Archbishop LEFEBVRE and the VATICAN

April 15, 1988

Letter of Archbishop Lefebvre to Cardinal Ratzinger


After having been able to follow the works of the Commission in charge of preparing an acceptable solution for the problem which preoccupies us, it seems that with the grace of God, we are coming closer to an agreement, which makes us very happy.

With this letter I attach the doctrinal declaration, modified slightly in such a way that I believe that I can sign it; I hope it will be agreeable to you.

Without doubt, there will be more precisions to add to the canonical document on the Roman Commission; I would like, at least in the beginning, to be able to play a part in it in order to facilitate the solutions for the diverse cases for those who have been at our side during these last years, and who also wish a happy ending of their problems.

On this occasion wouldn’t it be desirable that the possibility37 to use the liturgical books of John XXIII be granted for all the bishops and all priests?

The prospect of having a successor in the episcopate gives me great joy and I thank the Holy Father and yourself for it. Only one bishop will hardly suffice for the heavy work load; wouldn’t it be possible to have two, or at the least, couldn’t the possibility of raising its number in the next six months or a year be provided for?38

Please, Eminence, would you express to the Holy Father my deep gratitude on my behalf and on behalf of all those that I represent. Please believe in my respectful and fraternal sentiments, in Christo et Maria.

† Marcel Lefebvre
Archbishop Emeritus of Tulle


I, Marcel Lefebvre, Archbishop Bishop Emeritus of Tulle, as well as the members of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X founded by me:

1) 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 as head of the College of bishops. (see Oath of Fidelity, Appendix II).

2) We declare our acceptance of the doctrine contained in §25 of the dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium of Vatican Council II on the ecclesiastical magisterium and the adherence which is due to it.

3) Regarding certain points taught by Vatican Council II or concerning later reforms of the liturgy and law, and 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.

4) Moreover, taking into account what was said in §3, 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.

5) Finally, here also taking into account what was said in §3, we promise to respect the common discipline of the Church and thus the disciplinary laws 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.

Note that Archbishop Lefebvre inserted twice the words “taking into account what was said in §3,” which stresses the reservations on the new liturgy and on the Canon Law, through which the liberal ideas of the Council were implemented.

Note also that “all the ecclesiastical laws” are changed into “thus the disciplinary laws...” Indeed some laws of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, such as Canon 844 (on Eucharistic Hospitality) are in direct opposition with sound Catholic doctrine.


37. The “wide application” of the 1984 Indult called for by Pope John Paul II in his motu proprio, Ecclesia Dei, does not fulfil this request, because the priest still depends upon a permission from modernist bishops to be allowed to have the traditional Mass. What is needed is to simply reaffirm the Indult granted by St. Pius V in Quo Primum.

38. A conservative retired bishop, whom I know, asked the Pope in June [1988], after the failure of the negotiations, for this alternate possibility, which was not granted to him.

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

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