LEFEBVRE and the
Crane analyzes the status of Archbishop Lefebvre with Rome, concluding
that the crisis in the Church requires not more experts, but courage.
Archbishop Lefebvre had the courage “to stand firm in the face
of neo-modernist attack, defending the Faith and confounding its
enemies.” Is this not an excellent justification for the consecration
of bishops by Archbishop Lefebvre and against his unjust excommunication?
Order, edited by Paul Crane, S.J.,
vol.29, Aug./Sept., No.8/9, 1988.
I found myself
wondering as I read in The Daily Telegraph (Nov. 7, 1988):
battle for the hearts and minds of Archbishop Lefebvre’s followers
has opened in earnest with the Pope appointing a senior cardinal
to seek ways to keep them within the mainstream Roman Catholic
Paul Mayer, a 77-year-old West German, will lead a Vatican Commission
of eight Church experts who have the task of persuading the traditionalists
to remain loyal to Rome, while making allowance for their “spiritual
and liturgical” needs.
There you have it.
The lines apparently are drawn. With great
respect, I would suggest that, in fact, they were drawn long ago;
the gulf that now separates what we may call the New Church from
the True136 saw
its first beginnings as no more than a somewhat turbulent stream,
when the New Mass was thrust on the faithful, overnight as it were,
in the immediate wake of the Second Vatican Council. The
effect was traumatic where vast numbers of the faithful were concerned.
At one stroke, you might say, the lynch-pin of their faith
was destroyed. This they sensed; knew to be so.
They knew it within themselves without being able clearly
to express it. Which is not to be wondered at.
The dearest things in life are loved beyond words.
The whole of their faith was in the Old Mass. This
the faithful knew. Now they see it as gone; not only
from the New Mass, but everywhere within the Church.137
The New Mass
in their eyes, valid though it is, where they are concerned—and
increasingly in practice—is little more than a community gathering,
protestantized to the point where it is increasingly man-centered;
drifting away from God. And, with it, naturally enough,
what practice there remains of the Catholic Faith drifts away as
well. Over the years, doctrine has tended to follow
suit. There is no need to enlarge on this point.
It has been covered again and again in the pages of Christian
Order.Small wonder that the split which came with the overnight
imposition of the New Mass has widened beyond words into the abyss
which today divides the Old Church from the New, as it divided originally
the Old Mass from the New.
Working on that original
rupture, which was largely their own creation, the neo-modernist
establishment, from its position of power at all levels within the
worked away at its task of diverting the Church’s doctrinal and
evangelizing thrust to suit no more than man’s momentary needs,
as distinct from holding out to him the eternal truths of God.
Those in opposition to this trend, who stand by the faith
of their fathers, have been, in so many cases I know of, rebuffed,
marginalized, isolated. The marvel is that they now
stand at all. The onslaught on all they hold dear
has, in so many cases, been pitiless in its insensitivity.
Does Rome know anything of this—the plight of its marooned
faithful?—If it does, I have to say with respect that, in practice,
it appears to so many, not only as having done nothing about it;
but as incapable now of doing anything in the future to save what
is an increasingly desperate situation. The hungry
sheep are not merely not being fed; they are being left to die;
and, with them, the Faith they have refused to surrender to the
predators within the Church they love, who are busier now than ever
shredding that Faith to pieces.
I am not a
Lefebvrist. I never have been, But I can understand
completely why so many have turned to him. It is simply
because they find once more within Archbishop Lefebvre’s Society
of Saint Pius X and its ministrations—above all, the Old Mass—everything
that has been taken from them in the wake of the Council and in
the name of that which was claimed so fraudulently to be within
its spirit. Now, most tragically, the break has come.
I regret it more deeply than I can say; but, without excusing it,
I do understand it. In what way? Simply
this. For more than twenty years now, as it appears,
High authority in the Church has received complaint after complaint
from faithful Catholics shocked at what is going on in the Church
they love. And what has come of their complaints?
So far as they can see, nothing; absolutely nothing at all.
In the eyes of so many, Church authority has stripped itself
of credibility in their eyes. There have been words.
There have been no deeds. They have found
and still find themselves with nowhere to go. I am
in no way surprised that, under these sad circumstances, so many
have taken the road to Ecône. I do not commend them
for doing it; but I do understand why they have done it. Sheep
without a shepherd; “Lord to whom shall we go?” As
has appeared so tragically to so many, there was only one road left
and they took it. Now Rome, as it seems to them, has
blocked that road. They stand up-ended. One
might ask the question: Who, in the last analysis, is responsible
not only for the tragedy that has brought schism to the Catholic
Church, but for the countless thousands of broken-hearted Catholics
who have never taken the road to Ecône, but whose lives have been
shattered by the neo-modernist wave that has engulfed the Church
and deprived them of the Mass they prized and loved beyond anything
they had on this earth?
Let us realize
straightforwardly, but with no rancor of bitterness, the reason
why the Church is beset with the disintegration that has brought
sadness and sorrow to so many. It is so beset because
it is beset with neo-modernism and the reason for this can only
be the failure, in practice, of the Church’s bishops, priests and
religious to stand firm in the face of neo-modernist attack; defending
the Faith and confounding its enemies. This they have
not done. This is a fact. Those who
have watched, with mounting sorrow and frustration, the progressive
ruination of the Catholic Church at the hands of its neo-modernist
enemies know that this is so. The faithful have been
betrayed by their pastors. If the faithful are to
be brought back, whether they are in the family of Ecône or outside
it, and peace restored to the Church once more, there is one thing
that has to be done by way of a beginning. The Old
Mass must be restored to the whole Church now, unconditionally and,
at least, on a basis of parity of esteem with the New. The
Holy Father must do this and bishops and religious superiors be
placed under the most severe injunction to see that this is done.
There is no other way. With all respect, at
this twenty-fourth hour it is not experts who are needed to rescue
the Church from disaster. What is needed is courage.
Under God, no more and no less than that.
This implicitly says that Archbishop Lefebvre represents
the True Church.
The modernists changed the rites of every one of the seven
Sacraments, the Catechism, Canon Law, the rules of all the religious
orders. They introduced a new curricula in seminaries, and a new
morality where personal conscience is the rule of conduct rather
than that of the Ten Commandments.
Cardinal Ratzinger himself acknowledges that all the bishops
appointed in the wake of the Council were chosen from the most liberal
candidates: “In the first years after Vat¬ican II, the
candidate for the episcopate seemed to be a priest who above all
was ‘open to the world’. At any rate this criterion
came entirely into the foreground” (The Ratz¬inger Report,
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