Archbishop LEFEBVRE and the VATICAN

June 9, 1988

Letter of Pope John Paul II
to Archbishop Lefebvre


It is with intense and profound affliction that I have read your letter dated June 2.

Guided solely by concern for the unity of the Church in fidelity to the revealed Truth—an imperative duty imposed on the Successor of the Apostle Peter—I had arranged last year an Apostolic Visitation of the Saint Pius X Society and its work, which was carried out by Edward Cardinal Gagnon. Conversations followed, first with experts of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then between yourself and Cardinal Ratzinger. In the course of these meetings solutions had been drawn up, accepted, and signed by you on May 5, 1988. They permitted the Saint Pius X Society to exist and work in the Church in full communion with the Sovereign Pontiff, the guardian of unity in the Truth. For its part, the Apostolic See pursued only one end in these conversations with you: to promote and safeguard this unity in obedience to divine Revelation, translated and interpreted by the Church’s magisterium, notably in the 21 Ecumenical Councils from Nicća to Vatican II.

In the letter you sent me you appear to reject all that was agreed on in the previous conversations, since you clearly manifest your intention to “provide the means yourself to continue your work,” particularly by proceeding shortly and without apostolic mandate to one or several episcopal ordinations, and this in flagrant contradiction not only with the norms of Canon Law, but also with the Protocol signed on May 5 and the directions relevant to this problem contained in the letter which Cardinal Ratzinger wrote to you on my instructions on May 30.

With a paternal heart, but with all the gravity required by the present circumstances, I exhort you, Reverend Brother, not to embark upon a course which, if persisted in, cannot but appear as a schismatical act whose inevitable theological and canonical consequences are known to you. I earnestly invite you to return, in humility, to full obedience to Christ’s Vicar.

Not only do I invite you to do so, but I ask it of you through the wounds of Christ our Redeemer, in the name of Christ who, on the eve of His Passion, prayed for His disciples “that they may all be one” (Jn. 17:20).

To this request and to this invitation I unite my daily prayer to Mary, Mother of Christ.

Dear Brother, do not permit that the year dedicated in a very special way to the Mother of God should bring another wound to her Mother’s Heart!

Joannes Paulus PP. II
From the Vatican,
June 9, 1988.

Even after the letter of June 2, Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of Saint Pius X were praying for a miracle. God could have changed the heart of the Pope and made him grant the requests of Archbishop Lefebvre. After this letter of the Pope, telegrams poured into Rome asking for this.

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

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