LEFEBVRE and the
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.
my dear brethren,
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
President of the Pontifical Council for the Family
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.
Msgr. Camile Perl
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.
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
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.
December 8, 198
Note this expression of Cardinal
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