Wherefore the same Vatican Council says: "By the divine and Catholic faith those things are to be believed which are contained in the word of God either written or handed down, and are proposed by the Church whether in solemn decision or by the ordinary universal Magisterium, to be believed as having been divinely revealed." Far be it, then, for any one to diminish or for any reason whatever to pass over anything of this divinely delivered doctrine; whosoever would do so, would rather wish to alienate Catholics from the Church than to bring over to the Church those who dissent from it. Let them return; indeed, nothing is nearer to Our heart; let all those who are wandering far from the sheepfold of Christ return; but let it not be by any other road than that which Christ has pointed out.


1. For an explanation of Liberalism, see Newman Against the Liberals, Preface; of Sillonism, see Pope John’s Council,  Appendix V; of Modernism, see Partisans of Error; and of Americanism, see the Addendum to this Letter.


Chapter 25

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