2, Chapter V
6 June 1977
6 JUNE 1977 Archbishop Lefebvre delivered an address in Rome Pallavicini
Palace. Princess Elvina Pallavicini had “sent out 400 invitations
to this gathering. Her stately home, decorated with works by Botticelli,
Rubens and Van Dyck is near the Vatican" (The Boston Globe,
1 June 1977). The 5 June 1977 issue of The Courier-Journal
and Times (U.S.A.), quoted Cardinal Poletti, the Vicar-General
of Rome, as stating in L 'Osservatore Romano that the lecture
would be “a presumptuous act showing a total lack of good taste
and education" The London Universe carried a special
report in its 3 June issue by Ronald Singleton, who has a pathological
dislike for the Archbishop or anyone who upholds Catholic Tradition,
a fact easily proved by reading his reports. “What he is about is
still unclear," Singleton revealed. “Will his theme, 'The Church
after Vatican Council II' be open to questions and answers? Will
he attack the Holy Father with louder defiance?”
Archbishop Lefebvre has never attacked any Pope, but has always
referred to Pope Paul VI and his successors in terms of the utmost
respect, it would have been interesting if Singleton of The Universe
could have explained how he could do so "with louder defiance."
But, alas, neither Singleton nor The Universe are open to
questions and answers.
also felt competent to provide Universe readers with a psychological
profile of the Princess: "The hostess at this gathering is
the aged, bitter, lonely widow Elvina Pallavicini, who married a
member of the De Bernis family, a gold-medal French war hero, a
woman consumed by nostalgia, who views the Vatican of Paul VI with
horror and resentment." This is not, perhaps, the most gallant
way to speak of a lady, but I presume that those who consider ladies
should be treated with courtesy, unless they manifestly deserve
not to be, are "consumed by nostalgia." If Singleton was
open to questions and answers we might have learned how he managed
to gain such a penetrating insight into the mind of the Princess.
I wonder, too, if he would have abused the Princess in this way
had she invited Hans Kung or Charles Curran to address a gathering
in her palace? Somehow I think it unlikely.
Catholic Herald, also published in London, is a drearily
predictable mouthpiece for the Conciliar Church, but even this squalid
weekly managed to sink to a particularly low level in reporting
on the Archbishop's lecture in Rome. Here is the complete report
from its 10 June 1977 edition:
into Heart of Rome by Lefebvre
Marcel Lefebvre carried his lone struggle to preserve an immobile
seventeenth century Catholic church into the Holy See's own
city of Rome this week and failed signally to make any impression.
prelate's rhetoric in his denunciation of Pope John XXIII
and Pope Paul VI, the majority of French and Italian bishops
and the entire results of Vatican II evoked even laughter
from a cynical audience, made up mainly of journalists.
than 1,000 had been invited to listen to the Archbishop's
two-hour talk in the Pallaircini-Rospligliosi Palace opposite
the Quirnale, home of the Italian republic and one time papal
700, at least 500 of whom were journalists or merely curious,
jammed the small 'conference room and the steps leading up
from the courtyard-on "which loudspeakers had been placed.
"black nobility," the mainstay of Italy's princely
families, were noticeable by their absence. There were a handful
of lesser nobility who were antagonistic to Pope Paul because
he had disbanded the Holy See's noble guards.
more significantly, the less than 200, who applauded Lefebvre
were the youthful thugs of the fascist-right MSI party and
elderly supporters of the Sapincere and Action Française of
the 1920s-movement banned by the Vatican in 1921 and 1926.
the Vatican took no note of Lefebvre's incursion into Church
territory and his oratory against the Pope and the post-conciliar
one prelate said, "This is a singularly unpopular movement
which has been built up because of its spectacular nature
into a schism.
bishop, some 5,000 supporters in France and a few thousand
others throughout the whole world can scarcely be considered
a schism. The Church has survived much more serious moves,
which threatened and in cases were schism."
an experiment, with a totally predictable result, I sent a copy
of this report to the Rome correspondent of the National Review
(New York), and asked her to write to the Editor of the
Catholic Herald making some comments as an eyewitness. The
experiment was to see if the Herald would be willing to print
a letter exposing its falsehoods - needless to say, it didn’t. Here
is the unpublished letter of Mrs. Martinez, dated 21 June 1977.
a journalist present at the Pallavicini Palace in Rome on
June 6, I can take issue with virtually every line of the
report published in the Herald on June 10. However
I will limit myself to the following excerpts.
"Archbishop Lefebvre ...failed signally to make
in late May the lecture was making news in all Italian media.
There was front-page coverage for edicts forbidding Knights
of Malta and the Holy Sepulchre to attend, followed by counter
declarations by Knights resenting interference on the part
of the Grand Masters. The rush to persuade Princess Pallavicini
to cancel the affair was played up with stories about the
Cardinal close to the Pope (Pignedoli, it was said) who
pleaded with her and about emissaries from exiled King Umberto
in Portugal. Then came the Princess's well publicized press
communiqué saying it was "incomprehensible that the
private expression of theses which every bishop in the world
held until a few years ago should so greatly disturb the
security of (ecclesial) authority:”
"The Vatican took no official note."
June 5 L 'Osservatore Romano carried a scathing denunciation,
repeated in all the media, calling the lecture (to be given
in a private house to invited guests) "offensive to
the Faith, to the Catholic Church and to the Divine Head,
Jesus." The guests were called "aberrant nostalgics,
prisoners of repetitive traditions which have nothing to
do with their vaunted fidelity to its Church." The
declaration was signed by Cardinal Poletti, Pope Paul's
Vicar for Rome.
"About 700, of whom 500 were journalists or merely
curious, were jam packed into the small conference room..."
it over 2,000, the crowd that sat and stood in the great
"throne room" of the family's Pope, Clement IX-
and who filled two large adjacent halls, sat on the grand
staircase going down two stories to the courtyard filled
with people who listened over loud speakers.
"The French prelate's rhetoric...evoked laughter from
a cynical crowd."
was just one laugh when Mgr. Lefebvre described the new
trial marriage "sacrament" invented by the President
of the French Episcopal Conference. No cynics, the audience
reverently stood with bowed heads to recite the Ave Maria
at the opening and the Salve Regina at the close
of the lecture.
“The Less than 200 who applauded (out of 700 present)”
top Roman daily, left-leaning Il Messaggero, described
“unremitting, thunderous applause” and “criticism of the
Vatican’s Ostpolitik brought clamorous applause”
and finally, “at the conclusion the ovation was deafening.”
This paper, as did all other Italian dailies, gave big front-page
coverage with photos on June 7, Il Messaggero devoting
in addition its entire third page to the same subject.
The “less than 200” were “fascist thugs” or “elderly followers”
of movement banned by the Vatican in 1921 and 1926.
Canstantini, leading feature writer for Il Messaggero,
found “lots of familiar faces, the crowd one sees at the
Chess club and the Tennis Circle; there were film personalities,
lots of dark glasses and new hair-dos” while down in the
courtyard, arms linked to hold back a crowd there was “a
galaxy of youth, slim but well-nourished, nearly all in
impeccable navy blue, sons of patrician families or members
of such ‘in’ groups as Cristianita or Excalibur.”
- the hostess’ name is not “Pallaircini,” the palace
opposite here is not the “Quirnale.”
Review, New York.
Secular Daily Comments
Daily Telegraph is probably the most respected and objective
daily paper in Britain, replacing The Times in this respect.
Its “Way of the World” column for 17 June 1977 suggested that the
Catholic Herald could receive an award “for the Most Promising
Left-wing Journal of the Year.” It continued:
On such questions
as ecumenism, the role of the World Council of Churches, East-West
“detente” and so on its Leftist record is impeccable. As for its
treatment of Archbishop Lefebvre and his campaign against Modernism
in the Catholic Church, to call it tendentious would be charitable.
issue contains a superb example of a certain kind of reporting.
It deals with an address the Archbishop recently delivered in
Rome itself. "The French prelate's rhetoric..." says
the unnamed reporter, "evoked even laughter from a 'cynical
audience, made up mainly of journalists. More than 1,000 had been
invited to listen to the Archbishop's two hour talk...”
700, at least 500 of whom were journalists or merely curious"-
watch these figures -'jammed the small conference room ...The
so-called 'black nobility " the mainstay of Italy's princely
families, were noticeable by their absence; There were a handful
of lesser nobility"- were some of them journalists? -"who
were antagonistic to Pope Paul because he had disbanded the Holy
See's noble guards.
more significantly, the less than 200 who applauded Lefebvre were
the youthful thugs of the fascist right MSI party and elderly
supporters of the Sapincere and Action Française of the 1920s
-movements banned by the Vatican in 1921 and 1926."
In all this,
you will notice, there is not a single indication that what is
being reported is not so much fact as a slyly-contrived mixture
made up of about ten per cent fact and ninety per cent slanted
opinion, with a heavy component of "smear by association,"
a favorite journalistic device.
concludes with another classic journalistic device: anonymous
belittlement. " 'Unofficially " one prelate said, 'this
is a singularly unpopular movement which has been built up because
of its spectacular nature into a schism.' "
unpopular? We shall see. One of the most noticeable signs of our
times is the continual and systematic turning of truth on its
17 June 1977 issue of the Italian journal Vita included a
most interesting revelation in its religion column '. The column
for this issue was entitled "La telefonata misteriosa"-
"The Mysterious Telephone Call." The column began:
If it is
true - as reported by a certain daily and by a weekly - that among
the phone calls to the Princess Pallavicini to dissuade her from
receiving at her home Mgr. M. Lefebvre, one was made by Cardinal
Ottaviani, it seems that someone was pleased to use his name improperly.
basis for this claim was information given to the journal by two
ladies who had managed to visit the Cardinal on Saturday 4 June,
two days before the lecture. I happen to know one of them personally.
They found the Cardinal “guarded " by a young and rather aggressive
Monsignor, who was called to the telephone during their visit. One
of them asked if the Cardinal had accepted his invitation to the
conference to be given by Archbishop Lefebvre the following Monday
at the Casa Pallavicini.
come now, does not Your Eminence know that Mgr. Lefebvre will hold
I know nothing," replied the Cardinal.
did you not receive the invitation?"
phone call ended, the secretary returned to the sitting room, and
the Cardinal asked him if by chance there had been an invitation
for him from the Princess Pallavicini. The secretary replied that,
yes, an invitation had been received, but that he had not spoken
about it: "It will be among the papers.”
then became angry and informed the ladies that had he known they
would mention the Archbishop's conference he would not have let
them enter, as the Cardinal could not possibly offend the Pope by
going there. The Cardinal then insisted upon knowing about the invitation,
and before the ladies left he said: "You will see, you will
see, all will be adjusted for poor Mgr. Lefebvre!" (Vedrà,
vedrà, tutto si aggiusterà Monsignor Lefebvre!)
problem posed by this incident is that the Cardinal could hardly
have tried to persuade the Princess to deny her home to the Archbishop
when he was unaware of the proposed conference.1
examination of the manner in which the Archbishop's visit to Rome
was reported, and it is typical of all the reporting on him to appear
in the "official" Catholic press, makes it easy to understand
why Catholics who rely on the "official" press for their
information tend to have such an unfavorable view of Mgr. Lefebvre.
But the hostility aroused by the fact that the Archbishop had dared
to make his views public has an ironic aspect. Perhaps the most
radical disagreement between Archbishop Lefebvre and the Conciliar
Church concerns his objection to a passage in the Vatican II
Declaration on Religious Freedom. The Declaration claims that
all men have a right founded in the very dignity of the human person
not to be prevented from acting in accordance with their beliefs
in public, providing that a breach of public order does not ensue.2
Yet when the Archbishop exercises this “right" he is reviled
for doing so. It is evident that many of those who quote the documents
of Vatican II as if they are divinely revealed truths do so in a
somewhat selective manner. I doubt whether they would be too pleased
at being informed that in attacking the Archbishop for giving this
and other conferences they are acting contrary to the letter and
spirit of Vatican II.
few days after the Archbishop's lecture, which provoked such indignation
in Vatican circles, another visitor came to Rome-Janos Kadar, who
might appropriately be termed the Butcher of Hungary for his role
in the savage suppression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956. As
Minister of the Interior, he had been responsible for the farcical
trial, the torture, and the imprisonment of Cardinal Mindszenty.
He shared with Rakosi responsibility for the campaign of persecution
against Hungarian Catholics. He was responsible for the presence
tanks in the streets of Budapest in 1956, and initiated a campaign
of ruthless persecution after the Soviet victory, which involved
the imprisonment of scores of teen-aged boys until the age when
they could be hanged legally, executing them upon their birthdays.
One might have imagined that such a man would have been even less
welcome in Rome than Archbishop Lefebvre, but, on 9 June 1977, the
Feast of Corpus Christi, he was received together with his entourage
in audience by Pope Paul VI, who, according to a report published
in the 23 June 1977 English edition of L 'Osservatore Romano,
expressed the hope that Kadar's visit would promote: "mutual
understanding and positive cooperation in the service of noble causes
of interest not only to the Hungarian people but also to other peoples
and all mankind, particularly in defense of peace and in promoting
the social, economic, cultural moral progress of the nations."
reception by Pope Paul VI marked the culmination of a process which,
according to Cardinal Mindszenty, had been initiated in 1958. Writing
in his memoirs he remarked:
[i.e., 1958] "coexistence" and "détente...had
become magic words in international politics. Even the blatantly
communist dictatorships wanted to appear in a good light, chiefly
so that public opinion in the West would not oppose the forthcoming
disarmament, economic, and trade conferences with the Soviet bloc.
The prestige of the Kadar regime had reached a particular low.
Around this time it had been repeatedly condemned by the United
Nations (twenty times altogether).
But who could
better assist a communist, anti-religious dictatorship to win
international recognition than the Vatican itself? If you want
visible triumphs, seek to associate yourself with the Roman Church
which is still regarded as the foremost moral authority in the
world. Such was the advice that world communism’s brains trust
apparently offered the Kadar government. And so Janos Kadar appeared
wearing a mask of peace, and took the first steps towards Rome.3
final step was, as we have seen, taken literally and metaphorically
on the Feast of Corpus Christi, 1977, when Pope Paul VI, head of
the “foremost moral authority in the world,” asked Janos Kadar,
head of “a communist, anti-religious dictatorship,” to cooperate
with him for the “moral progress of the nations.”
parallels very closely the background to the false claim that Cardinal
Ottaviani had repudiated his criticisms of the New Mass-see Pope
Paul's New Mass. Chapter XXII1.
is a long tradition of papal teaching that in a mainly Catholic
country, the government would have the right to prevent attacks
upon the Catholic Faith in the interests of the common good. Archbishop
Lefebvre claims that the teaching of the Vatican II Declaration
on Religious Liberty cannot be reconciled with this tradition (see
Apologia, Vol. I, Appendix IV).
Cardinal Mindszenty, Memoirs (Macmillan Publishing Co., New York,
1974), page 225.
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109