Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishp de Castro Mayer: 1983 Letter to Pope John Paul II
From the Archived Catacombs:


On November 21, 1983, Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer sent an Episcopal Letter to John Paul II, summarizing the causes of the “self-destuction of the Church.”

Episcopal Letter:

In the letter, the two bishops mention the principal errors which are at the origins of the destruction of the Church and at the end of the letter there is an appendix which gives a more detailed explanation of the errors.

Excerpt from letter:

…To that end we have attached to this letter an appendix containing the principal errors which are at the origins of this tragic situation and which, moreover, have already been condemned by your predecessors. The following list outlines these errors, but it is not exhaustive:

1. A latitudinarian and ecumenical notion of the Church, divided in its faith, condemned in particular by the Syllabus, No. 18 (Den. 2918).

2. A collegial government and a democratic orientation in the Church, condemned in particular by Vatican Council I (Den. 3055).

3. A false notion of the natural rights of man which clearly appears in the document on Religious Liberty, condemned in particular by Quanta cura (Pius IX) and Libertas praestantissimum (Leo XIII)

4. An erroneous notion of the power of the Pope (cf. Den. 3115).

5. A Protestant notion of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments, condemned by the Counil of Trent, Session XXII.

6. Finally, and in a general manner, the free spreading of heresies, characterized by the suppression of the Holy Office…

Appendix to letter:


I. A latitudinarist (indifferentist) and ecumenical conception of the Church.

The conception of the Church as "the People of God" is hereafter found in many official documents: the acts of the Council, Unitatis Redintegratio, Lumen Gentium; the new Code of Canon Law (c. 204.1); the letter of Pope John Paul II, Catechesi tradendae; the allocution in the Anglican Church at Canterbury; the ecumenical directory ad totam Ecclesiam of the Secretariat for the Unity of Christians. It [this conception] breathes a latitudinarist interpretation and a false ecumenism.

The facts manifest with evidence this heterodox conception: the authorizations for the construction of rooms which are destined for religious pluralism; the edition of ecumenical bibles which no longer conform to Catholic exegesis; the ecumenical ceremonies like those of Canterbury.

In Unitatis Redintegratio, it is taught that the division of Christians "is for the world an object of scandal and the obstacle of the preaching of the Gospel to all creatures . . . that the Holy Spirit does not refuse to make use of other religions as means of salvation." This same error is repeated in the document Catechesi tradendae of John Paul II. It is in the same spirit and with affirmations contrary to the traditional faith that John Paul II declared at the Cathedral of Canterbury, May 25, 1982, "that the promise of Christ inspires us with confidence that the Holy Spirit will heal the divisions introduced into the Church from the first times at Pentecost" as though the unity of the Credo had never existed in the Church.

The concept of the "People of God" leads to belief that Protestantism is none other than a particular form of the same Christian religion.

The Second Vatican Council teaches "a true union in the Holy Spirit" with heretical sects (Lumen gentium, 14); "a certain, though imperfect, communion with them" (Unitatis Redintegratio,3).

This ecumenical unity contradicts the Encyclical Satis cognitum of Leo XIII which teaches that "Jesus did not found a Church made up of a number of communities that were generically similar, yet separate and without those bonds of unity which make the Church one and indivisible." Similarly, this ecumenical unity is contrary to the Encyclical Humani generis of Pius XII which condemns the idea of reducing to a vague formula the necessity of belonging to the Catholic Church. It is also contrary to the Encyclical Mystici Corporis of the same Pope which condemns the conception of a "pneumatic" Church which would be an invisible bond unifying the separated communities in the faith.

This ecumenism is equally contrary to the teachings of Pius XI in the Encyclical Mortalium animos. Concerning this point it is timely to expose and reject a certain false opinion which is at the origin of this problem and of this complex movement by the means of which non?Catholics strive to obtain a union of Christian churches. Those who adhere to this opinion constantly cite these words of Christ: "That they all may be one . . . and there shall be one fold and one shepherd" (Jn. 17, 21 and 10, 16), and they claim that by these words Christ expresses a desire or a prayer which has never been realized. In fact, they claim that the unity of faith and of government, which is one of the marks of the true Church of Christ, in a practical manner, up to today, has never existed and today does not exist.

This ecumenism condemned by Catholic morality and law, now manages to permit the reception of the Sacraments of Penance, Holy Eucharist and Extreme Unction from "non?Catholic ministers" (canon 844, N.C.), and encourages "ecumenical hospitality" by authorizing Catholic ministers to give the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to nonCatholics.

All these things are contrary to Divine Revelation which stipulates the "separation" and rejects the union "between light and darkness, between the faithful and the unbeliever, between the temple of God and that of sects" (II Corinth. 6, 14?18).

II. The Collegial-Democratic Government of the Church

Having undermined the unity of the faith, the Modernists of today strive to undermine the unity of government and the hierarchical structure of the Church.

The doctrine, already insinuated by the document Lumen Gentium of Vatican Council II, is taken up again, explicitly, by the new Code of Canon Law (c. 336). According to this doctrine, the College of Bishops united with the Pope, has an equal possession of the supreme authority in the Church, in a habitual and constant manner.

This doctrine-of a double supreme authority?is contrary to the teaching and to the practice of the Magisterium of the Church, especially in Vatican Council I (DS 3055), and in the Encyclical of Leo 11, Satis cognitum. The Pope alone has this supreme authority which he can communicate, in the measure which he judges expedient and in extraordinary circumstances.

To this grave error is attached the democratic orientation of the Church, with the power residing in the "People of God" such as it is defined in the new Code. This Jansenist error is condemned by the Bull Auctorem Fidei of Pius VI (CS 2592).

This tendency to cause the "base" to participate in the exercise of power is found in the institution of the Synodal and Episcopal Conferences, in the Priestly and Pastoral Councils, and in the multiplication of Roman Commissions and national commissions, as in the heart of religious congregations (concerning this, see Vatican Council 1, DS 3061; new Code of Canon Law, c. 447).

The source of the anarchy and disorder which today reign throughout the Church is to be found in this degradition of authority.

III. The False Natural Rights of Man

The Declaration, Dignitatis humanae, of Vatican Council II, affirms the existence of a false natural right of man in religious matters, contrary to the pontifical teachings which repudiate such a blasphemy.

Thus Pius IX in his Encyclical Quanta cura and the Syllabus, Leo XIII in his Encyclicals Libertas praestantissimum and Immortale Dei, Pius XII in his allocution, La Riesce, to the Italian Catholic jurists, deny that reason and revelation found a similar right.

Vatican II professes, in a universal manner, that "The Truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own Truth." This is formally opposed to the teaching of Pius VI against the Jansenists of the Council of Pistoia (DS 2604). The Second Vatican Council thus arrives at the absurdity of affirming the right not to adhere to, and not to follow the Truth, in order to oblige civil governments to no longer discriminate for religious motives, thus establishing a juridical equality between false religions and the true one.

These doctrines, which have already been condemned by Saint Pius X in the Pontifical Mandate, Notre Charge Apostolique, are founded on a false conception of human dignity which comes from the agnostic and materialistic pseudo?philosophers of the French Revolution.

Vatican II says that from Religious Liberty will emerge an era of stability for the Church. Gregory XVI affirms, on the contrary, that it is a supreme impudence to affirm that the immoderate freedom of opinion would be beneficial for the Church.

The Council expresses in Gaudium et Spes a false principle when it says that human and Christian dignity come from the fact of the Incarnation, which has restored this dignity for all men. This same error is affirmed in the Encyclical Redemptor hominis of John Paul II.

The consequences of the recognition by the Council of this false "Rights of Men" destroys the foundations of the social reign of Our Lord. They undermine the authority and power of the Church in its mission to cause Our Lord to reign in souls and in hearts, for the Church must direct the battle against the satanic forces which subjugate souls. The missionary spirit will be accused of exaggerated proselytism.

The neutrality of States in religious matters is injurious for Our Lord and His Church, when it is a question of States with a Catholic majority.

IV. The Absolute Authority of the Pope

Most certainly the authority of the Pope in the Church is a supreme authority, but it cannot be absolute and without limits, since it is subordinate to Divine Authority, which is expressed in Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the definitions already promulgated by the ecclesiastical Magisterium (DS 3116).

The authority of the Pope is subordinate and limited by the end for which this authority has been given to him. This end is clearly defined by Pope Pius IX in the Constitution Pastor aeternus of Vatican Council I (DS 3070). It would be an intolerable abuse of power to modify the Constitution of the Church and, in doing so, pretend to appeal to the rights of man against the Divine Right, as in religious liberty, as in the eucharistic hospitality which is authorized in the new Canon Law, as in the assertion of two supreme authorities in the Church.

It is clear that in these cases and in other similar cases, it is the duty for each member of the clergy and each faithful Catholic to resist and to refuse obedience. Blind obedience is a contrary sense and no one is exempt from his responsibility for having obeyed man rather than God (DS 3115). This resistance must be public if the evil is public and an object of scandal to souls (St. Thomas 11,11, 33,4).

The above statements are elementary principles of ethics. They regulate the relations of subjects with all legitimate authority.

Moreover this resistance finds a confirmation in the fact that henceforth those who hold firmly to Tradition and the Catholic Faith are penalized; those who profess doctrines which are heterodox, or who effect sacrileges are in no way troubled. That is the logic of an abuse of authority.

V. Protestant Notion of the Mass

The new notion of the Church, such as Pope John Paul II defined it in the Constitution which precedes the new Canon Law, evokes a profound alteration in the principal act of the Church, which is the Sacrifice of the Mass. The definition of the new ecclesiology gives exactly the definition of the new Mass: it is a collegial and ecumenical service and communion. The New Mass cannot be better defined and the New Mass, just as the new Conciliar Church, is a profound rupture with the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church.

It is a conception more Protestant than Catholic and it explains all that which has been unduly exalted and all that which has been diminished.

Contrary to the teaching of the Council of Trent in its twenty second session, contrary to the Encyclical Mediator Dei of Pius XII, the role of the faithful in the participation of the Mass has been exaggerated, and the role of the priest, now become a simple president, has been diminished. The importance of the Liturgy of the Word has been exaggerated, and the importance of the propitiatory Sacrifice has been diminished. The meal of the community has been exalted and the Mass has been laicized, to the detriment of the respect and the faith in the Real Presence by transubstantiation.

By the suppression of the sacred language, the rites have been infinitely multiplied. They have been profaned by worldly and pagan additions. False translations have been propagated to the detriment of the true faith and the true piety of the faithful.

And yet the Councils of Florence and Trent had pronounced anathemas against all these changes and they had affirmed that the Canon of our Mass goes back to apostolic times.

The Popes, Saint Pius V and Clement VIII, had insisted upon the necessity of avoiding changes and mutations, by perpetually keeping this Roman Rite consecrated by Tradition.

The removal from the Mass of that which is sacred, and its laicization have led to the laicization, in a Protestant manner, of the priesthood.

The liturgical reform in a Protestant style is one of the greatest errors of the Conciliar Church and one of the most ruinous for the Faith and grace.

VI. The Free Diffusion of Errors and Heresies

The situation of the Church, its state of searching, has introduced, in practice, the free-thinking of Protestantism. This is the result of the multiplicity of credos at the interior of the Church.

The suppression of the Holy Office, of the Index, of the Anti-Modernist Oath, has provoked among modern theologians a need for new theories which bewilder the faithful and induces them toward the charismatic movement, Pentecostalism and base communities. It is a true revolution, ultimately directed against the authority of God and the Church.

Grave modern errors which remain condemned by the Popes are now freely developing at the interior of the Church:

1. Modern philosophies which are anti-scholastic, existentialist, anti-intellectualist are taught in Catholic universities and seminaries.

2. Humanism is favored by the need of ecclesiastical authorities to be an echo of the modern world by making man the end of all things.

3. Naturalism-the exaltation of man and human values, is causing the supernatural values of the Redemption and grace to be forgotten.

4. Evolutionary Modernism is causing the rejection of Tradition, of Revelation, of the Magisterium of twenty centuries. No longer is there an unchanging Truth, nor any dogma.

5. Socialism and Communism: The refusal of the Council to condemn these errors was scandalous and legitimately causes the belief that today the Vatican would be favorable to a socialism or a communism more or less Christian. The attitude of the Holy See, both in its dealings the other side of the Iron Curtain and this side, during the past fifteen years, confirms this judgment.

6. Finally, the agreements with Freemasonry, the ecumenical Council of Churches, and Moscow, reduce the Church to the state of a prisoner. It becomes totally incapable of freely fulfilling its Mission. These are real treasons which cry to heaven for vengeance, just as are the praises uttered in these recent days to the heresiarch the most scandalous and the most noxious to the Church.

It is time that the Church recovered its freedom in order to advance the Reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Reign of Mary without being preoccupied with its enemies.
"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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