Archbishop Lefebvre: 1974 Conference on the Crisis of the Church and the Priesthood
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CRISIS OF THE CHURCH AND THE PRIESTHOOD

Tourcoing, France
January 30, 1974


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I must thank my brother Michael for introducing me, and I also thank all those who, like him, have generously given their time to getting the lecture room ready and sending out the invitations to which you have responded in such numbers. Thank you. I should like also to thank his Worship the Mayor of Tourcoing, who has graciously come to this lecture, and to express all the joy it gives me to be once more among my fellow-citizens, or, shall I say, fellow members of the department since some come from beyond the boundaries of the township, and I have given many lectures both in France and abroad on the subject of which I shall treat this evening.

First of all, however, I should like to speak of my relations with the various traditionalist movements. It is a question which I believe I should clarify straight away, since I have not come here at the request of any group. The fact that it was my brother who introduced me is sufficient proof of that. I can but encourage those who are working in defense of the Faith, for the preservation of the Catholic Faith. That is why, in fact, I encourage such movements. Nevertheless, I do not want to be linked with any particular group. I am anxious to remain wholly independent.

There has, for example, been an attempt to persuade me to say that it was I who took the initiative in the purchase of the minor seminary at Flavigny. That is not true. I had no responsibility for the purchase of the minor seminary at Flavigny. It was Fr. Coache who took the initiative. He asked me whether he had my backing. I told him that there was indeed a lack of junior seminaries in France today and that I could not but rejoice if there were a good one.

Before coming to the heart of the matter I should also like to make it clear to you that the judgments I shall pass on the documents before me and other documents do not imply that I am passing judgment on their authors. The judgment of persons I would rather leave to God. It seems to me, however, that faced with the documents given us, even those coming from Rome, important documents touching our faith, we cannot remain indifferent. We are bound to judge in accordance with tradition, in accordance with the faith of the Church, in accordance with the magisterium of the Church, whether a particular document is in true conformity with the orthodoxy always taught us by the Church. But it is not my wish to pass judgment on persons.

The Holy Office, when judging a document, does so on the basis of the meaning of the words and expressions used in the document. Cardinal Ottaviani, while still Prefect or at least Secretary of the Holy Office, was reproached with failing to summon to Rome the writers whose books were being judged. He replied: “There is no need to know the author of a work to say whether the views held in the work are good or bad.” A pharmacist need not know the source of a poison to decide whether a particular ingredient is harmful. I should like to adopt the point of View of the Holy Office in judging the documents on their content.

Lastly, I want to say that I have not come to take up a collection for the seminary. Obviously, I should gladly accept whatever you choose to give me, but Providence supplies all my financial needs to a truly amazing extent. I give special thanks to St. Joseph, who is our provider. I have not even come seeking recruits for the seminary, vocations as seminarians, vocations as lay Brothers, for we have Brothers also in our Society. We now have nuns as well, and postulants are beginning to come forward. If God sends them, Deo gratias. But it is not for that that I have come. I can say in all sincerity that if I agree to give lectures, it is to defend, guard, and rekindle our faith. I believe that we are living at a time when our faith is everywhere attacked and is in real danger. Our faith, we must admit, is in danger from within the Church. Nowadays we are sent publications and instructions no longer in conformity with orthodoxy, which do not correspond to the Catholic Faith. We have always been taught the Faith taught by all the councils. We cannot remain indifferent to this tragic situation. I should like to take a specific example of the situation, the one which seems to me most dramatic, the one which touches the depths of our heart and of our Christian and Catholic Faith, that of the priesthood. If the Church is affected, if the Church is in danger, the priesthood is the first to suffer the consequences. Nothing can touch the Church without immediately reaching him who is at the heart of the Church-the priest. It is for that reason that I should like to begin by speaking of this crisis in the Church and its nature.

St. Paul said to Timothy in his first Epistle: “Depositum custodi-keep that which is committed to thy trust” (6:20-21). Even at that time what was that trust if not the truths which St. Paul had been able to impart to Timothy. Guard these truths, treasure them. “Devita profanas vocum novitates-Take heed of new words,” or simply “Vocum novitates.” Take heed not only of new ideas, but even of new words. Beware of whatever savors of false knowledge; beware of false doctrine, for those who speak thus lose the faith. “Circa fidem exciderunt.” They err in matters of faith. Hence we too must be wary in all that we receive, in all that is put into our hands today.

Let us then speak of this crisis in the priesthood-the fact of crisis. I think you know as much about it as I; I do not need to go into details. We could give statistics, we could cite facts, but these facts, unfortunately be it said, have been shown on television. For the past ten years the priest has been much talked about, and in many ways. Unquestionably, there are ill-informed ways of speaking of the priest. But unfortunately, we must admit the grievous fact that there are priests who are leaving the priesthood and giving up their sacerdotal duties. Some are doing so with the permission of the authorities, some without; for some the circumstances have been truly painful; others appear to have lost the faith in what they can profess. Some, the majority as I believe, are priests who are suffering from the crisis in the Church, since the priest, specifically the man of God, the man of the Church, cannot but suffer when he sees his Mother attacked as she is and going through a crisis that has rarely been as grave as that which we are experiencing today.

We should do well then to define more clearly and distinctly the essence of this crisis in the priesthood. It seems to me that the priest is being deprived of his Mother-the Church. There is, at least, a tendency to distort the nature of his Mother the Church, to take away or distort what he holds most dear, the sacrifice of the Mass and its liturgy. Lastly, his catechism is taken away. Tell me what is left to the priest if his Mother the Church is taken away, if his sacrifice of the Mass is taken away, if his catechism is taken away. What is left for the priest?

What was the priest’s ideal, what was the seminarian contemplating on entering the seminary, at least in our day? To serve the Church, to serve his Mother Church. Why? Because he believed the Church to be the sole way of salvation, the only way by which souls might be saved. Then it was worth while to consecrate his life to the Church for the sake of saving souls. But if one no longer has faith in that Church, if one believes that all religions save souls, in that case what is the good of serving the Church? Leave souls to their religion, leave to each his conscience. The sacrifice of one’s self is not worth while if all religions alike ensure the salvation of souls.

The nature of the Church is being distorted. The Church is no longer presented as a society necessary for salvation, as the way necessary for salvation. She is presented as a useful means of salvation-a very different thing. It involves changing the very definition of the Church, and that is an extremely serious matter, for it cuts at the root of the whole missionary spirit of the Church.

Why have missionaries crossed oceans, why have they exposed themselves to the fatal maladies of the tropics, if not to save souls, if their presence is not needful for the salvation of souls, but merely useful to social progress and development, to social justice and material progress? It was not for that that the priest became a priest, not for that that the missionary crosses oceans. It was to convert
souls, for he was convinced that many souls are lost if they do not know our Lord Jesus Christ.

Moreover, it is not true that one can be saved through other religions. I say advisedly through other religions, not within other religions. It is untrue that one can save one’s soul through other religions; one can save one’s soul only through the Catholic Church, through our Lord Jesus Christ. No other name under heaven has been given us for our salvation. That is what St. Peter told us: “There is no other name under heaven than that of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It follows that there is no means other than His Church, which is His mystic Bride to whom our Lord has given all His graces. No grace in this world, no grace in the history of humanity, will be bestowed unless it be through the Church and through the Blessed Virgin Mary. Then souls cannot be saved within other religions? Yes, they may be saved. How are they saved? They are saved by the baptism of desire though unexpressed.

As you know, there are three kinds of baptism: baptism of water, baptism of fire, baptism of desire. Baptism of desire may be explicit as in the case of the catechumens whom we had in Africa and of others still there-people, adults who ask to be baptized and so have the explicit desire for baptism, and who may be saved even before receiving the baptism of water.

Sometimes in Africa we had fine catechumens who would say to us: “But Father, I have never been baptized. If I die now, I shall go to hell.” We used to reply: “No, if you are well disposed in your heart, good; if you love God and seek to do His will, if you desire baptism, you already have the grace.” Clearly, that grace will be fuller and more abundant on the day they receive baptism unless there is some obstacle such as a mortal sin to which they continue to cling.

Thus there exists the baptism of explicit desire for the catechumens, and the baptism of implicit desire, which lies in the act of doing God’s will. Those souls, whether Protestant, Buddhist, or Moslem, who have implicitly this sincere desire to do the will of God may have the desire for baptism and so receive supernatural grace, the grace of eternal life, but this comes through the Church. Hence, through this implicit desire, baptism unites them with the soul of the Church, and it is through the Church, never through their religion, that they can save their souls.

False religions are contrary to the Holy Ghost, they cannot be the channel of the Holy Ghost. Read what the Church states in her official documents: here is a document taken from the little book probably well known to many of you-Father Dumeige’s La Foi Catholique. This is what this document prepared for Vatican Council I has to say:
Quote:The Church is a society wholly necessary for obtaining salvation. By that all may understand that Christ’s Church is the necessary society for obtaining salvation. Its necessity is as vital as that of sharing, and being united with Christ and His Mystical Body. It is wholly necessary, not only by virtue of our Lord’s precept, but as a necessary means, since, in the order of salvation designed by Providence, the communication of the Holy Spirit, the participation in truth and in life cannot be attained save in the Church and through the Church, whose head is Christ. That is the doctrine of the Church.

“Moreover it is a dogma of faith that none may be saved outside the Church.” One either has the faith or one has not. It was not I who invented the fact; these are not my personal ideas, this is the teaching of the Church. Now, however, in all the documents given us we gather the impression that one may save one’s soul in all religions, that all religions lead to the salvation of humanity, that we are all traveling together on the road to salvation. These notions are wholly untrue, and they are destroying yet again the missionary spirit of the Church. It is hardly surprising that there are no more missionary vocations.

In the same way as the Church is being distorted and that the priest no longer knows just why he has been ordained, so the definition of his faith has been distorted. This is a matter which may be difficult to understand, but is yet of capital importance in holy Church. A definition of faith exists, it is unalterable. Now there is an attempt at changing even the definition of faith.

Faith is the acceptance by the intelligence of the truth revealed by the Word of God, by reason of the authority of God who reveals it. We believe a truth coming to us from outside, from the Word of God, a truth which must be believed because of the authority of God who reveals. That is the definition of faith. What is being done to faith now? It has become an inner feeling. That is the modernist definition of faith condemned by Pope St. Pius X.

Faith is not a personal feeling, it is not something purely subjective, adhesion of the soul to God each on his own account, each following his individual conscience-that is not faith. It is precisely this conception which altogether destroys all the authority of God, all the authority of the Church. Since, however, faith comes to us from without, we must submit to it; all are bound to submit to it. “He who believes shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned” (Mk. 16:16). It was our Lord who said that. The Faith is altogether imposed, it is imposed on us from without, it is not a purely personal feeling, an affection for God, a sentiment for the deity.

Now, that is just what the modernists thought, and what unhappily many are thinking today, who are beginning to transform the concept of faith. It provided some explanation of the idea that all religions save, because each has a faith according to his individual conscience, and all faiths save. Consciences vary, one believes after this manner, another after another. It matters little, provided the conscience is directed towards God and is united with God. It is utterly untrue. Look, that is exactly what the anti-modernist oath, which was taken by all the older priests here this evening, tells us. Moreover, we read it during the Council:
Quote:I hold with certainty and sincerely confess that faith is not a blind sentiment of religion welling up from the depths of the subconscious under the impulse of the heart and the motion of a will trained to morality; but faith is a genuine assent of the intellect to truth received by hearing from an external source. By this assent, because of the authority of the supremely truthful God, we believe to be true that which has been revealed and attested to by a personal God, our Creator and Lord. [/url][url=http://redirect.viglink.com?key=71fe2139a887ad501313cd8cce3053c5&subId=6872759&u=http%3A//www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius10/p10moath.htm]www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius10/p10moath.htm

That is the meaning of faith, and it is wholly different. It would be well to reiterate these things. We are forgetting them.

Unfortunately, I must present you with a document published in recent weeks by the official Catechetics Commission of the French episcopacy from its headquarters in the office of the Archbishopric of Paris. This is what those persons have to say on the subject of faith. Believe me, I am not making it up, merely reading it aloud.

First, on the subject of truth: “Truth is not something received ready-made, but something in the making.” Truth, then, is something in the making like something in the process of creation. Man does not receive the truth, he builds it up. Look at the complete difference in outlook. To receive the truth of God, of the Word of God, of the Church, of the magisterium of the Church is one thing-something which has always been stated. We received our catechism and studied it as something coming to us from God. We believe in it because it is the authority of God which reveals it. But truth is not self-creating, it does not create itself from the subconscious, from ourselves; it is not we who create truth. This is terrible. Is it not? Such questions are serious, very serious.

From all this there follow consequences very important to our faith, for example: “For we shall then perceive that it is something very different from an intellectual adhesion or belief in the things believed, but rather an actual and active life of relations between God and Man.” It is no longer faith; it is Modernist faith. I infinitely regret that these should be documents issuing from official commissions of the episcopate. I deplore it. You have heard what I have just read you about the Faith which has always been taught us, and this is what is said in these documents! It is deeply regrettable! Either we believe or we do not believe. We either believe in the authority of God, or we do not.

It is the same for the dogma of our salvation. This is the entry on salvation: “Salvation-two catechetical schemata.” Salvation-Redemption, that is the traditional salvation, and here is the traditional entry: “We have lost the grace of God, but Christ has redeemed us by His cross and has entrusted to His Church the means of salvation.” Good-that is indeed what we have always been taught, that it is the Church which saves us.

“Let us hope that other men may be saved likewise.” Let us hope and pray, and one might have added “and let us pray that, in order that other men too may find salvation, there may be vocations to set out to save them,” whence comes the missionary spirit of the Church.

There follows a new schema contrary to the former which speaks of Salvation-Covenant. “The future of humanity.” Of humanity? We are already somewhat bewildered. What exactly does that mean? “The future of humanity is union with God, sealed by Jesus on Easter day; while we still knew not God, the community of believers answers for it in History.” This is what the author of the schema has to say:
Quote:These two schemata seek to embrace the general outlines of two concepts of salvation. They are deliberately summary so that they may not be regarded as creeds embodying all the essentials. Let us say once again-only schemata are in question, and the catechist may be assured of the suitability for our times of a presentation of salvation akin to that of the second schema; all the same he should beware of despising those who recognize themselves in the first schema.

It is a very serious matter. We are given a schema on salvation which is no longer that taught by the Church for two thousand years.

Vague terms: “the future of humanity,” “union with God”- what do these mean? We have been told of truth which is self-creating, which grows within us. Once again we find all the modernist errors condemned by Pope St. Pius X. I am sorry to be obliged to record the fact, but record it we must. We must not be afraid to affirm it, because little by little we shall become Protestants and modernists. Without a shadow of doubt we shall be slowly but surely poisoned. Ultimately, we shall come to find ourselves, as the majority of the faithful and the bishops found themselves to be Arians in the time of Arianism-without being aware of it, we shall find ourselves Protestants and modernists.

The priest’s greatest sorrow is the distortion of his Church. The second wound he suffers is that fundamentally he is deprived of his very raison d’étre. What, in all religions, is the real raison d’étre of the priest? Priest and sacrifice-the two ideas are absolutely essential and inseparably linked. There is no sacrifice without a priest, there is no priest without a sacrifice. The idea of the priest is meaningless apart from sacrifice-the idea of sacrifice cannot be understood apart from the priest. This is true of all religions, but most especially of our holy religion.

It was God himself who was concerned to give us this sacrifice, to put it into our hands and institute a special sacrament which confers a character on the priest, a character which associates him with and gives him a share in the priesthood of our Lord to offer the sacrifice. The unique sacrifice of the cross is still made on our altars. It is the same Priest and the same Victim who offers Himself on our altars. Our Lord is the true Priest; we ourselves are but priest-instruments who have received this character. We are but instruments of the one Priest who is our Lord to offer the one Victim who is also our Lord, present on the altar.

You can see the importance of preserving these fundamental ideas. What does the seminarian regard as the most beautiful of all things: the call to mount the steps to the altar. Throughout our time in the seminary we lived for that-to go from minor orders to become subdeacons, then deacons. Soon I shall ascend the steps of the altar, I shall offer the Body and Blood of Our Lord. By pronouncing the words of consecration I can bring God down upon the altar as, by Her Fiat, the Virgin Mary brought down Her Son into her womb. I shall have the same power as the Most Holy Virgin Mary when She uttered Her Fiat.

When we ourselves speak the words of consecration, Jesus comes down from heaven under the species of bread and wine. It is a miraculous, unbelievable honor for such poor creatures as we. Then it is worth while to be a priest to go up to the altar, to offer the Divine Sacrifice, to continue the sacrifice of the cross. That is the liturgy. That is the Mass. To give Holy Communion-what can a priest do better than give Holy Communion? There is nothing better he can do than give our Lord Jesus Christ, present in the Eucharist. Therein lies the very reason for his celibacy. We need seek no further.

It is often said that a priest’s celibacy is for the furtherance of his ministry. The priest is overburdened by the cares of his ministry. Night and day he must hold himself at the disposal of the faithful. Therefore he should be a celibate and a virgin. But it is not only that. If that were all, the doctors here could say the same. They too are called out night and day. They too work all day long if they would fain devote themselves to their patients. Probably they have even less time than the priest. The same is doubtless true of many other people here who come from different walks of life. There is something else: it is the greatness of his priesthood. It is his intimate nearness to God. It comes essentially through the power conferred on him to speak the words of consecration and bring our Lord down upon the altar.

That is the inmost reason for the priest’s virginity. Just as it is meet and right that the Virgin should have been a virgin because she was so closely linked with the mystery of the Trinity and the mystery of the Incarnation, it was fitting that she should be a virgin. Well! The same is true of the priest who is so closely bound to God, so near to God, so near to our Lord Jesus Christ that it is fitting that he too should give his whole life and all his activity for God.

If the priesthood is thus defined, the true value of the priestly vocation is understandable. On the other hand, if the sacrifice of the Mass is being slowly but surely distorted to make it no more than a meal, just a meal in memory of the Last Supper, it is no longer worthwhile to be a priest. It is not worthwhile because the president of an assembly can preside at a memorial meal. Indeed, we need do no more than delegate one of us to be responsible for this memorial. There is no more need of the sacerdotal character since there is no more sacrifice. In that case the Real Presence is no longer necessary either. Why is the Real Presence of our Lord necessary? Precisely because the victim must be offered. If there is to be a sacrifice, the victim must necessarily be present. But if there is no longer a sacrifice, there is no more need of a victim. If there is no longer a victim, there is no longer need of the Real Presence of our Lord; a spiritual presence is amply sufficient. If the sacrifice is changed into a meal, we have adopted Protestant thinking in its entirety.

So much must be admitted-the facts are there yet again. I am not inventing anything; I will give you a few examples. Here, for example, is the little booklet on Masses for small or special groups issued by the Conference of Swiss Bishops and the Swiss Commission on the Liturgy. This is how it speaks of the Mass:
Quote:The Lord’s Supper brings about, above all, communion with Christ. It is the same communion as that effected by Jesus during His earthly life when He sat down to table with sinners, a communion continued since the day of the Resurrection in the eucharistic meal. The Lord invites His friends to gather together and He will be among them.

No! That is not the Mass. That meal to which our Lord invites us, promising to be in our midst as in that far-off meal in Palestine, is not the Mass. No, we are sharing in His Body and His Blood present on the holy altar and we are offering them. Our Lord offers Himself to God as a Victim for the salvation of souls and it is thus that the Redemption continues, that the expiation for our sins continues. For, if there is no longer a sacrifice, if blood is no longer shed, there is no more remission of sins. A simple memorial does not suffice for the remission of sins.

Here are other examples in plenty. Take, for example, the Strasbourg Evening School of Theology: “We must realize today that we are faced with a real cultural mutation. A particular manner of celebrating the memorial of the Lord was bound up with a religious universe which is no longer ours.” In the light of this, it is obvious that the definition of the Mass has entirely changed. This idea of change, that today we are utterly different, that we no longer have a single idea resembling those of our forebears, is surely an absurdity. Are we really men wholly different from those born a century ago? We are surfeited with having the idea dinned into us with intent to change our faith. If all things change, if the world changes, if humanity changes, if conditions change as claimed here: “The memorial to our Lord has been bound up with a religious universe which is no longer ours”-it is quickly said, and everything disappears: “a religious universe which is no longer ours.” So we must begin from zero.

Begin, and we come to what the Dean of the Faculty of Theology at Strasbourg says concerning our Lord’s Real Presence:
Quote:In the same way we speak of the presence of an orator or of an actor, thereby implying a quality other than a simple topographical “being there.” To sum up, someone may be present by virtue of a symbolic action which he does not perform physically, but which others accomplish by faithful interpretation of his most deep-seated intention. For example, the Bayreuth Festival doubtless realizes a presence of Richard Wagner superior in intensity to what is shown in works or occasional concerts dedicated to the musician. It is in such a perspective, I believe, that we should regard the eucharistic presence of Christ.

An author’s play is staged and the writer’s presence likened to the presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. Well! A Dean of the Faculty of Theology in the University of Strasbourg! How can you expect seminarians listening to that sort of stuff to keep the faith-I did not invent this; I am inventing nothing.

Here is another document from the Centre Jean-Bart, official center of the Archbishopric of Paris; there are incredible statements, for instance Christ’s Eucharist Today (no out-of-date publication, it is dated March 17, 1973): “Is not the Mass our Lord’s Supper, an invitation to communion?” There is no more mention of sacrifice.Then: “At the heart of the Mass lies a story”-There is a story. The same thing is stated in the Swiss Bishops’ little booklet. “There lies a story.” No, it is not a story. The Canon is not a story. Look at old missals. Above the “Communicantes” you will see “Infra actionem.”

Out of curiosity, look at your missals. ‘Infra actionem-during the action.” What does that mean? It means that the priest performs an act, a sacrificial act. Transubstantiation is an act, the sacrifice is an act, not merely a narration. That is why the priest bends forward and prepares himself for that wonderful action which finds its consummation at the moment when our Lord will be present on the holy altar. It is at that moment that our Lord offers Himself to His Father and expiates our sins. It is an act, not a narration. Now, “at the heart of the Mass there is a story.” No, it is not a story.

What we are celebrating then is a memorial of our redemption. Memorial, a word which it is essential to understand. It is not a question of commemorating a past event, as though meeting simply in remembrance. Neither is it a question of the renewal of that event. Christ died and rose again once and forever-that can never happen again. “Can never happen again”? Is not our Lord able to perform a miracle and repeat for us His sacrifice on Calvary? They would seem to say that it is impossible. The sacrifice on Calvary took place once and forever. That is utterly false, the sacrifice of Calvary is really there, bloodlessly renewed on the altar. That is the only way in which it differs from the sacrifice on Calvary. In the one, our Lord offered Himself in a bloody manner, in the other He offers Himself in an unbloody manner on our altars. But His Blood is present, His Body is present. If one no longer believes that, one no longer believes in anything in Holy Church. For it is all there, all Christian spirituality is contained in the sacrifice of the Mass.

We must never forget that. Perhaps there has been too much talk of the Eucharist, Communion, and not enough of the sacrifice of the Mass. I believe we should go back to the fundamental ideas, to that fundamental idea which has been that of the whole tradition of the Church, the sacrifice of the Mass, which is the heart of the Church. Communion is but the fruit, the fruit of the sacrifice; the communion of the faithful, communion with the Victim who offers Himself and is offered. We must go back to these essential principles.

Firstly, if we abandon those essential principles there is no longer any reason for the priesthood. For the priest, if he no longer has his sacrifice to offer, has no more reason for existence. There is no reason for being a religious. Why? What is a religious? A religious is a person who offers his whole life and all he does in union with the Victim who offers Himself on the altar. The best proof is that whenever one makes his solemn profession, whenever there is a profession, or a renewal of profession, it is always at the altar. It is always in union with the holy Victim, and it is that which is the joy and consolation of both monks and nuns, the knowledge that publicly and officially, within the Church and received by the Church, they have offered themselves completely and for all their lives with the Victim who offers Himself on the altar. If there is no longer a Victim offering Himself on the altar, there is no longer any reason for being a monk or a nun.

For you, too, faithful Christians, it is the meaning of your Christian life. What is the meaning of your life? What is the meaning of your baptism? It is the offering of your selves, the offering of your whole lives, wholly, with our Lord Jesus Christ as the Victim on the altar. That is the consolation of your lives. It is that which has power to sustain you in your trials. Go into the hospitals and talk with the dying, with those preparing to meet death. Unless you speak to them of the sacrifice of our Lord, unless you unite their sacrifice with that of our Lord, you may talk of what you please, they will not understand. But speak to them rather of our Lord offering Himself on the cross, on the altars. Say to them: “Unite your suffering and your pain with those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and at the same time you will save your soul and those of others.” Then the sick will understand that suffering is worthwhile.

Among those who have been in prison and in concentration camps, how many have returned to the faith when they thought they were suffering and were offering themselves with the Victim who offers Himself on the altar. You see, if that is not so, if there is no cross in our lives, if there is no longer the sacrifice of the cross and the sacrifice of the altar, there is nothing left in our Christian lives, it is finished. That is of the utmost importance: in some way all Christian spirituality hangs upon the sacrifice of the altar. We have no right, then, to say that Holy Mass is only a meal.

Well, we must look things in the face. Our altar of sacrifice, a stone altar, a massive altar on which to offer the sacrifice, has been transformed into a table, a mere dining table. In many cases, the relics of martyrs preserved within the altar stones have been removed. At least there was an altar stone which actually represented the stone of sacrifice since the sacrifice is offered on an altar of stone. And why the relics of martyrs? Because they offered their blood for our Lord Jesus Christ. Is not this communion of the Blood of our Lord with the blood of the martyrs an admirable evocation encouraging us to offer our lives with our Lord’s as did the martyrs? But now the relics of the martyrs are removed.

If the Mass is a meal, it is easy to understand the priests turning towards the faithful. One does not turn one’s back on one’s guests at a meal. If, however, it is a sacrifice, the sacrifice is offered to God, not to the faithful. Hence it is understandable that the priest should be at the head of the faithful and turn towards God, towards the crucifix; he is offering the sacrifice to God. When, for their instruction, he must speak to the people, it is natural that he should turn to the faithful. So soon, however, as he speaks to God, it is he who acts, from the moment of the Offertory it is he who, with his priestly character, goes into action-it is not the faithful.

There too there is a confused notion. The priesthood of the faithful is being confused with that of the priest. The priesthood of the priest is essentially different from that of the faithful. That was stated by the cardinals in their commentaries on the Dutch Catechism. They required the Dutch Catechism to go back to that notion: the ministerial priesthood. There are ten points on which they asked the makers of the Dutch Catechism to alter the text. Nothing at all has been changed. The Committee of Cardinals’statement on the new catechism was printed at the back of the edition, but it very soon disappeared. Now the Dutch Catechisms have been translated into all languages and there is no sign of the emendations made and required by the cardinals, emendations on capital points, points fundamental to our faith.

“Beware of diminishing the greatness of the ministerial priesthood which, by its sharing in the priesthood of Christ, differs from the general priesthood of the faithful not only in degree but in essentials.” That is what the cardinals say. Now, it must not be forgotten that most catechisms have been compiled under the influence of the Dutch Catechism, the new catechism.

There are many more serious matters that we have no right to minimize. If there is a tendency to regard the sacrifice of the Mass as a meal, it is natural to take Communion in the hand. If it is a meal, it is a morsel of bread which is distributed, a memento, a memorial. But when we know that our Lord is present! When we know who our Lord is! We cannot indeed know, we have no means of telling! Reflect that all the angels of heaven bow before our Lord, that at the very name of Jesus every knee is bent whether in heaven, on earth, or in hell. Yet we, we are afraid to kneel in the presence of Him whose name, if it be but spoken on the Day of Judgment, will bring to their knees all humanity, all the souls in heaven, all the angels, and all those in hell. We should think of these things.

Lastly, a final wound is inflicted on the priest. His catechism is taken from him. As I have just spoken of this I will not stress the matter. But the catechism has been transformed, and it has been done under the inspiration of the Dutch Catechism. Not long ago I read in an investigation carried out by the Péleren (Pilgrim) a questionnaire addressed to mothers of families. They were asked what they thought of the new catechism, of the new methods, and of the new teaching given to their children. Well, I believe I am not mistaken in saying that for every nine or ten replies sent in, only two were at all favorable to the new method and the new catechism. All the other replies from mothers were unfavorable. “We find,” they said, “that our children no longer know anything. They no longer know even their prayers, they do not know how to make their confession, they remember nothing.” That is the considered opinion given to the Péleren by mothers of families. It is a serious matter.

Now such complaints are reaching us daily. It was once my intention to give my seminarians a year of spiritual training before entering the seminary, a full year of spiritual preparation as it might have been conceived in the past, that is asceticism and mysticism. We would speak to them of the Virtues, of the gifts of the spirit, of the beatitudes, and kindred subjects such as the presence in them of the Holy Spirit and supernatural grace. We discovered, however, that they no longer have any knowledge of fundamental concepts.

We finally decided that it would be essential to give these young men, who have come here with intent to become priests and the longing to become true priests, a straightforward course on the catechism during their year of spiritual preparation. We had to do a revision of everything. All our ideas have had to be reconsidered. It is unthinkably, inconceivably serious. Do we realize or not that our faith is eternal life?

During the rite of baptism, when the priest baptizes, he asks the godfather: “What does faith bring you? Faith brings you eternal life.” Has eternal life meaning for us? Or does it mean nothing? If faith truly brings us eternal life we have no right to lessen the meaning of our faith with a “Well, well” or “We are told we should do that. We have been told that we must think on these lines. What would you have me do-I do not understand the matter.” You have no right to speak in that way. You were brought up in the faith. One has no right to change the faith. St. Paul himself said, that if an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached do not hearken. That is what St. Paul said to the faithful. Let me say yet again that I am not defending my personal ideas but the whole tradition of the Church. We have no right to minimize our catechism. We must return to our age-old catechisms; we must, otherwise our children will know nothing, and they will lose the faith. We have no right to let our children abandon the Catholic Faith. We must teach them the true catechism.

That is the position regarding the priesthood today. But how is it possible that things should have come to this pass? It is incredible! How can one think of putting into the hands of children catechisms which no longer give a true reflection of the traditional faith?

I am sorry that I have not brought you the Canadian catechisms to show you what those catechisms are like. It is an aberration, an abomination. Obviously, most catechisms and pamphlets on the catechisms go into lengthy details on sexual life. One might really imagine that children need to be taught nothing else. And the way! The way is calculated to give them a kind of obsession. On every page of these catechisms and the two or three pamphlets which deal with these matters one sees in capital letters: Sex, Sex, Sex everywhere. It is on every page throughout the book-and is enough to breed an absolute obsession in the child. When one reflects that at the end of these books there is an Imprimatur: “Bishop Couderce, Bishop of Saint-Hyacinth, President of the Episcopal Commission for Catechetics,” I must confess that for me it is a mystery past understanding.

How have we reached such a point. Well, I believe we must go back to the beginning. We could obviously go back to original sin. We could also go back to the devil. He clearly has a hand in it, of that there can be no shadow of doubt. To achieve such action in the Church, to accomplish the self-destruction of which the Holy Father has spoken, the devil must be in it. It could not happen otherwise. He’s there. You can be sure of that.

I believe, however, that we must go back to all those errors which popes have condemned over the last two centuries. Above all we have experienced liberalism, Communism, Marxism, socialism, Sillonism, modernism, and all the other “-isms” repeatedly condemned by the popes. During these two centuries we have had acts of condemnation by the Holy Fathers. Take, for example, Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical Immortale Dei. Pope Leo XIII condemns the new law. What he means by the new law is a wholly new conception-a conception of life, a conception of the world, a conception of the Church utterly different from the true conception of the Church. It is based on the principles of Freemasonry as summarized in those three famous words: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” which may be very good but which can also stand for very bad things. If the liberty is a total liberty, i.e., if everything is left to conscience, there are no more laws, there is an end to all authority. That is what is chiefly attacked in the words “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.” Authority is destroyed. That implies the freedom of my conscience. I do as I please regardless of law and of personal authority. Equality-we are all equal. We want nothing to do with authority.

Fraternity-but Fatherless. There is no Father. There is a crowd fraternity. All the individuals embrace one another but there is no Father. How is it possible to conceive a fraternity lacking paternity-with no Father? It is unimaginable, but so it is. That is what we were to be taught: the ruin of authority, and through that very event an attack on the authority of God. It is a direct attack on God, since all authority comes from God and through sharing in the authority of God. That was stated by St. Paul. God is thus attacked directly. The best proof is that the Freemasons have offered sacrifices to the goddess Reason, to Man, Man become God. Moreover, the Freemasons are saying just the same things today. Never let it be forgotten. We must not believe that it is all a thing of the past.

“If to raise Man to the altar rather than set God there is the sin of Lucifer,” writes the former Grand Master of the Grand Orient, Mr. Mitterand, “every humanist since the time of the Renaissance has been guilty of this sin.” It was one of the complaints brought against the Freemasons when, for the first time, they were excommunicated by Pope Clement XII in 1738. Unhappily, this Freemason tells us: Obviously, all that is seen through the eyes of a Freemason. I am not saying that I concur with what that man says. But it is those people who are behind all these changes. You may be sure that they have not been idle in the Council and, you may be very sure, round about it. “Something has changed in the Church,” says Mitterand, the Grand Master of the Grand Orient.Obviously, all that is seen through the eyes of a Freemason. I am not saying that I concur with what that man says. But it is those people who are behind all these changes. You may be sure that they have not been idle in the Council and, you may be very sure, round about it. “Something has changed in the Church,” says Mitterand, the Grand Master of the Grand Orient.

Between the policy of Pius XII and that of his successors there is a major difference. For Pius XII the common good has a reactionary character, almost fascist and distinctly anti-Communist. For John XXIII and afterwards for Paul VI, the common good has a markedly progressive character. The relationship of the powers has changed in the world, and the Church realizes the fact.

Obviously, all that is seen through the eyes of a Freemason. I am not saying that I concur with what that man says. But it is those people who are behind all these changes. You may be sure that they have not been idle in the Council and, you may be very sure, round about it. “Something has changed in the Church,” says Mitterand, the Grand Master of the Grand Orient.The replies set down by the Pope to such burning questions as the celibacy of the clergy and birth control are fiercely contested within the very bosom of the Church. Some bishops, some priests and members of the laity have questioned the words of the Sovereign Pontiff himself. In the eyes of a Freemason a man who disputes dogma is already a Freemason without his apron. That is what those people are saying, and they know what they are talking about.

Here is another book written by a Freemason, Ecumenism Seen by a Freemason, by Mr. Marsaudon of the Scottish Rite. This Marsaudon deals with ecumenism and the ecumenism which was obtained during the Council. “Catholics, especially conservatives, should not forget that all roads lead to God. They should abide by this brave idea of freedom of conscience which, and here one may truly speak of revolution, starting from our Masonic lodges, has spread magnificently above the doctrine of St. Peter.”

Well! what is there to be said? It is all too true, alas, that the Council showed an unwillingness to define its terms. Hence the ambiguous and equivocal terminology used. And from these ambiguous and equivocal terms the postconciliar results have been derived. Fr. Schillebeeckx himself expressly admitted it and even printed it in a review: “We have used equivocal terms during the Council, and we know what we will afterwards draw from them.” Those people knew what they were doing since on the sub-committees there were all those modern theologians-Schillebeeckx, Hans Kung, Rahner, Congar, Leclerc, and Murphy. They were all on the sub-commissions. This was because commissions could name subcommittees and so nominate those theologians who knew perfectly well where they were going. It is they who are guilty of the situation in which we find ourselves. Steeped as they are in modernist ideas, they are determined by all the means in their power to force the Church to become modernist. We must not let ourselves be hoodwinked by these tactics, must we? We must keep our eyes open.

What is the present method of forcing us to become modernists or to espouse liberal ideas? It is done by recycling, as I myself can witness within my own Congregation. In these formation sessions the first statement made is a statement repeated in the pamphlet The Faith, Word for Word, to which I referred a short time ago, published by the office of the Archbishopric of Paris. The first words are: “Admit the change.”
Admit the change: yet once more, as I have just said, we must make our seminarians, our priests, all those who come to these formation sessions realize that changes have been carried out and that we must change.

The second, more delicate, operation, consists in finding out the differing ways in which Christians have appreciated, in these diverse changes, the very fact of change. This observation is very important because opposition at present is a matter rather of spontaneous and unconscious attitudes to change than of a precise assessment of what is at stake in particular changes.

Two attitudes seem to emerge as typical though all possible transitional stages must be borne in mind. According to the first, some novelties are conceded after working out the way in which each follows the other. This is the attitude of many Christians, many Catholics who are yielding step by step. The second are prepared to accept a general updating of the rites of the Christian Faith on the threshold of a new culture.

I repeat:
The second are prepared to accept a general updating of the rites of the Christian Faith on the threshold of a new culture. It is enough for them to reassure themselves regularly of its fidelity to the Faith of the Apostles.

It is very late, and there will be time enough to deal with the Faith of the Apostles once the faith has been utterly destroyed. It goes Without saying that this operation, this new pattern of problems, is what must be inculcated into Catholics today.

If the second diagnosis is accepted, a third operation becomes necessary. “The Christian cannot fail to see a formidable danger to the faith in this.” That is what they themselves are admitting explicitly. It is terrible, incredible.

Will it not purely and simply disappear together with the dubious theories which brought it to that pass? He rightly demands a fundamental assurance which will carry him beyond those first sterile attitudes. That preliminary assurance should include the following elements at least.

You will see what is left to us of our Faith: “The Holy Ghost is just He who comes to the aid of believers in the workings of history.” We therefore have recourse to the Holy Ghost only. There is no longer a hierarchy, there is no longer a magisterium. Nothing is left. Christians are directly inspired by the Holy Ghost.

Today, all this is being put into practice by Pentecostalism. They hold meetings as we do. We might invoke the Holy Ghost and suddenly one of you would begin speaking in an unknown tongue- one might speak Arabic, another Armenian, another Hebrew. All this is of the devil; it cannot be otherwise. Hence the Holy Ghost comes first. Then the one constant in our faith is the person of Jesus Himself. Jesus, but what do they mean by Jesus?

Finally, this is the assurance they give to the faithful who are afraid of losing the faith by reason of this new presentation of questions: “Vatican II assuredly offers many indications of a change in the approach to problems.” We are indeed dealing with a campaign of subversion. There is no other word for it-a campaign of subversion.

We must come to a close. What are we to do?

We have looked quickly at an example of this subversion in the priest. Now, whatever touches the priest naturally affects the Church and the faithful. Well! We have no right to let ourselves engage in this adventure. It will pass as all heresies have passed, as all errors have passed, as all that has befallen and shaken the Church has passed. The Church has experienced storms. This one is terrible, for it attacks the very roots of the people’s faith, alas, through those whose duty it is to protect the faith of believers.

I have been asked to put together in book form the few lectures and articles I have published since the Council. As its epigraph [he is speaking of the present volume] I wrote: “We are being made to disobey all tradition through obedience.” You will reply: “But it is our priests who ask it of us. It is a bishop who asks it of us. Look, it is a document issued by the Catechetical Commission or some other official commission. What would you have me do?” Lose the faith, then! No, no. No-one, not even the pope, not even an angel, has the right to make you lose the faith. No-one has the right to make one lose the faith. Faith in Jesus Christ is our means of salvation, it is the way of salvation. We have no right to lose the Catholic Faith; rather we must do all we can to keep it alive within us.

You, Christian parents, protect the faith of your children in your families and in your homes. Read and re-read the Tridentine Catechism, the finest, the most perfect, and the most complete expression of our faith. Keep the faith in our schools also. Go into schools; if the children are being led to lose the faith, complain. Do not let your children’s teachers bring them to lose the faith. Go and find your priests. There are still good priests, and God knows what a joy it is for me to see so many of them here. Give them your support, encourage them; they are suffering from the situation. They feel that you are there and that you are making this appeal to them: “Fathers, protect our children’s faith. We beg you give us the truth that saves our souls.” They will do so and be happy to give you the truths of the faith. Ask that of all who should protect your faith.

Next, form prayer groups. We must pray, pray, pray. Form prayer groups, say the rosary both at home and in groups in the parish. Ask your priests to expound the rosary. Ask them to give you Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Arrange services for the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and night vigils.

In recent years I have traveled a great deal and can assure you that there is a Catholic revival. Many Catholics feel that all is not well with the Church, that such a state of affairs must not be allowed to continue, that there is a danger of their losing the faith. Now these Catholics are getting together to say the rosary. They are asking the priest’s permission to keep night vigils of adoration in the churches. All that is splendid. God, in His goodness, will not be deaf to such a prayer and supplication. That is what we should do today.

I do not know whether all the apparitions of which we hear are authentic. I dare not assert it. But it is not surprising that the Blessed Virgin should come and help us to preserve the faith.

The more one may be encouraged to visit places where the Blessed Virgin has certainly appeared, the more circumspect we should be where there is no real confirmation of her coming. In any case, an almost certain sign of the truth of an apparition is the conversion of souls-not a dubious conversion, not a flash in the pan, but a true conversion.

There may often be about these pilgrimages occurrences not altogether normal, hysterics, unbalanced people, or people who seek nothing else; people who, once convinced of the reality of an apparition, have nothing else in their heads and feel that it is this which will save them. For them everything else in the Church ceases to count-the sacraments, the hierarchy, nothing matters any longer. The danger is great. We must not allow ourselves to be drawn along that road.

As for me, Providence gave me the opportunity of establishing a seminary, through a society of priests. Bishop Charriere signed the permit for its foundation. This society resembles the Missions Etmngéres. Yet, in my mind, no field of activity for these future priests is excluded. They will go wheresoever the bishops call them. If one day China opens its gates and Russia its doors, if they are called to South America, Africa, or Europe, wherever there is a demand and these priests are welcomed, they will go as a group. They will obviously go under contract to the bishop since they form a society. They are not priests coming from dioceses and returning to their dioceses to be incardinated there. No, they are priests, members of a brotherhood, members of a society, who will go where the Superior General sends them and where they are called by the bishops who wish to receive them but, of course, under certain conditions. I assure you that I am very happy in what God has given me to do at present when I see the generosity of these seminarians. I assure you, it is not wasted. Do not be discouraged or pessimistic. A really sound youth still exists. Our eighty seminarians are very good, very generous.

They are not children. Most of them have university degrees. There are two qualified doctors, three or four engineers, one of them a graduate of the Centrale, another who, after seven years’ study, is a Master of Biology, besides several graduates in Mathematics, Law, and Arts. They are not juveniles who have come to take shelter with me seeking I know not what, but young men who have thought the matter over seriously and come with intent to be true priests. Two-thirds are French; the next group numerically is that from the United States. Then one Canadian, three Englishmen, two Germans, four Swiss, an Italian, a Spaniard, and two Australians. You see, the seminary is well and truly international. They get on with one another perfectly.

From now on I shall have a little group of American priests in the United States who will gather together young seminarians and prepare them for the seminary at Ecône. Later, when God so wills, we shall have another seminary in the United States. I have also an establishment in London, one in Paris and two houses in Switzerland-the house in Fribourg and the house at Ecône, which is the senior seminary staffed by twelve professors coming from all over the world. Two of them are Dominican professors from the University of Fribourg. As a professional body I believe it to be as good as I could ever wish. I now have a house for my young priests at Albano, near Rome.

As soon as I have young priests they will be sent to Rome to become attached to it. I want them to be Romans, Roman Catholics, attached to the Sovereign Pontiff, attached to the magisterium of the Church and attached to the Catholic Church so that they may understand and may live on all the memories of Rome. That is briefly what I am doing and, I must say, doing with great satisfaction.



- Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. A BISHOP SPEAKS. 2ND ed. KANSAS CITY: ANGELUS PRESS, 2007. pp. 163-186
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
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