adhere to Eternal Rome”; chapter
17 (pgs 461-465)
Faithfulness to the Mass of All Time: rejecting the
Archbishop Lefebvre did not found his Society against the New Mass,
but for the priesthood. However, the concerns of the priesthood now
brought him to reject the new Ordo Missae.
orthodoxy and validity of the New Mass
Archbishop Lefebvre did not hesitate to speak publicly on the question
of the orthodoxy and validity of Paul VI’s Mass. He considered that “one
cannot say generally that the New Mass is invalid or heretical”;
however, “it leads slowly to heresy.”
1975, the Archbishop added that the New Mass:
is ambivalent and ambiguous because one priest can say it with a
totally Catholic faith in the sacrifice, etc., and another
can say it with a different intention, because the words he
pronounces and the gestures he makes no longer contradict [other
problem of assisting at the New Mass
Some priests were torn between the need to keep the Faith as expressed
by the traditional Mass and a desire to be obedient as they saw it. In
the early days of the reforms, Archbishop Lefebvre advised them to
keep at least the traditional Offertory and Canon and to say them in
Latin. His advice to the seminarians as to the faithful was remarkably
moderate intone for one who was first to step up to the breach to
repel the New Mass. He exhorted them:
Make every effort to have the Mass of St. Pius V, but if it is
impossible to find one within forty kilometers and if there is a
pious priest who says the New Mass in as traditional a way as
possible, it is good for you to assist at it to fulfill your Sunday
One can counter the dangers for the Faith through solid catechism:
Should all the world’s churches be emptied? I do not feel brave
enough to say such a thing. I don’t want to encourage atheism.
Little by little the Archbishop’s position hardened: this Mass with
its ecumenical rite was seriously ambiguous and harmful to the
Catholic Faith. “This is why one cannot be made to assist at it to
fulfill one’s Sunday obligation.” In 1975 he still admitted
that one could “assist occasionally” at the New Mass when one
feared going without Communion for a longtime. However in 1977, he was
more or less absolute:
To avoid conforming to the evolution slowly taking place in the
minds of priests, we must avoid - I could almost say completely -
assisting at the New Mass.
Soon, Archbishop Lefebvre would no longer tolerate participation at
Masses celebrated in the new rite except passively, for example at
funerals [this is also true for marriages - Ed]...
messe de Luther,” Talk in Florence, Feb. 15, 1975. [In
A Bishop Speaks,
Spiritual Conferences at Econe, Dec. 10, 1972.
Letter to M. Lenoir, Nov. 23, 1975.
Spiritual Conferences at Econe, 42 B, March 21, 1977.
Circumstances he considered decisive in 1974: Spiritual Conferences
at Econe, March 7, 1974, and April 1, 1974.