LEFEBVRE and the
May 20, 1988
of Archbishop Lefebvre
to Pope John Paul II
After the previous letters, Cardinal Ratzinger
went on retreat and the Pope went on a pastoral journey. After
their return, Archbishop Lefebvre wrote the following letter to
the Pope, insisting on the date of June 30, 1988, and more than
one bishop to be consecrated.
May 20, 1988
Most Holy Father,
While a certain
hope was raised regarding a possible solution to the problem of
the Society after the signing of the Protocol, a grave difficulty
now arises with respect to the episcopacy granted to the Society,
to succeed me in my episcopal function.
appears that this conferring of the episcopacy is a source of apprehensions
and concern to the Holy See, for the following reasons:
in the first place this episcopacy is superfluous. After
the legal recognition of the Society as one of pontifical right,
the Superior General can give dimissorial letters to a bishop
of his choice.
in the second place, this granting of the episcopacy might seem
to be a distinct mark of disapproval of the bishops now in office,
and might turn the bishops against the Holy See.
this episcopacy could eventually create difficulties in the dioceses,
occasioned by the apostolate among the faithful.
No doubt these
apprehensions are what provoke the delays, the evasive responses
of the Holy See for over a year and which morally oblige me to put
an end to this waiting, after having insisted several times on the
urgent necessity of having several bishops, for the continuation
and development of the work.
June 30 now
appears to me as the final date to bring about this succession.
Providence seems to have prepared this date. The
accords have been signed, the names of the candidates have been
proposed. If Cardinal Ratzinger is overworked and
does not have time to prepare the mandates, perhaps Cardinal Gagnon
could be entrusted with it.
Father, deign to put an end to this sorrowful problem of priests,
the faithful and your servant, who in keeping Tradition have had
no other desire than to serve the Church, the Pope, and to save
to add some considerations on the renewal of the Church, obtained
by means of the Society and the episcopacy which would be granted
the instances of Vienna in Austria, and Coire in Switzerland, regarding
episcopal appointments, the press has alluded to a change of orientation
on the part of the Holy See in the choice of bishops. This
is a good sign, but the reactions show that these bishops will have
enormous difficulties in the realization of their apostolate, and
they will be forced to manifest their adherence to the modern spirit
by ecumenism, as well as the charismatic movement, to calm people
Even if they
observe a certain discipline and a greater piety, their seminaries
will be imbued with this modern spirit, and only with difficulty
will they contribute to the true renewal of the Church.
this renewal can only be brought about by bishops who are free to
revive Christian Faith and virtue by the means Our Lord entrusted
to the Church for the sanctification of priests and the faithful.
Only an atmosphere
entirely detached from modern errors and modern ways will permit
this renewal. This atmosphere is the one encountered
by Cardinal Gagnon and Msgr. Perl, an atmosphere made up of profoundly
Christian families having many children, and from which come numerous
and excellent vocations.
of this renewed atmosphere, encouraged by your decisions, Most Holy
Father, will restore the dioceses through contacts with the bishops
and the clergy. Certain bishops will entrust to us
the formation of their seminarians and thus, by the grace of God,
the Church will find a new youthfulness—and transform pagan society
into Christian society.
You will easily
understand why only one bishop will not suffice for such a vast
field of the apostolate.
If I allow
myself to submit these considerations to your judgment, it is in
the most profound desire of coming to your aid in solving these
grave problems which you are striving to resolve in the course of
your apostolic journeys.
Deign to accept,
Most Holy Father, the expression of my most respectful and filial
sentiments in Jesus and Mary.
† Marcel Lefebvre
Emeritus of Tulle
of the Society of Saint Pius X
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109