Rorate Caeli

TRENT, Italy, June, 1979, Address by Abp. Lefebvre: “The Second Vatican Council: what would the Fathers of the Council of Trent have to say about it?” An exclusive translation.


Introductory remarks from the translator

This is an excerpt from a long article in “La Tradizione Cattolica”( Year XXXIV – n°2 (124) – 2023).  It is the transcript of an address the Archbishop gave in Trent on June 17th  1979.  It was difficult to translate because as the Archbishop himself says in his introductory remarks: ‘First of all, please excuse my Italian, as I do not have complete command of the language,  but I think it will be easier to speak [ directly] to you myself – even if I make mistakes -  rather than have someone translate  for me.’

I believe this is one of the reasons that this particular speech has not been translated into English [ it may be in a book in English – but I couldn’t find a trace of it online]– as the Archbishop is not speaking from a prepared speech – but speaks from the heart - ‘off the cuff.’  So the Italian is repetitive, colloquial and delightfully to the point, without a trace of malice.  The Archbishop speaks with the piercing sincerity of a man of God who loves Holy Mother Church – and is not afraid to call ‘a spade a spade’ when he speaks of how the Church [i.e. the administration of the visible institution] has been taken over by men who are devoid of the Catholic Faith.  (‘They are really not good Catholics.  They are really not true Churchmen’).  He even names the men bent on the demolition of the Church (as a visible institution).  And this is in 1979 – who  knows what he’d say now. 


Reading this article,  because of the simplicity of the language and  the saintliness and naturalness of the speaker - the broken heart of the Archbishop is quite evident.  His heart is broken at the state of the Church, Post-Vatican II.  At least this is my opinion and I did my best to keep that sincere spirit in my translation.  Others are perfectly entitled to disagree with me.

A propos internal disagreement or downright spiteful fighting in the Church, the once dependable ‘La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana  is at present on a nasty campaign against the FSSPX -  running a series of articles filled with animosity and untruths about the canonical state of the Fraternity.  (In my view it is because literally hundreds of people have been flocking to  the Society  in Italy after the Covid lockdowns imposed by dioceses on the churches).   

So rather than get into a futile discussion (if they have no eyes to see and read and no ears to hear and listen! ) I present this translation  as a further proof  of the good Archbishop’s sincerity and why he did what he did - whether one agrees with his decisions or not.     

The words in straight brackets were added to the text to make it more readable in English without any change to the meaning.                                                        

Finally, if any reader knows of a full translation of this 1979 conference in Trent, please let us know.  If it doesn’t exist I will translate the whole speech.

Francesca Romana

The extract  from Archbishop Lefebvre’s discourse held in Trent in June 1979  and entitled:

“The Second Vatican Council:  What would the Fathers of the Council of Trent  say about it?”

“Seeing the present state of the Church is a cause of great grief to us – and  I am sure it is the same for all of you.   How can it be that we have received official documents from Rome that are not in favor of the Catholic Religion?    That do not go along with the Tradition and the Catholic Faith? The answer is easy – the Church has been taken over; yes, it has been taken over; taken over by Modernists who defend [their] errors condemned by Pius X, who  said: “The enemy is now inside the Church -  it is no longer on the outside – it is inside the Church.”

This enemy is found in the seminaries; in these seminaries the enemy of the Church will become a priest, a bishop, a cardinal with ideas that are not Catholic but modernist, laden with naturalism, rationalism, evolutionism and relativism in doctrine and morality.  This is Modernism. 

Men with these ideas became bishops and cardinals.  Then the Second Vatican Council was ushered in and the Modernists wanted to have this Council to spread their ideas. And they held this Council with weak Popes.  Pope John XXIII was not a very strong man and even if he was a traditionalist at heart, he didn’t want to give the impression of not being up-to-date with modern ideas.

Under the influence of these cardinals he opened the Council, and, in my opinion, the poor Pope died of grief when he saw where the Council was heading.  That was my impression anyway. 

I knew Pope John well when he was Monsignor Roncalli in Paris, where,  as Apostolic Delegate in Africa, I went to see him many times. We spoke a lot. He  had the heart of a traditionalist – and when he saw how this Council was ruining the Church –  it is said he uttered before he died: “Stop the Council. Stop the Council!” 

Regrettably,  the Modernists who took over the Church are still there, and have driven out all the traditionalists and now every great city in the world has a modernist bishop as cardinal: Milan, Madrid, Amsterdam, Paris and Chicago. 

When Monsignor Bernardin, the newly appointed Cardinal of Chicago, was Bishop of Cincinnati, he was involved in a pacifist campaign and led a peace march.  [Subsequently  he was made Archbishop of  Chicago].

When I visited Chicago [some time before the actual appointment], I read in the newspapers that the press was not in favour of this Bishop becoming Archbishop of Chicago - the second most important city in America.  This was the opinion of both the leftist and the conservative-right newspapers – in short – all the newspapers. And what happened? Monsignor Bernardin was duly nominated Archbishop of Chicago! How can this be accounted for?  There was someone behind it all  - one of the modernist Cardinals  in Rome: Casaroli, Baggio, Pironio, Poletti –  they are all modernists.

In the past the modernists and the liberals were driven out of the Church, by Pius IX, Leo XIII and St. Pius X.   Popes  always drove out the liberals and the modernists  because they were against the good of the Church.  But, even the Popes in their encyclicals slowly but surely admitted “We have condemned these people; we have done everything in our power to stop them having an influence in the Church, but nobody is listening to us, nobody is obeying us..”   The Popes wrote in their encyclicals that this error [ of Modernism] was becoming increasingly more organized, increasingly stronger. Then the Second Vatican Council came along and the Modernists took advantage of it to seize power in the Vatican. 

Now they tell me : “You are being disobedient.”  For sure I am disobedient to Modernism and since they are Modernists, I do not want to obey them.  I want to obey Catholics while they want to wreck the Church and I want no part of that.  I want to build the Church not demolish it. Paul VI himself said:  “It is the auto-demolition of the Church.”  Who is demolishing the Church?  Somebody is certainly doing it – the Church cannot demolish by Herself.  These men are doing it. For this reason I have said that there are different Rome[s] and [at present] there is a Modernist Rome which is the most powerful.

Let us pray, hope and make sacrifices, asking God to make these men leave. They really are not good Catholics. They really are not true Churchmen. There are others who are good and want the best for the Church but are hindered because the Modernists are stronger. These [men] have been busy organizing themselves for 15 years and have all the power now. Even the Pope can’t do anything.  They say to the Pope: “You mustn’t do this and you mustn’t do that.”  They are powerful and present in all of the offices - all over Rome.

When I went for an audience with Pope Paul VI, I didn’t go through Cardinal Villot who at that time had all the power [as Secretary of State]. Indeed he had enforced regulations whereby nobody  in the Curia could make a move without his permission; he was more powerful than the Pope and he didn’t want me to see the Pontiff.  Afterwards I understood why.  He had spoken calumnies against me to the Pope.  He had told him: “This Bishop,  Monsignor Lefebvre, makes his seminarians sign statements against you, against the Pope.”  Paul VI had replied: “This seems impossible to me. That a bishop would make his seminarians sign something against the Pope.” Then Cardinal Villot asked for permission to take action against the seminary, against all of my work.  [The Pope said] “Certainly. You must follow [what’s happening at] the seminary and this work must disappear – it must not continue.”  Consequently Villot cooked up a scheme against my seminary; a false scheme -  also against Canon Law - and he was sure that after four months the Ecòne Seminary would have been closed and all the seminarians sent back home.

When I found out  about all this I refused to accept it. 

Subsequently,  when I went to see Pope Paul VI, Cardinal Villot only knew about it a couple of hours beforehand and he sent Cardinal Benelli saying: “You must go with Monsignor Lefebvre to the audience with the Pope” and he came. Who knows whether he came to keep an eye on me or the Pope, as he never said a word during the meeting but only took notes.

At first the Pope was upset and angry: “It is not true that you have great respect for the Pope because you make your seminarians sign statements against the Pope!  [I responded] “Would I be able to do such a thing? I have been a Servant of the Pope all my life! If it is true, let me see  a copy of these statements!” The Pope looked at me…then he softened and was kinder. [The cause of his anger] had been the calumny by Cardinal Villot.   It was an incredible lie.  But that’s what happened.

These people are not Churchmen. Villot was not a Churchman. Baggio is not a Churchman. Casaroli is not a  Churchman. They are not Churchmen because their principles are not the principles of the Church. So we are being targeted because we want  to maintain Tradition while they no longer want it and say: “If the Pope gives permission for the traditionalists to have the Mass of St. Pius V, everything we have done after the Council is gone – it is over.”

The [present] Pope does not agree with this. In fact, he would be disposed to allowing the Old Mass.   Pope John Paul II said to me during an audience that it was ridiculous: “This Mass that we ourselves had celebrated for many years, the Mass of the Church, why prohibit it?  Then  Cardinal Seper (Prefect for the Congregation of the Faith - 1968-1981) stepped in saying to the Pope: “No, no, Holiness, don’t give this faculty to Monsignor Lefebvre because he will make a banner of it.”

A banner? The Mass is the Mass I have always celebrated and it is a banner – in the sense that it is the Cross of Jesus Christ.  For me it is the banner of Catholicism;  it is the cross, but it is not a banner in the sense to go to war with. Well, the Pope was then perplexed and did nothing – but he had been disposed to signing.

This is the situation in Rome and all of you must know about it, because if you don’t, you might think that all goes well in Rome, that everything coming from Rome is holy and in accordance with Catholic Tradition; that all is well, that there is nothing bad there, that Rome is holy.  Honestly it is not that way anymore. Not now.

There was a time it was like that.

When I was in the Roman seminary and then when I was Apostolic Delegate I used to go to all the Roman Congregations and to the Secretary of State.  I met Cardinal Tardini for example – now there was a true Churchman!  Also I knew, Cardinal Ottaviani, Cardinal Brown and Cardinal Antonuitti all of whom were real Churchmen – who gave everything to the Church – and nothing else – nothing to politics!   Not the men now though – there are some still good men – but not the ones that have all the power. When they took power in Rome – they changed everything: the liturgy, the seminaries, theology, morality – leaving all of it to – liberty!  And with liberty, things fall apart.

These people have real hatred for traditionalists –real hatred. Everyone is now welcome in the Vatican: Buddhists, Muslims, the Trilateral (I know these Freemasons) even Arafat and all the revolutionaries but not Catholics! We are Catholics and we cannot have an audience with the Pope.

Once at a conference held in France, I said: “Perhaps a day will come when the Devil will ask to be received in the Vatican and they will say to him: you are a very cultured person, very intelligent and powerful – and we have these human rights – so we are obliged to receive you; on the other hand, we know that you are in a somewhat difficult situation which we still don’t know how long will last …but who knows? Perhaps one day God …. And we also know that you have had some difficulty with Jesus Christ and  the Holy Virgin  - but perhaps the responsibility lies on both sides…” Perhaps…

This is the situation now:  for the Church, each  has to own responsibility,  and so their mea culpa[s], their mea culpa[s] for the sins of the Church to the Protestants and so on.  The Church  made mistakes – so even now the demon will be welcomed.   We – on the other hand – cannot have an audience.

The situation in Rome is extremely serious and we must pray; we must pray especially to the Blessed Virgin since She is the strongest against the demon. She is always in battle with the demon and with those who  do not want the Kingdom of Her Son. The Blessed Virgin, The Immaculate Conception holds only one name in Her heart: Jesus. Only one name in Her thoughts: Jesus.  

We too, must do what we can to be like Her – to have only one name in our hearts and thoughts – the name of Jesus., the Reign of Jesus for all men, the eternal Kingdom for all men – all of them! The Reign  of beatitude , joy, peace and eternity –  our final desitination at the end of our earthly life.

We need to pray about  this difficult situation in the Church; we need to pray like the little children of Fatima did; they were shown a vision of Hell by Our Lady, into which souls fell like leaves from trees in Autumn.

We need to pray and do penance, asking with all our hearts [the capacity] to pray;  getting the children to pray:  pleading with God to change the situation – for the salvation of our souls and the souls of all people. "  


Monsignor Marcel Lefebvre 

Year XXXIV – n°2 (124) - 2023