text of this conference is appropriately included here.
If there is
no agreement with Rome, we shall just have to continue our work.
But supposing that there is an agreement with Rome, we would find
ourselves in a different atmosphere. This would be a new period
in the Society, a new period for Tradition that will require infinite
Why do I say,
"if" there is an agreement? It is not difficult; I shall
explain it to you in a few words. Thus I have signed the Protocol;
I have it here. It contains five pages. The first is on doctrinal
questions (see p.4), and the others on disciplinary questions.
On the doctrinal
questions the discussion was a little difficult. They prepared this
text; we did not; they put it on the table. We corrected some omissions.
It is always the same question: a few sentences on the Pope saying
that we recognize the Pope, that we submit ourselves to the Sovereign
Pontiff, that we acknowledge his primacy.
And they had
added that we acknowledge him as "the head of the college of
bishops." I said, "I don't like that. It is an ambiguous
notion. The best proof of this is that an explanatory note had to
be included in the Council, to explain what "college"
meant in this sense, saying that it was not a true college."
So I said, "You should not put that. It will give the impression
that we accept collegiality." So they said, "Let's put
the body of bishops."' The Pope is the head of the episcopal
Then they said
we had to accept the paragraph in Lumen Gentium, which deals
with the Magisterium of the Church, no.25. When you read this paragraph,
you understand it condemns them, not us; they would have to sign
it because it is not so badly written and it contains a whole paragraph
stressing the immutability of the doctrine, the immutability of
the Faith, the immutability of the formulas. We agree with that.
There are those who need to sign this. Thus there is no difficulty
in accepting this paragraph, which expresses traditional doctrine.
Then they added
a number three which made us swallow the pill that followed. It
was not easy to accept but with this number three, we were "saved
from the waters." In this number three they recognized that
there were some points in the Council and in the reform of the liturgy
and of the canon law, which we considered irreconcilable with Tradition.
They agreed to speak of this, which they had always refused before.
Every time that we had said something was not reconcilable with
Tradition, such as religious liberty, they used to say, "You
can't say that; there is nothing in the Council opposed to Tradition.
Let us change the expression. We cannot say that there is anything
irreconcilable with Tradition."
Then came the
question of the liturgy. We recognized "the validity of the
Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments celebrated with the intention
of doing what the Church does, and according to the rites indicated
in the typical editions of the Roman Missal." It was
maybe too much, but since they had put that there were some points
in the liturgy that were eventually against Tradition... I wanted
to add, "taking into account what was stated in no. 3..."
but they did not accept it.
was on canon law. We promised, "to respect the common discipline
of the Church and the ecclesiastical laws, especially those contained
in the Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope John Paul II."
They wanted to say "all ecclesiastical law." I
objected, it would have been to recognize all the new canon
law. [I.e., including canon 844 on Eucharistic sharing with non-Catholics.]
So they took away the word "all." As you see, it was a
At the conclusion
of number three they put "we pledge that we will have a positive
attitude of study and communication with the Apostolic See, avoiding
all polemics," as we had done on religious liberty (with the
Dubia). "Without polemics," I said, "we never
made any polemics!" "Oh, no. See what you did to the Pope."
They were referring to the little drawings (see below-Ed.) which
the Pope looked at attentively...and maybe they were looking at
them with a little smile ....So I said, "This was not polemics;
it was a catechism lesson! Indeed, who is responsible for these
actions? It is not us, it is the Pope. If the Pope would not do
reprehensible things, we would say nothing. But since he does things,
which are absolutely unbelievable, unacceptable, therefore, we react;
it is absolutely natural. Let the Pope stop doing these reprehensible
things, incomprehensible, unthinkable, and we will stop reacting."
They said nothing; they did not answer. Then we spoke of the juridical
The first was
on the Roman Commission. There we lost some points. We wanted all
the members of the Roman Commission to be members of Tradition.
It did not matter whether they would belong to the Society or not,
but they should be members of Tradition in order to be able to judge
of the things of Tradition. They said, "No, this is not an
embassy. We must be present, too." Thus the President would
be Card. Ratzinger. There would be a Vice-President, too; but they
did not want to release his name, but he probably would not be from
Tradition. Then there would be other members from Rome and only
two from Tradition. I said, "Well! That's very few."
that; you shall see that throughout the discussions, and already
you found that on the doctrinal discussions, their intentions have
clearly appeared. I suspected they had such intentions but I did
not expect them to manifest them so clearly. Their intention is
clear: they want to put their hands on the Roman Commission. For
the Society of Saint Pius X, its recognition would not raise any
difficulty, but all the other foundations, which surround the Society,
would have to deal directly with the Roman Commission. They would
have no more relations with the Society. They put "the members
of the community living according to the rules of various religious
institutes ...are to be given case by case a particular statute
regulating their relations with their respective order." One
can see their intentions, separating these traditional communities
from the Society and putting them under their (modernist) superiors
general, making them defend themselves.
Then they agreed
to recognize the Society as of pontifical right with some exemptions
in the pastoral domain for the administration of the sacraments.
This would be good only for the existing houses.
Then came the
question of the bishops. They said very clearly, "You do not
need a bishop. As soon as the Society is recognized with a canonical
status with the Holy See, you can ask any bishop to perform your
ordinations and confirmations. There are 3,000 bishops in the world
ready to give you ordinations and confirmations... even Card. Gagnon
and Card. Oddi are ready to give you confirmations and perform your
ordinations!" I said, "This is impossible. This is a condition
sine qua non. The faithful will never accept this. Indeed, what
would these bishops preach?" With the intentions that we can
see among them, their preaching will always be, "you must accept
the Council, you must accept what the Pope does, you must accept
the novelties. We respect your Tradition; you must respect our new
rights. No difference."
So, we have
been very severe. So, they have put a little paragraph, "for
psychological reasons, the consecration of a member of the Society
to follow? After signing the Protocol, they wanted me to write a
letter to the Pope, asking for the re-establishment of a normal
situation for the Society, for the pontifical right, the suppression
of the canonical penalties, exemptions, and privileges - so-called
privileges - on the liturgy. Thus, I have signed, I have written
I signed it
on Thursday; Feast of St. Pius V They did not know it was the Feast
of St. Pius V because they have relocated his feast to another date...
Thus I have
said, "We must know where to stand concerning June 30th, it's
coming soon." So, with these thoughts, I did not sleep the
whole night. I told myself, "They are going to get us."
Indeed, the Cardinal had made a few frightening reflections. "Well!
There is only one Church ...as we respect your feelings, you must
also respect religious liberty, the New Mass, the sacraments. It
is inconceivable that you turn the faithful away from these new
sacraments, from the New Mass.... For example, if there is an agreement,
it is evident that in churches such as St. Nicolas du Chardonnet,
Card. Lustiger shall ask that a New Mass be said there. This is
the one Church, in it there is the Tradition that we shall grant
you, but there are also the new rites that you must accept for the
faithful of your parish who do not want Tradition." I said,
"Well! Go and tell that to our parishioners and see how they
They call all
this a "reconciliation." This means that we accept what
they do and they accept what we do. Thus, we have to align ourselves
on Dom Augustin [Dom Augustin founded a traditional Benedictine
monastery in the early 70's. In 1985, after the Indult, he had secret
meetings with the Vatican to make a special arrangement.
The Vatican required: 1) the New Mass as the Community Mass,
2) the new Breviary, 3) new rites of Ordination, 4) unconditional
submission to the local bishop, who even for a while
forbade them to preach the Exercises of St. Ignatius, which had
been the main apostolic work of his monastery - Ed.] and Fongombault
[a conservative Benedictine monastery in France which took the New
Mass in the mid-70's under pressure from the local bishop - Ed.].
This is not
possible. All this makes me hesitate. We asked the Cardinal when
we would be able to consecrate a bishop. On the 30th of June? He
said, "No, this is much too early. It takes time to make a
bishop. In Germany it takes nine months to make a bishop."
When I told that to Card. Oddi, he said, "That must be a beautiful
baby then!" I said, "Well, give us a date. Let's be precise.
The 15th of August?" "No, on August 15th there
is no one in Rome. It is the holidays from July 15th
to September 15th." "What about November 1st?" "I
can't tell you." "What about Christmas?" "I
I said to myself,
"Finished. I have understood. They do not want to give us a
bishop." They put it on the paper because we were ready to
quit the negotiations without it, but they will maneuver. They are
convinced that when the Society is acknowledged we don't need a
So, I took
my pen on Friday morning and wrote to the Cardinal: "It was
with real satisfaction that I put my signature on the Protocol drafted
during the preceding days. However, you yourself have witnessed
my deep disappointment upon the reading of the letter which you
gave me, bringing the Holy Father's answer concerning the episcopal
consecrations." Indeed, in that letter - I do not have it here
- which he brought me from the Holy Father, there is an astonishing
sentence. It goes, "It is possible that we consider one day
granting you a consecration," as if it was something very vague,
a mere possibility, an eventuality. I cannot accept that. [Here,
the Archbishop reads the rest of the letter dated May 6, 1988. (See
of Archbishop Lefebvre to Card. Ratzinger (May 6, 1988)
was with real satisfaction that I put my signature on the Protocol
drafted during the preceding days. However, you yourself have witnessed
my deep disappointment upon the reading of the letter, which you
gave me, bringing the Holy Father's answer concerning the episcopal
to postpone the episcopal consecrations to a later undetermined
date would be the fourth time that it would have been postponed.
The date of the 30th of June was clearly indicated in my previous
letters as the latest possible.
I have already
given you a file concerning the candidates. There are still two
months to make the mandate.
Given the particular
circumstances of this proposal, the Holy Father can very well shorten
the procedure so that the mandate be communicated to us around mid-June.
In case the
answer will be negative, I would find myself in conscience obliged
to proceed with the consecrations, relying upon the agreement given
by the Holy See in the Protocol for the consecration of one bishop,
member of the Society.
expressed on the subject of the episcopal consecration of a member
of the Society, either by writing or by word of mouth, gives me
reason to fear delays. Everything is now prepared for the ceremony
of June 30th: hotel reservations, transportation, rental of a huge
tent to house the ceremony.
of our priests and faithful would be extreme. All of them hope that
this consecration will be realized with the agreement of the Holy
See; but being already disappointed by previous delays they will
not understand that I would accept a further delay. They are aware
and desirous above all of having truly Catholic bishops transmitting
the true Faith to them, and communicating to them in a way that
is certain the graces of salvation to which they aspire for themselves
and for their children.
In the hope
that this request shall not be an insurmountable obstacle to the
reconciliation in process, please, Eminence, accept my respectful
and fraternal sentiments in Christo et Maria.
Archbishop-Bishop of Tulle
So, I immediately
received an answer. On Friday morning I took my letter to the
Cardinal before my departure from Rome. And, on that very evening,
Fr. du Chalard was given the answer of the Cardinal, even before
the Cardinal saw the Pope at 7:30pm. He should have waited to
see the Pope and tell him, "Look what I just received from
Archbishop Lefebvre. What shall we do?" He did not even wait.
Here, the Archbishop reads the Cardinal's letter of May 6th. (See
of Card. Ratzinger to Archbishop Lefebvre (May 6, 1988)
I have attentively
read the letter, which you just addressed, to me, in which you tell
me your intentions concerning the episcopal consecration of a member
of the Society on June 30th next.
intentions are in sharp contrast with what has been accepted during
our dialogue on May 4th, and which has been signed in
the Protocol yesterday, I wish to inform you that the release of
the press communiqué has to be deferred.
wish that you reconsider your position in conformity with the results
of the dialogue, so that the communiqué may be released.
In this hope,
Fr. du Chalard
brought that letter to me at Ecône on Sunday morning. I said to
him, "Tell the Secretary of the Cardinal that for me the whole
thing is finished. I am not changing the date of June 30th. It is
the final date. I feel my strength diminishing. I even have a difficulty
in traveling by car. [Fr. Lorans, former Rector of the Seminary
of Ecône, reports that after the decision to proceed with the consecrations
was taken, without accepting the Protocol, great peace and better
health were noticeable again in the Archbishop - Ed.] I think it
would be to put in danger the continuation of the Society and the
seminaries if I do not perform these consecrations." I think
they will agree to that date. They are too anxious for this reconciliation.
them, this reconciliation means, "We shall give you this Tradition
for a little while but, after two or three years when you will have
understood that you must accept the reforms, then your community
Masses will be the New Mass - as for Dom Augustin - you may be allowed
to say the traditional Mass in private but no more. Vatican II happened;
you must accept Vatican II and its consequences. It is inadmissible
that there be in the Church people who do not accept the reforms
and consequences of Vatican II"
One can see
that this is their way of thinking. I want to remain firm. They
are afraid. They think that if there is a bishop, he will lead all
the faithful attached to Tradition, he will give strength to Tradition
by his preaching. For confirmations, ordinations, any occasion,
a bishop strengthens the faith of the faithful. So they say, "If
there is a bishop we cannot stop it." They want none of this.
But their intention
is very clear. If I write the letter they want to the Pope, we are
officially recognized. They ask us to be patient for a little while;
they do not give us any date. And after the summer holiday, they
tell us, "Look, now, you have been living for three months
with this official recognition. You do not need a bishop. You can
address yourself to any bishop for ordinations." This is almost
certain; otherwise, they would give us a date. If they were really
sincere about giving us a bishop, it would not have been difficult
for them to say, "For sure, at least by Christmas, you will
have a bishop." But, no, they did not want that. It was clear
that they had previously agreed among themselves on this: they were
four in front of us, none of them said anything; not even one said
to the Cardinal, "Eminence, couldn't we..."
I think that
by the end of this month they will call in Fr. du Chalard and say
to him, "Well, let us settle. We shall give you a bishop."
I tell you
that this makes a problem for me, given their will to impose Vatican
II. After the visit, they could have said a little word such as,
"We can see that Tradition has brought a lot of good. We are
happy to welcome you, and to allow you to continue." But, no,
not even the least compliment.
One can feel
very well that they want to hold us under their influence. I fear
this influence. These Romans would go and visit the Dominicans,
the Benedictines, the priories of the Society. All these traditional
foundations will be isolated from the Society. They will send their
superiors general, who will talk to these sisters and say, "Be
open-minded. Don't be against the New Mass..." They will give
conferences to the sisters.... Above that, one has to reckon with
the local bishops. What shall they say?...
We shall see
what Providence manifests.... We are living through dramatic days.
It is the whole of Tradition that is at stake. We must not make
a mistake and let all these influences loose. There certainly are
some advantages. It is like a bet: they bet that they shall "get
us," and we bet that we will "get them!" They say
that by having the upper hand on us, they will have the last word.
We say that with the authorization of Rome, there will be such a
development of our works that they won't be able to do anything
against us. This bet is difficult to calculate. They have some flushes;
we have some flushes. I did tell them, we really wish to have the
authorization of Rome. Everyone wishes to have it, but we cannot
remain in limbo.
by Fr. Boivin [District Bursar of the District of
France.]: "Will there be one or several bishops?"
If there is
no authorization from Rome, there will be several bishops. Personally,
I think that some important events shall come. Europe was invaded
twice and cut from America, from Africa - no more communication.
So I think it will be useful to have several bishops. I did insist
and ask the Cardinal for two or three, also because of the immensity
of the work. He has never accepted, or one at the most...
by Fr. Boivin: "What about the churches?"
places of worship will be ratified. They would ask the local bishops
to consider them as regular places of worship in their diocese.
But for any new one, there would be need of an agreement. It would
be the duty of the Roman Commission to see what would be the conditions.
It would certainly be more difficult. As they said for St. Nicolas
du Chardonnet, if the bishops give us a parish - Card. Decourtray
at Lyons has promised a beautiful church - they would require that
one New Mass be said in that parish. Card. Decourtray did that with
Fr. Cottin; he said to him, "I allow you to say the old Mass,
but I request that at least one New Mass be said by the assistant
priest." Thus there would be as much for the novelties as for
Tradition. Of course, this is impossible. We have chosen Tradition
because we deem the novelties to be bad and to hurt the Faith. It
is the position of some conservative groups such as Una Voce who
accept the New Mass. They would like to realign us along these lines.
This is not possible. This would be contrary to all that we have
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