LEFEBVRE and the
April 15, 1988
Minutes of Meetings held April
at the Vatican Concerning the Society of Saint Pius X
The conversations took place at Rome, April 12-14.
Present were Frs. Bernard Tissier de Mallerais and Patrice
Laroche, named by Archbishop Lefebvre as the theologian and canonist
representing the Society, and Frs. Bertone, Salesian, and Ocariz,
of Opus Dei, under the direction of Fr. Benoît Duroux,
O.P., moderator, as consultors of the Sacred Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith. Subsequent to these discussions
a preliminary protocol of accord was signed on April 15, 1988.
These meetings took place in a discreet manner in order to
avoid the insatiable curiosity of the journalists, thanks to Fr.
du Chalard, priest of the Society of Saint Pius X in Rome.
I. DOCTRINAL QUESTION
has studied three possibilities for a formula of communion in the
The Profession of Faith (Appendix I, p.55), plus the Oath of Fidelity
(Appendix II, p.56), plus a text on the acceptance of Vatican II
(Appendix III, p.57).
The Oath of Fidelity (Appendix II), plus the text of Appendix III.
The reason for not having the Profession of Faith comes
from the fact that there is no doubt that H.E. Archbishop Lefebvre
professes the Catholic Creed, and that the request of making this
profession could be offensive.
A unique formula as brief and clear as possible, and corresponding
to the concrete position of Archbishop Lefebvre and of the Society
of Saint Pius X (see Appendix IV, p.57). This formula
the points of the Oath of Fidelity concerning the position
of Archbishop Lefebvre in particular,
b) an adhesion to the magisterium of the Church,
given as an acceptance of §25 of Lumen Gentium,
the attitude which must be taken on the points of Vatican
II which are not of Faith and which make difficulties for Archbishop
d) the recognition of the validity of the new
Commission favors this third solution:
it is reduced to the essential, in one document, and avoids the
repetition of doctrinal points already admitted by Archbishop
it signifies by itself an important doctrine of Vatican II in
the Constitution Lumen Gentium.
APPENDIX I: PROFESSION OF FAITH27
should be used instead of the Profession of Faith of the Council
of Trent and of the Anti-Modernist Oath, in the cases in which the
Law prescribes a Profession of Faith.
N., believe with a firm faith and profess each and every point
that is contained in the Symbol of Faith:
believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,
and of all things visible and invisible. And in
one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God. Born
of the Father before all ages. God of God; Light
of Light, true God of true God. Begotten not made;
consubstantial with the Father; by Whom all things were made.
Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down form
heaven. And was made Flesh by the Holy Ghost of
the Virgin Mary: and was made Man.He was also crucified
for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate and was buried. And
on the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures.
And ascending into heaven, He sits at the right hand of
the Father. And He shall come again in glory to
judge the living and the dead; and of His kingdom there shall
be no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, Lord
and Giver of life, Who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
Who together with the Father and the Son is no less adored,
and glorified: Who spoke by the Prophets. And I
believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I
confess one Baptism for the remission of sins. And
I look for the resurrection of the dead. And the
life of the world to come. Amen.
firmly embrace and retain each and every point on the doctrine
on Faith and Morals which have been either defined by the Church,
through a solemn judgment or affirmed and declared through the
Ordinary magisterium, as they have been proposed, especially what
regards the mystery of the Church of Christ, her Sacraments, the
Sacrifice of the Mass, and the primacy of the Roman Pontiff.
APPENDIX II: THE OATH OF FIDELITY
TO BE TAKEN BY THE BISHOPS
promoted at the See of _____, shall always be faithful to the
Catholic Church and to the Roman Pontiff as Supreme Shepherd,
Vicar of Christ, Successor of the Blessed Apostle Peter in the
primacy and headship of the College of Bishops.
I shall submit
to the free exercise of the power of primacy of the Supreme Pontiff
in the Universal Church, and I shall take care to defend and promote
his rights and authority. I shall acknowledge and
observe the prerogatives and rights of the legates of the Roman
Pontiff who act in the name of the Supreme Shepherd.
I shall be
careful to fulfil with the utmost diligence the apostolic responsibilities
entrusted to the bishops, viz., to teach, sanctify and
to rule the people of God within the hierarchical communion with
the head and members of the College of Bishops.
I shall support
the unity of the Universal Church, therefore I shall work studiously
so that the Deposit of Faith transmitted from the Apostles be
kept in its purity and integrity, and that the truth to be held
and applied in morals, as they are proposed by the magisterium
of the Church, be given to all and illustrated. I
shall show a fatherly affection to those who err in the Faith,
and strive with all means possible that they reach the fullness
of Catholic Truth.
the Model of Christ, the Supreme and Eternal Priest, I shall act
in a pious and holy manner, and fulfil the ministry entrusted
to me in such a way that, being made a pattern of the flock from
the heart, I may be able to confirm the faithful so that they
reach Christian perfection.
I shall foster
the common discipline of the whole Church, and the observance
of all ecclesiastical laws, insisting especially on those that
are contained in the Code of Canon Law, always vigilant lest evil
practices creep in especially concerning the Ministry of the Word
and the celebration of the Sacraments.
I shall show
proper diligence in the administration of the temporal goods of
the Church, especially those that have been given for the exercise
of divine worship, for the honorable support of the clergy and
the other ministers, and for the sacred apostolate and the works
I shall pursue
with a special predilection all the priests and deacons, who are
collaborators of the episcopal order for the fulfillment of the
mandate given to me, and also the religious monks and nuns who
participate in the one and same work. Also, I shall
take the greatest care to promote holy vocations, in order to
fittingly provide for the spiritual necessities of the whole Church.
I shall acknowledge
and promote the dignity of the laity and their proper place in
the mission of the Church. I shall care, with a
particular solicitude, to foster the missionary works for the
evangelization of the nations.
for councils or other legitimate collegial actions, I shall be
personally present, unless I have impediments, and I shall respond
in an opportune way.
At the set
time, when there will be a good occasion, I shall give an account
to the Holy See of my pastoral work, and I shall receive its comments
and counsels with respect and fulfil them with the greatest efforts.
May God and
these holy Gospels, which I touch with my hand, help me.
[This is composed §§ 1, 3, 4, 5 of Appendix IV below.]
APPENDIX IV: STATEMENT OF THE POSITION
OF ARCHBISHOP LEFEBVRE AND OF THE SOCIETY OF SAINT PIUS X
I, Marcel Lefebvre, Archbishop-Bishop Emeritus of Tulle, as well
as the members of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X founded by
Promise to be always faithful to the Catholic Church and the Roman
Pontiff, its Supreme Pastor, Vicar of Christ, Successor of Blessed
Peter in his primacy and headship of the College28
of bishops. (See Oath of Fidelity, Appendix II.)
We declare our acceptance of the doctrine contained in §2529
of the dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium of Vatican Council
II on the ecclesiastical magisterium and the adherence which is
due to it.
Regarding certain points taught by Vatican Council II or concerning
later reforms of the liturgy and law, which do not
appear to us easily reconcilable with Tradition, we pledge that
we will have a positive attitude of study and communication with
the Apostolic See, avoiding all polemics.
Moreover, we declare that we recognize the validity of the Sacrifice
of the Mass and the Sacraments celebrated with the intention of
doing what the Church does, and according to the rites indicated
in the typical editions of the Roman Missal and the Rituals of
the Sacraments promulgated by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II.
Finally, we promise to respect the common discipline of the Church
and all30 the ecclesiastical
laws, especially those contained in the Code of Canon Law promulgated
by Pope John Paul II, without prejudice to the special discipline
granted to the Society by particular law.
II. JURIDICAL QUESTIONS
Considering the fact that
the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X has been conceived for 18 years
as a society of common life—and after studying the propositions
formulated by H. E. Marcel Lefebvre and the conclusions of the Apostolic
Visitation conducted by His Eminence Cardinal Gagnon— it seems that31
the canonical form most suitable is that of a Society of apostolic
Society of Apostolic Life
is canonically possible and suitable to the nature of the Priestly
Society of Saint Pius X, with the advantage of eventually inserting
into the clerical Society of apostolic life lay people as well (for
example, coadjutor Brothers).
to the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1983, Canons 731-746, this
Society enjoys full autonomy, can form its members, can incardinate
clerics, and can insure the common life of its members.
In the proper Statutes,
with flexibility and inventive32
possibility in respect of the known models of these Societies of
apostolic life, a certain exemption is foreseen with respect to
the diocesan bishops (cf. Canon 591) for what concerns public
worship, the cura animarum, and other apostolic activities,
taking into account Canons 679-683. As for jurisdiction
with regards to the faithful who have recourse to the priests of
the Society, it will be conferred on these priests either by the
Ordinaries of the place or by the Apostolic See.
to coordinate relations with the different dicasteries of the Roman
Curia and diocesan bishops, as well as to resolve eventual problems
and contentions, will be constituted through the care of the Holy
See, and will be empowered with the necessary faculties to deal
with the questions indicated above (for example, implantation at
the request of the faithful of a house of worship where there is
no house of the Society, ad mentem, Canon 683, §2).
things this commission would have the function of exercising vigilance
and lending assistance to consolidate the work of reconciliation,
and to regulate questions relative to the religious communities
having a juridical or moral bond with the Society.
The delegates of the Society recall here the requests presented
to the Holy Father by Archbishop Lefebvre in his letter of February
20, 1988, viz., that “this Commission be headed by a Cardinal,
inasmuch as possible, Cardinal Gagnon, helped by a Secretary and
one or two collaborators, all chosen from Tradition.”
1) For the relations with Roman dicasteries and
the Cardinal President, the Holy Father could nominate one member
not from Tradition, added to the other members of the Society.
2) In any case, the contacts and relations with
traditional religious communities would be assured by the members
of the Commission taken from Tradition.
The members of the Commission nominated by the Holy Father
make the following observations:
1) Concerning the nomination of a Cardinal as President,
it would be preferable that the Roman Commission depend upon Cardinal
Ratzinger as Chairman, and guarantor of the works, especially
by reason of the authority which he possesses as Prefect of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (see recent letter
of the Holy Father to Cardinal Ratzinger).
2) Concerning the composition of the Roman Commission,
it would be opportune to widen the number of its members, taking
them also from outside the Society or of persons linked with it,
in order to foster the reconciliation with the whole Church.
Condition of Persons Connected to the Society:
1) The members of the clerical Society of apostolic
life (priests and lay coadjutor brothers) are governed by the
Statutes of the Society of Pontifical Right.
2) The oblates, both male and female, whether they
have taken private vows or not, and the members of the Third Order
connected with the Society, all belong to an association of the
faithful connected with the Society according to the terms of
Canon 303, and collaborate with it.
The Sisters (meaning the congregation founded by Archbishop
Lefebvre) who make public vows: they constitute a true institute
of consecrated life, with its own structure and proper autonomy,33
even if a certain type of bond is envisaged for the unity of its
spirituality with the Superior of the Society. This
Congregation—at least at the beginning— would be dependent on
the Roman Commission, instead of the Congregation for Religious.
4) The members of the communities living according
to the rule of various religious institutes (Carmelites, Benedictines,
Dominicans, etc.) and who have a moral bond with the Society.
These are to be given, case by case, a particular statute regulating
their relations with the respective Order.
the lay people who ask for pastoral assistance from the communities
of the Society: they remain under the jurisdiction of the diocesan
bishop, but—notably by reason of the liturgical rites of the communities
of the Society—they can go to them for the administration of the
sacraments (for which the usual notifications must still be given
to their proper parish; cf. Canons 878, 896, 1122). The Commission
draws attention to the particular complexity:
1) Of the question of reception by the laity of
the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, in the communities
of the Society.
2) Of the question of communities practicing the
rule of such and such a religious institute, without belonging
Commission will have the responsibility of resolving these problems.
For the ordinations,
two phases must be distinguished:
In the immediate future. For the ordinations scheduled
to take place in the immediate future, Archbishop Lefebvre would
be authorized to confer them or, if he were unable, another bishop
accepted by himself.
Once the Society of apostolic life is erected. As far
as possible, the normal way is to be followed, that is, to send
dimissorial letters to a bishop who agrees to ordain members of
In view of
the particular situation of the Society, the ordination of a member
of the Society as a bishop, who, among other duties, would also
be able to proceed with ordinations.
For the admission to the ordinations, especially in the first
phase, given the judgement of fitness and the regular admission
from the competent superiors of the Society, the candidates should
make a promise of fidelity, which shall later be elaborated in
the light of the formula presented above in the doctrinal part.
Problem of a Bishop
the doctrinal (ecclesiological) level, the guarantee of stability
and maintenance of the life and activity of the Society is assured
by its erection as a Society of apostolic life of pontifical right,
and the approval of its statutes by the Holy Father.
at the practical and psychological level, the utility of the consecration
of a member of the Society as a bishop is considered. In this
case, two hypothesis may be foreseen:
In the framework of the doctrinal and canonical solution
of the project of reconciliation, the Holy Father would name
a bishop chosen from within the Society, presented by Archbishop
It would belong to the Roman Commission to propose to
the Holy Father this nomination of a Bishop belonging to the
would solve the practical problems of the use of the Rite of St.
Pius V, and in the celebration of the Mass of Ordination and in
other circumstances (e.g., Confirmations). Moreover,
this bishop could represent the Society within the Roman Commission.
Particular Problems to be Resolved (By Decree or Declaration)
Lifting of the suspensio a divinis on Archbishop Lefebvre
and dispensation from the irregularities incurred by the fact
of the ordinations.
Sanatio in radice, at least ad cautelam, of the marriages
already celebrated by the priests of the Society without the required
Provision for an “amnesty” and an accord for the houses and places
of worship erected—or used—by the Society, until now without the
authorization of the bishops.
Tissier de Mallerais
At the Vatican
II. NOTE CONCERNING THE EPISCOPATE IN THE SOCIETY
themselves in particular to the letter addressed by Archbishop
Lefebvre to the Holy Father on February 20, 1988, the delegates
of the Society present insist on the fact that Archbishop Lefebvre
sees in this point a very important element for the realization
of the ecclesial communion. Here are the principal
necessity of bishops chosen from the Society:
these episcopal consecrations are awaited by the seminarians
who count upon being ordained by a bishop belonging to the same
- It will
be psychologically difficult now to ask our faithful and seminarians
to ask for the Sacraments of Confirmation and Order from bishops
who did not cease to warn them against the Society, who approve
catechisms such as Pierres Vivantes34or
who have professed highly suspicious theological opinions.
It is very difficult in the present circumstances to find bishops
knowing how to celebrate in the traditional rite the long ceremonies
of the Roman Pontifical.
episcopal consecrations would be favorable to keep in the unity
of the Church the faithful of Tradition, practically reducing
to nought the inference of the many small sedevacantist groups,
each one having its own “bishop.”
there would be for Archbishop Lefebvre, the priests and the
faithful of Tradition, the unequivocal sign of the sincerity
of the Roman authorities, and of their will to give back an
honorable place in the Church to the traditional rite.
thence flows the following point:
b) Urgency of the nomination of a bishop from the
Society within a very short space of time.35
The great age of Archbishop Lefebvre and the physical exhaustion
which he has been feeling for the past months do not allow him
to continue to travel throughout the world.
The good will of Archbishop Lefebvre which would have led to
the normalization of the situation of the Society and of the
works of tradition, would deserve that the Prelate sees while
still living his episcopal ministry continued by one of his
Do the good fruits borne by the works of Tradition and which
Cardinal Gagnon has witnessed during the course of his apostolic
visit not merit such a gesture of acknowledgment from the Holy
See at the very time of this agreement?
the reception, within a short space of time, by Archbishop Lefebvre
of the pontifical mandate enabling him to proceed to an episcopal
consecration would be a delicate way to erase, in effect, the
injustices endured by the Prelate for the past 15 years.
Necessity of several bishops taken from the bosom of Tradition.
The development of the works of Tradition mean already from
now at least 25 ceremonies of ordination per year throughout
the whole world.
The faithful addressing themselves to the Society for Confirmation
in the traditional rite are more and more numerous.
In 1987, Archbishop Lefebvre gave 2,500 Confirmations
in France alone. This represents ceremonies three or four
days per week for a whole month, often gathering children
from great distances.
In 1984, in Chile, Archbishop Lefebvre had to give,
in one ceremony, the Sacrament of Confirmation to 1,527
In 1982, in Mexico, during one week’s travel alone,
he performed 2,500 Confirmations.
The Society alone has opened, at the request of the faithful,
530 places of worship on five continents. The faithful would
like to receive the visit of Archbishop Lefebvre, or of a bishop
representing their spiritual family.
many ceremonies, blessings and consecrations,36
must be accomplished by a bishop. One alone could
not suffice for this work.
word has been corrected in the May 5 Protocol to, “body.”
See p.77-79 for complete text of §25 of Lumen Gentium.
This word “all” has been suppressed in the Protocol,
since Canons such as Canon 844 (of the 1983 Code of Canon Law) are
These three words have been suppressed, too.
Please note the adjective.
Note the desire to separate the unity that exists between traditional
The current modernist French catechism. See Apologia Pro Marcel
Lefebvre, Vol. III, available from the Angelus Press.
Note the desire to separate the unity that exists between traditional
See the letter of Archbishop Lefebvre to the Holy Father on February
20, 1988, p.42.
Blessing of a church; consecration of an altar; of a chalice, etc.
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109