Archbishop LEFEBVRE and the VATICAN

June 19, 1988

A Statement by Archbishop Lefebvre

Archbishop Lefebvre authored this Letter from Ecône, Switzerland, on why there was a cessation of negotiations between Rome and the Society of Saint Pius X after the signing of the Protocol (May 5, 1988).

Indeed, it would be difficult to understand why the talks ceased if they are not placed in their historical context.

Although we never wanted to have a break in relations with Conciliar Rome, even after the first visit of Rome on Nov. 11, 1974, had been followed by measures which were sectarian and null—the suppression of our work on May 6, 1975, and the “suspension” in July, 1976—these relations could only take place in a climate of mistrust.

Louis Veuillot says that there is no one more sectarian than a Liberal; in effect, having made a compromise between error and Revelation, he feels condemned by those who remain in the Truth, and thus if he is in power, he persecutes them fiercely. This is the case with us and all those who are opposed to the liberal texts and liberal reforms of the Council.

They absolutely want us to have a “guilt complex” in relation to them, but it is they who are guilty of duplicity.

Thus it was always in a tense although polite atmosphere that relations took place with Cardinal Seper and Cardinal Ratzinger between 1976 and 1987, but also with a certain hope that as the auto-demolition of the Church accelerated, they would end up taking a benevolent attitude towards us.

Up until that time, the goal of the contacts for Rome was to make us accept the Council and the reforms, and to make us recognize our error. The logic of events had to lead me to ask for a successor, if not two or three, to assure the ordinations and confirmations. Faced with the persistent refusal of Rome, on June 29, 1987, I announced my decision to consecrate bishops.

On July 28, Cardinal Ratzinger opened up some new horizons which legitimately gave us reason to think that finally Rome looked at us more favorably. No longer was there any question of a doctrinal document to be signed, or asking for pardon, but an Apostolic Visitor was finally announced, the Society could be recognized, the Liturgy would be that of before the Council, the seminarians would retain the same spirit!

Thus we agreed to enter into this new dialogue, but on the condition that our identity would be well protected against liberal influences by bishops taken from within Tradition, and by a majority of members in the Roman Commission for Tradition. Now, after the visit of Cardinal Gagnon, of which we still know nothing, the disappointments piled up.

The talks which followed in April and May were a distinct disappointment to us. We were given a doctrinal text, the new Canon Law was added to it, Rome reserved for itself five out of seven members on the Roman Commission, among them a President (who will be Cardinal Ratzinger) and the Vice-President.

The question of a bishop was solved after much hemming and hawing; they insisted on showing us why we did not need one.

The Cardinal informed us that we would now have to allow one New Mass to be celebrated at St. Nicolas du Chardonnet. He insisted on the one and only Church, that of Vatican II.

In spite of these disappointments, I signed the Protocol on May 5th. But already the date of the episcopal consecration caused a problem. Then came the project of a letter asking the Pope for pardon, which was put into my hands.

I saw that I was obliged to write a letter threatening to do the episcopal consecrations to arrive at the date of August 15 for the episcopal consecration.

The atmosphere is no longer one of fraternal collaboration and pure and simple recognition of the Society—not at all. For Rome the goal of the talks is reconciliation, as Cardinal Gagnon says in an interview granted to the Italian journal L’Avvenire, meaning the return of the lost sheep to the flock. This is what I express in the letter to the Pope on June 2: “The goal of the talks has not been the same for you as for us.”

And when we think of the history of relations of Rome with the traditionalists from 1965 to our own day, we are forced to observe that there has been an unceasing and cruel persecution to force us to submit to the Council. The most recent example is that of the Seminary Mater Ecclesiæ for drop-outs from Ecône, who in less than two years, have been made to serve the conciliar revolution, contrary to all promises!

The present conciliar and Modernist Rome can never tolerate the existence of a vigorous branch of the Catholic Church which condemns it by its very vitality.

No doubt we shall have to wait yet another few years, therefore, for Rome to recover her Tradition of two thousand years. As for us, we continue to prove, with the grace of God, that this Tradition is the only source of sanctification and salvation of souls, and the only possibility of renewal for the Church.

† Marcel Lefebvre
June 19, 1988


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

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