2, Chapter VIII
29 June 1977
following report appeared in the 30 June issue of the Swiss daily,
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.
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."
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
FOOTNOTE BY MICHAEL DAVIES. Eyewitnesses have assured me
that there were at least 7,000 people present
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109