saint in history has had a greater devotion to the papacy than
St. Catherine of Siena, and no one has had a keener appreciation
than this great saint that popes can be imprudent, lack a proper
sense of priorities, submit to the influence of unsuitable advisors,
and allow abuses which are harming the Church to remain uncorrected.
Despite her respect for the papal office St. Catherine had no
hesitation in rebuking the popes of her day when they failed to
exercise their office for the good of the Church. She wrote many
letters to them, pointing out their failings and begging them
to do their duty. On 21 November 1983, a letter was dispatched
to Pope John Paul II which history may compare to the letters
of St. Catherine. In this letter, two bishops, Successors of the
Apostles, listed for the Sovereign Pontiff the principal evils
which are bringing about the "self?destruction"of the Church,
a phrase first used by Pope Paul VI. Their tone is respectful,
and their motivation clear?they are concerned for "the good of
the Catholic Faith and the salvation of souls. " We urge our readers
to study this letter with the care its historical importance merits,
and to pray daily that the Holy Father will be given the grace
and courage necessary to act upon it. Anything is possible with
prayer, and if we pray fervently and frequently for the success
of this letter, who knows, it might prove as effective as the
letters of St. Catherine! Before traditional Catholics begin to
reproach Pope John Paul II for failing to perform his duties as
Vicar of Christ effectively, they should ask themselves how effectively
they are carrying out their duty to pray for the Pope, and, if
they fail in this respect, they must answer for it on Judgment
Day. We also beg our readers to pray for the two great and courageous
bishops who wrote this letter. Future generations will honor them
for their fidelity while the names of thousands of compromising
bishops who put the praise of the world before the honor of God
will have faded from the mind of the Church as completely as the
wake of a ship that sailed through the ocean a century ago! Of
Archbishop Lefebvre and Archbishop Castro-Mayer, we can say truly:
"In the midst of the Church the Lord opened their mouths and filled
them with the spirit of wisdom and understanding. "
Your Holiness permit us, with an entire filial openness, to submit
to you the following considerations. During the last twenty years
the situation in the Church is such that it looks like an occupied
Thousands of members of the clergy, and millions of the faithful,
are living in a state of anguish and perplexity because of the
"self-destruction of the Church." They are being thrown into confusion
and disorder by the errors contained in the documents of the Second
Vatican Council, the post-conciliar reforms, and especially the
liturgical reforms, the false notions diffused by official documents
and by the abuse of power perpetrated by the hierarchy.
these distressing circumstances, many are losing the Faith, charity
is becoming cold, and the concept of the true unity of the Church
in time and in space is disappearing.
our capacity as bishops of the Holy Catholic Church, successors
of the Apostles, our hearts are overwhelmed at the sights throughout
the world, by so many souls who are bewildered yet desirous in
continuing in the faith and morals which have been defined by
the Magisterium of the Church and taught by Her in a constant
and universal manner.
seems to us that to remain silent in these circumstances would
be to become accomplices to these wicked works (cf. II Jn. 11).
That is why we find ourselves obliged to intervene in public before
Your Holiness (considering all the measures we have undertaken
in private during the last fifteen years have remained ineffectual)
in order to denounce the principal causes of this dramatic situation,
and to beseech Your Holiness to use his power as Successor of
Peter to "confirm your brothers in the Faith" (Luke 22, 32), which
has been faithfully handed down to us by Apostolic Tradition.
To that end we have attached to this letter an appendix containing
the principal errors which are at the origins of this tragic situation
and which, moreover, have already been condemned by your predecessors.
The following list outlines these errors, but it is not exhaustive:
A latitudinarian and ecumenical notion of the Church, divided
in its faith, condemned in particular by the Syllabus, No. 18
collegial government and a democratic orientation in the Church,
condemned in particular by Vatican Council I (Den. 3055).
- A false
notion of the natural rights of man which clearly appears in the
document on Religious Liberty, condemned in particular by Quanta
cura (Pius IX) and Libertas praestantissimum (Leo XIII)
- An erroneous
notion of the power of the Pope (cf. Den. 3115).
A Protestant notion of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the
Sacraments, condemned by the Counil of Trent, Session XXII.
and in a general manner, the free spreading of heresies, characterized
by the suppression of the Holy Office.
documents containing these errors cause an uneasiness and a disarray,
so much the more profound as they come from a source so much the
more elevated. The clergy and the faithful most moved by this situation
are, moreover, those who are the most attached to the Church, to
the authority of the Successor of Peter, and to the traditional
Magisterium of the Church.
Holy Father, it is urgently necessary that this disarray come to
an end because the flock is dispersing and the abandoned sheep are
following mercenaries. We beseech you, for the good of the Catholic
Faith and for the salvation of souls, to reaffirm the truths, contrary
to these errors, truths which have been taught for twenty centuries
in the Church.
It is with the sentiments of St. Paul before St. Peter, when he
reproached him for having not followed "the truth of the Gospel
(Gal. 2, 11-14), that we are addressing you. His aim was none other
than to protect the faith of the flock.
St. Robert Bellarmine, expressing on this occasion a general moral
principle, states that one must resist the pontiff whose actions
would be prejudicial to the salvation of souls (DE ROM. PON.I.2,
it is with the purpose of coming to the aid of Your Holiness that
we utter this cry of alarm, rendered all the more urgent by the
errors, not to say the heresies, of the new Code of Canon Law and
by the ceremonies and addresses on the occasion of the Fifth Centenary
of the birth of Luther. Truly, this is the limit!
May God come to your aid, Most Holy Father. We are praying without
ceasing for you to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Deign to accept the sentiments of our filial devotion,
Monseigneur Marcel Lefebvre,
International Seminary of Saint Pius X,
S.E. Monseigneur Antonio de Castro-Mayer
Riachuelo 169, C.P. 255
28100 Campos, (RJ) Brazil
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE PRINCIPAL ERRORS OF CONCILIAR ECCLESIOLOGY
A latitudinarist (indifferentist) and ecumenical conception of the
conception of the Church as "the People of God" is hereafter found
in many official documents: the acts of the Council, Unitatis Redintegratio,
Lumen Gentium; the new Code of Canon Law (c. 204.1); the letter
of Pope John Paul II, Catechesi tradendae; the allocution in the
Anglican Church at Canterbury; the ecumenical directory ad totam
Ecclesiam of the Secretariat for the Unity of Christians. It [this
conception] breathes a latitudinarist interpretation and a false
facts manifest with evidence this heterodox conception: the authorizations
for the construction of rooms which are destined for religious pluralism;
the edition of ecumenical bibles which no longer conform to Catholic
exegesis; the ecumenical ceremonies like those of Canterbury.
Unitatis Redintegratio, it is taught that the division of Christians
"is for the world an object of scandal and the obstacle of the preaching
of the Gospel to all creatures . . . that the Holy Spirit does not
refuse to make use of other religions as means of salvation." This
same error is repeated in the document Catechesi tradendae of John
Paul II. It is in the same spirit and with affirmations contrary
to the traditional faith that John Paul II declared at the Cathedral
of Canterbury, May 25, 1982, "that the promise of Christ inspires
us with confidence that the Holy Spirit will heal the divisions
introduced into the Church from the first times at Pentecost" as
though the unity of the Credo had never existed in the Church.
concept of the "People of God" leads to belief that Protestantism
is none other than a particular form of the same Christian religion.
Second Vatican Council teaches "a true union in the Holy Spirit"
with heretical sects (Lumen gentium, 14); "a certain, though imperfect,
communion with them" (Unitatis Redintegratio,3).
This ecumenical unity contradicts the Encyclical Satis cognitum
of Leo XIII which teaches that "Jesus did not found a Church made
up of a number of communities that were generically similar, yet
separate and without those bonds of unity which make the Church
one and indivisible." Similarly, this ecumenical unity is contrary
to the Encyclical Humani generis of Pius XII which condemns the
idea of reducing to a vague formula the necessity of belonging to
the Catholic Church. It is also contrary to the Encyclical Mystici
Corporis of the same Pope which condemns the conception of a "pneumatic"
Church which would be an invisible bond unifying the separated communities
in the faith.
ecumenism is equally contrary to the teachings of Pius XI in
the Encyclical Mortalium animos. Concerning this point it
is timely to expose and reject a certain false opinion which is
at the origin of this problem and of this complex movement by the
means of which non?Catholics strive to obtain a union of Christian
churches. Those who adhere to this opinion constantly cite these
words of Christ: "That they all may be one . . . and there shall
be one fold and one shepherd" (Jn. 17, 21 and 10, 16), and they
claim that by these words Christ expresses a desire or a prayer
which has never been realized. In fact, they claim that the unity
of faith and of government, which is one of the marks of the true
Church of Christ, in a practical manner, up to today, has never
existed and today does not exist.
This ecumenism condemned by Catholic morality and law, now manages
to permit the reception of the Sacraments of Penance, Holy Eucharist
and Extreme Unction from "non?Catholic ministers" (canon 844, N.C.),
and encourages "ecumenical hospitality" by authorizing Catholic
ministers to give the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to nonCatholics.
All these things are contrary to Divine Revelation which stipulates
the "separation" and rejects the union "between light and darkness,
between the faithful and the unbeliever, between the temple of God
and that of sects" (II Corinth. 6, 14?18).
The Collegial-Democratic Government of the Church
undermined the unity of the faith, the Modernists of today strive
to undermine the unity of government and the hierarchical structure
of the Church.
doctrine, already insinuated by the document Lumen Gentium of Vatican
Council II, is taken up again, explicitly, by the new Code of Canon
Law (c. 336). According to this doctrine, the College of Bishops
united with the Pope, has an equal possession of the supreme authority
in the Church, in a habitual and constant manner.
doctrine-of a double supreme authority?is contrary to the teaching
and to the practice of the Magisterium of the Church, especially
in Vatican Council I (DS 3055), and in the Encyclical of Leo 11,
Satis cognitum. The Pope alone has this supreme authority which
he can communicate, in the measure which he judges expedient and
in extraordinary circumstances.
this grave error is attached the democratic orientation of the Church,
with the power residing in the "People of God" such as it is defined
in the new Code. This Jansenist error is condemned by the Bull Auctorem
Fidei of Pius VI (CS 2592).
tendency to cause the "base" to participate in the exercise of power
is found in the institution of the Synodal and Episcopal Conferences,
in the Priestly and Pastoral Councils, and in the multiplication
of Roman Commissions and national commissions, as in the heart of
religious congregations (concerning this, see Vatican Council 1,
DS 3061; new Code of Canon Law, c. 447).
source of the anarchy and disorder which today reign throughout
the Church is to be found in this degradition of authority.
The False Natural Rights of Man
Declaration, Dignitatis humanae, of Vatican Council II, affirms
the existence of a false natural right of man in religious matters,
contrary to the pontifical teachings which repudiate such a blasphemy.
Pius IX in his Encyclical Quanta cura and the Syllabus, Leo
XIII in his Encyclicals Libertas praestantissimum and Immortale
Dei, Pius XII in his allocution, La Riesce, to the Italian
Catholic jurists, deny that reason and revelation found a similar
II professes, in a universal manner, that "The Truth cannot impose
itself except by virtue of its own Truth." This is formally opposed
to the teaching of Pius VI against the Jansenists of the
Council of Pistoia (DS 2604). The Second Vatican Council
thus arrives at the absurdity of affirming the right not to adhere
to, and not to follow the Truth, in order to oblige civil governments
to no longer discriminate for religious motives, thus establishing
a juridical equality between false religions and the true one.
These doctrines, which have already been condemned by Saint Pius
X in the Pontifical Mandate, Notre Charge Apostolique, are
founded on a false conception of human dignity which comes from
the agnostic and materialistic pseudo?philosophers of the French
II says that from Religious Liberty will emerge an era of stability
for the Church. Gregory XVI affirms, on the contrary, that it is
a supreme impudence to affirm that the immoderate freedom of opinion
would be beneficial for the Church.
Council expresses in Gaudium et Spes a false principle when
it says that human and Christian dignity come from the fact of the
Incarnation, which has restored this dignity for all men. This same
error is affirmed in the Encyclical Redemptor hominis of John
consequences of the recognition by the Council of this false "Rights
of Men" destroys the foundations of the social reign of Our Lord.
They undermine the authority and power of the Church in its mission
to cause Our Lord to reign in souls and in hearts, for the Church
must direct the battle against the satanic forces which subjugate
souls. The missionary spirit will be accused of exaggerated proselytism.
The neutrality of States in religious matters is injurious for Our
Lord and His Church, when it is a question of States with a Catholic
The Absolute Authority of the Pope
certainly the authority of the Pope in the Church is a supreme authority,
but it cannot be absolute and without limits, since it is subordinate
to Divine Authority, which is expressed in Tradition, Sacred Scripture,
and the definitions already promulgated by the ecclesiastical Magisterium
The authority of the Pope is subordinate and limited by the end
for which this authority has been given to him. This end is clearly
defined by Pope Pius IX in the Constitution Pastor aeternus
of Vatican Council I (DS 3070). It would be an intolerable abuse
of power to modify the Constitution of the Church and, in doing
so, pretend to appeal to the rights of man against the Divine Right,
as in religious liberty, as in the eucharistic hospitality which
is authorized in the new Canon Law, as in the assertion of two supreme
authorities in the Church.
is clear that in these cases and in other similar cases, it is the
duty for each member of the clergy and each faithful Catholic to
resist and to refuse obedience. Blind obedience is a contrary sense
and no one is exempt from his responsibility for having obeyed man
rather than God (DS 3115). This resistance must be public if the
evil is public and an object of scandal to souls (St. Thomas 11,11,
The above statements are elementary principles of ethics. They regulate
the relations of subjects with all legitimate authority.
this resistance finds a confirmation in the fact that henceforth
those who hold firmly to Tradition and the Catholic Faith are penalized;
those who profess doctrines which are heterodox, or who effect sacrileges
are in no way troubled. That is the logic of an abuse of authority.
Protestant Notion of the Mass
The new notion of the
Church, such as Pope John Paul II defined it in the Constitution
which precedes the new Canon Law, evokes a profound alteration
in the principal act of the Church, which is the Sacrifice of the
Mass. The definition of the new ecclesiology gives exactly the definition
of the new Mass: it is a collegial and ecumenical service and communion.
The New Mass cannot be better defined and the New Mass, just as
the new Conciliar Church, is a profound rupture with the Tradition
and Magisterium of the Church.
It is a conception more
Protestant than Catholic and it explains all that which has been
unduly exalted and all that which has been diminished.
Contrary to the teaching
of the Council of Trent in its twenty‑second session, contrary
to the Encyclical Mediator Dei of Pius XII, the role of the faithful
in the participation of the Mass has been exaggerated, and the role
of the priest, now become a simple president, has been diminished.
The importance of the Liturgy of the Word has been exaggerated,
and the importance of the propitiatory Sacrifice has been diminished.
The meal of the community has been exalted and the Mass has been
laicized, to the detriment of the respect and the faith in the Real
Presence by transubstantiation.
By the suppression
of the sacred language, the rites have been infinitely multiplied.
They have been profaned by worldly and pagan additions. False translations
have been propagated to the detriment of the true faith and the
true piety of the faithful.
And yet the
Councils of Florence and Trent had pronounced anathemas against
all these changes and they had affirmed that the Canon of our Mass goes
back to apostolic times.
Saint Pius V and Clement VIII, had insisted upon the necessity of
avoiding changes and mutations, by perpetually keeping this Roman
Rite consecrated by Tradition.
from the Mass of that which is sacred, and its laicization have
led to the laicization, in a Protestant manner, of the priesthood.
reform in a Protestant style is one of the greatest errors of the
Conciliar Church and one of the most ruinous for the Faith and
The Free Diffusion of Errors and Heresies
of the Church, its state of searching, has introduced, in practice,
the free-thinking of Protestantism. This is the result of the multiplicity
of credos at the interior of the Church.
of the Holy Office, of the Index, of the Anti-Modernist Oath, has
provoked among modern theologians a need for new theories which
bewilder the faithful and induces them toward the charismatic movement,
Pentecostalism and base communities. It is a true revolution, ultimately
directed against the authority of God and the Church.
errors which remain condemned by the Popes are now freely developing
at the interior of the Church:
philosophies which are anti-scholastic, existentialist, anti-intellectualist
are taught in Catholic universities and seminaries.
is favored by the need of ecclesiastical authorities to be an
echo of the modern world by making man the end of all things.
exaltation of man and human values, is causing the supernatural
values of the Redemption and grace to be forgotten.
Modernism is causing the rejection of Tradition, of Revelation,
of the Magisterium of twenty centuries. No longer is there an
unchanging Truth, nor any dogma.
and Communism: The refusal of the Council to condemn these errors
was scandalous and legitimately causes the belief that today the
Vatican would be favorable to a socialism or a communism more
or less Christian.
The attitude of the Holy See, both in its dealings the other side
of the Iron Curtain and this side, during the past fifteen years,
confirms this judgment.
the agreements with Freemasonry, the ecumenical Council of Churches,
and Moscow, reduce the Church to the state of a prisoner. It becomes
totally incapable of freely fulfilling its Mission. These are
real treasons which cry to heaven for vengeance, just as are the
praises uttered in these recent days to the heresiarch the most
scandalous and the most noxious to the Church.
It is time
that the Church recovered its freedom in order to advance the Reign
of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Reign of Mary without being preoccupied
with its enemies.
Archbishop's Press Conference
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109
No. 1, Jan. 1984