The Catacombs

Full Version: Archbishop Lefebvre: 1990 Conference Extract in Albias, France
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Taken from The Recusant - Issue 28 [July-August 2015]

Extract from a talk given by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in Albias (Tarn et Garonne, France), 10th October 1990
What can one do against this profound deviation from the Catholic Faith within the Church? One can only train good priests.”

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Many thanks to Father Marziac and Father Denis Roch for their short talks through which you have already gained a glimpse of the atmosphere which has existed for twenty years. Father Marziac also talked about Senegal. Thus it would cover already forty years.

We have experienced difficult and tragic moments. Sometimes I feel obliged to summarise my life. Father Londos could probably do that even better. He is five years older than me, almost a century old.

We had to live through three wars. The war of 1914 to 1918, the war from 1939 to 1945 and the war from 1962 to 1965. You might say that no war took place between 1962 and 1965. I am not mistaken. It was the most horrible war which we have lived through. The death of the body is better than the death of souls. This war represented at the same time a climax, a conclusion and a beginning. It was the conclusion of a truly diabolical enterprise and the beginning of a true revolution within the Church. We want to stay Catholic. Because of that it was impossible for us to accept these revolutionary changes without having to forsake our Faith.

The facts show the horrendous consequences – the introduction of revolutionary ideas into the interior of the Church through men of the Church. These men used the Second Vatican Council in order to help these revolutionary ideas to victory. In my opinion this is the most grievous fact of the last 30 years.

There were always enemies outside the Church. There were also enemies of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He had hardly appeared in His official life, when He was already in opposition with the Pharisees and Scribes. During His three years of public ministry they persecuted Him and nailed Him to the cross. Since then this war has not stopped and it is being waged with all means against Our Lord. You will know the history of the Church well enough. You know what the Church had to suffer through the centuries from men who wanted to continue the downfall of the Church and of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Although this situation was known, it took place outside the Church. People who had a hostile disposition towards the Church left it through heresies and schisms. Today the Church is in a much more serious and horrible situation. The enemies are inside the Church. Whether these people are aware of their actions is not important. It is also unimportant whether they act with intent or whether they are true enemies of the Church. Only God alone knows that.

They do act however as enemies of the Church. 

This became obvious during the Council. I have often given as an example the violent opposition between two representatives of the Church: Cardinal Ottaviani, who stood for the Catholic Church and Her twenty centuries’ old tradition, and Cardinal Bea who supported the liberal and modern spirit. This liberal and modern spirit could already be found within the Church during the time of Pope Pius X, who therefore had to condemn it. 

During the last session of the Central Preparatory Commission of the Council, I witnessed this opposition. Two ideologies clashed violently against each other. On the one side were people who represented the revolutionary ideas of Human Rights and have acquired their principles, or wanted to acquire them. With this kind of profound atheism man only considers his freedom. He no longer wants to consider God’s Commandments and does not want anymore to contemplate himself in relation to God. He wants to be independent from God and the Church. Cardinal Bea represented this liberation theology. The text which he had prepared entitled “Religious Liberty” was the best proof of that. Cardinal Ottaviani prepared a text on the same topic however entitled “Religious Tolerance”. The Church tolerates error and false religions, she does not place them however on the same level as the true religion.

Traditionally the Church claimed to be the only true religion which was founded by God himself, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, all other religions are wrong. One has to be a missionary in order to convert the followers of false religions, so that they can be saved. This was always the Faith of the Church. The raison d’etre of missions in the Church is to convert souls and not to tell souls that their religion is as good as the Catholic Faith. The ideologies of these two Cardinals violently clashed together. In some way it represents the opposition within the Church. Cardinal Ottaviani has openly voiced his opinion in front of Cardinal Bea. He told him that he did not agree with his text and that he had no right to compose it. Cardinal Bea equally rose and replied that he also could not accept Cardinal Ottaviani’s text in principle. Who was right? Cardinal Bea or Cardinal Ottaviani? The revolution or the Catholic Church? The revolution has risen against the Catholic Church. There was the opinion that a final line had to be drawn under clericalism, the authority of the Church and the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Church could only condemn the principles of the revolution if it wanted to stay loyal to Our Lord Jesus Christ. During the 19th Century and during the first half of the 20th century, all popes have acted that way until Pope Pius XII. All these popes have condemned the principles of the revolution. Within the Central Preparatory Commission a group of Cardinals was formed who wanted to accept together with Cardinal Bea the principles of the revolution. Cardinal Ruffini rose and regretted the violent opposition of his confreres whose content was of fundamental importance for the Faith and the teaching of the Church. He wanted to present this matter to the higher authority, the pope himself. Pope John XXIII usually chaired our meetings. He was not present at that meeting. Cardinal Bea was against this suggestion and asked for a vote. He wanted to know which Cardinals voted for him and which voted against him. Then, a vote was held. The 70 Cardinals who were present were divided in two camps. One half voted for Cardinal Bea, the others for Cardinal Ottaviani. In general, the German, Dutch, French and all Cardinals from USA and the UK voted for Cardinal Bea. Cardinal Ottaviani received the votes from the Italian, Spanish and South American Cardinals, in general from Cardinals from the Latin countries who still had a sense for the tradition of the Church.

In this way the council started. The last session of the Central Preparatory Commission ended with a violent opposition between two groups of Cardinals. One group, headed by Cardinal Bea was leaning towards the revolutionary ideas, which means the atheism of the state instead of the Social Reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ over society. The other group followed Cardinal Ottaviani. They stood for the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ over society. Indeed, they tolerated the false religions but did not put them on the same level as the true religion, as Our Lord Jesus Christ, which the Church regards as God, and of whom she claims, He is God. In this way, the revolution as a matter of fact entered into interior of the Church.

In order to understand this situation one has to look at history since the French Revolution. Thanks to Liberalism and Sillonism, these ideas have spread within the Church and slowly prevailed in the different European countries. All false ideas have penetrated into the interior of the Church. Not for nothing did Pope Pius IX condemn the ideas of the French Revolution in his encyclical “Quanta Cura” and in his “Syllabus”. Then, Pope St. Pius X condemned Modernism which was nothing else than the continuation of revolutionary ideas, in his encyclical “Pascendi dominici gregis” and in his decree “Lamentabili”. All these false ideas originated in the revolutionary principles.

In 1962 the Church allowed Herself to stand in opposition to the thirteen popes who had ruled since the French Revolution and who had publicly condemned all errors resulting from it. With whom will the members of the Council side? The tradition of the Church and therefore those thirteen popes who have issued the condemnation of these revolutionary ideas? Or will they follow those revolutionary ideas which spread in the interior of the Church? The liberals won.

They dominated the council through the support of the popes John XXIII and Paul VI. The Church in some way allows this drama to take place publicly. She endorses Human Rights and the revolutionary principles in the interior of the Church. On the other hand, she disapproves of the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ over civil society. Thereby she only asks for the common right which is also granted to the other religions. Thus, all other religions are equally considered as valuable as the Catholic religion. This causes naturally deplorable consequences for Christian families and for the Faith of the people. How did these changes in the Church come about? The council approved of the liberals. All instructions and rules which were given after the council were geared towards putting the new revolutionary principle into practice. The Council was against authority, especially against the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as against the authority of the pope, the bishops, priests and family fathers. All authorities were practically decapitated. One had to give men freedom of conscience. The conscience of man was glorified, which in its truest sense represents the basic principle of Human Rights. Man has a conscience.

He is therefore allowed to decide over his future, his life, his thoughts, his religion and morals. The result is a shift. On the one hand there is still authority, which comes from God. This authority is put into effect through various authorities, even through civic society, in order to lay down God’s law and to encourage men to abide it. On the other hand there is liberation. Man liberates himself from law and from authority. There is the total anarchy in which we presently live. What will the bishops and cardinals do against this situation? The council practically divided itself. 250 bishops joined the liberal cardinals. Further 250 united themselves to defend the traditional ideas. Why could the liberals win? There were 2500 bishops present at the council. A large number of bishops therefore would be the ones who decided which way the council developed.

Around 1800 bishops watched the pope to see which side he would choose. If the pope were to choose the liberals, they would also choose the side of the liberals. Should the pope choose the side of the conservatives, these bishops would also side with the conservatives. The pope granted his approbation to the liberals. This decision caused dreadful and horrendous events. One effect of this decision was that the Council was not prepared to condemn Communism. 450 bishops submitted an application to achieve the condemnation of communism. This application was refused. However, sometimes a petition was granted which was only submitted by two or three bishops.

When the liberals took office after the council, Cardinal Ottaviani was removed from his post. Likewise, many traditional minded cardinals who felt wounded by this handed in their resignation. Some died out of sorrow over it. I knew Archbishop Morcillo from Madrid and Archbishop MacQuaid from Dublin very well. They were my friends. When they had to witness what was going on during the Council they died out of sorrow over it. They have felt, seen and witnessed the ruin of the Church and the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ. What took place at the Second Vatican Council was the suicide of the Catholic Church. They were right. We realise it every day. The Church commits suicide. That does not mean the Catholic Church itself, but the men of the Church who reign inside the Church. They undermine the life of the Church and they are going to ruin Her completely. Today the bishops are discussing priestly vocations and the training for the priesthood. They won’t reach any result as long as they don’t define the priest as what he really is. They do not want to specify a definition. Actually, they do not want to specify anything anymore. A definition has its consequences, asks for changes and a return to tradition.

There is no hope of a return of a great vitality of the Church as long as there is no return to Tradition, to the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ and to the fundamental principles of the Church. They are committing treason against Our Lord Jesus Christ! They do not want His reign any more, neither over the souls, nor over the families or society! Where Our Lord Jesus Christ does not reign anymore there is disorder which will lead to total ruin.

Unfortunately one can summarise the council with these words. What could I have done had I remained bishop of Tulle? Suppose I had resolved to keep Tradition. After the Council I would have returned as bishop of Tulle into my diocese. Half of the clergy maybe even two thirds would have been against me. With certainty also half of the faithful. The results of the Council were overpowering. One has to change – the liturgy, the catechism, the atmosphere. One has to grant freedom. The laity need to receive more room within the church. How can one govern a diocese if more than half of the clergy and faithful are against you?

Many bishops which were responsible for their dioceses and wanted to fight handed in their resignation. The authorities accepted these resignations immediately, of course. They were happy to replace the traditional bishops with a new bishop who represented the conciliar, modern spirit of freedom and revolution within the Church. It was difficult to resist. Bishop de Castro Mayer in Brazil managed to resist. He had to look after 29 priests in his diocese. When he left his diocese, 27 of these 29 priests followed him. Thus it was possible in the diocese of Campos to uphold Tradition. Over a certain period of time, resistance was possible in unimportant dioceses. 

However, I am convinced that such a resistance would not have been possible in Europe. I myself fought for Tradition at the council together with 250 bishops. We did everything to contain the devastation. Yet, we couldn’t prevent the passage of the revolutionary texts concerning religious liberty which represents the fundamental principle of Human Rights. Furthermore we couldn’t prevent the document on the Constitution of the Church in the World which also contains the application of revolutionary ideas within the Church. We only managed to modify some minor points.

At this time I was not in charge of any diocese anymore. But I was Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers. I had to hand in my resignation. I found myself in an impossible situation within the congregation. A large number of members rose up against me as I wanted to preserve tradition and the pre-conciliar training of the seminarians and priests. I wanted to preserve the thomistic instruction according to St. Thomas Aquinas which was recommended by all popes before the Council. Within the congregation I wanted to keep a certain discipline, amongst others the prohibition to watch television in our communities. Almost two thirds of the members were against me.

All congregations were bound to convene an extraordinary General Chapter in order to adjust to the Council and the new spirit of freedom. In 1968 all congregations came together to discuss in which way the constitutions should be changed and the spirit of the council should be implemented. This revolutionary spirit of freedom revealed itself in the abandonment of all traditions, the religious dress, the traditional mass, the abandonment of the traditional doctrine as well as in the abolition of the normal relationship between subjects and superiors. It was no longer possible for superiors to issue orders. They always had to ask their subjects for their opinions. It was an inextricable situation. I give you an example which took place in all congregations. When I arrived at the General Chapter, I was told “We don’t want the Superior General to chairs the General Chapter any more.” I responded, “Our constitution says that the Superior General needs to lead the Chapter. A change in the constitution can only take place by submitting a request to the Congregation for Orders in Rome.” I received the answer, “We want a triumvirate to chair our chapter.” I was elected for six years as Superior General. It was therefore out of question to change Superior Generals. I explained to the members that I am not going to accept this decision as it contradicts the definitions of our congregation as well as the spirit of Rome. I therefore asked for a vote.

The vote was against me. Three members of the triumvirate received the votes. Due to this fact I went to Rome to the Congregation of Religious. Rome will have to agree to such a decision. I wanted to find out whether Rome would accept it. The prefect was travelling in South America. I therefore went to his deputy, his secretary, the second person in the congregation. I explained to him what had happened in our congregation during the course of the General Chapter and asked for his advice. He said to me, “Monseigneur, remember, the Council has taken place! One has to take into account that the situation will change now. Your members certainly don’t have the right to act in that way. In my opinion you should however tolerate this. I advise you to travel to America and go for a walk. I have also told this to the General Superior of the Lazarists.” 

In light of these conditions, I handed in my resignation. It was impossible to lead a congregation which was in the midst of a revolution. I would have been forced to put my signature underneath all the changes. It was not my intention that the history of the congregation would read, “Mgr. Lefebvre introduced the revolution inside the congregation.” I addressed my resignation letter to Paul VI. He replied within a week. “Your resignation was accepted. You are relieved from your duties as Superior General.” In my opinion Providence expected this to force me to take a decision. I was free and did not have to govern a diocese or a congregation anymore. Since I was already 65 years old, I could have requested to retire. Our dear Lord did not want that, even though I would have had the right to do so, as I had already spent 30 years in the missions. 

At this time, some seminarians visited me who asked me for help. They explained to me the situation in the seminaries. I had then taken a small flat with the sisters of the Lithuanian College. I lived secluded and thought I would be able to conclude my days in peace there. These seminarians however didn’t let go. “Monseigneur, do something! The liturgy is exposed to the freedom of the seminarians. Every week another group of seminarians is allowed to decide the liturgy for the following week. Everything was changed, the Holy Mass, the prayers, the canon. The seminarians wear their cassock less and less and are allowed to go out at night. There is the greatest liberty. We want to become true priests. We cannot bear such a situation.” 

What should I do for those few seminarians? Amongst them was Fr. Aulagnier and Fr. Cottard. I knew Bishop Charriere of Fribourg in Switzerland very well. I wanted to try to accommodate these seminarians at the university in Fribourg. They would be better off. Bishop Charriere would certainly be ready to accept them in his inter-diocesan seminary.

I went to Fribourg. Bishop Charriere responded to my question. “Monseigneur, our seminaries are gone. Don’t put your seminarians into my seminary. There is no discipline anymore. A proper formation is not possible.” His answer astonished me. I asked him what I should do with those seminarians. He advised me to build up a seminary myself. I was already 65 years old – an impossible idea. I told him that I would give them into his seminary. He responded, “I give you the permission to rent a house in my diocese. Settle down and train the seminarians yourself.” 

Providence apparently wanted me to put this plan into action. At the beginning there were nine seminarians. At the end of the academic year there were only two left, Aulagnier and Tissier de Mallerais, today an auxiliary bishop. I said to them, “The seminary cannot be continued with only two seminarians. Our dear Lord does not want it to be continued. I am going to have to close the seminary. They will go to the seminary of Bishop Charriere.”

I spoke these words in May. Already in June I received eleven application letters. Eleven seminarians asked me to receive and train them. I faced the question whether I should continue this work. I would have loved to close the seminary. The two seminarians, Abbe Aulagnier and Abbe Tissier de Mallerais were against my plan and urged me to accept those eleven seminarians who applied to the seminary. Thus, I decided to continue the seminary.

We bought a house in Fribourg. Subsequently, the seminary was moved to Écône. Seminarians from all over the world and professors came to our seminary. Father Roch has already spoken about our beginnings. I thought to myself, if the Society is meant to be international one day, it is a sign that God wanted to preserve Tradition in the whole world. How should we obtain this goal? Advertising was out of question for me.

We were able to continue Tradition unmolested from 1970 to 1975. The French bishops heard about us and were very indignant. They did not want any priests who were wearing the cassock, were teaching outdated things, and were celebrating an outdated mass. Thus, our seminary received a canonical visit. I lodged a complaint with Cardinal Villot in Rome. He quite clearly stood in opposition to me. 

Rome prepared for the fight, and wanted a visitation and my condemnation. Bishop Mamie, the successor of Bishop Charriere sent a letter to me which contained the following, “Close your seminary and immediately dismiss all your professors!” I received this in writing at the beginning of May 1975. Should I really close down the seminary? I could not close it. A bishop does not have the right to issue such a decision. If a bishop has approved of something, his successor cannot revoke this. One needs to formally apply for such an intention in Rome, a decree needs to be issued in order to close down a house. This procedure is mandatory to avoid a lack of stability in the houses. I possessed the approval of Bishop Charriere. Thus, Bishop Mamie could not annul the Society nor close the seminary. Only Rome could do that.

I refused to close down the seminary as I regarded this approach as illegal. I had lodged a complaint with Rome and payed the fees for it. My complaint was accepted. I engaged a solicitor. Cardinal Villot wrote a personal letter to Cardinal Staffa, the prefect of the Apostolic Signature, the highest court in Rome. In this letter he told him not to initiate proceedings. Again, this was unlawful. Justice must be exercised freely. If the governmental power interferes with the judicial power then there is tyranny. That is inadmissible. Clearly, Cardinal Staffa obeyed Cardinal Villot’s prohibition. Since this whole procedure was in the highest degree illegal, I continued to ordain priests. In the years 1975 and 1976 I also ordained priests. I received a written warning from Rome which threatened me with suspension. The whole proceeding was illegal. Maybe you are of the opinion that I am obstinate. I think however, that I fulfilled the will of God. I am also  convinced that Providence demanded of me to continue in that way. I didn’t do this for me, but for the Church so that in future there are still priests at Her disposal. 

The infamous Mass at Lille should have been celebrated in front of 50 people. The organisers announced 500 people. In the following weeks people were speaking of 5000. In the end, 20,000 people from all over the world attended. If I remember correctly, a special congress took place in Paris in which people from all over the world participated. All these people rushed to Lille when they read in the newspapers “The suspended bishop is going to celebrate Mass.” All over the world the media reported about the suspended bishop and his forthcoming Mass. 

My sister who lived in Columbia wrote to me that every day there was an article about me in the newspapers. I didn’t know anything about this. Also from Australia, I received letters with the same content. I was certain that this was coming from providence. Providence wanted that we and our Resistance in favour of Tradition and the Catholic Faith might be made known all over the world.

All over the world this piece of news raised interesting questions. Many young men wanted to join our seminaries. We received vocations from the whole world. We had to open new seminaries – in the United States, In Germany, Australia and South America. So many people wanted to keep Tradition and the Catholic Faith. We were facing everywhere the same problems. 

Frightened families could not believe that this revolution in the Church was in accordance with the true, Catholic spirit, but that it was the spirit of the demon, the devil which had entered the Church. We did not want to follow it but simply wanted to stay Catholic. That was a sign! The progress of the Society was unbelievable. With the generosity of all the Catholic faithful who wanted to keep Tradition we were able to open up priories, colleges and churches. Many priests reacted in the same way. They wanted to keep the Catholic Faith and not abandon themselves to the changes. The Faith which they had learnt in their seminaries was certainly true. They did not want to change, to become modernists or Protestants. It was out of the question for them to teach a catechism which was not a Catholic catechism anymore. They wanted to keep wearing the cassock, and celebrate the Mass of all times. Everywhere one could witness this reaction. Of course we might have wished to see a stronger and more significant reaction. But we have always to remember how hard it was for many priests.

I saw many priests and priors crying out of sorrow when they realised the changes in the Church. They realised that this meant the complete collapse of the priesthood. They saw their confreres going away and getting married. Clearly they recognised that the catechisms were not Catholic anymore. The altars were demolished in order to exchange them with a table, on which they turned to the people in order to carry out a kind of distribution. They were completely aghast. Many handed in their resignation. It was not possible for them to accept this situation. Had we been able to see the sorrow in the hearts of many priests and bishops we would have truly been shocked. The faithful were in a similar situation. The true catechism and true religion was not taught to the children anymore. 

This resistance in the Church is normal if one has to survive in an organism. We are the Catholic Church and continue the Catholic Church. The other side are the ones moving away from the Church and thus becoming schismatic. All schismatic novelties were introduced through these people. I assure you that these people do not possess the Catholic Faith any more.

What can one do against this profound deviation from the Catholic Faith within the Church? One can only train good priests.