Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 2, Chapter VIII

Ordinations at Ecône

29 June 1977


The following report appeared in the 30 June issue of the Swiss daily, Nouvelliste:



Early yesterday morning the meadow situated in front of the seminary at Ecône was invaded by a crowd of pilgrims estimated at between 4,000 and 5,000.1 At least fifty coaches, a special train to the station of Riddes, people from all the countries of Europe, but also from all the Swiss cantons - as one could tell simply by looking at the automobile registrations.

At 8:15 a.m. reporters from the leading newspapers of the world, and most of the radio and T.V. stations of Europe, are received on the fourth floor of the seminary by Father d’Argençon. The instruction given are strict, and Father d’Argençon stated at once: “Gentlemen, do not forget that what is taking place is primarily a religious ceremony, not a topical event. Places have been reserved for you on right of the tent, but you are strictly forbidden to go into the central aisle in front of the tent, and, as a general rule, in front of the faithful. You are also forbidden to take any photographs between the Offertory and the Communion."

At 9:00 a.m. precisely, Mgr. Lefebvre preceded by the young acolytes of the Mass, the future priests and subdeacons, came out of the chapel and into the central aisle.

About twenty minutes after the beginning of the religious ceremony, Mgr. Lefebvre approached the microphone and addressed the congregation. One after another, faces revealed their emotion with tears. It is true that Mgr. Lefebvre, his sermon often halted by emotion, did not mince his words. (The complete text is provided below.)

When the Archbishop concluded his sermon it was applauded by the large congregation, and the rite of ordination took place. Fourteen new priests, a Swiss, two young men from Britain, an American and ten Frenchmen were ordained, as well as twenty-two subdeacons, an Australian, two Spaniards, an American, an Englishman and seventeen Frenchmen.

It was impossible, yesterday, for any believer, not to be gripped by the emotion and by the fear that Mgr. Lefebvre had certainly brought about the final break with Rome. Whether this will result in excommunication or self-exclusion, the movement is now, it appears, irreversible. We saw in the joy, which was certainly expressed sincerely, on the faces of the traditionalists, that whatever the sanctions decided upon by the Holy See, the seminary at Ecône will continue its work. It is not for us to pass judgment, but simply to testify to the depth of the experience we underwent at Ecône yesterday.



The Archbishop’s Sermon

When I am asked if I propose to ordain these young men who are going in for the priesthood, and those who, with them, wish to become subdeacons in preparation for the priesthood, I can answer in all conscience, fully responsible, before God, before the Church of all time, before the Church triumphant, before the Church suffering, before the Church militant, which you are, my dear Brethren (you are the Church Militant) - before that whole Church I answer: YES.

I am going to ordain these young candidates for the priesthood who have been preparing themselves for long years so as to understand what the priesthood is. They have studied, prayed and reflected; and today they ask me that they be ordained priests, priests for eternity; for that, God willing, is indeed what they will be in a few minutes.

Priests for eternity! Priests as the Church has always made them, priests such as the Church loves, priests such as you, the faithful, love. For these priests know what they are: they are witnesses, witnesses of the Faith of Our Lord Jesus Christ. They will respond to the appeal of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Apostles when he said: Euntes docete omnesgentes baptizantes eos et docentes eos quaecumque mandavi vobis-"Go, teach all nations, baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teach them-these nations, all the world-teach them what I have commanded you.”

And what was Our Lord's command to these priests? He said to them; Hoc tacite in meam commemorationem. He said to His Apostles: "Re-do what I have done, that is, remake My Sacrifice, the Sacrifice of the Mass; remake this Sacrament of the Eucharist by which I give My Body, My blood, My Soul and My Divinity in communion to those who received Me." Our Lord said also to them; Accipite Spiritum Sanctum. “Receive the Holy Ghost...whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven; whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” That is what the bishop will shortly say, at the end of the Mass, with another laying on of hands.

It is such priests that I desire to ordain, those who know what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is, the Mass which is the heart of the Faith, the summary and synthesis of all we believe. For in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass there is the affirmation, the profession of faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ, in His divinity: the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass there is an affirmation of the whole Decalogue, and a realization of the Decalogue-a realization by the love of God which is manifested by Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself in His offering of Himself to His Father, giving all His blood for those whom He wills to save, giving Himself as food to His neighbor, His brethren.

Can there be a greater act of love than to give one's life for those whom one loves? That is what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass teaches us: Our Lord gives His life for those whom He loves, for His Father, His Father whom He has so much loved from all eternity; and then for His brethren for whom He gives Himself-He gives His blood. That is what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass teaches us-love of God, love of our neighbor. So in our Sacrifice of the Mass our whole religion is realized.

But, it will be said, how can you proceed with these ordinations? How can you admit them and perform them when you have received a prohibition from the Holy Father, whose messengers have been sent to you imploring you not to perform these ordinations?

Yes, that is true. It is true that I have received a letter, a letter which says that I am using my power for a personal end and not for the good of the Church. Well, in all sincerity, I do not think so: I do not think I am acting for a personal end: I am here, I think, - to act well for the good of the Church. The letter says also that what I am doing will mean breaking with the communion and the charity of the Church. But I think not. I am in full communion with the Holy Catholic and Roman Church. I wish to remain in full communion with the Holy Catholic and Roman Church.

But what is the Pope? What is the Vatican? What is the Holy See? What are they?

Why did Our Lord Jesus Christ institute Saint Peter as the head of the Church? What did He require of Saint Peter? - "Keep the faith, and keep it for the others." And the Vatican which is nothing else but the residence of the successor of the apostles is not destined for any other purpose. The Holy Roman Church is the mother and mistress of all truth: Mater et Magistra omnium ecclesiarum magistra veritatis. And if is just that for which we ask. At our baptism we asked for it from the Church. Our godparents asked for it in our name when we were carried to the baptismal font. What was the first word the priest said to us when we were infants and could not speak for ourselves, and to which our godparents replied? “What do you ask of the Church of God?" That was the question the priest put to our godparents: What do you ask of the Church of God? We ask for faith. That was what our godparents answered. And now we too ask from the Church, or from those who say they are of the Church, those occupying important posts in the Church, those responsible for that faith - we ask them: "Preserve the Faith for us, give us the Faith. That Catholic Faith is what we want. We want no other.”

“Why do you ask for Faith?" the priest said to our godparents. "We want Faith because Faith brings us to Eternal Life.”

Why are we here below unless to gain Eternal Life? We have no other purpose here below except to gain Eternal Life; life on earth is a fleeting life, an ephemeral life-a few days, few years, a few decades. We have to choose if we want Eternal Life-Yes or No. We want Eternal Life, and for that we want the Catholic Faith. But we are compelled to state that for fifteen or twenty years those with the highest authority in the Church, the Holy See and the Vatican, have been turning away, turning us away from the Catholic Faith and have become the friends of our enemies.

What is left of the Catholic Church today? Seminaries closed, up for sale...The one at Sion, for example, here, quite close to us, in a flourishing diocese like Sion, with the strong faith of the Valais Catholics: the seminary is up for sale. At Martigny the seminary of the Canons of the Great Saint Bernard is closed. The seminary of the Capuchins at Sion: closed. When I came here to Ecône to ask Mgr. Adam to authorize the opening of this seminary, he said to me: "A year of training in the spiritual life, that is surely possible; but there is rather more difficulty for a seminary, as we already have three in Valais: two at Sion, one at Martigny." The very next year he told me: "You may open your seminary." A year later, the other three seminaries were closed. What does that mean? It is not I who closed them. It is not I who want them closed! I should much prefer to be telling you that the Sion seminaries are full of seminarians, that the one in Martigny is full. I wish I could state that as a fact: that is what I should like for the sake of the Church. Do I want the Church to die? Far be it from me to think such a thing!

That is happening throughout the Church, and that, for the Church, is the crucial point: seminaries and the formation of seminarians, the formation of future priests. For even in the seminaries which still exist what sort of formation is given to our priests, to those who will be our priests? Do they still truly believe in the Eucharist, do they believe in the Real Presence of Our Lord? Do they believe in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? That is the question we have serious ground for asking. They no longer know what it is to be a priest.

The Archbishop of Cincinnati said that, in Rome itself during the Synod: "It is clear that the priest has lost his identity." What does that mean? The priest no longer knows what he is. So then, we want to form priests who know what they are, who know that they are made for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to carry the Gospel and proclaim the Gospel, that is to say, to proclaim the catechism which we all learned, which our parents learned, and our grandparents and our ancestors; that is, Faith in the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ and in His reign.

One of the most painful facts we have to affirm today is precisely the official denial of the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ is no longer wanted to rule over societies; and that can be seen in the transformation of the liturgy: in the hymn of Christ the King for the Feast of Christ the King the two strophes which speak of the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ over society and the family have been suppressed. Why is that? Today, are we, Christians, Catholics, going to deny the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ over our families, our societies? We should be renegades, apostates! We want the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We say so every day in the Our Father-"Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Are we going to deny Our Father?

We want Our Lord Jesus Christ to reign because it is He who will bring happiness - true happiness, true justice, true peace, true charity, the veritable union of all men. It is Our Lord alone who is the leaven of that charity. To the extent that people move away from Him there is dissension, hatred, division, war. We need that reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

But what do we see? What do we see? No need to talk of what is said: I speak of what is done, publicly, officially, spread through the world by the press and all the means of social communication. The most recent happening is the reception of Kadar at the Vatican, Kadar who has shed the blood of Catholics, of Hungarians. Those who keep the Catholic Faith are excommunicated, but the enemies of the Church are received into communion. That communion is possible because the excommunication has been lifted, the excommunication which existed and which has been lifted from communists, freemasons, the Orthodox. Why kiss the feet of schismatics and heretics? Why embrace heretics, schismatics, communists, freemasons?

I no longer understand it. I no longer understand it! This is not our Church! This is no longer our Catholic Church! It is no longer our Catholic Faith. I want to be and to stay Catholic. So why am I required to suppress our seminary? Why am I required to suppress our Sacerdotal Fraternity of Saint Pius X? Why am I required not to perform these ordinations? There is only one reason: to bring me into line with this policy. They want me to lend a hand in this destruction of the Church, to join in this communion which, for the Church is adultery. I will not be an adulterer. I will keep my Catholic Faith!

That is why I refuse. I refuse to collaborate in the destruction of the Church. I refuse to collaborate in loss of faith, in the general apostasy. I know perfectly well that if I do not perform these ordinations, if I stop, I shall be given nothing. I know that perfectly well. I can tell you here that a fortnight ago I made an offer: let us have our Mass of Saint Pius V public and official; let there be permission to say it in any church freely and without difficulty; in all the dioceses of the world let us be free to say the Mass of Saint Pius V, that is, the Mass of all time - it is not "Saint Pius V's Mass," it is the Mass of all time. So allow us to say the Mass of all time freely and officially in all churches; and also allow a commission in Rome where I can be permitted to discuss texts of the Council, texts which are either openly contrary to Catholic doctrine or at least equivocal; let me discuss them publicly and officially with the Commission for the Interpretation of the Council.

Had that been granted, I was ready to postpone the ordinations for two months. The letter answering me said: "These propositions are unacceptable." It is clear, therefore, that they do not wish to discuss the texts of the Council: those must be accepted as they stand, that is, with their errors and their ambiguities; and we must also accept all the reforms, for the liturgical reform involves all the other reforms. That rejection of what has been done for twenty centuries in the Latin Church implies the refusal to preserve for us our age-old Catholic Faith.

That is why I do not hesitate. I do not hesitate to continue. I cannot escape the thought that those who are undertaking the destruction of the Church, the destruction of our Faith, are contributing to that general apostasy. I can give you an example; yesterday - no later than yesterday - I received the translation of a document emanating from 185 theologians of the diocese of Rothenburg in Germany, 185 theologians who came together and produced a document which says: "For us, from now on, there is no difference between a pastor and a priest: we accept the evangelical supper; we agree about the function of the pastor; we want there to be no difference any more between ourselves and the pastors.” That letter was written to "the National Evangelical Church” of Germany, 185 priests! Is not that a sign of general apostasy? I cannot collaborate with that destruction. I think – I cannot help but think-of what Our Lord Jesus Christ said in His Gospel: "In the sheep-fold, against the flock of the Church, there will be hirelings, robbers and wolves.”

Those are the three groups mentioned by Our Lord Jesus Christ as destroyers of the flock of the Church: hirelings, wolves and robbers. I cannot help thinking that inside the Church there are hirelings, wolves and robbers. Are we to lend a hand to these hirelings, these wolves, these robbers? We cannot do it. But, we may be asked, what is to become of us? Well, I will tell you quite simply what is to become us: our future is our past. To know what our future will be, we look at our past; and, confident of being in communion with the whole past of the Church, we are sure of our future.

There you have what I think we must affirm. We must say it because it is what the Apocalypse says: Jesus Christus, heri, hodie, et in saecula-"Jesus Christ, yesterday, today and forever.” So if we separate ourselves from Our Lord Jesus Christ of yesterday, we shall not be with Our Lord Jesus Christ of today or Our Lord Jesus Christ of tomorrow. That is my conclusion. I ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary to help me in my ministry which I am performing, and to ensure that these young priests are really her children, that they have her faith and her love of Our Lord Jesus Christ and her love of their neighbor. May Our Lady guard them in their ministry to their last breath. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.


Vatican Radio Communiqué

The 30 June edition of the Tribune de Genève reported an official reaction on Vatican Radio stating that the Archbishop had acted "in defiance of his suspension a divinis and repeated exhortations by Pope Paul VI himself, begging him to refrain from this very grave act of disobedience to ecclesial authority, and of making the break final." The statement summarized the terms of earlier declarations and official communiqués.


1. FOOTNOTE BY MICHAEL DAVIES. Eyewitnesses have assured me that there were at least 7,000 people present


Chapter 7

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