after the Consecrations
An Interview with Archbishop
This interview appeared in the July-August 1989 issue of the
Society's magazine in France, Fideliter. It is a typically
lucid and profound analysis of the state of the official Church
and its relations with the Society.
years after the consecrations >
1: Why the consecrations?
Question: Perhaps it would be good to recall
why and for what purpose you took the grave decision to consecrate
bishops, when you knew at the time that it would cause a violent
reaction on the part of Rome. You accepted to run the risk of
being excommunicated, of being dismissed as schismatic, because
you wished to guarantee, by these consecrations, that the
priesthood and the sacraments would continue to be handed on.
Archbishop Lefebvre: Yes, obviously, it was a
decision that had to be prepared. The decision was not taken from
one day to the next. For several years already, I had been trying
to get Rome to understand that as I was advancing in age, I had to
ensure my succession. I had to ensure that some day someone would
take my place. One can't have seminaries and seminarians without a
bishop. The people, too, have need of a bishop to hand down the
Faith and the sacraments, especially the sacrament of
confirmation. In Rome, they were very well aware of the fact. I
alluded to it several times, and finally, I did so in public. No
one in Rome can say that I took them by surprise - that they were
caught unawares, or that I acted under cover. They were clearly
warned several years in advance by letters and by recordings of my
sermons which they had in their hands, and by the letter which
Bishop de Castro Mayer and myself had addressed to the Holy Father.
I think that is what actually caused a certain
change in their attitude towards us. They were afraid of the
episcopal consecrations, but they did not believe that I would
actually do them. Then, on the 29th of June 1987, when I spoke
about them in public, Cardinal Ratzinger was nevertheless a little
upset. At Rome, they were afraid that I would really get to
consecrating bishops, and that is when they made the decision to
be a little more open with regard to what we had always been
asking for - that is to say, the Mass, the Sacraments, and the
pontifical services according to the 1962 rite of John XXIII. At
that moment it seemed that they would not make any demands upon us
to go along with the Second Vatican Council. They made no mention
of it, and they even alluded to the possibility of our having a
bishop who would be my successor.
Now, that was definitely a somewhat profound,
radical change on their part. And so the question arose to know
what I should do. I went to Rickenbach to see the Superior General
and his assistants to ask them: What do you think? Should we
accept the hand being offered to us? Or do we refuse it? "For
myself, personally," I said, "I have no confidence in them.
For years and years I have been mixing with these people and for
years I have been seeing the way in which they act. I have no
further confidence in them. However, I do not wish people within
the Society and Traditional circles to be able to say afterwards,
you could easily have tried, it would have cost you nothing to
enter into discussion and dialogue." That was the opinion of
the Superior General and his assistants. They said, "You must
take into consideration the offer which is being made and not
neglect it. It's still worthwhile to talk with them."
At that moment I accepted to see Cardinal
Ratzinger and I insisted strongly to him that someone should come
and make a visitation of the Society. I thought that such a visit
would result in the benefits of maintaining Tradition being made
clear at the same time that its effects would be recognized. I
thought that that could have strengthened our position at Rome,
and that the requests that I would make to obtain several bishops
and a commission in Rome to defend Tradition, would have more
chance of succeeding.
Very soon, however, we realized that we were
dealing with people who are not honest. Immediately after the
visit, as soon as Cardinal Gagnon and Msgr. Perl got back to
Rome, we fell under their scorn. Cardinal Gagnon made declarations
in the newspapers that were incredible. According to him, 80% of
our people would leave us if I went ahead with the episcopal
consecrations. We were looking for recognition, Rome was looking
for reconciliation and for our recognizing our errors. Those who
had made the Visitation to the Society houses said that, after
all, they had only seen the externals - that God alone sees what is
in men's hearts, and consequently the visit was worth no more than
it was worth ...In brief, they were saying things which did not at
all correspond to what they had done and said during the visit
itself. That seemed unimaginable. Just because they got back to
the Vatican and came back under Rome's evil influence, they
adopted its mentality all over again and turned on us and scorned
us once more.
I nevertheless went to Rome for the
conversations, but without any confidence in their success. I
wrote at the beginning of the month of January to Fr. Aulagnier: I
am convinced that on the 30th of June I will be consecrating
bishops. It will be the year of the consecration of bishops
because I really have no confidence.
Nevertheless I wished to go as far as possible
in order to show what good will we had. That is when they brought
up the question of the Council again, which we did not want to
hear of. A formula for an agreement was found which was at the
very limits of what we could accept.
Then they granted us the Mass and the
Sacraments and the liturgical books, but concerning the Roman
Commission and the consecration of bishops, they did not want to
accept our requests. All we could get was two members out of seven
on the Roman Commission - without the president, without the
vice-president - and I obtained only one bishop whereas I was
asking for three. That was already virtually unacceptable. And,
when, even before signing, we asked when we could have this
bishop, the answer was evasive or null. They didn't know.
November? - They didn't know. Christmas? - They didn't know
...Impossible to get a date.
That is when, after signing the protocol, which
paved the way for an agreement, I sat down and thought. The
accumulation of distrust and reticence impelled me to demand the
nomination of a bishop for the 30th of June from amongst the three
dossiers which I had left in Rome on the 5th of May. Either that,
or I would go ahead and consecrate. Faced with such a choice,
Cardinal Ratzinger said, "If that's how it is, the protocol is
over. It's finished, and there is no more protocol. You are
breaking off relations." It's he who said it, not I.
On the 20th of May, I wrote to the Holy Father,
telling him that I had signed the protocol but that I was
insistent upon having bishops, and bishops on the 30th of June.
But in fact there was no way of coming to an
agreement. While I was facing Cardinal Ratzinger with that
alternative, and while he was saying that he would give us a
bishop on the 15th of August, he was asking me for still more
dossiers in order that the Holy See might choose a bishop who
would meet the requirements laid down by the Vatican. Now, where
was that going to lead us?
Realizing the impossibility of coming to an
understanding, on the 2nd of June I wrote again to the pope: It is
useless to continue these conversations and contacts. We do not
have the same purpose. You wish to bring us round to the Council
in a reconciliation, and what we want is to be recognized as we
are. We wish to continue Tradition as we are doing.
It was over. That was when I took the decision
to give the press conference on the 15th of June because I did not
wish to act in secret. There can be no durable Tradition without a
traditional bishop. That is absolutely indispensable. That is why
the Fraternity of St. Peter and Le Barroux are in Wonderland,
because they do not have traditional bishops.
bishop for the Fraternity of St. Peter?
Question: The rumor is going around that the
Fraternity of St. Peter might be given a bishop.
Archbishop Lefebvre: What bishop? - A bishop
that would meet the Vatican's requirements? In that case, they
will have a bishop who gently, gently will bring them round to the
Council - that's obvious. They will never obtain a bishop who is
fully Traditional, opposed to the errors of the Council and to the
post-Conciliar reforms. That is why the Fraternity of St. Peter
did not, in fact, sign the same protocol as we did, because they
do not have a bishop. The protocol that I signed with Cardinal
Ratzinger did stipulate that we could have a bishop. And, hence,
in a certain way, Rome approved the nomination of a bishop. People
say to us: You disobeyed the Holy Father. Disobeyed partially, but
not fundamentally. Cardinal Ratzinger gave us the written
authorization to have a member of the Society as a bishop. It's
true that I consecrated four. But the principle itself of having
one or several bishops was granted by the Holy Father. Until proof to
the contrary, those who have left us have not obtained any bishop
or any representation on the Roman Commission, and so, they have
handed themselves over, bound hand and foot, into the hands of the
progressives. Under such conditions, they will never manage to
maintain Tradition. They say that they are being given everything
that they desire, but they are completely deluding themselves.
I think that it was a duty for me and so a
necessity for the faithful and for the seminarians to have these
Once again, I do not think it possible for a
community to remain faithful to the Faith and Tradition if the
bishops do not have this Faith and fidelity to Tradition. It's
impossible. Say what you will, the Church consists first and
foremost of bishops. Even if the priests are of your way of
thinking, the priests are influenced by the bishops. Whichever way
you look at it, the bishops make the priests, and so guide
priests, either in the seminaries or in preaching or in retreats
or in any number of ways. It is impossible to maintain Tradition
with progressive bishops.
Since there was no other way for us to go, I am
very happy that we are now assured of having bishops who keep
Catholic Tradition and who maintain the Faith. Because it is the
Faith that is at stake. It's not a little matter. It's not a
matter of a few trifles.
should have stayed in the Church".
Question: Some people say, "Yes, but
Archbishop Lefebvre should have accepted an agreement with Rome
because once the Society of St. Pius X had been recognized and the
suspensions lifted, he would have been able to act in a more
effective manner inside the Church, whereas now he has put himself
Archbishop Lefebvre: Such things are easy to
say. To stay inside the Church, or to put oneself inside the
Church - what does that mean? Firstly, what Church are we talking
about? If you mean the Conciliar Church, then we who have
struggled against the Council for twenty years because we want the
Catholic Church, we would have to re-enter this Conciliar Church
in order, supposedly, to make it Catholic. That is a complete
illusion. It is not the subjects that make the superiors, but the
superiors who make the subjects.
Amongst the whole Roman Curia, amongst all the
world's bishops who are progressives, I would have been completely
swamped. I would have been able to do nothing, I could have
protected neither the faithful nor the seminarians. Rome would
have said to me, "Alright, we'll give you such and such a
bishop to carry out the ordinations, and your seminarians will
have to accept the professors coming from such and such a
diocese." That's impossible. In the Fraternity of St. Peter,
they have professors coming from the diocese of Augsburg. Who are
these professors? What do they teach?
Question: Are you not afraid that in the end,
when the good Lord will have called you to Him, little by little
the split will grow wider and we will find ourselves being
confronted with a parallel Church alongside what some call the
Archbishop Lefebvre: This talk about the
"visible Church" on the part of Dom Gerard and Mr. Madiran is
childish. It is incredible that anyone can talk of the "visible
Church", meaning the Conciliar Church as opposed to the Catholic
Church which we are trying to represent and continue. I am not
saying that we are the Catholic Church. I have never said so. No
one can reproach me with ever having wished to set myself up as
pope. But, we truly represent the Catholic Church such as it was
before, because we are continuing what it always did. It is we who
have the notes of the visible Church: One, Holy, Catholic, and
Apostolic. That is what makes the visible Church.
Mr. Madiran objects: "But the official
Church also has Infallibility." However, on the subject of
infallibility, we must say, as Fr. Dulac said in a suggestive
phrase concerning Pope Paul VI: "When years ago the Church had
several popes, one could choose from amongst them. But now we have
two popes in one." We have no choice. Each of these recent
popes is truly two popes in one. Insofar as they represent
Tradition - the Tradition of the popes, the Tradition of
infallibility - we are in agreement with the pope. We are attached
to him insofar as he continues the succession of Peter, and
because of the promises of infallibility which have been made to
him. It is we who are attached to his infallibility. But he, even
if in certain respects he carries the infallibility within his
being pope, nevertheless by his intentions and ideas he is opposed
to it because he wants nothing more to do with infallibility. He
does not believe in it and he makes no acts stamped with the stamp
That is why they wanted Vatican II to be a
pastoral council and not a dogmatic council, because they do not
believe in infallibility. They do not want a definitive Truth. The
Truth must live and must evolve. It may eventually change with
time, with history, with knowledge, etc., ...whereas infallibility
fixes a formula once and for all, it makes - stamps - a Truth as
unchangeable. That is something they can't believe in, and that is
why we are the supporters of infallibility and the Conciliar
Church is not. The Conciliar Church is against infallibility - that's for sure and certain.
Cardinal Ratzinger is against infallibility.
The pope is against infallibility by his philosophical formation.
Understand me rightly! - We are not against the pope insofar as he
represents all the values of the Apostolic See which are
unchanging, of the See of Peter, but we are against the pope
insofar as he is a modernist who does not believe in his own
infallibility, who practices ecumenism. Obviously, we are against
the Conciliar Church which is virtually schismatic, even if they
deny it. In practice, it is a Church virtually excommunicated
because it is a Modernist Church. We are the ones that are
excommunicated while and because we wish to remain Catholic, we
wish to stay with the Catholic Pope and with the Catholic Church - that is the difference.
For Mr. Madiran, who otherwise has a good grasp
of the situation, to say that we are not the "visible Church"
- that we are quitting the "visible Church", which is infallible
- all that is just words which do not correspond to reality.
Question: Is it possible, Your Excellency, to
be neither for or against the consecrations, and even to take no
position at all concerning them, and to promote the formation of
priests such as you have given an example of in founding Econe,
without arriving at the conclusion that seminarians being formed
for the Catholic priesthood require Catholic bishops to ordain
Archbishop Lefebvre: Those who think like that
will have bishops like Bishop de Milleville who arrived in
civilian clothing to carry out the ordinations at Fontgombault.
Had he given a sermon, I wonder just what he would have said to
those seminarians and what example he would have given them. That
is no longer the Catholic Church: that is the Conciliar Church
with all its unpleasant consequences. They are contributing to the
destruction of the Church. It was John XXIII, as Fr. Dulac said,
began to be two popes in one. It is he who launched the opening of
the Church to the world. From that point on, we entered into
ambiguity and two-facedness, the way of acting proper to the
Hence, I think we should have no hesitation or
scruples with regard to these episcopal consecrations. We are
neither schismatic nor excommunicated, and we are not against the
pope. We are not against the Catholic Church. We are not making a
parallel Church. All that is absurd. We are what we have always
been - Catholics carrying on. That is all. There is no need to look
for unnecessary complications. We are not making "a little
Church", as Paupert wrote in his book, The Torn-Away Christians.
When you arrive at the end of his book, what he writes makes you
shudder: "I no longer know what I am"!
Paupert was a seminarian - maybe a priest - but
he lost the Faith and then recovered it more or less, and he
inclines to be of a traditional way of thinking, but he is afraid
to quit the Conciliar Church. And so, he does not know if he is
Catholic or not, whether he is practicing or not. "When I find
myself these days in a church, I have the impression that I am not
at home. That is why I do not go to Communion."
He is an intelligent man but he finds himself
in a sort of cul-de-sac with no way out. It's frightening.
And such is the problem of all Catholics who absolutely refuse to
take the step over to Tradition. They wish to remain with the
occupants of the episcopal sees, with the bishops, but they want
to have nothing more to do with the Catholic Faith which they
practiced when they were young and which they have not got the
will to pick up again. It is truly frightening when one thinks
that millions of Catholics find themselves in this situation. That
is why many of them are no longer going to Church on Sunday's,
while others are joining sects, or are not practicing anything at
all and so are losing the Faith.
the Archbishop backtrack?
Question: In a recently appeared book, Econe,
How To Resolve The Tragedy, Fr. de Margerie advises you to
reconcile with Rome, in effect, by accepting what you have always
rejected. What do you think?
Archbishop Lefebvre: I do not personally know
Fr. de Margerie. He is full of contradictions. It is clear he is
highly embarrassed when it comes to defending religious liberty
and stating that it is in conformity with Tradition, that there is
no rupture. That is an untenable position. Because the leaders of
the Conciliar Church, its most outstanding personalities, like for
instance the Rector of the University of the Lateran, or, Msgr.
Pavan, who is an important man in Rome (it is he who virtually
wrote all of the popes' social encyclicals), openly said in May
last year at the Congress of Venice, concerning religious liberty:
"Yes, something has changed." Others like Cardinal
Ratzinger and theologians who have written numerous works on the
question strive to prove that the doctrine of Religious Liberty is
in continuity with Tradition. In the old days, Liberty was always
held in essential relation to Truth. Now, Liberty is related to
the human conscience. This means leaving the choice of Truth up to
one's conscience. That is the death of the Church. It means
introducing the poison of the Revolution, when the Rights of Man
are approved by the Church. At least the rector of the University
of the Lateran and Msgr. Pavan recognize the fact. The others will
say what they like in an effort to keep us quiet. But there it is,
written black on white: "The State, civil society, is radically
incapable of knowing which is the True Religion." The whole
history of the Church, ever since Our Lord, rises up in protest
against such a statement. What about Joan of Arc and the saints
and all the princes and kings who were saints, who defended the
Church - were they incapable of discerning the True Religion? One
wonders how anyone can write such enormities!
Then Rome's replies to our objections which we
sent to Rome through intermediaries all tended to demonstrate that
there was no change, but just continuity of Tradition. These
statements are worse than those of the Council's Declaration on
Religious Liberty. It is truly officialdom telling lies.
So long as in Rome they stay attached to the
ideas of the Council: religious liberty, ecumenism, collegiality
...they are going the wrong way. It is serious because it results
in practical consequences. That is what justifies the Pope's
visiting Cuba. The Pope visits or receives in audience Communist
leaders who are torturers or assassins, or who have Christians'
blood on their hands, just as if they were as honest as normal
Question: There has been a break in Cardinal
Lustiger's not being able to go to Kiev.
Archbishop Lefebvre: In going to Russia, he
thought that Moscow had become Catholic. It's a lack of judgment.
The pope, they say, has more or less granted Moscow the right to
designate the Ukrainian Patriarch by replacing the present one who
himself succeeded Cardinal Slipyj, but of course, the replacement
would be a Soviet agent like Pimene.
All of these Catholic visits play into the
hands of the Soviets who will end up by getting what they want,
namely, to put the Ukrainians in their pocket by means of a
hierarchy under the government's control ...exactly as they did,
following on Cardinal Mindszenty in Hungary, when they nominated
Lekai: the scandal of Lekai! In the old days, all these cardinals
and bishops were thrown into prison because they were defending
the Catholic religion, but, now, it is they who are throwing into
prison the priests who are truly Catholic. We find ourselves in
exactly the same situation: the bishops are persecuting us because
we remain Catholic. It is not the atheistic government, the
socialists, or freemasons who are hounding us down, it is the
supposedly Catholic bishops - the Conciliar bishops.
The same thing is happening in the Communist
countries. They have the Catholic bishops, bishops who are part of
the "Pax Priests" who are in agreement with the Communist
government. It's no longer the governments who are doing the
persecuting, it is the bishops.
I received a letter from a Hungarian priest who
wrote to me: When there are disputes, the government is trying to
get the bishop and the priests to agree, and the government plays
the role of the "good guy." It's incredible! The pope is causing
considerable harm by this way of giving the same respect to error
and to vice as to truth and to virtue. It is catastrophic for the
little folk. It is the total ruin of all Christian morals, or the
very foundation of morality, and even of life in society.
Question: John Paul II is defending the unity
of the family, he is against the marriage of priests, against
abortion. In morals many consider that he is a good pope.
Archbishop Lefebvre: That is true with regard
to certain principles of natural morality. Good things are said,
but then the priests who are favorable to contraception, for
instance, are allowed to go ahead. Nobody takes a strong stand.
There are only generic guidelines which are so much a part of
natural morals that one could hardly be against. President Bush of
the United States is against abortion, so how could the pope be in
favor of it?
Question: John Paul II has nominated bishops in
Austria and elsewhere who are considered as being traditional to
such a point that a group of German theologians, backed up by
French theologians, are criticizing the pope and rebuking him for
it. Recently, also, Cardinal Ratzinger published an instruction
with an Oath of Fidelity and a Profession of Faith preceding it.
Can't we see here signs of a sort of improvement and a return to
more traditional formulas?
Archbishop Lefebvre: I don't think it is a true
return to Tradition. Just as in a fight when the troops are going
a little too far ahead one holds them back, so they are slightly
putting the brakes on the impulse of Vatican II because the
supporters of the Council are going too far. Besides, these
theologians are wrong to get upset. The bishops concerned - the
supposedly conservative bishops - are wholly supportive of the
Council and of the post-Conciliar reforms, of ecumenism and of the
Apparently, they are being a little more
moderate and showing slightly more traditional religious
sentiment, but it does not go deep. The great fundamental
principles of the Council, the errors of the Council, they accept
them and put them into practice. That is no problem for them. On
the contrary, I would go so far as to say that it is these
conservative bishops who treat us the worst. It is they who would
the most insistently demand that we submit to the principles of
No, all of that is tactics, which you have to
use in any fight. You have to avoid excesses.
Besides, the pope has just named Msgr. Kasper a
bishop in Germany. He was Secretary of the Synod of 1985 presided
over by Cardinal Danneels of Brussels. Kasper was the leader, the
mastermind, of the Synod. He is very intelligent and he is one of
the most dangerous of Conciliarists. He is a little like the
bishop of Trier who is President of the German Assembly of
Bishops, and who is very dangerous also. They are absolutely men
of the left, who, deep down link up with the Rahners and Hans
Kungs but who take care not to say so. They keep up appearances in
order to avoid being associated by anyone with the extremists, but
they have the same spirit. And so, no, I think there is hardly any
hope for the moment.
Question: Now what should we think of the
attitude of Rome as characterized by Cardinals Ratzinger and
Mayer, who, up till now, are showing a certain tolerance towards
Le Barroux, towards the Fraternity of St. Vincent Ferrer, towards
the Fraternity of St. Peter. Do you think they are sincere? Is it
a double game that they will keep up until they have exhausted all
other means of rallying other traditionalist groups to Rome and
then, once the game is over, those that have been reconciled with
Rome will be asked to submit to the Council? Or, should we credit
them with taking a turn for the better?
Archbishop Lefebvre: There are plenty of signs
showing us that what you are talking about is simply exceptional
and temporary. They are not general rules, applying to all priests
throughout the world. They are exceptional privileges being
granted in precise cases. Thus, what is granted to the Abbey of
Fontgombault or to the Sisters of Jouques, or to other monasteries
- they do not say it - but it is according to the Indult. Now, the
Indult is an exception. It can always be taken back. An indult
confirms a general rule. The general rule in this case is the New
Mass and the New Liturgy. Hence, it is an exception which is being
made for these communities.
We have an example in London where the Cardinal
Archbishop has inaugurated three Masses around the Society's
church in the capital of Great Britian in order to try to take
away our people. "I am trying it for six months," he said.
If our faithful begin to leave our center, he will keep up the
experiment. If, on the contrary, the faithful stay with us, he
will suppress it. If these Masses are then suppressed, the
faithful who have regained a taste for the traditional liturgy
will no doubt come over to us.
It seems that Cardinal Lustiger in Paris is
envisaging giving a church to the priests who left us, but he
would require that New Masses also be celebrated at these
churches. In our discussions in Rome with Cardinal Ratzinger, he
told me when we were moving towards an agreement, that if
authorization was given to use the old liturgy at St. Nicholas du Chardonnet in Paris, there would also have to be New Masses. That
was perfectly clear and it clearly shows their state of mind. For
them there is no question of abandoning the New Mass. On the
contrary. That is obvious. That is why what can look like a
concession is in reality merely a maneuver to separate us from the
largest number of faithful possible. This is the perspective in
which they seem to be always giving a little more and even going
very far. We must absolutely convince our faithful that it is no
more than a maneuver, that it is dangerous to put oneself into the
hands of Conciliar bishops and Modernist Rome. It is the greatest
danger threatening our people. If we have struggled for twenty
years to avoid the Conciliar errors, it was not in order, now, to
put ourselves in the hands of those professing these errors.
Question: After a year's ministry of the four
new bishops that you chose, has everything unfolded as you wished,
according to the directives that you gave them in the letter
written almost a year in advance of their consecration?
Archbishop Lefebvre: Up to now, it seems that
events are unfolding as we wished. We are striving to act in such
a way that we cannot be reproached with the bishops' being given a
territorial jurisdiction, in such a way that there is no bishop
being attributed to such and such a territory. Of course, it's
only normal that a French bishop should go to France, and that a
German-speaking bishop should go to Germany, but from time to
time, we try to bring about an exchange in order to head off that
accusation. Of course, it is normal that in the United States,
Bishop Williamson should give the confirmations. But Bishop Fellay
went to give confirmations in St. Mary's, Kansas, and so one
cannot say that the United States are the domain of Bishop
Williamson. Bishop Fellay also went to South Africa which had
previously been visited by Bishop Williamson. As for Bishop
Tissier de Mallerais, he went to South America and to Zaitzkofen
in Germany. So, we are striving to establish this principle, that
there is no territorial jurisdiction. The four bishops are there
to give ordinations and confirmations, to replace me and to do
what I did for several years.
For the rest, it is clearly the district
superiors who are given a territory which is theirs and who, as
far as they can, go to the help of the souls calling for them. For
these souls have the right to have the sacraments and the Truth,
the right to be saved. And, so we go to their help, and it is the
appeal of these souls which grants us the right, as foreseen by
Canon Law, to minister to them.
I think we can then thank the good Lord that
everything has turned out so well. The feedback reaching us from
the faithful proves that they are satisfied and that our bishops
are well received.
No doubt we suffered from the departure of some
priests and seminarians. But, that is a little like the pilgrimage
of Chartres, which this year split in two, into a traditional and
a conservative pilgrimage. We may thank the good Lord for having
allowed those who are not completely in agreement with us, who do
not completely understand what we are fighting for, to leave us.
In this way we are stronger and surer in our actions. Without that
we would all the time be mixing with people criticizing us, who do
not agree with us, within our own congregations, and that would
cause division and disorder.
As Fr. Schmidberger, the Superior General,
underlined in the last issue of Fideliter, we have had a
good number of candidates entering our seminaries, the Sisters of
the Society, and the other religious traditionalist congregations.
And, so, we have not had an unpleasant after-effect of the
consecrations, as forecast by certain people who made us fear that
there would be a considerable drop in numbers.
Question: Did you recently meet Cardinal
Thiandoum at his request, and was he seeking to find a way of
Archbishop Lefebvre: It is true, he did insist
that I go to see him in Neuilly at the Sisters of St. Thomas of
Villanueva, and so I went. He is always very friendly and very
affectionate but for the moment there is nothing - nothing on the
side of Rome, nothing on the part of Cardinal Thianboum nor any
other cardinal ...There is no sort of opening.
As always, I think that actions are more
convincing than words. There are some who say to me, you could
easily write a grand letter to the pope. But, for twenty years
now, we have been writing letters which get nowhere. Once again,
actions speak louder than words. When we open a seminary or when
we create priories, or when we open schools, when the sisters
swarm and the convents multiply, that is the only way of forcing
Rome to negotiate. It's not a question of my being there, it's a
question of the works we do. At Rome, they're well aware that what
we're doing is not nothing. The bishops get a little annoyed when
we implant ourselves here and there, and so they complain to Rome
and Rome knows what's going on.
So I do not think it is opportune to try
contacting Rome. I think we must still wait. Wait, unfortunately,
for the situation to get still worse on their side. But up till
now, they do not want to recognize the fact.
Question: If Rome had accepted to give you just
one bishop, the protocol of an agreement could have issued in an
agreement, and one may be surprised that such a concession, which
after all doesn't commit them to very much (one bishop amongst
three thousand in the world), should have been refused you.
Archbishop Lefebvre: Yes, it is extraordinary.
It can only be explained by their fear of Tradition. It is
unbelievable, but they are afraid of a traditional bishop working
against the errors of the Council and they cannot bear it.
Question: What do you think of the instruction
of Cardinal Ratzinger setting up the Oath of Fidelity which
includes a Profession of Faith?
Archbishop Lefebvre: Firstly, there is the
Credo which poses no problems. The Credo has remained
intact. And, so the first and second sections raise no
difficulties either. They are well-known things from a theological
point of view. It is the third section which is very bad. What it
means in practice is lining up on what the bishops of the world
today think. In the preamble, besides, it is clearly indicated
that this third section has been added because of the spirit of
the Council. It refers to the Council and the so-called
Magisterium of today, which, of course, is the Magisterium of the
followers of the Council. To get rid of the error, they should
have added, "...insofar as this Magisterium is in full
conformity with Tradition."
As it stands this formula is dangerous. It
demonstrates clearly the spirit of these people with whom it is
impossible to come to an agreement. It is absolutely ridiculous
and false, as certain people have done, to present this Oath of
Fidelity as a renewal of the Anti-Modernist Oath suppressed in the
wake of the Council. All the poison in this third section which
seems to have been made expressly in order to oblige those who
have rallied to Rome to sign this profession of Faith and to state
their full agreement with the bishops. It is as if in the times of
Arianism one had said, "Now you are in agreement with
everything that all the Arian bishops think."
No, I am not exaggerating. It is clearly
expressed in the introduction. It is sheer trickery. One may ask
oneself if in Rome they didn't mean in this way to correct the
text of the protocol. Although that protocol is not satisfactory
to us, it still seems too much in our favor in Article III of the
Doctrinal Declaration because it does not sufficiently express the
need to submit to the Council.
And so, I think now they are regaining lost
ground. They are no doubt going to have these texts signed by the
seminarians of the Fraternity of St. Peter before their ordination
and by the priests of the Fraternity, who will then find
themselves in the obligation of making an official act of joining
the Conciliar Church.
Differently from in the Protocol, in these new
texts there is a submission to the Council and all the Conciliar
bishops. That is their spirit and no one will change them.
Question: When all is said and done, then, you
have no doubts and no regrets?
Archbishop Lefebvre: No, none at all. I think
everything that happened was brought about in a truly providential
and almost miraculous way.
Many people were urging me - "You're growing
old. If you happen to disappear, what will become of us...?" I
could have ordained bishops three of four years ago at least. It
would even have been reasonable. But, I think that the good Lord
wanted things to ripen gently to show Rome clearly that we have
done everything we could to manage to obtain the authorization to
have truly traditional bishops.
Even while signing the protocol, Rome refused
to give us three bishops, and if we had gone on, in practice we
would have had every imaginable kind of difficulty. I truly think
we had to come to the decision which I took, and we were at the
very end of our rope. Our dear friend, Bishop de Castro Mayer, is
so tired now that he can no longer say his Mass, and that is less
than one year after the consecrations.
I truly think it was all miraculous - his
coming, his journey, his admirable Profession of Faith, his
acceptance to perform with me the ceremony of the consecration of
our bishops ...all that was miraculous. The press did not realize
the importance of his being there. But for me and the bishops who
were consecrated that was truly quite an exceptional grace. The
fact that there were two bishops to consecrate them is very
important. As for me, I feel well. I have no grave illness, but
nevertheless I feel the tiredness and I am going to be obliged to
give up completely performing the ceremonies which I still accept
to perform because I no longer have the strength. I would now be
quite incapable of making these worldwide journeys as I used to
do. They insist on my returning to the Argentine or that I go to
the United States to see the new seminary of Winona, but there are
limits and I have reached them. I am only going to keep up the
things which are not tiring: like a blessing of a chapel, the
taking of the veil with the Carmelites, attending a first Mass
...in sum, little, compared with what I used to do before. I can
feel clearly that for me, too, the 30th of June of last year was
my limit. I think that the good Lord wished things to happen as
they happened. All those who attended the ceremony retain an
extraordinary memory of it. All of that was providential. What one
may hope is that the faithful should become more and more
numerous, that they open their eyes and finish by seeing where the
Truth is, and recognize that salvation is in Tradition and not in
the Conciliar Church which is more and more schismatic.
Question: Of course you realize that your name
has disappeared from the latest edition of the Annuario
Pontifico, the "Papal Year-Book" edited in Rome.
Archbishop Lefebvre: I think that my name has
not disappeared from the Annuario of the good Lord, at
least I hope so, and that is what matters.