2, Chapter VI
15 June 1977
On 15 June
1977, Mgr. Stimpfle, Bishop of Augsburg, sent his secretary, Father
Döllinger, to Ecône, to deliver a letter to Archbishop Lefebvre.
In this letter Mgr. Stimpfle urged the Archbishop to postpone the
ordinations arranged for 29 June as a sign of respect for the Holy
Father. Father Döllinger was accompanied by Dr. Eric de Saventhem,
President of the International Federation Una Voce and by
Madame Elizabeth de Saventhem. Father Döllinger returned to Germany
the same day, and that evening an aide Mémoire of his two
hour discussion with the Archbishop was compiled by Dr. de Saventhem
and transmitted to him in Munich by telex the next morning. It read
In the ardent
desire to be in full accord with and in complete submission to the
Vicar of Christ and the Successor of St. Peter, and despite the
blow of the recent discussions in Rome, Mgr. Lefebvre is still prepared
to adjourn the date of the ordinations set for 29 June next in the
hope that at the end of this period of delay it will be possible
to conduct these ordinations in a climate of serenity and in a fully
licit fashion under Canon Law. So as to justify such a hope, Mgr.
Lefebvre would need to receive certain assurances before 22 June.
These assurances would need to deal with the following three points:
Acceptance of the conciliar texts sensu obvio
conciliar texts there exist passages of which the apparent meaning
appears to contradict previous teaching of the Church. It is because
of this that Mgr. Lefebvre has restricted himself to stating his
letter of 3 December 1976, that he accepted "everything that
in the Council and in the reforms, is in full conformity with
Tradition." It was due to this reservation that the recent
conversation between Mgr. Lefebvre and two Roman theologians failed.
to find a way out of this impasse, Rome would need to agree that
the controversial passages should be submitted to the Pontifical
Commission for the Interpretation of the Decrees of the Second
Vatican Council, and that the above mentioned Commission should
be ordered to invite the defenders and critics of these excerpts
to submit their views to it in writing, according to methods of
procedure to be agreed. After making a study of these submissions,
the Commission, in an "official interpretation" will
show or confirm the full accordance between the controversial
texts and the constant teaching of the Church. Once approved by
the Sovereign Pontiff this "interpretation" will become
binding for one and all.1
If this procedure was to be set in motion Mgr. Lefebvre would
be able to accept all the conciliar texts, be it in their apparent
sense, or according to an official interpretation that assures
their full concordance with the authentic Tradition of the Church
A liturgical modus vivendi for so called traditional priests
and lay people.
For the present
it will be sufficient for Rome to cancel as soon as possible the
third paragraph of section two of the Notificatio of 14
June 1971.2 With
regard to this a letter should be sent to the Episcopal Conferences
informing them that henceforth for all Masses celebrated in Latin
the priest may use the old Missal on an equal basis with the new,
and requesting them to put churches at the disposal of those (priests
and layman) who wish to do this.
As for the
other sacramental rites, Rome ought to accept in principle the
demand for a moratorium on the application of its recent
legislation which makes the exclusive use of the new rites mandatory.
The canonical status of the Society of St. Pius X
must be assured that the “truce” will be used by Rome to restore
to the Fraternity its legal right to exist. The precise methods
(of bringing this about) will remain to be fixed, and should result
from direct negotiations between the competent (Vatican) Congregations
and officials of the Fraternity.
If such assurances
reach Mgr. Lefebvre before 22 June he will cancel the ordinations
set for 29 June, postponing them to a latter date (probably the
Saturday after the Ember Days of September).
of almost three months should be sufficient to deal with all the
Copies of letters
addressed by Mgr. Stimpfle to Archbishop Lefebvre on 14 and 17 June,
together with this aide mémoire, were despatched to Cardinals
Benelli, Ratzinger, and Villot. The correspondence was delivered
to Cardinal Benelli by courier at 4:00 p.m. on June 18 June.
FOOTNOTE BY MICHAEL DAVIES. Note well that the Archbishop has
such confidence in the validity of his criticisms of the texts in
question that he is willing to bind himself in advance to accepting
the decision of the Pontifical Commission, which, he is confident,
is bound to uphold Tradition.
"From the day on which the definitive translations must
be adopted in the celebrations in the vernacular languages, those
who continue to use the Latin language must uniformly make use of
the renewed texts, whether for the Mass or for the Liturgy of the
Hours.” The text of the 14 June 1971 Notificatio, and a commentary
on its legal status, is available in Pope Paul’s New Mass, pp. 560-563.
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109