Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 2, Chapter VI

The Mediation of Mgr. Stimpfle

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 as follows.


16 June 1977
Telex number 618/77

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:

1) Acceptance of the conciliar texts sensu obvio

In certain 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.

In order 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 .

2) 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.

3) The canonical status of the Society of St. Pius X

Mgr. Lefebvre 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).

A “truce” of almost three months should be sufficient to deal with all the canonical problems.

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.

1. 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.

2. "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.


Chapter 5

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