Archbishop Lefebvre - Against Sedevacantism
Quotes of Archbishop Lefebvre - Against Sedevacantism

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Pre-1986 [Assisi meetings]
  • Gradually one’s eyes are opened to behold an astounding conspiracy prepared long before hand [before Vatican II]. Such a discovery makes one wonder what part the Pope played in all this work and how responsible he was for what happened. In spite of the desire to find him innocent of this appalling betrayal of the Church, it would seem that his involvement was overwhelming. Even, however, if we leave it to God and to Peter’s true successors to sit in judgment of these things, it is nonetheless certain that the Council was deflected from its purposes by a group of conspirators and that it is impossible for us to take any part in this conspiracy despite the fact that there may be many satisfactory declarations in Vatican II. The good texts have served as cover to get those texts which are snares, equivocal, and denuded of meaning, accepted and passed. (Archbishop Lefebvre, A Note on the Title, I Accuse the Council, Paris, France August 27, 1976)
  • As long as I don’t have evidence that the Pope is not the Pope, well then the presumption is for him, the presumption is for the Pope. I am not saying that there can be no arguments that can put a doubt in certain cases, but there has to be evidence that is not only a valid doubt. And amongst people who defend these ideas and who have these ideas, they change arguments, first it is one argument, and then it is another; this argument is not sufficiently valid, we take another argument. If the argument was not valid, then it was doubtful. And if it is doubtful, we do not have the right to draw enormous consequences, considerable consequences...” (Archbishop Lefebvre, January 16, 1979)
  • ... those who affirm that there is no Pope over-simplify the problem. The reality is more complex. If one begins to study the question of whether or not a Pope can be heretical, one quickly discovers that the problem is not as simple as one might have thought. The very objective study of Xaverio de Silverira on this subject demonstrates that a good number of theologians teach that the Pope can be heretical as a private doctor or theologian but not as a teacher of the Universal Church. One must then examine in what measure Pope Paul VI willed to engage in infallibility in the diverse cases where he signed texts close to heresy if not formally heretical. ... Can a Pope be Liberal and remain Pope? The Church has always severely reprimanded Liberal Catholics, but she has not always excommunicated them. ... Does not the exclusion of the cardinals of over eighty years of ages, and the secret meetings which preceded and prepared the last two Conclaves, render them invalid? Invalid: no, that is saying too much. Doubtful at the time: perhaps. But in any case, the subsequent unanimous acceptance of the election by the Cardinals and the Roman clergy suffices to validate it. That is the teaching of the theologians. The visibility of the Church is too necessary to its existence for it to be possible that God would allow that visibility to disappear for decades. (Archbishop Lefebvre, The New Mass and the Pope [November 8, 1979] Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre)
  • We are nearing the end. Everyone will fall into heresy. Everyone will fall into error because wicked clergy, as St. Pius X predicted, have found their way into the Church and occupied it. They have spread errors from the positions of authority they occupy in the Church. Are we then required to follow error because it comes from someone in authority? No more than we should obey parents who are unworthy and ask us to do unworthy things, no more should we obey those who ask us to abandon our Faith and to abandon all Tradition. This is out of the question. Oh, of course, all this is a mystery, a great mystery, this union of the divine with the human.

    The Church is divine, and the Church is human. How far can human weakness how shall I say overshadow the divinity of the church? Only God knows. It is a great mystery. We see the facts; we must put ourselves in full view of the facts and never abandon the Church, the Roman Catholic Church, never abandon her, never abandon the successor of Peter, because through him we are united to Our Lord Jesus Christ, through the Bishop of Rome, the successor of Peter. But if, by some misfortune, under the influence of some spirit or other, or some weakness or pressure, or through neglect, he abandons his duty and leads us along roads which make us lose our faith, well, we must not follow, although at the same time we recognize that he is Peter and if he speaks with the charism of infallibility, we must accept his teaching, but when he does not speak with the charism of infallibility, he may very well be mistaken alas! It is not the first time that something like this has happened in history. (Archbishop Lefebvre, 1982 Ordination Sermon)
  • When Pope Honorius was condemned, he was condemned as Pope. And yet, the Council of Constantinople – I believe it was Pope Leo II, although I’m not sure - condemned Pope Honorius for favoring heresy. He didn’t say “he favored heresy, so he was no longer the Pope.” No. And neither did he say "since he was the pope, you had to obey him and accept what he said.” No, because he condemned him! So what did [Catholics] have to do then? Well, one had to admit that Pope Honorius was the Pope, but one did not have to follow him because he favoured heresy!  Isn't that the conclusion then? That seems to me the normal conclusion. Well, we're in that situation. One day these popes will be condemned by their successors. One day the truth will return. (Archbishop Lefebvre, Conference on Sedevacantism and Liberalism, Econe, 1984)
  • So they keep this sense of faith, the sense that Providence gives to the good faithful and to today’s good priests, [this sense] to keep the faith, to stay put, to keep their attachment to Rome as well and to remain faithful to the apostolicity, to the visibility of the Church, which are essential things, even if they do not follow the Popes when they favour heresy, as Pope Honorius did. He's been convicted. Those who would have followed Pope Honorius at that time would have been mistaken since he was condemned afterwards. So then, I believe that we would be misled in actually following the Popes in what they are doing... but they will probably also one day be condemned by the ecclesiastical authority. (Ibid.)
  • See, I think that's where our whole problem lies. We live in an exceptional time. We cannot judge everything that is done in the Church according to normal times. We find ourselves in an exceptional situation, it is also necessary to interpret the principles that should govern our ecclesiastical superiors. These principles, we must see them in the minds of those who live today, those principles that were so clear in the past, so simple, that no one was discussing them, that we did not have the opportunity to discuss them, they fail, I would say, in the minds of the Liberals, in the minds, as I explained to you, that have no clarity of vision... It changes the situation. We are in a situation of unbelievable confusion. So let's not draw mathematical conclusions like that, without considering these circumstances. Because then we make mistakes:
    Either we endorse the revolution in the Church, and participate in the destruction of the Church, and we leave with the progressives. Or we leave the Church completely and find ourselves where? Who with? What with? How would we be linked to the apostles, how connected to the origins of the Church? Gone... and how long is this going to last? So if the last three conclaves should no longer be considered valid, as those in America say who have consecrated their own bishops, and if then there is no longer a Pope, and if are no more cardinals either.. ? We don't see how we could once more obtain a legitimate pope... No! That's a complete mess!
  • So it seems to me that we must stay on this course of common sense, and of the direction which also agrees with the good sense of the faithful ... We remain as we are now, we want to keep Tradition. But neither do we want to separate ourselves completely from the Pope, [saying] "There is no longer a pope, there is no longer anything, there is no more authority, we don't know to whom we are attached, there is no more Rome, there is no more Catholic Church". That [solution] doesn’t work either. They are lost too, they feel lost, they are disoriented. (Ibid.)
  • ... the defenders of tradition are divided. Some say that the Decrees of Rome, signed or carried out by the Pope, are so bad that the Pope cannot be a legitimate Pope, he is a usurper. There is therefore no Pope, the See is vacant. Others affirm that the Pope cannot sign decrees which are destructive of the Faith and therefore these decrees are acceptable and one must submit to them. The Society [of St. Pius X] does not accept one or the other of these two solutions, but supported by the history of the Church and the doctrine of theologians, thinks that the Pope can favorize the ruin of the Church by choosing bad collaborators and allowing them to act, by signing decrees which do not engage his infallibility, sometimes even by his own admission, which cause considerable harm to the Church. Nothing is more dangerous to the Church than liberal Popes who are in a continual state of incoherence.  On the other hand, we think that God can allow the Church to be afflicted with this misfortune. Consequently we pray for the Pope but we refuse to follow him in his folly in regard to religious liberty, ecumenism, socialism and the application of reforms which are ruinous for the Church. Our apparent disobedience is true obedience to the Church and the Pope as successor of Peter in the measure that he continues to maintain Tradition. (Principles and Directives - 1982 General Chapter)

Post-1986 [Assisi meetings]
  • Q. - Implicitly, it seems that you are “sedevacantist”?

    A. - No, it's not because I say that the Pope is unfaithful to his task, that I say there isn’t a Pope anymore, or that I say he is a formal heretic. I think that it is necessary to judge the men of current Rome and those who are under their influence the same way the bishops, Pope Pius IX and St. Pius X considered liberals and modernists.

    Q. – How did they consider them ?

    A. - Pope Pius IX condemned liberal Catholics. He even said this terrible sentence: "Liberal Catholics are the worst enemies of the Church.” What more could he say? However, he did not say: all liberal Catholics are excommunicated, are outside the Church and must be denied Communion. No, he considered these men as "the worst enemies of the Church," and yet, he did not excommunicate them.

    The holy pope, Pius X, in his encyclical Pascendi, also dealt as severe a judgment on modernism, calling it the "synthesis of all heresies." I do not know if it is possible to bring a more severe judgment to condemn a movement! But he did not say that all modernists would from now on be excommunicated, outside the Church, and that they had to be refused Communion. He condemned some.

    Also, I think that, like these two popes, we must judge them severely, but not necessarily considering them as being outside the Church. That is why I do not want to follow the “sedevacantists” who say: they are modernists; modernism is the crossroads of heresies; so modernists are heretics; so they are no longer in communion with the Church; so there isn’t a Pope anymore...

    We cannot make a judgment with such implacable logic. There is, in this way of judging, passion and a little pride. Let us judge these men and their errors in the same way as the popes themselves did.

    The pope is modernist, that’s certain, like Cardinal Ratzinger and many men of his entourage. But let us judge them like Pope Pius IX and St. Pius X judged them. And so this is why we continue to pray for the Pope and to ask God to give him the graces he needs to accomplish his task. (Interview given to Pacte, 1987)
  • "So what is our attitude? It is clear that all those who are leaving us or who have left us for sedevacantism or because they want to be submitted to the present hierarchy of the Church all the while hoping to keep Tradition, we cannot have relations with them anymore. It is not possible.

    Us, we say that we cannot be submitted to the ecclesiastical authority and keep Tradition. They say the opposite. They are deceiving the faithful. Despite the esteem we may have for them, there is of course no question of insulting them, but we do not want to engage in polemics and we prefer not to deal with them anymore. It is a sacrifice we have to make. But it did not start today, it has been going on for twenty years.

    All those who separate from us, we are very affected by it, but we really cannot make another choice if we want to keep Tradition. We must be free from compromise as much with regard to sedevacantists as with regard to those who absolutely want to be submitted to the ecclesiastical authority.” (Conference, Flavigny, December 1988; Fideliter, March/April 1989)
  • "Unlike sedevacantists, we act vis-a-vis the Pope as vis-a-vis the Successor of Peter. We address ourselves to him as such, and we pray as such. The majority of faithful and traditional priests also feel that it is the prudential and wise solution: to recognize that there is a successor on the throne of Peter, and that it is necessary to strongly oppose him, because of the errors he spreads." ("Apres les ralliements sonnera l’heure de vérité," Fideliter 68, March 1989, p. 13).
  • “I think, nevertheless, that we need a link with Rome. It is still there in Rome where we find the succession of Peter, the succession of the apostles, of the apostle Peter, of the primacy of Peter and of the Church. If we cut this link, we are really like a boat which is cast off to the mercy of the waves, without knowing anymore to which place we are attached and to whom we are attached. I think it is possible to see in the person who succeeds all the preceding popes, since if he occupies the see, he was accepted as Bishop of Rome at Saint John Lateran. Now it is the Bishop of Rome who is the successor of Peter; he is recognized as the successor of Peter by all the bishops of the world. Good! What you want? We can think that he is really the successor of Peter, and in this sense, we attach ourselves to him and through him to all his predecessors, ontologically so to speak. And then, his actions, what he does, what he thinks and the ideas he spreads; that is another thing, of course. It is a great sorrow for the Catholic Church, for us, that we are forced to witness such a thing. But I think that this is the solution that corresponds to the reality.

    The solution of sedevacantism is not a solution: it poses a lot of problems, because if since Pope Paul VI there were no popes, then all the cardinals that were made by these popes are invalidly made; so the votes they made as cardinals, members of the Conclave, are void; and who will then re-establish the link with John XXIII?; and even if we think that John XXIII wasn’t pope either, then we have to go back to Pius XII. Who is going to re-establish the tie? Because if these cardinals were invalidly-made cardinals, they cannot elect the future Pope. Who is going to designate the new pope? We are completely lost! It is not surprising that in these circles there have been groups that have made a pope. It is logical. Let us keep a little the solution of common sense and the solution that the faithful inspire in us.

    Every time that there were stories of sedevacantism that caused a little trouble in the Society, I must say, well, on the whole, we can say that the faithful did not follow. These faithful followed us, followed the solution of the Society, And I think that if one day we all of a sudden took the decision - the authorities of the Society, the majority of priests – and said “it is clear now, we affirm that there is no Pope,” the faithful would not follow us. Most of the faithful would not follow us! With good reason. Look at Bordeaux for example, when Fr. Guepin left with Father Belmont, well they thought that they were going take two-thirds of the parish with them. They had two or three families, that’s all. No, no! The faithful have the sense of the faith. See how they reacted to the episcopal consecrations. The faithful have the sense of the faith. They have good sense and the sense of the faith. We can rely on the judgment of our good Christians, our good faithful.”( Conference, priests’ retreat, 1989)
  • “And then, he [Dom Guillo] goes through all the prayers of the Canon, all the prayers of the Roman Canon. He goes through them one after the other and then he shows the difference, he gives translations, very good ones. He gives, for example, precisely this famous…you know, this famous una cum.., una cum of the sedevacantists. And you, do you say una cum? (laughter of the nuns of St-Michel en Brenne). You say una cum in the Canon of the Mass! Then we cannot pray with you; then you're not Catholic; you're not this; you're not that; you're not.. Ridiculous! ridiculous! because they claim that when we say una cum summo Pontifice, the Pope, isn’t it, with the Pope, so therefore you embrace everything the Pope says. It’s ridiculous! It’s ridiculous! In fact, this is not the meaning of the prayer. Te igitur clementissime Pater. This is the first prayer of the Canon. So here is how Dom Guillou translates it, a very accurate translation, indeed.
    "We therefore pray Thee with profound humility, most merciful Father, and we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord, to accept and to bless these gifts, these presents, these sacrifices, pure and without blemish, which we offer Thee firstly for Thy Holy Catholic Church. May it please Thee to give Her peace, to keep Her, to maintain Her in unity, and to govern Her throughout the earth, and with Her, Thy servant our Holy Father the Pope."

    It is not said in this prayer that we embrace all ideas that the Pope may have or all the things he may do. With Her, your servant our Holy Father the Pope, our Bishop and all those who practice the Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox faith! So to the extent where, perhaps, unfortunately, the Popes would no longer have ..., nor the bishops…, would be deficient in the Orthodox, Catholic and Apostolic Faith, well, we are not in union with them, we are not with them, of course. We pray for the Pope and all those who practice the Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox faith!

    Then he [Dom Guillou] had a note about that to clarify a little: "In the official translation, based on a critical review of Dom Batte, the UNA CUM or "in union with" of the sedevacantists of any shade is no longer equivalent but to the conjunction" and "reinforced either by the need to restate the sentence, or to match the solemn style of the Roman canon. Anyway, every Catholic is always in union with the Pope in the precise area where the divine assistance is exercised, infallibility confirmed by the fact that as soon as there is a deviation from the dogmatic tradition, the papal discourse contradicts itself.

    Let us collect the chaff, knowing that for the rest, it is more necessary than ever to ask God, with the very ancient Major Litanies, that be "kept in the holy religion" the "holy orders" and "Apostolic Lord" himself (that is to say the Pope): UT DOMINUM APOSTOLICUM AND OMNES ECCLESIASTICOS ORDINES INSANCTA RELIGIONE CONSERVARE DIGNERIS, TE ROGAMUS, AUDI NOS."

    It is a request of the litanies of the Saints, right? We ask to keep the Pope in the true religion.. We ask that in the Litanies of the Saints! This proves that sometimes it can happen that unfortunately, well, maybe sometimes it happens that... well there have been hesitations, there are false steps, there are errors that are possible. We have too easily believed since Vatican I, that every word that comes from the mouth of the Pope is infallible. That was never said in Vatican I! The Council never said such a thing. Very specific conditions are required for the infallibility; very, very strict conditions. The best proof is that throughout the Council, Pope Paul VI himself said "There is nothing in this Council which is under the sign of infallibility". So, it is clear, he says it himself! He said it explicitly.

    Then we must not keep this idea which is false which a number of Catholics, poorly instructed, poorly taught, believe! So obviously, we no longer understand anything, we are completely desperate, we do not know what to expect! We must keep the Catholic faith as the Church teaches it. (Retreat at St. Michel en Brenne, April 1, 1989)
  • “The issue concerning the Pope is obviously a great mystery. It is probably something that you think about often and that cannot be eliminated. It is a serious problem, perhaps the most serious of the current situation of the Church. So, the declarations of the Pope, his acts, the ecumenical acts that he did and that he redoes many times during his travels and during his receptions at the Vatican, his statements, everything throw us into anguish. Then, a certain number of traditionalists believe that they have to conclude that: “the Pope is not the Pope. This is not possible. He is heretical. He is schismatic. He cannot be the Pope, so there is no more Pope.” They consider the seat as vacant. This logic may be too simple, too mathematical. The complexity of things in reality is often much greater than we think.

    See for yourselves, in the reading that we are making you do on the semi-rationalists, semi-liberals. We are dealing with people who mix up truth and error, who live in a continual contradiction. If you read the book on liberalism of Cardinal Billot, you see that the Cardinal defines precisely what a liberal is: a man who is in contradiction all the time, a man who constantly contradicts himself and who lives in contradiction. He is always two-faced. And so, they are dangerous people. This is what Pope Pius IX said. Pope Pius IX considers them as the greatest danger in the church because they mislead the faithful. Sometimes, we believe that they are traditional and that they conform to the truth of the Church, and then, all of a sudden, they fall into error and lead people into error. It is very, very dangerous. They scandalize and lead millions of faithful into error.

    So, personally, I believed, during all these years, for twenty years, in having to act as if the Pope was Pope, in not asking myself deeper questions, in having to act, in practice, as if the Pope was the Pope. I would say: "I recognize the Pope as the Pope of the Holy Catholic Church.” This is why I have never refused to go to Rome when I was summoned there. The books edited by Madiran on The Savage Condemnation of Archbishop Lefebvre and Archbishop Lefebvre and the Holy Office well prove that [...] I have considered the authority of the Pope as if he was the Pope. And then, I often appealed to him, I wrote I do not know how many times to Pope Paul VI and to Pope John Paul II, and then to the offices and to the congregations and to the presidents of the congregations in charge of fixing these problems. I think that this is the wisest attitude and the most consistent with the spirit of the Church.” (Easter Retreat, Econe, April 11, 1990)
  • “I have always warned the faithful vis-à -vis the sedevacantists, for example. There, also, people say: “The Mass is fine, so we go to it.” Yes, there is the Mass. That’s fine, but there is also the sermon; there is the atmosphere, the conversations, contacts before and after, which make you little by little, change your ideas. It is therefore a danger and that’s why in general, I think it constitutes part of a whole. One does not merely go to Mass, one frequents a milieu.” (Fideliter No. 79, January/February 1991)

Other Sources that demonstrate Archbishop Lefebvre was Against Sedevacantism
  • Fr. Wickens, in an interview with New Jersey Family News, 1989:

    The Pope and the Archbishop
  • Q. Does Archbishop Lefebvre reject the papacy?
  • A. On the contrary, Archbishop Lefebvre upholds the papacy more than any other bishop in the United States. We say this without fear of contradiction. Can you make sure that his subjects teach authentic doctrine and morals as promulgated by all the popes and councils (from St. Peter to the present pontiff)? Name one! The American bishops pretend to obey the Pope, but disobey papal directives on a daily basis. Altar girls are prohibited; so are ministers for Communion (except in emergency situations), general absolution, sex ed in schools, heresy, denial of Faith and morals—these are all forbidden by the Pope. Every American bishop permits these things to go on week after week, year after year, in his parishes, schools and seminaries. These bishops are directly at fault and fully culpable. When these bishops try to hang the label "disobedient to the Pope" on a traditional bishop, it is so hypocritical as to make the Devil himself laugh! On the other hand, Archbishop Lefebvre, and the Society of St. Pius X, takes great pains to see that every priest in every chapel, school and seminary, upholds every revealed doctrine, every de fide pronouncement from every pope and every council. No American bishop can make that claim!
  • Q. Has Archbishop Lefebvre rejected the present Pope?
  • A. Never! He loves the Pope and the papacy. His heart weeps when he sees the present Pontiff make unwise administrative decisions and disarrange previous Church practices. For example, by speaking from the pulpits of various Protestant churches and synagogues, most non-Catholics (and Catholics) conclude that one religion is as good as another. This is called religious indifference—an error soundly condemned by the Magisterium.
  • Q. Does he support this Pope?
  • A. In the St. Pius X seminaries there is always a portrait of the present Pope, and the practice of daily prayers for him is mandated in every institution.
  • Q. Why do we pray for the Pope? Is there something wrong? Does he need prayers?
  • A. Catholics have always prayed for the Pope because he is tempted to sin like every other human being. St. Peter himself needed prayers, having evidenced his three-fold denial of Christ on the night of Our Savior's passion.
  • Q. Besides the Pope needing our prayers, is there something wrong in the Vatican?
  • A. One would be naive not to see that the Church is ravaged from within by heretical teachers who have corrupted a whole generation of young people. Yet few are excommunicated or suspended from the priestly office. Father Curran, Father McNulty, Father Matthew Fox, Archbishop Weakland... and hundreds of other heretics are all in good standing with Rome. And whom does the Vatican censure? The saintly, moral, orthodox Archbishop Lefebvre. Something very strange is going on.
  • Q. What, precisely, is wrong in the Vatican?
  • A. There are many theories:1) The Pope does not know what is the present state of the Church;2) The Pope's secretaries and aides screen all his mail and keep him conveniently ignorant. The bishops feed him falsely optimistic reports;3) A strongly Masonic element among the Vatican bureaucracy;4) The Pope is a virtual prisoner of this bureaucracy, which renders him relatively helpless;5) The Pope is too busy... in visiting foreign countries and receiving world dignitaries... to pay close attention to the heretical clergymen and bishops;6) The administrative work of the Pope, in effect, is done by Vatican officials. The Pope simply puts his signature, without close scrutiny, on the appointment of bishops and other such matters;7) The Pope is afraid of an American schism;**8) The Pope has been influenced by Modernist pressures, but he is doing his best.
  • Q. What opinion do most conservative priests have?
  • A. We simply do not know. But we cannot help but conclude that something is wrong.Q. We, as Roman Catholics, love and respect the Holy Father, do we not?A. Of course we do! He is indeed the Vicar of Christ on earth, and Successor of St. Peter, and St. Pius X and Pope Liberius, and Pope Honorius, and Pope Callistus. Some of these men were saints, others less than that. But, in every case, they were human beings, with grave responsibilities, who need prayers. Did not Christ say to Peter: "Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee that thy faith faith fail not..." (Luke 22,31)And again: "And [Jesus] turning, said to Peter: Go behind me, Satan, thou art a scandal unto me... because thou savourest not the things of God but the things that are of men" (Matthew 16,23). (Fr. Wickens, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre: A Living Saint, Angelus: January 1989


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