Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 2, Chapter XXXI

Letter of Archbishop Lefebvre to the Pope


24 December 1978


Holy Father,

There is no doubt that the audience you granted me was willed by God. For me it was a great comfort to be able quite freely to explain the circumstances and the grounds for the existence of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X and of its seminaries, and the reasons which led me to continue the Work in spite of the decisions by Fribourg and Rome.

The flood of novelties in the Church, accepted and encouraged by the Episcopate, a flood which ravages everything in its path – faith, morals, the Church’s institutions – could not tolerate the presence of an obstacle, a resistance.

We then had the choice of letting ourselves be carried away by the devastating current and of adding to the  disaster, or of resisting wind and wave to safeguard our Catholic faith and the Catholic priesthood. We could not hesitate.

Since 5 May 1975, the date of our decision to hold fast whatever the cost, three and a half years have gone by and they justify us. The ruins of the Church are mounting: atheism, immorality, the abandonment of churches, the disappearance of religious and priestly vocations are such that the bishops are beginning to be roused and that the fact of Ecône is constantly evoked. Opinion polls show that a large part of the faithful, sometimes a majority, are in favour of the attitude of Ecône.

It is plain to any impartial observer that our Work is a nursery of priests of the sort the Church has always desired and the true faithful want. We are justified in thinking that if the Church would admit the fact and give it the legality to which it is entitled vocations would be even more plentiful.

Holy Father, for the honor of Jesus Christ, for the good of the Church, for the salvation of souls, we beg you to say a single word as Successor of Peter and Pastor of the Universal Church to the bishops of the whole world: "Let them carry on - We authorize the free use of what multisecular Tradition has used for the sanctification of souls.”

What difficulty is there in such an attitude? None. The bishops would decide the places and the times reserved for that Tradition. Unity would be discovered again at once at the level of the bishop of the place. On the other hand, what advantages for the Church: the renewal of seminaries and monasteries, great fervor in the parishes. The bishops would be stupefied to find in a few years an outburst of devotion and sanctification which they thought had disappeared forever.

For Ecône, its seminaries and its priories, everything would become normal, as it is for the Congregations of Lazarists, Redemptorists…the priories would serve the dioceses by preaching parish missions, giving Ignatian Retreats, and supplying in parishes, in full submission to the Ordinary of the place.

How the state of the Church would be improved by that simple means, so like the maternal spirit of the Church, which does not reject what comes to the help of souls, and does not extinguish the smoking wick, but rejoices that the sap of Tradition is still full of life and hope!

This is what I thought I should write to Your Holiness, before going to meet His Eminence Cardinal Seper. I am afraid the prolonged and subtle discussions will not have a satisfying result but will drag out the search for a solution which I am sure you see as urgent.

The solution cannot, in fact, be found in a compromise which in practice would bring about the disappearance of our Work, adding one more item to the work of destruction.

I am entirely at the disposition of Your Holiness, and I beg you accept my profound and filial respect in Jesus and Mary.

+Marcel Lefebvre
formerly Archbishop-Bishop of Tulle



Chapter 30

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