LEFEBVRE and the
of Archbishop Lefebvre
Given to Fideliter Magazine
Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais ordained seven priests at
Ecône, Switzerland, on September 25, 1988, and Bishop Bernard
Fellay, another of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop
Lefebvre, ordained three at Zaitzkofen, Germany, on October 1,
1988. These constitute the most important actions after
the consecrations. After the ordinations, His Excellency
Archbishop Lefebvre granted an interview to Fideliter.
After these ordinations, what are your feelings?
Lefebvre: I can feel nothing but joy. It was,
indeed, this desire to insure the continuity of the transmission
of the Catholic priesthood that led me to consecrate four bishops.
This was my
wish—to see the work continue. It was a feeling that
I had already experienced when I passed on the charge of Superior
General of the Society to Fr. Schmidberger. I acknowledge
that I will be happy if the Good Lord grants me a few more years
to live and see the continuation of the Society. Now
there are signs that it will last, that it will endure, and that
it will be strengthened. I am happy to see that my
episcopacy shall not be the last one faithful to Tradition, and
that Tradition will continue even should I die now. The
fact of having bishops is of paramount importance.
It was certainly
a decision not easily made. On Jan. 2, 1988, I wrote
to Fr. Aulagnier, “Behold, a new year is beginning; it will be a
year for great decisions, whether the proposals from Rome are good
or not. I am almost certain that they will be inadmissible,
and that we shall have to continue the work of the Church without
the support of the Vatican. It shall be the year of
the bishops of the Society, God willing—Let us hope that it shall
be a source of blessings. He who says blessings, says
It is with
that spirit that I went to the negotiations which I feared would
At the end of July, in the conference to the Chilean bishops,
Cardinal Ratzinger had severe words regarding the disastrous effects
of Vatican II, without identifying their causes.
Lefebvre: Yes, indeed. He called for an examination
of conscience for “the post-schism.” He proposed three
areas of reflection.
1) The question of the liturgy too much desacralized;
2) Whether it was an error to present Vatican II
as a super-dogma, blotting out the whole of the Tradition of the
3) That the documents of the Council do not all
have the same importance.
said that many see, in Archbishop Lefebvre, a guide and a useful
master....One must take into account the positive elements which
do not find a vital place in the Church today. He
expressed the opinion that if the areas are corrected “the schism”
of Archbishop Lefebvre will not last long. What can
be the deep feelings of the Cardinal? One is forced
to acknowledge that, for the Cardinal, one must return to the Council.
had a little hope that something had changed in the Vatican; especially
after the Visit of Cardinal Gagnon and Msgr. Perl and their declarations,
I had hoped that things would develop in Rome.
when we found out their deeper intentions in the meetings, the discussions
on the Protocol, and the Protocol itself, I realized that nothing
had changed. We were faced with a brick wall.
They had hoped to put an end to Tradition. This
is, indeed, the position of Rome, of the Pope, of Cardinal Ratzinger,
of Cardinal Mayer, of Cardinal Casaroli....All these people hold
desperately to the Council, to this “new Pentecost,” to the reform
of the Church. They do not want to depart from it.
said it openly in an interview to the great Frankfurt newspaper,
Die Welt, about the consecrations: “It is inadmissible, one
cannot accept that there be in the Church groups of Catholics who
do not follow the general way of thinking of the bishops in the
Here you have
it; it is clear!
For a while
I thought something had changed in him, but I have to acknowledge
that all he did was with the intention to suppress the group that
we were forming and to bring us back to the Council. It
would be a mistake to impute only to Cardinal Decourtray and to
the French Bishops this will; it is the position of Rome.
The only difference is that the Vatican has more facilities
to grant things to attract the traditionalists and, then later,
destroy them and bring them back to the Council. It
is just a question of Roman diplomacy.
German and Swiss bishops are not happy with the groups to which
Rome has now granted some privileges. So they have
said to the Vatican, “Don’t give us such groups. We
don’t know what to do with them! They are going to
cause trouble. We had condemned them; we had rejected
them, and now you say they have the right to do what they want.
It cannot go like that.”
I would not
be surprised that there be confrontations between the bishops and
Rome. Some have already started. Recently,
in the name of the Swiss bishops, Msgr. Henri Schwery made a violent
declaration against Rome, saying that it was inadmissible to have
given such admissions to the traditionalists without consulting
them. They have not been consulted and Rome has caused
disorder in their dioceses.141
I will, therefore,
not be surprised if during the next bishops’ meeting of France,
Germany and Switzerland there be violent reactions against Rome.
The Vatican shall be brought to say to those who have left
us, “You must accept the Council; you must accept the New Mass.
You must not be so intransigent.”
“will get them!” It’s impossible that it should be
Cardinal Oddi recently declared, “I’m convinced that the
division shall not last long, and that Archbishop Lefebvre shall
soon be back in the Church of Rome.” Others say that
the Pope and Cardinal Ratzinger feel that the “Lefebvre affair”
is not closed. In your last letter to the Holy Father142
you declared that you were waiting for a more propitious time for
the return of Rome to Tradition. What do you think
of a possible re-opening of the dialogue with Rome?
Lefebvre: We do not have the same outlook on a reconciliation.
Cardinal Ratzinger sees it as reducing us, bringing us back
to Vatican II. We see it as a return of Rome to Tradition.
We don’t agree; it is a dialogue of death. I
can’t speak much of the future, mine is behind me, but if I live
a little while, supposing that Rome calls for a renewed dialogue,
then, I will put conditions. I shall not accept being
in the position where I was put during the dialogue. No
I will place
the discussion at the doctrinal level: “Do you agree with the great
encyclicals of all the popes who preceded you? Do you agree with
Quanta Cura of Pius IX, Immortale Dei and Libertas
of Leo XIII, Pascendi Gregis of Pius X, Quas Primas
of Pius XI, Humani Generis of Pius XII? Are you in full communion
with these Popes and their teachings? Do you still accept the entire
Anti-Modernist Oath? Are you in favor of the social reign of Our
Lord Jesus Christ? If you do not accept the doctrine of your predecessors,
it is useless to talk! As long as you do not accept the correction
of the Council, in consideration of the doctrine of these Popes,
your predecessors, no dialogue is possible. It is useless.”
positions will be clear.
are not small. We are not content when they say to
us, “You may say the traditional Mass, but you must accept the Council.”
What opposes us is doctrine; it is clear.
This is what
Dom Gérard did not see, and what confused him. Dom
Gérard has always seen the liturgy and the monastic life, but he
does not clearly see the theological problems of the Council, especially
Religious Liberty. He does not see the malice of these
errors. He was never too much worried about this.
What touched him was the liturgical reform and the reform
of the Benedictine monasteries. He left Tournay, saying,
“I cannot accept this.”
Then, he founded
a community of monks with the liturgy and with a Benedictine spirit.
Very well, wonderful. But he did not appreciate
enough that these reforms which led him to leave his monastery were
the consequences of errors in the Council itself.
As long as
they grant him what he wanted—this monastic spirit and the traditional
liturgy—he has what he wants and is indifferent to the rest.
But he has fallen into a snare: the others have given up
nothing of their false principles.
It is sad
because there are around sixty monks, twenty priests, and thirty
nuns. There are nearly one hundred youth there, bewildered,
whose families are worried or even divided. It is
The nuns of the monastery Notre Dame de l’Annonciation remain
very much attached to you.
Lefebvre: Yes, indeed. They came to manifest
their affections....However, I do not seek this affection, but rather
that they remain attached to Tradition. Are they willing
to submit to a modernist authority? Here, indeed,
is the question. If needed they must separate themselves
from Dom Gérard to keep the Faith and Tradition.
At least the
monastery in Brazil [Dom Tomás Aquino’s Monastery of Santa Cruz]
refused to follow Dom Gérard and that is an important point.
that what has contributed to the loss of Dom Gérard was his desire
to open to those who are not with us and who would profit from following
Tradition. This was the theme of what he wrote in
his letter to the Friends of the Monastery two years after his arrival
at Le Barroux. He was saying, “We will strive not
to have this critical, sterile, negative attitude. We
will strive to open our doors to all those who, though they might
not have our ideas, would love the liturgy, so that they too may
benefit from the monastic life.”
period, I was worried, considering this as a dangerous operation.
It was the opening of the Church to the world, and one must
acknowledge that it was the world that converted the Church.
Dom Gérard let himself be contaminated by the milieu which
he welcomed in his monastery. Rome may be proud to
have won a big battle and to have hit in the right place.
It is sad....
Do you believe in the future of the Society of St. Peter?
Lefebvre: It is a phantom society. They have
copied our statutes and all that we have done.
Even Cardinal Oddi was skeptical of its future, referring
himself to the previous attempts of Rome to rehabilitate seminarians
from the Society of Saint Pius X.
Lefebvre:....In one year, one and a half, they may be asked
to return to their dioceses....They will have to choose priests
from the dioceses to take care of their seminarians. They
will have to wait for a year and to undergo an examination before
being accredited. How can they see that they are being
played with? They came to Rome to deliver themselves
into their hands with the hope of keeping Tradition and they are
already rejected. “You are not allowed to teach in
your seminary. You must pass an exam first, because
we do not trust you.” It is unbelievable. It
manifests that there is, in Rome, the will to put an end to Tradition.
This is also
the reason that they did not want to give us bishops. Rome
did not want traditional bishops. This is why the
consecrations annoyed them and caused such a terrible shock.
It is like the stone which hit Goliath.
us after having lifted all other excommunications, is the end of
their ecumenism. How can they imagine that those with
whom they wish to shake hands trust them when they excommunicate
those who uphold Tradition?
The most recent
issue of Fideliter was entitled, “Rome Is Perplexed.”
This is true; they don’t know what to do: attacking us they
attack the Church of all times and the Good Lord cannot allow that.
“Msgr. Henri Schwery, President of the Swiss Episcopal
Conference, has publicly lamented ‘the lack of openness of
the Vatican regarding the re integration of some tra¬ditionalist
communities.’ According to Schwery, open relations and negotiations
do not exist between ‘the Holy See and the local bishops,’
and in his view the Commis¬sion should continue to operate only
‘on the condition that the bishop of the place concerned be
informed and consulted’” (30 Days, No.6, Oct. 1988).
June 2, 1988.
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109