Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 2

Author’s Introduction

The first volume of the Apologia took the story of Archbishop Lefebvre up to the end of 1976. I had hoped to continue the account in this volume, but the amount of material I felt it necessary to include was such that it could cover only three more years, taking the story to the end of 1979. The last major incident in this book is the Archbishop's sacerdotal Golden Jubilee. I had also hoped, as I remarked in the Introdtiction to Volume I, to be able to give details of an agreement between the Pope and the Archbishop in this volume. Alas, no final agreement has yet been reached, but negotiations are still continuing. Let us pray that Volume III will contain details of this greatly desired reconciliation.

The major part of this book is taken up with the negotiations between the Archbishop and the Holy See, principally with the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Archbishop Lefebvre had long demanded that his case should he brought before this Congregation; his request was granted, and the resultant discussions are absorbing and of considerable historic interest. Unlike the treatment he received from the Vatican which was described in Volume I, I consider his treatment at the hands of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to have been scrupulously fair. The story is told here principally through the original documents which are presented without comment. The discussions were by no means one-sided. The questions put to the Archbishop were very perceptive and clearly gave him cause to think deeply about the basis for his attitudes and actions. In some cases he has clearly vindicated his position, but in others his answers were not quite as convincing. These negotiations are, of course, continuing. Further documentation will be provided in Volume III.

I have followed a strict chronological sequence, and have interspersed documentation on the negotiations with some of the Archbishop's sermons and accounts of his activities. The schedule he undertakes is quite staggering for a man in his seventies. His travels take him all over the world, to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, the United States of America, South America, and many European countries. Wherever he goes, the faithful have high expectations of him, and despite his personal fatigue and the weighty problems with which he has to deal he rarely disappoints them. He is always ready with a friendly smile, a kindly word, and inspirational sermon. The progress made by the Society at this time would have been almost miraculous even had it enjoyed the full support of the Vatican. The number of ordinations increased steadily, new seminaries were opened; there are now three in addition to Ecône-in Germany, the U.S.A., and Argentina. Schools were founded, church buildings purchased, and new Mass centers opened at an astonishing rate. But at the same time evidence of problems within the Society began to emerge. The Archbishop was attracting considerable criticism from the fringe of the traditionalist movement for his alleged moderation and willingness to "compromise." A good number of priests outside the Society claimed that the New Mass was intrinsically invalid, and that there had been no true pope since Pope Pius XII. Some priests in the Society became infected by these theories, particularly in France and the U.S.A. And, almost inevitably, some young Society priests began to show alarming signs of arrogance. The Archbishop had taken a calculated risk in sending young men out to do pastoral work without the benefit of guidance and supervision from mature priests. Some proved worthy of the trust he had placed in them, others did not. Needless to say, reports of these tendencies reached the Vatican and added to the Archbishop's problems in working for a reconciliation. This was why he found it necessary to clarify his position on the New Mass and the Pope on a number of occasions, as this book will show. These internal problems became more serious after 1979, and will be dealt with in Volume III. The Archbishop felt obliged to expel a number of priests in subsequent years, including nine in the United States in 1983. Others left of their own accord. Sadly, some of these priests have had no scruples about making vindictive attacks upon t lie bishop who had given them their priesthood.

In June 1983, Archbishop Lefebvre resigned as Superior of the Society, to be succeeded by Father Franz Schmidberger who had been Superior of the German District. The Archbishop will continue to carry out the ordinations and confirmations, but will at least be relieved of the administrative burdens.

This book, as was its predecessor, is not directed primarily to Catholics who support the stand Archbishop Lefebvre has taken. Its aim is to provide factual material for those interested in discovering the truth about a man and a movement of great significance in the history of the Church during the post-conciliar epoch. No individual has been as consistently mispresented in the official Catholic press as the Archbishop. When the three volumes of the Apologia are available it will at least be possible for fair-minded Catholics to judge him by what he has said and done, rather than what he is alleged to have said and done.

I do not expect every reader to agree with all the Archbishop's opinions, actions, and judgments. I do not necessarily do so myself. He has admitted that he sometimes speaks with excessive indignation (see p. 112), and that his addresses have included "exaggerated expressions" (p. 290). But, as I have endeavored to point out several times in the present volume, it is necessary to set the case of the Archbishop within the overall context of the Conciliar Church, a context of accelerating self-destruction, of doctrinal, moral, and liturgical degeneration, widespread anarchy, and apparent impotence on the part of the Holy See to take any effective measures to restore order. In the U.S.A., for example, respected Catholics unconnected with the traditionalist movement are speaking of a de facto schism. In an editorial in the January 1983 issue of The Homiletic and Pastoral Review, Father Kenneth Baker, S. J., noted that in the United States: "We are witnessing the rejection of the hierarchical Church founded by Jesus Christ to be replaced by a Protestant American Church separate from Rome." This is a fact which must be kept in mind continually when passing judgment upon Archbishop Lefebvre. I would ask those readers who do not know him and are not familiar with his work to read his sermons carefully. How many bishops preach like this today? They disclose a man who has the Faith, loves the Faith, and lives the Faith.

I said earlier that the account of the negotiations with the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is absorbing. There will be one exception for some readers. This is Chapter XV, a long chapter which contains the Archbishop's defense of his position concerning religious liberty. Those who are not familiar with the background to this controversy may well find Chapter XV complex and difficult to follow. I suggest that they omit it, at least on a first reading. Most readers will find it less difficult if they first study Appendix IV to Volume I of the Apologia, This provides a fairly brief and simple introduction to this question, which is probably the greatest obstacle impeding a reconciliation between the Archbishop and the Vatican. The Archbishop's insistence upon the Society being allowed to use the Tridentine Mass and pre-conciliar sacramental rites is a disciplinary matter, and could be conceded by the Pope without great difficulty; but the question of religious liberty involves a serious disagreement on a matter of doctrine.

I would like to draw the reader's attention to the list of abbreviations contained on page xvii. All the abbreviations used in the book are, I hope, included here.

I am grateful to a number of people who have given me considerable help with this volume. I must mention first Miss Norah Haines who provided the typescript, checked the proofs with meticulous care, and compiled the index. Without her help it would never have been completed. I am equally grateful to Mrs. Carlita Brown who set the type and submitted to numerous last minute amendments without complaining. I must also pay tribute to Father Carl Pulvermacher for printing and collating the book single-handed. This has been a real community effort in what I believe is supposed to be the "spirit of Vatican II." Archbishop Lefebvre was kind enough to read through the proofs and make a number of corrections. There are several others whose help I would like to acknowledge publicly, but who have asked me not to do so.

I would like to stress the fact that although both volumes of' the Apologia have been published by the English-language publishers to the Society of St. Pius X, The Angelus Press, I have written them with complete independence. No attempt has ever been made to influence what I wished to say.

Finally, I would like to answer a question concerning which I receive a considerable amount of correspondence. Has Archbishop Lefebvre been excommunicated? No, he certainly has not. Statements claiming the opposite have been made in several countries. In order to settle the matter once and for all I wrote to the Vatican in April 1983, and received a letter signed by Cardinal Oddi, dated 7 May 1983, stating that Archbishop Lefebvre has not been excommunicated. However, those who would like him to be excommunicated will no doubt continue to insist that he has been, no matter what evidence to the contrary can be brought forward, which is just one one indication of why I consider it to have been so necessary to write Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre.

Michael Davies,
7 August 1983,
St. Cajetan, Confessor.


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