|Bishop Marcel Lefebvre, Vicar Apostolic of Dakar, |
on the day of his Consecration (1947)
On October 3, 1987, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) celebrated the fortieth anniversary of his consecration with a special Mass in Écône, Switzerland, where the International Seminary of Saint Pius X is located. In his long sermon, given one year after the first Assisi meeting took place (Oct. 1986), Abp. Lefebvre summarized the problem and expounded with greater detail the July 14, 1987, meeting with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger, that he had already presented partially in other occasions, including a conference for a priestly retreat held on September 4. In this sermon, he expands and completes the general thoughts regarding negotiations and the relationship of Traditional Catholics and the Supreme Pontiff in the post-conciliar reality.
The complete sermon was translated and published in The Angelus (November 1987 issue), to which we added one very small excerpt which is absent in the translation but that was part of the original French text. No passage was highlighted below, so that our readers may be able to reach their own conclusions.
[T]hey have tried, right up to the present, to make us understand that we have to follow the new current. And I repeated without ceasing, "If I follow the current that you yourselves are following, well, I will have the same results; that is to say, your seminaries are closing, your seminaries are being sold, and the priests whom you are forming do not have any longer the priestly spirit. The best proof is that a good number of them, three or four years after ordination, get married and abandon the priesthood. I do not want to arrive at that situation with my seminarians! I want authentic priests, priests of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who believe, who have the Faith, and who are ready to suffer for their Faith, who are ready to renounce all those worldly habits that have been introduced into the interior of the Church and that have invaded even the sacristies and the priesthood!" That is where I find myself now at the time of my fortieth year as a bishop.
Now it happens that, in the face of these two orientations which in practice are incompatible, it is what I was saying to Cardinal Ratzinger last July 14th: "Eminence, you see, it is very hard for us to agree, because you are for the lessening of the Reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the idea that no one speak of it, that silence be kept on it, that in civil society no one speak of the reign of Our Lord so that all the religions can be at ease in our societies, and so that there will not be only Our Lord Jesus Christ and therefore the Catholic religion. We must not insist on this social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ so that the Jews, the Moslems, the Buddhists will not be offended by the Cross and by the Faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ, that is your attitude! Well, for us, it is exactly the opposite! We want Our Lord Jesus Christ to reign, because He is the only God, because there is no other God, because when we die and find ourselves in eternity, there will be no other God who will present Himself to us than Our Lord Jesus Christ, who will be our Judge." Tu solus Dominus! Tu solus altissimus! We sang it again, a moment ago, in the Gloria. "There is no other God! It is not Buddha who will receive us in heaven, it is not Mohammed, it is not Luther; it is Our Lord Jesus Christ, He who created us, He who has lived on earth, He who redeemed us, and He who waits for us in eternity. Therefore we desire that He reign. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, on earth as in heaven; and God knows whether the will of the Good Lord is done in heaven! If it is done in heaven, it must be done on the earth also: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven; Thy kingdom come! That is what I teach," I said to the Cardinal; "That is what I teach my seminarians and that is what they have in their hearts. They have only one care, only one desire, which is to make an apostolate for the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the families, in souls, in society; that Jesus reign everywhere; that is it! And that is why it is indeed difficult for us to agree. Your ecumenism is ruining the social Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ; and this is why the book that I have written recently has as its title They Have Uncrowned Him, they have uncrowned Our Lord Jesus Christ, and gives the explanation of this situation that we are living in today."
But on this occasion, it seems that by a particular circumstance, I think perhaps by the entreaties that have been made by certain Cardinals, by certain bishops to the Holy Father, to say, "But now we have to finish with this business of Tradition, with this affair of Écône, we have to finish. They are not, just the same, enemies of the Church! We have to profit from these living forces which are found in this Priestly Society of St. Pius X for the good of the Church. You cannot let that go indefinitely because everything is collapsing everywhere! When we see and hear the echoes of the Holy Father's trip to the United States, and the situation of the immorality in the United States, which is bewildering, even in Catholic spheres, even in the seminaries, it is unimaginable! Absolutely unimaginable! So where are we going to find the renaissance of the Church? Not in those seminaries where homosexuality is advocated, in the seminaries! So then? We have to know where we are going to regain the true essence of the Faith and the true virtue of Our Lord Jesus Christ!" [Now, I believe that strong entreaties were made in Rome. And that is how, never before as on July 14, we were presented with solutions that are extraordinary.] Now I think that there is a new dialogue that is being set up. And pray, my very dear brethren, pray that this dialogue will lead to a solution that will be for the good of the Church. We are not seeking anything else; we are not looking for the good of the society; it is not a question of the Society, it concerns the good of the Church. It is a question of the salvation of souls, of the salvation of Christian families, of the salvation of Christian societies. So we hope that in this new climate which has been established for some weeks, well, some new solutions will be able to spring up. It is a small hope. Oh, I do not have an exaggerated optimism, because, concisely, those two currents that are opposed are indeed difficult to reconcile. But if Rome really wants to give us true autonomy, the one that we have now, but with submission, we would want this, we have always desired to be subject to the Holy Father. It is not a question of despising the authority of the Holy Father; on the contrary. But we have been as if thrown outside because we were traditionalists. Well, if, as I have often asked, Rome agrees to have us make the experiment of Tradition, well then, there will be no more problems. We will be free to continue the work that we are doing, as we are doing it now, under the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff. Obviously that calls for solutions that must be looked at, that must be discussed, which are not easy to settle in their details. But with the grace of the Good Lord, it is possible that we will find a solution that will permit us to continue our work without abandoning our Faith, without abandoning that light of which I was speaking to you, which has been that of my forty years as a bishop, which is the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
We want, I would say, to live heaven a little already; since we are made to go to heaven, it is indeed necessary for us to prepare ourselves here below. Thus it is necessary to create this climate of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for we are going to find Him when we die, hoping that we will be among the members of that realm of Jesus Christ. That is the whole situation such as it presents itself.