Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 2, Chapter XLI

Three More Letters


18 November 1979

Letter 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 being found.

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.

†Marcel Lefebvre


20 November 1979

Letter of Mgr. Lefebvre to Cardinal Seper

Your Eminence,

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 et Maria.

†Marcel Lefebvre


8 March 1980

Letter of Mgr. Lefebvre to the Sovereign Pontiff1

Most Holy Father,

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 position.

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 or heretical.

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 et Maria.

†Marcel Lefebvre


1. Although 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.


Chapter 40

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