Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 2, Chapter XXXVI

The Golden Jubilee


23 September 1979

The fiftieth anniversary of Archbishop Lefebvre's ordination to the priesthood provided the occasion for probably the most striking manifestation of the strength of traditionalist feeling to have occurred since the Second Vatican Council; it also indicated the high degree of respect and personal affection felt for the Archbishop by Catholics who are faithful to tradition. A Pontifical High Mass was celebrated in a huge exhibition hall, which proved to be a prudent decision as between twenty and twenty-five thousand people were present. It is not exaggerating to claim that had all the French Bishops hired a hall of the same size, and appealed to their supporters to be present to show solidarity with the hierarchy in its vendetta against the Archbishop, they would have been lucky to find it a quarter full. The size of this congregation, far larger than that at Lille in August 1976, showed the extent to which support for Mgr. Lefebvre was growing, despite the campaign waged against him in all the Catholic media, and the threats of excommunication which had been circulated from time to time. Le Figaro, a leading French daily paper, has never been sympathetic to the Archbishop, but its report on the Jubi1ee gave an accurate impression of the ceremony. The report appeared in the 24 September 1979 issue, and was introduced with the following headline:


In order to celebrate the High Mass of his Jubilee, Mgr. Lefebvre, the traditionalist, chose, yesterday, a far from conventional cathedral: Pavilion 6 of the Parc des Expositions at the Porte de Versailles, an immense hall in which the steel girders and neon lights were hardly conducive to prayer or recollection; but, nonetheless, throughout the two and a half hour ceremony fervor and emotion were present at every instant.

They had come in their thousands – about 20,000 is the estimate, it's difficult to give an exact figure – from France, all over Europe – Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy – to take part in the ceremony. Some had travelled all night to arrive there in good time and get a place near the altar. The Parisians were also present in large numbers, they arrived, for the most part by the metro. They came up the boulevard Lefebvre by the thousand, whole families, some with folding chairs to sit upon and all with an old missal from which holy pictures could be seen protruding. There were many children, but also teenagers and young adults. They had not been told to come, they didn't attend Mass at St. Nicholas du Chardonnet, but went to their local church – but always with profound nostalgia for the traditional Mass.

"I wouldn't have missed this morning's ceremony for anything in the world," explained a lady with a broad smile. "For us, today is really a feast." And they were all there, the husband, the grandmother, and the two children aged twelve and sixteen. Didn't they feel that they were disobeying the Pope? "Not for one moment. With the new Mass I feel that my faith is withering. I’ve come here to restore it," explained the father…

At 10:30 a.m. the "nave" was already full. On either side of the hall a dozen French and German priests heard confessions of long queues of the faithful. At the end, on an immense podium, an altar, sumptuously decorated with brocade, lace, flowers, and candles, was set out according to the ancient rite. On a red-draped dais a velvet chair awaited the bishop.

At 10:45 precisely, the orchestra began to play and the choir of St. Nicholas du Chardonnet broke into “Je suis chrétien.” The ceremony began with a long procession of priests ordained by Mgr. Lefebvre, there were 200 of them from France, Germany, Italy and Spain, but also from the United States and South America.

“It’s a long time since the capital saw as many soutanes in one place,” joked a young man acting as an usher.

When Mgr. Lefebvre appeared the hall exploded into applause, and it was through a sea of human beings who were deeply and visibly moved – many of them had tears in their eyes – that he moved up the central aisle giving his benediction…(a synopsis of the sermon followed in the report, the entire text is provided in this chapter.)

All who had been present were unanimous in expressing their joy and their emotion, commenting on details of the ceremony, marvelling at the thousands who have received Holy Communion. And in the great hall, now almost deserted, hundreds of the faithful remained, abstaining from luncheon, remaining on their knees, and praying with a most moving fervor until the hour of vespers.


Homage to the Archbishop

The following words were addressed by Father Paul Aulagnier, Superior of the District of France, Society of St. Pius X, to His grace on the occasion of his sacerdotal jubilee in Paris, during the banquet which followed the Mass:

It is not the role of sons to compliment their father. They may be justly proud of him but their sentiments must not be expressed in flattering terms.

Thus, I wish, on this day of your sacerdotal jubilee, to congratulate you by means of your work: The Priestly Society of St. Pius X.

Some think that all your actions are motivated by a spirit of defiance against Rome. Permit us then, Monseigneur, today to render testimony to the truth.

Your love of the Roman Church inspired you to form the Society:

to which you willed not to give any other spirit or any other spirituality but the spirit and the spirituality of the Church;

to which you willed not to impose any rules other than the Roman Canons, nor any solemn vows other than those of Baptism and of the Priesthood.

You have refused to fill your priests, your nuns, and brothers with a new spirituality or with new rules in the Church.

That is why you govern us without ordering us.

That is why we obey you without fearing you.

It is the charity of the Church in which you believe – Et nos credidimus caritati – charity which you have inherited and which establishes both your authority upon us and our respect for you.

May it please God, Monseigneur, that you remain as our head for a long time to come in order that you communicate to us a little of your romanita.

The Sermon of His Grace
The Most Reverend Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
On the Occasion of His Sacerdotal Jubilee
23 September 1979
Paris, France

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

My dear brethren,

Allow me, before beginning the few words I would like to address to you on the occasion of this beautiful ceremony, to thank all of those who have contributed to its magnificent success.

Personally, I had thought of celebrating my sacerdotal jubilee in a private, discreet manner at the altar which is the heart of Ecône, but the beloved clergy of St. Nicholas du Chardonnet, and the beloved priests who surround me, invited me with such insistence to permit all those who desired to unite themselves in thanksgiving and my prayer on the occasion of this sacerdotal jubilee, that I could not refuse and that is why we are gathered here today – so great in number, so diverse in origin – having come from America, from all the European countries, which are yet free, and here we are united for the occasion of this sacerdotal jubilee.

How then could I define this gathering, this manifestation, this ceremony? A homage, a homage to your faith in the Catholic priesthood and in the Holy Catholic Mass.

I truly believe that it is for this reason that you have come, in order to manifest your attachment to the Catholic Church and to the most beautiful treasure, to the most sublime gift which God has given to man: the priesthood – and the priesthood for sacrifice, for the Sacrifice of Our Lord, continued upon our altars.

This is why you have come, this is why we are surrounded today by these beloved priests who have come from everywhere and many more would have come were it not a Sunday, for they are held by their obligations to celebrate Holy Mass in their parishes – and they have told us so.

I would like to trace, if you will permit me, some scenes of which I have been a witness during the course of this half century, in order to show more clearly the importance which the Mass of the Catholic Church holds in our life, in the life of priest, in the life of a bishop, and in the life of the Church.

As a young seminarian at Santa Chiara, at the French Seminary in Rome, they used to teach us attachment to liturgical ceremonies. I had, during that time, the privilege of being a ceremoniare, that which we call "a master of ceremonies," having been preceded in this office by no less than His Grace Msgr. Lebrun, the former Bishop of Autun, and by His Grace Monseigneur Ancel, who is still the Auxiliary Bishop of Lyon. I was, therefore, a master of ceremonies under the direction of the beloved Father Haegy, known for his profound knowledge of the liturgy. We loved to prepare the altar, we loved to prepare the ceremonies, and we were already imbued with the spirit of the feast the eve of the day when a great ceremony was to take place upon our altars. We understood therefore, as young seminarians, how to love the altar.

"Domine dilexi decorem domus tuae et gloriam habitationis tuae." This is the verse which we recite during the Lavabo at the altar – “Lord, I have loved the splendor of Thy house and the glory of Thy dwelling.”

This is what they taught us at the French Seminary in Rome under the direction of the dear and Reverend Father Le Floch, a well-loved father, who taught us to see clearly in the events of the time through his commentaries on the encyclicals of the Popes.

I was ordained a priest in the Chapel of the Sacred Heart de la rue Royale in Lille, the 21st day of September 1929 by the then Archbishop Lienart. I left shortly afterwards – two years afterwards – for the missions to join my brother who was already there in Gabon and there I began to learn what the Mass truly is.

Certainly I knew, by the studies which we had done, what this great mystery of our Faith was, but I had not yet understood its entire value, efficacy and depth. Thus I lived day by day, year by year, in Africa and particularly at Gabon, where I spent thirteen years of my missionary life, first at the seminary and then in the bush among the Africans, with the natives.

There I saw – yes, I saw – what the grace of the Holy Mass could do. I saw it in the holy souls of some of our catechists. I saw it in those pagan souls transformed by assistance at Holy Mass, and by the Holy Eucharist. These souls understood the mystery of the Sacrifice of the Cross and united themselves to Our Lord Jesus Christ in the sufferings of His Cross, offering their sacrifices and their sufferings with Our Lord Jesus Christ and living as Christians.

I can cite names: Paul Qssima de Ndjole, Eugene Ndonc de Lambrene, Marcel Mable de Donquila, and I will continue with a name from Senegal, Monsieur Forster, Treasurer-Paymaster in Senegal – chosen for this delicate and important function by his peers and even by the Moslems, due to his honesty and integrity. These are some of the men produced by the grace of the Mass. They assisted at the Mass daily, communicating with great fervor and they have become models and light to those about them. This is just to list a few without counting the many Christians transformed by this grace.

I was able to see these pagan villages become Christian – being transformed not only, I would say, spiritually and supernaturally, but also being transformed physically, socially, economically and politically; because these people, pagans which they were, became cognizant of the necessity of fulfilling their duties, in spite of the trials, in spite of the sacrifice; of maintaining their commitments, and particularly their commitment in marriage. Then the village began to be transformed, little by little, under the influence of grace, under the influence of the grace of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and soon all the villages were wanting to have one of the Fathers visit them. Oh, the visit of a missionary! They wait patiently to assist at the Holy Mass, in order to be able to confess their sins and then to receive Holy Communion.

Some of these souls also consecrated themselves to God: nuns, priests, brothers giving themselves to God, consecrating themselves to God. There you have the fruit of the Holy Mass.

Why did all this happen?

It is necessary that we study somewhat the profound motives of this transformation: SACRIFICE!

The notion of sacrifice is a profoundly Christian and a profoundly Catholic notion. Our life cannot be spent without sacrifice since Our Lord Jesus Christ, God Himself, willed to take a body like our own and say to us: "Follow Me, take up thy cross, and follow Me, if thou wilt be saved." And He has given us the example of His death upon the cross; He has shed His blood. Would we then dare, we, His miserable creatures, sinners that we are, not to follow Our Lord in pursuit of His Sacrifice, in pursuit of His Cross?

There is the entire mystery of Christian civilization. There is that which is the root of Christian civilization: the comprehension of sacrifice in one's life, in daily life, the understanding of Christian suffering – no longer considering suffering as an evil, as an unbearable sorrow, but sharing one's suffering and one's sickness with the sufferings of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in looking upon His Cross, in assisting at the Holy Mass, which is the continuation of the Passion of Our Lord upon Calvary.

Once understood, suffering becomes a joy, and a treasure because these sufferings, if united to those of Our Lord, if united to those of all the martyrs, if united to those of all the saints, of all Catholics, of all the faithful who suffer in this world, if united to the Cross of Our Lord, they then become an inexpressible treasure, a treasure unutterable, and achieve an extraordinary capacity for the conversion of other souls and the salvation of our own. Many holy souls, Christians, have even desired to suffer in order to unite themselves more closely to the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. There you have Christian civilization.

Blessed are those who suffer for righteousness' sake.

Blessed are the poor.

Blessed are the meek.

Blessed are the merciful.

Blessed are the peace-makers.

These are the teachings of the Cross: it is this that Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us by His Cross.

This Christian civilization, penetrating to the depths of nations only recently pagan, has transformed them, and impelled them to desire and thus to choose Catholic heads of state. I, myself, have known and aided the leaders of these Catholic countries. Their Catholic peoples desired to have Catholic leaders so that even their governments and all the laws of their land might be submissive to the laws of Our Lord Jesus Christ and to the Ten Commandments.

If, in the past, France – said to be Catholic – had truly fulfilled the role of a Catholic power, she would have supported these colonized lands in their new-found Faith. Had she done so, their lands would not now be menaced by Communism, and Africa would not be what it is today. The fault does not so much lie with the Africans themselves as with the colonial powers, which did not understand how to avail themselves of this Christian Faith which had rooted itself among the African peoples. With a proper understanding they would have been able to exercise a brotherly influence among these nations by helping them to keep the Faith and exclude communism.

If we look back through history, we see immediately that what I have been speaking of took place in our own countries in the first centuries after Constantine. For we, too, are in our origins, converts. Our ancestors were converted, our kings were converted, and down through the centuries they offered their nations to Our Lord Jesus Christ and they submitted their countries to the Cross of Jesus. They willed, too, that Mary should be the Queen of their lands.

One can read the admirable writings of St. Edward, King of England, St. Louis, King of France, of the Holy Roman Emperor St. Henry, of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and of all the saints who were at the head of our Catholic nations and who thus helped to make Christianity.

What faith they had in the Holy Mass! King St. Louis of France served two Masses every day. If he was travelling and happened to hear church bells ringing to announce the Consecration, he would dismount to adore on bended knee the miracle being performed at that moment. There, indeed, was Catholic civilization! How far from such faith we are now, how far indeed!

There is another event which we are bound to mention after these pictures of Christian civilization in Africa and in our history, that of France particularly. A recent event – an event in the life of the Church, and an important event: the Second Vatican Council. We are obliged to declare that the enemies of the Church know very well, perhaps better than we, what the value of just one Mass is. There was a poem written on this subject in which one finds words attributed to Satan, showing how he trembles each time a Mass, a true Catholic Mass, is celebrated because he is thus reminded of the memory of the Cross, and he knows well that it was by the Cross that he was vanquished. The enemies of the Church who perform sacrilegious masses in the well-known sects, and the communists, too, know what value is to be had from one Mass, one true Catholic Mass!

I was recently told that in Poland the Communist Party, through their "Inspectors of Religion," keep under surveillance those priests in Poland who say the Old Mass but leave alone those who say the New. They persecute those who say the Old Mass, the Mass of All Time. A foreign priest visiting Poland may say what Mass he pleases, in order to give the impression of freedom, but the Polish priests who decide to hold firm to Tradition are persecuted.

I read recently a document about the PAX movement which was communicated to us in June of 1963, in the name of Cardinal Wyszynski. This document told us: "You think we have freedom, you are made to think that we have it, and it is the priests affiliated with PAX, who are friends of the communist government, who spread these ideas abroad because they are propagandists for the government, as is even the progressive French press. But it is not true, we are not free.”

Cardinal Wyszynski gave precise details. He said that in the youth camps organized by the communists the children were kept behind barbed wire on Sundays to keep them from going to Mass. He told, too, how vacation hide-aways organized by the Catholic priests were surveyed from helicopters to see if the youth were going to Mass.

Why? Why this need to spy upon children on their way to Mass? Because they know that the Mass is absolutely anti-communist and, how indeed, could it be otherwise? For what is communism, if not “all for the Party and all for the Revolution"? The Mass, on the other hand, is “all for God.” Not at all the same thing is it? All for God!

This is the Catholic Mass, opposed as it is to the program of parties, which is a Satanic program. These are the profound reasons behind the Mass, the Sacrifice.

You know well that we are all tested, that we are all beset with difficulties in our lives, in our earthly existence. We all have the need to know why we suffer, why these trials and sorrows, why these Catholics, these people, are lying sick in their bed. The hospitals are full of sick people. Why?

The Christian responds: to unite my sufferings to those of Our Lord on the altar, to unite them on the altar and through that act to participate in the work of redemption, to merit for myself and for other souls the joy of heaven.

Now it was during the Council that the enemies of the Church infiltrated her, and their first objective was to demolish and destroy the Mass insofar as they could. You can read the books of Michael Davies, an English Catholic, who has written magnificent works, which demonstrate how the liturgical reform of Vatican II closely resembles that produced under Cranmer at the birth of English Protestantism. If one reads the history of that liturgical transformation, made also by Luther, one sees that now it is exactly the same procedure which is being slowly followed, and under appearances still apparently good and Catholic. But it is just that character of the Mass which is sacrificial and redemptive of sin through the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which they have removed. They have made of the Mass a simple assembly, one among others, merely presided over by the priest and that is not the Mass!

So it is not surprising that the Cross no longer triumphs, because the sacrifice no longer triumphs. It is not surprising that men think no longer of anything but raising their standard of living, that they seek only money, riches, pleasures, comfort, and the easy ways of this world. They have lost the sense of sacrifice.

What does it remain for us to do, my dear brethren, if in this manner we deepen our understanding of the great mystery which is the Mass? Well! I think I can say that we should have a crusade! A crusade supported by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, by the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by that invincible rock, that inexhaustible source of grace which is the Mass.

This we see every day. You are there because you love the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. And these young seminarians who are in the seminary – in Ecône, the United States and Germany – why do they come into our seminaries? For the Holy Mass, for the Holy Mass of All Time, which is the source of grace, the source of the Holy Ghost, the source of Christian civilization, that is the reason for the priest.

It is necessary that we undertake a crusade, a crusade which is based precisely upon these notions of immutability, of sacrifice, in order to recreate Christianity, to re-establish a Christendom such as the Church desired, such as she has always done, with the same principles, the same Sacrifice of the Mass, the same sacraments, the same catechism, the same Holy Scripture. We must recreate this Christendom! It is to you, my dear brethren, you who are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, that Our Lord Jesus Christ addressed Himself in saying: "Do not lose the fruit of My blood, do not abandon My Calvary, do not abandon My Sacrifice." And the Virgin Mary who stands beneath the Cross, tells you the same thing as well; She, whose heart is pierced, full of sufferings and sorrow, yet at the same time filled with the joy of uniting herself to the Sacrifice of her Divine Son, she says it to you as well: "let us be Christians, let us be Catholics!"

Let us not be borne away by all these worldly ideas, by all these currents of thought which are in the world, and which draw us to sin and to hell. If we want to go to heaven we must follow Our Lord Jesus Christ, we must carry our cross and follow Our Lord Jesus Christ, imitating Him in His Cross, in His suffering, in His Sacrifice.

Thus, I ask the youth, the young people who are here in this hall, to ask the priests to explain to them these things that are so beautiful and so great, so as to choose their vocations, whatever be the calling that they may elect – be they priests or religious men and women, or married: married by the Sacrament of Marriage, and, therefore, in the Cross of Jesus Christ, and in the Blood of Jesus Christ, married in the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Let them comprehend the greatness of Matrimony, and let them prepare themselves worthily for it by purity and chastity, by prayer and reflection. Let them not be carried away by all the passions which engulf the world. Thus, let this be the crusade of the young who must aspire to the true ideal.

Let it be, as well, a crusade for Christian families. You Christian families who are here, consecrate yourselves to the Heart of Jesus, to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Oh, pray together in the family! I know that many of those among you already do so, but may there always be more and more of you who do so with fervor! Let Our Lord truly reign in your homes!

Cast away, I beg you, anything which impedes children from entering your family! There is no greater gift that the Good God can bestow upon your hearths than to have many children. Have big families, it is the glory of the Catholic Church, the large family! It has been so in Canada, it has been so in Holland, it has been so in Switzerland, it has been so in France – everywhere the large family was the joy and prosperity of the Church. There are that many more chosen souls for heaven! Therefore, do not limit, I beg you, the gifts of God; do not listen to these abominable slogans which destroy the family, which ruin health, which ruin the household and which provoke divorce.

And I wish that, in these troubled times, in this degenerate urban atmosphere in which we are living, that you return to the land whenever possible. The land is healthy, the land teaches one to know God, the land draws one to God, it calms temperaments, characters, and encourages the children to work.

And if it is necessary, yes, you yourselves will make the school for your children! If the schools should corrupt your children, what are you going to do? Deliver them to the corrupters? To those who teach these abominable sexual practices in schools? To the so-called "Catholic" schools run by religious men and women, where they simply teach sin? In reality, that is what they are teaching to the children, they corrupt them from their tenderest youth! Are you to put up with that? It is inconceivable! Rather that your children be poor, rather that they be removed from this apparent science that the world possesses, but that they be good children, Christian children, Catholic children, children who love to pray and who love to work, children who love the earth which the good God has made.

Finally, a crusade as well for the heads of the family. You who are head of your household, you have a grave responsibility in your countries. You do not have the right to let your country be invaded by socialism and communism! You do not have the right, or else you are no longer Catholic! You must fight at the time of elections in order that you may have Catholic mayors, Catholic deputies, so that France finally may become Catholic again. That is not mere politics, that is to wage a good campaign, a campaign such as waged the saints, such as waged the Popes who opposed Attila, such as waged St. Remi who converted Clovis, such as waged Joan of Arc who saved France from Protestantism: If  Joan of Arc had not been raised up in France, we would all be Protestants! It was in order to keep France Catholic that Our Lord raised up Joan of Arc, that child of 17, maybe 18 years old, who drove the English out of France. That, too, is waging a political campaign.

Surely, then, this is the sort of politics which we desire, the politics of the Royalty of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Just a few moments ago you were heard to chant, “Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.” Are these but words, mere lyrics, mere chants? No! It is necessary that they be a reality. You heads of families, you are the ones responsible for such realization, both for your children and for the generations which are to come. Thus, you should organize yourselves now – conduct meetings and make yourselves heard, with the object that France become once again Christian, once again Catholic. It is not impossible – otherwise one would have to say that the grace of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is no longer grace, that God is no longer God, that Our Lord Jesus Christ is no longer Our Lord Jesus Christ! One must have confidence in the grace of Our Lord. Our Lord Who is all-powerful. I have seen this grace at work in Africa – there is no reason why it will not work as well here in these countries. This is the message that I wanted to tell you today.

And you, dear priests, who hear me now, you too must make a profound sacerdotal union to spread this crusade, to animate this crusade in order that Jesus reign, that Our Lord reign. And to do that you must be holy, you must seek after sanctity and manifest it to others: this holiness, this grace which acts in your souls and in your hearts, this grace which you receive by the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and by the Holy Mass which you offer, which you alone are capable of offering.

I shall finish, my dearly beloved brethren, by what I shall call, somewhat, my testament. Testament – that is a very profound word, because I would want it to be the echo of the of Our Lord: “Novi et aeterni testamenti, novi et aeterni testamenti” – it is the priest who recites these words at the Consecration of the Precious Blood: “Hic est enim calix Sanguninis mei: novi et aeterni testamenti.” This inheritance which Jesus Christ gave to us, it is His Sacrifice, it is His Blood, it is His Cross. And that is the ferment of all Christian civilization and of all that which is necessary for salvation.

And I say to you as well: for the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, for the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, for the love of the Church, for the love of the Pope, for the love of bishops, of priests, of all the faithful, for the salvation of the world, for the salvation of souls, keep this Testament of Our Lord Jesus Christ! Keep the Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ! Keep the Mass of All time!

And you will see Christian civilization reflourish, a civilization which is not for this world, but a civilization which leads to the Catholic City which is Heaven. The Catholic City of this world is made for nothing else than for the Catholic City of Heaven.

Thus, by keeping the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by keeping His Sacrifice, by keeping this Mass, this Mass which has been bequeathed to us by our predecessors, this Mass which has been transmitted from the time of the apostles unto this day – and in a few moments I am going to pronounce these words above the chalice of my ordination, and how could you expect me to pronounce above the chalice of my ordination any other words but those which I pronounced fifty years ago over this same chalice – it is impossible! I cannot change the words! We shall therefore continue to pronounce the words of the Consecration as our predecessors have taught us, as the Pope, bishops and priests who have been our instructors have taught us, so that Our Lord Jesus Christ reign, and so that souls be saved through the intercession of our Good Mother in Heaven.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.


The Testimony of a Great Catholic Author

The 4 October 1979 issue of the French daily L’Aurore included a dramatic statement by Michel de Saint-Pierre, one of France's most distinguished living writers. He is the author of at least twenty-five full-length books, including some highly acclaimed novels among which is a trilogy dealing with the present crisis in the Church. He is president of the Credo association, an organization of conservative Catholics which is frequently attacked by some traditionalist groups for being insufficiently hard-line. An account of the Credo Pilgrimage to Rome is included in the Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre, Volume I. The eloquence and courage with which Michel de Saint-Pierre has spoken out in favor of Archbishop Lefebvre makes his testimony one of the most moving and important ever published. M. de Saint-Pierre is the co-author of Les Fumées de Satan (The Smoke of Satan), a 285-page account of the disintegration of the French Church which was published in 1976. A copy was sent to Pope John Paul II while he was still Cardinal Wojtyla. The author received a most gracious personal acknowledgement from the Cardinal dated 23 December 1977. This is of great significance in view of the fact that the book has already been publicly denounced by the French Episcopate. The article of 4 October was entitled Vaines querelles autour d'un jubilé.


Groundless Wrangling Surrounding a Jubilee

Well before the difficulties which Mgr. Lefebvre later had to face, gossip was already spreading among the French clergy, including the hierarchy concerning the "spirit of independence” and even "rebellion" of the bishop who, at that time had full authorization from Rome, not to mention the encouragement he was receiving from Cardinal Wright, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy. Later there was talk concerning the work at Ecône – "this wildcat seminary." Since then the calumnies have not ceased. I think I have the right to discuss this matter in view of the large amount of correspondence I receive.

One evening, at the end of a conference I had given on the crisis within the Church, a priest, a professor of theology at one of our Catholic universities, stood up and before several hundred people yelled (I can find no other word), "Mgr. Lefebvre in nothing but a liar!” This offensive priest was dressed in lay clothes without even a cross on his lapel, and wearing a stylish multi-colored tie. His face expressed pure hatred.

Now Mgr. Lefebvre has just celebrated his Jubilee of 50 years in the priesthood. This celebration was held as a result of the insistent pleas of his friends: it was the anniversary of 50 years as a priest that we wanted to celebrate with him. One would have thought that during such a solemn occasion the anti-Lefebvre fury would have slackened: that consideration would have been given to the 50-year ministry of a man who have unceasingly given priests to the Church, not forgetting the four bishops of whom one is a cardinal.

But no! Cardinal Marty felt obliged to write a letter to the Secretary of State at the Vatican denouncing his confrére, Archbishop Lefebvre – his brother bishop. And our Permanent Council of Bishops, far from being moved by his 50 years in the priesthood, declared that the celebration took on the appearance of an act of provocation, an act of defiance. While recognizing that the Archbishop of Paris had the "right and even the duty to clarify the position to the faithful," Cardinal Casaroli in his letter from Rome, no less recommended that "this should be done in a charitable and serene manner." For our part, we are too familiar with the courtesies and practices in Rome not to realize the importance of this recommendation. For how many years has the French Episcopate been lacking this charity and this serenity in its relations with Mgr. Lefebvre!

Rome knows this and is showing its awareness. As for my own modest yet heavy personal correspondence, this alone would suffice to show me the extent of the animosity which still exists in certain religious circles. Have I not been reproached for attending this Jubilee "as an honored guest" thus, ostensibly congratulating a bishop who "struts throughout the dioceses, seeking and stealing seminarians"?

Yes! I was there among the crowd estimated by those in charge to be 20,000 or 25,000 people. I was there, not as President of the Credo Society, but as a personal friend of Archbishop Lefebvre, a friendship which has remained unclouded twenty-five years. And our crowd was as solid as bronze, united in intense religious emotion, and moved by gratitude and joy. I cannot see – no, really, I cannot see – how anyone could blame us for paying honor to friendship that day by celebrating the glory and majesty of God.

And it must be noted that in this hall which houses a crowd large enough to fill four large French cathedrals, there was no reference to "My buddy God," nor to “Jesus the revolutionary.” The International was not sung, nor was there any class hatred. All classes of society were represented there in this huge metal building which for a single day received the golden chalice and the Host of the poor. We were kneeling before the Infinite God, gathered in His Name, praying in His Name for the Church in France, singing the liturgical hymns in immortal Latin, assisting at the traditional Mass of St. Pius V which is unjustly forbidden in France, the Mass which the priests of the Credo Society celebrated last year in Poland with the blessing of the Cardinals, one of whom is now the reigning Pontiff.

If the French bishops are weary of looking at their empty churches, their deserted seminaries, let them at last look in the direction to which John Paul II is pointing. Yes, Your Excellencies, instead of writing like pawns to the Secretary of State to voice your complaints, reflect for a moment, we beg of you. The Gospel announces once and for all that a good tree produces good fruit. The fruit of Ecône was there before our eyes: more than 150 seminarians, more than 100 priests and religious representing at least thirty priories, unparalleled fervor, and the House of God overflowing with what are still called “the faithful.” If you, Your Excellencies, finally decide to give us back the true liturgy, which is the soul of the Church, the true catechism, and monastic discipline in the seminaries, you, too, will soon win the battle for Christ.

Meanwhile, you must realize that in spite of the frightful blows he has received, the reward for Mgr. Lefebvre's fifty years in the priesthood was, on this day – and I witnessed it – the sight of 25,000 enraptured souls.


Chapter 35

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

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