Archbishop LEFEBVRE and the VATICAN

December 8, 1987

Visit of Cardinal Gagnon

The visit started on November 11, at Ecône, and lasted for a whole month. Then Msgr. Perl went to our school in Eguelshardt, our priory in Saarbrucken, the Carmel in Quiévrain. On Saturday, November 21, he came to St. Nicolas du Chardonnet in Paris, and the Cardinal arrived the next day, though intentionally after the Mass; then together they visited the French Youth Group, (MJCF), our University (Institut Universitaire Saint Pie X), and met a large group of traditional priests of the region in Paris. On November 24, they arrived at our school in St. Michel of Niherne, then the Mother House of our Sisters at St. Michel en Brenne, and the nearby Carmel at Ruffec, the Fraternity of the Transfiguration of Fr. Lecareux. At Poitiers, he took part in a meeting with many traditional priests of the area, including Fr. Reynaud (the first chaplain of the MJCF), Fr. André (of the Association Noël Pinot), Fr. Coache, the Dominican foundation of Avrillé, the Benedictine foundation of nuns at Le Rafflay, the Little Sisters of St. Francis, etc. After this, they visited our retreat house at Le Pointet, our priory and school at Unieux, the Benedictine Monastery of Le Barroux, the Dominican school at St. Pré (Brignoles), and the other Dominican novitiate and school at Fanjeaux, our school at St. Joseph des Carmes, our church at Marseilles, our priory at Lyons and our main European publishing house (Fideliter). Then another priestly meeting at Dijon, the Dominican school of Pouilly, the seminary of the Holy Curé of Ars, and returned to Ecône for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

At the end of the visit, the following addresses were given.


Eminence, Monseigneur, my dear brethren,

Eminence, it is a duty for us to thank you wholeheartedly for the visit you have done in the houses of the Society and friendly communities.

We have admired much your patience, your objectivity during these past four weeks. We are convinced you have found everywhere a profound spirit of faith and the ardent desire to serve Holy Church.

Of course, today with this feast, the first stage is accomplished, that of your visit. There is still a second which will follow in Rome and which shall probably be more difficult, I do not know.

In any case, you can be sure that, when you shall leave tomorrow morning, our thoughts and especially our prayers shall accompany you. This is what you have asked us many times during this visit: prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary. And we shall do this from our whole heart and our whole spirit, knowing that it is just three years since we consecrated the Society, here at Ecône on this same Feast of the Immaculate Conception, to the Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, surrounded by all the superiors of the Society who signed this Act, which has been inserted in this altar upon which we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass each morning.

Thus all our confidence is raised towards the Blessed Virgin Mary because she is the one who must prepare the words and who must still convert this or that heart, as you have said, so that we may come to a satisfying solution.

In any case, we have been very touched by and happy for this charity with which you have performed this visit. And I think that the Blessed Virgin shall reward you a hundredfold.

May I add, Eminence, a short word which is a personal testimony.

If I am a priest, it is thanks to Archbishop Lefebvre. It is he who has drawn us, Fr. Wodsack and myself especially, to enter Ecône, because we had found there the fidelity to the Tradition of the Church. This was what we wanted, this was what confirmed our vocation.

I would add that it was Archbishop Lefebvre who, during all these years, has confirmed our Faith, encouraged it and, through our priestly ordination, has truly become our father in Jesus Christ. And we have a somewhat infinite gratitude towards him. It is all our honor and dignity and our most profound joy to be able to work with him, to be in this little army of those who have but one desire: to spread day after day the Social Reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to be worthy dispensers of the grace of Jesus Christ in the whole world into the hearts who are so hungry and thirsty for the eternal truths.

Throughout all these years of apostolate, it was always Archbishop Lefebvre who has supported us, encouraged us, and who was by his own fidelity the model of our own fidelity to the priesthood. And I think he is the model of fidelity for many of the faithful and especially for those who are married.

You understand, Eminence, why we are so firmly convinced to remain strongly united with our Founder and to continue at all costs the work for which the Good Lord has raised him—we cannot see it otherwise—to fulfil this great mission for Holy Church which is also a great mission for the pope. We are absolutely convinced that one day it will be openly recognized that Archbishop Lefebvre has rendered very great service not only to the Church, but also to the pope, even though the evidence is often obscured and not readily acknowledged.

We have been able to witness the fruits of Tradition in our different houses. We have seen the work that has been undertaken. I dare then to express a desire, a wish: do all you can, Eminence, that we may have the concrete means to preserve these fruits, to continue this work and develop it. We do not want anything else than to be instruments in the hands of the Blessed Virgin to restore the reign of her Son, of His Cross, that He may reign thus through and by the Holy Mass in the world.

This is our desire and we would be happy if you could transmit this ardent desire to the Holy Father.

We thank you again wholeheartedly.

Fr. Schmidberger


Your Excellency and dear Friends,

I cannot let this occasion pass without first offering my respects and congratulations to the Superior General who celebrates today his 12th anniversary of priesthood, 12 years certainly well filled as he has just expressed all the gratitude he has for the one who led him to the priesthood.

I would also like with simplicity to thank you all for the charity and warmth with which we have been welcomed in all the houses of the Society and all the houses [with which] the priests of the Society exercise their apostolate, houses which are in the same “movement” as the Society, as the Abbot of Le Barroux has said.

Thus I thank you for all this and express also the admiration of Msgr. Perl, whom I must thank. We knew little of each other before this trip and had met but a few times; he has been for me an extraordinary support and help, as well as Fr. du Chalard, who has always been at our services.

Fr. du Chalard and the whole team of experienced drivers who are used to drive around the world this precious treasure which is Archbishop Lefebvre17 has treated us very well...always a little better than we had thought.

But, to return to more serious thoughts on this Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I want to say that we have been struck everywhere by and keep a great admiration for the piety of the persons, for the relevance and importance of the works, especially with regards to catechesis, education, and the administration of the sacraments. We certainly have in hand all that is necessary to make a very positive report.

Thus we continue to pray to the Virgin and to pray with the Virgin during this time of Advent, so that Christmas may be the occasion of a new birth of Jesus, in all the senses of the word, and for the Society too.
Thank you again.

Edward Cardinal Gagnon
President of the Pontifical Council for the Family
Apostolic Visitor


May the Immaculate Virgin hear our fervent prayers so that the work of formation marvelously accomplished in this house may find its full radiation for the life of the Church.

Edward Cardinal Gagnon
Msgr. Camile Perl


The visitation of the Society of Saint Pius X by His Eminence Cardinal Gagnon ended on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, December 8, 1987. The Cardinal attended the Pontifical Mass celebrated by Archbishop Lefebvre, during which 27 seminarians made their first Engagement into the Society. He shall return tomorrow to Rome, having already started writing his report, which he hopes to place before Christmas into the hands of the pope on the occasion of a private audience.

According to his own words, he has gathered an excellent impression of the seminaries, schools, priories, and friendly religious communities, as well as of the faithful who gather themselves around all these houses. We must now, in the weeks and months to come, accompany his efforts with our fervent prayers. There are indeed still many hearts to be converted by God before a satisfying solution can be found.

We sincerely thank all of you who, in the past days and in many ways, have given testimony to the fruitfulness of the tradition of the Catholic Church.

As He did for the Good Samaritan who showed compassion to the mortally wounded, so may God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, reward you a hundredfold for your acts of charity toward the Church.

Fr. Schmidberger
Superior General
December 8, 198


17. Note this expression of Cardinal Gagnon himself.

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