Archbishop LEFEBVRE and the VATICAN

October, 1989

Cardinal Mayer’s Interview in 30 Days Magazine

It is well to place here a excerpt from the interview given by Augustin Cardinal Mayer, inaugural President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, to Stefano Maria Paci of 30 Days magazine (Oct. 1988). It adds some interesting insight as to the perspective of Rome regarding Dom Gérard’s Declaration, that is, the only perspective which counts.

Paci: When Dom Gérard announced that an agreement had been reached with Rome, he also said, “no doctrinal or liturgical concession was requested, and no ban was imposed on anti-Modernist preaching.” The statement sparked considerable debate. What are the actual terms of the agreement?

Cardinal Mayer: Dom Gérard’s statement was not exact.

[Then the Cardinal explains how Dom Gérard was not exact.]

They cannot just accept the concessions offered by the Protocol and forget the obligations! [It] required the acceptance of the doctrine contained in the dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium (§25); the adoption of a positive attitude, one open to dialogue, toward the Holy See regarding those points that could129 cause difficulties; the recognition of the validity of the Sacrifice of the Mass and of the Sacraments celebrated according to the rites promulgated by Pope Paul VI and John Paul II; and obedience to the prescriptions contained in the 1983 Code of Canon Law....In the same way, one cannot simply approve of the opening toward legitimate130 spiritual and liturgical aspirations in the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei of last July 2, and neglect the criticism made there of a false notion of Tradition.

The price of this compromise will be to criticize the notion of Tradition held by Archbishop Lefebvre in order to accept a new notion of living Tradition which allows all the changes we have witnessed over the past 30-35 years. I have already noted how this is not the true life of Tradition.

Please note also the requirement to accept all the prescriptions of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, including Canon 844 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law (see p.150ff.).

[Cardinal Mayer continues:]

Dom Gérard, in addition, stated in a letter to the Holy Father, sent on July 8, 1988, that he and his monks wanted “to lay at the feet of Your Holiness...the testimony of our attachment to the magisterium of the Church.”

Magisterium” can be understood in two ways: an objective way, i.e., the teachings; or a subjective way, i.e., the teachers. If Dom Gérard meant the objective 20-centuries-old magisterium of the Church, wasn’t his attachment to this magisterium already very clear by his stand for Tradition? No need for a new testimony of it. If he meant the objective new teachings of Vatican II, then beware! If he meant an attachment to the teachers, i.e., to the Pope as Successor of Peter, then I think it was sufficiently manifested by the very fact that he and the other priests and faithful attached to Tradition continued to recognize the Pope even though they were persecuted by him. If we recognize the Pope even though he uses all kinds of ecclesiastical pressures against us because we keep Tradition, can he doubt our attachment to him the day he returns to Tradition? If a loyal wife remains faithful to an errant husband even though he is physically abusive to her, is there any doubt that such a good woman will remain faithful when her husband comes to his senses and stops such abuse? Maledicimur et benedicimus: we are cursed and we bless, we overcome evil by good,” as St. Paul says; this is a sign of the Spirit of God.

The next question was about Dom Gérard’s condition that “this event be not considered as a discredit on the person of Archbishop Lefebvre.” The Cardinal “expressed his understanding for the feelings of affection and veneration towards Archbishop Lefebvre...but it was obvious...that they could not follow him in any way on the path towards schism.” Therefore, the Cardinal was requesting that they now consider Archbishop Lefebvre as schismatic. How can such an agreement “not be considered as a discredit” with such a condition? Isn’t there a contradiction?

If, on the contrary, Dom Gérard thought that the ceremony of June 30 was not schismatic—he had to, otherwise he committed a mortal sin by taking part in it—then why accept such a condition? And why did he write in his letter of July 8, according to the testimony of Cardinal Mayer: “We want to reassure Your Holiness that we reject any idea of separating ourselves from the Church by approving an episcopal ordination conferred without an apostolic mandate”?

Let us pray for these monks that they not be led into further compromises, such as accepting the New Mass. The example of Père Augustin shows the need for such prayers. Let us support Dom Tomàs Aquino[131] who did not compromise.


129. Note the conditional tense.
130. If these aspirations were legitimate, why did the priests and faithful have to wait so long for this opening? Why to give it only at the price of criticizing the true notion of Tradition?
131. Prior of the Monastery of Santa Cruz in Brazil, South America.

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

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