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Archbishop Lefebvre - On True and False Obedience

"It is the teaching of the Church that obedience is part of justice, one of the four cardinal virtues, which are in turn subordinate to the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. Faith is greater than obedience ! Therefore, if obedience acts to harm the faith, then a Catholic has a duty not to obey his superior." "Now sometimes the things commanded by a superior are against God, therefore superiors are not to be obeyed in all things."
- St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theoligica II-IIQ. 104

  • Satan’s master stroke will therefore be to spread the revolutionary principles introduced into the Church by the authority of the Church itself, placing this authority in a situation of incoherence and permanent contradiction; so long as this ambiguity has not been dispersed, disasters will multiply within the Church. […] We must acknowledge that the trick has been well played and that Satan’s lie has been masterfully utilized. The Church will destroy Herself through obedience. […] You must obey! Whom or what must we obey? We don’t know exactly. Woe to the man who does not consent. He thereby earns the right to be trampled under-foot, to be calumniated, to be deprived of everything which allowed him to live. He is a heretic, a schismatic; let him die – that is all he deserves.” (October 13, 1974)
  • Satan has really succeeded in pulling off a master stroke: he is succeeding in having those who keep the Catholic Faith condemned by the very people who should be defending and propagating it. […] Satan reigns through ambiguity and incoherence, which are his means of combat, and which deceive men of little Faith. Satan’s master stroke, by which he is bringing about the auto-destruction of the Church, is therefore to use obedience in order to destroy the Faith: authority against Truth.“ (October 13, 1974)
  • One must understand the meaning of obedience and must distinguish between blind obedience and the virtue of obedience. Indiscriminate obedience is actually a sin against the virtue of obedience.” (Interview, July 1978)
  • How could we, by a blind and servile obedience, go along with these schismatics who ask us to collaborate in their enterprise of demolishing the Church?” (Conference, Econe, August 2, 1976)
  • “Every Catholic can and must resist anyone in the Church who lays hands on his Faith, the Faith of the Eternal Church, upheld by his childhood catechism. The defense of his Faith is the first duty of every Christian, more especially of every priest and bishop. Wherever an order carries with it the danger of corrupting Faith and morals, “disobedience” becomes a grave duty.” (Archbishop Lefebvre, Letter to Friends & Benefactors, no. 9, 1975).
  • "What should I do? I am told: ‘You must obey. You are disobedient. You do not have the right to continue doing what you are doing, for you divide the Church.’ ” What is a law? What is a decree? What obliges one to obey? “A law,” Leo XIII says, “is the ordering of reason to the common good, but not towards the common evil. This is so obvious that if a rule is ordered towards an evil, then it is no longer a law.” Leo XIII said this explicitly in his encyclical “Libertas.” In other words, a law which is not for the common good is not a law and consequently, one is not obliged to obey it." (Archbishop Lefebvre, Conference in Montreal, Canada, May, 1982).
  • “Now our disobedience is motivated by the need to keep the Catholic Faith. The orders being given us clearly express that they are being given us in order to oblige us to submit without reserve to the Second Vatican Council, to the post-conciliar reforms, and to the prescriptions of the Holy See, that is to say, to the orientations and acts which are undermining our Faith and destroying the Church. It is impossible for us to do this. To collaborate in the destruction of the Church is to betray the Church and to betray Our Lord Jesus Christ. Now all the theologians worthy of this name teach that if the pope, by his acts, destroys the Church, we cannot obey him (Vitoria: Obras, pp.486-487; Suarez: De fide, disp.X, sec.VI, no.16; St. Robert Bellarmine: de Rom. Pont., Book 2, Ch.29; Cornelius a Lapide: ad Gal. 2,11, etc.) and he must be respectfully, but publicly, rebuked.” (Archbishop Lefebvre, “Can Obedience Oblige us to Disobey?” from the July 1988 edition of “The Angelus Magazine”, statement originally given March 29th, 1988)
  • From the "Suppressed Interview of 1978"
    What about those bishops who are not liberals but still oppose and criticize you?
    Their opposition is based on an inaccurate understanding of obedience to the pope. It is, perhaps, a well-meant obedience, which could be traced to the ultramontane obedience of the last century, which in those days was good because the popes were good. However, today, it is a blind obedience, which has little to do with a practice and acceptance of true Catholic faith. At this stage it is relevant to remind Catholics allover the world that obedience to the pope is not a primary virtue. The hierarchy of virtues starts with the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity followed by the four cardinal virtues of justice, temperance, prudence and fortitude. Obedience is a derivative of the cardinal virtue of justice. Therefore it is far from ranking first in the hierarchy of virtues.
  • "As soon as authority fails its mandate, it also loses its right to obedience. When the Pope by his policies leads us into contacts with Protestants and other religions, in such a way that we lose our faith, in that case the Pope forfeits the right to obedience by his subordinates." (Archbishop Lefebvre, as quoted in Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre, statement originally quoted in The National Catholic Register, 7 August 1977)