9 December 1983
January issue, we published the very important Open Letter of Archbishop
Lefebvre to the Pope, its importance enhanced by the fact that it
is also signed by a second bishop, Antonio de Castro - Mayer, retired
Bishop of Campos (Brazil). The date of the Letter is also significant:
November 21, (1983), the same date on which, nine years earlier,
he wrote at Ecône, his now famous Declaration in response to the
scandals caused at the Seminary by the Visitors from Rome. He mentioned
that point in this article which is the text of a press conference
he held in France in November, to focus the light of publicity on
his Letter to the Holy Father, and thus hope fully give a greater
impact. It is translated by Father Philip Stark from the January
- February issue of Fideliter, a magazine of the Society o f St.
We gather from everything you say that your meetings in private
with the Vatican have borne no fruit. Do you think that this sort
of public approach - this Open Letter - will bear any fruit?
Lefebvre: I place my hopes in Providence. In answer to
your question, I don't know, but we are fulfilling our responsibility
to the people and to the priests, because we are being accused of
doing nothing. People say, "You are constantly talking of your contact
with Rome, but finally is anything being done? Are you really doing
anything?" We ourselves see nothing. We see no results. We must
speak louder. We must speak more openly.
How about Bishop de Castro-Mayer? Is he also getting ready
one day to ordain priests?
Lefebvre: Well, he has already ordained some in his diocese,
be cause you know he was a diocesan bishop. And now you know that
the bishop who succeeded him, a progressist, has closed the seminary
and driven out the priests. But Bishop de Castro-Mayer has once
again collected his seminarians together in a house and he is continuing
to form them and certainly he will also ordain them. Clearly he
is being forced by events to take the same attitude as myself because
now his priests are being persecuted. He had 29 secular priests,
25 of whom were carrying on Tradition under his directions. Now
that he has handed in his resignation and is no longer a diocesan
bishop, the new bishop is persecuting these 25 priests. He has already
put three or four of them out of their parishes. And he is using
the radio, the newspapers, the press, the law courts and the police
against these priests. It is unheard of, the persecution that they
can undergo, even though the whole population is with them.
You speak of a dialogue with Rome and, as far as we are concerned,
we hear you saying today exactly what you were saying ten years
ago. Can there really be any dialogue established between you and
Lefebvre: I think that Rome will nevertheless pay a little
more attention to an Open Letter published throughout the entire
world than to a conversation, since they are not listening to me.
Perhaps they will listen a little more like this.
Are you disturbed by finding yourself opposite 2,000 bishops
as though you are the absolute truth?
Lefebvre: The truth does not depend upon me, or else
the Church went astray for twenty centuries. All I am doing is to
continue what I was taught, that is to say, what the Credo and the
Catechism of all times teach. You can see for yourselves that the
catechisms are being changed. All the traditional catechisms - the
Catechism of the Council of Trent, the Catechism of St. Pius X,
the Catechism of Cardinal Gasparri - are all these catechisms no
longer worth anything because the French bishops have just published
a brand new one? It's madness. Catechism and Catholic doctrine cannot
change. Our Credo cannot change. The moral law cannot change. It's
Are there just two of you in the whole Church who realize
Lefebvre: No, I don't think so. As I was telling you,
there are many who realize inside what is going on, but we are the
only two to cry out. But go and see them and they will tell you,
yes, in fact, it's unacceptable, it's really sad to see what is
going on, it's unfortunate that the children have catechism like
that in their hands, but what do you expect us to do? It's the episcopal
conference which decides. Rome it is true, has spoken a little against
these catechisms, but it wasn't truly decisive. They weren't courageous.
In your opinion, is there terrorism going on inside the Catholic
Lefebvre: To speak of terrorism is going a bit far. It's
a strong word. But there is tyranny. I consider that the way in
which the priests of Campos are actually being persecuted is a veritable
tyranny. I think that behind the Iron Curtain, among the Soviets,
no one is being persecuted any more.
How do you see the Church in France at this moment?
Lefebvre: I think a good number of bishops are no longer
Catholic. We are in the state England was in at the moment it passed
over to Protestantism. One fine day England woke up to find itself
Protestant and Anglican. All the bishops, priests and people went
over to Anglicanism, and they thought they were doing the right
thing. Well, with the Church in France, it's the same thing. It
is in the process of passing over to Modernism, worse than Anglicanism.
And nobody is waking up! Everybody is swallowing this poison. The
Church is going to wake up entirely Modernist. You know, you can
now ask many faithful, many priests in France, "Do you still believe
in Purgatory, do you still believe in the angels, in Hell?" Oh no,
all those things belong to the past. Do you still believe in original
sin? Original sin this is what they wrote in this recent French
catechism-is a fairy tale which was put together by sages at the
time of Solomon. So if that's original sin, then there's nothing
left of the Catholic religion. Why did Our Lord come, if original
sin doesn't exist? It no longer makes any sense. There's no longer
any sense in the whole Catholic Church. You have no idea of the
depth of the errors in which people now find themselves. And so
we protest. There will be at least two bishops who protest. We hope
we are speaking clearly, respectfully, but firmly.
Monseigneur, can this Manifesto be considered your will and
Lefebvre: Oh no. Of course, I can very well die quite
soon. That's entirely possible. But it's still not a testament.
Exactly the same day nine years ago on the 21st of November, I drew
up a manifesto which also brought down on me the persecution of
Rome, in which I said I can't accept Modernist Rome. I accept the
Rome of all time with its doctrine and with its Faith. That is the
Rome we are following, but the Modernist Rome which is changing
religion? I refuse it and I reject it. And that is the Rome which
was introduced into the Council and which is in the process of destroying
the Church. I refuse that Church. Well, today, I am continuing quite
simply, so it's not a testament, it's the Truth.
Monseigneur,we know of your difficulties with Pope Paul VI, but
we find it much more difficult to understand that you have not been
able to reach any agreement with such a Pope as John Paul II.
Archbishop Lefebvre: Well,
that's a mistake. Pope John Paul II is as inclined to reform as
Pope Paul VI was. Pope John Paul II has not condemned Communism.
He tries to come to an understanding with Communism. I am convinced
that Pope John Paul II would be in agreement with a Christian Socialism,
a Christian-flavored Communism. Communism needs to be improved on.
After all, why can't we come to an understanding with Communism?
It is Pope John Paul II who is changing the bishops to replace them
with collaborating bishops, bishops of the Pax Movement, a movement
of the "priests of peace." It is they who are now being named cardinals
and bishops in the countries behind the Iron Curtain and these cardinals,
these bishops persecute the good priests, whereas before these priests
used to be encouraged by their bishops in order to resist Communism.
Bishops are now being imprisoned and many have died in Communist
jails: Now it is the very bishops themselves who are turning into
the instruments of the Communist governments in order to persecute
the priests doing their duty.
So it's the Devil, not the Holy Spirit, who has been
at work in the last few conclaves?
Lefebvre: In any case the role being played by the Pope
today is not truly the role that he ought to play. That is certain.
He is not fulfilling his duty in the face of Communism. Look also
at the "affair" that he is having with the Protestants. It's unheard
of! He sent twenty official delegates to the Vancouver Congress
of the Ecumenical Council of Churches. Those are the ones who have
most worked with Protestants. After all, must we become Protestants?
I had already written during the Council an article called "Must
We Become Protestants in Order to Remain Good Catholics?" I already
did that during the Council. It's going on. There is no change in
this area. And then thirdly, Religious Liberty, the Rights of Man
- it's always this humanism with which the Pope is infested. That
is what pleases the Freemasons and the Protestants.
However, John Paul II is a true pope?
Lefebvre: I think so. I have always thought so, but he
is a Pope who is not doing his duty. I would say so to himself if
he were here. I am not afraid to say so to him. It's not my fault.
Never before has one seen the Church not condemning Communism. Never
before has one seen the Church agreeing with Communism to nominate
collaborating bishops. Never before has the Church been seen united
with Protestants to make a Catholic or Protestant liturgy and so
on and so on.
Then Monseigneur, if the situation is a deadlock, how do you
see the future, notably the future of your communities and of your
Lefebvre: That poses no problems for us. We have vocations
in our seminaries. They are asking for us throughout the world.
Communities of faithful Catholics who still wish to save their souls
and who wish to continue the Catholic Church, so in that respect
we have no difficulties. We have no problems within. But of course,
as far as Rome is concerned, I do not know. I admit that the situation
looks very dark because Rome is occupied by Modernists.
The two signatures on the Manifesto yourself and Msgr. de Castro-Mayer
are nevertheless rather closer to eternity than they are to today.
So what's going to happen afterwards? How are you going to insure
the continuation of your communities when there are no longer any
Lefebvre: So you are asking the question for which maybe
you all came, thinking that I was going to announce that I was going
to make some bishops (laughter)?
Monseigneur, why don't you make some bishops?
Lefebvre: Because I still think that in appearance it
would be an act of rupture with Rome which would be grave. I say,
mark you, in appearance, because I think that before God, it is
possible that this act may be an act necessary for the history of
the Church, for the continuation of the Church, for the continuation
of the Catholic priesthood, and so I am not saying that one day
I won't do it. But it would be in circumstances still more tragic
than today. Besides, as long as the Good Lord leaves me still a
little health, I am still here, I prefer not to put the Society
of St. Pius X into an even more difficult situation with regard
to Rome. I still live in hope that, after all, Rome will one day
open its eyes. Otherwise the Good Lord Himself must intervene with
events of which we have no knowledge.
So you are not absolutely refusing to consecrate a bishop?
Lefebvre: No, I am not absolutely refusing. No, because
if there is any role which is important for the bishop, it is that
of handing on Tradition, of handing on the Gospel, of handing on
But in communion with other bishops, surely, Monseigneur.
Lefebvre: Yes, but supposing these bishops no longer
have the Faith? I wish it could be in communion with them. I have
no desire at all to consecrate bishops, but if the bishops no longer
have the Faith and I assure you that one may well ask how many bishops
do still have the Faith, the true Catholic Faith. It is enough to
see what has become of their seminaries. It is unheard of!
Monseigneur, isn't this Manifesto also a little jab of the
spurs to stimulate a movement that is beginning to slow down? Isn't
it the opportunity to exert pressure with regard to your movement,
in any case the communities connected with you and which have lost
a little of their importance, or of the crowds which were following
Lefebvre: No, not at all. I assure you that is not at
all my intention, not the least in the world. I am not seeking publicity,
and I don't think that we have habitually sought publicity. I think
this act is sufficiently important once more in the history of the
Church for me to ask for your cooperation in making known this appeal
to the Holy Father and in reassuring Christians they are not alone,
they are not abandoned; there are two bishops who are speaking for
Isn't this act an ultimatum to Rome just before you consecrate bishops?
Aren't you wishing to say to the Holy Father: "I am beginning to
get on a bit in years, I'm getting a bit tired?"
Lefebvre: That may be, but I don't yet know. I haven't
thought out a method, but very possibly I will ask the Holy Father
for an audience. If it is granted me, I might say to the Pope, "Listen.
The situation is such that I believe in conscience I must consecrate
a bishop; grant me the authorization. If you do not give it to me
in the present situation, you oblige me to go ahead nevertheless."
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109
No. 5, May 1984