Archbishop LEFEBVRE and the VATICAN

October 1988

The Strategy of “Rehabilitation”
Unveiled by Cardinal Decourtray

In this text on of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre, Bishop Tissier de Mallerais analyzed the Declaration of Cardinal Decourtray, President of the French Bishops’ Conference, published in Documentation Catholique, No.1969, Oct. 1988. Bishop Tissier de Mallerais cites from Cardinal Decourtray and follows with his commentary. The Cardinal’s Declaration exposes a strategy by which a traditional priest is to be marginalized and made of no effect in a diocese.

In a communiqué to the priestly council and to the diocesan pastoral council which met in an extraordinary session, the Cardinal Archbishop of Lyon did not hide the fact that the reception of the priests who leave Archbishop Lefebvre will be made with no gift attached; it will be, in fact, their rehabilitation into the Conciliar Church.

Let us take up the interesting passage of the Cardinal’s document. We emphasize [in italics] what should be emphasized:

Dear Friends, From now on you will know a little better the conditions under which I was brought to welcome Fr._____, lately ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre and put in charge of the St. Pius X priory on the Rue de Marseille, and to entrust him, in urgency and in a provisional way, with the agreement of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, with the Chapel of Notre-Dame-des-Martyrs at the Place Saint-Irénée. Obviously it is not a question of a parish but of a shrine open to the faithful who desire to follow the Tridentine Tradition of the Mass (according to the typical edition of the Roman Missal of 1962)....I have given a place of worship for the Tridentine celebration of the Mass.

Thus no parish apostolate, only the celebration of Mass. One is far from the activity of the priory: catechism classes, youth movements, conferences, etc.

...This priest is therefore right now in order with the Church and has received the necessary jurisdiction for the valid exercise of the ministry of Penance or Reconciliation. The questions relative to the other sacraments, notably to marriage, remain pending. It will be necessary to take one’s time. While waiting, Father…will see with the pastor of Saint-Irénée how to respond, in a way that is pastoral and consistent with the present day law of the Church, to certain prompt and exceptional requests.

Thus we have dependence with respect to an official parish and its pastor. The only autonomy is to be in the administration of the Sacrament of Penance.

For the future, here is the text of the declaration that I will ask from the priests who, having recently manifested more or less explicitly, in word or in act, their approval of the actions and of the remarks of Archbishop Lefebvre, desire to exercise the priestly ministry in the Diocese of Lyon (jurisdiction for Confession and the cura animarum) and to obtain contingently the Indult permitting the use of the Roman Missal according to the typical edition of 1962.

Thus it is not only the ex-members of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X who will be compelled to sign a declaration but all “suspect” priests, those who would hardly have manifested explicitly, even if only in words, their approval, even though only the utterances of Archbishop Lefebvre. And what is more, it is not certain that these suspect priests will be allowed to celebrate the Mass of all times.

The diverse points of this declaration are nearly those of the protocol refused on May 6 by Archbishop Lefebvre.

I promise always to be faithful to the Catholic Church and to the Roman Pontiff, its supreme Pastor, Vicar of Christ, successor of the blessed Peter in his primacy, and head of the body of bishops, in accordance with the First Council of the Vatican (Denzinger-Schönmetzer, 3059-3064), and with Vatican II (Lumen Gentium, §22), as well as to the bishop of Lyon, to whom I promise respect and obedience.

To the text of the Protocol are thus added new requirements. First of all, obedience to the bishop of the place. Will it therefore be necessary to obey his “pastoral of the Community,”139 and adopt the catechism, Pierres Vivantes?140

I declare that I adhere to the teachings of the magisterium of the Pope and the bishops, in conformity with the doctrine of the First Vatican Council (Denzinger-Schönmetzer, 3065-3074) and of the Second Vatican Council (Lumen Gentium, §25).

A demand that is new and without limits! This is not to adhere to the magisterium when it is truly a magisterium, that is to say, when it faithfully transmits the revealed deposit; but there is demanded the adherence to the teachings [of the magisterium] of the pope and the bishops of this time: therefore, to ecumenism, to religious liberty, to the rights of man, etc.

I pledge myself to have a positive attitude, of studying the decrees of the Second Vatican Council, of the liturgical books, and of the Code of Canon Law promulgated following the Council by the Sovereign Pontiff.

It is self-evident that Cardinal Decourtray erased from his text what Cardinal Ratzinger was conceding to Archbishop Lefebvre, namely, the right to consider that “certain texts” of the Council are “difficult to reconcile with Tradition.” It is on these texts that Archbishop Lefebvre promised to have a positive attitude of study, etc. Visibly, at Lyon and in the dioceses, no dispute of the conciliar documents will be permitted, not even a question mark. No, one must stick to everything and “study” everything, as if he were culpably ignorant of these texts, as well as of those of the Mass of Paul VI and of the new Canon Law.

I declare that I recognize the validity of the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments celebrated with the intention of doing what the Church does in communion with the Pope and according to the rites indicated in the typical editions and the translations of the missal and of the rituals, promulgated and approved by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II.

You will notice the two added points that we have emphasized. Non-communion with the Pope does not affect, in any case, the validity of the Mass. On the other hand, the bad translations (such as “pour la multitude” and, still more serious, the “for all” of the English and German [and Italian] translation—betrayals) do indeed affect the validity, or, at the least, place a doubt in their regard. Approved of or not by the present-day Roman bureaus, a translation that changes even only partially the meaning of the sacramental words can render the sacrament invalid. The creativity of the national centers of pastoral liturgical study and the frivolity of the Roman commissions are the cause of numerous erroneous vernacular versions, which are indeed bluntly whimsical ones that can bring about the invalidity of the sacrament.

Even in Latin certain new sacramentary texts yield, by their ambiguity, to an interpretation that is Protestant in a sense, and that can exert influence on the celebrant by giving him a counter-intention which invalidates the sacrament.

I promise to observe the common discipline of the Church and the ecclesiastical laws, particularly those contained in the Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope John Paul II.

Here there is no change in the text that Archbishop Lefebvre had judged on May 5 as being at the extreme limit of acceptability, with the restriction placed on No. 3, concerning the “texts difficult to reconcile with Tradition.” Deprived of this restriction, the declaration demanded by Cardinal Decourtray asks for the acceptance of the entirely questionable passages from the new Canon Law. For example: the “double subject of the supreme power in the Church”; the reversal of the two ends of marriage (the perfecting of the spouses put before the procreation and education of the children!); the suppression of the promises of the non-Catholic spouse in a mixed marriage, concerning the baptism and the Catholic education of all the children; and finally, intercommunion foreseen in certain cases.

Thought must also be given to the pastoral accompaniment of the faithful attached to the Tridentine Mass but faithful to the pope and to the receive the confidence of the faithful attached to the liturgy and to the catechesis such as they knew them before the reforms, but also to help them progress in the living communion of the Catholic Church. For this I count very much on the movements of Catholic Action, in the strict or the broad sense.

In this excerpt you have the purpose of the intended rehabilitation: “ help them to progress in the Living Communion of the Catholic Church...” How are we to interpret this except to mean that we must “get into line,” to be “re-integrated” into the system, to accept the new ideology of the conciliar Church?...“Let us not set foot in the opposing camp, because we would thus be giving the enemy a proof of our weakness, which the enemy would try to interpret as a sign of weakness and a mark of complicity.” —St. Pius X

Tissier de Mallerais

139. i.e., the Cardinal’s pastoral policy to develop base communities.

140. A heretical French catechism.


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