Archbishop LEFEBVRE and the VATICAN

June 1988

Reports from the Media

During the months of June and July (1988) many newspapers and magazines carried articles on Archbishop Lefebvre. The two which are excerpted here are especially notable.

30 Days
(June 1988)

Cardinal Gagnon was interviewed by 30 Days at the beginning of June. For him, many of the faithful who follow Archbishop Lefebvre were scandalized because:

Cardinal Gagnon: …[M]any things have been done too fast and without taking time to explain to the people what was happening....I think there was a lack of patience and prudence as a result.

Interviewer: So you think that the implementation of the vernacular Mass was too swift...

Cardinal Gagnon: Oh, yes, sure. It was too swift. When we were in the Seminary, we were taught that changing a word in the Canon of the Mass was a mortal sin. And then, all of a sudden, all that is changed.

Thus, for Cardinal Gagnon, the only problem was the rapidity of the change. He does not see the Protestant spirit which permeates the new liturgy. The purpose of the “reconciliation” in his eyes was to give the time to traditional faithful to make the change at their own pace. This is unacceptable.

(June 18, 1988)

William D. Dinges, Professor in the Department of Religion at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., acknowledges that the faithful attached to Tradition are not slow-minded faithful, incapable of changing fast enough. He sees the problem at its proper level, the doctrinal level:

“Catholic traditionalism—is not a form of naivete. It does not arise unaware of a new intellectual or theological order; it stands in opposition to it, defending a world view and governing assumptions of religious experience that have lost much of their credibility and legitimacy in the wake of Vatican II. Traditionalism, especially among its intellectual and clerical elite, is a repudiation of the historical consciousness, the “anthropocentric turn” toward the subjective, and other hermeneutical, relativising and praxis tendencies that characterize contemporary consciousness and much modern theology, and that are reflected in one fashion or another in key documents of the Council.”

The first characteristic of modern theology is its incomprehensibility! We have here a great concession. Modern theology is characterized by this “anthropocentric turn toward the subjective.” What does that mean? It means that everything is centered on man (anthropos) rather than God, rather than Jesus Christ. Indeed, we do reject this anthropocentric turn! Modern theology subjectivizes everything. Faith is no longer the adherence to the objective Truths; it is the subjective expression of religious feelings. This is the Modernist faith condemned by St. Pius X. Professor William D. Dinges, who wrote the America article, witnesses that these new characteristics of modern theology “are reflected in one fashion or another in key documents of the Council.” The Professor continues:

“Traditionalism manifests the classic tendency to absolutise the cognitive aspects of religions and to reify111 the constituent symbols of religious identity....[It is] a strongly rationalistic (orientation) in which religion is based on a standardized objective knowledge of God...the emphasis on “correct belief” as the primary datum of religion and norm for all other forms of religious self-understanding animates all of Archbishop Lefebvre’s writings and public pronouncements and is his real casus belli112with the Vatican....

“The causes of Catholic traditionalism lie in…the logical development and extension of anti-modernist theological trends; the reaction against new epistemological and hermeneutical frames of reference that decisively penetrated Catholicism—and that were legitimated within Vatican particular, the de-objectification of the liturgy brought about by the reforms following Vatican II, like the de-objectification of Scripture accompanying Protestantism’s earlier embrace of historical-critical methods...”

Definitely, modern theology is incomprehensible, but when one begins to understand this jargon one is horrified to find nothing less than the pure Modernism condemned by St. Pius X. The Professor does not acknowledge any objective Truth, especially in religious matters. Faith is just the expression of a religious feeling, there is no objective “correct belief...” Yes! Archbishop Lefebvre and all true Catholics reject this Modernism “that was legitimated within Vatican II” and this is the real casus belli with the Vatican.


111. i.e., to consider as real, e.g., to consider God as a real being, not just a symbol.

112. i.e., the cause of the war.

June 2, 1988

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

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