Ecône Full Stop

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     The whole drama of Mgr. Lefebvre is to have turned aside from his vocation. 

     There seems to be no doubt that this bishop was chosen by God to defend the Church by proclaiming the faith.  In any case, that is how it appeared to us and that is why we supported and helped him.  And to defend the faith, he was not afraid to bring his sword into play and to accuse Vatican II of being "a schismatic council."  It is true that even in his clearest statements he made use of disconcerting expressions, but the confidence which we placed in him caused us to take these for so many skilful political phrases, and even for olive branches extended to those in the new church who were willing to accept them.  Alas!  These illusions did not last long, and in 1979 we were forced to yield to the evidence.  Mgr. Lefebvre was refusing God's call.


     The birth of Ecône
     An ambiguous setting
     The first difficulties
     An opportunity missed
     Attempts at negotiation
     From compromise to injustice
     The arrival of Lefebvrism

     The justification of a praxis
     Suiting the words to the occasion
     The refusal to confess the faith

     An inconsistent seminary
     The party mentality
     Hard little minds
     Collective self-satisfaction

     A vocation missed
     The time for fraternal correction

     A dead end
     Strong in faith

     In his declaration of 8th November 1979, Mgr. Lefebvre decided to treat as a pariah anyone who refused to follow him in his dealings with the new church.  This declaration marked the end of a long period of evolution, and removed all remaining doubt about the intentions of its author.  In the past, he had appeared as the witness of Catholic fidelity in the face of Vatican II.  From that moment on, he presented himself as the militant defender of the right to a conservative tendency in the bosom of the organisation which up to that time he had called a schismatic church.(1)  The Union pour la Fidélité was founded immediately after this change of front: in this selling-off atmosphere, weakly accepted almost everywhere, it was necessary at all costs to maintain the voice of Catholic truth.

     Numerous attempts, both private and public, were then made to bring Mgr. Lefebvre and his Fraternity back to reason.  Unfortunately this was labour in vain, since we were constantly met with a contemptuous silence, with the exception of rare replies each of which was insulting.(2)

     In the pages of Forts dans la Foi we gave numerous explanations, seeking to examine the problem in all its aspects and not hesitating to think through each question once more from the beginning.(3)  Labour in vain.  The Fraternity of St. Pius X like its allies of heart or mind, arrogantly ignored all this effort.  A few exceptions occurred to break the silence: the laborious attempts to give an appearance of a foundation in theory to Mgr. Lefebvre's practically schismatic position, and as a corollary, an apparent refutation of the Catholic doctrine which we had had occasion to set out.  Wide circulation was given to these productions, pitiful though they were.(4)  In the face of these theoretical stages on the road to schism, we repeated our warnings, but again in vain.(5)  During this time, everything seemed to be continuing as it had in the past.  The "traditionalist"  Catholics retained their habitual attitudes, and the Fraternity of St. Pius X continued to develop, and with it a "new" new religion, in the margin not only of "the official church which is not the Church"(6), but also and above all on the fringes of the Catholic Church.

o O o

     Was it possible for this to endure for long?  By no means.  For us, at least, the time to put a full stop to this matter had arrived.  We had done everything we could to be patient and understanding, and perhaps we could even be reproached with being too patient, but now time has come for us to speak out, that is to say to bring to light in a constructive manner the nature and gravity of Mgr. Lefebvre's action, to show the obligations which result from it for everyone, and to draw from it its practical consequences.  In order to bring about this clarification we have brought out this present number.  Certainly we know that it will be greeted by certain people like all the rest of our writings, with contempt and sarcasm, but that will not hinder us from distributing it, for several reasons.  First of all, because we must speak the truth, for the honour of Our Lord and of His Church, and for the good of the faithful who have been led astray.  Our first and principal ambition is to please God.  In doing that, we know that we shall also please all those who love truth, our faithful subscribers among them, and with them many others who would like to have more facts in order to understand what is happening.  We are writing for them and for all who are distressed or perplexed by the present situation.

     We write also, needless to say, for Mgr. Lefebvre and for those who are attached to him.  We think that a group reflex will make them shrink from reading our lines and that they will prefer to fly before them into their chimeras.  However, it may happen that some among them act otherwise and understand that this in fact represents a last appeal to them to recover their lost balance.  They should understand that we are not their enemies.  We simply hope that the facts we have assembled here will give them a salutary shock: the truth is not always pleasant to hear, but it is liberating.

     Again, we write for all those who until now have had an outside and very imperfect view of the Lefebvre affair, as it has been labelled by the press: Catholics sunk in uncertainty, timid opponents, and even those in various degrees responsible for the new church.  To all alike, we intend to make it clear that Mgr. Lefebvre's action is not to be mistaken for the confession of the Catholic faith against the revolution introduced by Vatican II.

     Finally, we are writing most particularly for all those who, without being directly subordinated to Mgr. Lefebvre, have made themselves his resolute allies and partisans.  We are talking about a large number of the "traditionalists", and in particular of those who more or less lead them, of the famous chefs de file who today are somewhat jostled by the more militant elements of the Fraternity of St. Pius X.  Until now, they have shown themselves fiercely hostile to all our efforts, careful to maintain a strict blockade against us and remaining at one with Mgr. Lefebvre even at his worst.(7)  A priori, this number will thus be ignored by them, they will even give orders not to read or even touch it(8) - one never knows, it is safer.  But to tell the truth, none of this impresses us much.  We know that we shall be read and that our message will be heard.


(1) At Ecône on 29 July 1976, among others.
(2) Cf. Forts dans la Foi No. 3 NS, pp. 193-236.
(3) Because we proceeded in this way the new series of our review appears to be in discontinuity with the former series.  It is still so today, according to Fr. Coache, who wishes to draw from it an argument against us and our alleged variations, as though it were an unpardonable fault to make progress in profundity and clarity in expounding Christian doctrine.
(4)  Particularly in the free outpourings of Father Williamson (Cf. Forts dans la Foi No. 2 NS, pp 101-126), or those of Fr. Le Pivain, without forgetting the recent factum of G. Salet (cf. the supplement to Forts dans la Foi No. 9 NS).
(5)  Cf. Forts dans la Foi No. 7 NS pp. 1-12.
(6)  According to the expression of Mgr. Lefebvre on 27 June 1980 (Cf. Fideliter No. 16, p. 9).
(7)  As for example, the "good" Fr. Coache, Doctor of Canon Law, who connives at the illicit and above all invalid delegation of the power to confirm granted to simple priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X.
(8)  It is a sin!  "Good" Fr. Coache guarantees it: "The launching of this book is a 'very wicked act'.  Do not share in it, even through curiosity 'you would be guilty'" (underlined by the author, Combat de la Foi, 25 Jan. 82, p. 6).


     Like many other conservative bishops, Mgr. Lefebvre quickly realized that Vatican II had entered onto a path which was not Catholic: "During the Council we were conscious of the danger of not affirming the faith as in the past."(1)  But like so many others also, he allowed himself to be caught in the snares of the innovators.(2)

     In the course of the first two sessions, he played rather unobtrusive role, intervening mostly to bring out the heterodox and ambiguous aspects of the conciliar texts.  At the end of the second session, with several other bishops, he addressed a letter to Paul VI, imploring him "to be on his guard against the equivocal words which are found in the conciliar texts."  However, at the same time Mgr. Lefebvre drew up for the attention of Catholics a balance of the council's work which was clearly positive, basing it largely on the discourse given by Paul VI at the closure of the second session.(3)  As well as being a bad analysis of the facts, we must undoubtedly see in this an expression of great confidence in the pope: "We are living at a time when the supernatural, when the action of the Holy Spirit is visible, tangible.  Question the observers at the council they have no terms expressive enough to congratulate us and to envy our having a Bishop to whom has been given supreme power over the Church, a Bishop to turn towards when doubt or darkness crushes us and in whom we are assured of having the Light."(4)

     Afterwards, confronted with the full extent of the flood of subversion, Mgr. Lefebvre in common with a small minority of bishops, attempted to organize the opposition.  He became one of the principal animators of the Coetus lnternationalis Patrum.  However, the C.I.P., either not knowing how or being unable to react in the manner which we can now see was necessary, succeeded only in obliging the innovators to veil their heresies more carefully.  At the close of the council, Mgr. Lefebvre refused only two texts , the constitution on the Church in the world of today, Gaudium et Spes, and the declaration on religious liberty, Dignitatis Humanae.  He accepted all the others, in particular the dogmatic constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, the decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, and the declaration on the Church and the non-Christian religions, Nostra Aetate.


     For Mgr. Lefebvre, Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers since 1962, the period following the council began relatively quietly.  However, on many occasions, he deplored the destructive effects of the application of the conciliar reforms.  In December 1966, replying to an inquiry originated by Cardinal Ottaviani, he explained that doubt and confusion were being introduced everywhere and that the cause of it was the council itself: "in a manner virtually universal, whenever the council innovated, it weakened the certitude of truths taught by the authentic Magisterium of the Church as belonging definitively to the treasury of Tradition."(5)  However, like many other faithful Catholics of the time, he placed his confidence in Paul VI to restore the situation.

     In 1968 the conciliar reform affected him directly.  Paul VI called upon the religious congregations to hold extraordinary general chapters to adapt themselves to the standards of the aggiornamento.  It was concerned in particular with the withdrawal of authority from their superiors in order to pass it to management committees.  The Holy Ghost Fathers voted for this revolution, and Mgr. Lefebvre made his way to Rome to protest against it.  There he obtained no redress but discovered that all these upheavals were authorized by Paul VI.  Without protesting publicly, he submitted his resignation and began what might have become an early retirement.  Like many other bishops, he might have ended his career at this point, disillusioned and forgotten.  Providence, however, soon forced him back into activity.

     The same year as his resignation, some French seminarians, worried by the rapid deterioration of their seminaries, came to see the bishop, whose particular interest in the formation of priests was known to them.  He directed them to the French Seminary in Rome, which was run by the Holy Ghost Fathers.  When this failed to produce the desired results, Mgr. Lefebvre decided to occupy himself with vocations to the priesthood.

     By his own account, he launched into the enterprise without a preconceived plan of action: "I never had the intention in advance to act in this way, I never said to myself: I will build a seminary, I will do it in this way, I will do it in that place."(6)  Without reflecting beforehand on the situation in the Church and the means to remedy it, he wished simply to respond to the needs of vocations by doing again what he had always done.

     From June 1969 he established a house for seminarians at Fribourg, in Switzerland, with the authorization and encouragement of the bishop of the area, Mgr. Charriere.  It was planned that the candidates for the priesthood would carry out their studies at the local university, supposedly still traditional.  At the same time and in order to match the demands for admission, Mgr. Lefebvre acquired a house at Ecône, a small village in the Valais.  He very quickly realized that the teaching given at Fribourg was departing from Catholic doctrine and he decided to make Ecône his own seminary.(7)

     Previously, he gave to his work the canonical status of a fraternity, a society of life in community without vows after the example of the societies for foreign missions, comprising priests, lay brothers and nuns.  The decree of foundation of the Fraternite sacerdotale internationale Saint-Pie X was signed by Mgr. Charriere on 11th November 1970.  In February 1971 a letter of encouragement arrived from Cardinal Wright, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, to confirm the approval of the hierarchy for this initiative, which was taken with due respect for the law and the authorities.


     Circumstances contributed very largely to the launching of the Fraternity.  In 1969 the new Ordo Missæ was published and was soon imposed in all places of worship, provoking lively reactions of refusal in many countries but especially in France.  The legal confusion which accompanied the introduction of the new mass and the publication of the Brief Critical Examination signed by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci comforted priests and faithful in their decision to refuse the new order of mass and continue the celebration of the mass of Saint Pius V.  They organized themselves, they built up associations - mostly called Associations of St. Pius V - and in time formed a recognizable section of the faithful.  To begin with, Mgr. Lefebvre had nothing to do with the appearance of this movement, but he very soon found himself taken up by it.

     In fact, as the traditional mass centres increased in number, they turned spontaneously to him and urged him to take action.  His public image made him exactly the right man to lead the opposition to liturgical reform.  His conservative past was known, and it was known that he had been one of the most active opponents at the council.  They were claiming back the mass and their priests, and here was a bishop who intended to preserve the traditional mass and to found a traditional seminary.  What is more, he was accepted by the hierarchy.  He appeared to be sent by Providence for the task and they saw no reason not to ask for his help and to encourage him.

     Mgr. Lefebvre thus became the centre of attention and seemed to be willing to comply with the wishes of the opponents of the new mass.  In reality however, there was a misunderstanding from the very beginning of this affair, or at least a degree of ambiguity.  On the one hand, Mgr. Lefebvre always claimed to be in good standing with what he would one day call "the official church."  He even argued that he was alone in applying the directives of Vatican II for the formation of the clergy.  He presented the Fraternity of St. Pius X as a work intended to carry on the essentials, to constitute an island of Catholicism where, around a nucleus of faithful priests, the mass, the sacraments and the catechism would be guarded, and in which the Church, once the storm abated, would find a firm base on which to rebuild.  On the other hand, the priests and faithful who from the first had mobilized to defend the true religion saw in Mgr. Lefebvre a witness and an example against the novelties of the period following the council.  It is certain that at this time no one yet fully understood the gravity of the situation.  The data for an appreciation were not lacking, but the defence of the mass absorbed all the available energy.  However, they already understood that Vatican II had to be totally rejected and they were asking questions about the responsibility of John XXIII and above all of Paul VI.  Thus they expected much of Mgr. Lefebvre, more than he declared himself willing to do.

     In a situation like this, difficulties soon arise.  The associations which were working for the defence of the Mass were worried at the lack of vigour shown by Mgr. Lefebvre.  His declarations left them unsatisfied.  Ceaselessly affirming that he wished to do only what the Church had always done, he seemed not to be interested in what was happening in Rome or in the fundamental problems posed by Vatican II.  When a number of studies made their appearance supporting the refusal of the new mass, he showed no particular interest in them.  Sometimes he even appeared hostile, though without arguing.  Those who hoped for his support for their work were surprised to discover that mutual aid was not forthcoming except on terms favourable to the Fraternity of St. Pius X.(8)  In short, as early as this, Mgr. Lefebvre did not fully respond to the hopes of faithful Catholics.  However, it was he who at first mobilized many Catholics consciences.


     During its early years, the Fraternity of St. Pius X grew steadily.  The seminary at Ecône attracted people of all kinds, though the principal source continued to be the circle of "traditionalists."  From 1973, new houses were founded in ltaly, France and the United States.

     All thus seemed to be going well.  Satisfied with his work, Mgr. Lefebvre was optimistic.  He was persuaded that the conciliar hierarchy supported him, the moreso as the success of his seminary did not cease, according to him, to arouse almost everywhere if not admiration, at least a very lively interest.  In October 1973 he declared triumphantly: "Undoubtedly our firm foundation on the Tradition of the Church provokes a certain reserve on the part of some bishops, since we appear to be resistant to the conciliar aggiornamento.  However, the singular success of the Fraternity of St. Pius X poses problems.  Why do young men with a serious vocation present themselves to this seminary in such numbers, when most other seminaries are falling empty?  From one year to the next we feel that the initial proposition is being transformed into curiosity and surprise.  Already many bishops have come or have written to ask for priests.  Five requests have come in recent months asking for professors to be sent for major seminaries and to offer parishes.

     "We have received from Rome indults which allow us to conclude that in fact our Fraternity has the right to incardinate, although such Fraternity comes under diocesan law only.  Furthermore, we have received through a well-placed intermediary the assurance that the Holy Father blesses our apostolate."(9)

     With hindsight, this declaration appears ridiculous and likely to foster foolish illusions.  However, there is no doubt that, at the time, Mgr. Lefebvre believed that his Fraternity, spreading like an oil stain, might be recognized by Paul VI.  It was to mistake his wishes for reality.

     Already in 1972, after the plenary assembly of the French bishops, the term "the wild seminary" had been applied to Ecône.  However, the harassment really began in November 1974 in the form of a canonical visit recommended by a commission which Paul VI had nominated consisting of Cardinals Garrone, Wright and Tabera.  The scandalous remarks of the visitors and the fact of being treated in this manner provoked Mgr. Lefebvre into surprise and anger.  He reacted strongly and attacked in an outspoken fashion the "conciliar Rome" on which his hopes had previously been placed.  In a declaration made in Rome on 21st November 1974 he proclaimed his refusal to "follow the Rome of neo-modernist and neo-protestant tendencies which is clearly manifested in the second Vatican Council, and after the council in the reforms which issued from it."  For the first time Mgr. Lefebvre had been drawn into really proclaiming the radical incompatibility between the Church of Jesus Christ and that of Vatican II.  Rome responded harshly.  In May 1975 Mgr. Lefebvre was informed by Cardinals Garrone, Wright and Tabera that his utterances were unacceptable on all points.  In the face of his refusal to withdraw, the commission of cardinals put an end to the "legal" existence of the seminary.

     From that time, the Fraternity of St. Pius X found itself in a condition of "illegality."  Its head remained no less determined to continue.  However, apart from certain considerations regarding the illegal nature of the sanctions applied to him, Mgr. Lefebvre did not take the opportunity given to him by Providence to answer the questions so clearly put to him, especially that of the jurisdiction of those who were persecuting him.  For him the difficulties seemed to come down to the following dilemma: "Am I to obey at the risk of losing the faith or disobey and work for the preservation and the continuation of the Church."(10)  From that moment he never ceased from dodging the question which every faithful Catholic was asking: Is Paul VI the pope?  He avoided it by putting forward a solution which opposed Tradition to the living Magisterium: "We applaud the Pope, echo of Tradition and faithful to the transmission of the deposit of Faith.  We accept those novelties which are in close conformity with Tradition and the Faith.  We do not consider ourselves bound by obedience to those novelties which go against Tradition and threaten our Faith."(11)  Though he did not make it an absolute rule, this theory, Protestant in inspiration, became the foundation of Mgr. Lefebvre's line of conduct.  In practice, he continued to say that he was in communion with the conciliar hierarchy and to dialogue with it, but he daily disregarded its authority.  This showed itself particularly in a number of canonical irregularities.  The Fraternity of St. Pius X set up its priories practically everywhere without the slightest regard to the jurisdiction of the local bishop.  This kind of attitude augured ill for the future, but the more reasonable still hoped that events would lead Mgr. Lefebvre to see things more realistically.  In 1976 they thought that this moment had arrived.


     In spite of the altercation in May 1975, Mgr. Lefebvre ordained three priests on 29th June of that year.  During the following months, he tried to negotiate with the conciliar church and sought an audience of Paul VI, convinced as he was that he could demonstrate the justice of his position and his good intentions.  He asked in vain; Rome had not the least wish for a dialogue.  She sought to make "the rebellious bishop" yield and threatened him with sanctions.  Paul VI formally forbade him to proceed with new ordinations.  The trial of strength of the summer 1976 was building up.  Once again Mgr. Lefebvre was driven by Providence into a corner.

     On 29th June, in spite of all the objurgations, he proceeded with the ordinations.  Paul VI replied on 1st July by striking the priests ordained with a suspensus a divinis.  On 29th July the same sanction struck the prelate of Ecône who replied the same day with an unequivocal declaration: "This conciliar church is a schismatic church because it breaks with the Catholic Church of the centuries."  August was the month of shattering declarations.  Mgr. Lefebvre continually insisted upon the heresy and schism of Vatican II and its church.  However, at the same time he was talking of "interpreting the council in the sense of Tradition" and was already demanding "that they allow us to experiment with Tradition."  The Mass at Lille, which has now become famous, was virtually imposed upon Mgr. Lefebvre.  Originally he did not wish to make a public demonstration of it, but from all quarters people wrote to say that they were coming.  So he turned the operation to his own advantage, circularized all the associations, and the Mass at Lille became a symbol.  In spite of all the wavering, the atmosphere was one of firmness.  Many wished to believe that the decisive confrontation had arrived and that the new Athanasius had at last arisen to cast his anathema on Paul VI and his church; but the Mass at Lille was no more than a damp squib.  Mgr. Lefebvre ended his homily thus: "It would be so simple if each bishop, in his own diocese, placed at our disposal, at the disposal of faithful Catholics, one church and said: 'There, that church is yours'.  When I think that the bishop of Lille has given a church to the Moslems, I do not see why there should not be one for the Catholics faithful to Tradition.  The problem would thus be solved.  And that is what I shall ask of the Holy Father if he is prepared to receive me: 'Most Holy Father, allow us to make the experiment of Tradition.  Among all the experiments which are now being made, let us at least have the experiment of what has been done during twenty centuries!'."

     Instead of an anathema, Mgr. Lefebvre laid claim, in the name of ecumenism and religious liberty, to equal treatment for the "traditionalists" in the heart of the conciliar church.  Unwilling to believe it, faithful Catholics preferred to see it as a tactical move and busied themselves with pious interpretations.  In fact, by refusing in this way to bear witness when called upon by Providence to do so, the bishop entered into a phase of compromise and contradiction which would lead him far.  The consequences of it were much more extensive as the events of 1976 were widely reported in the press and had the effect of leading the world to believe that Mgr. Lefebvre was alone in his opposition to Vatican II.(12)


     The day after the mass of Lille saw a speeding up of the process of degradation.  On 5th September, at the end of the first mass celebrated by a young priest of the Fraternity, an Italian priest met Mgr. Lefebvre, through the intervention of Michel de Saint-Pierre.  He persuaded him to write to Paul VI.  On 11th September "the rebellious bishop" knelt at Paul VI's feet and asked him for permission to make the experiment of Tradition: "You have only to say the word."  At the end of the interview he marvelled that this meeting could have been arranged in two days and declared: "Perhaps they have realised that I am not alone; they have taken account of the fact that almost 52% of French Catholics share my point of view.  Perhaps they fear the disastrous consequences of a rupture."(13)  In fact Paul VI and the hierarchs of the new church, for whom it was difficult to excommunicate a faithful bishop without giving proof of their own apostasy, neutralized him by dialogue.  And Mgr. Lefebvre entered all the more easily into their game since his refusal to go to the root of the problem predisposed him to do so.  Each found in it what he wanted.  For conciliar Rome the matter of Ecône was in reality at an end.  As for Mgr. Lefebvre, the dialogue allowed him to safeguard his work to which he is attached above all else.

     The time for opposition was at an end and the time for negotiation began.  However, on the part of the new church, not one inch of ground had been yielded.  Mgr. Lefebvre freely admitted it: "In fact, we see no sign of a return to tradition but on the contrary an installation of ecumenism and communism.  The most extraordinary innovations are never publicly reprimanded by authority.  Only those who maintain the Catholic faith are pursued and condemned."(14)  But this truism did not cause him to weaken in his determination.  Furthermore, at the same time as he was claiming to negotiate, he multiplied his priories and confirmed in every diocese.  This development is deceptive, and Mgr. Lefebvre, who liked to think that good is diffusive of itself, continued to ask to be officially recognized, convinced that Tradition would necessarily impose itself on the church born of the council: "For the Universal Church, I hope like you for the peaceful coexistence of the pre- and post-conciliar rites.  Let them permit priests and faithful to choose to which "family of rite" they prefer to adhere.  Let them expect thereafter that the elapse of time will make God's judgement known regarding their respective value in truth and efficacy for salvation for the Catholic Church and for all Christendom."(15)  The tone of demobilization in this speech by the bishop of the traditionalists - for this is how they had come to consider him - gave the traditionalists to understand that the test was coming to an end.

     There then followed the death of Paul VI, followed by that of John Paul I and the accession of John Paul II.  Even though everything indicated that John Paul II intended to complete the construction of the new church, particularly his encyclical programme Redemptor Hominis, the simple fact of the disappearance of Paul VI, hardly popular among traditionalists, strengthened the temptation to reconciliation.


     Mgr. Lefebvre met John Paul II on 16th December 1978.  After the interview, he gave voice to considerable reservations.  With extraordinary freedom of language he spoke of the man he recognized as the legitimate successor of Peter: "I think I am able to say that he appears to be fundamentally in agreement with the council and its reforms; I do not think that he questions it.  This is clearly very serious because he is in favour of ecumenism, in favour of collegiality and in favour of religious liberty."(16)  However, he still wrote to John Paul II on 24th December asking to be recognized and reintegrated with the conciliar church: "Most Holy Father, we beg you to say one single word ...  'Leave them alone': 'we authorize the free use of what Tradition through the centuries has used for the sanctification of souls'.  What difficulty does this attitude present?  None."

     This step caused profound uneasiness among faithful Catholics, aggravated still more by Mgr. Lefebvre's replies to the Roman Curia who interrogated him.  These replies showed that the prelate entertained a particularly confused set of justifications, a disproportionate attachment to the survival of his work and that he refused to face up to the real problem in doctrinal terms.(17)  The uneasiness increased further when, within the Fraternity, the fact of not recognizing John Paul II as pope became the motive for sanctions: reprimands for several priests, refusal to ordain, etc.

     During the summer of 1979 there were further developments.  Fr. du Chalard, a priest of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, obtained an audience of John Paul II for a number of French young people on holiday in Italy.  John Paul II was warmly acclaimed; everyone sang the praises of the pontiff.(18)  Some people were disturbed by this sudden access of folly, but Mgr. Lefebvre stepped in to reinforce it by giving it his approval on 8th November 1979.  He made his position known concerning the new mass and John Paul II, and caused it to be published in a number of pamphlets and reviews.  A sophism of a few lines allowed him to brush aside at one stroke all the studies in depth on the invalidity of the new mass.  As to the question of the pope, the essence of his solution lay in this phrase: "The question of the visibility of the Church is too necessary to the existence of the latter for God to omit it during a period of decades."(19) 

     Not content with that, Mgr. Lefebvre accused all those who thought otherwise of having a schismatic mentality.  In his internal bulletin, he added to his position the threat of sanctions: "The Fraternity of St. Pius X cannot tolerate in its midst members who refuse to pray for the pope and who affirm that all masses in the novus ordo missæ are invalid."(20)  There clearly followed a purge within the Fraternity.  All those who did not recognize John Paul II were required to submit.  Some stifled their consciences and remained; the others were sent away without further ado, with a fine disregard for Canon Law.  The "traditionalist leaders" fell into step with Mgr. Lefebvre.  Frs. Coache and Ducaud-Bourget, Dom Gerard, Benedictine prior of Bedoin, freely insulted the faithful Catholics.  In 198O, the era of "traditionalism sectarianism" began.


     Negotiation with the conciliar church has, in theory, three possible outcomes: obtaining a right to a tendency to "traditionalism", joining the new church or taking the way to schism.  However, the new church has no interest in recognizing any rights whatever to the "traditionalists"(21), it has no need of them.  Numerically they are nothing(22) and that is all that matters in the eyes of the conciliar heads.  In refusing to anathematize them, Mgr. Lefebvre cast aside the only weapon which could assure him the victory.  By limiting himself to the simple claim to a right to a tendency, supported by numbers insignificant in comparison with the mass of the followers of Vatican II, he embarked on naturalism without credible means and dug his own grave.  As for simply rallying to the new church, the interests involved were too important for anyone to envisage that without utopian bargaining.(23)  Furthermore and above all, the years had fostered a psychological rupture between "traditionalists" and innovators which was practically impossible to resolve.  The one way open remained that of schism.

     Since his announcement of 8th November 1979, Mgr. Lefebvre has thus held himself to a precise line: to proclaim loud and clear his filial attachment to the authorities and most particularly to John Paul II, recognizing their full legitimacy; and obstinately to refuse them obedience in everything in the name of "the right to make the experiment of tradition."

     That Mgr. Lefebvre is disobedient on all points is a question of fact which it is not difficult to prove.  Moreover he continues his work just as he began.  In contempt of a suspension which has never been lifted, in contempt of the jurisdiction of the conciliar bishops whose legitimacy he recognizes, he ordains, confirms and opens his priories.  In contempt of the law still in force in the Church he bestows the power to confirm on his priests.  In short, he is disobedient.

     Unhindered by the contradiction, Mgr. Lefebvre and all those who travel in his wake cover John Paul II with praise.  They observe nothing of him save those rare little words savouring still of Tradition.  Sometimes these things have a comic aspect.  In February 1980, they sang a Te Deum at Ecône: John Paul II was going to authorize the traditional mass and would thank Mgr. Lefebvre for his action.  Next day, reading the letter Dominicae Cenae left them flabbergasted: John Paul II solemnly approved the new Ordo and the theology which inspired it.  On 15th June 1980 Mgr. Lefebvre went to Paris to confirm.  He altered the date of these confirmations in order not to hinder the journey of John Paul II in France.  Of this sad masquerade he said: "The pope in France, it is a breath of oxygen coming from Rome.  For the pope, whatever they may say, is the pope.  This journey was thus a joy for Catholics, but there was a shadow on the picture: the situation of the Church is disastrous, tragic and distressing."  To absolve his pope from all suspicion he added: "The liturgy was imposed on him.  He could have refused to assist at what happened at St. Denis which was a scandalous thing.  One day the pope will thank us for having maintained Tradition."  After the attempt on John Paul II's life, Mgr. Lefebvre said in a homily on 29th June 1981: "We are obliged to state that the Passion of the Church continues; a Passion which manifests itself even, I would say, in the health of the Head of the Church.  The Pope suffers in some way in his own body the Passion of the Church ..."

     While Mgr. Lefebvre was entering into this absurd way, the Union pour la Fidélité was constituted in order not to have any part in the blinding of the prelate.  It sought by different means to enlighten him, but every attempt was met by a refusal full of loathing.  Once only Mgr. Lefebvre received two envoys from the Union pour la Fidélité but to their arguments he answered nothing more than that they should "shut up" qu'on lui "fiche la paix."(24)

     More serious, when the Catholic doctrine which was opposed to him showed that his conduct was aberrant, Mgr. Lefebvre engaged in doctrinal manipulations which smacked of heresy.  He did not compromise himself personally since the work was done by others, but he explicitly subscribed to it.  His efforts bore on two points.  He needed to legitimize his disobedience as much on the canonical plane as the theological.  He therefore caused to be put forward on the one hand "a doctrine of the Magisterium restricting the infallibility" of the Church and of the Roman pontiff to new dogmatic definitions alone and separating teaching from the transmission of the Deposit of Faith(25), and on the other hand "a theory of conditional obedience and of authority by consent", heavily cloaked under expressions with a canonical appearance.(26)

o O o

     Since his "theologians" and his "canonists's spoke, Mgr. Lefebvre has proved a little more each day that he has opted for a solution, even though it be at the price of schism.  The conciliar church which he recognizes as the Catholic Church yields not one inch of ground and leaves the situation to rot.  As for the Fraternity of St. Pius X, it continues to develop.  Mgr. Lefebvre ordains, his priories multiply, seminaries, schools and "universities" are founded.  Law and theology have been rediscovered to accord with the needs of the cause.

     The "little Lefebvrist church" is born.


(1)  Allocution given on the occasion of the rally of international Catholic associations, 20 April 1976.
(2)  Cf. on this subject, le devoir des catholiques, Forts dans la Foi 1981.
(3)  After the second session of the council, we make the point under the conduct of the successor of Peter, 21 January 1964, supplement to the review Itineraires No. 81.  It is astonishing to find in the positive balance freedom of expression in debate and everything which was done during the first two sessions: constitution on the liturgy, decree on the means of social communication, Revelation, the episcopate, etc.
(4)  Op. cit. p. 16.
(5)  Mgr. Lefebvre, J'accuse le Concile, Saint Gabriel 1976, p. 109.
(6)  Conference at Vienne, 9 September 1975.
(7)  Not knowing at the outset whether he should found an independent seminary or send his seminarians to the university, Mgr. Lefebvre had consulted Cardinal Journet.  The Cardinal had replied: "Do not send all your seminarians to university.  Start a house of formation.  80% of your seminarians are not cut out for university studies."  (reported by Mgr. Lefebvre, "Des pretres pour demain", St. Gabriel 1973, pp. 10-11.)  The Cardinal's pessimism regarding Mgr. Lefebvre's troops turned out to be well founded.
(8)  This letter from Fr. Coache to Fr. Barbara, dated 21 Feb.  1974, is an illustration: "Saw Mgr. Lefebvre at Albano.  Very well received; dined and given a bed.  However, I return very disappointed (for the Cause).  In spite of his good and kind words, it is clear that Mgr. Lefebvre refuses to collaborate in the matter of the seminary; his benevolence is that of sympathetic 'neutrality' (what he said at Lille at his conference regarding the Seminary - according to what he told me himself - shows clearly that he wants nothing to do with our work, except that he warmly approves of it as he would the initiative of any other traditionalist which seemed to him to be opportune).  When I asked him to mention in his bulletin our foundation and the collaboration which he had said he owed to it, he refused.  I said to him that people would not understand his silence, concerning seminary work.  (Perhaps in the end he may put in a couple of lines, but in such a way as to show that it is nothing to do with his work).  He is very windy of the reaction of the Bishops on one side, and on the other that the other traditionalists may accuse him of identifying himself with Combat de la Foi.  I said to him that it could not be a question of identification but that truth must be the basis of everything, and that on that basis he ought to show us particular sympathy and collaboration, and compromise himself if necessary."      In a letter dated 21 May 1974, Fr. Coache added: "Reverting to the Seminary that is where Mgr. Lefebvre appears blameworthy.  He can get priests and will not compromise himself by helping us.  I am going to let the subscribers know that we are getting no help."
(9)  Lettre aux amis et bienfaiteurs No. 5, 3 Oct 73.
(10)  Lettre aux amis et bienfaiteurs, No. 9, 3 Sep 75.
(11)  Ibid.
(12)  Journalists understood eventually the service they were rendering Mgr. Lefebvre.  The very progressive Henri Fesquet wrote in Le Monde on 17 Sep 76: "Is it not time for Catholics on the one hand to change the subject of conversation and preoccupation, and on the other, for some among them, not to make Mgr. Lefebvre a victim, even a martyr.  Ecône is more a false move than a drama."  Since then, journalists seem to have seen the point and leave Mgr. Lefebvre in a contemptuous silence, in accordance with the wishes of the conciliar church.  "As far as I know, if the Vatican has made no declaration this year on the occasion of the ordinations celebrated by Mgr. Lefebvre, that by no means indicates that it has changed its attitude to this bishop who remains suspended and who knows full well that he has no right to ordain.  "The Vatican well knows that every new declaration on this subject causes more talk of Mgr. Lefebvre in the mass media, which leads to his being given more importance.  It is enough to consider what happened during the summer of 1976 when it was impossible to open a newspaper or switch on a radio without finding an article or a transmission on Mgr. Lefebvre" (letter from the Archbishop of Marseille, Roger Etchegaray, to G.H. on 1 July 1981).
(13)  Le Monde 14 Nov 1976.  Mgr. Lefebvre's opinion that the majority of French Catholics support him is over-optimistic, we think.
(14)  Lettre aux amis et bienfaiteurs No. 13, 17 Oct 1977.
(15)  Letter to the president of Una Voce, 17 Sept 1976.
(16)  Cor Unum, October 1979.
(17)  We return to these replies in a later section.
(18)  For example, the remarks of Mgr. Ducaud-Bourget at the microphone of Europe No. 1 and reported by "Republicain Lorrain" on 20 March 1980: "Since the beginning of his pontificate, everything that John Paul II has said officially as teaching is perfectly aligned with Tradition.  The teaching of the pope agrees with what I have been taught during 80 years."  It so happens that these memories of 80 years are not very accurate.
(19)  "Lord, be it far from thee, this shall not be unto thee, Who turning, said to Peter: Get behind me, Satan: thou art a scandal unto me, because thou savourest not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men." (Matt XVI: 22, 23).  The wavering faith of Mgr. Lefebvre is a little short to deny the facts.
(20)  Cor Unum, November 1979.
(21)  Witness this confidence from Paul VI to Jean Guitton; "This mass of St. Pius V, as we see at Ecône, is becoming the symbol of the condemnation of the Council.  Now I will not accept in any circumstances that they condemn the Council by a symbol.  If this exception were made, the whole Council would be shaken, and in consequence the apostolic authority of the Council."  (Jean Guitton, Paul VI secret, DDB 1979, p.132).
  (22)  The inquiry led by Cardinal Knox into the use of Latin and the mass of St. Pius V revealed that 0.22% of the bishops who replied favoured a concession on the true mass, and that as a lesser evil and to avoid trouble.  This percentage represents the objective weight of the "traditionalists" in the world.  In view of this, Mgr. Lefebvre's assertion that 52% of French Catholics share his views is a ridiculous exaggeration.
(23)  Can we imagine Frs. Aulagnier, Bolduc, Lorans and others leaving their advantageous positions and becoming simple curates in the "red suburbs"?
(24)  Cf. Forts dans la Foi No. 3 NS, p. 214.
(25)  Cf. among other things, the theses already mentioned of Fr. Williamson, reproduced and refuted in Forts dans la Foi No. 2 NS.
(26)  Cf. among other things, the theses of Maitre Roger Lefebvre, published by the review Fideliter (No. 20, March-April 1981) and refuted in Forts dans la Foi No. 7 NS.


     The history of Mgr. Lefebvre and his work since Vatican II is already rich in teaching concerning the doctrine of a man who, for the most part is unknown except through the deforming prisms of adulation, contempt or simply false information.  Bishop of the "traditionalists", iron bishop, rebellious bishop, new Athanasius: so many labels which, they say, Mgr. Lefebvre himself does not like much and which have little bearing on reality.

     For all that, what is commonly called "the matter of Ecône" has made Mgr. Lefebvre a public figure.  All his speeches have been reported by the press or disseminated in numerous books.  As for his acts and gestures, for anyone who has lived in recent years among "traditionalists" without losing interest in Church affairs, the essential part is known.  All that constitutes an abundance of material from which to extract Mgr. Lefebvre's doctrine.

     The crisis which envelops the Church today has obliged Catholics to ask themselves a good number of questions which can be condensed into a trilogy: the council, the mass and the pope.  It was right to expect of Mgr. Lefebvre, bishop, successor of the Apostles, member of the teaching Church, that he should shed some light on these subjects.  His action made this duty more necessary still for him.  However, paradoxically, the argument which he has developed in recent years is often marked by its scattered and sometimes even confused character.  Where the council and the pope are chiefly concerned, Mgr. Lefebvre has said almost everything, everything and the contrary of everything, from the most complacent arguments regarding the conciliar apostasy to the most severe.

     Like practically all those who opposed Vatican II from the first, Mgr. Lefebvre began by acting from no other motive than that of the instinct of the faith.(1)  This was normal.  But he did not follow up this first sound reaction with an attempt at doctrinal clarification.  He loves to repeat to his objectors that he has not changed, and on this particular point it is true.  He has no other justification today than he had yesterday.  But however legitimate it was at the time, this justification has become the immutable pretext for an aberrant praxis.  Even the most demanding circumstances - one thinks particularly of the events of 1976 - have not caused Mgr. Lefebvre to take matters seriously.  He has sometimes held startling opinions but in the end he has always refused to bear witness to the faith when the circumstances demanded it of him.


     Since creating his seminary Mgr. Lefebvre has given to this step a justification which has since become a leitmotiv: Vatican II plunged the Church into an unprecedented crisis; it matters more than anything else to keep the faith and to maintain it by the mass, the sacraments and the catechism; for that it is necessary to form priests by keeping to what the Church has always done; if we remain faithful to Tradition, we do not risk being wrong.  "We hold ourselves firmly to everything which has been believed and practised in the faith, the morals, the worship, the teaching of the catechism, the formation of priests, the institution of the Church, by the Church of all time and codified in the books which appeared before the modernist influence of the council, while waiting for the true light of Tradition to dissipate the darkness which obscures the sky of eternal Rome.  By doing this ... we are certain of remaining faithful to the Church."(2)  "It is for that I made a seminary: that there should be good priests and holy priests and that the Church may continue.  It is for that that the good God set me on this road."(3)  As we can see, Mgr. Lefebvre leaves to others the task of dissipating the darkness and adopts straight away a purely defensive attitude: "My collaborators and I are not working against anyone, against persons or institutions.  We are working to build, to continue what the Church has always done, and nothing else.  We are not bound to any movement, or any party, or any particular Organisation.  We are bound to the Roman Catholic Church and we wish to continue the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church.  Nothing else.  We want to do the Church's work."(4)

     It must be admitted that Mgr. Lefebvre's argument is seductive.  In times of trouble indeed, to hold firmly to what the Church has always taught and done is more than ever necessary and is a guarantee against going astray.  But however seductive it may be, the argument is insufficient of itself.  In particular it has as its immediate consequence the introduction of a serious question.  A Catholic cannot conceive of Tradition separated from the living Magisterium, exercised by the college of Bishops and exercised in primacy by the Pope.  Mgr. Lefebvre appeals to Tradition against Vatican II, against virtually all the bishops and against the "pope."  This attitude has all the appearance of a revolt.  If it is a right, it is still absolutely necessary to be quite certain of the theoretical foundation of it.

     On the other hand, to appeal to Tradition against the innovators entails the duty of combating them, a duty even more pressing for a bishop whose particular function is to defend the faith.  That other bishops have not yet done what is required of them is no excuse for the apathy of Mgr. Lefebvre.  To be content with doing what was always done in the past, to be content to form priests as they have been formed in the 20th century, with the brilliant results we all know, is quite out of proportion to the gravity of the situation.  One trembles to think that the men of the Council of Trent might have made use of the language of Mgr. Lefebvre.

     Finally, if it is true that the formation of priests is an indispensable work, it is nevertheless necessary to ensure in advance that they will have the right and the possibility of exercising their ministry.  To assume that they will be able to exercise it on a lasting basis in opposition to the official hierarchy is to choose the way of schism, unless such hierarchy has been shown to be illegitimate and work is in progress to restore the true Catholic hierarchy.  To assume that they will do it within the framework of conciliar pluralism is to cherish an illusion.  An illusion, because the conciliar church will never accord to Mgr. Lefebvre a de jure recognition, except at the price of exorbitant concessions.  It is an illusion also to think that order can be restored in the Church by the faithful and a few priests - even priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X - on the fringe of the hierarchy and in opposition to solidly established impostors whose imposture they refrain from denouncing.  Mgr. Lefebvre cherishes each of these illusions in turn.  The second especially recurs endlessly in his speeches: "It is comforting to record that in the Catholic world, the sense of the faith of the faithful rejects these novelties and attaches itself to Tradition.  That is where the true renewal of the Church will come from.  And it is because these novelties were introduced by clergy infested with modernism that the most urgent and necessary task in the Church is the formation of a profoundly Catholic clergy.  We are devoting ourselves to this work."(5)  "The bishops would decide the places and the times reserved for this Tradition.  Unity would be found again at once at the level of the bishop of the diocese.  On the other hand, what advantages for the Church: the renewal of seminaries and monasteries; great fervour in the parishes.  The bishops would be astonished in a few years to find again a spirit of devotion and sanctification which they thought had disappeared forever."(6)  How can Mgr. Lefebvre really believe that the mass of St. Pius V said in conciliar churches would win the assent of the faithful?  How can he really believe that the faithful would spontaneously abandon a lax morality for a demanding one?  How can he really believe that the truth, put on the same footing as error, would finally triumph?  Does he truly believe it?

     Mgr. Lefebvre, who professes to be a Catholic and is a bishop to boot, knows that the Church is apostolic and that it is inconceivable that the renewal of the Church could be effected without the bishops, and even more so against them.  However, in spite of all that has been said to him, he does not cease from digging in behind his resolution "to form priests as the Church has always done."  He often says, in defence of his work, that the saints did not act differently.(7)  Apart from the manifestly false character of the argument, as we should know, the imitation of the saints does not consist in reproducing deed for deed their acts and gestures, but in imitating their virtues, in the circumstances chosen for us by Providence.  Everyone knows that Mgr. Lefebvre has been compared to St. Athanasius.  He has himself quoted the saint to justify his own behaviour.(8)  But if St. Athanasius had contented himself with the formation of priests, leaving aside the promises made to the Church by Our Lord, the world would now be Arian.

     Mgr. Lefebvre's unvarying justification is thus derisory in view of the action that he takes and the gravity of the situation.  It is derisory but convenient as a means of shedding an urgent duty.  It is also seductive.  Many people have let themselves be misled by it, as they have been misled by the various and contradictory statements of Mgr. Lefebvre, so various indeed that everyone has been able to find something in it to his liking.


     Mgr. Lefebvre has thus chosen, once and for all, a line of conduct, however excessive and aberrant it may be.  However, a rapid examination of his speeches since Vatican II could lead to the impression that on the contrary Mgr. Lefebvre has changed, and that on many occasions.  There are some very contradictory elements to be found in them.

     One day Mgr. Lefebvre castigates Vatican II: "On the contrary, we refuse and always have refused to follow the Rome of neo-modernist and neo-protestant tendency which was clearly manifested in the 2nd Vatican Council and after the Council in every reform issuing from it."(9)  He added that: "It is an error to say that the reforms did not have their principle in the Council"(10), that "the official post-conciliar reforms and orientations show with more evidence than any writing the official and intended interpretation of the Council(11), and that "it is therefore impossible for any alert and faithful Catholic to adopt this Reform and to submit to it in any manner whatever."(12)  On another day Mgr. Lefebvre declares himself ready "to sign a declaration accepting the 2nd Vatican Council interpreted according to Tradition."(13)  One day he fulminates against "the mass of Luther" which "presupposes a different conception of the Catholic religion, a different religion."(14)  He even specifies the reasons for his opposition in a categorical manner: "Let there be no mistake, it is not a matter of a difference between Mgr. Lefebvre and Pope Paul VI.  It is a matter of the radical incompatibility between the Catholic Church and the conciliar church, the mass of Paul VI representing the symbol and the programme of the conciliar church."(15)  He underlines the grave dangers which the new mass courts: "The Catholico-protestant mass, a spring henceforth poisoned which produces incalculable ravages.  The ecumenical mass leads logically to apostasy."(16)  But on another day Mgr. Lefebvre does not blush to consider the cohabitation of the two rites.  He distinguishes between "good" new masses and bad ones.  Nor does he rule out assistance at the new mass to satisfy the Sunday obligation: "I think they should not abandon every public religious act and in consequence if the mass is celebrated in a respectful manner and not sacrilegious, I think that it is right to assist at this Sunday mass in order to fulfil the obligation."(17).  On one day Mgr. Lefebvre treats the conciliar church, its hierarchy and particularly its "pope" as schismatic: "All those who cooperate in the application of this upheaval, accept and adhere to this new conciliar church ... enter into schism."(18)  On another day, he lowers himself to beg from these "schismatics" a recognition for which he is still waiting: "Most Holy Father, for the honour of Jesus Christ, for the good of the Church, for the salvation of souls, we beseech you to say a single word, a single word: 'Let them continue'."(19)  We must there end the recording of all Mgr. Lefebvre's contradictions in order to try to explain them.

     A first thought comes to mind.  Events should have condemned Mgr. Lefebvre to clarify his position.  What more natural then that his utterances should change; it would be disquieting if they did not.  But this explanation will not do.  We have shown that Mgr. Lefebvre's work rests on a justification which has not changed.  He says so himself: "I think I can say that I have not changed my opinion on these matters."(20)  On the other hand, the briefest analysis of his words show that in the same circumstances he is capable of saying a particular thing and also the contrary of it.  Thus for example there has been much talk of the "hot summer" of 1976, and it is a fact that, under the pressure of events, the pitch rose.  On 29th July, under the shock of the suspension a divinis, Mgr. Lefebvre declared: "This conciliar church is a schismatic church because it breaks with the Catholic Church of the centuries ..."  "This conciliar church is schismatic because it has taken as the basis for its updating principles opposed to those of the Catholic Church."  "The church which affirms errors like these is both schismatic and heretical.  This conciliar church is thus not Catholic."  Then, less than a week later, speaking of the council, he said: "I do not reject it altogether.  I accept the council in so far as it conforms to Tradition."(21)  What is more, in a statement to the newspaper "Le Figaro", he excelled himself.  After repeating his harsh words of 29th July and questioning the legitimacy of Paul VI, he concluded: "We are thus quite decided to continue our work of the restoration of the Catholic priesthood whatever happens, convinced that we can render no better service to the Church, to the pope, to the bishops and to the faithful.  Let them allow us to experiment with tradition."(22)

     Some people have wished to see a tactical move in these contradictions.  If this were truly the case, it would be scandalous enough, but in reality all this proves that Mgr. Lefebvre has no doctrine.  Faithful to the course of action which he has chosen, that is to say to pursue his work with impunity, he reacts to events likely to threaten this work in such a way as to protect it and justify himself.  Is that too hasty a judgement?  Unfortunately not; it is necessary only to recall the history of the Fraternity of St. Pius X very briefly in order to be convinced.

     Originally, Mgr. Lefebvre said that he wished to do what the Church had always done.  However, since it is not truly traditional in the Church to act against an ecumenical council, he had recourse to the idea of a "pastoral" council, expecting in this way to save the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff and of the Church: "We can change nothing in the Council of Trent, whereas the 2nd Vatican Council was a pastoral council which rightly avoided engaging in dogmatic definitions and that is why it was able to be what it was."(23)  Then came the events of the years 1975 and 1976.  The interferences from Rome provoked Mgr. Lefebvre and threatened his work.  It was then that he voiced the very harsh opinions that we have heard.  Did Mgr. Lefebvre study carefully the grave doctrinal questions which he must have put to himself?  Did he then understand that he must break with the conciliar sect?  Did he then set about doing his duty as a bishop?  In fact, he did none of these things.  Mgr. Lefebvre has not changed; his words are improvised for the occasion.(24)  The proof of that is that once negotiations with Paul VI had begun, he returned to more soothing speeches.  His work was able to continue in a calm atmosphere.  Later a number of priests and seminarians, no more taken in by John Paul II than by Paul VI, were disquieted by the question of the pope and by Mgr. Lefebvre's justification of his actions.  Once again his work was in danger.  He then had his "definitive" thinking on these burning topics published, and dismissed the sources of embarrassment.  And when the Union pour la Fidélité applied itself to showing the illogicality of recognizing John Paul II as Pope and at the same time disobeying him in everything(25), he launched "theologians" into the arena who hastened to perfect a heresy concerning the ordinary Magisterium of the Pope and of the Church, which was in fact a restatement of old Protestant and Gallican heresies.

     Thus Mgr. Lefebvre has not welcomed events, willed or permitted by Providence since the foundation of his Fraternity, as occasions of seeking the truth, of pulling himself together and doing his duty as a bishop but solely as attacks on his work.  The diversity of these attacks explains his statements, contradictory as they are but having one point in common: they have all been made with the sole purpose of protecting the chimera which he has decided to pursue against everything.

     In so doing, Mgr. Lefebvre has wronged many people, and principally those Catholics who have needed time to understand.  Mgr. Lefebvre sought the good of his work rather than the good of the Church.  But in wronging the faithful, whom he freely made use of and without whom the Fraternity of St. Pius X would today be nothing, he wronged himself, refusing on many occasions to confess the faith.


     Mgr. Lefebvre knows, having said so himself, that the Church is at present living through an exceptional crisis, undoubtedly the gravest in her history.  He knows also that the major problem is that of the legitimacy of the heads of the conciliar church.  He had a particular responsibility to provide a solution to this problem, not only in order to decide to act in this manner or in that, and to respond to the expectations of Catholics, but also to bear witness before the world that the conciliar church is not the Church of Christ, that its heads are impostors.  It so happened that Mgr. Lefebvre understood this point.  Thus, in a letter despatched on 6th October 1978 to forty cardinals, Karol Wojtyla among them, he said: "A Pope worthy of the name and a true successor of Peter cannot say that he will give himself to the application of the Council and its reforms.  He places himself, by so doing, in rupture with all his predecessors and with the Council of Trent in particular."  It would be hard to improve upon this as a statement of the problem and the principle of its solution.  However, we are still awaiting a sequel to this, and in any case the occasion was exceptional.

A detestable habit

     Generally speaking, and before himself developing or having others develop certain erroneous but convenient theses, Mgr. Lefebvre was always careful to state these problems only to hide them again immediately, by pushing them back into the distant future for others to overcome.  Already in 1973, he said: "Ah, but what do you expect?  We must obey our bishops, we must obey the pope, we must obey Rome.  I do not know: I would say that I will not consider these things, that I wish to save my soul, that I wish to reach eternal life, and the faith procures eternal life for me.  Therefore I prefer to die rather than abandon my faith.  Anything they say to me contrary to the faith I shall categorically refuse."(26)  He escapes in the same way in 1976: "A grave problem is set before the conscience and the faith of every Catholic since the beginning of the pontificate of Paul VI.  How can a pope, true successor of Peter, assured of the assistance of the Holy Ghost, preside over the destruction of the Church, the most profound and extended in her history, in the space of so short a time, which no heresiarch has ever succeeded in doing?  To this question it will be necessary one day to reply, but leaving this problem to theologians and historians, reality forces us to reply practically according to the counsel of St. Vincent de Lerins."(27)  This refusal of the test, scandalous on the part of every Christian, more especially scandalous on the part of a bishop, shows through yet again in the declaration which Mgr. Lefebvre had widely published in November 1979: "Blessed are those who lived and died without having to ask themselves a question like this."(28)

     One other example shows clearly that Mgr. Lefebvre refuses to be a witness to the faith the better to assure the worldly success of his work.  We know that he has made a specialty of attacking - and how rightly - the conciliar declaration on religious liberty.  And yet, and yet ...  In a conference at Angers on 23rd November 1980, Mgr. Lefebvre declared: "We must hope that matters will be settled with Pope John Paul II, I have not at all given up hope that matters will be settled with him.  We simply ask, perhaps, not to discuss theoretical problems, to leave the questions which divide us, like religious liberty.  We are not obliged to resolve all these problems now, time will bring its clarity, its solution ..."  It is clearly necessary to yield to the evidence: Mgr. Lefebvre, who has so often proclaimed that to accept the religious liberty professed by Vatican II would amount to denying the rights of Christ over the world, himself proposes nothing other than putting the Royalty of Our Lord under a bushel, if that would permit him to enter into the good graces of the conciliar church.  But does he not understand that to bring his vain bargaining to a satisfactory conclusion he is thus subordinating the Catholic faith to the success of his work?

The moment of truth

     To put an end to this question, we must also give an account of the confrontation between the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Mgr. Lefebvre.  In fact, Mgr. Lefebvre wanted all the elements of this confrontation made public and consolidated in a special number of the review "Itineraires."(29)  As an introduction, Mgr. Lefebvre quoted his reply to the ex-Holy Office which accused him of dividing the Church: "When I think that we are in the buildings of the Holy Office which is the exceptional witness of Tradition and of the defence of the Catholic Faith, I cannot help thinking that I am at home and that it is I whom you call "the traditionalist" who ought to be judging you.  Tradition represents a past as unshakeable as this house, liberalism has no foundation and will pass away.  One day Truth will resume her rights."  On Mgr. Lefebvre's own admission, there was a fine occasion to judge and to condemn the conciliar church and cause Truth to triumph.

     The climax of the confrontation was the colloquy of 11th and 12th January 1979.  However, we must describe very briefly what led up to it.  The first letter from Cardinal Seper to Mgr. Lefebvre was dated 28th January 1978.  To this letter there was annexed a questionnaire to which Mgr. Lefebvre replied on 26th February.  His reply was considered to be incomplete and on 16th March he received another demand for justification which we must reproduce here almost in its entirety:

     "1.  Concerning the Ordo Missæ:      a)  A Catholic cannot cast doubt on the conformity with the doctrine of the faith of a sacramental rite promulgated by the Supreme Pastor;      b) ...      c) ...

     "2.  Your general declarations (on the authority of the 2nd Vatican Council and of Pope Paul VI) combine together into a praxis which leads to the question: are we not confronted by a schismatic movement?  In fact, you ordain priests against the formal will of the Pope and without the "litterae dimissoriae" required by Canon Law - and you have continued after your suspension a divinis - you send these priests into priories where they exercise their ministry without the authorisation of the ordinary in place; you give addresses calculated to spread your ideas in dioceses in which the bishop refuses you his consent; with priests whom you have ordained, you are beginning, whether you wish to or not, to form a group calculated to become a dissident ecclesial community.

     "3.  You consider that the priests ordained by you have the jurisdiction provided for by Canon Law in cases of necessity.  Is this not to argue as though the legitimate Hierarchy had ceased to exist?

     "4.  The Pope has the "potestas suprema iurisdictionis" "non solum in rebus quae ad fidem et mores sed etiam in iis quae ad disciplinam et regimen Ecclesiae per totum orbem diffusae pertinent" (Conc. Vat. I, Const. Pastor Aeternus, DS 3064)(30), thus the obedience which is due to him is not limited to doctrinal matters.

     "5.  By your statements on submission to the Council and to the post-conciliar reforms of Paul VI - statements in conformity with a whole pattern of behaviour and particularly illicit ordinations to the priesthood - you have fallen into grave disobedience which in strict logic leads to schism."

     Whatever we may think of the quality and intentions of the hirelings of the new church, we must at least admit that they ask the essential questions.  Can we cast doubt on a sacramental rite promugated by the Pope?  If this rite is objectively doubtful, can the man who promulgated it be the Pope?  To act as Mgr. Lefebvre is acting while still recognizing the conciliar heads as legitimate heads: is this not to take the road to schism?  Or does this action not assume that the legitimate authority has ceased to exist?  Can a Catholic limit his obedience to the Pope to doctrinal matters alone?  One could truly say that Mgr. Lefebvre's task is made much easier by the above.

     However confusing all this might appear, Mgr. Lefebvre failed to answer.  Far from taking the questionnaire point by point, he contented himself with sending some "general reflections on the situation of the Church since the 2nd Vatican Council ..." and some "particular thoughts."  The "general reflections" did not correspond with the questions but were only a repetition of his immutable speeches.  As for the "particular thoughts", they corresponded no better and justified disobedience to the pope by means of the encyclical of Leo XIII Libertas praestantissimum at the cost of confusing the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church with any natural society and of an important omission, namely that of infallibility.

     Thus it was on this foundation that the colloquy of 11th and 12th January 1979 opened.  Being unable to reproduce the whole debate here, we shall content ourselves with the modernists first two questions and the answers Mgr. Lefebvre gave to them.  These are the most revealing.


     "Must we conclude from these statements(31) that, according to you, the Pope, by promulgating and imposing the new Ordo Missæ, and the totality of the bishops who accepted it, founded and gathered round them visibly a new "conciliar" Church radically incompatible with the Catholic Church?"


     "I observe first of all that the expression "conciliar Church" is not mine but Mgr. Benelli's, who, in an official letter, demanded that our priests and seminarians submit to "the conciliar Church."

     "I consider that a spirit of modernist and Protestant tendency manifests itself in the conception of the new Mass and furthermore in the whole Liturgical Reform.  The protestants themselves say so and Mgr. Bugnini himself recognized it implicitly when he said that this Liturgical Reform was conceived in an ecumenical spirit.  (I can prepare a study to show how this Protestant mentality is to be found in the Ordo Missæ)."


     "Do you contend that a faithful Catholic could think and affirm that a sacramental rite, in particular that of the Mass, approved and promulgated by the Sovereign Pontiff, could be not conformable with the Catholic Faith or "favens hearesim"?"


     "This rite in itself does not profess the Catholic faith in as clear a manner as the former Ordo Missæ, and in consequence it could favour heresy.  But I do not know to whom to attribute it, neither do I know whether the Pope is responsible for it.

     "What is stupefying is that an Ordo Missæ of a Protestant flavour, and thus favens haeresim, could have been issued by the Roman Curia."

     It is worth noting how the poverty of Mgr. Lefebvre's answers contrasts with the gravity of the questions asked.  The occasion was unique.  While the hirelings of the new church normally confine themselves to inconsistent arguments, on that particular day they asked questions of extreme precision.  Was it the result of a mistake on their part?  Or on the other hand, encouraged by the written answers which the prelate had already sent to them, did they know that he would give way and hope in this manner to turn the situation to their advantage?  Whatever it was, Providence willed that these questions should be asked: and we are forced to observe that Mgr. Lefebvre refused to answer.  He was called upon to say whether or not a new church was born with Vatican II, and whether this church is or is not incompatible with the Catholic Church.  They were wolves disguised as pastors who interrogated him.  The answer is easy.  He said himself that he ought to be judging them.  And with a pirouette, a few vague observations on the spirit of reform, he collapsed.  A second time the new church asked a question by which it pronounced its own condemnation.  Could a reasonable Catholic contend that the Sovereign Pontiff of the Holy Church could promulgate what he, Mgr. Lefebvre, had so often called "Luther's mass"?  And for the second time he collapsed.  For respect requires us to think that this ignorance regarding the responsibility of the "pope" for the new "ordo missæ" is a feigned ignorance, a lamentable flight.  This question cannot have surprised him since it was put to him for the third time in less than a year: a year to prepare the only possible answer.  Whether his false judges acted through error or guile, the fact is that Mgr. Lefebvre failed in his duty, condemned himself to be no longer able to judge them in the name of the faith and placed himself outside the Church in the sight of all.  The fact is that he refused what Providence asked of him: to confess the faith, to bear witness that the conciliar church is not the Church and that its heads are impostors.


     "Since this refusal to confess the faith, matters have become considerably worse.  As the fruit of this terrible failure came the declaration of 8th November 1979, the act of birth of what we must call "Lefebvrism."  On the one hand Mgr. Lefebvre blindly ignores the objections which Catholic doctrine opposes to him(32), and on the other he blesses everything which favours his own fixation.

     Blind himself, he guides other blind men.  His doctrinal entourage is that of unconditional supporters, undemanding on principles, skilful in accommodating them, who weigh and judge everything in relation to his praxis.  There are various trends and doctrinal muddle flourishes, but no matter so long as the practices of Bishop Lefebvre are not called into question.  "Lefebvrism" has enriched itself over the years with doctrinal contributions apparently of no great unity, but which all tend to clear the Bishop of all suspicion.

     We say it clearly: to clear the bishop of all suspicion.  For the "Lefebvrist" "thinkers" are not concerned to express the points of Catholic teaching capable of supporting behaviour.  They are concerned above all to protect their master against the attacks of true doctrine and to invent answers of traditional appearance.

     Thus, we have seen appear the Protestant sophisms of Fr. Williamson in May 1980, then the Gallican proclamations of Canon Berthod, alias P. René-Marie, in January 1981(33), then the Rousseau-inspired ramblings on Canon Law of Maître Roger Lefebvre in April, then the communique on "holy resistance" in May, then finally, while awaiting something better, the falsifications of Georges Salet, alias Michel Martin, in February 1982.  We wonder why Mgr. Lefebvre never turns his own hand directly to the elaboration of this potpourri of the most classic heresies.  Even the communique, which he signed, appeared quite clearly as the work of Fr. Coache.  Is he aware of the eminently factitious character of these productions? Does he fear to compromise his own name in fabrications of the mind which bear too clearly the scent of bad faith?  It remains that in one way or another he encourages and approves them.


Two dishonourable endeavours

     In order to justify their intolerable position, Mgr. Lefebvre's partisans all adopt the same attitude: they strive at all costs to reduce obvious facts to simple hypotheses and the most certain doctrine to uncommon opinions, which then allows them to denounce our "insupportable" pretention to be in possession of the truth.  In this each strives to the limits of his ability and imagination.  Some of them are brilliant at advanced sophistry.  What is less widely known is that Mgr. Lefebvre himself sets the example.  Here is an example of the use he makes of logic.


     One of our friends, M. l'abbé Delmasure, sent our book Le devoir des catholiques to Mgr. Lefebvre.  He replied shortly after in the following lines:

     "Why do you persist in following those who are lost in a logic which is false through failing to study the premises?

     "Simplification is usually opposed to reality.  It is easy to say: the official church is the conciliar church, the conciliar church is heretical, therefore the pope who presides over this church is a heretic and is not pope.

     "Between saying that the conciliar church is not Catholic and saying that it is heretical there is a distinction.  Many bishops, priests and faithful are no longer Catholics, they are liberals, more or less modernists, but for all that they are not heretics in the canonical sense of the word.  No Pope has said so, not even Pius X.  I am fully in agreement with all the accusations made against the Pope and the Vatican, but not with the conclusion which is drawn from them.  It exceeds the premises."(34)

     Before commenting on these astonishing remarks, we shall restate the position upheld in our book, a position wholly in conformity with Catholic doctrine and the facts of the case:

"1st major" - The universal Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, alone or with bishops united with him, in council, is infallible.

"1st minor" - Now Paul VI, alone and in council, exercised all the appearances of such a magisterium; John Paul II, who followed in his footsteps, likewise.

"1st conclusion and 2nd" major - According to all appearances, their teaching is therefore infallible.

"2nd minor" - Now a contradiction exists between the contents of what they taught or prescribed for the Universal Church, and the doctrine previously defined in an irreformable manner. 

"General Conclusion" - Given that the 1st major is of faith, the conclusion follows the teaching of Vatican II promulgated and applied by Paul VI and confirmed by John Paul II is not the teaching of the Church, and neither Paul VI nor John Paul II can be recognized as popes.

     What Mgr. Lefebvre presents as our syllogism has absolutely nothing to do with what we have just read:

"Major" - The official Church is the conciliar Church.

"Minor" - The conciliar Church is heretical.

"Conclusion" - Thus the pope who presides over this church is a heretic and is not pope.

     The fraudulence is so flagrant that there is no more to be said.  However, let us overlook it.  After all, in spite of very loose formulation, the reasoning which Mgr. Lefebvre imputes to us is not so very false.  Doubtless it is that that excites his logical wrath.  Is the major false?  Is it false to identify "the official church" with the "conciliar church"?  It seems clear that the Organisation which officially takes the form of the Catholic Church - but which is only its hypocritical understudy - is well and truly that which its leaders cheerfully call "the conciliar church."  Mgr. Lefebvre has himself often reproached them with it.  Conversely, this "conciliar church" possesses in the eyes of the world a wholly official appearance.

     Then is the minor false?  That is what the bishop wishes to demonstrate to us: "Between saying that the conciliar church is not Catholic and saying that it is heretical there is a distinction."  That is true.  It is not necessarily heretical only; it is perhaps schismatic, or apostate, or more probably all three at once.  But that is not what Mgr. Lefebvre is trying to say: "Many bishops, priests and faithful are no longer Catholics, they are liberals, more or less modernists, but for all that they are not heretics in the canonical sense of the word."  And to add this profound remark - it concerns, as we have just read, present-day modernists: "No Pope has said so, not even St. Pius X."

     It is certain that no pope has declared the men of the new church to be heretical in the canonical sense of the word.  Even if the gift of prophecy had been given to them, they would not have said it in those terms.  In fact, the modernist, like the lutheran, like the nestorian, is not a heretic in the canonical sense of the word except from the moment that he adheres with pertinacity to the errors he professes.  So today, not all those who are on the side of the new church are necessarily heretics in the canonical sense that is to say, they are not outside the Church.

     But if no pope has asserted these things, neither has any pope said that when one is no longer a Catholic it is nevertheless still possible to remain within the Church.  Then what was Mgr. Lefebvre trying to say?  Perhaps his pen outran his thought; perhaps he wrote "no longer Catholics" while thinking "no longer fully Catholic."  Let us overlook it again and grant it to him.  But then it is even more surprising to see him draw a conclusion which itself certainly exceeds its premises.  In his opinion, and in ours also "many bishops, priests and faithful are no longer (fully) Catholic, they are liberals more or less modernists, but they are not for all that heretics in the canonical sense of the word."  But then, what of the others?  Those who are obstinate in their error?  Those who have publicly apostatized?  These are assuredly heretics in the canonical sense of the word.  The Popes - even St. Pius X - and Canon Law have foreseen their case "If anyone, after receiving baptism, while retaining the name of Christian, denies with pertinacity or calls into question any one of those truths which are to be believed of divine and Catholic faith, he is a heretic."(35)

     Mgr. Lefebvre clearly is not ignorant of that.  Why then must he distort our position, apparently wantonly, and with it the Catholic doctrine which we have just restated?  Let us consider for a moment the following fact: our book was not made the subject of any public commentary on the part of the leaders of the "traditionalist" movement.  They all took pleasure in treating it as non-existent.  Mgr. Lefebvre did the same, at least in public.  The letter which we have just quoted was an exception, but it was private, and even so did not explicitly mention the title of the work.  By way of "refutation", it produced only a few sophistries put forward in the form of assertions.  This attitude is one of shameful evasion of duty, but also an inglorious admission: the bishop knew full well the basis of the question, the only one which today can face those consciences which still remain Catholic.  However, he is determined not to approach it honestly, and to rid himself of something which worries him, he is the first to make use of a logic of falsehood.  Mgr. Lefebvre wished to discredit us, but he has dishonoured himself.  He is unfortunately not alone.


     Among those who support the confused utterances of Mgr. Lefebvre, we recall the name of G. Salet, who publishes, under the pseudonym of Michel Martin, a duplicated letter entitled De Rome et d'ailleurs.  No. 26 of this leaflet was enthusiastically greeted by Lefebvrists and some others, who hastened to welcome this masterly refutation of our book.  We have already had the opportunity to show just what this production is worth(36), and so would not return to it except to underline one point, which is the great guilefulness of this theological manipulator G. Salet.(37)

     According to him, when we stated that the teaching of Paul VI, and of the council with him, clothed itself in the appearance of the universal magisterium of the Church, we were profoundly mistaken.  Why?  Quite simply because despite the very clearest appearances, Paul VI and his council taught nothing at all.  So much for the Copernican revolution of Vatican II.  At the foot of every document promulgated in solemn session by J.B. Montini, a formula no less solemn announced the will of Paul VI to teach the Universal Church, but we are to disregard it and force ourselves to find obscure that which is clear: .".. The whole together and each one of the points which have been decreed in this dogmatic constitution have pleased the Fathers.  And We, in virtue of the apostolic power which We hold from Christ, in union with the venerable Fathers, approve, determine and decree it in the Holy Spirit, and We order that what has thus been established in Council be promulgated for the glory of God.  Rome, at St. Peter's, 21st November 1964, I, Paul, Bishop of the Catholic Church."(38)  This, however, is not enough to stop our paradox fancier: "Paul VI and the council itself displayed in various ways their intention not to oblige the faithful to accept the conciliar teachings."(39)  A fine assurance, which G. Salet claims to support by recourse to yet another sophism of which this is the substance: "For there to be infallibility, there must be a sufficient manifestation (explicit or implicit, but sufficient) of the will of the Magisterium to impose a firm assent on the whole Church."  Up to this point, there is no difficulty; G. Salet is charging an open door.  "This will is manifested very explicitly in all the ecumenical councils up to Vatican II by the brief but forceful formula "Anathema sit."  Excellent but where is he leading us?  At the foot of the page where he writes this, G. Salet declares that "a simple encyclical like Quanta Cura is infallible (because it carried condemnations).  Are the other encyclicals deprived of infallibility because they contain no condemnations?  Is the promulgation of the Roman Missal by St. Pius V fallible because it condemns nothing at all?  A strange conception indeed, to claim to remove from the Roman Pontiff the right to teach the truth positively, or at least the guarantee that this teaching is effectively that of Christ Himself.

     G. Salet naturally furnishes definitive "proofs" for his assertions.  Where does he seek to show that Vatican II not only did not wish to teach the Universal Church, but better still, despite the solemn promulgations, it had the express intention of not teaching?  It is very simple: four declarations of a general nature having nothing to do with the subject.  John XXIII had said, before the opening of the council, that he wished "to use the remedy of mercy rather than the weapons of rigour" and Paul VI echoed him in Ecclesiam Suam: "She (the Church) could propose to meet the evils which might be met there (in the world), to pronounce anathemas against them.  It seems to us on the contrary that the meeting between the Church and the world can be better expressed in the form of a dialogue."  From these texts, which constitute so many declarations of intent of the principal actors of Vatican II, G. Salet claims to deduce that Paul VI did not intend to teach the Universal Church.  Knowing as we do the efforts made by this man to impose his Utopia on all Catholics, by using and abusing the inherent powers of his office, we are astonished.  Truly, G. Salet is prepared to use any means to achieve his ends.  Does he realize that he is going too far?  In any case his work ends in confusion: "It is quite certain that in comparison with the twenty previous ecumenical councils, Vatican II constitutes an atypical case" (The council atypical?  The thinking of our imaginative supporter is much more so).  "It is clearly confusing and a priori difficult to accept, but this results strictly from Catholic doctrine."  Here let us leave him to award himself a certificate of perfect orthodoxy, and say no more.  Antics like these dishonour their authors.


(1)  When in exceptional circumstances a soul of good will finds herself confronted with something which constitutes a difficulty for her faith, a difficulty whose malice upsets the knowledge which the soul has of the truths of the faith, the instinct of the faith comes into play and permits the soul to surmount that difficulty.  The soul surmounts it, not by means of reason (which she is not in a position to do) but by a supernatural reflex, by the instinct of the faith which is the normal reaction of those who are moved by the Spirit of Jesus.  The difficulty once surmounted, the instinct having fulfilled its role, it ceases to act explicitly.  The soul, having tasted the divine truth, must then act for herself in order to better assimilate this glimpsed truth, by enlightening her faith through the study of doctrine, and by developing her virtue by the production of acts of faith.
(2)  Declaration of 21 November 1974.
(3)  Gardons la foi, St. Gabriel, 1974.
(4)  Un é;vêque parle, DMM, 1974, p. 208.
(5)  Lettre aux amis et bienfaiteurs No. 18, Quasimodo Sunday 1980.
(6)  Letter to John Paul II, 24 December 1978.
(7)  Whatever the prelate may say, the wild seminaries, the ordinations without dimissorial letters, confirmations and confessions without jurisdiction are practices contrary to what has always been done in the Church.  With the exception of the heretico-schismatics who do not recognize the Catholic Church as the sole ark of salvation and do not belong to her, no bishop or saint whatever has ever opened a seminary, a university, a place of worship, even a private one, or administered the sacraments without the previous permission of the Ordinary, still less in defying his prohibition, without having first denounced him as a heretic and acting publicly in consequence, as did St. Athanasius in his day.
(8)  Written answer to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 13 Jan 1979.
(9)  Declaration of 21 Nov 1974.
(10)  Cor Unum No. 1, p. 6.
(11)  Lettre aux amis et bienfaiteurs No. 9, 3 Sept 75.
(12)  Declaration of 21 Nov 1974.
(13)  Answer to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the time of the conversations of 11 and 12 January 1979.
(14)  Le coup de Maitre de Satan, St. Gabriel, p. 12.
(15)  Communique to the agency France-Presse, 12 July 1976.
(16)  Lettre aux amis et bienfaiteurs No. 14. 19 March 1978. 
(17)  Letter to Mlle. T., 15 March 1974.  The letter from Fr. Coache to Fr. Barbara dated 21 Feb 1974 is also instructive: "The worst thing is the question of the Mass.  He does not at all care for Fr. de N.  (he said so again to me and said that he has nothing to do with him); however, their positions are much the same; in fact Mgr. L. told me his point of view: it is better to have the new mass than not to have mass at all; it is safer, to avoid losing the faith, to go to the new mass than not to go at all.  He gives the impression of not wanting to discuss this matter; besides, I receive many letters these days from correspondents who are scandalized by this attitude of Mgr. L."  Fortunately for their faith, the priests and faithful who for several years have tried everything to save the mass have not followed Mgr. Lefebvre's advice.  If they had, he would soon have found himself alone.  We might add that in regard to the new mass, Mgr. Lefebvre knows how to join deeds with words and give an example.  On 30 June 1980, on the occasion of the obsequies of a member of his family, accompanied by Fr. Simoulin, he assisted "actively" at "Luther's mass" completely in the modern fashion.
(18)  Le Figaro, 4 August 1976.
(19)  Letter to John Paul II, 24 December 1978.
(20)  Declaration of 8 November 1979.
(21)  France-Soir, 4 Aug 1976.
(22)  Le Figaro, 4 Aug 1976
(23)  Gardons la foi, St. Gabriel 1974, p. 25.  Mgr. Lefebvre adds a remark, the theological profundity of which all can appreciate: "If the pope had ordered a dogmatic council, the Holy Spirit would have been engaged and those things could not have happened; He would have made an atom bomb fall on St. Peter's ... what do I know, but it was impossible."  The infallibility of the Church preserved by an atom bomb is a theological opinion determinedly up to date, but surely unworthy of a bishop.(24)  In his answer to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, already mentioned, Mgr. Lefebvre "excuses" his statements in this way: "If in my discourses I made use of somewhat extreme expressions, allowances must be made for literary style.  "Schismatic church", "heretical church" - the literary style of the prelate of Ecône is corrosive enough, but his withdrawal is quite pitiful.
(25)  In his Combat de la Foi of 25 March 1982, Fr. Coache distinguishes between "disobedience to particular decrees and refusal to recognize 'the Principle of obedience' to the Pope" (underlined by him) in order better to affirm that he practices only the former.  Is Fr. Coache joking?  For we would very much like to know in what he obeys John Paul II.  In fact, like many of his fellow "traditionalist leaders", he disobeys in everything except the matter of mass stipends.  Those are very slim grounds to constitute a model of obedience.  The hypocrisy of Fr. Coache is insufficient to hide his real "refusal to recognize the principle of obedience to the Pope."
(26)  Gardons la foi, St. Gabriel, 1974, p. 24.  It is impossible not to detect the Lutheran character of this discourse: the guarantor of the faith, the "lighthouse of Truth" is Rome, that is to say the living Magisterium exercised primarily by the Pope, and not the individual conscience, even that of a bishop.
(27)  Le Figaro, 4 Aug 1976.
(28)  "Rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it" (Luke XI, 28).
(29)  Mgr. Lefebvre et le Saint-Office, No. 233, May 1979.  All the quotations which follow are extracted from it.
(30)  The Pope has "the power of supreme jurisdiction" "not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those affecting the discipline and the government of the Church extended throughout the entire world."
(31)  Several statements from Mgr. Lefebvre had been read previously.
(32)  "I wish to avoid all controversy on this matter.  That is why I do not answer any letter of discussion on these subjects.  I consider that I have enough work to do with the enemies of the Church, without wasting my time on those who, after being collaborators, now call themselves our enemies" (letter to Fr. Siegel, 1 October 1981).  Observe that to wish to remain Catholic is to enter the category of the enemies of Mgr. Lefebvre.
(33)  Cf. Una Voce Helvetica, January 1981.  We quote only a few words: "Conformity with Tradition is thus the ultimate condition for the infallibility of the ordinary Magisterium."  Canon Berthod believes himself further obliged to add a definition as follows: "To say this is not to subject the Magisterium to free examination ..."
(34)  Letter dated 12 February 1982.
(35)  Canon 1325, para 2.
(36)  See Forts dans la Foi, Supplement to No. 9 NS.
(37)  De Rome et d'ailleurs No. 26, p. 17.
(38)  Formula concluding the conciliar constitutions and declarations (this one from Lumen Gentium).
(39)  This nonsense is offered to us on p. 18 of No. 27 of the same leaflet.


     We have just shown that Mgr. Lefebvre is a man lacking doctrine, determined to act in accordance with his programme, cost what it may.  Like many others, he might have been the victim of an error, if not involuntary, at least one in which his consent would have been little involved.  However all his behaviour demonstrates the opposite.  His activities result from a firmly fixed will, totally indifferent to various entreaties except to reject them.  Several times Providence has called upon him to set out the clarifications which his action required, to draw from them all the consequences and to do his duty as a bishop.  Deaf to these calls, Mgr. Lefebvre receives events as so many irritating obstacles which it is fitting to brush aside by any means other than that of conversion.

     We have thus understood that "Lefebvrism" is first and above all a praxis: in the name of Tradition - understood here in an improper sense, since it is separated from the living Magisterium - to act in everything against the authorities recognized by the Church.  With the passing years, the immutable justification of this praxis has given birth to a system which clearly has for its end not to take account of reality but rather to give an idea of reality calculated to leave the Work intact.  A system of this sort, which judges everything and justifies everything, is an ideology.

     It is characteristic of an ideology that it imprisons both its authors and their victims.  The more time passes, the more difficult is the return to the truth, if only because of the upsets which necessarily accompany it.  In addition, through seeing reality in a deformed manner, they lose the taste for truth and, in consequence, for moral behaviour.  The ideology brings with it its own punishment: blinding of the intelligence and hardness of heart.  "Lefebvrism" unfortunately is no exception to the rule.  The consequences for Mgr. Lefebvre are heavy.  Heavy too are the consequences for the individuals in his care and for the work which he directs: for the Fraternity of St. Pius X is wholly in the image of its founder.


     Ecône claims to form "true and holy priests."  But the reality is less heartening.  The priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X excel rather by their propensity for causing distress.  We have all had occasion to endure the boring sermons stuffed with platitudes, the inaccurate language barely hiding ignorance if not indeed downright heresy.  Here a priest says that the new mass is valid, that there is a sacrament but no sacrifice, while one of his colleagues declares that the physical body of Our Lord is not present on the altar.(1)  It is possible to multiply examples.  If we turn towards those who are thought to be rather better instructed, we experience the same trouble.  Fr. Aulagnier, director of the review Fideliter, excels in the free and liberal exegesis of poor Father Schwalm, who is at the end of his tether.(2)  He allows his review to print surprising revelations: for example, it was the sin of the Jews at the time of Moses which obtained for us the Redeemer.(3)  As for the Institut Universitaire Saint-Pie X, it is directed by Fr. Lorans, but on the admissions even of those interested in it, only contributions from exterior sources have been able to stave off its collapse.  All these foibles would be more easily supportable and even amusing if they did not contrast with a huge complacency.(4)  Fr. Simoulin, Mgr. Lefebvre's priest if ever there was one, is an unwilling witness to what the faithful have to endure from his colleagues and himself, although as a rule these faithful are not very demanding in regard to the quality of their priests: "We would like to express the bitterness of many of the young priests coming out of Ecône.  Pious and learned lay people have been occupied for too long in criticizing them because they are young and inexperienced, without taking heed that they are perhaps fragile.  Some cast doubt on the doctrinal purity of the teaching at Ecône, while others question the intelligence or competence of the priests who emerge."(5)  This admission is ingenuous but is evidence of a reality.

     The matter might appear surprising among those who were expected to reconquer the world for the true religion.  It is less so if we consider the principles upon which rests the formation given at Ecône.  These principles flow directly from the doctrine, or rather from the pragmatism of Mgr. Lefebvre: the primacy of quantity over quality, the desire to make priests as in times past, the will to keep silent on all questions which give rise to difficulties.

     We have already shown Mgr. Lefebvre's illusions about the decisive influence of his work against the conciliar will to destroy the Church.  In his opinion it is necessary above all to ensure the sacraments, and for that purpose to be present everywhere.  In his opinion the wheat must inevitably prevail over the cockle, though too much regard should not be paid to the quality of the wheat.  It is not surprising therefore that they put quantity first: the priests of Ecône are to be the one-eyed in the kingdom of the blind.

     The thing appears clearly in the recruitment of seminarians.  The conditions for admission are very undemanding: a baccalaureate, a recommendation from a traditionalist priest, a visit to the director of the seminary, in fact a pure formality.  There is practically no examination of personal worth, of doctrine or of the candidate's vocation.(6)  The same thing appears in the rapidity of promotions.  Mgr. Lefebvre is in the habit of advancing(7) ordination when the occupation of territory by the Fraternity of St. Pius X requires it.  On the other hand priests, newly ordained and with no experience of the priesthood, nor even of practical life outside the sheltered comfort of Ecône, find themselves proclaimed "masters in Israel" with no period of transition, some with the title of prior, some at the head of a school, some as head of a university college, others as professors of philosophy.(8)  No doubt the absence of selection and rapidity of promotion might in the end be justified if their formation was matched to the needs of the time, but this is not the case: very much the reverse.

     Mgr. Lefebvre wishes to have priests as they used to be, that is to say - and this is to do no wrong to priests of earlier times - priests who are pious but by no means learned, and this at a time when the situation demands that they should be no less pious but above all highly instructed.  By reproducing the defects of the seminaries of this century, he is producing priests as ill-prepared as all the others who allowed themselves to be swept away by the gale of Vatican II.(9)

     The fact is made still worse by the wish to keep the seminarians, and the priests, in ignorance of those points which ought to be their reason for existence.  At Ecône, they defy the authority of the "pope" without giving their reasons and cast doubt on the new sacraments without saying why.  What is more, they refuse to give explanations to those who ask for them, the very fact of daring to ask being considered as an inconvenience or as a sign of a wrong attitude.(10)  Mgr. Lefebvre's seminarians are thus formed in an allegedly universal manner as though they had to live outside time, and this under the pretext of doing as the Church has always done.  In reality, the means to confront the situation in the Church are refused to them.  They are given only as much doctrine as is necessary for them to keep up appearances.

     The teaching given at Ecône is thus mediocre in its principles.  This mediocrity is reinforced by the quality of the professorial staff.  The criterion which decides whether one man or another should teach is not primarily real Catholic knowledge, but agreement with "Monseigneur's" views: one more anomaly in the context.  Over the years, the professors who have remained have either conformed to the "Lefebvrist" mould or are the products of it.  In fact the best of them are content to give a purely theoretical teaching and their teaching is a compound of questions from a course for a mediocre seminary of the period between the wars.

     To that is added a lack of proper control of understanding.  Every seminarian except the profoundly ignorant passes the examinations.  And to that again is added the absence of direction of studies.  At Ecône they form themselves as they like or as best they can.  In fact, those who form themselves do so against the spirit of the seminary, against their professors and against their superiors.(11)  To all this is added the spirituality of the seminary.  In this field, in the absence of a common direction, diversity prevails with three separate schools of thought.  The most exacting, behind Fr. Barrielle and his dauphin Father Williamson, follows the lgnatian model.  Others, behind Fr. Cottard, are inspired with a spirituality hard to distinguish between Dominican and Carmelite, but which certainly is openly liberal.  Lastly, the most numerous behind Fr. Tissier de Mallerais, adopt "the spirituality of Monseigneur."  This, according to those interested, follows that of St. Francis de Sales and strives to achieve humility and meekness.  Their exterior attitudes could perhaps lead one to think so.  However, if one digs a little deeper, things are less polished.  It is necessary only to ask one of the heralds of this school one awkward question to find oneself immediately reproached with lack of humility and bitter zeal.  In their opinion, true humility lies in not contradicting their bishop.  If we add to that a good dose of clericalism and the defence of the middle way between liberalism and Catholicism, we have a better idea of "the spirituality of Monseigneur."  The rest is no more than attitudes: the distribution of holy pictures, a smooth tongue, a pious air, eyes half-closed, the head bowed and the hands joined.

     What we have just reported largely explains the statement which we made in the introduction to this chapter.  The errors and childishness of the review Fideliter, the doctrinal poverty of the priests from Ecône and all its manifestations are the obvious fruits of the seminary.  It is surprising in the circumstances that the Fraternity of St. Pius X continues on its way apparently without serious problems.  In fact the spiritual and doctrinal emptiness of Ecône is largely made good by "Lefebvrism", that is to say the cult - sincere or not - devoted to the activities and the person of the bishop.  The men of Ecône think like "Monseigneur" and adopt his system.  They are aligned with "Monseigneur" and follow all his variations, however aberrant they may be.  They imitate the man whom they consider - or pretend to consider - to be a saint.  The final result is that there is no real contradiction between the desire to form priests expressed by Mgr. Lefebvre and the concrete results of his work.  The contradiction is only apparent.  For the prelate of Ecône, it is a matter above all of having priests, plenty of priests, who are faithful to him.  It is a matter above all of having subservient executives; to such an extent that the Fraternity of St. Pius X forms militants rather than Catholic priests.


     The Fraternity of St. Pius X having refused, in the person of its superior, to base itself solidly on Catholic doctrine and having finally turned its back upon it in order to adopt a system, it was necessary in order to ensure its cohesion to take certain liberties little related to the normal exercise of authority.  As always in ideological groups, it was necessary to find another unifying principle.  In the same way that "the spirit of Marc" - that is Marc Sangnier - animated the Sillon, condemned by St. Pius X early this century, so "the spirit of Monseigneur" animates the whole Fraternity.

A charismatic leadership

     For Mgr. Lefebvre, the situation is in some ways devoid of stress.  He is the only bishop in his party and the only man who has the power of ordination.  For this reason he need not fear becoming the victim of internal quarrels.  His authority, if we may still call it that, is exercised smoothly, switching from sectarian intransigence to the deepest liberalism according to whether the "Lefebvrist" ideology is or is not involved.(12)  For his subjects, the art is perilous.  For them it is a matter of following the line, which in the absence of true doctrine, sometimes gives rise to surprises.  To be or not to be in the good books of the "leader", that is what decides survival in the Fraternity of St. Pius X.

     Since its foundation, the Fraternity has lived to some extent between two stools: fidelity to "tradition" and "fidelity" to the conciliar pontiffs.  The partisans of an effective move to join the new church on the one hand and those in favour of breaking with it on the other have for some time been able to believe that they were the only two groups in the field.  They were seriously mistaken; for survival at Ecône depends upon belonging, regardless of opinions, to a third group, that of servile admiration for the conduct of the bishop.(13)

     In conditions like these a succession of crises was inevitable, each one followed by a collective purge: in 1972, Fr. Masson, the first director of the seminary, followed by three professors and twenty seminarians, who wanted to assist at the new ordo missæ in 1974, those favouring submission to the conciliar heads in 1977, the hard core of liberals following an attempted coup; the same year, the first reprimands for those who were disturbed by the orientations of Mgr. Lefebvre; from 1978 to 1980, all those who refused to recognize John Paul II and dared to say so were eliminated one by one; in 1981, Fr. Cantoni, a professor, and several seminarians joined the conciliar church.  The phenomenon also affected individual priests: thus in 1980 Fr. Samson left the Fraternity of St. Pius X because he did not understand how to reconcile the practice of Ecône with the Catholic doctrine of submission to the Magisterium.(14)

     Whatever we may think of the reasons for one or another, reasons sometimes conflicting, the fact is that these successive crises have had the effect of preventing any deviating tendency and making the present atmosphere of the Fraternity of St. Pius X painful and suffocating for anyone who is not a certified conforming "Lefebvrist."  They have, moreover, committed injustices unworthy of a society, still less of a Catholic religious community, and clearly revealing Mgr. Lefebvre's contempt for people, for the good of souls and for the good of the Church.  All those who have survived these purges, actively or as spectators, know that instead of being the normal exercise of authority they have been the occasions of arbitrary action, of contempt of law, of blackmail at ordinations, of group pressure.  For example, exclusion from a religious society is a grave matter, but Mgr. Lefebvre never gives clear reasons for the exclusions which he decides upon, nor does he ever allow the accused the opportunity to defend himself.  These purges which strike sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other, also show clearly the muddle into which fundamental questions have always been allowed to settle.  We see also the interior drama of certain priests, such as Frs. Samson and Cantoni, who realise that Ecône has set them on a false trail and who think it good, since they have not been taught sound doctrine, to join the new church.(15)

     At the present time Ecône seems to have entered a stable phase.  Foreign bodies have been ejected and consciences stifled.  The essential thing for Mgr. Lefebvre is that the Work should flourish.  The essential thing for the seminarians is that the bishop should be willing to ordain them.  However, since the fundamental questions remain unresolved, any serious event is capable of provoking a new crisis.  A sort of tacit contract exists in which the interests of both parties are safeguarded: on one side they want the priesthood at any price, and on the other it is required that consciences are silenced, especially if they are still sound, and all must obediently toe the line.  Confrontation will not take place unless one of the parties breaks the terms of the contract.(16)

The personality cult

     The exercise which consists in acquiring "the spirit of Monseigneur" clearly causes the loss of the taste for right reason.  Its final result is a greater consideration for the person of the bishop than for adherence to any ideal.  There have always been individuals ready to follow the cult of a personality, but at Ecône the matter has become an integral part of the system.  For Ecône is above all one man: Mgr. Lefebvre.  Everything is centred about him and everything rests upon him.  The members of the Fraternity of St. Pius X are first of all his disciples; doctrinal problems and the good of the Church come afterwards.  Furthermore, that which "Lefebvrists" reproach the most in those who criticise the way followed by the bishop is not so much the arguments advanced - some are even ready to accept those - as the fact of casting a slur on the person of Mgr. Lefebvre.  Even those who have had to suffer his persecutions for non-conformity to his praxis have rarely dared to attack him openly, no doubt unconscious victims of the personality cult.

     The cult is exercised collectively as much as individually.  The "Lefebvrists" are henceforth broken in to the adulation of their "saint."  We think of Fr. Marziac's book, ridiculous in its obsequious flattery.(17)  We think also of the jubilee of 1979, an expensive operation entirely for the glory of him who is the Bishop, with a capital B.(18)  Since 1976 the "Lefebvrists" have never missed an opportunity to sing the "Tu es Petrus" on the passage of "their" bishop.  No doubt in the minds of many of them it was less a matter of singing their fidelity to the conciliar pontiffs than their indefectible attachment to the bishop of the "traditionalists, and perhaps even a foolish hope.

     When it takes an individual form, the cult offered to Mgr. Lefebvre assumes proportions equally doubtful but more amusing.  Thus the priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, occasionally aware of the absurd nature of some of their superior's statements, do not hesitate to invoke his incomparable virtues to excuse him.(19)  Sometimes matters take a frankly hilarious turn.  We recall the poem - kindly annotated for the enlightenment of his supposedly ignorant readers - which Fr. Jean-Paul André dedicated to Mgr. Lefebvre on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Fraternity of St. Pius X.(20)

     Let there be no mistake: the cult offered to the prelate of Ecône is seldom innocent and very often interested; as much among the practitioners as for the object of it.  This cult serves Mgr. Lefebvre's interests and he does not discourage it.  In particular, it saves him from having to justify his acts to individuals already on his side without even having heard him.  For these, the ordinations, the confirmations, financial support, the maintenance of a clientele is well worth the trouble entailed in flattering him.(21)  Even if he had nothing to offer, devoting their time to his praises saves them from having to think.

Intolerance and free thinking

     We have heavily emphasized the necessity for anyone who wishes to belong to the Fraternity of St. Pius X to compete in servility towards his superior.  Given Mgr. Lefebvre's pragmatism, it is easy to imagine the consequences in the matter of human selection.  We shall return to this subject later.  There are certainly some who have abandoned what previously served them for intelligence and for whom the solution is simple: let Mgr. Lefebvre do the thinking.  There are also others within the Fraternity who do not totally refuse to think, for the right to hold an opinion is not forbidden to "Lefebvrists", on the one condition that they know how to remain silent when it is important to do so.  They are permitted to think but must value it lightly enough to be able to stifle their consciences when necessary.(22)  At a pinch, the fact of not recognizing John Paul II can be accepted, it is necessary only to refrain from giving it publicity.  Thus certain priests have found themselves being offered posts in some obscure priory where their "abnormality" would present little risk of clashing with the official line.  Similarly, the discreet followers of Fr. Guerard des Lauriers, now a schismatic bishop, were able to remain subjects of Mgr. Lefebvre for a long time, and until recent months.  Even today, Fr. Philippe Laguerie, a convinced "Guerardien" who privately makes no secret of it, lives at his ease in the Fraternity of St. Pius X.  He merely has to pay the price of an accommodation with his conscience.(23)  Fr. Aulagnier himself, the superior of the Franco-Belgian district, sometimes does not hide his sympathy with Catholic good sense.(24)  However, he was sufficiently "prudent" to bend his preferences when Mgr. Lefebvre made his position known.  Since then Fr. Aulagnier fumes at being unable to rend John Paul II and his church.  His heart leans to the right but his interests lead into maintaining a position to the right of centre, subject to all the adjustments which the next whim of his superior may impose on him.  Nor are Frs. Aulagnier and Laguerie isolated cases.

     Whether they have set aside all intelligence or whether they have chosen the faint-hearted silence of a grovelling conscience, the result is the same.  Those who remain in the Fraternity of St. Pius X, with very few exceptions, are offering sacrifice to the party spirit.  Rather than Catholic priests, they are perfect "Lefebvrist" militants.


     Mgr. Lefebvre wanted and still wants priests, many priests.  In this respect he has manifestly succeeded and misses no opportunity to congratulate himself on such a success.  However, the doctrinal and spiritual emptiness of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, and the party spirit which prevails in it are clearly not without their effect on the quality of the products of the enterprise.  More or less faithful reproductions of Mgr. Lefebvre, characteristics are found among them which are not usually the attributes of a Catholic priest: in particular the inability to justify their acts, and hardness of heart.

     We do not intend to examine again what we have already underlined: the distressing level of the members of the Fraternity of St. Pius X.  However, we must emphasize one very serious matter.  All those who take their place in the "Lefebvrist" system are called upon to exercise their ministry in unusual or even irregular circumstances.  They are all confronted with a world which has never before been so hostile to the true religion.  They are all led to undertake crushing responsibilities: the direction of souls, the direction of communities, of schools etc.  Now not one of them is able to justify what he is doing.

     We know that Mgr. Lefebvre himself is not willing to do it; and this default is multiplied again among his faithful subjects.  The work of the prelate of Ecône is notable for the fact that it makes no contribution to the debate on doctrinal subjects.  Neither Cor Unum, the internal bulletin, nor Fideliter, the review for general circulation, is or wishes to be equal to the task.  Sometimes individuals, in their own names, venture on learned argument but always in documents of the most restricted circulation, discouraging in manner and as we have mentioned earlier, always with the object of justifying retrospectively and at any price the practices of Mgr. Lefebvre.  As for the priests at the core, they refuse even to speak of doctrine.  At the first attempt they are content to give the same threadbare excuses: we are not the teaching Church, leave that to the theologians leave "Monseigneur" alone, he knows where he is going - listen, he thinks for us; let us be humble, etc.  Pushed a little harder, they use this  bludgeon of an argument: you are attacking Mgr. Lefebvre.(25)

     A technique like this cannot produce moral behaviour.  To the faithful who are prepared to open their eyes and see clearly, the priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X appear in general as "hard little minds."  It is true that once again their superior has set the example.  Obstinately following his course, he takes grave exception to anything which might be an obstacle to him or which might prove offensive.  He is considered to be a pleasant man, gentle and humble.  All those who meet him for the first time think that of him, the more so since he can appear changeable and elusive and can make use of different, even conflicting, language according to his interests and his interviewers.  However, the true personality of Mgr. Lefebvre never appears so clearly as when he is contradicted or upset.  He then shows himself to be indifferent to people and harsh towards them.

     This shows clearly in his behaviour towards those priests or seminarians who leave the Fraternity of St. Pius X, through fidelity to John Paul II, through refusing to recognize John Paul II as pope or for any other reason.  In the eyes of a Catholic superior, these ought to be seen as straying sheep whom moral duty demands should be led back to the fold.  Mgr. Lefebvre however never treats them like that.  So far as he is concerned, they are nuisances.  To their repeated requests for an explanation or for a hearing, he has only one reply and that without any benevolence: you do not agree with me, go away.(26)

     Similarly, Mgr. Lefebvre, who is a bishop though his behaviour sometimes makes it easy to forget it, ought to reply to anyone who shows himself to be in error by argument, which ought not to be gratuitous assertions unrelated to Catholic doctrine.  Those who, in an attempt to enlighten him, have had the "audacity" to exercise charity towards him, have had this for their reward: at best silence, at worst, venomous answers.  Fr. Barbara has been able to put this to the test on a number of occasions.  As early as 1977 the object of an uncouth ostracism on the part of the hardline "Lefebvrists", on 3rd December that year he took the risk of writing to ask him the reason for this state of affairs.  The letter was extremely respectful.(27)  The reply, dated 8th December, was less so.  Among other compliments, the bishop slipped this charitable shaft: "In your state of mind, I ask myself how you still manage to pray."  In 1980, Fr. Barbara wrote again on 23rd February and 2nd June, each letter as respectful as the first, to remind Mgr. Lefebvre of his duties as a Catholic bishop.  The affront must have been intolerable, since the addressee has not even thought fit to reply.(28)

     This coldness and hardness, the more scandalous for being the work of a man who has received the fullness of the priesthood and who ought to be a "good shepherd", is found in varying degrees among the priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, though some of them no doubt are not conscious of it.(29)  To that is added the fact that the luxurious cocoon of Ecône is hardly a preparation for present-day realities.  In fact, the young priests who emerge are totally unrealistic: unrealistic about the conditions in which they have to exercise their priesthood, unrealistic about their true capabilities, unrealistic about the daily lives of the faithful, etc.  Cradled in the notion that they are "the apostles of the last days"(30), benefiting from an almost absolute monopoly, knowing themselves to be waited upon by the faithful who are in no position to be over-particular, authorized to live amply in the direct line of luxury displayed by their religious society, they act wherever they go like boors, without regard for those who have prepared the ground for them, sometimes at the cost of bitter struggles, indifferent to the objections which are made to them - are they not "Monseigneur's" priests? - pitiless towards those bold enough not to yield to their good pleasure.(31)  Formed in the mould of a hollow seminary, without other intelligence or conscience than that of Bishop Lefebvre, entrusted with missions they cannot properly fulfil, these perfect militants act not as priests but as barbarians.  The fact is more scandalous for the faithful who still support them because these "hard little minds" have learned fine ecclesiastical manners and because they accomplish their misdeeds under the exterior, but only the exterior, of a pious and soothing attitude.  The fact is more scandalous still because the Fraternity of St. Pius X, far from practising the humility suitable to its real means, unceasingly gives itself airs.


     The mediocrity of Mgr. Lefebvre's work hides behind an unrivalled self-esteem.  For the Fraternity of St. Pius X, appearances are more important than reality.  Its members excel at presenting a fine organization, truly well equipped: international seminaries, districts, priories, religious houses, monks, nuns, monasteries, schools, universities, etc.  This fine display allows everything else to be overlooked.  Here again, quantity is preferred to quality.  Mgr. Lefebvre himself has made a specialty of insisting on the growth of his work.  Apart from remarks on the progress of the "arrangement" with Rome, always deferred, his Lettres aux amis et bienfaiteurs are always marked by expansionist euphoria: a school is being built here, a seminary opened there, we do not stop growing, etc.

     It is necessary to find the real explanation for this growth.  Nothing is easier for the founder of Ecône: his work is "visibly blessed by God", as he writes in the preface of a pamphlet lovingly compiled by his seminarians and humbly entitled: "The Fraternity of St. Pius X.  A work of the Church.  The miracle of Ecône."(32)  For to Mgr. Lefebvre and his admirers it is no less than a miracle.  The pamphlet we have just named contains for example a revealing chapter entitled "A backward look" which we shall quote almost in its entirety: "For eleven years now the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X has shown in a continuous and unfailing manner its attachment to the Holy Roman Catholic Church, to all her institutions, to all her doctrine and particularly to her priesthood, to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and to the centuries-old "Magisterium which finds in Tradition its full and life-giving expression."(33)

     "Thus a look back at the Fraternity since its preparation and its existence dating from 1st November 1970, "clearly shows the certain action of Providence, not only in events, but also in the permanence of its form and finality, the vigour of its growth, in spite of trials from within and without."

     "Since its first foundation ... the Fraternity has not ceased to grow in an almost miraculous manner" (on 1st January 1981 it numbered 44 houses spread throughout the whole world).

     "And if it is true that a miracle occurred in its growth, it appeared also in the fact that this growth has not been stopped by the savage attacks of the progressive bishops and clergy of France and Switzerland, nor by those of the cardinals of the Roman Curia.

     "Now it is quite evident that from the human point of view this internal and external opposition should have destroyed the Work.

     "The evidence of these events is unanimous.  The Work only survives because it is continuing the Church ..."(34)

     Thus the "Lefebvrists" see in the success of "the Work" the obvious sign that they are blessed by God, because they are continuing the Church.  The argument is well calculated to impress the ignorant and the weak, because it is crude.  All it does is to reproduce the current self-satisfaction of the heretico-schismatics, the Calvinists for example, seeing in material success - and we have seen how carefully Bishop Lefebvre and his followers insist on numerical growth - the sign of their predestination.  The "Lefebvrists", satisfied with their reward here below, do not cease to make much of it to assert that they are the ones "blessed by God."  So thoroughly are they persuaded of it that they think that everything is permissible, in particular to claim for themselves or to destroy anything which has been done apart from them or without them for the Church.


     Originally, the "traditionalists" were priests and above all lay people who, faced with the conduct of the clergy and the liturgical and sacramental innovations of the period following the council, took the initiative and broke with the new church.  Opposed by indifference, contempt or hatred by the greater part of bishops and priests, they undertook to preserve the true sacraments and the true catechism.  They did so in the most difficult circumstances.  From the material point of view, their strength was insignificant, their priests few, their makeshift buildings miserable.  From the moral point of view, they were the object of sarcasm, faced with the apathy of the great majority, lacking leaders and without organization.  That is to say, they did not act as they did for pleasure, but because they knew, in a more or less confused way, that something serious was at stake.  They did not have time to make a complete and accurate analysis of it, but the instinct of the faith warned them that they must act.  They had not yet fully understood the true extent of the crisis, and were notably not truly interested in the council, but many clearly saw the need to study Catholic doctrine in order to see it more clearly and to back up their own positions.

     In a situation like this, the appearance of Mgr. Lefebvre and his Fraternity of St. Pius X could have been most beneficial.  It ought to have been so.  It would have been enough if Mgr. Lefebvre had decided to be truly a bishop and combat the new errors with the weapons of sound doctrine.  What followed showed that he was not the bishop that Providence required him to be.  Worse than that, far from responding to the expectations of those who looked to him, he was to make use of them solely for the benefit of his own work.

     The circle of "traditionalists" thus already existed without the Fraternity of St. Pius X, at least in some countries and particularly in France and Mexico.  An enterprise like this could certainly never have sprung into full vigour without this circle, sympathetic from the first to his cause.  How could it have been otherwise?  They hoped for everything from Mgr. Lefebvre.  He for his part showed himself to be gracious and discreet towards those who had begun to work without him.  He promised them priests in the reasonably near future.  Although at the time he might have been nursing intentions of hegemony, his means did not allow him to put them into practice.  It was thought that he foresaw for himself a very unobtrusive role.  Did he not repeat that he wished only "to form good priests as in former times", and that he did not wish to be the bishop of the "traditionalists"?

     However, over the years, while he was refusing to do his duty and his Fraternity was flourishing, Mgr. Lefebvre's attitude changed.  Contrary to all his denials, it appeared that he was asserting himself in fact as the head of the "traditionalists."  He profited from their weakness the better to assure his domination.  He so acted that all their achievements fell before the cutting edge of his Fraternity.

     Thenceforward, the Fraternity of St. Pius X reached such a level of growth that it authorises itself to do absolutely everything and that it intends to be, at least in practice and increasingly in theory, the necessary and obligatory way to all Catholic fidelity.  Far from according recognition to those who for long struggled without it, and without whom it would not exist, it requires them to disappear to make way for the all-powerful work of Mgr. Lefebvre.

     In practice the hegemony of the Fraternity of St. Pius X takes a strictly classic form.  It consists in establishing itself everywhere.  There would be nothing scandalous in that in itself if it did not act without the slightest regard for the pre-existing situation.  The efforts and achievements of faithful Catholics find no more recognition in the eyes of the little "Lefebvrist" church than the bishops in office whom they recognize as legitimate.  For the faithful, the choice is simple: allow themselves to be absorbed or fight.  The first solution is less cost-free than might be supposed.(35)  As for the second, it is unavoidable for anyone with the intention of remaining Catholic free from the embrace of Mgr. Lefebvre.  Faced with resistance, the Fraternity of St. Pius X does not hesitate to establish itself in competition.(36)  No matter if the one to be trodden under has worked all his life for the Church, no matter if he has prepared the ground, he must disappear.  This type of situation carries no risks for the little "Lefebvrist" church, always assured of the support of a fashionable circle.  What is more, the zealous members of the Fraternity of St. Pius X hold in reserve a number of most immoral methods to make the recalcitrants yield: lying, calumny and even - after all why not? - blackmail through the sacraments.(37)

     At first sight, behaviour like this might seem surprising on the part of those who claim to have no other intention than to do "a work of the Church."  In reality, however, the practical hegemony of the Fraternity of St. Pius X proceeds from an internal logic.  Having abandoned Catholic doctrine, being convinced that they are continuing the Church, obstinate in their schismatic practices, Mgr. Lefebvre and his zealous followers are no longer working for the Church but on their own account.

     It is surprising also that so few Catholics have reacted against the expansionism of the Fraternity of St. Pius X.  Though the first cries of alarm are beginning to be heard here and there(38), it must be clearly recognized that the great majority of "traditionalists" have been followers of Mgr. Lefebvre.  Whatever may have been their intentions at the beginning, for many the energetic reaction against the new religion has well and truly miscarried into a short-sighted transfer on the providential man whom they hope will save everything.

     Mgr. Lefebvre claims to be doing "a work of the Church."  Unfortunately the reality is otherwise.  He exercises a charismatic direction over his work without reference to the authority of any Catholic superior.  He has his own militants, hard and ignorant sectaries.  In spite of all the warnings addressed to him, he has turned his back on Catholic truth and has forged his own doctrine, carrying his Fraternity with him in his fall.  This Fraternity lives henceforward in the admiration of its own development.  It is its own end.  It intends to absorb everything outside itself which has the desire to be Catholic.  It establishes itself everywhere, in parallel with the new church, whose legitimacy it nevertheless recognizes.  In short, the Fraternity of St. Pius X has become a "new" new church with its own structures and laws.(39)  More briefly still, the word strikes fear but is exact, it is a sect.

     We shall end with a long quotation: "On the subject of ceremonies, we have often spoken here of our point of view: we are in favour of preserving the liturgy of St. Pius V" (mass and divine office, accepting for the latter the reforms made by St. Pius X), Gregorian chant again recommended by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II."  On the subject of the four canons of the mass of Paul VI, "we do not say and have never claimed that they were invalid", but they do not correspond to the needs of the faithful of our community.  "We shall try to review our position if the Holy Father forbids our custom of celebrating the Holy Sacrifice according to the Tridentine rite."  In all the masses celebrated by the priests of our community the name of the Holy Father is mentioned in the Canon: "Una cum famulo tuo papa nostro Joanne Paolo."  "Our community is in no way in sympathy with those who deny the existence, the supremacy or the authority of the pope."  From the point of view of clothing and habits of life, we are committed to retaining, without excess, "the practice of the parish clergy of former times.  That is what we are modestly attempting to give and to transmit.  We do not offer a pure and sectarian traditionalism, but one adapted as best we can to the present world."  We add for the reader's information that despite appearances, this statement does not emanate from Mgr. Lefebvre but from the sectaries of the Latin Church of Toulouse.(40)


A case of conscience

     "Ecône's system" tends to flatten consciences.  Its most obvious effect is an inverted moral education, by which the members of the Fraternity are pressed into a servile docility towards the dominating ideology of their group.  This state of affairs is achieved with most without great difficulty, but there are some exceptions.  The two cases which follow show the sort of drama which can arise.

Exasperation: the case of Fr. Samson

     On 30th March 1980, a young priest, Fr. Samson, signed a letter in which he explained his reasons for leaving the Fraternity the year before.  It is impossible to reproduce here the four pages of text, but short extracts from it will show its interest.  Fr. Samson considers that it is the retention of the mass of St. Pius V which constitutes the principal justification given by Mgr. Lefebvre to his priests and seminarians.  He showed that what worried him was the fact that Paul VI had made the new ordo missæ obligatory, and therefore the attitude of Mgr. Lefebvre was a disobedience to the authority of him whom the priest, like the prelate, recognized as the legitimate pope: "Beyond any question of rite, there is at stake the question of faith in the Holy Spirit who governs the Church and directs her towards all Truth (John XVI, 13).  The refusal to adhere to the Magisterium expressed by the 2nd Vatican Council is the stumbling block which has conducted Ecône into the path of schism.  If we admit, as does Ecône, that the Church was mistaken at Vatican II, we must logically conclude from it that she has failed in her mission and that the Gates of Hell have prevailed against her.  This is what led Mgr. Lefebvre to say in "Le coup de Maitre de Satan": "how can you reconcile the propagation and practice of liberal errors by Rome with the infallibility of the Church and the Pope?"  I conclude from this that it is not Rome which is mistaken, but Ecône which has unfortunately lost the sense of the Church.

     "In the same way, in "J'accuse le Concile": "The spirit which dominated at the Council and inspired in it so many ambiguous and equivocal and frankly erroneous texts was not the Holy Spirit."  The question is to know where the Holy Spirit is to be found: in the Church and her Magisterium, or elsewhere?"

     In these remarks, which sum up Fr. Samson's letter, the whole drama is revealed.  This priest has learned for himself the Catholic doctrine on authority.  He knows that when the Pope teaches the Universal Church, he is infallible.  He knows that refusing to submit to the pope, in so far as he is recognized as the legitimate pastor of the whole Church, is a schismatic attitude and repugnant to him.  Since at Ecône they did not explain to him in detail the gravity of the doctrinal errors contained in the conciliar texts, and since, what is more, they contented themselves with giving him false and fantastic justifications for resistance to the established authority, an authority whose legitimacy it pleased them to recognize, this priest made his choice.  Between schism through love of conservatism and what appeared to him to be Catholic obedience, he preferred Catholic obedience.

     In fact, Fr. Samson was mistaken, since the true question is to be asked in the following terms, which he failed to discern: the teaching claimed by Vatican II to be the authentic teaching of the Church contradicts in a formal manner the doctrine defined in an infallible and irreformable manner by the popes and councils of the past.  This is a matter of fact, but who at Ecône has seriously taken the trouble to prove this fact?  And from this question there is a conclusion to be drawn: Paul VI, who promulgated to the Universal Church doctrines already condemned by the Magisterium could not have been pope when he acted thus; on the contrary he showed by this act that he had lost all jurisdiction and was no more than an impostor.  Who at Ecône had the courage to speak this truth to Fr. Samson?  To ask the question is to answer it: no one.

     Thus we can understand the action of this priest whose conscience, insufficiently instructed by those whose duty it was to form it, remains clear in the circumstances he describes.  But objectively, it is a scandalous mess.

Normalisation: an American example

     The moral pressure seeking to obtain perfect conformity to the praxis of its superior from the members of the Fraternity sometimes provokes departures, but more often a less noticeable falling into step.  Among the different cases of this sort, we shall mention one little known to French readers.  It concerns a group of three responsible members of the Fraternity of St. Pius X in the United States, Frs. Clarence Kelly, Antony Cekada and Daniel Dolan.  These three priests, suspect in the eyes of Mgr. Lefebvre on account of their freedom of speech on the subjects of the new ordo missæ and John Paul II, found themselves required to sign a paper which Mgr. Lefebvre himself addressed to them on 29th May 1980.  This paper, drawn up in English, is short: "What your Superior and Bishop requires of you - to give as an answer to those who ask what one should think about the pope: "the practice and attitude of the Society since its origin.(41)  And that you should not publicly give an opinion, either verbally or in writing, contrary to the attitude of the Fraternity either in regard to the pope or to the invalidity "ex se" of the Novus Ordo.

     "More clearly; on the question of the pope, the practice of the Fraternity is to decide in favour of validity, giving it the benefit of the doubt; on the question of the Novus Ordo: the policy of the Fraternity does not decide whether it is of its proper nature, "ex se" invalid.  However, the Fraternity recognizes that the definitive solution of these questions must necessarily fall to the Magisterium of the Church in the future, when normality is restored."  The text is signed by Mgr. Lefebvre and the three priests brought to book.

     The whole schismatic orientation of Ecône is expressed in this.  In the Fraternity, one acts, one has a "policy" and a "practice", but one forbids oneself - and one is forbidden to give a theoretical justification for one's acts.  Mgr. Lefebvre is entirely responsible for this situation, and his appeal to some future ruling on questions which are crucial at the present time shows clearly the contempt in which he holds the needs of the moral conscience.

A leonine contract

     In those places where Catholic centres existed before the appearance of the Fraternity, they made use of oblique manoeuvres in order to achieve their hegemony.  However, in those countries where the Fraternity possesses the monopoly of the sacraments, it is the harsh law of the stony heart of the worst economic liberalism.  Thus in the United states, groups of Catholic lay people find themselves being offered "association" on the basis of thoroughly leonine contracts.  The following letter from Fr. Bolduc, Superior of the South West District of the United states, is an eloquent witness.

The Society of Saint Pius X
Post Office Drawer 159
St. Marys, Kansas  66536
Telephone (913)437-2471

June 3, 1980

Col. Jack Looney
4009 Van Buren N. E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110

Dear Col. Looney:

Thank you for making me aware of your intentions as regards the Society of St. Pius X.  More than ever traditional Catholic chapels are discovering the advantages of placing themselves under the Society.  As members of your board have desired information concerning their obligations to the Society or the Society's obligations to the chapel should affiliation take place, I am writing this short letter in order to make this matter clear.

First of all, the Society would be obliged to furnish a priest for Sunday Mass in Albuquerque.  I can assure you that your Mass schedule would not be interrupted and that I would place a priest there as soon as possible.  Secondly, the Society would always have the obligation of furnishing you with Mass and the Sacraments and a priest.  The Society would expect that the property would be deeded to it, that is, to Archbishop Lefebvre through his representative, the South-West District Superior.  This means that the Society would accept all debts and mortgages.  The Society would also have to be incorporated within the state of New Mexico as soon as possible.

As regards the obligations of the chapel to the Society, we would expect a sum of about $100.00 per month to be sent to District head-quarter at St. Marys, Kansas for their share in contributing to the support of the parent organization.  Occasionally we would also expect the chapel to participate in a special way for the training of seminarians and religious.  Other than this, all funds would be used locally.

Because the Society is the only traditional Catholic organization with seminaries, it is the only group that can assure priests for the future.  Therefore, I feel that your chapel would be assuring its future by becoming a part of the Society.

If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please let me know.  I discussed this matter with the Archbishop during his visit and he has given his approval to accepting the Albuquerque chapel.

Please be assured of our prayers.

In Mary Immaculate,

Rev. Hector L. Bolduc
South-West District Superior
Society of St. Pius X


(1)  Fr. Simoulin, preaching "for the salvation of the soul of the Church" (sic) for Lent 1981, in the church of St. Nicholas du Chardonnet.  The abbe, shining with not less than six months priesthood, had his errors and inaccuracies published in a book, prefaced what is more by Mgr. Ducaud-Bourget.  The review Itineraires, having chosen to give it some publicity, insisted however on correcting the abbe's youthful faults.  His pride touched to the quick, the abbe thought it good to publish and distribute widely a ridiculous and venomous pamphlet entitled "O God, protect me from my friends.  My enemies I can take care of myself."  We shall quote from this pamphlet again, since it is so revealing of the characteristics of the priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X.  Regarding this matter, cf. Itineraires No. 261, March 1982.
(2)  Cf. particularly Fideliter No. 16 where Fr. Aulagnier gives the child as the efficient cause of the family.
(3)  Fideliter No. 23, p. 22.
(4)  A complacency which sometimes attains the heights of ridiculous affectation.  Fr. Lorans, promoted rector of the Institut Universitaire Saint-Pie X after a few months in the priesthood thought fit to deliver an "inaugural lesson" in high-flown style of which the grandiloquence was ill-matched to the modesty of the enterprise: "Every man naturally desires to know because between his intelligence and the truth there exists a relationship which is not accidental but essential - in the language of the Schools, a relationship not predicamental but transcendental ...
     "The scholastic method which clearly distinguishes in a proposition the subject from the predicate, in a syllogism the major and minor from the conclusion, this ascetic method seemed to him insufficiently poetic, in the Greek sense of the term.  "This poetic promotion which lifts the human understanding to the level of the angelic and divine understanding leads on in the short term to an ontological promotion which makes of man a god and makes of philosophy a gnosis ..."
     In the language of the Schools and in the Greek sense of the term, that is known as being out of one's depth, to put it politely.
(5)  Pamphlet already quoted.
(6)  Some have been surprised to see their names already on the list of seminarians when making their first visit to the director of the seminary.
(7)  Or "bombarding" (that is, precipitating) according to an expression used by Fr. Simoulin in Fideliter No. 26, p. 15.  (8)  This is the case, for example, with Fr. de la Tour, though gently teased by his confreres for his limited abilities when animating church clubs.
(9)  We think of the drama of certain worker-priests, thrown into the savagery of the world with no other formation than a few questions from a brief course and advice from irresponsible sources.
(10)  At Ecône, practically no teaching is given on the 2nd Vatican Council, the new rites or the canonical reforms.  They begin by doing something on the new mass, since some seminarians take too many liberties with this subject.  In revenge, Fr. Barrielle is able to deliver at leisure the revelations of the Virgin of Shawinigan who appeared to him one evening at a conference.  It is true that the Virgin told him that Fr. Barbara was wrong.  What a godsend!  The muddle which prevails over the new rites reaches the level of a joke.  Thus the seminarians are unsure of the validity of the ordination of Fr. Cottard.  We know for a fact that he was ordained by Mgr. Lefebvre according to the new rite.  After that, opinions differ.  It remains true that Mgr. Lefebvre is unwilling to shed further light on the affair, we might well ask why, and that some seminarians carefully avoid assisting at the masses of this doubtful priest: to the extent, for example, that a certain functionary at Ecône arranged that his friends should not have to assist at the community mass when it was said by Fr. Cottard.
(11)  This partly explains why most of those who left the seminary because they refused to recognize John Paul II are now amongst the followers of Fr. Guerard des Lauriers, such followers being noted for their allergy to any discipline.
(12)  A fine example of liberalism: Frs. Kelly and Bolduc, both priests in the same district of the United states, being unable to live in amity, came to complain about each other to their superior, whose solution was to divide the district with one of the quarrelsome pair in charge of each part.
(13)  Mgr. Lefebvre is a past master of the art of the middle way.  In 1977, he decided to break with the Office of the Rue des Renaudes, and although refusing to discuss the matter fully, he forbade his subjects to attend the congress at Lausanne.  The "anti-liberals" rejoiced.  But the next conference, led by their superior, was directed against them.  Similarly, he forbade the members of his Fraternity to take part in the camps of a mixed youth movement.  Again the "anti-liberals" rejoiced.  However, a campaign led by Fr. Blin caused a change of mind by the prelate, who withdrew his prohibition.  Those in the Fraternity who still retained dignity or lucidity thus underwent a good period of "douche ecossaise" before learning the real intentions of the bishop.
(14)  Cf. below in Annexe, "Exasperation: the case of Fr. Samson." (15)  We do not know the intentions of these priests.  However, it is quite clear that what was said to them at Ecône concerning the new mass and the 2nd Vatican Council did not prepare them for what lay in wait.  Discovering one day the Catholic doctrine which had been concealed from them - in particular the infallibility of the universal Magisterium - and unconvinced of the intrinsic malice of the new ordo missæ and the conciliar texts, their fall was facilitated.
(16)  We can imagine the chaos within the Fraternity if Mgr. Lefebvre happened to die.  True, this is not a hypothesis his most faithful subjects are prepared to consider.
(17)  Mgr. Lefebvre, sun rising or setting, N.E.L., 1979.
(18)  It has become usual among "traditionalists" to refer to this bishop as "Monseigneur" without further particulars.  The habit irritates some.  Thus, at a committee meeting to draft the review "Itinerares", A. B. thought it necessary to remind the meeting that "Monseigneur" was not the only bishop on earth.  (19)  Fr. B, called upon to explain the repeated demands of his superior to be allowed to make "the experiment of Tradition", saw fit to excuse the silliness of the expression by the unequalled virtue of "Monseigneur's" humility.
(20)  This poem has already been commented on in our review (Cf. No. 4 NS).  We present a new and uncorrected edition: "Some time ago it was suggested to me, I ask myself more than ever why after what we have just heard (for genuine poets have read beautiful poetry before me), to express poetically, if possible, some beautiful thoughts on the occasion of this anniversary.  I do not know if the thoughts which I have tried to capture are beautiful, nor if their expression is poetic, but I willingly offer you, Monseigneur, in the form of a sonnet, this homage of filial piety:

"Blessed be God: You watch over the world.
If Your work is ruined by those who betray You,
You raise up a man, in order that he may rebuild.
Sublimely once, confronted with vile sins,
The Man-God came.  By redeeming our souls,
He made us understand the cost of His suffering.
It is the Spouse today which tears the lance.
(as a note: the Spouse of Jesus Christ is the Catholic Church)
(as a note: the lance which pierced the side of Our Lord on the Cross).
In the love of the flesh is the cause of the drama.
(as a note: in the sense of St. Paul in his epistles: the love of worldly things)
But ten years ago, a Prince of the Church arose.
He resists, accepts suffering
To feed his sheep, in spite of the terrible crisis.
In his Fraternity, we shall be united with him,
And expect one day to see the sky open for him,
For he has based his life on charity.
(As a note: "We believed in charity" is the device of Mgr. Lefebvre).

(21)  The spectacle posed by certain "traditionalist leaders" is painful enough.  In spite of their differences with Mgr. Lefebvre, and by reason of these very differences, they unceasingly proclaim their indefectible attachment to him who, if he happened to designate them for reprobation, would cause them to lose their following and thus their livelihood.
(22)  Like Fr. Kelly, Cekada and Dolan, for example.  Cf. infra in Annexe, "Normalization: an American example." (23)  The accommodation consisted at one time in not saying the prayer "pro pontifice" at the salutation of the Blessed Sacrament but in contenting himself with playing the organ.  Today the abbe has found a simpler method: he sings the prayer but without thinking.
(24)  At Castres, for Easter 1979, he did not say the prayer "pro pontifice", one way of pleasing those who accompanied him.  Similarly, in the refectory of his priory at Suresnes and laughing delightedly, he read out Forts dans la Foi No. 59/60 which recapitulates all the hardest things Mgr. Lefebvre has said about the conciliar church.
(25)  In his pamphlet quoted above, Fr. Simoulin, short of arguments, uses this final insinuation: "Many lay people ... seem to take a secret pleasure in casting discredit on Mgr. Lefebvre and his Fraternity through his priests, whom he has formed and in whom he has confidence."  To present the matter like that is to invert the roles.  It is the priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X who dishonour Mgr. Lefebvre.  Whose fault is that?
(26)  Cf. what he said of one of his seminarians to whom he had just shown the door: "The situation is clear, it is that of young priests who have left us to follow a way other than that of the Fraternity.  So long as he remains in this frame of mind, it is useless for him to try to see me or to write to me.  I refuse, and it is clearly my right to do so, to enter into sterile discussions ...  He has chosen another society; let him live in it."  (Letter to Fr. Siegel, 1 Oct. 1981).
(27)  It contained for example this preamble: "Be assured that if in this letter anything should prove to be offensive to you, I withdraw it in advance and wish not to have written it, for I have told you more than once and God is my witness that I am not lying, I have for you not only the respect due to the fullness of your priesthood, but in addition an unfeigned priestly affection.  For very many years I do not believe I have failed to recommend you to God at the "memento" of every one of my Masses." (28)  All the items of this file were published in Forts dans la Foi No. 3 NS, pp. 222 to 236.  Many others besides Fr. Barbara have had to acknowledge the incredible acrimony of Mgr. Lefebvre.  Thus, M. Denoyelle, director of the Belgian periodical Mysterium Fidei, had written a number of respectful letters to bring the bishop back to reason.  His only answer was the following: "His Eminence Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre begs Monsieur Denoyelle no longer to send to him the Revue Mysterium Fidei, nor to the seminaries of the Fraternity.  With his compliments and the assurance of his prayers.  3rd July 1981" (cf Mysterium Fidei, Dossier fraude Ecône.
(29)  The file published by Forts dans la Foi No. 3 NS also contained two letters, one dated 9 May 80 to all the members of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, the other dated 9 Aug 80 to all Priors and Superiors of Houses of Formation of the Fraternity.  The first received no reply.  As for the second, Fr. Tissier de Mallerais, director of the seminary at Ecône, replied as strongly as he could by refusing it and returning it unread.  Fr. Aulagnier did the same, adding: "Father, I am compelled to tell you that you that your activities disgust me.  With my greetings."
(30)  Fr. Barrielle and some others choose to apply to them these words of St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort.
(31)  We must once again quote from Fr. Simoulin's pamphlet, pointing out that he is speaking of himself in the third person: "The author is a priest, after all.  If we can admit that he may be contradicted prudently and reverently when he is talking about the liturgical movement, about television or butterfly hunting, we cannot admit it when, vested with the weight and authority of his priesthood, he is preaching the faith of the Church."  We might point out that this young priest, speaking from the height of the chair at St. Nicolas du Chardonnet, demands of the faithful a submission which he denies to his "pope" John Paul II speaking from the height of Peter's chair.  Let us quote him just once more in the hope that he can understand himself: "it is necessary to watch carefully over one's own doctrine before opposing it to that of the Church.  For this purpose, some very good catechisms exist, for adults or for children."
(32)  Editions Saint-Gabriel, March 1982.
(33)  Underlined by us.  The whole error of Mgr. Lefebvre is clearly shown here.  If it is true that the Deposit of Faith is above the Magisterium as Christ is above his Vicar, it is nevertheless false to say that the Magisterium finds its expression in Tradition.  On the contrary, it is the Church who decides definitively what the Tradition is, it is the function of the living Magisterium to be the authentic witness to it.  Protestantism appeals to Scripture against the teaching of the Church.  In appealing to Tradition against the Magisterium, Mgr. Lefebvre is following in the direct line of free choice.
  (34)  Passages in italic are underlined by the authors.
(35)  Cf. infra in Annexe, "A leonine convention."
(36)  For example, in France, at Marseille, Nantes, Lille, Tours, Strasbourg, Lyon.
(37)  In Mexico, to repair a situation which had turned out badly for the Fraternity of St. Pius X, Frs. Faure and Williamson did not hesitate to go, at great expense, from one recalcitrant to another, telling each one the great lie that the others had agreed.  In France, M. Mazier de Montbrillant, refusing to hand over the Association of St. Pius of Anjou of which he is the president, found himself hauled before the courts for a fraud arising from the imagination of charitable "Lefebvrist" priests.  In the U.S.A., Fr. Bolduc, Superior of the South West district, makes free use of his sacramental monopoly to establish tyranny, as witnessed by his letter of 19th May 1981 to Mr. and Mrs. B., signed before a notary public, containing this significant passage: "This is to inform you that per this notification neither you nor your sons, D.  and B., are to ever visit or step foot at St. Mary's College or on the property belonging to the Society of St. Pius X.  Should this order be violated, I shall use whatever legal means necessary to enforce it and will hold you directly accountable for any and all consequences arising from its violation.  Should any of you feel need of the Sacraments (and I highly recommend that you consider them), you are to contact me and notify me directly and make a private appointment at my discretion.  This cannot be done through any other Priest or, member of the Society but only through myself.
(38)  Cf. the communique of the International Committee for the Coordination of Catholic Associations, dated 18 October 1981 and entitled "Quelques reflexions sur la situation presente ..."
(39) Cf. the "Ordonnances concernant les pouvoirs et facultes dont jouissent les membres de la Fraternité Sacerdotale Saint-Pie X" of 1st May 1980.  Mgr. Lefebvre gives to simple priests the power of confirmation, fraudulently invoking the motu proprio Pastorale Munus (30 November 1963).  One cannot emphasize enough the gravity of such an act, which might appear harmless to anyone who did not know that there is a Law in the Church, but which constitutes one of the most overwhelming proofs that Mgr. Lefebvre indeed intends to be the head of an autocephalous church.
(40)  Quarterly bulletin for the defence of the Faith and the maintenance of Tradition, Foi et Tradition, No. 76, May-June 1981.
(41) It is thus obviously a matter of giving the "party version" by way of answer to fundamental questions asked by outsiders; and not an objective reply, even a purely speculative one.  It is not only in the United States that this lesson has been learned by the young militants of the Fraternity.  Many of our readers will have encountered it at one time or other.


     The whole drama of Mgr. Lefebvre is to have missed his vocation, is a choice which calls in return for a gift of self free of all restraint.  Commenting on the call of the rich young man and his refusal because of his great riches, (Matt XIX, 16-24), spiritual writers show the imperious necessity of detaching ourselves from every disordered affection for all goods whatever.  This renunciation may strike very deep.  It is enough to remember the call to Abraham of whom the Lord required the sacrifice, not only of his country and of his family, but even of that only child which he had had at last in his old age and by whom alone could the divine promises be realized.  The faith demands a similar renunciation in all its obscurity since it obliges us to hope even against hope itself (Romans IV, 18).


     It appears undeniable that Mgr. Lefebvre was chosen by God to defend the Church by proclaiming the Faith.  In any case, that is how he appeared to us and that is why we supported and helped him.  In fact, it is pleasing to remember, to his honour, that he was the only Catholic bishop to stand up to do his duty as bishop, as guardian, as Doctor of the Faith.  To defend the faith, he was not afraid to bring his sword into play and accuse Vatican II of being "a schismatic council."  Then, to the approbation of the true Church which recognized in him the voice of the Good Shepherd (John X, 14), he adopted the fearless language of Our Lord (Matt V, 37).  He declared with great clarity: "This conciliar church is a schismatic church.  The church which affirms errors like these is altogether schismatic and heretical.  This conciliar church is thus not Catholic.  To the extent that the pope, the bishops, priests or faithful adhere to this new church, they separate themselves from the Catholic Church."(1)

     Never then did we accept the idea that the author of statements so clear and so Catholic could betray our expectations.  Consequently, we helped and supported him with confidence.  Certainly, even in his clearest statements he made use of disconcerting expressions, but the confidence we placed in him caused us to take them for no more than skilful formulas, diplomatic and even perhaps as olive branches to the men of the new church who might be willing to accept them.  Alas.  These illusions did not last long, and in 1979 we had to yield to the evidence.  Mgr. Lefebvre was refusing to answer God's call.

     In reporting the refusal of the rich young man in the Gospel, St. Matthew emphasizes the reason for it.  This young man "had great possessions" (XIX, 22).  Since he was not detached from these possessions, the idea of abandoning them prevented him from answering the Master's call.  The great possessions of this rich man did not consist only in what he possessed, but also in the personal idea he had of the way of obtaining the kingdom of God.  Without any doubt, this rich young man wished to obtain salvation since he asked Jesus what he must do to obtain it (Matt XIX, 16), but he could not make up his mind to abandon all that he had in order to go to God.

     It is this that we find in the behaviour of Mgr. Lefebvre.  Circumstances conferred upon him the possession of seminaries, universities, monasteries, convents and priories.  Considered by many as the man sent by Providence, the victim of the image which people had constructed for him, he was heaped with honours.  Today, he is preoccupied with the survival of all these possessions.

     However, God did not choose him for that.  He is a bishop, and he was chosen to be the defender of the Church, to proclaim the faith, to awaken his brethren in the episcopate, to rally the sheep abandoned by their shepherds, and consequently to denounce and condemn, with his episcopal authority, the new heresiarchs who are destroying the Church and the Faith.  We know that it needs true heroism to do all those things.  We know particularly what courage is required to denounce the powerful ones of the day and to cast anathema on them, at the risk of losing both possessions and reputation.  However, that is what is demanded by the first commandment: to love God above all and more than self.

     Mgr. Lefebvre truly wishes to defend the Church but by leading God to his own point of view, that is to say by keeping the possessions and reputation which he has acquired.  To this end, he completely neglects to do his duty by seeking out other bishops, as though they might turn out to be rivals.(2)  To this end, he prefers to engage in dialogue with those whom he ought to condemn.  He has allowed himself to be caught in the trap which the modernists set for him.  What has he obtained?  Nothing.  Why?  Because the new church, which cannot grant him any concession without destroying itself, despises him while it fosters his illusions, since it knows that he is their greatest ally.  The results are plain to see.  The Catholics who made the conciliar church tremble in 1976 have become divided since the declaration of November 1979, and much the greater part of them has entered onto the path of schism and heresy.

     The founders of the new religion were not, for the most part, either monsters or enemies infiltrated into the heart of the Church to destroy her; they were above all else liberals.  Thinking it possible to unite darkness and light, they went as far as they could with the world, which presented itself to them in every form of the revolt against God.  In their desire for meeting and union, they went so far that they went beyond the limits of orthodoxy and separated themselves from the true Church of Christ.

     The imprudence of Mgr. Lefebvre was of this sort.  He also wished to accept up to the point of error, but interpreted in the sense of Tradition.  Our Lord, however, has forewarned us: "But let your speech be: Yea, Yea: No, No.  And that which is over and above these is of evil" (Matt V, 37).  "A schismatic council which turns its back on Tradition and breaks with the Church of the past", "errors at the same time both schismatic and heretical" cannot in any manner be accepted by a Catholic soul, since as a Catholic knows, in the judgement of Tradition, a council like this and doctrines like these are already anathematized and must be rejected as heretical.  The prelate of Rickenbach has been compared to the bishop of Alexandria.  Can we imagine for one moment St. Athanasius accepting the theories of Arius, even interpreted in the sense of the tradition of Nicea?  The very thought of it would have filled him with indignation.  Although it might cost him banishment from his diocese and persecution, as a true disciple of Jesus his language was always "Yes" to confess the faith and "No" to reject error.

     The Apostle is explicit: "Be not deceived: God is not mocked" (Gal. VI, 7).  The Apostle also describes precisely the principal punishment from Heaven: "because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying"(II Thess II, 10).  Instead of acknowledging his error and returning to Catholic doctrine, Mgr. Lefebvre, to justify his schismatic attitude, caused a whole theory of obedience and authority to be elaborated by his followers, the heterodoxy of which we have denounced.  At the same time appeared those other normal consequences of spiritual blindness: hardness of heart, bitter zeal, the effects of power to try to divide and crush everything which does not bow before the new Goliath, and the scorn, if not hatred, for everyone who declines to think as he does.

     "But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go and rebuke him" (Matt XVIII, 15).  Mgr. Lefebvre has not observed this duty of fraternal charity, either towards us, if we were wrong, or towards his brethren in the episcopate.  Cain's remark, "am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen 1, 9) is characteristic of all his conduct.  His hardness of heart is such that he remained deaf even to the supplications which were addressed to him.  This hardening of Mgr. Lefebvre can only be a consequence of his attachment to his possessions.  We can but remember the words of Jesus: "Amen, I say to you that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt XIX, 23).


     "If thy brother shall offend against thee, go and rebuke him between thee and him alone.  If he shall hear thee thou shalt gain thy brother."  It was in response to this order from Our Lord that at first we tried to adjust these differences by private correspondence.  When this move was met with scornful silence, we followed Our Lord's second counsel: "And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand."  The Prior of Bedoin, Dom Gerard, having refused, we appointed two members of our Union to go and take a new private letter to Mgr. Lefebvre personally, once again in vain.  Then, in Our Lord's words: "And if he will not hear them, tell the Church."  That is why we made our attempts public, in the hope that the prelate would understand the scandal he was causing, and realizing the gravity of the situation, would at last repent.  Again there was no result.  "And if he will not hear the Church: let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican" (Matt XVIII, 15-18).  That is now the situation.

     We assure the reader that we do not take ourselves to be either the Church or the Magisterium and we claim for ourselves no jurisdiction.  However, though we are not the Church, we are of the Church, and being of the Church we have not only the right but the duty of knowing the doctrine, of living and of proclaiming it and to "be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine" (II Tim. IV, 2).  To instruct by recalling Catholic doctrine, to insist in season and out of season, to reprove, to threaten by recalling the censures the Church imposes for these precise offences, is what we have patiently done, particularly in our review.  It is what we are still doing today.

     We have the right and the duty to recall and to proclaim, Catholic doctrine, and to denounce as heretics those who, with obstinacy, profess doctrines or adopt attitudes already condemned by the Magisterium.  For let us not forget that the irreformable decisions of the Magisterium remain even during the vacancy of the Holy See.  Since the Church is a living Body, always directly controlled by Christ who promised to be with us until the end of time, always vivified by the Holy Spirit who is her soul, she does not cease to have through her members that instinct for preservation which is found in all living beings.  When a shepherd transforms himself into a hireling, it is the duty of each and all of us to cry wolf.

     It is in fulfillment of this duty that we wish, in conclusion, publicly to denounce Mgr. Lefebvre and to put people on their guard against him.  His behaviour is schismatic.  The Law of the Church states: "He is schismatic who, having received baptism and not rejecting the name of Christian, refuses with pertinacity either to submit to the Sovereign Pontiff, or to remain in communion with the members who are subject to him."(3)  That John Paul II is only an impostor makes no difference in Mgr. Lefebvre's case.  Whoever kills a man who is not his father but whom he thinks is his father commits the sin of parricide.  In the same way, being totally disobedient to the man he considers to be pope,

     Mgr. Lefebvre is a schismatic.  To justify his behaviour, he invokes heretical reasons, denying with pertinacity the infallibility of the pope as defined by the 1st Vatican Council.  Consequently, charity, which is the love of God above all things, makes it our duty to break publicly with him and with those who choose to share his schism.  It is Our Lord's order: "Let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican" (Matt XVIII, 18).

     As for the faithful, they should remember that the Church has always forbidden "communicatio in sacris" with heretico-schismatics.  Even if some of their sacraments are valid, the faithful are formally forbidden to receive them, with the exception of penance in danger of death.(4)

     Must it remain like this?  No, since there still remains the grace of God.  That is why we wish again to address an appeal for conversion to all who have gone astray.  We address if first and foremost to Mgr. Lefebvre.  Once more we call upon him, for the love of Christ crucified and of His Church, to reconsider his position, to realize his error and to repair it.  Whatever his intentions may have been, which it is not for us to judge, we remind him of what we wrote to him in 1980.  This bishop was not chosen by God only by baptism, but as a bishop.  Now the first and principal duty of a bishop is not to confirm, to ordain priests or to found priories, but to safeguard and to transmit the Deposit of Faith.  A bishop who does not throw himself wholeheartedly into the work cannot ensure the transmission of the Deposit of Faith, spending himself for their souls, so that other bishops rise up also and with him ensure the apostolic succession in orthodoxy, in order that the Church may find a pope again as soon as possible.  Mgr. Lefebvre has obstinately shrunk from this first duty of his office, this will expressed by God for him.  There is nothing left for him but to repent it, to confess it and to do penance for it.

     Undoubtedly, conversion is always very painful to human nature but God's grace, which is never lacking, is there since no one is tempted beyond his strength.  What matters, the Gospel assures us, is not to have begun well but to have finished well.


(1)  Declaration of 29 July 1976.
(2)  He refused the request which Fr. Barbara made to him a few years ago to go to visit other bishops to persuade them to rise up and confess the faith.
(3)  Canon 1325, para 2.
(4)  These principles ought to govern the attitude to adopt towards Mgr. Lefebvre and those priests who persist in following him.  We must say that some priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X are nevertheless not schismatic, at least not yet, in so far,, as they have not as yet wholly adopted the practices and the false doctrine of their bishop.  It remains that the more time passes, the more they are compromised and the more scandalous they become.  Finally we must add that there is one question which they cannot escape: what claim to validity exists for absolution given by priests of the Fraternity who recognize the legitimacy of John Paul II and the bishops in office when these hierarchs give them no jurisdiction and positively forbid them to exercise this ministry?


     Full stop, we have said: since there must be an end one day.  Nothing can escape this test of truth.  Mgr. Lefebvre and his organization are in schism; it is blunt, but it is certain.  It is tempting to introduce doubts where in fact it is clear, to prolong the inquiry when we already have the answer, since the answer is heavy with costly and harrowing consequences.  We know it: "Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth came not to send peace but the sword.  For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  And a man's enemies shall be they of his own household" (Matt X, 34-36).

     For what reason does God permit evil?  Because he is sufficiently powerful to draw good out of it: "And we know that to them that love God all things work together unto good" (Rom VIII, 28).  God has permitted the crisis which is shaking the Church in order to purify the faith of his own, "that the trial of your faith, much more precious than gold which is tried by the fire, may be found unto praise and glory and honour at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (I Peter I, 7).

     God has also permitted the fall of Mgr. Lefebvre.  It is good to be able to point out that this fall has been for some the occasion of a salutary awakening.  It could still be so for many more.  However, to pass the test and to master it, it is necessary to love the "unique" language of truth, and to submit to seeing facts as they are.


     The "leaders of the traditionalists" practise double speech.  There is appearance, and there is reality.  The appearance is of perfect unity, between themselves, and between them and the Fraternity.  In their leaden tongue, all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds; they speak at every turn of their "dear Monseigneur", of "the excellent and good Fr. Coache", etc.  Behind these official postures, however, there exists a different reality, a different language reserved for the initiated.  From this point of view, reading their numerous pamphlets is very instructive.  We learn from them, for instance, that the good Fr. Coache, promoter of the great fraternisation of the "leaders", including Mgr. Lefebvre, which ended in the communique of 28th May 1981(1), had some trouble in obtaining support when he tried to involve his colleagues in united action.  It is enough to read "Combat de la Foi" carefully to understand the mentality of its author, and indirectly that of the others.  The same evening of the famous communique, Fr. Coache launched the idea of a great rally in Rome.  In his leaflet of 7th June, he stated: "I hope for a great turnout by everyone, the help of my confreres and particularly that of the leaders.  Mgr. Lefebvre, consulted at Rickenbach and at Flavigny, looks favourably on this project, but I hope very much for more, that is to say either his official patronage or his participation as pilgrim (and a pilgrim of note) ...  "But the good abbe had had his reward: finding no response to his hopes, he had to cancel the demonstration in some embarrassment and transform it into another pilgrimage to Lourdes.  Once more he counted on the support of his dear colleagues and his "dear Monseigneur" in this less compromising place, but again he was disappointed.  We read in his leaflet of 25th January 1982: "My defence of Monseigneur is all the more disinterested because he has never been able to find the time to come to preside over a great Corpus Christi procession at Monjavoult or Flavigny, or a great Rally at Rome or Lourdes, an honour accorded to other Movements: but he is so much in demand."

     After this frank admission, he made his final bid: "If you are able, by your numerous letters, to persuade Mgr. Lefebvre to come, not to preside if he prefers not to, but to give a doctrinal conference on the Blessed Sacrament on one of the three days, that would be perfect."  As for perfection, on 25th March Fr. Coache drew up this bitter report: "I do not know why but some good and faithful priests, some young priests from the priories are sulking about the Pilgrimage or even advising against attending it; this is undoubtedly through a misunderstanding and the attitude does not come from their superiors."  Misunderstanding or not, Fr. Coache's patience has limits, so in the same leaflet he contrived to flay certain priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X.  Warning against the teaching of Jean Borelia, he fired a murderous shot in the direction of the lnstitut Universitaire Saint-Pie X: "At a Conference given by this professor in a traditional House of Formation, each of the ten lines contained a modernist, pro-heretic or pantheist formula, but no one minded it to my knowledge."

     Fr. Coache is not alone in having his scapegoats.  We recall for example the pointed words of the very fashionable if somewhat timeworn Mgr. Ducaud-Bourget, reported in "Monde et Vie" of 26th February 1982: "I can tell you that false brethren are already to be found in the columns of traditionalist bulletins and reviews who calumniate us absurdly.  I have been accused of being a freemason, to have deviated, to teach Catholic doctrine no longer, etc.  They were all laymen with a theological itch who would have done better if they had first looked up their catechism."  To this point, we might think that he had in mind only the sordid writers of the Boc, but we are soon enlightened: "first looked up their catechism in order to discover what the mass is before ridiculously and odiously criticizing the sermons of some of our excellent priests ..."  In fact, this former dignitary of the Order of Malta had no other ambition than to shoot down in flames that great defender of tradition and emeritus Jean Madiran.  One of the latter's collaborators had had the impudence to point out the gross errors of Fr. Simoulin, the protege of Mgr. Ducaud-Bourget.

     We could write a long list of these settlings of accounts, but it is enough to read the writings of all these amiable "leaders" to be edified by the real extent of the vaunted union which binds them together: see how they love one another.

     In fact, we think that the fact is not wholly unknown to the public.  In this circle buzzing with rumour, familiar with the gossip of the sacristy, many people know what this man or that may think.  In fact, a large "number of traditionalists" finds that it suits them well, for after all every one can find something to suit him in the double language: the essential thing, after all, is that everyone should jog along quietly, cost what it may, managing somehow to harmonize the "mass of our childhood" and the weekly gazette of the petty squabbles of the exiles from within.(2)

     How is this situation likely to be resolved?  It goes without saying that in the immediate future the Fraternity is cut out to play the part of the lion.  All the others are in decline and find themselves forced to submit or to go to the wall.  For this reason we can see now that people are falling into two groups: one seeking to find themselves a place in the Lefebvrist evolution, the others trying to save what can be saved.

     The first group, which provisionally unites Madiran and Salleron, with Itineraires and Present, Michel de Saint-Pierre with Credo and its worldly wisdom, the Entente Catholique de France and several others, constitutes a sort of "Party for movement", ready to examine any compromise likely to obtain from the new church if not a presidential chair, at least a serviceable stool.  The second group, which gathers together the fashionable-clerical Ducaud-Bourget, the unlucky Fr. Coache and all those nostalgic for the good old "traditionalist" days, is the "party of order", whose conservatism is as doleful as it is frankly worried.(3)

     The political terms which we use here for the purpose of comparison are not misplaced.  The fact is that all these people who until recently appeared as defenders of the faith have turned back towards naturalism.  They all hope for the solution to the present crisis from their purely human "combination."  They flatter themselves on their work, bear witness to themselves and love to display their material successes, even though by acting in this way they are destroying themselves.  In the eyes of God, what is the value of one monastery worth one million francs, a property list three pages long, if not the value of sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal?  More especially so from a purely human point of view.  And that is the reason why this vast imposture will come to an end.  The double talk of the leaders is lying, and of this lying, nothing will remain.  Though in the short term it is allowed to continue, in the long term it will of necessity be lost.

     Moreover, this is not only because time wears things down, time which has already weakened the faith of the greater number, but also for the simple reason of internal evolution.

     On the part of the new church, it is clear that prospects are totally blocked.  Officially, they might perhaps accept Canossa, that is to say a public and penitent retraction, but in practice it is very unlikely: for the modernists are full of hate and what they want is the death of their enemies, nothing less.  All the rest is dreams.  But to tell the truth, who doubts it among the protagonists of reunion?  In reality, none of the present warm partisans of John Paul II "as such" (the real John Paul II they do not want to know) has the slightest intention of submitting to the hierarchs of the new church.  The truth is that they are all autocephalous.  And the Fraternity is here again at the point of double language: whilst the militants are forced to develop theses to justify the established power of the enemies of the Church, they will not be bound by them and will strike out on a completely independent line, and will become an autonomous sect.

     We see that the future is in any case dependent not upon real negotiations with the new church, but rather on "after-Lefebvrism."  At present the thin veneer of the appearance of unity is kept intact by the presence of Mgr. Lefebvre; but he is not eternal and the future is full of possibilities.  Logically, everything is likely to break down at his disappearance.  His presence allows the "traditionalists" to maintain the myth of unity, at least before outsiders.  But afterwards?  Is it possible to imagine Frs. Coache, Ducaud- Bourget and Dom Gerard kissing the ring of Bishop Aulagnier?  A matter like the quarrel between Madiran and Fr. Simoulin can be patched up now, at least for the sake of appearances, but any one with the smallest insight into the realities of the situation knows how precarious is the balance.  Once the man sent by Providence has gone, the fire which is now smouldering will inevitably burst into flame.


     That is why everyone should understand clearly that there is no future for anything except for the Union pour la Fidélité.  The explanation for this is very simple.

     For one thing, Catholic doctrine alone will triumph.  Now, the Union has no doctrine of its own but defends the certain doctrine of the Church, and in any case rests wholly in the desire to act thus.  In contrast, the "traditionalist leaders" invent their own doctrine, dishonestly at that, since they claim each time to be covered by perfect orthodoxy, but without ever giving proof apart from their own assertions, or failing that, some truncated quotation.

     Furthermore, the Union pour la Fidélité is united.  That is the unpardonable sin for all the individualists, whose hackles rise at once at the very idea of obedience.  It is for this reason also that the Union endures in spite of the inhuman treatment to which it has been subjected since its origin.  There is no rupture at the heart of the Union, and it is not a vague confederation but a coherent and compact body, compact as every Christian social body must be, in the image of the Church herself, "which is compact together" (Ps CXXI, 3).  The individualists who abound among the "traditionalists" cannot understand the peace which results from unity.  That is why they rend each other, and the reason also why they will disappear.

     Finally, the Union pour la Fidélité has a future because it is the only one to look to the future, seeking not only "to revive the religion of our childhood" but still more to bring about what is necessary for the rescue of the Church.  Moreover, this rescue, which constitutes the whole object of its aspirations, is assured in advance.

     Vain assurances and unsupported claims, you may say.  It is true that in terms of strength we are a less than negligible fraction: we are nothing, or nearly so.  Running counter to all, despised even by those who until yesterday were our brothers in Catholic fidelity, there is nothing left to us but to disappear, according to the wishes of many.  Except by placing our assurance not in ourselves (how could we be tempted to do so in our condition?) but in Him who gives us strength, we would not have the certitude that Our Lord will not close the mouths of those who praise Him.

     Consequently, every one should understand that the words of the Apostle apply to us "as deceivers, and yet true: as unknown, and yet known: as dying and behold we live: as chastised and not killed: as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing:  as having nothing and possessing all things" (II Cor VI, 9-10).  In fact, we do indeed speak the truth, since we will have no other doctrine than that of Holy Church, the one truth above all others. 

     We are indeed known, since behind the affectation of contempt which is displayed to us it is clear that we are disturbing every one and every one knows it.  We are alive, since despite the efforts of all those who hate us, we still exist; we endure by the grace of God.  We rejoice, because our conscience is at peace, and because our understanding is full: the longer we continue, the more we see that what we profess is wholly in conformity with defined truth.  For us all is simple.  For them, everything is complicated, forced as they are into mental acrobatics by which they deceive themselves.  We possess all things, because by serving Our Lord and His Church, we already have our reward.

     Then why must they be so obtuse and so full of hate, all these "traditionalist leaders" so attentively watching our least move, hoping it may prove a mistake, which would give them the opportunity for an outburst of their ferocious muttering?  Why do they try so resolutely to reduce the Catholic doctrine which we uphold to the level of a common "opinion" (which after the fashion of the freemasons they say in advance they are quite ready to admit into their cacophony).  In fact, the answer is very simple: if they consider us as "the principal enemy", while at the same time they cover the devotees of Vatican II with verbal honours, it is because we are driving them towards a mortal confrontation with Catholic doctrine from which intolerable consequences will follow for their freethinking.  How foolish they are, for the yoke of the Lord is sweet and His burden light.  However, they prefer to fight us, since it is the only way open to them to safeguard their lukewarm illusions, through which they reconcile the irreconcilable, Catholic fidelity and the umbilical cord which keeps them in the bosom of the new church of the world.  They ought, however, to know that "no man can serve two masters" (Matt VI, 24).

     If they behave in this way, it is in order to preserve their individuality, of which they are so jealous that they are not prepared to lose it at any price.  It is this very attachment which will scatter them, since "every kingdom divided against itself shall be made desolate" (Matt XII, 25).

     As for us, who have seen the columns of the Church collapse, we beseech God to keep us in humble, reverent fear: "He that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall" (I Cor X, 12).  And we shall say again with the prophet Habacuc (III, 16-19): I have heard, and my bowels were troubled: my lips trembled at the voice.

     Let rottenness enter into my bones and swarm under me.

     That I may rest in the day of tribulation: that I may go up to our people that are girded.

     For the fig tree shall not blossom and there shall be no spring in the vines.  The labour of the olive tree shall fail and the fields shall yield no food.  The flock shall be cut off from the fold and there shall be no herd in the stalls.

     But I will rejoice in the Lord: and I will joy in God my Jesus.

     The Lord God is my strength and he will make my feet like the feet of harts: and he the conqueror will lead me upon my high places singing psalms."


(1)  Cf. Forts dans la Foi No. 7 NS, pp. 3-5.
(2)  The connivance between the "traditionalist leaders" and the faithful to whom they use a language of lies is not particularly surprising.  Those of our readers who wish to look more deeply into this point should refer to a book despised in "traditionalist" circles (which is not surprising), written by two professors of the Institut Saint-Pie X, C. Polin and C. Rousseau, Les illusions de l'Occident.  "Mutatis mutandis", they will understand that it is not only in the USSR that the victim has a disordered affection for the drug which is killing him.
(3)  Cf. the communique of the International Committee of Catholic Associations already referred to.

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