Archbishop Lefebvre and the Vatican by Fr. François Laisney [1988]
October, 1989

Cardinal Mayer’s Interview in 30 Days Magazine

It is well to place here a excerpt from the interview given by Augustin Cardinal Mayer, inaugural President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, to Stefano Maria Paci of 30 Days magazine (Oct. 1988). It adds some interesting insight as to the perspective of Rome regarding Dom Gérard’s Declaration, that is, the only perspective which counts.

Paci: When Dom Gérard announced that an agreement had been reached with Rome, he also said, “no doctrinal or liturgical concession was requested, and no ban was imposed on anti-Modernist preaching.” The statement sparked considerable debate. What are the actual terms of the agreement?

Cardinal Mayer: Dom Gérard’s statement was not exact.

[Then the Cardinal explains how Dom Gérard was not exact.]

They cannot just accept the concessions offered by the Protocol and forget the obligations! [It] required the acceptance of the doctrine contained in the dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium (§25); the adoption of a positive attitude, one open to dialogue, toward the Holy See regarding those points that could129 cause difficulties; the recognition of the validity of the Sacrifice of the Mass and of the Sacraments celebrated according to the rites promulgated by Pope Paul VI and John Paul II; and obedience to the prescriptions contained in the 1983 Code of Canon Law....In the same way, one cannot simply approve of the opening toward legitimate130 spiritual and liturgical aspirations in the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei of last July 2, and neglect the criticism made there of a false notion of Tradition.

The price of this compromise will be to criticize the notion of Tradition held by Archbishop Lefebvre in order to accept a new notion of living Tradition which allows all the changes we have witnessed over the past 30-35 years. I have already noted how this is not the true life of Tradition.

Please note also the requirement to accept all the prescriptions of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, including Canon 844 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law (see p.150ff.).

[Cardinal Mayer continues:]

Dom Gérard, in addition, stated in a letter to the Holy Father, sent on July 8, 1988, that he and his monks wanted “to lay at the feet of Your Holiness...the testimony of our attachment to the magisterium of the Church.”

“Magisterium” can be understood in two ways: an objective way, i.e., the teachings; or a subjective way, i.e., the teachers. If Dom Gérard meant the objective 20-centuries-old magisterium of the Church, wasn’t his attachment to this magisterium already very clear by his stand for Tradition? No need for a new testimony of it. If he meant the objective new teachings of Vatican II, then beware! If he meant an attachment to the teachers, i.e., to the Pope as Successor of Peter, then I think it was sufficiently manifested by the very fact that he and the other priests and faithful attached to Tradition continued to recognize the Pope even though they were persecuted by him. If we recognize the Pope even though he uses all kinds of ecclesiastical pressures against us because we keep Tradition, can he doubt our attachment to him the day he returns to Tradition? If a loyal wife remains faithful to an errant husband even though he is physically abusive to her, is there any doubt that such a good woman will remain faithful when her husband comes to his senses and stops such abuse? “Maledicimur et benedicimus: we are cursed and we bless, we overcome evil by good,” as St. Paul says; this is a sign of the Spirit of God.

The next question was about Dom Gérard’s condition that “this event be not considered as a discredit on the person of Archbishop Lefebvre.” The Cardinal “expressed his understanding for the feelings of affection and veneration towards Archbishop Lefebvre...but it was obvious...that they could not follow him in any way on the path towards schism.” Therefore, the Cardinal was requesting that they now consider Archbishop Lefebvre as schismatic. How can such an agreement “not be considered as a discredit” with such a condition? Isn’t there a contradiction?

If, on the contrary, Dom Gérard thought that the ceremony of June 30 was not schismatic—he had to, otherwise he committed a mortal sin by taking part in it—then why accept such a condition? And why did he write in his letter of July 8, according to the testimony of Cardinal Mayer: “We want to reassure Your Holiness that we reject any idea of separating ourselves from the Church by approving an episcopal ordination conferred without an apostolic mandate”?

Let us pray for these monks that they not be led into further compromises, such as accepting the New Mass. The example of Père Augustin shows the need for such prayers. Let us support Dom Tomàs Aquino[131] who did not compromise.

129. Note the conditional tense.
130. If these aspirations were legitimate, why did the priests and faithful have to wait so long for this opening? Why to give it only at the price of criticizing the true notion of Tradition?
131. Prior of the Monastery of Santa Cruz in Brazil, South America.
"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
August 24, 1988

Declaration of Dom Tomás Aquino

The original declaration is in Portuguese and was signed by Dom Tomás Aquino, Prior of the Monastery of Santa Cruz [Monastery of the Holy Cross], Nova Friburgo, Brazil. It was sent on August 25, 1988 to Dom Gérard Calvet, Prior of the Monastery of St. Madeleine, Le Barroux, France, and also to Cardinals Joseph Ratzinger and Paul Augustin Mayer, at the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican.

As Prior of the Monastery of Santa Cruz at Nova Friburgo, and after serious reflection and prayer before Almighty God, considering my responsibilities to this monastery, and for my eternal salvation, I come in front of my superiors, in front of my brothers, and in front of Holy Church, to fulfil my duty to declare the following:

The Monastery of Santa Cruz refuses the agreement entered into between the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the person of Cardinals Ratzinger and Mayer and Dom Gérard Calvet, Prior of the Monastery of St. Madeleine du Barroux.

Without us having been consulted, even though we were present at Le Barroux during these negotiations and our disagreement was known, our monastery had been included in the terms of the agreement which we hereby reject.

Here are the reasons for our rejection:

1. This agreement signifies our insertion and our practical engagement into the “Conciliar Church.” This is a direct conclusion from the canons quoted in the agreement, which put us in a close relationship with the diocesan bishop and under his control. According to Canon 679 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which is a part of the agreement, the diocesan bishop, whose guiding spirit remains that of the new Church, has even the power to expel us from his diocese.

2. The agreement foresees our full reconciliation with the Apostolic See according to the terms of the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, a document which has proclaimed the excommunication of Archbishop Lefebvre. Now, we have never been separated from the Holy See and we continue to profess a perfect communion with the Chair of Peter, but we separate ourselves from the modernist and liberal Rome which organized the meeting at Assisi and praises Luther. With that Rome, we want no reconciliation!

3. The agreement is based upon the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei which excommunicates Archbishop Lefebvre. Therefore, taking part with this agreement we would have to acknowledge the injustice perpetrated against Archbishop Lefebvre, Dom Antônio de Castro Mayer, and the four new bishops, whose excommunications were null and void. We do not follow Bishop de Castro Mayer or Archbishop Lefebvre as party leaders. We follow the Catholic Church, but at the present time these two Confessors of the Faith have been the only two bishops to stand against the auto-demolition of the Church. It is not possible to separate ourselves from them. So, as in the fourth century at the time of Arianism, to be “in communion with Athanasius” (and not with Pope Liberius), was a sign of orthodoxy, so now to be united with Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer is a sign of fidelity to the Church of all times. St. Paul the Hermit gives us an enlightening example by asking St. Anthony, Patriarch of the Coenobites, to bury him in St. Athanasius’ coat. The reason, according to St. Jerome, was to clearly indicate that he wanted to die in the faith and communion of St. Athanasius, Defender of Orthodoxy against the Arian heresy.

4. The desire manifested by all our Brazilian benefactors leads us also to refuse this agreement. In doing so, we respect Canon 1300 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

We feel our duty, out of love for our Faith and vocation, to repeat to our superiors the words of St. Godfrey of Amiens and St. Hugh of Grenoble to Pope Pascal II: “...God forbid, since you would thus lead us away from your obedience.”

And St. Bernard teaches us: “He who does evil because he has been commanded does not perform an act of obedience but rather of rebellion. He upsets the order: he neglects obedience to God in order to obey men.”132

Dom Tomàs Aquino
On the Feast of St. Bartholomew the Apostle
In the Year of Our Lord 1988

On August 26, 1988, the Friends of the Monastery of Santa Cruz published a text entitled “Reasons to Refuse the Road Proposed by Dom Gérard Calvet.” They expressed four points of concern:

1. By the agreement, Dom Gérard will be too much in contact with many modernist influences, from which it will be very difficult to protect himself and his monastery. These modernists do not hav
e the Catholic spirit. Gustavo Corção expressed it beautifully by saying, “Give us back Catholicism.”133
2. It was imprudent to disregard Archbishop Lefebvre’s judgment, since the past has proved that he was the only bishop who had been capable of efficiently resisting the invasion of Modernism.

3. The sincerity of the Vatican in granting the requests of Dom Gérard may be put in question since it comes at the same time they condemn Archbishop Lefebvre. Are they not trying “to divide and conquer”?

4. Dom Gérard loses the support of Archbishop Lefebvre, the Society of Saint Pius X and many other traditional communities: it will be very difficult to resist modernist influences after having thus isolated himself.

To the third reason, one may add that many conservative monks (e.g., Monastery of Fontgombault) or priests have asked for the traditional Mass and Sacraments. If the Vatican was sincerely desirous to grant Tradition, it seems rather logical that they should grant it first to those who have been “obedient,” rather than to those who have been (apparently) “disobedient.” Now, they have not followed this logical order: Fontgombault received its indult only much later. Therefore, one can really raise doubts on the sincerity of the Vatican’s desire to grant Tradition. Their real desire seems more frankly expressed by Cardinal Gagnon: we have been “too swift”; therefore, let us give these poor slow-moving faithful more time to adopt the changes.

There is another possible explanation: those in authority in the Vatican consider loyalty to their own authority more important than loyalty to Tradition. Therefore they use Tradition in order to bring back these so-called “disobedient” religious orders to a certain loyalty to their own authority. They, themselves, are concerned for maintaining their authority over both sides (Progressives and Traditionalists) much more than they are concerned for maintaining the purity of Faith and morals.

We, on the contrary, consider that authority is a service: all authority in the Church is established by God in the service of the Deposit of Faith and of the salvation of souls! Our Lord Himself gave the example: “I am in the midst of you as He that serveth” (Lk. 22:27).

132. Complete Works of St. Bernard, Charpentier, Book I, Ep. VII.
133. i.e., the true worship of the True God!
"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
August 25, 1988

Some Simple Reflections Which We Make Without Bitterness

Fr. Michel Simoulin, Rector of the Society of Saint Pius X’s seminary in Ecône, Switzerland

Supporters of Dom Gérard began to insist that Archbishop Lefebvre approved Dom Gérard’s decision to sign his accord with Rome and that Archbishop Lefebvre had agreed to say so publicly in the main magazine publication of the Society of Saint Pius X in Europe, Fideliter. When this didn’t happen (since it was a total fabrication), Dom Gérard’s supporters accused the Archbishop of not fulfilling his promises. To these falsehoods Fr. Michel Simoulin, then rector of the seminary in Ecône, Switzerland, felt obliged to answer.

On August 10, 1988, Reverend Fr. Jean-Baptiste (of Le Barroux) wrote to Mother Anne-Marie Simoulin of Fanjeaux:134

We have done nothing without seeking the Archbishop’s advice. He had even agreed to write in Fideliter that he agrees with us. Meanwhile, he has changed his mind. Once again at your house, he agreed to receive us in order to counsel us. Can you permit us the time to comprehend the Archbishop’s attitude?

Charity and friendship oblige me to believe in good faith, but I have the right to think that it may have been abused. How? By whom or by what? I do not know. But what I do know is what I have been witness to, or what the Archbishop just told me, having been consulted on this subject.
  • It is true that Dom Gérard came to consult Archbishop Lefebvre at Ecône before the consecrations and, then, on July 26, while he was travelling toward Fanjeaux.
  • In the course of these conversations, the Archbishop advised Dom Gérard not to sign an agreement, while recognizing that the dangers—although certain—were less for a monastery, all of whose subjects are grouped together. Dom Gérard thus indeed took counsel but he did not follow the advice given.
  • Dom Gérard asked the Archbishop to make a statement in Fideliter to express his approval but the Archbishop declined, since he did not approve of this agreement.
  • In the course of their last interview on July 26, Dom Gérard said nothing to the Archbishop about his letters of July 8 to the Pope and to Cardinal Ratzinger. They have remained secret to this day.
  • While at Fanjeaux, the Archbishop learned by telephone and through the press, of the recognition of Le Barroux. Dom Gérard offered to come to show him the documents but Archbishop Lefebvre refused to receive him by reason of the concealments of July 26.
Such are the facts. I do not want to accuse anyone of lying and there remains for me no other solution than a gigantic lack of understanding, but who will believe it? In any case, let people stop saying that Archbishop Lefebvre gave his approval to this agreement.

The Archbishop does not wish to engage in polemics; we certainly wish to imitate him. But is it forbidden for us to be hurt and wounded by certain passages of the declaration of Dom Gérard? That he chose a different route—that is his perfect right, and within limits, we would have nothing to say—but was it necessary to draw us into it, as if we were his only adversaries?

On two occasions and with no necessity whatever, the famous “denunciation” of May 6 of the Protocol on May 5 is mentioned. Beyond the fact that this appeal added nothing to the declaration, it does nothing but to revive the Vatican thesis, which is intended to put the Archbishop’s intellectual faculties and the sureness of his judgment into doubt. Was it necessary to persist in this direction? Toward what purpose?

Let the letter of May 6 be read and re-read and let someone tell me where the terms are that indicate a refusal, a breaking of the accords of May 5. For myself, I see there only an insistence and a demand for precisions not determined by the agreement.

Moreover, Dom Gérard’s declaration does not concede to Archbishop Lefebvre any merit other than his tenacity. It is perhaps a little short. As for his struggle and the work that he has founded, these are not treated anywhere; it seems of no importance that the Society or the other foundations be covered with disrepute.

The Society thus apparently has neither importance nor existence. Doubtless we are all imperfect but what Dom Gérard says he wants to do, owing to this agreement—is this not truly already being done elsewhere? Has no school child, scout, seminarian, St. Cyrien,135 ever had access to the true liturgy and to the true doctrine in our priories or elsewhere than at Le Barroux—without counting the families, the children, the sick, the elderly, the dying—does he not count all that? Has this not been possible even without an agreement for years now?

“Party spirit.” “A great unified party electing for its head a superior who makes his troops maneuverer at his good pleasure.” “Resistentialism, where suspicion reigns and where the purge makes the law.” “Haste and ill will.” “Internal quarrels, rivalries of clique or of jurisdiction.”

May I ask who is referred to by these unsupported insinuations? Whom is he shooting at thus without designating the target?

While those who have been destroying Tradition for the past twenty-five years are carefully spared, is it not those who, during the same time, have had confidence in the Archbishop and worked with him, who are thus publicly abused? If the retorts come, who will have thrown the first one?

Curiously, the text of the second wish has been modified in the version that Présent published (See text as published in its modified version on p.201). The original text, which was sent to us, said, “…On the contrary, we propose a pact of alliance with all those who are fighting for Tradition....” Several questions came up: Why this modification in the published text? Has Dom Gérard been made to see and understand that it was a little strong?

This “pact of alliance” existed already with no confusion of institutions, in a generous collaboration of those who wanted it. Who has broken it? Is not this “proposition” a little daring and presumptuous? The Archbishop has always declined to be the “head” of a “great, unified party,” and this is, moreover, why he allowed every liberty to Dom Gérard to attempt an accord that he had himself refused without, however, approving of it. (How could he have done so without being illogical?)

Visibly raised up by Providence, Archbishop Lefebvre has responded to requests (including those of Dom Gérard). He has founded an institution and fought with all those who were doing so already—either beside him or following him. He had over them all no other authority than that of his episcopate, of his experience, of his sense, and of his knowledge of the Church and of souls, and of his wisdom. No one ever “elected” him— except in the sense of choosing—and it is confidence which drives his “troops,” not a narrow and elementary militarism, or a strict fanaticism or an unhealthy adulation. It would be to insult many simple and noble souls to suggest that such could be the case. In all this, the Archbishop’s attitude has always remained religious and humble, not intervening except where and when he has been asked to do so.

It is strange that Dom Gérard raises himself up as the center of a new alliance and offers himself thus to those whom the old alliance was uniting—the old one, not repealed—which he has just left. This is a completely different attitude.

I am saying all this without anger and with much sadness—not to stir any controversy, but to defend the Archbishop, my colleagues in the Society, and others upon whom very distressing suspicions have been cast.

I will add that I would have granted that Dom Gérard attempt the experiment of an agreement but not at this moment of our condemnation and not in the terms of his declaration.

In any case, whatever may be my esteem for Dom Gérard, I have— confirmed in this by the present experience—much more esteem for Archbishop Lefebvre, more trust in his judgment, his word, his disinterestedness and his wisdom. May Dom Gérard pardon me for this, but he is wrong in not having enough esteem for the Archbishop.

Rev. Fr. Michel Simoulin
Rector, St. Pius X International Seminary

134. The traditional Dominican convent which supports Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of Saint Pius X.
135. Fr. Michel Simoulin is a former captain in the French Army, and a graduate of St. Cyr, the French equivelent of Westpoint Military College in the US. He was formerly Rector of the Society of Saint Pius X’s seminary in Ecône. In 1997 he was appointed the Society’s District Superior in Italy.
"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
August/September 1988

Tragedy at Ecône

Fr. Crane analyzes the status of Archbishop Lefebvre with Rome, concluding that the crisis in the Church requires not more experts, but courage. Archbishop Lefebvre had the courage “to stand firm in the face of neo-modernist attack, defending the Faith and confounding its enemies.” Is this not an excellent justification for the consecration of bishops by Archbishop Lefebvre and against his unjust excommunication?

Christian Order,
edited by Paul Crane, S.J.,
vol.29, Aug./Sept., No.8/9, 1988.

I found myself wondering as I read in The Daily Telegraph (Nov. 7, 1988):

Quote:The battle for the hearts and minds of Archbishop Lefebvre’s followers has opened in earnest with the Pope appointing a senior cardinal to seek ways to keep them within the mainstream Roman Catholic Church.

Cardinal Paul Mayer, a 77-year-old West German, will lead a Vatican Commission of eight Church experts who have the task of persuading the traditionalists to remain loyal to Rome, while making allowance for their “spiritual and liturgical” needs.

There you have it. The lines apparently are drawn. With great respect, I would suggest that, in fact, they were drawn long ago; the gulf that now separates what we may call the New Church from the True136 saw its first beginnings as no more than a somewhat turbulent stream, when the New Mass was thrust on the faithful, overnight as it were, in the immediate wake of the Second Vatican Council. The effect was traumatic where vast numbers of the faithful were concerned. At one stroke, you might say, the lynch-pin of their faith was destroyed. This they sensed; knew to be so. They knew it within themselves without being able clearly to express it. Which is not to be wondered at. The dearest things in life are loved beyond words. The whole of their faith was in the Old Mass. This the faithful knew. Now they see it as gone; not only from the New Mass, but everywhere within the Church.137

The New Mass in their eyes, valid though it is, where they are concerned—and increasingly in practice—is little more than a community gathering, protestantized to the point where it is increasingly man-centered; drifting away from God. And, with it, naturally enough, what practice there remains of the Catholic Faith drifts away as well. Over the years, doctrine has tended to follow suit. There is no need to enlarge on this point. It has been covered again and again in the pages of Christian Order. Small wonder that the split which came with the overnight imposition of the New Mass has widened beyond words into the abyss which today divides the Old Church from the New, as it divided originally the Old Mass from the New.

Working on that original rupture, which was largely their own creation, the neo-modernist establishment, from its position of power at all levels within the Church,138 has worked away at its task of diverting the Church’s doctrinal and evangelizing thrust to suit no more than man’s momentary needs, as distinct from holding out to him the eternal truths of God. Those in opposition to this trend, who stand by the faith of their fathers, have been, in so many cases I know of, rebuffed, marginalized, isolated. The marvel is that they now stand at all. The onslaught on all they hold dear has, in so many cases, been pitiless in its insensitivity. Does Rome know anything of this—the plight of its marooned faithful?—If it does, I have to say with respect that, in practice, it appears to so many, not only as having done nothing about it; but as incapable now of doing anything in the future to save what is an increasingly desperate situation. The hungry sheep are not merely not being fed; they are being left to die; and, with them, the Faith they have refused to surrender to the predators within the Church they love, who are busier now than ever shredding that Faith to pieces.

I am not a Lefebvrist. I never have been, But I can understand completely why so many have turned to him. It is simply because they find once more within Archbishop Lefebvre’s Society of Saint Pius X and its ministrations—above all, the Old Mass—everything that has been taken from them in the wake of the Council and in the name of that which was claimed so fraudulently to be within its spirit. Now, most tragically, the break has come. I regret it more deeply than I can say; but, without excusing it, I do understand it. In what way? Simply this. For more than twenty years now, as it appears, High authority in the Church has received complaint after complaint from faithful Catholics shocked at what is going on in the Church they love. And what has come of their complaints? So far as they can see, nothing; absolutely nothing at all. In the eyes of so many, Church authority has stripped itself of credibility in their eyes. There have been words. There have been no deeds. They have found and still find themselves with nowhere to go. I am in no way surprised that, under these sad circumstances, so many have taken the road to Ecône. I do not commend them for doing it; but I do understand why they have done it. Sheep without a shepherd; “Lord to whom shall we go?” As has appeared so tragically to so many, there was only one road left and they took it. Now Rome, as it seems to them, has blocked that road. They stand up-ended. One might ask the question: Who, in the last analysis, is responsible not only for the tragedy that has brought schism to the Catholic Church, but for the countless thousands of broken-hearted Catholics who have never taken the road to Ecône, but whose lives have been shattered by the neo-modernist wave that has engulfed the Church and deprived them of the Mass they prized and loved beyond anything they had on this earth?

Let us realize straightforwardly, but with no rancor of bitterness, the reason why the Church is beset with the disintegration that has brought sadness and sorrow to so many. It is so beset because it is beset with neo-modernism and the reason for this can only be the failure, in practice, of the Church’s bishops, priests and religious to stand firm in the face of neo-modernist attack; defending the Faith and confounding its enemies. This they have not done. This is a fact. Those who have watched, with mounting sorrow and frustration, the progressive ruination of the Catholic Church at the hands of its neo-modernist enemies know that this is so. The faithful have been betrayed by their pastors. If the faithful are to be brought back, whether they are in the family of Ecône or outside it, and peace restored to the Church once more, there is one thing that has to be done by way of a beginning. The Old Mass must be restored to the whole Church now, unconditionally and, at least, on a basis of parity of esteem with the New. The Holy Father must do this and bishops and religious superiors be placed under the most severe injunction to see that this is done. There is no other way. With all respect, at this twenty-fourth hour it is not experts who are needed to rescue the Church from disaster. What is needed is courage. Under God, no more and no less than that.

136. This implicitly says that Archbishop Lefebvre represents the True Church.
137. The modernists changed the rites of every one of the seven Sacraments, the Catechism, Canon Law, the rules of all the religious orders. They introduced a new curricula in seminaries, and a new morality where personal conscience is the rule of conduct rather than that of the Ten Commandments.
138. Cardinal Ratzinger himself acknowledges that all the bishops appointed in the wake of the Council were chosen from the most liberal candidates: “In the first years after Vatican II, the candidate for the episcopate seemed to be a priest who above all was ‘open to the world’. At any rate this criterion came entirely into the foreground” (The Ratzinger Report, p.65).
"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
October 1988

The Strategy of “Rehabilitation” Unveiled by Cardinal Decourtray

In this text on of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre, Bishop Tissier de Mallerais analyzed the Declaration of Cardinal Decourtray, President of the French Bishops’ Conference, published in Documentation Catholique, No.1969, Oct. 1988. Bishop Tissier de Mallerais cites from Cardinal Decourtray and follows with his commentary. The Cardinal’s Declaration exposes a strategy by which a traditional priest is to be marginalized and made of no effect in a diocese.

In a communiqué to the priestly council and to the diocesan pastoral council which met in an extraordinary session, the Cardinal Archbishop of Lyon did not hide the fact that the reception of the priests who leave Archbishop Lefebvre will be made with no gift attached; it will be, in fact, their rehabilitation into the Conciliar Church.

Let us take up the interesting passage of the Cardinal’s document. We emphasize [in italics] what should be emphasized:

Quote:Dear Friends,

From now on you will know a little better the conditions under which I was brought to welcome Fr._____, lately ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre and put in charge of the St. Pius X priory on the Rue de Marseille, and to entrust him, in urgency and in a provisional way, with the agreement of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, with the Chapel of Notre-Dame-des-Martyrs at the Place Saint-Irénée. Obviously it is not a question of a parish but of a shrine open to the faithful who desire to follow the Tridentine Tradition of the Mass (according to the typical edition of the Roman Missal of 1962)....I have given a place of worship for the Tridentine celebration of the Mass.

Thus no parish apostolate, only the celebration of Mass. One is far from the activity of the priory: catechism classes, youth movements, conferences, etc.

Quote:...This priest is therefore right now in order with the Church and has received the necessary jurisdiction for the valid exercise of the ministry of Penance or Reconciliation. The questions relative to the other sacraments, notably to marriage, remain pending. It will be necessary to take one’s time. While waiting, Father…will see with the pastor of Saint-Irénée how to respond, in a way that is pastoral and consistent with the present day law of the Church, to certain prompt and exceptional requests.

Thus we have dependence with respect to an official parish and its pastor. The only autonomy is to be in the administration of the Sacrament of Penance.

Quote:For the future, here is the text of the declaration that I will ask from the priests who, having recently manifested more or less explicitly, in word or in act, their approval of the actions and of the remarks of Archbishop Lefebvre, desire to exercise the priestly ministry in the Diocese of Lyon (jurisdiction for Confession and the cura animarum) and to obtain contingently the Indult permitting the use of the Roman Missal according to the typical edition of 1962.

Thus it is not only the ex-members of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X who will be compelled to sign a declaration but all “suspect” priests, those who would hardly have manifested explicitly, even if only in words, their approval, even though only the utterances of Archbishop Lefebvre. And what is more, it is not certain that these suspect priests will be allowed to celebrate the Mass of all times.

Quote:The diverse points of this declaration are nearly those of the protocol refused on May 6 by Archbishop Lefebvre.

I promise always to be faithful to the Catholic Church and to the Roman Pontiff, its supreme Pastor, Vicar of Christ, successor of the blessed Peter in his primacy, and head of the body of bishops, in accordance with the First Council of the Vatican (Denzinger-Schönmetzer, 3059-3064), and with Vatican II (Lumen Gentium, §22), as well as to the bishop of Lyon, to whom I promise respect and obedience.

To the text of the Protocol are thus added new requirements. First of all, obedience to the bishop of the place. Will it therefore be necessary to obey his “pastoral of the Community,”139 and adopt the catechism, Pierres Vivantes?140

Quote:I declare that I adhere to the teachings of the magisterium of the Pope and the bishops, in conformity with the doctrine of the First Vatican Council (Denzinger-Schönmetzer, 3065-3074) and of the Second Vatican Council (Lumen Gentium, §25).

A demand that is new and without limits! This is not to adhere to the magisterium when it is truly a magisterium, that is to say, when it faithfully transmits the revealed deposit; but there is demanded the adherence to the teachings [of the magisterium] of the pope and the bishops of this time: therefore, to ecumenism, to religious liberty, to the rights of man, etc.

Quote:I pledge myself to have a positive attitude, of studying the decrees of the Second Vatican Council, of the liturgical books, and of the Code of Canon Law promulgated following the Council by the Sovereign Pontiff.

It is self-evident that Cardinal Decourtray erased from his text what Cardinal Ratzinger was conceding to Archbishop Lefebvre, namely, the right to consider that “certain texts” of the Council are “difficult to reconcile with Tradition.” It is on these texts that Archbishop Lefebvre promised to have a positive attitude of study, etc. Visibly, at Lyon and in the dioceses, no dispute of the conciliar documents will be permitted, not even a question mark. No, one must stick to everything and “study” everything, as if he were culpably ignorant of these texts, as well as of those of the Mass of Paul VI and of the new Canon Law.

Quote:I declare that I recognize the validity of the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments celebrated with the intention of doing what the Church does in communion with the Pope and according to the rites indicated in the typical editions and the translations of the missal and of the rituals, promulgated and approved by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II.

You will notice the two added points that we have emphasized. Non-communion with the Pope does not affect, in any case, the validity of the Mass. On the other hand, the bad translations (such as “pour la multitude” and, still more serious, the “for all” of the English and German [and Italian] translation—betrayals) do indeed affect the validity, or, at the least, place a doubt in their regard. Approved of or not by the present-day Roman bureaus, a translation that changes even only partially the meaning of the sacramental words can render the sacrament invalid. The creativity of the national centers of pastoral liturgical study and the frivolity of the Roman commissions are the cause of numerous erroneous vernacular versions, which are indeed bluntly whimsical ones that can bring about the invalidity of the sacrament.

Even in Latin certain new sacramentary texts yield, by their ambiguity, to an interpretation that is Protestant in a sense, and that can exert influence on the celebrant by giving him a counter-intention which invalidates the sacrament.

Quote:I promise to observe the common discipline of the Church and the ecclesiastical laws, particularly those contained in the Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope John Paul II.

Here there is no change in the text that Archbishop Lefebvre had judged on May 5 as being at the extreme limit of acceptability, with the restriction placed on No. 3, concerning the “texts difficult to reconcile with Tradition.” Deprived of this restriction, the declaration demanded by Cardinal Decourtray asks for the acceptance of the entirely questionable passages from the new Canon Law. For example: the “double subject of the supreme power in the Church”; the reversal of the two ends of marriage (the perfecting of the spouses put before the procreation and education of the children!); the suppression of the promises of the non-Catholic spouse in a mixed marriage, concerning the baptism and the Catholic education of all the children; and finally, intercommunion foreseen in certain cases.

Quote:Thought must also be given to the pastoral accompaniment of the faithful attached to the Tridentine Mass but faithful to the pope and to the receive the confidence of the faithful attached to the liturgy and to the catechesis such as they knew them before the reforms, but also to help them progress in the living communion of the Catholic Church. For this I count very much on the movements of Catholic Action, in the strict or the broad sense.

In this excerpt you have the purpose of the intended rehabilitation: “ help them to progress in the Living Communion of the Catholic Church...” How are we to interpret this except to mean that we must “get into line,” to be “re-integrated” into the system, to accept the new ideology of the conciliar Church?...“Let us not set foot in the opposing camp, because we would thus be giving the enemy a proof of our weakness, which the enemy would try to interpret as a sign of weakness and a mark of complicity.” —St. Pius X

† Tissier de Mallerais

139. i.e., the Cardinal’s pastoral policy to develop base communities.
140. A heretical French catechism.
"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
November-December 1988

Interview of Archbishop Lefebvre Given to Fideliter Magazine

Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais ordained seven priests at Ecône, Switzerland, on September 25, 1988, and Bishop Bernard Fellay, another of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre, ordained three at Zaitzkofen, Germany, on October 1, 1988. These constitute the most important actions after the consecrations. After the ordinations, His Excellency Archbishop Lefebvre granted an interview to Fideliter.

Interviewer: After these ordinations, what are your feelings?

Archbishop Lefebvre: I can feel nothing but joy. It was, indeed, this desire to insure the continuity of the transmission of the Catholic priesthood that led me to consecrate four bishops.

This was my wish—to see the work continue. It was a feeling that I had already experienced when I passed on the charge of Superior General of the Society to Fr. Schmidberger. I acknowledge that I will be happy if the Good Lord grants me a few more years to live and see the continuation of the Society. Now there are signs that it will last, that it will endure, and that it will be strengthened. I am happy to see that my episcopacy shall not be the last one faithful to Tradition, and that Tradition will continue even should I die now. The fact of having bishops is of paramount importance.

It was certainly a decision not easily made. On Jan. 2, 1988, I wrote to Fr. Aulagnier, “Behold, a new year is beginning; it will be a year for great decisions, whether the proposals from Rome are good or not. I am almost certain that they will be inadmissible, and that we shall have to continue the work of the Church without the support of the Vatican. It shall be the year of the bishops of the Society, God willing—Let us hope that it shall be a source of blessings. He who says blessings, says trials too...”

It is with that spirit that I went to the negotiations which I feared would not succeed.

Interviewer: At the end of July, in the conference to the Chilean bishops, Cardinal Ratzinger had severe words regarding the disastrous effects of Vatican II, without identifying their causes.

Archbishop Lefebvre: Yes, indeed. He called for an examination of conscience for “the post-schism.” He proposed three areas of reflection.

1) The question of the liturgy too much desacralized;

2) Whether it was an error to present Vatican II as a super-dogma, blotting out the whole of the Tradition of the Church;

3) That the documents of the Council do not all have the same importance.

The Cardinal said that many see, in Archbishop Lefebvre, a guide and a useful master....One must take into account the positive elements which do not find a vital place in the Church today. He expressed the opinion that if the areas are corrected “the schism” of Archbishop Lefebvre will not last long. What can be the deep feelings of the Cardinal? One is forced to acknowledge that, for the Cardinal, one must return to the Council.

We indeed had a little hope that something had changed in the Vatican; especially after the Visit of Cardinal Gagnon and Msgr. Perl and their declarations, I had hoped that things would develop in Rome.

But, then, when we found out their deeper intentions in the meetings, the discussions on the Protocol, and the Protocol itself, I realized that nothing had changed. We were faced with a brick wall. They had hoped to put an end to Tradition. This is, indeed, the position of Rome, of the Pope, of Cardinal Ratzinger, of Cardinal Mayer, of Cardinal Casaroli....All these people hold desperately to the Council, to this “new Pentecost,” to the reform of the Church. They do not want to depart from it.

Cardinal Ratzinger said it openly in an interview to the great Frankfurt newspaper, Die Welt, about the consecrations: “It is inadmissible, one cannot accept that there be in the Church groups of Catholics who do not follow the general way of thinking of the bishops in the world.”

Here you have it; it is clear!

For a while I thought something had changed in him, but I have to acknowledge that all he did was with the intention to suppress the group that we were forming and to bring us back to the Council. It would be a mistake to impute only to Cardinal Decourtray and to the French Bishops this will; it is the position of Rome. The only difference is that the Vatican has more facilities to grant things to attract the traditionalists and, then later, destroy them and bring them back to the Council. It is just a question of Roman diplomacy.

The French, German and Swiss bishops are not happy with the groups to which Rome has now granted some privileges. So they have said to the Vatican, “Don’t give us such groups. We don’t know what to do with them! They are going to cause trouble. We had condemned them; we had rejected them, and now you say they have the right to do what they want. It cannot go like that.”

I would not be surprised that there be confrontations between the bishops and Rome. Some have already started. Recently, in the name of the Swiss bishops, Msgr. Henri Schwery made a violent declaration against Rome, saying that it was inadmissible to have given such admissions to the traditionalists without consulting them. They have not been consulted and Rome has caused disorder in their dioceses.141

I will, therefore, not be surprised if during the next bishops’ meeting of France, Germany and Switzerland there be violent reactions against Rome. The Vatican shall be brought to say to those who have left us, “You must accept the Council; you must accept the New Mass. You must not be so intransigent.”

The Vatican “will get them!” It’s impossible that it should be otherwise.

Interviewer: Cardinal Oddi recently declared, “I’m convinced that the division shall not last long, and that Archbishop Lefebvre shall soon be back in the Church of Rome.” Others say that the Pope and Cardinal Ratzinger feel that the “Lefebvre affair” is not closed. In your last letter to the Holy Father142 you declared that you were waiting for a more propitious time for the return of Rome to Tradition. What do you think of a possible re-opening of the dialogue with Rome?

Archbishop Lefebvre: We do not have the same outlook on a reconciliation. Cardinal Ratzinger sees it as reducing us, bringing us back to Vatican II. We see it as a return of Rome to Tradition. We don’t agree; it is a dialogue of death. I can’t speak much of the future, mine is behind me, but if I live a little while, supposing that Rome calls for a renewed dialogue, then, I will put conditions. I shall not accept being in the position where I was put during the dialogue. No more.

I will place the discussion at the doctrinal level: “Do you agree with the great encyclicals of all the popes who preceded you? Do you agree with Quanta Cura of Pius IX, Immortale Dei and Libertas of Leo XIII, Pascendi Gregis of Pius X, Quas Primas of Pius XI, Humani Generis of Pius XII? Are you in full communion with these Popes and their teachings? Do you still accept the entire Anti-Modernist Oath? Are you in favor of the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ? If you do not accept the doctrine of your predecessors, it is useless to talk! As long as you do not accept the correction of the Council, in consideration of the doctrine of these Popes, your predecessors, no dialogue is possible. It is useless.”

Thus, the positions will be clear.

The stakes are not small. We are not content when they say to us, “You may say the traditional Mass, but you must accept the Council.” What opposes us is doctrine; it is clear.

This is what Dom Gérard did not see, and what confused him. Dom Gérard has always seen the liturgy and the monastic life, but he does not clearly see the theological problems of the Council, especially Religious Liberty. He does not see the malice of these errors. He was never too much worried about this. What touched him was the liturgical reform and the reform of the Benedictine monasteries. He left Tournay, saying, “I cannot accept this.”

Then, he founded a community of monks with the liturgy and with a Benedictine spirit. Very well, wonderful. But he did not appreciate enough that these reforms which led him to leave his monastery were the consequences of errors in the Council itself.

As long as they grant him what he wanted—this monastic spirit and the traditional liturgy—he has what he wants and is indifferent to the rest. But he has fallen into a snare: the others have given up nothing of their false principles.

It is sad because there are around sixty monks, twenty priests, and thirty nuns. There are nearly one hundred youth there, bewildered, whose families are worried or even divided. It is a disaster.

Interviewer: The nuns of the monastery Notre Dame de l’Annonciation remain very much attached to you.

Archbishop Lefebvre: Yes, indeed. They came to manifest their affections....However, I do not seek this affection, but rather that they remain attached to Tradition. Are they willing to submit to a modernist authority? Here, indeed, is the question. If needed they must separate themselves from Dom Gérard to keep the Faith and Tradition.

At least the monastery in Brazil [Dom Tomás Aquino’s Monastery of Santa Cruz] refused to follow Dom Gérard and that is an important point.

I believe that what has contributed to the loss of Dom Gérard was his desire to open to those who are not with us and who would profit from following Tradition. This was the theme of what he wrote in his letter to the Friends of the Monastery two years after his arrival at Le Barroux. He was saying, “We will strive not to have this critical, sterile, negative attitude. We will strive to open our doors to all those who, though they might not have our ideas, would love the liturgy, so that they too may benefit from the monastic life.”

From that period, I was worried, considering this as a dangerous operation. It was the opening of the Church to the world, and one must acknowledge that it was the world that converted the Church. Dom Gérard let himself be contaminated by the milieu which he welcomed in his monastery. Rome may be proud to have won a big battle and to have hit in the right place. It is sad....

Interviewer: Do you believe in the future of the Society of St. Peter?

Archbishop Lefebvre: It is a phantom society. They have copied our statutes and all that we have done.

Interviewer: Even Cardinal Oddi was skeptical of its future, referring himself to the previous attempts of Rome to rehabilitate seminarians from the Society of Saint Pius X.

Archbishop Lefebvre:....In one year, one and a half, they may be asked to return to their dioceses....They will have to choose priests from the dioceses to take care of their seminarians. They will have to wait for a year and to undergo an examination before being accredited. How can they see that they are being played with? They came to Rome to deliver themselves into their hands with the hope of keeping Tradition and they are already rejected. “You are not allowed to teach in your seminary. You must pass an exam first, because we do not trust you.” It is unbelievable. It manifests that there is, in Rome, the will to put an end to Tradition.

This is also the reason that they did not want to give us bishops. Rome did not want traditional bishops. This is why the consecrations annoyed them and caused such a terrible shock. It is like the stone which hit Goliath.

To excommunicate us after having lifted all other excommunications, is the end of their ecumenism. How can they imagine that those with whom they wish to shake hands trust them when they excommunicate those who uphold Tradition?

The most recent issue of Fideliter was entitled, “Rome Is Perplexed.” This is true; they don’t know what to do: attacking us they attack the Church of all times and the Good Lord cannot allow that.

141. “Msgr. Henri Schwery, President of the Swiss Episcopal Conference, has publicly lamented ‘the lack of openness of the Vatican regarding the re integration of some tra¬ditionalist communities.’ According to Schwery, open relations and negotiations do not exist between ‘the Holy See and the local bishops,’ and in his view the Commis¬sion should continue to operate only ‘on the condition that the bishop of the place concerned be informed and consulted’” (30 Days, No.6, Oct. 1988).
142. June 2, 1988.
"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
September 2, 1992

Letter of Fr. Joseph Bisig to an Australian Faithful

Less than five years after their foundation, the Superior General of the Society of Saint Peter positively encouraged people to attend the Novus Ordo, even though it may be partially scandalous to their Faith. As of 1999, Fr. Bisig still remained the Society of Saint Peter’s first and only Superior General.

Dear Mr. _______,

The following replies are in response to the questions in your recent letter dated on August 4, 1992.

Q.1: Is it permissible to attend a Society of Saint Pius X Mass when there is no Latin Mass in the district?

A.1: You should try your best to attend a Novus Ordo Mass which is piously celebrated or not totally scandalous to the Roman Catholic Faith.

Rev. Josef Bisig, Superior General
"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
Part III

The Apparition of Our Lady of Good Fortune, Quito, Ecuador (February 2, 1634)

Among the numerous manifestations of Our Lady’s predilection for the land of Ecuador (South America), we find her apparitions to Mother Mary Anne of Jesus in 1634. Her image is still venerated today in the convent of her Immaculate Conception at Quito. This apparition is approved by the Church. The prophecy is striking. Archbishop Lefebvre himself cited this apparition in his sermon delivered the day of the episcopal consecrations (June 30, 1988). That sermon appears starting on p.116 of this book.

On February 2, 1634, Mother Mary Anne of Jesus Torres was praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament when suddenly the sanctuary lamp burning in front of the altar went out. While she was trying to re-light it, a supernatural light filled the church. In the light, the Mother of God appeared to her and said:

Beloved daughter of my heart, I am Our Lady of Good Fortune, your Mother and Protectress, carrying my Most Holy Son on my left arm and holding the scepter in my right hand. I have come to tell you some good news: in ten months and ten days you will close your eyes to the earthly light of this world in order to open them to the brightness of light everlasting.

Oh, if only human beings and religious knew what heaven is and what it is to possess God, how differently they would live, sparing no sacrifice in order to enter more fully into possession of it! But some let themselves be dazzled by the false glamour of honors and human greatness while others are blinded by self-love, not realizing that they are falling into lukewarmness, that immense evil which in religious houses destroys their fervor, humility, self-renunciation and the ceaseless practice of religious virtues and fraternal charity, and that child-like simplicity which makes souls so dear to my Divine Son and to me, their Mother.

Then Our Lady of Good Fortune began to speak of the Order of the Immaculate Conception and, in particular, of the convent of the Conception in Quito:

This house will be attacked with a fury out of hell to destroy and annihilate it; but Divine Providence and I will be watching over it to preserve it, by favoring the virtues practiced by the nuns in this house....Know also, my beloved daughter, that my motherly love will watch over the convents of the Order of my Immaculate Conception, because this Order will give me great glory through all the daughters I shall have here. I shall take special care of the convents formed in this land by the members of this house. Often they will be on the brink of annihilation, but miraculously they will come to life again. Only one will close, in conformity with God’s will: you will know which, when you are in heaven.

The sanctuary lamp burning in front of the Prisoner of Love, which you saw go out, has many meanings...

First meaning: at the end of the 19th and for a large part of the 20th, various heresies will flourish on this earth which will have become a free republic. The precious light of the Faith will go out in souls because of the almost total moral corruption: in those times there will be great physical and moral calamities, in private and in public. The little number of souls keeping the Faith and practicing the virtues will undergo cruel and unspeakable suffering; through their long, drawn out martyrdom many of them will go to their death because of the violence of their sufferings, and those will count as martyrs who gave their lives for Church or for country. To escape from being enslaved by these heresies will call for great strength of will, constancy, courage and great trust in God, all of which are gifts from the merciful love of my Divine Son to those He will have chosen for the work of restoration. To put to the trial the faith and trust of these just souls, there will come moments when everything seems lost and paralyzed, and just then comes the happy beginning of the complete restoration.

Second meaning: My communities will be abandoned; they will be swamped in a fathomless sea of bitterness, and will seem drowned in tribulations. How many true vocations will be lost for lack of skilful and prudent direction to form them! Each mistress of novices will need to be a soul of prayer, knowing how to discern spirits.

The third meaning of the lamp’s going out is that in those times, the air will be filled with the spirit of impurity which, like a deluge of filth, will flood the streets, squares and public places. The licentiousness will be such that there will be no more virgin souls in the world.

A fourth meaning is that by having control of all the social classes, the sects will tend to penetrate with great skill into the heart of families to destroy even the children. The devil will take glory in feeding perfidiously on the heart of children. The innocence of childhood will almost disappear. Thus priestly vocations will be lost, it will be a real disaster. Priests will abandon their sacred duties and will depart from the path marked out for them by God. Then the Church will go through a dark night for lack of a prelate and father to watch over it with love, gentleness, strength and prudence, and numbers of priests will lose the spirit of God, thus placing their souls in great danger.

Pray constantly, cry out unwearyingly and weep unceasingly with bitter tears in the depths of your heart, asking Our Father in heaven, for love of the Eucharistic Heart of my most holy Son, for His Precious Blood so generously shed and for the profound bitterness and sufferings of His Passion and death, that He have pity on His ministers and that He put an end to such fatal times, by sending to His Church the prelate who will restore the spirit of His priests.

Upon this my beloved son, whom my divine Son and I love with a love of predilection, we shall heap many gifts—of humility of heart, of docility to varying inspirations, of strength to defend the rights of the Church and of a heart with which he will, like a new Christ, take possession of the mightiest of men as of the lowliest, without scorning the least fortunate amongst them. With a wholly divine gentleness he will lead consecrated souls to the service of God in religious houses without making the Lord’s yoke weigh heavy upon them. He will hold in his hand the scales of the sanctuary for everything to be done in orderly fashion for God to be glorified. This prelate and father will act as a counterweight to the lukewarmness of souls consecrated in the priesthood and in religion.

Satan will gain control of this earth through the fault of faithless men who, like a black cloud, will darken the clear sky of the republic consecrated to the Most Sacred Heart of my Divine Son. This republic, having allowed entry to all the vices, will have to undergo all sorts of chastisements: plague, famine, war, apostasy, and the loss of souls without number.

And to scatter these black clouds blocking the brilliant dawning of the freedom of the church, there will be a terrible war in which the blood of priests and of religious will flow....That night will be so horrible that wickedness will seem triumphant. Then will come my time: in astounding fashion I shall destroy Satan’s pride, casting him beneath my feet, chaining him up in the depths of hell, leaving Church and country freed at last from his cruel tyranny.

The fifth meaning of the lamp’s going out is that men possessing great wealth will look on with indifference while the Church is oppressed, virtue is persecuted, and evil triumphs. They will not use their wealth to fight evil and re-construct the Faith. The people will come to care nothing for the things of God, will absorb the spirit of evil and will let themselves be swept away by all the vices and passions. Ah, my beloved daughter, were it given you to live in those fatal times, you would die of grief at seeing everything I have told you come about. My most holy Son and I have such a great love for this earth, our property, that it is our wish as of now to apply your sacrifices and good works to the lessening of the duration of such a terrible catastrophe.
"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
February 2, 1988

Sermon of Archbishop Lefebvre

As envisioned by Archbishop Lefebvre in its statutes, the apostolate of the Society of Saint Pius X is the restoration of the Catholic Priesthood and the preservation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. These ends were clearly on His Grace’s mind when he gave this sermon at the Society’s International Seminary of the Holy Curé of Ars (Flavigny, France) on February 2, 1988. The occasion was the Feast of the Purification of Our Lady on which date seminarians were tonsured and received the clerical habit known as the “cassock.” The Order of Tonsure is the official public act of the Catholic Church making a man a cleric. In reading this sermon, who can deny that Archbishop Lefebvre was a prelate sent to the Catholic Church to restore the spirit of God’s priests?

My dear Brethren,

I am glad to give the cassock, the clerical habit, and particularly to give the tonsure to those who entered last year, thereby marking the official entry into the clergy and preparing them to receive the Orders, steps toward the Priesthood. It is always a very moving celebration.

The Purification itself is a moving Feast. We can imagine the Virgin Mary coming to the temple with the Child Jesus and St. Joseph, bringing the offering—doves—and meeting on their way the old man, Simeon, who acknowledged his God in this little Child carried by the Virgin Mary; and as it had been promised to him that he would not leave, would not die, without seeing his Savior, he took Him in his arms and sang this magnificent hymn, Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine—Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace. Our Lord, Who is the King of all things, entered into the temple carried by the Virgin Mary. It was His temple because it was the temple of God. He did not come there as other creatures, to give themselves to God. He was God. He came to take possession of His temple, which belonged to Him, and He had a right to all the honors which were given in this temple to God Himself.

And you, my very dear friends, who are going to be tonsured in a very few moments, you shall also enter in the temple of God. You shall enter by the tonsure; you are indeed going to receive the cassock and the tonsure but these two things are very distinct; indeed, one can receive the religious habit, yet without receiving the tonsure. There are in holy Church diverse families: the two principle families are the family of the simple faithful and the family of the clergy—the laity and the clergy. Among the laity there are also two families: there is the family of those who destine themselves to remain in the world, to found families, Christian families, and there are those who give themselves to the Good Lord, who consecrate themselves to God as religious, monks or nuns, though they do not participate in the sacred Orders. They receive the religious habit, they pronounce the vows of religion, totally consecrate themselves to God, and dedicate themselves in a very particular way to their neighbor, yet, they do not belong to the clergy. Only those who are tonsured belong to the clergy. One enters into the clergy by the tonsure. This is the Tradition of the Church. Once one is tonsured, then, one can accede to the Minor Orders and, later, to the Major Orders. Certainly, the decisive step shall be taken at the moment of the subdiaconate, but to receive the tonsure is already a promise to go to the altar—to ascend to the altar.

It is, therefore, a very important thing for you, my very dear friends. You know that from the moment you receive the tonsure—the Pontiff shall say this during his last instruction—you are accountable to the Church, you belong to the clergy of the Church. You are no longer subject to certain laws that are for the lay Catholic. You can say, my very dear friends—and, I think, this is the main thought that you should have today: “I do not have the intention to remain among the faithful to found a family. I want to give myself to God for my whole life; I want to serve Him and I hope, one day, to become a priest.” Moreover, you are not like the monks, at least not as many of them who enter the different orders and have made their religious profession but have not become clerics; no, this is not your intention. You wish to ascend the degrees of the altar.

Now, what is your responsibility? What responsibility do you take in front of the Church, in front of God, in front of the faithful, in front of the religious who are not clerics? What is your obligation to holiness, to go in the way of perfection that you are entering? Are you more or less engaged in the way of perfection than those that found Catholic families, than the religious who enter diverse orders without becoming priests? Tell me!

I think that this obligation to holiness is greater, is more incumbent upon you by the very fact that you enter the clergy, and that you want to become priests. Greater even than for those who pronounce the vows of religion and who are not clerics, than the faithful who remain in the world to found a Catholic family. You obligation to holiness is greater. Why? Because your condition is different.

The Catholic who does not enter into a religious society, who does not enter the clergy, this Catholic has an obligation to pursue holiness because of his Baptism, because of his Confirmation; he must fulfil the promises of his Baptism: I attach myself to Jesus Christ for always, I renounce Satan, his scandals, his sins, and I attach myself to Jesus Christ for always. This is not a promise in vain. It is important; the priest says this when he puts the white veil on the head of the child and then when he gives him the candle through the intermediary of his godfather or godmother; he says to them, “serva Dei mandata—keep the commandments of God,” “Receive this white robe and carry it unstained to the judgment seat of Our Lord Jesus Christ, so that you may have everlasting life.” Here you have the obligation that the Catholic makes for his whole life. Therefore, even if he remains in what is called the “world,” he is in the world but he is not of the world, he has an obligation to come and offer himself at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but to offer himself through the intermediary of the ministry of the priest. He cannot himself go up to the altar and offer the Sacrifice of his family, of his goods, of what he has; no, God has willed that there be priests who participate in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ and who be intermediaries between Him and the faithful people.

The religious who pronounce the vows of religion engage themselves even in a more solemn way than the faithful, in front of the Church and in front of God. Pronouncing the vows of religion, they engage themselves in a public and official way, acknowledged by the Church to practice the holiness of the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. This is what constitutes a religious: he has made as profession of holiness. This is true. In spite of the fact that the obligation undertaken by the religious by pronouncing his vows is grievous and great in front of the Church and in front of God, however, he is still not allowed to go up to the altar and offer the Sacrifice, because he is not a cleric, because he is not a priest. He does not participate in the Priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, the cleric, that is, he who intends to participate in the Priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, engages himself to holiness by his very function. It is no more the matter of a promise made in front of God, in front of Heaven, in front of the Elect of Heaven, in front of the Church, to profess holiness, but his very function is one of holiness because he participates in the Priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. To be a priest and not to search for holiness is a contradiction in terms. The priest must essentially be holy because of his function, because of the Order that he receives. Every admonition the bishop gives on the occasion of each ordination recalls this exigency. You, my very dear friends, who received the Orders of Lector and Porter yesterday, you remember well that the bishop told you: you must give the example by your life; you must sanctify the faithful by the example of your life, not only by your words, not only by your functions, but by the example of your life. And the same is true of every ordination, and much more by the priestly ordination. This is very important; it is a very profound commitment.

It is inadmissible that a priest does not search for holiness, and thus does not seek to be separated from the world, as Our Lord Jesus Christ, does not seek to be detached from the goods of this world, does not seek poverty, chastity and obedience. Even if he does not make a solemn profession in front of the Church to search for these virtues essential to holiness, nevertheless he engages himself to follow Our Lord Jesus Christ to perform the most important act which Our Lord Jesus Christ performed here below: his Sacrifice.

We have said that the religious pronounce vows of religion, that is, vows that bind them to God, that elevate them towards God, that place them, in a certain way, in eternity, already blessed, united with God by the vows of religion. However, I say it once more, they cannot perform the principle act of religion, the essential act of religion, which is the Sacrifice.

In this Sacrifice, all the acts of religion are summed up: devotion, contemplation, adoration; but all these acts of religion which are a part of the virtue of religion are nothing compared with the Sacrifice. As St. Thomas says, the Sacrifice can be offered only to God, because we can make a total gift of ourselves, of what we are, make the sacrifice of what we are only to the One who has given us these things and not to a creature. We may have a certain devotion to some creatures, in a certain measure, a kind of adoration, but we may not perform the act of Sacrifice in front of a creature. This is inconceivable. The Sacrifice is reserved to God.

This is the reason why the Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ is the supreme act, the central act, of all His life. All His life was directed towards His Cross, and then, it is from His Cross, that all goods flow upon mankind unto eternity. And this is what you are going to perform, my dear friends, the act of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not another act, another sacrifice, you shall be alter Christus. Offering the Sacrifice of the Mass you are no longer yourself; you act in the Person of Christ, you shall open heaven in a certain way and make the most marvelous, the most extraordinary, gifts come down: God Himself in your hands! You hold the Holy Trinity in your hands, and it is you who, by your words, open heaven so that the gifts of heaven come down and be given to the faithful. And you alone are able to do this. Even if one of the faithful tries to pronounce the words of consecration, nothing particular would happen on the altar; even if a monk who is not a cleric pronounced the words of consecration, there would be nothing on the altar more than bread and wine. When you become priests and you pronounce the words of consecration, God comes down, the Holy God comes and takes the place of the substance of bread and wine, and thus you can give God to the faithful. This is what a priest is.

And now, how can you tell me that you do not have the obligation to be holy, as Jesus Christ Himself was holy? Is He not on the Cross the Model of Poverty? Could He give a greater example of poverty than the one He gave on His Cross? Could He give a greater example of obedience than the one He gave on the Cross, “obedient unto death”? Could He give a greater example of chastity than by his virgin Body lacerated by the flagellation for all the sins of the world against chastity? This is the example that Our Lord Jesus Christ has given to us. We would not follow Him, we would not imitate Him, and we would like to offer His Sacrifice? No, my dear friends!

Today, receiving for the first time this sign of detachment that the tonsure is, sign of abandonment of the things of this world in order to attach yourself to Our Lord Jesus Christ anew, take with your whole heart, with your whole soul, with your whole strength, the resolution to pursue holiness. Holiness is not a little thing, it is not a mere word; it is a reality. This holiness will have to be practiced in your life, in the life of your seminary and after the seminary.

I take the occasion of the presence here of many of our dear confrères, who are already in the ministry and who have a little experience, some two years, some five years, some ten years, some already fifteen years of ministry....May they also on the occasion of this ceremony, think about what they promised at the moment of their ordination, about what they longed for during their seminary years, and ask themselves if they realize every day what they have promised. There may be need on certain points to see whether some efforts should not be made to practice better poverty, to practice better chastity, to practice better obedience. We must get away from the world, we must separate ourselves from the world. Tepidity is what has lost so many priests. One wants to be a priest and still wants to be of the world. One wants to enjoy what those who have remained in the world may enjoy, those who are not clerics, who have not made a profession of religion. These priests want to be both priests and men of the world at the same time. This is not possible. This is against the very essence of the priesthood. The priest is a man detached, the priest is a man poor, a man chaste, a man obedient.

Let us strive in this period of the Church when priests have precisely lost all these priestly virtues, these religious virtues, these virtues that make real holiness; they have abandoned them and have called themselves common men. We want to reform the priesthood and this was the reason why the seminaries have been founded. It is useless to found seminaries if we follow in the ways that have lost these priests. It is useless, we are losing our time.

Why have these priests been lost? It was not big actions; it was the slow abandonment of priestly virtues. You know it, no need to give details, to enter into the particulars. The life these priests were living in general, unfortunately, before the Council, prepared them for the failures and the faults that have happened since the Council. And, if ourselves, after having justly desired to fight against these abandonments, against this decadence, we follow in the same ways, we shall reach the same results; it is evident. It is useless to think that we are stronger than our predecessors. If we take the worldly ways, in the middle of the world, we shall fall—there is no other outcome possible, and we shall do no good around us.

On the contrary, we must be an army, an armada, which pleases Our Lord Jesus Christ, which follows Our Lord Jesus Christ, who fights this crusade that Our Lord wishes to wage today, and through which we must convert the world, through which we must be a light in the world. With the grace of God we are already a little of this through your apostolate, my dear friends. Through your dedication, through your zeal, through the example of your holiness, you have brought back many souls. How many testimonies of persons lost, disoriented, abandoned, tell us their gratitude, give us their thanks for you, my dear friends, for the apostolate that you accomplish! Therefore, I beg you not to stop doing such an apostolate. It is time to think about it in order to remain what we are, what we want to be, and what Our Lord Jesus Christ wants us to be, simply what the Church wants that we be.

All the catastrophes throughout the history of the Church came in general from the clergy. The clergy had abandoned the way of holiness, had abandoned the Way of the Cross; and it is in the measure that the clergy abandoned the Way of the Cross, in the same measure society was degraded. And there was need that the Good Lord raised founders of orders and founders of religious congregations to give back to the priests the way of holiness. We hope that the Society is precisely willed by God so that priestly holiness remains in the world. Let us hope that the Society shall be a light in the world, and also the other foundations which through the grace of God have understood with us the necessity of living the precepts of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the precepts of the Gospel, and who are here present. I don’t want to name them but they also are searching for holiness, are searching for an example of prayer, of abnegation, of renouncement, of the Cross.

This is our raison d’être [reason for being], my dear friends; if we lose this, we lose our raison d’être. If we lose the way of holiness we lose the very reason of our existence.

Lastly, let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, she who was the Mother of the High Priest, who brought Our Lord to the temple, that she remain with us, my dear friends. She is certainly there; the Virgin Mary accompanies you and when you shall present yourself in a few moments with your cassocks to ask the bishop to bless them, Mary is with you. What she did with her Divine Son, she is doing for you now, hoping that you shall be “other Christs.” In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
"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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