A Chronology: Archbishop Lefebvre on the New Mass
Archbishop Lefebvre and the new Mass

[Image: lefebvre_1988.jpeg?itok=PtchMvcO]

Computer translated from the French: by the Abbé Raphaël d'Abbadie - Fideliter - May-June 2017 [slightly adapted]

How did the founder of the Society of St. Pius X judge the Mass of Paul VI? On this question, everything has been said and its opposite. These are the very words of Archbishop Lefebvre who will decide the debate. Let us revive them.

It is known that the new Mass was elaborated with the help of Protestant "observers", so as not to displease the "separated brethren" who hate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If Bishop Lefebvre did not fail to react very early to the harmfulness of this reform, taking an active part in the drafting of the Brief Critical Examination of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci, 1 it took nevertheless several years to arrive at The position which is today that the Fraternity. This article attempts to describe its evolution.

Let us note at the outset that this long time reveals all the pastoral prudence of the missionary archbishop, who is faced with an absolutely new problem in the Church, and at the very least thorny: this new rite is full of ambiguity Calculated to satisfy the heretics, an ambiguity which does not, however, render it strictly invalid or formally heretical ... How can a faithful respond to such a ritual, which is more promulgated by Pope Paul VI? To remain a good Catholic, should he become a Protestant? The Bishop's reply is based on a statement of the facts (which he had foreseen): the fruits of this reform have produced (and still produce), throughout the years, all their bitterness. Thus the attitude of the founder of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X becomes more and more categorical. For clarity, it seemed good to distinguish three periods in the evolution of the position of Archbishop Lefebvre.


We can first distinguish an early period in the attitude of the prelate of Ecône: in his eyes, this Mass constitutes a new and perilous ritual which does not suppress the mass of always (1969-1974).

Upon the implementation of the Novus ordo, in November 1969, Archbishop Lefebvre announced to his seminarians that he would keep the traditional Mass (2). He only uses the time given by Rome, which intends to make the reform compulsory only at the end of 1971. But on this date he explains his refusal of the reform:

"If we ever took the Novus ordo missæ, we would no longer have vocations: the tree would dry up as if we had put the ax to the root."

However, he still believes that when a faithful can not attend an everlasting Mass, he can not dispense with the new Mass, as long as it is celebrated by a "worthy and faithful" priest. This precision is important because in his theological and doctrinal acumen, the Bishop denounced in 1971 the danger inherent in this reform with a Protestant tendency:

"We can therefore ask ourselves very legitimately so insensibly the Catholic faith in the eternal truths of the disappearing Mass, the validity of the Masses does not disappear too. The intention of the celebrant was that of the new conception of the Mass, which in a short time would be none other than the Protestant conception. The Mass will no longer be valid. "(5)

What he confirms in 1973:

"It is understood that our attitude will become more and more radical as time passes, disability spreading with heresy." (6)

And in 1975, it brings this frightening precision:

"All these changes in the new rite are truly perilous, because little by little, especially for the young priests, who no longer have the idea of sacrifice, real presence, transubstantiation and for which all this does not mean Nothing more, these young priests lose the intention of doing what the Church does and no longer say valid masses. Certainly the elderly priests, when they celebrate according to the new rite, still have faith forever. They said mass with the elder for so many years, they keep the same intentions, one can believe that their mass is valid. But to the extent that these intentions disappear, to this extent, the masses will no longer be valid. "(7)


In a second time, Bishop Lefebvre sees in the new Ordo missæ a new harmful ritual that can not oblige (1975-1979). On May 5, 1975, on the Feast of St. Pius V, the Bishop made the decision to maintain the traditional Mass at all costs. His judgment becomes more categorical as to the new Mass:

"It does not oblige for the fulfillment of the Sunday duty."

This seems to be an application of his famous declaration of 21 November 1974, which it is worth recalling. He affirms his adherence "to eternal Rome, mistress of wisdom and truth", but also his refusal "to follow the Rome of neo-modernist and neo-Protestant tendency which was clearly manifested in the Second Vatican Council and after The Council in all the reforms which have sprung from it. All these reforms have contributed and are still contributing to the demolition of the Church, the ruin of the priesthood, the annihilation of sacrifice and the sacraments, and the disappearance of religious life. No authority, even the highest in the hierarchy, can compel us to abandon or diminish our Catholic faith clearly expressed and professed by the magisterium of the Church for nineteen centuries. This reform, proceeding from liberalism, from modernism, is entirely poisoned; It emerges from heresy and ends in heresy, even if all its acts are not formally heretical. It is therefore impossible for any conscientious and faithful Catholic to adopt this reform and to submit to it in any way whatsoever. The only attitude of fidelity to the Church and to Catholic doctrine for our salvation is the categorical refusal of acceptance of the reform ... "(10).

On August 29, 1976, in a famous homily he pronounced in Lille, Monseigneur did not mince his words and treated the new rite of "bastard mass." He explains:

"It is precisely because this union desired by the liberals, between the Church and the Revolution and subversion, is an adulterous union, only of this adulterous union can come only bastards! And who are these bastards These are our rites, the laugh of the new Mass is a bastard ritual! The sacraments are bastard sacraments: we do not know whether these sacraments give grace or do not give it. "(11)

If such remarks today shock our modern mentalities and seem scandalous to them, let us remember that they are only the fruit of a legitimate indignation. The real scandal resides in the reform itself which, by usurping the titles of the everlasting Mass, distorts the holy sacrifice, cuts off the souls of grace and takes them away from faith. So the judgment of Bishop Lefebvre is more and more severe: it is to preserve those who have not yet been contaminated by the modernist virus of this reform:

"We conform to the evolution which is gradually taking place in the minds of the priests, we must avoid, I would say almost in a radical manner, all assistance to the new Mass."

Only certain exceptions are permitted:

"It is a duty to abstain usually, to accept assistance only in exceptional cases: marriage, burials, and only if one has the moral certainty that the Mass is valid and not sacrilegious." (13)

The following year, Archbishop Lefebvre again explained, on the basis of reality, the attitude to be taken with regard to the new Mass:

"It is therefore dangerous, especially practiced regularly. It slowly and corrupts faith slowly but surely. It would be impossible, therefore, to attend only rarely and for grave reasons, by endeavoring to avoid all that would oblige us to make some odious concessions. "

We see the classical distinction which the Church gives for assistance to non-Catholic rites, and which the Monseigneur will apply to the new mass in 1979. This is what will now be the object of our study.


Finally, in a third stage (beginning in 1979), Bishop Lefebvre became more severe: he presented this Mass as a harmful ritual to which one could not participate. In a note on the Novus ordo missæ and the pope, written in 1979, Archbishop Lefebvre recalls and clarifies the Fraternity's position with regard to liturgical reform:

"These new Masses not only can not be the object of an obligation for the Sunday precept, but we must apply to them the rules of moral theology and canon law which are those of supernatural prudence in relation to participation Or assistance to a perilous action for our faith or possibly sacrilege. "(15)

Monseigneur does not want to judge the subjective fault of those who participate in such masses (16). But by appealing to the rules of Canon Law, he relies on Canon 1258. The latter forbids active assistance to a [non]Catholic rite (that is, to participate as the followers of this ritual), but allows, in certain exceptional cases (civility at a funeral etc.), purely passive assistance, provided that the scandal is dismissed.

Let us note in passing that this Canon is completed by Canon 2316, which considers as suspect of heresy the one who actively assists a [non]Catholic ritual. We see how the Monseigneur now judges the New Rite: it must be assimilated [viewed as] to the rituals of heretics and schismatics. It is only the application of what he said in 1974:

"This reform, which springs from liberalism, from modernism, is entirely poisoned; It emerges from heresy and ends in heresy, even if all its acts are not formally heretical. "

To those who oppose him that one can not prevent a faithful from actively attending a new Mass, as long as it is valid, Monseigneur answers now, strong of the canonical principle that we have just stated:

"Let us immediately destroy this absurd idea: if the new Mass is valid, we can participate in it. The Church has always forbidden to attend the masses of schismatics and heretics, even if they are valid. It is evident that we can not participate in sacrilegious masses, nor in masses that place our faith in danger. "(18)

As for those who, recognizing the excellence of the traditional Mass, find it merely "better" than the new ritual, they are, according to the Archbishop, "so-called" traditionalists "..." :

"We do not accept this at all. To say that the new Mass is good, no! The new Mass is not good! If it was good, tomorrow we should take it, it's obvious!" (19)

No, for Monseigneur there is no possible equality between the everlasting Mass and the new Mass. They are diametrically opposed. Indeed,

"Mass is the flag of the Catholic faith... [It] puts aside all the errors of Protestantism, Islam, Judaism, modernism, materialistic, socialist and communist secularism. There can be no mistake in our Holy Catholic mMss. The Mass is anti-ecumenical, in the sense in which ecumenism is understood since the Council: the union of all religions in a syncretism of prayer without dogmas, of morality with imprecise laws, agreeing on equivocal slogans: rights of the Human dignity - religious freedom. The New Mass, on the other hand, is indeed the flag of this false ecumenism, which represents the annihilation of the Catholic religion and the Catholic priesthood. "

He also confirmed in 1983 that "these are more than sufficient grounds for not conferring on him the titles reserved for the Catholic Mass for ever, regardless of the rites." (21)

Finally, in 1985, Archbishop Lefebvre addressed all the puzzled Catholics in these terms, summarizing what we have just said:

"Your perplexity then perhaps takes the following form: can I attend a Sacrilegious Mass, but which is valid, if there is no other, and to satisfy the Sunday obligation? The answer is simple: these masses can not be the object of an obligation; We must also apply to them the rules of moral theology and canon law as regards the participation or assistance in a perilous action for the faith or possibly sacrilege. The new mass, even if it is said with piety and respect for liturgical norms, falls under the same reservations since it is imbued with a Protestant spirit. "(22)


We were able to follow the long journey of Archbishop Lefebvre, who has not been as fast as some other heroes of Tradition, to arrive at the same conclusions as them.

We have understood that its apparent slowness has been linked to the complexity of the new Rite itself. But this delay can only increase his credibility: a prudent man, of a tried faith, has taken his time to judge of something so serious. No one can accuse Archbishop Lefebvre of haste. The position he has adopted is wise, based not only on the experience of facts, but on the principles of the Church of forever. This herald of Christ the King thus knew how to give the crisis a clear and sure answer, because Catholic.

It is because he understood that "Satan reigns by the ambiguity and incoherence which are his means of fighting and which deceive men of little faith." (24)

Also, in this same wake and to keep this same fidelity, Monsignor Bernard Fellay declared in 2006:

"As long as Vatican II and the new Mass remain the norm, an agreement with Rome is a suicide." (25)


(1) - Cf. Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Marcel Lefebvre, a lifetime, Clovis, 2002, pp. 419 et seq.
(2) - Ibid., P. 441.
(3) - Ibid., P. 488.
(4) - Ibid., P. 442. Archbishop Lefebvre insisted on this point in 1972 with his seminarians: "If a pious priest finds himself saying the new Mass by making it as traditional as possible, it is good that you attend it to satisfy the Sunday precept. "(Ibid., 490).
(5) - A bishop speaks, DMM, p. 143.
(6) - Monsignor Tissier, op. Cit., P. 490.
(7) - A bishop speaks, op. Cit., Pp. 285-286.
(8) - Monsignor Tissier, op. Cit., P. 508, note 3. It was the very day of the funeral of Father Calmel, a great defender of Tradition.
(9) - Ibid., P. 490.
(10) - Declaration of 21 November 1974, in A Bishop speaks, op. Cit., Pp. 270 ff. It should be noted that two years later, in an interview book prefaced by himself (No, Interviews of José Hanu with Archbishop Lefebvre, Stock, 1977), Monseigneur acknowledged that he had drawn up this statement with indignation, He adds, "this declaration remains, in fact, always more current and more true in the light of the ever more bitter fruits of the Council" (p.
(11) - Sermon of August 29, 1976 in Lille, in Ecône, pulpit of truth (Iris, 2015), pp. 997-998.
(12) - Monsignor Tissier, op. Cit., P. 491.
(13) - The Master Stroke of Satan, St. Gabriel, 1977, p. 46.
(14) - The Mass of Always, Clovis, 2006, p. 392.
(15) - Ibid., P. 391.
(16) - Ibid., P. 397.
(17) - Declaration of 21 November 1974, in A Bishop speaks, op. Cit., Pp. 270 ff.
(18) - See the Mass of the Almighty, Clovis, 2006, p. 391.
(19) - Ibid., P. 379.
(20) - Letter to friends and benefactors, February 1982.
(21) - Letter to friends and benefactors, March 1983.
(22) - Open letter to perplexed Catholics, Albin Michel, 1985, pp. 42-43.
(23) - As an example, what Mgr de Castro Mayer asserted in January 1970, ie only a month after the entry into force of the Novus ordo: "After careful reflection, I am convinced that Can not participate in the new mass and even, to be there, one must have a serious reason. We can not collaborate in the dissemination of a rite which, although not heretical, leads to heresy. "(Letter from Bishop de Castro Mayer to Archbishop Lefebvre, in Bishop Tissier, p.
(24) - The Master's Stroke of Satan, St. Gabriel, 1977, p. 9.
(25) - "Vatican II, The authority of a council in question", Vu de Haut, n ° 13, autumn 2006, p. 8.
"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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