Letter to American Friends & Benefactors from
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
April 28, 1983
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
What was latent for many years in the relations between
most of the priests of the North-East District and the Society of St.
Pius X, and was the object of continual difficulties, has just come
out into the open by the support given by these priests to the refusal
of the Societyís liturgy by one of the three young priests I ordained
at Oyster Bay Cove on November 3, 1982.
Thus, their long-standing disagreement with myself and the
Society has now become public rebellion. It is the result of an
extremist way of thinking and a tendency to schism in the domain of
the liturgy, the papacy, and the sacraments of the reform.
They reject the liturgy which has always been used in the
Society and consider it evil, the liturgy of Pope Pius XII, signed by
Pope John XXIII, and so, the liturgy preceding the Council. They think
and behave as if there is no Pope, suppressing all prayers for the
Pope. In practice, they tend to hold almost all the sacraments of the
new rites to be invalid.
This radicalism is not the attitude of the Society.
The basic principle of the Societyís thinking and action in
the painful crisis the Church is going through is the principle taught
by St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica (II, II,
q. 33, a.4). That one may not oppose the authority of the Church
except in the case of imminent danger to the Faith. Now, there is no
danger for the Faith in the liturgy of Pope Pius XII and Pope John
XXIII, whereas there is great danger for the Faith in the liturgy of
Pope Paul VI, which is unacceptable.
The Society acts on the assumption that Pope John Paul II
is Pope and so prays for him and strives to bring him back to
Tradition by praying for him, by meeting with those around him, and by
writing to him.
The Society does not say that all the sacraments according
to the new post-conciliar rites are invalid, but that due to bad
translations, the lack of proper intention, and the changes introduced
in the matter and form, the number of invalid and doubtful sacraments
is increasing. In order, then, to reach a decision in the practical
order concerning the doubtfulness or invalidity of sacraments given by
priests imbued with the ideas of the Council, a serious study of the
various circumstances is necessary.
Many of you know the difficulties to which the attitude of
these priests has given rise. Many of you have suffered from it and so
will not be surprised by this clarification of the situation.
We regret not being able to come immediately to the
assistance of those who wish to stay with the Society, but we will
heed the requests of the faithful and, with the grace of God, we will
come to your aid and we will keep you united to Rome and to the Church
of all time.
So, henceforth, Fr. K---- is no longer District Superior;
Fr. C---- is no longer District Bursar; Fr. S---- is no longer Rector
of the Seminary. These priests, and the priests who follow them, and
any seminarians who might follow them, are no longer members of the
Society of St. Pius X, as of 27 April 1983. They no longer have any
power, nor hold any office in the Societyís name.
Henceforth, if you have any inquiries concerning the
Society in the North-East District, contact, at St. Thomas Aquinas
Seminary in Ridgefield, Fr. Richard Williamson, who has been
provisionally nominated District Superior, or Fr. Roger Petit, who has
been nominated District Bursar.
Most of the seminarians are remaining with us and we shall,
God willing, proceed with ordinations in the first days of November.
We count on your prayers so that we can carry on the work
of the Society in the North-East District and especially at the
Seminary henceforth entrusted to Fr. Richard Williamson. We ask you to
continue to help us so that we can continue building up the
traditional Catholic Church in America. Please pray for the 24 new
priests I am going to ordain on June 29th.
May God bless you through the intercession of the Blessed
+ Marcel Lefebvre,
Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X