Archbishop LEFEBVRE and the VATICAN

March 18, 1988

Letter Of Cardinal Ratzinger
To Archbishop Lefebvre

The role of Cardinal Gagnon stops with this letter. Clearly the Pope removes him and replaces him with Cardinal Ratzinger. The latter takes the initiative of continuing the negotiations, and works out a plan of reconciliation, presenting the first stage of it to Archbishop Lefebvre. The removal of Cardinal Gagnon from the negotiations was the first of a long series of disappointments after hopes had been so high in the fall of 1987.

Strictly confidential


At the stage we have reached in the reflection undertaken following the Apostolic Visit to canonically regularize the situation of the Society of Saint Pius X, and considering your letter to the Holy Father dated last February 20, it appears extremely useful to be able to proceed to an exchange of views on the concrete propositions whose application can be envisaged.

To get it under way, Cardinal Gagnon and I would like to propose to you that a meeting take place between two experts (a theologian and a canonist) designated by the Holy See, and two experts (likewise, a theologian and a canonist) of the Society designated by yourself, presided over by a personality designated by the Holy Father in the role of “moderator.” Obviously, this stage consisting of a mutual exchange of views would still not be the place for definitive decisions, but it would have to constitute an important step on the way to these decisions.

If, as we hope, you accept this proposition, please be kind enough to inform us of it. After this moment, the place and the conditions of this meeting could be fixed rapidly, of course in the conditions of the most rigorous discretion.

Deign to accept, Excellency, the assurance of my prayer, with the expression of my respectful and devoted sentiments in the Lord.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

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

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