Rorate Caeli

20 years on: Reliving the Events of 1988
Part I


The agitation in the Vatican halls had begun in early July, 1987, as reports arrived of the clear words of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in his sermon in the Mass of priestly ordinations celebrated in Ecône on July 29, 1987. The first reference was to the Assisi meeting of religious leaders a few months earlier - a event which to this day still mesmerizes Traditional Catholics. Lefebvre declared:

Never has history seen the Pope turning himself into some kind of guardian of the pantheon of all religions, as I have brought it to mind, making himself the pontiff of liberalism.

Let anyone tell me whether such a situation has ever existed in the Church. What should we do in the face of such a reality? Weep, without a doubt. Oh, we mourn and our heart is broken and sorrowful. We would give our life, our blood, for the situation to change. But the situation is such, the work which the Good Lord has put into our hands is such, that in face of this darkness of Rome, this stubbornness of the Roman authorities in their error, this refusal to return to the Truth and to Tradition, it seems to me that the Good Lord is asking that the Church continue. This is why it is likely that I should, before rendering an account of my life to the Good Lord, perform some episcopal consecrations.

Secret negotiations ensued. The October 18, 1987 edition of the New York Times included the great piece of Vatican news of the previous day:

The Vatican announced plans today to restore legal standing to a rebel French Archbishop and his outlawed following of traditionalist priests, in a move to mend fences with one of its most vociferous critics. The French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who rejects the changes of the Second Vatican Council and who has accused Pope John Paul II of ''blasphemy,'' spent an hour this morning with the Pope's primary exponent of orthodoxy, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Afterwards the Vatican issued a statement saying John Paul would appoint a personal representative to investigate the Archbishop's priestly order and establish new regulations for it.
...
A senior Vatican official said: ''I do not think that anyone is going to ask the Archbishop to sign a piece of paper saying he accepts all the documents of the Vatican Council, but if things proceed, it is because he is not out there saying what he has been saying until now.''
Before full acceptance and a new legal status can be granted to the Archbishop's priests, the Vatican must determine whether they fully understand and accept church teachings as defined in Rome, the official said. This in turn may depend on the Archbishop's willingness to call on his flock to obey the Vatican, an institution he has described as dominated by a ''liberal-Masonic mafia.''

The personal representative chosen by Pope John Paul was Cardinal Édouard Gagnon. This Apostolic Visitation to the houses of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X ( FSSPX/SSPX ) started on November 11, 1987, and lasted a whole month. The SSPX reported at the time:

The visit started on November 11, at Ecône, and lasted for a whole month. Then Msgr. Perl went to our school in Eguelshardt, our priory in Saarbrucken, the Carmel in Quiévrain. On Saturday, November 21, he came to St. Nicolas du Chardonnet in Paris, and the Cardinal arrived the next day, though intentionally after the Mass; then together they visited the French Youth Group, (MJCF), our University (Institut Universitaire Saint Pie X), and met a large group of traditional priests of the region in Paris. On November 24, they arrived at our school in St. Michel of Niherne, then the Mother House of our Sisters at St. Michel en Brenne, and the nearby Carmel at Ruffec, the Fraternity of the Transfiguration of Fr. Lecareux. At Poitiers, he took part in a meeting with many traditional priests of the area, including Fr. Reynaud (the first chaplain of the MJCF), Fr. André (of the Association Noël Pinot), Fr. Coache, the Dominican foundation of Avrillé, the Benedictine foundation of nuns at Le Rafflay, the Little Sisters of St. Francis, etc. After this, they visited our retreat house at Le Pointet, our priory and school at Unieux, the Benedictine Monastery of Le Barroux, the Dominican school at St. Pré (Brignoles), and the other Dominican novitiate and school at Fanjeaux, our school at St. Joseph des Carmes, our church at Marseilles, our priory at Lyons and our main European publishing house (Fideliter). Then another priestly meeting at Dijon, the Dominican school of Pouilly, the seminary of the Holy Curé of Ars, and returned to Ecône for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 1987, as the visit drew to a close, Cardinal Gagnon could relate his positive impressions to the then-Superior General, Father Schmidberger:

...I want to say that we have been struck everywhere by and keep a great admiration for the piety of the persons, for the relevance and importance of the works, especially with regards to catechesis, education, and the administration of the sacraments. We certainly have in hand all that is necessary to make a very positive report.

Father Schmidberger addressed the entire Society with a letter filled with hope signed on that day:

According to his [Cardinal Gagnon's] own words, he has gathered an excellent impression of the seminaries, schools, priories, and friendly religious communities, as well as of the faithful who gather themselves around all these houses. We must now, in the weeks and months to come, accompany his efforts with our fervent prayers.

Rome did not respond officially for months. Exactly 20 years ago, in January 1988, Pope John Paul received Gagnon's report. Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, one of the priests who would be consecrated in June, recalls the rapid succession of events in his biography of Marcel Lefebvre:

By January 5, 1988, his Eminence's report was on the desk of the Pope, who read it immediately. (...) [Lefebvre] had already indicated to Cardinal Gagnon his three "demands": to guarantee independence from the diocesan bishops, the Society should have the Superior General as its Ordinary; there should be a Roman commission chaired by a Cardinal but all its members, including the Archbishop-Secretary General, must be nominated by the Superior General; finally, there should be three bishops including the Superior General himself [Proposal for regularization, annex to a letter to Cardinal Gagnon, dated Nov. 21, 1987.]

After one month of official Roman silence, on February 2, 1988, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre would once again raise the issue which had caused the Vatican to act in the previous year. In an interview to the French paper Le Figaro (published on February 4, 1988), Lefebvre would state that, if things remained the same, he would be forced to consecrate Bishops to ensure apostolic succession to the Priestly Fraternity.

In the interview, Lefebvre established a date (the following June 30) and a number of priests who would be made bishops (three).


___________________
To be continued.

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

I remember all those events as if they were just yesterday...the waiting...the hoping...the praying...and in May the collapse.

By mid-June the future was very clear...

Now we are 20 years on...

Br. Anthony, T.O.S.F. said...

All I can say is this:

Thank you, Lord, for Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and the Society of St. Pius X and all the religious orders united to it, such as the Franciscan Capuchins in Morgan. To learn more about the Traditional Third Order of St. Francis click here.

Anonymous said...

"John Paul the Great," I think not. Certainly he was a valid Pope and spoke courageously about the sanctity of life, but I can guarantee that Pope Saint Pius the Tenth would not have allowed this nonsense under his guard:

http://www.geocities.com/prakashjm45/voltivaspornographies.html

hopingforheaven said...

It was a sad sad day when the archbishop chose disobedience and schism and began his own church separate from the Barque of Peter.

I am hopeful that there will be some reunification but I know that many have come to have a deep hatred for what they call the 'conciliar' church and they will remain outside in their self-righteousness. I know such a ones and they say that all who attend the novus ordo are in mortal sin as though they have the authority to make such a statement!

What was started by the archbishop has a life of its own.

Ottaviani said...

I know such a ones and they say that all who attend the novus ordo are in mortal sin as though they have the authority to make such a statement!

Just like you have taken it upon yourself to declare the SSPX as schismatic, when the president of the PCED has repeatedly said that they are not?

Anonymous said...

hopingforheaven might better have written...

It was a day of great joy for the Church when Archbishop Lefebvre chose obedience to eternal Rome, and initiated the vital maintenance of Tradition within the Church in the face of apostasy in Rome.

I am hopeful that there will be a full return to Tradition in the Roman Church, for many are the souls who have bravely resisted the apostasy of Rome, remaining in righteousness as they continued to confess the ancient Faith in contradistinction to the Roman authorites whose filial loyalty for 40 years has been not fidelity to Rome, but am arrogant and fruitless attachment to a concocted self-proclaimed Conciliar religion, a body that for 40 years has usurped authority in the heart of the Catholic Church.

What was begun by Archbishop Lefebvre is presently finding its fruitful apostolic life gratefully acknowledged and encouraged by Pope Benedict XVI. The life of the SSPX has thus proven itself to be the very essence of the eternal Roman Church, as indeed it has always been.

schoolman said...

We now know that if Cardinal Ratzinger (and others) had his way then the TLM would have been completely de-restricted in 1986 -- after the commission of cardinals had delivered their findings on the status of the TLM. Unfortunately there were too many voices of opposition at the time. Those opposing voices pointed to the "rebellion" of the Lefebvrians who used the TLM as thier "banner flag" to justify their disregard for legitimate authority and Vatican II. This would provide the pretext for their objection to de-restricting the TLM -- a dynamic that would effectively postpone Summorum Pontificum by more than 20 years.

Anonymous said...

Why did JPII procrastinate waiting over one month. 'Traditionalists' are really Catholics who refused to give into the 'zeitgeist'. Why would a Pope beseiged by dissent and a culture of discontinuity, not see that traditionailsts are Catholics pushed into a corner by the litany of abuses.
Yes we all like to think that all those abuses and bad things happened centuries ago. We naturally would like to think that the Pope is indefectable simply because he is Pope. The truth is that Pope's sin. They are tempted and are sometimes found wanting as all of us are. How do we know? Because ALL of us compare ouselves and our actions to the Faith and its teachings. Even Popes!! No Pope or Council or parliament or senate can change the Faith. If they try they are wrong and sin.
So there is a war in the Church. We have all been traumatised by the Cult of change and abuses in the church brough about in the name of VAtican II. Let us not allow ourselves to be brainwashed. Tradition and continuity is the way ahead!

Joe B said...

So, even the opponents of the holy Archbishop admit that injustice was done by withholding what the holy Archbishop asked for!

But we all know well that the arrogant bishops of Vatican II, so intent on changing the church into their own image, wouldn't have allowed the restoration of the TLM in 1988 any more than today - even less so then, when the fruits of Vatican II had not reached their full stink. But now, the smell is irrefutable. And still they refuse in overwhelming numbers. And those who defend them defend the smoke of Satan, which does, indeed, stink.

The holy Archbishop was right. As Ireland once preserved the faith when Christendom was devastated by barbarians, now the holy Archbishop's fruits preserve the faith as it was handed down to him. There can be no objection to the preservation of the faith as it was passed down to us, except from anti-Christs. By their fruits shall ye know them.

Woody Jones said...

Yes, what is puzzling to me is why the Holy Father did not accommodate the desires of the SSPX in this 1987-88 period. It is true that the heads of agreement signed in May 1988 would have given them much, but against that was the Archbishop's understanding, or intuition, that Rome would not in fact play fair with them, as seen by the delay in approval of the bishops list sent to the Roman authorities. This must have been known to the Holy Father, and in such an important matter, one must assume that he approved of the stalling tactic which was seen by the SSPX as a bad faith effort to put things off until the Archbishop died, which, as was known, could happen at any time, as he was already quite aged. Surely this result would have been known in Rome, and by Pope John Paul in particular.

If we accept the Archbishop's understanding of the lack of real will on the part of Rome to implement a real solution as correct, then the question again is why?

Probably we will never have the real answer unless Cardinal Dziwisz testifies under oath about it; I am not sure that even Cardinal Ratzinger was in a position to know, and in fact I have always assumed that he acted in good faith in trying to work out an acceptable arrangement and was as surprised as anyone at the outcome.

So if we assume that the Holy Father in fact willed this result, we can speculate (in all good faith and fond remembrance of Pope John Paul, whose ring I have had the honor to kiss) that it was because:

(a) he did not want to offend the French bishops, whose animosity to Lefebvre went back to the Vichy days at least; or

(b) he looked at things through his usual Polish lens and saw a lack of sincere obedience, which did not correspond to the way things were run in Poland and had to be put down here as well; or

(c) in his mind (and that of others, too) the Archbishop and the SSPX stood for a reassertion of the old style Thomism and Ultramontanism of the XIX Century, while the Pope believed that his Personalist Thomism (or whatever you want to call it) was necessary for the Church's renewal and the fuflillment of its mission in the XXI Century.

Perhaps there is other light to be shed on this. I would be interested to know.

schoolman said...

"...but against that was the Archbishop's understanding, or intuition, that Rome would not in fact play fair with them..."
==================

In retrospect this fear and suspicion seems to have been unfounded. The Ecclesia Dei communities, for example, have actually enjoyed growing support on many levels within the Church and steady growth in their ranks since 1988. Again, had the events in 1988 turned out differently, I suspect we may have seen something like Summorum Pontificum years ago.

schoolman said...

"...Why did JPII procrastinate waiting over one month...."
===============

One month, in Roman time, hardly seems like procrastination. Things move at a slower pace then we sometimes would like.

Anonymous said...

In retrospect this fear and suspicion seems to have been unfounded. The Ecclesia Dei communities, for example, have actually enjoyed growing support on many levels within the Church and steady growth in their ranks since 1988.

And just why do you think that is? You must be delirious if you think that Rome would have given this support if it weren't for the SSPX taking the stance that they did. It was never Rome's plan for the traditional movement to flourish the way it has the last twenty years. Institutions such as the FSSP and alike were primarily sponsered by Rome to destroy the SSPX. That's why you would always find indult masses where the SSPX was in town. For a long time it was hard to find indult masses in diocese where the SSPX wasn't.

Please, let us not be revionists when it comes to reality of the situation 20 years ago.

-PJL

Anonymous said...

"In retrospect this fear and suspicion seems to have been unfounded.."

That 'fear and suspicion' was nothing less than the mortally vital safeguarding of the Faith by an obedient Catholic bishop against the folly of Rome.

God be praised for instilling the 'intuition' of Msgr, Lefebvre. God be praised for that.

benedict ambrose said...

Saving your graces, folks, but what comes across to me now, as it has before, is the extent to which Archbishop Lefebvre was unreasonably putting a gun to the Pope's head. Given his repeated threats gravely to disobey the Pope in consecrating bishops without due permission, even after there was good cause to hope for a positive outcome, how precisely was the Pope supposed to act?

The FSSPX's "demands" were pretty hefty and would have needed a massive amount of serious consideration: as schoolman says, a month for consideration of such a huge issue, when the threat of disobedience was so much pushed to the fore, was nothing. I understand Apb Levebvre's sense of urgency in ensuring (as he saw it)an orthodox episcopal succession, but setting so soon and so early a a deadline after which he made it clear he would do what he thought fit regardless of Papal permission was bound to lead the negotiations to founder.

The whole affair has an aura of classical tragedy about it - but let us praise God that He brought so much good out of such human frailty (on both sides).

John said...

Doing nothing is sometimes a very wise thing. Looking at the disobedience among bishops today we must conclude that the situation back then was not ripe for resolution. Sometimes, things must go completely broke before the desire to fix takes hold amomg us.

Benedict is a wiser if not holier men than JP II was and he concluded that the time is now. He has done well so far. Pray that with God's help he will succeed.

Sure traditionalists suffer discrimination in their parishes every day. But if they hate us just remember they hated Him first. Most of the hate is due to simple ignorance, ignorance fed by diabolical inspiration.

Have patience; offer it up! The Church and Her Traditions, faith will prevail.

Anonymous said...

David danced before the ark, and Michal took offence: she remained childless.

Anonymous said...

New Catholic,

I don't get it. A week ago you make a statement about filtering out all messeges referencing Econe. Now this posting.

-PJL

New Catholic said...

PJL,

They were inappropriate and off-topic in that thread. The tone was also increasingly hostile in that comment box.

This series will be as fact-based as possible: the events of 1988 were very dramatic and they have truly and directly impacted our lives, in ways which we cannot even explain. Therefore, I do not wish them to be ignored: they must be remembered and they are essential in our understanding of current events and future problems... ad laudem et gloriam nominis Domini, ad utilitatem quoque nostram, totiusque Ecclesiae suae sanctae.

Anonymous said...

Father Henri LeFloch and his influence on the young seminarian Marcel Lefebvre
----------------------------------
Led by the Providence of God, the young Marcel Lefebvre was placed in the hands of Fr Henri LeFloch,
the distinguished Rector of the French Seminary in Rome
(founded by the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers in
1854) where Marcel pursued his theological studies and received
a solid formation for the priesthood. It was from Fr LeFloch that the young seminarian learned the principle “sentire cum Ecclesia” -- think with the Church – a principle that guided Marcel throughout his priestly and episcopal life. It is thanks to
Fr LeFloch that Marcel recognized the modern errors that were taking root in the Church and that the antidote to these modern errors was the teaching of Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors and the encyclicals of his four successors. Read in the refectory, the writings of Godefroid Kurth & Fr Deschamps also influenced the
young Marcel to recognize the necessity of the social order
to organized itself around the Social Kingship of Christ.
The truth about Christ the King & Priest was the sacred deposit that Marcel Lefebvre was determined to pass on in his turn.

Anonymous said...

What can be see clearly in the last months is huge increased of SSPX-idolatry I would call it. The Roman Catholic Church is not the Church of Archbishop L. or Pope JP2 - it is the Church of Jesus Christ Himself and He provides the necessary solutions. What was left from the events of 1988 - was the pandora box was open to criticize the Vatican. It would be unthinkable 40 years ago to say things that are say every day now. Recent example - brave 'apologetics' of Remnant for the Pope, who is excused and compared to recovered alcoholic who, although cured, still has no clear sight restored to his eyes. When I read 'apologetics' like this, I am not sure what to do, to cry or be sad for the sin and blindness of person writing this kind of rubbish.

Anonymous said...

SSPX-idolatry? Those comments on the other hand sound akin to popalatry. It's been some years since I read Dante, but I seem to recall he was not kind to Popes and Bishops he thought at fault. Criticism of Rome was not invented by the SSPX. Everyone should be moderate and charitable, but also should not confuse chuchmen with the Church. Some of the enemies within have been open about their plan to subvert the Church through a disordered understanding of obedience.

schoolman said...

There is no question here of criticizing the immorality of popes. We are talking about the principle of authrotiy and obedience -- a foundational principle that guarantees the unity of the Church. Imagine if progressive Bishops followed the example of Archbishop Lefebfre -- by consecrating their own successors without regard for papal mandate -- in order that these successors "faithfully" safeguard the "reforms of the council" and by rejecting Summorum Pontificum. This approach is not acceptable for progressives or traditionalists. The principle of authority and obedience -- in all but sin -- must hold.

Anonymous said...

Roman Catholic Church would cease to exist with open disobedience. There were always different opinions - we are only human beings and prone to error, that is why we have Pope, successor of Peter and vicar of Christ. In such a critical situation, as was for SSPX in 1988, the obedience could be pleasing to God, and prayer and sacrifice would be helpful in giving the better and quicker solution. This is what real Saint would do. He had a great chance for sainthood.

Anonymous said...

Reminder what obedience is and on what obedience the Church was founded: "He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted him" (Philippians 2:8,9)

Anonymous said...

Sainthood for an archbishop who in defiance of the Pope consecrated other 'bishops' and chose excommunication and schism?????

Does not sound like the making of a saint to me.

In spite of the fact that many bishops are terribly disobedient, this disobedience of the Archbishope rent the Church. 'Archbishop' Milengo has also chose schism...

Anonymous said...

"That's why you would always find indult masses where the SSPX was in town" Ah yes the old Lefebvrist canard...I could name dozens of places where the Society Of St Pius X had no activity and which yet had indult masses- Marcel Lefebvre is not an modern -day St Athanatius. He raised 4 priests to the level of the episcopacy against the expressed will of the Vicar of Christ on earth and started a quasi-Church. You wonder why the PCED says that the SSPX isnt in scism...it wishes the SSPX to return to the fold. A visit to any SSPX chapel esp here in Ireland we lead you to the conclusion that the SSPX is neo- Protestant.

Anonymous said...

It didn't stop Athanasius from becoming a saint!

Anonymous said...

The previous group of Anons responders plus Schoolman act as if Levebre actions were a first resort for him. This man waited two decades, three pontiffs and until death was knocking on his door before taking such action. You also act is if the course taking by Levebre was the preferred course which was obviously not the case.

This notion that we need only to be obediant to the pope, "offer it up" and everything else will take care of itself is flawed. Thinking that when the church is in crisis the holy spirit will magically intervene and everything will be okay. This thinking is just as flawed in my opinion sedevecantists who think that somehow God will reach down from heavens and restore a "valid" pope to the throne.

History shows us that when the church is in crisis it's rarely by some outstanding miracle that the ship is righted. Typically God choses to work his miracles using supernatural grace working through the actions of men. These men and these actions don't not always originate from the seat of Peter but also through other great men of the church.

History will be the judge in the case of Econe. In the mean time let us hold off on condemnation of Archbishop Levebre as well as canonization of the previous four popes.

-PJL

Anonymous said...

Ah yes the old Lefebvrist canard...I could name dozens of places where the Society Of St Pius X had no activity and which yet had indult masses-...

Name 12 in the US 15-20 years ago. I live in a diocese where the SSPX is not present. Our bishop needed to have his hand slapped by the current pope before he relunctantly gave permission for an idult. To this day our Bishop will do as little as possible for the traditional community and he knows he will get away with it. In the two adjacent diocese where the SSPX is present, things are much better off for those communities. No coincidence there.

-PJL

Anonymous said...

The passion on both sides of this issue by those who claim the same Faith is really telling. It paints in the strongest colors the awful conundrum the creation of the Newchurch has created for the (would-be) faithful.

Doesn't it seem that the Lefebvre camp struggles to justify what appears as its disobedience, while the "go along to get along I was obedient" crowd tries to justify its own complicity (active or passive)in the demolition of the Church and in the sacrileges and blasphemies that seem so concomitant with the new regime, all the while crowing about its own obedience?

Which is a greater sin, I wonder:

Disobedience in good faith, or pride in having gone along with the destroyers and usurpers?

Anonymous said...

Yes I suffered like Christ on the cross when I sat idly by while:

-they mutilated the Mass of my fathers
-they tossed Christ into a broom closet and eliminated all signs of reverence
-they let lay people handle the Most Holy with no regard for the loss of belief in the MH Sacrament and the Priesthood that that would aborn
-they eliminated the entire devotional life of the Church
-they failed to catechize entire generations of Catholic children
-they openly disavowed or passed over in silence the teaching of the Church on contraception, abortion, sex and marriage
-they engaged in "ecumenical" efforts that could only lead, as they did, to complete syncretism and indifferentism
-they dethroned Christ the King
-they let fad become the measure of orthodoxy and obedience
-they used the papal power to demolish itself

Oh, yes, what a good little martyr I was, all that suffering I offered up to Jesus! All those sacrileges I atoned for by attending them! All those sex ed programs, heretical Renew and RCIA programs my money helped pay for!

I was SO obedient! Nary a word from me against the regime!

Now don't get me wrong. I like the Latin Mass (with some adaptations, of course), and I have a rather "high" Christology ( I mean, I do believe Jesus was God!), but I am ever so glad that the "disobdience" of those who didn't heroically suffer as I did has had NOTHING to do with my increasingly ease in finding a TLM, that it will have had NOTHING to do with the restoration of the Church, should that come, or that, should it prove an indisputable fact that God chose to spearhead the restoration by the resistence of those rebels, it will have profited them nothing to have been thus be used by Him, as they will surely burn in hell along with their rebel leader for daring to stand up to the "lawful authorities" and their programme of "renewal".

Oh, yes, I'm so very pleased with myself.

Blessed art thou Lord God King of the Universe for noting having made me a Lefebvrist!

by (a rather sarcastic) "unsquared circle"

Raphaela said...

I recently met some FSSP priests, one of whom told me that every FSSP priest he knows has a photo of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in his room or in his breviary.

Of course they are aware that they owe their very existence to Archbishop Lefebvre. Thanks to him, many of them were brought up with SSPX and therefore had a rare priviledge...that of being brought up with the Traditional Rite and with the Traditional Faith from childhood.

If Pope Paul VI had not broken away from the Sacred Tradition of the Church by fabricating a new rite of the Mass there would have been no need for Archbishop Lefebvre to found SSPX.
(Ratzinger in his book "Milestones" admits that the new rite is an organic break from the Tradition of the Church, which is as sacred as Scripture for the Holy Catholic Church. In his preface to The Reform of the Roman Rite by Klaus Gamber, he refers to the liturgy after VII as 'fabricated liturgy'.

Anonymous said...

I´m not the Church's backseat driver.

That is the Pope's responsability: He is the Vicar of Christ, with full, absolute, immmediate ordinary power over both pastors and faithful.

Therefore, far be it from me to second-guess the visible Head of the Church, to disobey the Successor of Peter, to rebel against the sweet Christ on Earth.

The selection of bishops is an act that, according to the sacred canons, pertains in the Latin Church to the Pope alone, as part of that power of governance that he, as the supreme ecclesiastical authority, reserves to himself.

Usurpation of that power of government of the Church universal is a very grave matter, and, no matter what different interviews may say, that last line of the official Decree of Excommunication issued by the Holy See after the Econe consecrations was never rescinded or declared void. It reads:

"The priests and faithful are warned not to support the schism of Monsignor Lefebvre , otherwise they shall incur ipso facto the very grave penalty of excommunication."

Roma locuta, causa finita.

Anonymous said...

Somebody said:
"Roma locuta, causa finita."

Pretty dictum, but like so many others of Pre-VatII vintage, it no longer has force.

Roma locuta, causa finita...donec Roma semper se reformans eam iterum prehendat et reformulet.

by "unsquared circle"

There is no longer any such thing as a "final" word. Everything is in constant flux and development (You Silly, that's the proof that it's "alive" and not a "museum piece). If you think I exaggerate, remember the unexcommunicating of the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, and the (de facto)rescinding of the whole teaching of the XIXth century against modernism and liberalism. Some later pope will decide just what JPII meant when he "excommunicated" Lefebvre. (And a yet later pope may re-interpret, that is "deepen" the understanding of what JPII did as interpreted by the pope subsequent to JPII but prior to himself. One thing is certain: whatever he (or any of them) decides, it will be based upon political expediency and not upon an antiquated notion of irreformable truth which the "Church" that the quoted anonymous writer of the above adheres to gave up at Vatican II. Our triumphant papalist may find himself with egg all over his face when his "reading" of "truth" turns out accurate by any objective measure but false in the light of "living tradition" and its exigencies.

Canons change, immemorial customs change, moral laws change, the meaning of dogmas (objectively viewed)changes...but the obedience demanded and the breathtaking abuse of power manent semper et usque in saeculorum saecula.

Anonymous said...

To the sedevacantists: Archp Lefebvre never declared V2 an invalid council, nor did he denigrate Popes Paul VI and JP2 as "anti popes". And when Our Lady of Fatima herself commands you to pray much for the Holy Father, where do you turn? Do you arrogantly tell Her, our Mother and Queen "what holy father?"

To the SSPX bashers who persistently calumniate him as "schismatic":

His statement following Assisi makes it most clear he was operating out of a sense of necessity for THE Faith seeing that his days were soon numbered after patiently persevering for two decades following the council. The article described his conditions as "demands" painting him with a tinge of arrogance. But having been "suspended" in 76 for no crime other than promoting the TLM can anyone objectively negate that the he had no cause whatsoever to hope in the good will of the authorities? Yet, he never called for the SSPX to call JP2 an anti pope. Rather, he "disobeyed" to save what he saw was being destroyed. Perhaps he saw the Holy Father's hands stayed by the masonic mafia he knew ever so well? Let us not forget the Vatican Secretary of State was exposed as an Italian freemason in 1971 by the Italian government.

Those who are faithful to Pope BXVI can at least consider the historical realities before trumpeting, as if they were the Lord God himself that 'Lef and all his followers will burn in hell'. Particularly, when the Vatican itself affirms that the society has never been in schism.

Objectively evaluating the facts, coupled with some Catholic humility in not setting ourselves as supreme judges of Popes and faithfil clerics, is truly an order of the day to be called for.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

JJF

Br. Anthony, T.O.S.F. said...

"The principle of authority and obedience -- in all but sin -- must hold."

When one is made to obey a council that taught errors and a Mass that is not even Catholic, then the proper thing to do is to disobey those who are imposing these things and obey the Magisterium of all time.

Anonymous said...

What is the purpose of ignoring facts, Archb L did something which never has been done before and the Pope had to react accordingly to the situation. His authority as the head of the Church was at stake. It happened and that is it. The Pope Benedict but not Arch L who is long dead, was instrumental for the return of Traditional Liturgy that was modified by another Pope and thanks God for Pope Benedict. Yes indeed Roma locuta causa finita

raphaela said...

The Sacred Tradition of the Church is higher than the authority of the Pope. It shouldn't be an issue of course because takes for granted that the Pope would not break from the Sacred Tradition of the Church. I(I quoted previously Cardinal Ratzinger's veiws from his book 'Milestones' and what he thought of the post concilliar Liturgy in his preface to Gamber's book.)

Anonymous said...

"It's never been before"

Suggest you read some history my friend.

Also, the writings of St Robert Bellarmine.

Remember, we've had valid Popes who publicly sired offspring and went into battle with them. St Robert says a faithful Catholic has every right to defend himself against unjust attack by a Pope for instance.

St Catherine of Siena spent her life admonishing her Pope to abandon Avignon, even though he refused for many years.

Pope Honorius I declared a heretic for allowing the persecution of the faithful.

In short, Arch L was in good saintly company in doing what he did.

In JMJ
JJF

Anonymous said...

Therefore, JJF, you suggest St Robert Bellarmine produced special written instructions for consecration of Bishops without Pope's approval?

Joe B said...

Seems to me Rome and the Vicar of Christ are admitting the holy Archbishop was right. Clearly, every papal document is moving in that direction.

Rome has spoken, so you SSPX haters need to quit whining and start obeying. Let's hear those praises for the modern-day St Athanasius.

Joe B said...

I suspect that this Pope has to be the one who will do the consecration. There are no others below him with the attacks of conscience against the injustices of the past 40 years, and there is no way, humanly speaking, of recovering from the damage. 99% of our bishops are corrupted by modernism or sexual sin. Examples of the hopelessness of the situation are legion, but as the latest excellent edition of Angelus magazine informs us, for the first time ever the diocese of Dublin produced NO seminarians. We're past the point of recovery without supernatural help. The call for the consecration, already 90 years old and fading, just has to happen soon. Yes, trad communities are producing priests in healthy percentages, but trad communities are a fraction of one percent of Catholics. No sense denying it - they are unlikely to be anything but a healthy remnant for the next century or longer without that consecration. We need Our Lady's help now. Pope Benedict just has to be the one, as he is the only one showing the inclination. If for no other reason than that, pray and offer penances for his cooperation.

Anonymous said...

Yes tradition is higher than the Pope. The Pope may govern only according to the limits it has given him. This is true for all. Some Catholics are living in a lovely phantasy when they fail to realise that the obedience owed to the Pope is subject to the teachings of Jesus and he is NOT Jesus but vicar only when he fills his role correctly. (That is why we have had antipopes who have not done so). Nor is the Pope able to overide the teachings of previous popes or councils. This is the safest outlook because the Holy Spirit is present over time. Not just since Vat II. The difference between disobedience because of a refusal to accept doctrine is different from disobedience that is meant to preserve correct doctrine as laid down by previous councils and Popes. I am afraid it is tradition that has it.
When the bishops in China consecrate bishops, Rome as it has often done, supplies recognition AFTER the event. This was constantly done in the Middle Ages AFTER kings had nominated bishops and they were consecrated without Romes prior consent. Often CIRCUMSTANCE dictate what Canon Law discourages.
Yes the SSPX has been extreme in its attempts to define itself as not being liberal. This has been unhealthy for it and lead to great unhappiness and oddities within it.
However in the "normal" liberal stream of the Catholic Church where in its MOST extreme version "nude Masses" "rock Masses" and "communion given to dogs" and every other sort of novelty followed why isn't Rome so keen to start removing bishops and priests for dissent against doctrine and abuses? Rome now says that liturigical abuse has become institutionalised and normative.
Canon Law is meant to serve tradition not work against it.
I feel uneasy about Archbishop Lefebvres actions in consecrating bishops particularly Bishop Williamson. I do however see that Christ commands unity and this will occur if tradition is the glue that unites us. Isn't Our Lord the source of a precedence and tradition as He was the One who founded the Church and ask the Apostles to faithfully transmit His GOOD NEWS to the world throughout time and space? Liberals try to distort this message. Unfortunately they hold sway. God Bless Pope Benedict because he knows what his role is. PRAY FOR HIM

Anonymous said...

JJF here

To the anon who wrote:
"
Therefore, JJF, you suggest St Robert Bellarmine produced special written instructions for consecration of Bishops without Pope's approval?"

Actually, a bishop doesn't normatively need a Pope's approval to consecrate new bishops.

The demand that Pope approve Archp Lefebvre's consecration was in itself a novelty, as it were, a rule designed for one man. No other bishop normally needs the Pope's approval to consecrate for example one of his diocesan priests as a bishop.

So, St Robert would not have written about this specific circumstance. What St Robert did attempt to define was the rights of self defense against papal attack or injustice.
He wrote for example that if a Pope were to attack or assault an individual, one could without sin defend oneself. Similarly with other forms of attack.

But if you want more examples of "disobedience" towards the person in the role of Pope, (of course I disagree that saving Mother Church and not denigrating Tradition can ever be called disobedience per se)you need look no further than St Paul's rather harsh admonition of his Pope for playing the politician with Messiah-deniers at the expense of his own faithful.

His Pope thankfully did not excommunicate him for it.

Sts Peter and Paul, and Archbp Lefebvre, pray for us!

In JMJ

JJF

South Bend Catholic said...

"Sometimes doing nothing is a very wise thing."

Well, I guess our current leadership are the wisest men in the history of humanity.

(And Pope St. Pius X was the basest of fools.)

raphaela said...

Father Clement has a brilliant post about obedience on:

www.transalpineredemptorists.blogspot.com

Well worth a read

truth speaker said...

Archbishop Lefebvre was a confused old man. He went to his eternal reward having led countless souls astray into schism, having formented a movement of disobedient fruitcakes, and having ordained and consecrated a bunch of malcontented oddballs who would never have been given Holy Orders either after or prior to the Council.

Ockham's razor tells us entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem. In this case then, is Lefebvre righ that God's entire Church went completely off the rails and everything turned upside down except for the miniscule Lefebrist sect? Or could it be that Lefebvre himself went off the rails and the rest of Jesus Christ's Church was just doing fine? Could it be that the last five popes whom the Holy Ghost chose and the last 40 years of Church history that the Holy Ghost led were just fine? You answer no because you are a Lefebvrist child, with his poison in your mind. You are not a Catholic.

Anonymous said...

JJF it is not as you are saying. St Robert was considered remote possibility in times of Reformation and Protestantism, of the options for the faithful if suddenly Pope begin teaching heresy. If selection of Bishops is concerned, the progressives after V2 press for the total freedom of election, whereas in pre-V2 times the authority was centralised with Rome to chose both diocesan and titular Bishops with some exception - short excerpts fro Cathoilc Encyclopedia (New Advent) on the subject: "The Holy Office is charged with the examination of persons called to the episcopate, with the exception of the territories subject to the Congregation of the Propaganda or to the Congregation of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, or of those countries where the nomination of bishops is governed by special laws and concordats ("Motu Proprio" of Pope Pius X. 17 December, 1903; "acta sanctae Sedis, 1904, XXXVI, 385). We have said that the Decretals recognize the right of the cathedral chapters to elect the bishop. This right has long been long withdrawn and is no longer in force. In virtue of the second rule of the Papal Chancery the choice of bishops belongs exclusively to the pope (Walter, Fontes juris eccesiastici antiqui et hodierni, Bonn, 1861, 483) Exceptions to this rule, however, are numerous. In Austria (with the exception of some episcopal sees), in Bavaria, in Spain, in Portugal and in Peru, the Government presents to the sovereign pontiff the candidates for the episcopate. It was so in France, and in several South American Republics before the rupture or denunciation of the concordats between the states and the Apostolic See." God bless.

Anonymous said...

Truth Speaker, maybe it is more prudent to chose non abusive language, we can discuss and exchange opinions in moderate and civilized way. God bless.

New Catholic said...

I second the words of the last anonymous: let us please keep this discussion as civilized as possible.

Anonymous said...

Dear Truth Speaker,

You call me a Lefevbrist child who is poisoned. You condemn all in SSPX to eternal perdition.

In this, you disobey the Holy Father and the Vatican, who state quite clearly more than once that the SSPX was never in schism.

Therefore consider that you are passing such damning judgment on fellow Catholic brethren.

On a personal note, do note that passing judgment on fellow brethren is a sin against the precept of the Lord Himself "judge not lest ye be judged".

Having never assissted at an SSPX Mass, I am honored to call the SSPX members my brethren in The Faith.

An objective consideration of the historical events and facts in the 70s and 80s has led me to believe that Archbp L was not at all the "rebel" I grew up believing him to be, but may in fact have had very good cause to feel a strong sense of necessity. His actions over 20 years prior to the consecration show that he was not impatient and self willed.

That in 1969, the Vatican government turned the Secretary of State into the real monarch of the Vatican, leaving the Pope as a fairly toothless monarch, immediately followed in 71 by the discovery of the government that Second of State was a freemason, gave many devout Catholics just cause to fear that the Holy Father was powerless in certain things and was being pulled by dark and powerful forces away from he really wanted. That this also occurred at the height of Soviet infiltration of all Western governments could only add to this anxiety.

I only state that both sides need to consider the objective historical situation before passing judgment on the Archbp's actions in 88.

In this regard, the Holy Father and Bp Fellay are showing both sides the prudent and charitable course through these rough waters.

Let's not judge, as if we were the Great Judge ourselves, but rather pray.

Sincerely in JMJ

JJF

Anonymous said...

I am expressing now my personal opinion, which can be wrong, but it seems to me SSPX could have a problem reconciling with Rome, because of V2.
I suppose there are people there who want reconciliation, but some are against it. There were rumours about ongoing talks between Vatican and SSPX, but nothing happens so far. Anything new on the subject of reconciliation?

Anonymous said...

Certainly reconciliation is possible.

Archbp Lefebvre was a V2 council father.

V2 needs to be looked at as a valid ecumenical council that as Paul VI wrote in the notae praevia inteded to be pastoral and not dogmatic.

That's a lot of opportunity to work towards a common position on.

JJF

Anonymous said...

"truth speaker": "having ordained and consecrated a bunch of malcontented oddballs who would never have been given Holy Orders either after or prior to the Council."

Certainly you speak of Conciliar elections such as Cardinal Kasper

Anonymous said...

"The ultimate temptation"

It's Sunday and I need to attend Holy Mass. I happen to be traveling in a city (e.g. anywhere in Europe) and the two choices for Holy Mass is 1) TLM in a gated Chapel or 2) any Roman Catholic Church which will offer the latest flavor liturgy. Did they sing, did they sit, did they stand or did they kneel while You suffered on the cross oh Lord? My choice without hesitating would be the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in saecula saeculorum…

The only problem is that the TLM is offered by SSPX. That's the ultimate temptation: Vade retro satana! How can I be part of His mystical body if the priest who will celebrate the Sacred Liturgy is supporting the schism of Monsignor Lefebvre? Through this choice, unless I was on a desert island, I would myself therefore incur ipso facto the very grave penalty of excommunication.

What about the holy priests and faithful who left the Society after 1988? Traitors for some, nostalgics for others, weren't their prayers answered? Their faith and modesty is an example for so many to remain in UNITY with ALL the faithful. That You would renew the face of earth.

Blessed be the Holy Father for he is the Good Shepherd. Those who dare to attack Him or any of His predecessors are attacking the unity of the Church. Shame on you people of little faith!

Nonetheless, I will continue to pray for you. God Bless.

Anonymous said...

Traditional Catholics would not have followed Archbishop Lefebvre if he ever declared that the U.N. was the last great hope of the world or ever took part in Anamist
rites or ever kissed the Koran or ever disregarded requests from Our Lady of Fatima. Not one us! Yet because of the consecrations he performed he has been denigrated by
a number of posters on this issue. Even if he was wrong (which I do not concede)how does it equate with
the very partial list of wrongs attributed in at least one case each to the last four deceased popes? None of which were ever intended to carry on Tradition but
sure did help to scuttle it.

To those who actually believe that
Archbishop Lefebvre was wrong do you think his co-consecrator Bishop
Antonio DeCastro Mayer was also? He was a couragous man and obeyed all of his directives that were required of him. He was targeted for maintaining tradition as he trained priests to offer the Tridentine Mass. He could read the tea leaves though and refused to incardinate priests from outside of his diocese of Campos, Brazil. Pope Paul VI never suspended him for the way he trained his priests but was content to let him retire at the mandatory age. It was only after his retirement and the Novus Ordo destruction occuring in his former diocese that he joined forces with Archbishop Lefebvre, for the sake of Sacred Tradition.

Now if the Orthodox Church which is
without a doubt schismatic yet in the good graces of the Vatican, why
draw a line at the SSPX?

LeonG said...

It was an even sadder day when The Church chose modernism instead of tradition as its guiding star.

"Thank you, Lord, for Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and the Society of St. Pius X and all the religious orders united to it, such as the Franciscan Capuchins in Morgan."

Amen, Brother Anthony. Millions of Catholics support this perspective.

SSPX have given countless Roman Catholics a safe haven alongside independent traditional priests and parishioners while the rest of The Church has been collapsing into liberalist obfuscation and world-friendly political correctness. No wonder the missions have all but been ruined and little wonder thousands of churches and other Catholic buildings have been closed down with no one left to use them. Another 30,000 or so in France are awaiting a similar fate at this very moment. Some religious orders are almost extinct and priests are ageing with few replacements. What desolation! What destruction!

In the meantime SSPX has been quietly growing and developing as a sturdy strong shoot in the desert of modernist de-christianised Christendom. These are true heroes of the contemporary church. In some parts of the world it is only they who are really fanning the flames of orthodoxy.

LeonG said...

It reminds one of the poor traditional Roman Catholics of Paris who waited years for the church authorities to answer their request for a parish in which to celebrate the Holy Mass in Latin. And all they received was silence. Hence, the procession into St Nicholas de Chardonet in order to save it from the eventual misuse and disuse so familiar in the church in France in this postmodern era. Anyone who has journeyed round France can hardly fail to notice the shocking decay and emptiness of so many ecclesiastical buildings. SSPX has at least rescued some of them from desolation and put them to the use for which they were established by their founders.

viking said...

Excellent post. I'm one of those younger trads (and convert) I was born the same year as the consecrations took place. It can be no doubt whatsoever that Archbishop Lefebvre did the right thing when he consecrated the Bishops. He clearly was willing, and hoping that Rome would grant his wish, but they did not. Since SSPX is so large, they needed more than one Bishop.

LeonG said...

New Catholic

Brave man! Well done! This controversial issue deserves a thorough investigation. It is not as straightforward a case as those immediately antipathetic towards Archbishop Lefebvre imagine. It is time for the whole Church to look this matter in the face and to be prepared to beat the breast.

He is greatly admired and respected by certain quarters in Rome.

Caritas said...

Leong,

Let us also avoid the blame excercise about the state of the Church in France. Let us consider the brutal facts: before 1988 there was one Church with two rites. Today we have two Churches in France.

Instead let us medidate with charity on what the Holy Father suggested in Summorum Pontificum: ONE Church, TWO forms of the SAME rite. Simple and powerful. Why? Because it is a cry for unity.

If we reproduce the same mistakes as 1988 and wait another 20 years, we may end up with no more Church as rightfully suggested.

The other option is to pray for one another, bear with one another and love one another.

St Francois de Sales, enseignez nous la patience.

St Louis et Ste Jeanne d'Arc, priez pour nous

Toussaints de France, intercedez pour nous.

St Michel defendez l'Eglise contre ses propres divisions.

Of one thing I remain convinced, Providence never fails.

Caritas

LeonG said...

"Let us also avoid the blame exercise about the state of the Church in France."

There is no blame exercise necessary since the objective data speaks for itself.

Almighty God's plan of salvation is right on track as we live through an era of itching ears and delusional behaviour. It is accounted for in Holy Scripture. The blind have been leading the blind and they have fallen into the pit. We can tell a tree by the quality of the fruit that it bears.

There will always be The Christ's invisible church come what may. The visible one, however, has certainly taken a ruinous pathway of late.

It would be uncharitable to pretend otherwise.

Now has come the era of the olive shoot. May the bishops of France be charitable enough to welcome this. Thus far, and yet no sign.

Arturo Vasquez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arturo Vasquez said...

"Our triumphant papalist may find himself with egg all over his face when his "reading" of "truth" turns out accurate by any objective measure but false in the light of "living tradition" and its exigencies."


Having perused this long set of comments, I found myself most sympathetic with this snipet. If there is anything that my relatively long career in my very short life in the Church has taught me, it is that we shouldn't hang our hopes on ecclesiatical authority. One of the reasons most of the "hyper-apologetics" Catholics out there seem to love the Papacy is that it is for them most reflective of the monarchy that God had in ancient Israel.

Many Catholic apologists refer to kings, vicars, and queen mothers when talking about the Church, as if lacking these things would make the Church somehow defective. Having read the whole Old Testament though, if that analogy is to hold, I really don't want it. Most of the kings of Judah after Solomon were scoundrels or worse. If God was shepherding his people through them, He wasn't doing it very directly. If you were going to be a pious Jew, your Faith wasn't going to survive because you confided in the kings or the priests; you had to have your own bearings as to the meaning of God's Law within your own life, with constant reference to being a member of God's chosen people.

I was an SSPX seminarian for two years in Argentina. In the cloister of that seminary, there hung a photo of Archbishop Lefebvre, and we also had one of his cassocks on display like a holy relic in one of the hallways. That was more than five years ago now, and I have since shook off any pretensions to Lefebvrism that I used to have. (I can even go to the Novus Ordo without much flinching, though sometimes I really miss the traditional Mass.)

I really don't buy either side of the argument. I think Lefebvre was a confused old man who did great things for the Church but was caught up in his own fantasies of French monarchism, Freemasonry, and Action Francaise; Lefebvrism has as much to do with French politics as it has to do with liturgy. (If you read his last book, Spiritual Itinerary, you will find an out-of-place word of praise for Marshall Petain.) John Paul II was pope, but that doesn't canonize every single one of his actions, and I don't think he was guided by the Holy Ghost when he wrote "Ecclesia Dei Adflicta". It could be an act that could be rescinded tommorrow, and it wouldn't reflect badly on him in any way. In the whole debate, they were both talking past each other, seemingly speaking a different language. Both were colored by their prejudices, and it was a case of the common human tragedy of sticking to your guns even if you might be partially wrong.

The history of the Church is and always will be sloppy. The main problem begins when we begin to absolutize our own positions and think that that is the way things will always be. God will always have some nifty tricks up His sleeve, and we had better get used to His sense of humor.

Caritas said...

Leong,

FRANCE, 20 years on, the assessment is brutal. Schism is real. Before 1988 one may have argued in favor of the Sacred Liturgy or the Pauline mass, however unity prevailed. Today, the two Churches are separated. An unchristian mistrust reigns over the flock. Sometimes I can't help wondering...what the devil happened to this Christian land? Until each side repents, the French Church will remain divided. It's never going to happen some may say.

Yet, one cannot help remembering the blessings and miracles this country has enjoyed since the baptism of Clovis. Through the centuries and each time when all hope was lost! Today's empty Churches and seven million muslims without a conversion strategy.

Let us pray for Saints:

May the Holy Spirit send forth laborers into the Lord's harvest.

Of one thing I remain convinced. Providence never fails.

Caritas

Anonymous said...

Caritas said:

"FRANCE, 20 years on, the assessment is brutal. Schism is real."

Yes, it is real, and it is the "official" French Church, its clergy and its faithful, who are in de facto schism. They have rejected the faith of their fathers, of Clovis, and substituted for it something that Robespierre or Marx might admire. In any case, these "catholics" have succeeding in destroying the faith in France in a way that the Revolutionaries only dreamed of. The remnant of Catholics faithful to tradition, whether followers of Archbishop Lefebvre or of the other traditional groups, are the only vestiges of Catholicism in France. The pathetic NO bishops, purveyors of a new and secular religion, certainly represent no hope for recovery. They would rather turn their empty churches over to Muslims than to faithful Catholics. That's the scandal, that's the schism!

by "unsquared circle"

Caritas said...

Anonymous,

How dare you insult the Bishops of France?

If you are Catholic go to confession.

I will say the 5/9 Novena of the Holy Spirit for the lost sheep.

Providence never fails.

Caritas