2, Chapter XLI
of Mgr. Lefebvre to the Sovereign Pontiff
Most Holy Father,
A year has passed since I
had the honor of being received in audience by you. Conversations
with Cardinal Seper in the course of the year have, I hope, been
sufficient to show that nothing on our part is opposed to a solution
In these few lines I should
like to show you clearly our wish to see this solution come about
for the good of the Church and of souls.
Through your discourses you
have made evident your attachment to Our Lord Jesus Christ Who is
the only solution to all problems, your fidelity to Catholic morality,
and your wish to restore the priestly and religious life. This is,
moreover, what we have never ceased to uphold and to put into practice.
It is because we believed that these aims could only be attained
by worship which corresponds to them, worship utilized by the Church
from its origins up to and including the Second Vatican Council,
that we have been cruelly condemned.
The Liturgy is more than
a mere ritual used in worship, it is the expression of Faith and
the source of Grace. It is thus of fundamental importance in the
Christian life. The Sacrifice of the Mass is truly the mysterium
fidei in all its plenitude. It manifests the great mystery of
Christ Crucified, a mystery of charity through self-sacrifice. Finally,
the Liturgy puts the soul into direct contact with Our Lord, communicating
to us His own divine life.
The restoration of the Church
will be brought about through this divinely instituted heritage
which is the treasure and the heart of the Church. This is why we
ask insistently for the use of this Liturgy which will imbue the
Church with a new youthfulness. Priests will rediscover the sense
of their priesthood and the greatness of its demands; religious
of both sexes will discover the meaning of their self-oblation;
married couples will rediscover the true meaning of the Sacrament
of Matrimony, and obtain the graces necessary to live out their
married life according to divine law.
The Mystery of the Cross
and the Sacrifice of Our Lord are the inexhaustible source of the
graces necessary for the fulfilment of the Christian life. The considerable
decrease in the number of Masses now being offered explains the
acceleration of the crisis in the Church.
May Our Lady of Mercy inspire
you, and come to your aid, to bring about the solution which is
so ardently desired.
As soon as the liturgical
problem is solved, the particular problems of Ecône and other
(traditionalist) groups, as well as of the nuns, will also be solved,
providing that the bishops show understanding and good will.
I beg Your Holiness to accept
my personal homage, and my filial sentiments in Jesus and Mary.
of Mgr. Lefebvre to Cardinal Seper
The anniversary of the audience
granted to me by the Holy Father on 18 November last year seemed
to me a favorable occasion to express anew to him our desire that
the problem of the Liturgy should not drag on any longer, for the
good of the Church and the salvation of souls. The climate for such
a solution is far more favorable now than a year ago, even in France
where many bishops would rejoice at a peacemaking intervention.
The Cardinal of Paris has just promised a Solemn High Requiem according
to the Old Rite on the occasion of the death of General Vautier,
the father of one of our friends, and this he had always refused
up till now, even for President Pompidou.
An opinion poll has just
shown that five million French Catholics are in favor of the traditional
liturgy. If a solution is too long delayed, many will lose the Faith,
and others will join sects such as Palmar de Troya, and all the
Pentecostal and Protestant sects.
I expect to be in Rome, or,
rather, at our house in Albano, on 5 December and the following
days. I am always at your disposal.
In requesting you to pass
on the enclosed file to the Holy Father, I beg Your Eminence to
accept my respectful and fraternally devoted wishes in Christo
8 March 1980
of Mgr. Lefebvre to the Sovereign Pontiff1
To put an end to some rumours
which are now spreading both in Rome and certain traditionalist
circles in Europe, and even in America, concerning my attitude
and my way of thinking with respect to the Pope, the Council, and
the Novus Ordo Mass, and fearing lest these rumours should
reach Your Holiness, I may make so bold as to reaffirm my consistent
1. I have no
reservation whatsoever concerning the legitimacy and validity of
your election, and consequently I cannot tolerate there not being
addressed to God the prayers prescribed by Holy Church for Your
Holiness. I have already had to act with severity, and continue
to do so, with regard to some seminarians and priests who have allowed
themselves to be influenced by certain clerics who do not belong
to the Society.
2. I am fully
in agreement with the judgment that Your Holiness gave on the Second
Vatican Council, on 6 November 1978, at a meeting of the Sacred
College: "that the Council must be understood in the light
of the whole of holy Tradition, and on the basis of the unvarying
Magisterium of Holy Mother Church."
3. As for the
Novus Ordo Mass, despite the reservations which must be shown
in its respect, I have never affirmed that it is in itself invalid
I would be
grateful to God and to Your Holiness if these clear declarations
could hasten the free use of the traditional liturgy, and the recognition
of the Society of St. Pius X by the Church, and likewise of all
those who, subscribing to these declarations, have striven to save
the Church by perpetuating its Tradition.
I beg Your
Holiness to accept my profound and filial respect in Christo
this volume takes the Archbishop’s story only up to the end of 1979,
this letter has been included as it removes any ambiguity concerning
the Archbishop’s position on certain fundamental points.
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109