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Archbishop Lefebvre's letter to 8 cardinals about Assisi 1986

This letter, sent two months before Assisi I was to take place, was meant to encourage several cardinals in the Curia to lodge a public protest to the Holy Father in order to cease the Assisi I proceedings. Unfortunately, the effect that the Archbishop had hoped for did not come about.

Your Eminence,

Confronted with events taking place in the Church that have John Paul II as their author and faced with those he intends carrying out at Taize and Assisi in October, I cannot refrain from addressing you and begging you in the name of numerous priests and faithful to save the honor of the Church never before humiliated to such an extent in the course of her history.

The speeches and actions of John Paul II in Togo, Morocco, and the Indies cause a righteous indignation to rise up in our heart. What do the Saints, the holy men and women of the Old and New Testaments make of this? What would the Holy Inquisition do if it were still in existence?

He who now sits upon the Throne of Peter mocks publicly the first article of the Creed and the first Commandment of the Decalogue.

The scandal given to Catholic souls cannot be measured. The Church is shaken to its very foundations. If faith in the Church, the only ark of salvation, disappears, then the Church herself disappears.

Is John Paul II to continue ruining the Church, in particular at Assisi, with the planned procession of religions in the streets of the town of Saint Francis and the sharing out of religions in the chapels of the basilica with a view to practicing their worship in favor of peace as conceived by the United Nations?

It is what Cardinal Etchegaray, in charge of this abominable congress, has announced.

Is it conceivable that no authoritative voice has been raised in the Church to condemn these public sins? Where are the Machabees?

Eminence, for the honor of the one true God and of our Lord Jesus Christ, make a public protest, come to the help of the still faithful bishops, priests and Catholics.

Eminence, if I took the step of contacting you it is because I do not doubt your sentiments in this matter.

I am also addressing this appeal to those cardinals named below so that eventually you may be able to work together.

May the Holy Ghost come to your aid, and please accept, Eminence, my devoted and fraternal greetings in Christ and Mary.

Archbishop Lefebvre
Emeritus Bishop-Archbishop of Tulle
Econe, August 27, 1986

It is a truism that men come to accept anything if they see it often enough; hence it is good to recall the theological criteria by which to judge this kind of undertaking. The review SiSiNoNo published an excellent study in 1986 which is reprinted here because of its timeliness.
What should we make of Assisi 1986?

Part 1

It has been said, with undoubtedly unintended exactness, that the "prayer meeting" at Assisi is a "personal initiative" of Pope John Paul II. In so far as it is only a "personal" initiative, it does not engage his mandate as "pastor and teacher of all Christians" (Vatican I). By conforming itself to the political theme set by the United Nations, which proclaimed the year 1986 an "international year of peace," neither does it concern doctrine.

At Assisi, next October 27, not only will the Catholics gather at Assisi, but also "the representatives of the world’s other religions" will join them in an assembly for peace.[1]  Those whom Pope John Paul II has called "the representatives of the other religions" the Church has always more appropriately called infidels. "Broadly speaking, infidels are those who do not possess the true faith; in the strict sense infidels are the unbaptized. They are divided into monotheists (Jews and Moslems), polytheists (Hindus, Buddhists, etc.), and atheists."[2]  What Pope John Paul II has called the "other" religions, the Church has more properly called the false religions. A false religion is any non-Christian religion "in so far as it is not the religion that God revealed and wants to see practiced. Moreover, every non-Catholic Christian sect is false in so far as it neither accepts nor faithfully practices the entire content of Revelation."[3] This having been said, in light of the Catholic Faith, the prayer meeting of religions at Assisi can be considered tantamount to:

  1. an insult to God;

  2. a denial of the universal necessity of Redemption;

  3. a lack of justice and charity towards the infidels;

  4. a danger and a scandal to Catholics; and

  5. a betrayal of the Church’s and Peter’s mission.

1. An insult to God

All prayer, including petition, is an act of worship.[4] As such, it must be addressed to Whom it is due, and in the right way. To whom it is due: The one true God, Creator and Lord of all men, the one to whom the Lord Jesus Christ has brought them back (I Jn. 5:20) by confirming the first commandment of the Law. "I am the Lord thy God...Thou shalt not have strange gods before me... Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them..." (Ex. 20:2-5).[5] In the right way: Thus, it must be prayer that corresponds to the fullness of Revelation without admixture of error:

But the hour cometh and now is, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeketh such to adore him (Jn. 4:23).

Prayer which is addressed to false gods or inspired by religious opinions differing in whole or in part from divine Revelation, is not an act of worship, but of superstition. It does not honor God; it offends Him. At least, objectively, it is a sin against the first commandment.[6] To whom are the persons to gather at Assisi going to pray, and in what way? Invited in their capacity as "representatives of the other religions," "everyone will pray in his own way and customary style." This was explained by Cardinal Willebrands, President of the Secretariat for Non-Christian Religions.[7] This was confirmed last June 27 by Cardinal Etchegaray at a press conference published by Documentation Catholique of September 7-21, 1986, under the title "Acts of the Holy See":

It involves respecting each one’s prayer, and allowing everyone to express himself in the fullness of his faith, of his belief.

On October 27 at Assisi, superstition will be widely practiced in its most serious forms, from the "false worship" of Jews who, during the era of grace, pretend to honor God by denying His Christ,[8] to the idolatry of Hindus and Buddhists who offer a cult to creatures instead of to God.[9]

The Catholic hierarchy’s apparent approbation of this is especially insulting to God, for it supposes and allows it to be supposed that He looks with equal complacency upon acts of true worship and acts of superstition, upon manifestations of faith and manifestations of incredulity, upon the true religion and upon the false religions; in short, upon truth and upon error.[10]

2. Denial of the universal necessity of redemption

There is but one Mediator between God and men: the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and true man (I Tim. 2:5). By nature, men are "children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3); by Him, they have been reconciled with the Father (Col. 1:20), and it is only by faith in Him that they can have the boldness to approach God with entire confidence (Eph. 3:12). To Him was given all power in heaven and on earth (Mt. 28:18), and at His name every knee must bend, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth (Phil. 2:10,11). No one goes to the Father save by Him (Jn. 14:6), and there is no other name under heaven given to man by which he must be saved (Acts 4:12). He is the Light that enlightens every man who comes into the world (Jn.1:9), and whoever does not follow Him wanders in darkness (Jn. 8:12). Who is not with Him is against Him (Mt. 13:30), and who does not honor Him also dishonors His Father who sent Him (as the Jews do) (Jn. 5:23). To Him has the Father given the judgment of men, but he who refuses belief has already been judged, because he has not believed in the name of the Only Son of God (Jn. 3:18), nor in the Father who sent Him (Jn. 17:3). He is, moreover, the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6),[11] for divisions, conflicts, and wars are the bitter fruit of sin from which man cannot free himself by his own virtue, but only in virtue of the Redeemer’s blood.

What place will the Lord Jesus Christ have at Assisi in the prayer of the "representatives of the other religions"? None, for to them He remains either unknown, or a stumbling block, or a sign of contradiction. The invitation that was addressed to them to pray for peace in the world supposes, and inevitably allows it to be supposed, that there are people - the Christians - who must approach God by the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ and in His name, and others -the rest of the human race - who can approach God directly and in their own name, without regard to the Mediator; that there are some men who must bend the knee before the Lord Jesus Christ, and some who are exempt; some men who must seek peace in the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ, and others who can obtain peace outside His reign and even in opposing it.

This is the idea that comes from the declarations of the two cardinals quoted above:

While for us Christians Christ is our peace, for all believers peace is a gift of God:[12]; "for Christians, prayer goes through Christ".[13]

The "prayer meeting" of Assisi, then, is the public negation of the universal necessity of Redemption.

part 2 >

1 Cf. L’Osservatore Romano, Jan. 26-27, 1986.

2 Roberti-Palazzini, Dizionario di teologia morale, p.813.

3 Ibid.

4 Summa Theologica, II-II, Q.83.

5 Cf. Mt. 4:3-10; Jn. 17:3; Tim. 2:5. See also on this topic Pietro Cardinal Palazzini, Vita e virtu cristiane, p.52, and Garrigou-Lagrange, De Revelatione (Rome-Paris: 1918), vol. 1, p.136.

6 Cf. Summa Theologica, II-II, QQ. 92-96.

7 See L’Osservatore Romano, January 27-28, 1986, p.4.

8 Summa Theologica, II-II, Q.92, Art.2, ad 3, and I II, Q.10, Art.11.

9 Cf. Acts 17:16.

10 Cf. Summa Theologica, II-II, Q.94, Art.1.

11 Cf. Eph. 2:14 and Mich. 5:5.

12 Cardinal Willebrands in L’Osservatore Romano cited above.

13 Cardinal Etchegaray, cited above in Documentation Catholique. © 2013                    home                    contact