Archbishop LEFEBVRE and the VATICAN

February 20, 1988

Letter of Archbishop Lefebvre
to Cardinal Gagnon


Fr. du Chalard has faithfully transmitted to me the letter in which you let me know the dispositions of the Holy Father after you had communicated to him your report.

Surely I do not doubt that the Holy Father has not only our problem to solve. But I fear that the procedure chosen for a solution would prolong indefinitely and thus put me in a moral obligation to proceed with the episcopal consecrations without the authorization of the Holy See which should be able to be avoided.

Therefore I take the liberty to write to the Holy Father through your intermediary, giving you a copy of this letter, in order to encourage him to make a decision, even a temporary one, that would not engage the future and would allow the experience of the exercise of tradition, in a manner officially approved by the Church.

The doctrinal problems could be the object of discussions after the canonical solution, otherwise we would be back at the starting point.24

A positive thing was your friendly visit with Monsignor Perl, which certainly consoled and encouraged all those who had the advantage to come close to you and to listen to you. It would be sad that they be disappointed by the passivity of Rome.

By the way, I hope that we will be soon able to receive a copy of your report and that we will not be deprived of this as in the visit of 1974.

We put our hope in God and in Our Lady, but also in you, Eminence, who are the only one at the Vatican to understand our fight for the Faith and for the salvation of souls.

Deign to receive, Eminence, my very grateful and fraternal feelings in Jesus and Mary,

Monseigneur Lefebvre

Archbishop-Bishop Emeritus of Tulle.

After the first visitation in November 1974, which ended in the illegal suppression of the Society of Saint Pius X, no report of the visitation was given to Archbishop Lefebvre. Neither was the request of a copy of the report granted after the second visitation in December 1987 by Cardinal Gagnon. If the report was bad, the Vatican had all advantage to release it, so as to prove that it was right to condemn Archbishop Lefebvre. If the report was good, then why did it not grant the solution proposed by Archbishop Lefebvre in order to continue its good work?

It has been reported Cardinal Gagnon theorized that if Archbishop Lefebvre would proceed with the episcopal consecrations without the Pope’s approval, 80% of the faithful attached to Tradition would abandon him. The attachment of the faithful to Rome and to the Pope, which Cardinal Gagnon had been able to witness in all traditional centers, probably made him say so. However, he had not sufficiently assessed the fact that the faithful were rightly attached to what the Pope represents more than to his own person. It is the magisterium of the popes of all times that the traditional faithful uphold, not the novelties of any single modern pope.


24. In his letter of July 28, 1987, Cardinal Ratzinger did not ask for such a doctrinal declaration: that had pleased Archbishop Lefebvre and giving him hope that a solution could be found promptly. See October 1, 1987, p.28.

Courtesy of the Angelus Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109

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