Source: Fideliter, January-February 1991

Interview by André Cagnon


On the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X, Archbishop Lefebvre was kind enough to answer the questions we put to him. "It is no longer only a question of the liturgy, as important as it is, that separates us from Rome, but a question of faith." We will also get to see how the prelate debunked the calumnies that were brought against him concerning the conciliar documents on religious liberty and "The Church in the Modern World."

Fideliter: Since the consecrations there is no more contact with Rome; however, as you told us, Cardinal Oddi phoned you and said: "Things must be sorted out. Ask the Pope for a small pardon and he is ready to welcome you." So, why not try this last step, why does this seem impossible to you?

Mgr. Lefebvre: This is absolutely impossible in the current climate in Rome, which is getting worse and worse. We must have no illusions. The principles which now direct the conciliar Church are more and more openly contrary to Catholic doctrine.

Before the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Cardinal Casaroli recently stated: "I wish to dwell somewhat on a specific aspect of the fundamental freedom to think and act according to one's conscience, thus freedom of religion... The Catholic Church and its Supreme Pastor, who has made human rights one of the great themes of his preaching, have not failed to recall that, in a world made by man and for man, the entire organization of society makes sense only insofar as it makes the human dimension a central concern." To hear that from a cardinal! He doesn't talk about God!

For his part, Cardinal Ratzinger, in presenting a lengthy document on the relationship between the Magisterium and theologians, states "for the first time with clarity" that "decisions of the Magisterium cannot be the last word on the matter as such" but "a kind of provisional disposition... The nucleus remains stable, but the particular aspects influenced by the circumstances of the time may need to be rectified later. In this regard, the declarations of the popes of the last century can be mentioned. The anti-modernist decisions have done a great service but they are now outdated." So there you have it, the page of modernism is turned! These reflections are absolutely senseless.

Finally the Pope is more ecumenical than ever. All the misconceptions of the Council continue to develop, to be reaffirmed with ever greater clarity. They are less and less hidden. It is therefore absolutely inconceivable that one could agree to collaborate with such a hierarchy.

Fideliter: Do you think that the situation has deteriorated even more since you had - before the consecrations - initiated conversations that led to the drafting of the protocol of May 5, 1988?

Mgr. Lefebvre: Oh yes! For example, the fact of the profession of faith that Cardinal Ratzinger has been demanding since the beginning of 1989. This is a very serious fact. Because he is asking all those who have joined them or who could join them to make a profession of faith in the documents of the Council and in the post-conciliar reforms. For us this is impossible.

We will have to wait before we can consider the prospect of an agreement. For my part, I believe that only God can intervene, because humanly speaking, we do not see any possibility for Rome to change the tide.

For fifteen years we have been in dialogue to try to restore Tradition to its rightful place in the Church. We have met with a continual refusal. What Rome is granting now in favor of Tradition is a purely political, diplomatic gesture to force rallies. But it is not a conviction in the benefits of tradition.

Fideliter: When one sees that Dom Gérard and the Fraternity of St. Peter have obtained to keep the liturgy and the catechism, without - so they say - having conceded anything, some who are troubled by finding themselves in a difficult situation with Rome, may be tempted in the long run to rally in their turn out of weariness. "They manage well", they say, "to get along with Rome without having given up anything."

Mgr. Lefebvre: When they say that they have not given up anything, it is not true. They have given up the possibility of oppose Rome. They cannot say anything more. They have to keep quiet because of the favors that have been granted to them. It is now impossible for them to denounce the errors of the conciliar Church. They are slowly falling in line, if only because of the profession of faith that is required by Cardinal Ratzinger. I believe that Dom Gérard is in the process of publishing a small book written by one of his monks on religious liberty, which will try to justify it.

In terms of ideas, they are changing around slowly and end up admitting the false ideas of the Council, because Rome has granted them some favors for Tradition. This is a very dangerous situation.

During the audience he granted to Dom Gérard and a delegation of monks from Le Barroux, the Pope expressed his desire to see them come around more and more. He made no secret of it. They must submit even more to the archbishop and be careful not to act as if the conciliar reforms are of lesser value because they have been granted exceptions to the liturgical rule of concelebration. They are also supposed to make an effort to bring back all those who are not yet in obedience to the Holy Father.

These are compelling solicitations for them and that is the purpose of the privileges they have been granted.

That is why Dom Gérard wrote to Mother Anne-Marie Simoulin, to Father Innocent-Marie, to the Capuchins of Morgon and to others to also try to influence me. On his return from Rome he launched this offensive to try to convince all those who do not follow him to follow in his wake and rally to Rome.

Everything that was granted to them was granted to them only to make all those who are members of or connected with the Society break away from it and submit to Rome.

Fideliter: Dom Gérard thus takes over the role that had been assigned to Bishop Perl.

Mgr. Lefebvre: I had the opportunity to see at least three letters that Bishop Perl sent in response to people who had written to him. It is always the same thing. It is absolutely necessary to make an effort with those who have not understood the need to rally to the Pope and the Council. "It is a pity," he wrote, "that there have not been more rallies."

Fideliter: You said, speaking of Dom Gérard and the others: "They are betraying us. They are shaking hands with those who are destroying the Church, with the liberals, with the modernists". Isn't that a bit harsh?

Mgr. Lefebvre: No, it's not. They have called on me for fifteen years. It is not I who went to look for them. They themselves came to me to ask for support, to do their ordinations, for the friendship of our priests and at the same time to open all our priories to help them financially. They all used us while they could. We did it willingly and even generously. I was happy to do these ordinations, to open our houses so that they could benefit from the generosity of our benefactors... And then, all of a sudden, I get a phone call. We will go to the Archbishop of Avignon. We now have an agreement with Rome. We have signed a protocol.

It is not for fun that we had difficulties with Rome. It is not for fun that we had to fight. We did it for principles, to keep the Catholic faith. And they agreed with us. They collaborated with us. And then all of a sudden they abandon the real fight to ally themselves with the destroyers under the pretext that they grant them some privileges. This is unacceptable.

They have practically abandoned the fight for the faith. They can no longer oppose Rome.

This is what Father de Blignières did too. He has changed completely. He who had written a whole volume to condemn religious liberty, now writes in favor of religious liberty. This is not on. We can no longer count on men like these, who have understood nothing about the doctrinal issues.

In any case, I think they are making a serious mistake. They have sinned gravely by acting as they have done, knowingly and with unbelievable casualness.

I have heard that some monks intend to leave Le Barroux saying that they can no longer live in an atmosphere of lies. I wonder how they have been able to stay in this atmosphere until now.

The same goes for those at Dom Augustin. They were even more traditionalist than we are and now they have completely crossed over to the other side. For all the young people who are there, it is awful to think of such a reversal. They entered the monastery to be truly with Tradition. It was the surest, firmest Tradition, even more than the Society. They thought they were guaranteed forever. And then they completely turn around... and they stay. It's inexplicable.

Fideliter: Father de Blignières, the Abbot of Nantes and Dom Gérard practically accused you of lying when you assured them that you had not signed two documents of the Council, Dignitatis Humanae on religious liberty and Gaudium et Spes. The magazine Sedes Sapientiae reproduced a document from the Vatican archives with your name in your own handwriting. What exactly is it and what is this document?

Mgr. Lefebvre: This idea of interpreting the signatures as signifying an approval of conciliar documents germinated in the ill-intentioned brain of Father de Blignières.

The approvals or refusals of the documents were obviously carried out for each particular document. Voting was secret, carried out on individual cards, and done with a special pen that allowed for the electronic calculation of votes. The cards were collected by the secretaries, from the hand of each voter.

The large sheets of paper that were passed from hand to hand among the Fathers of the Council and signed by each one of them had no meaning of voting for or against, but signified our presence at this voting session for four documents.

One would have to take the Fathers who voted against the texts as weathervanes, making it seem as if they had approved what they had rejected half an hour before.

One sees what can be expected from the imagination of those who are weathervanes and who adore what they had previously burned, like Father de Blignières, Dom Gérard and the weathervane par excellence, the Abbé de Nantes.

Fideliter: Some of the faithful are tempted to maintain good relations with those who have rallied, or even to attend the Mass or the ceremonies they celebrate.

Mgr. Lefebvre: I have always warned the faithful, for example, about the sedevacantists. They also say: the Mass is good, we go there.

Yes, there is the Mass. It is good, but there is also the sermon; there is the atmosphere, the conversations, the contacts before and after, which make one slowly change ideas. So it's a danger, and that's why I think you have to consider the sum total. You don't just go to Mass, you go to a milieu.

There are obviously people who are attracted by the beautiful ceremonies who also go to Fontgombault, where the ancient mass has been taken up again. They find themselves in a climate of ambiguity which, in my opinion, is dangerous. Once you find yourself in this atmosphere, subject to the Vatican, ultimately subject to the Council, you end up becoming an ecumenist.

Fideliter: The Pope is very popular. He mobilizes the crowds, he wants to bring all Christians together in ecumenism, which he has said is the cornerstone of his pontificate. At first sight it may seem a noble thought to want to gather all Christians.

Mgr. Lefebvre: The Pope wants to make unity outside of the faith. It is a communion. A communion with whom? To what? In what? It is no longer a unity. This can only be done in the unity of faith. This is what the Church has always taught. That's why there were missionaries, to convert people to the Catholic faith. Now there is no need to convert. The Church is no longer a hierarchical society, it is a communion. Everything is distorted. It is the destruction of the notion of the Church, of Catholicism. This is very serious and it explains why many Catholics are abandoning the faith.

When we add to this all the scandalous statements that were made on the occasion of the synod on the priesthood, statements like those of Cardinals Decourtray and Danneels, we wonder how there can still be Catholics.

After Assisi and after such statements, it is understandable that many people go to the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses or elsewhere. They lose their faith, that's understandable.

Fideliter: Speaking of the synod, Cardinal Lorscheider, announcing that two married Brazilians had been ordained priests, asked that the possibility of ordaining married men "of proven life" be studied.

Mgr. Lefebvre: All this is directed against the celibacy of priests. The synod that will be held in Africa will probably be a step towards the abolition of priestly celibacy, if the Good Lord does not intervene first.

Fideliter: The development of Catholicism and the considerable increase in the number of vocations in African countries, especially in Zaire, where there are several hundred seminarians, are cited as examples.

Mgr. Lefebvre: But you have to see how they are formed. In these Third World countries there are many children and it is a social promotion to be a priest. Unfortunately, this is not a real progress of Catholicism.

I am not saying that everything is negative. But they are all conciliar seminarians, with the new Mass, the introduction of the tom-tom, inculturation in the liturgy. What religion will they have? It will no longer be the Catholic religion, but a kind of religious syncretism with purely external manifestations. This is serious, because it is the demolition of all the work accomplished by the missionaries.

Fideliter: More than a question of liturgy, you often say, it is now a question of faith that opposes us to the present Rome.

Mgr. Lefebvre: Certainly the question of the liturgy and the sacraments is very important, but it is not the most important. The most important one is that of faith. For us it is resolved. We have always had the faith of the Council of Trent, of the Catechism of St. Pius X, of all the councils and popes before Vatican II.

For years they tried to show in Rome that everything in the Council was perfectly in line with Tradition. Now they are finding out for themselves. Cardinal Ratzinger had never spoken so clearly. There is no Tradition. There is no longer a deposit to be transmitted. Tradition in the Church is what the Pope says today. You have to submit to what the Pope and the bishops say today. For them this is the tradition, the famous living tradition, the only reason for our condemnation.

They no longer try to prove that what they say is in conformity with what Pius IX wrote, with what the Council of Trent promulgated. No, it's all over, it's outdated, as Cardinal Ratzinger says. It is clear and they could have said it earlier. There was no need to make us talk, to discuss. It is now the tyranny of authority, because there are no more rules. We can no longer refer to the past.

In a way, things are becoming clearer today. They give us more and more reason. We are dealing with people who have another philosophy than ours, another way of seeing, who are influenced by all the modern and subjectivist philosophers. For them there is no fixed truth, there is no dogma. Everything is in evolution. This is a completely Masonic conception. It is really the destruction of faith. Fortunately, we continue to rely on Tradition!

Fideliter: Yes, but you are alone against all.

Mgr. Lefebvre: Yes, it is a great mystery.

Fideliter: In the last bulletin "INTROIBO", Father André notes that although they say the new Mass, a dozen bishops provide hope. They are qualified as "traditional bishops" by the "Episcopal Who's Who".

Mgr. Lefebvre: Yes, but they are all conciliar. Only Bishop de Castro Mayer and I have resisted the Council and its applications, while during the Council 250 of us were opposed to its errors.

I was recently made to reread the prophecy of Our Lady of Quito1, where at the beginning of the 17th century, the Blessed Virgin Mary revealed to a holy nun the dissolution of morals and the dreadful crisis that today affects the Church and its clergy2, also announcing that a prelate would dedicate himself to the restoration of the priesthood.

The Blessed Virgin announced this for the 20th century. It is a fact. The Good Lord has foreseen this moment in the Church.

Fideliter: You emphasized that you have acquired the conviction that the work you have undertaken is blessed by God, because on many occasions it could have disappeared.

Mgr. Lefebvre: Yes, that is true. We have always suffered attacks, very hard, very painful. Often people who have worked with us, who have been our friends, have turned against us and have really become enemies. It is very painful, but there is nothing to be done. After some time, we realize that those who are against us and who try to destroy us, sink and that we continue, we must believe that the line of faith and the Tradition such as we have adopted, such as we follow it, is imperishable, because it is the Church and God cannot let his Church perish.

Fideliter: What can you say to those of the faithful who still hope in the possibility of an arrangement with Rome?

Mgr. Lefebvre: Our true faithful, those who have understood the problem and who have helped us to pursue the straight and firm line of Tradition and faith, were afraid of the steps I took in Rome. They told me that it was dangerous and that I was wasting my time. Yes, of course, I hoped until the last minute that Rome would show a little loyalty. I can't be blamed for not having tried my best. So now, to those who come to me and say: you have to get along with Rome, I think I can say that I have gone even further than I should have.

Fideliter: You answer: you do not have to fear, because we are with the Tradition, with the councils of before Vatican II, with all that the popes that preceded it declared...

Mgr. Lefebvre: Yes, it's obvious, if we invented something one could fear that our invention would not survive. But we are not doing anything new.

A short time ago I saw a bishop, a friend of mine with whom we worked during the Council and who was in complete agreement with me at that time. And he said to me: "It is unfortunate that you are in trouble with Rome."

"How can you," I replied, "who fought at the Council for the same reasons as I did, be surprised now? We had continuous meetings together and with others to try to maintain the line of Tradition in the Council. And now you have abandoned all that. Was what we were doing wrong?"

"Look at the results of the Council. Can you give me some good, positive ones? Where and in what area did the Council and the reforms that flowed from it bring about an extraordinary renewal in the Church?"

He could not answer. There is nothing. Everything is negative.

Fideliter: What about charismatics?

Mgr. Lefebvre: It is still negative. It is the devil, since charismatics come to ask us to exorcise them. We must believe that they are possessed by the devil.

They call for the Spirit. What spirit? That there are some among them who are of good will, no doubt, who try to pray, to adore [God], no doubt, but the devil is clever. He gives with one hand, on takes with the other.

We have not finished fighting. Once I'm gone, my successors will still have to fight.

But the Good Lord can do anything. Politically, it would have been difficult to foresee one or two years ago what is happening now. We never imagined that the Iron Curtain would be lifted, that Germany would be reunited. Now they say that the breakup of the Soviet Union is near.

I received a letter from a Ukrainian bishop who wanted to get in touch with us, to help him publish a catechism, because they have nothing left. He was in Soviet prison for more than fifteen years with others. Some of them have now been released.

He found his diocese in a terrible state, because everything now belongs to the Orthodox Church. They have taken everything. So they are trying to get back what they can, but they have the Vatican against them, which is poisoned by this affair. The return of these bishops and priests who want to revive the Catholic Church in Ukraine bothers the Vatican, which especially does not want to have problems with the Kremlin and the Orthodox. This Catholic revival in Ukraine bothers them. This is what this bishop wrote to me: "There is really a mystery hanging over us as regards the attitude of Rome."

For us it is not a mystery!

Fideliter: What assessment can be made of the Society after twenty years of existence?

Mgr. Lefebvre: The Good Lord wanted Tradition. I am intimately convinced that the Society represents the means by which the Good Lord wanted to keep and maintain the faith, the truth of the Church and what can still be saved in the Church. Thanks also to the bishops who surround the Superior General of the Fraternity, who fulfill their indispensable role as guardians of the faith, as preachers of the faith, and who communicate the graces of the priesthood and of confirmation, Tradition remains unchanged and is always a fruitful source of divine life.

All this is really very consoling and I think we should thank God and continue to faithfully guard the treasures of the Church, hoping that one day these treasures will regain their rightful place in Rome, treasures that they should never have lost.

1. Note from LPL: excerpt from the sermon of June 30, 1988: "Recently, our priest who is in charge of the priory of Bogota, in Colombia, showed me a book on the apparitions of Bon Successo - of Good Success - with a church, a big church in Ecuador, in Quito, the capital of Ecuador - and the apparitions that took place to a nun of a convent of Quito and this happened shortly after the Council of Trent. So it's several centuries ago, as you can see. Well, the Blessed Virgin said to this nun - this was recorded, this apparition was recognized by Rome, by the ecclesiastical authorities, since a magnificent church was built for the Virgin, and, by the way, historians say that the face of the Virgin was finished, the sculptor was finishing the face of the Virgin when he found the face of the Virgin finished miraculously, so this miraculous Virgin is there honored with great devotion by the faithful of Ecuador - and this Virgin prophesied for the twentieth century, she said explicitly: "During the nineteenth century and most of the twentieth century, errors will spread more and more strongly in Holy Church, will put the Church in a situation of absolute catastrophe, disaster, and morals will corrupt, and the Faith will disappear. "It seems that we cannot fail to notice and, I apologize for continuing this account of this apparition, but it speaks of a prelate who will absolutely oppose this wave of apostasy and this wave of impiety by preserving the priesthood, by forming good priests. You can apply this yourself if you want; I don't want to do it, I can't. I myself was stunned when I read these lines, I cannot deny it, it is like that, it is written, it is printed, it is recorded in the archives of this apparition. return

2. Cf. Fideliter No. 66 – November-December 1988. return

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