Archbishop Lefebvre: 1983 Press Conference on the 'Open Letter of Archbishop Lefebvre to the Pope'
The Angelus - May 1984

The Archbishop's Press Conference

Paris - 9 December 1983

In our January issue, we published the very important Open Letter of Archbishop Lefebvre to the Pope [see below - The Catacombs], its importance enhanced by the fact that it is also signed by a second bishop, Antonio de Castro-Mayer, retired Bishop of Campos (Brazil). The date of the Letter is also significant: November 21, (1983), the same date on which, nine years earlier, he wrote at Ecône, his now famous Declaration in response to the scandals caused at the Seminary by the Visitors from Rome. He mentioned that point in this article which is the text of a press conference he held in France in November, to focus the light of publicity on his Letter to the Holy Father, and thus hopefully give it greater impact. It is translated by Father Philip Stark from the January-February issue of Fideliter,a magazine of the Society of St. Pius X.

Question: We gather from everything you say that your meetings in private with the Vatican have borne no fruit. Do you think that this sort of public approach—this Open Letter—will bear any fruit?

Archbishop Lefebvre: I place my hopes in Providence. In answer to your question, I don't know, but we are fulfilling our responsibility to the people and to the priests, because we are being accused of doing nothing. People say, "You are constantly talking of your contact with Rome, but finally is anything being done? Are you really doing anything?" We ourselves see nothing. We see no results. We must speak louder. We must speak more openly.

Question: How about Bishop de Castro-Mayer? Is he also getting ready one day to ordain priests?

Archbishop Lefebvre: Well, he has already ordained some in his diocese, because you know he was a diocesan bishop. And now you know that the bishop who succeeded him, a progressivist, has closed the seminary and driven out the priests. But Bishop de Castro-Mayer has once again collected his seminarians together in a house and he is continuing to form them and certainly he will also ordain them. Clearly he is being forced by events to take the same attitude as myself because now his priests are being persecuted. He had 29 secular priests, 25 of whom were carrying on Tradition under his direction. Now that he has handed in his resignation and is no longer a diocesan bishop, the new bishop is persecuting these 25 priests. He has already put three or four of them out of their parishes. And he is using the radio, the newspapers, the press, the law courts and the police against these priests. It is unheard of, the persecution that they can undergo, even though the whole population is with them.

Question: You speak of a dialogue with Rome and, as far as we are concerned, we hear you saying today exactly what you were saying ten years ago. Can there really be any dialogue established between you and Rome?

Archbishop Lefebvre: I think that Rome will nevertheless pay a little more attention to an Open Letter published throughout the entire world than to a conversation, since they are not listening to me. Perhaps they will listen a little more like this.

Question: Are you disturbed by finding yourself opposite 2,000 bishops as though you are the absolute truth?

Archbishop Lefebvre: The truth does not depend upon me, or else the Church went astray for twenty centuries. All I am doing is to continue what I was taught, that is to say, what the Credo and the Catechism of all times teach. You can see for yourselves that the catechisms are being changed. All the traditional catechisms—the Catechism of the Council of Trent, the Catechism of St. Pius X, the Catechism of Cardinal Gasparri—are all these catechisms no longer worth anything because the French bishops have just published a brand new one? It's madness. Catechism and Catholic doctrine cannot change. Our Credo cannot change. The moral law cannot change. It's inconceivable.

Question: Are there just two of you in the whole Church who realize this?

Archbishop Lefebvre: No, I don't think so. As I was telling you, there are many who realize inside what is going on, but we are the only two to cry out. But go and see them and they will tell you, yes, in fact, it's unacceptable, it's really sad to see what is going on, it's unfortunate that the children have catechism like that in their hands, but what do you expect us to do? It's the episcopal conference which decides. Rome it is true, has spoken a little against these catechisms, but it wasn't truly decisive. They weren't courageous.

Question: In your opinion, is there terrorism going on inside the Catholic Church?

Archbishop Lefebvre: To speak of terrorism is going a bit far. It's a strong word. But there is tyranny. I consider that the way in which the priests of Campos are actually being persecuted is a veritable tyranny. I think that behind the Iron Curtain, among the Soviets, no one is being persecuted any more.

Question: How do you see the Church in France at this moment?

Archbishop Lefebvre: I think a good number of bishops are no longer Catholic. We are in the state England was in at the moment it passed over to Protestantism. One fine day England woke up to find itself Protestant and Anglican. All the bishops, priests and people went over to Anglicanism, and they thought they were doing the right thing. Well, with the Church in France, it's the same thing. It is in the process of passing over to Modernism, worse than Anglicanism. And nobody is waking up! Everybody is swallowing this poison. The Church is going to wake up entirely Modernist. You know, you can now ask many faithful, many priests in France, "Do you still believe in Purgatory, do you still believe in the angels, in Hell?" Oh no, all those things belong to the past. Do you still believe in original sin? Original sin—this is what they wrote in this recent French catechism—is a fairy tale which was put together by sages at the time of Solomon. So if that's original sin, then there's nothing left of the Catholic religion. Why did Our Lord come, if original sin doesn't exist? It no longer makes any sense. There's no longer any sense in the whole Catholic Church. You have no idea of the depth of the errors in which people now find themselves. And so we protest. There will be at least two bishops who protest. We hope we are speaking clearly, respectfully, but firmly.

Question: Monseigneur, can this Manifesto be considered your will and personal testament?

Archbishop Lefebvre: Oh no. Of course, I can very well die quite soon. That's entirely possible. But it's still not a testament. Exactly the same day nine years ago on the 21st of November, I drew up a manifesto which also brought down on me the persecution of Rome, in which I said I can't accept Modernist Rome. I accept the Rome of all time with its doctrine and with its Faith. That is the Rome we are following, but the Modernist Rome which is changing religion—I refuse it and I reject it. And that is the Rome which was introduced into the Council and which is in the process of destroying the Church. I refuse that Church. Well, today, I am continuing quite simply, so it's not a testament, it's the Truth.

Question: Monseigneur, we know of your difficulties with Pope Paul VI, but we find it much more difficult to understand that you have not been able to reach any agreement with such a Pope as John Paul II.

Archbishop Lefebvre: Well, that's a mistake. Pope John Paul II is as inclined to reform as Pope Paul VI was. Pope John Paul II has not condemned Communism. He tries to come to an understanding with Communism. I am convinced that Pope John Paul II would be in agreement with a Christian Socialism, a Christian-flavored Communism. Communism needs to be improved on. After all, why can't we come to an understanding with Communism? It is Pope John Paul II who is changing the bishops to replace them with collaborating bishops, bishops of the Pax Movement, a movement of the "priests of peace." It is they who are now being named cardinals and bishops in the countries behind the Iron Curtain and these cardinals, these bishops persecute the good priests, whereas before these priests used to be encouraged by their bishops in order to resist Communism. Bishops are now being imprisoned and many have died in Communist jails. Now it is the very bishops themselves who are turning into the instruments of the Communist governments in order to persecute the priests doing their duty.

Question: So it's the Devil, not the Holy Spirit, who has been at work in the last few conclaves?

Archbishop Lefebvre: In any case the role being played by the Pope today is not truly the role that he ought to play. That is certain. He is not fulfilling his duty in the face of Communism. Look also at the "affair" that he is having with the Protestants. It's unheard of! He sent twenty official delegates to the Vancouver Congress of the Ecumenical Council of Churches. Those are the ones who have most worked with Protestants. After all, must we become Protestants? I had already written during the Council an article called "Must We Become Protestants in Order to Remain Good Catholics?" I already did that during the Council. It's going on. There is no change in this area. And then thirdly, Religious Liberty, the Rights of Man—it's always this humanism with which the Pope is infested. That is what pleases the Freemasons and the Protestants.

Question: However, John Paul II is a true pope?

Archbishop Lefebvre: I think so. I have always thought so, but he is a Pope who is not doing his duty. I would say so to himself if he were here. I am not afraid to say so to him. It's not my fault. Never before has one seen the Church not condemning Communism. Never before has one seen the Church agreeing with Communism to nominate collaborating bishops. Never before has the Church been seen united with Protestants to make a Catholic or Protestant liturgy and so on and so on.

Question: Then Monseigneur, if the situation is a deadlock, how do you see the future, notably the future of your communities and of your young priests?

Archbishop Lefebvre: That poses no problems for us. We have vocations in our seminaries. They are asking for us throughout the world. Communities of faithful Catholics who still wish to save their souls and who wish to continue the Catholic Church, so in that respect we have no difficulties. We have no problems within. But of course, as far as Rome is concerned, I do not know. I admit that the situation looks very dark because Rome is occupied by Modernists.

Question: The two signatures on the Manifesto—yourself and Msgr. de Castro-Mayer—are nevertheless rather closer to eternity than they are to today. So what's going to happen afterwards? How are you going to insure the continuation of your communities when there are no longer any bishops?

Archbishop Lefebvre: So you are asking the question for which maybe you all came, thinking that I was going to announce that I was going to make some bishops (laughter)?

Question: Monseigneur, why don't you make some bishops?

Archbishop Lefebvre: Because I still think that in appearance it would be an act of rupture with Rome which would be grave. I say, mark you, in appearance, because I think that before God, it is possible that this act may be an act necessary for the history of the Church, for the continuation of the Church, for the continuation of the Catholic priesthood, and so I am not saying that one day I won't do it. But it would be in circumstances still more tragic than today. Besides, as long as the Good Lord leaves me still a little health, I am still here, I prefer not to put the Society of St. Pius X into an even more difficult situation with regard to Rome. I still live in hope that, after all, Rome will one day open its eyes. Otherwise the Good Lord Himself must intervene with events of which we have no knowledge.

Question: So you are not absolutely refusing to consecrate a bishop?

Archbishop Lefebvre: No, I am not absolutely refusing. No, because if there is any role which is important for the bishop, it is that of handing on Tradition, of handing on the Gospel, of handing on the Faith.

Question: But in communion with other bishops, surely, Monseigneur.

Archbishop Lefebvre: Yes, but supposing these bishops no longer have the Faith? I wish it could be in communion with them. I have no desire at all to consecrate bishops, but if the bishops no longer have the Faith and I assure you that one may well ask how many bishops do still have the Faith, the true Catholic Faith. It is enough to see what has become of their seminaries. It is unheard of!

Question: Monseigneur, isn't this Manifesto also a little jab of the spurs to stimulate a movement that is beginning to slow down? Isn't it the opportunity to exert pressure with regard to your movement, in any case the communities connected with you and which have lost a little of their importance, or of the crowds which were following them?

Archbishop Lefebvre: No, not at all. I assure you that is not at all my intention, not the least in the world. I am not seeking publicity, and I don't think that we have habitually sought publicity. I think this act is sufficiently important once more in the history of the Church for me to ask for your cooperation in making known this appeal to the Holy Father and in reassuring Christians they are not alone, they are not abandoned; there are two bishops who are speaking for them.

Question: Isn't this act an ultimatum to Rome just before you consecrate bishops? Aren't you wishing to say to the Holy Father: "I am beginning to get on a bit in years, I'm getting a bit tired?"

Archbishop Lefebvre: That may be, but I don't yet know. I haven't thought out a method, but very possibly I will ask the Holy Father for an audience. If it is granted me, I might say to the Pope, "Listen. The situation is such that I believe in conscience I must consecrate a bishop; grant me the authorization. If you do not give it to me in the present situation, you oblige me to go ahead nevertheless."

[Emphasis - The Catacombs]
"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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