Archbishop Lefebvre Topples the Big Tent: "We are Counter-Revolutionaries"



Archbishop Lefebvre's address to his priests given in Econe, Switzerland on September 6, 1990. Transcribed and slightly adapted from the original French.


The problem
Concerning the future, I would like to say a few words on questions which the laity may ask you, questions which I often get asked by people who do not know too much about what is happening in the Society, such as, "Are relations with Rome broken off? Is it all over?"
A lightweight solution
I received a few weeks ago, maybe three weeks ago, yet another telephone call from Cardinal Oddi:
"Well, Excellency, is there no way to arrange things, no way?" I replied, "You must change, come back to Tradition. "It is not a question of the Liturgy, it is a question of the Faith."
The cardinal protested,
No, no, it is not a question of Faith, no, no. The pope is ready and willing to receive you. Just a little gesture on your part, a little request for forgiveness and everything will be settled.
That is just like Cardinal Oddi.
But he is going nowhere. Nowhere. He understands nothing, or wants to understand nothing. Nothing. Unfortunately, the same holds true for our four more or less traditional Cardinals, Cardinals Palazzini, Stickler, Gagnon and Oddi. They have no weight, no influence in Rome, they have lost all influence, all they are good for any longer is performing ordinations for St. Peter's Fraternity, etc. They are going nowhere. Nowhere.
The heavyweight problem
Meanwhile the problem remains grave, very, very grave. We absolutely must not minimize it. This is how we must reply to the layfolk who ask such questions as, "When will the crisis come to and end? Are we getting anywhere? Isn't there a way of getting permission for our liturgy, for our sacraments?"
Certainly the question of the liturgy and the sacraments is important, but it is not the most important. The most important question is the question of the Faith. This question is unresolved in Rome. For us it is resolved. We have the Faith of all time, the Faith of the Catechism of the Council of Trent, of the Catechism of St. Pius X, hence the Faith of the Church, of all the Church Councils, of all the Popes prior to Vatican II. Now the official Church is persevering, we might say pertinaciously, in the false ideas and grave errors of Vatican II, that much is clear.
Fr. Tam is sending us from Mexico a number of copies of a piece of work he is doing, most interesting work, because he is compiling cuttings from the Osservatore Romano, hence cuttings from Rome's official newspaper with speeches of the Pope, of Cardinal Casaroli and Cardinal Ratzinger, official texts of the Church, and so on. It is interesting, because such documents of public record are irrefutable, being published by the Osservatore Romano, so there is no doubting their authenticity.
Ours an ancient struggle
Well, these texts are astounding, quite astounding! I shall quote you a few texts shortly. It is incredible. In the last few weeks (since I am now unemployed!) I have been spending a little time re-reading the book by Emmanuel Barbier on Liberal Catholicism. And it is striking to see how our fight now is exactly the same fight as was being fought then by the great Catholics of the 19th century, in the wake of the French Revolution, and by the Popes, Pius VI, Pius VII, Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, Pius IX, Leo XIII, and so on, Pius X, down to Pius XII. Their fight is summed up in the encyclical Quanta Cura with the Syllabus of Pius IX, and Pascendi Dominici Gregis of Pius X. There are the two great documents, sensational and shocking in their day, laying out the Church's teaching in face of the modern errors, the errors appearing in the course of the Revolution, especially in the Declaration of the Rights of Man. This is the fight we are in the middle of today. Exactly the same fight.
There are those who are for the Syllabus and Pascendi, and there are those who are against. It is simple. It is clear. Those who are against are adopting the principles of the French Revolution, the modern errors. Those who are for the Syllabus and Pascendi remain within the true Faith, within Catholic doctrine. Now you know very well that Cardinal Ratzinger has said that as far as he is concerned Vatican II is "an anti-Syllabus". Therewith the Cardinal placed himself clearly amongst those who are against the Syllabus. If then he is against the Syllabus, he is adopting the principles of the Revolution. Besides, he goes on to say quite clearly, "Indeed we have now absorbed into Church teaching, and the Church has opened herself up to, principles which are not hers but which come from modern society," i.e., as everyone understands, the principles of 1789, the Rights of Man.
We stand exactly where Cardinal Pie, Bishop Freppel, Louis Vueillot stood, and Deputy Keller in Alsace, Cardinal Mermillod in Switzerland, who fought the good fight together with the great majority of the then bishops. At that time they had the good fortune to have the large majority of the bishops on their side. Bishop Dupanloup and the few bishops in France who followed Bishop Dupanloup were the odd ones out. The few bishops in Germany, the few in Italy, who were openly opposed to the Syllabus, and in effect opposed to Pius IX, they were the exception rather than the rule. But obviously there were the forces of the Revolution, the heirs of the Revolution, and there was the hand reached out by Dupanloup, Montalembert, Lamennais and others, who offered their hand to the Revolution and who never wanted to invoke the rights of God against the rights of man - "We ask only for the rights of every man, the rights shared by everyone, shared by all men, shared by all religions, not the rights of God," said these Liberals.
We must not waver
Well, we find ourselves in the same situation. We must not be under any illusions. Consequently we are in the thick of a great fight, a great fight. We are fighting a fight guaranteed by a whole line of popes. Hence, we should have no hesitation or fear, hesitation such as, "Why should we be going on our own? After all, why not join Rome, why not join the pope?" Yes, if Rome and the Pope were in line with Tradition, if they were carrying on the work of all the Popes of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, of course. But they themselves admit that they have set out on a new path. They themselves admit that a new era began with Vatican II. They admit that it is a new stage in the Church's life, wholly new, based on new principles. We need not argue the point. They say it themselves. It is clear. I think that we must drive this point home with our people, in such a way that they realize their oneness with the Church's whole history, going back well beyond the Revolution. Of course. It is the fight of the City of Satan against the City of God. Clearly. So we do not have to worry. We must after all trust in the grace of God.
"What is going to happen? How is it all going to end?" That is God's secret. Mystery. But that we must fight the ideas presently fashionable in Rome, coming from the Pope's own mouth, Cardinal Ratzinger's mouth, Cardinal Casaroli's mouth, of Cardinal Willebrands and those like them, is clear, clear, for all they do is repeat the opposite of what the Popes said and solemnly stated for 150 years. We must choose, as I said to Pope Paul VI: "We have to choose between you and the Council on one side, and your predecessors on the other; either with your predecessors who stated the Church's teaching, or with the novelties of Vatican II." Reply  - "Ah, this is not the moment to get into theology, we are not getting into theology now." It is clear. Hence we must not waver for one moment.
A false charity
And we must not waver for one moment either in not being with those who are in the process of betraying us. Some people are always admiring the grass in the neighbor's field. Instead of looking to their friends, to the Church's defenders, to those fighting on the battlefield, they look to our enemies on the other side. "After all, we must be charitable, we must be kind, we must not be divisive, after all, they are celebrating the Tridentine Mass, they are not as bad as everyone says"  - but THEY ARE BETRAYING US  - betraying us! They are shaking hands with the Church's destroyers. They are shaking hands with people holding modernist and liberal ideas condemned by the Church. So they are doing the devil's work.
Thus those who were with us and were working with us for the rights of Our Lord, for the salvation of souls, are now saying, "So long as they grant us the old Mass, we can shake hands with Rome, no problem." But we are seeing how it works out. They are in an impossible situation. Impossible. One cannot both shake hands with modernists and keep following Tradition. Not possible. Not possible. Now, stay in touch with them to bring them back, to convert them to Tradition, yes, if you like, that's the right kind of ecumenism! But give the impression that after all one almost regrets any break, that one likes talking to them? No way! These are people who call us corpse-like Traditionalists, they are saying that we are as rigid as corpses, ours is not a living Tradition, we are glum-faced, ours is a glum Tradition! Unbelievable! Unimaginable! What kind of relations can you have with people like that?
This is what causes us a problem with certain layfolk, who are very nice, very good people, all for the Society, who accepted the Consecrations, but who have a kind of deep-down regret that they are no longer with the people they used to be with, people who did not accept the Consecrations and who are now against us. "It's a pity we are divided", they say, "why not meet up with them? Let's go and have a drink together, reach out a hand to them"  - that's a betrayal! Those saying this give the impression that at the drop of a hat they would cross over and join those who left us. They must make up their minds.
We cannot compromise
That is what killed Christendom, in all of Europe, not just the Church in France, but the Church in Germany, in Switzerland  - that is what enabled the Revolution to get established. It was the Liberals, it was those who reached out a hand to people who did not share their Catholic principles. We must make up our minds if we too want to collaborate in the destruction of the Church and in the ruin of the Social Kingship of Christ the King, or are we resolved to continue working for the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ? All those who wish to join us, and work with us, Deo Gratias, we welcome them, wherever they come from, that's not a problem, but let them come with us, let them not say they are going a different way in order to keep company with the liberals that left us and in order to work with them. Not possible.
Catholics right down the 19th century were torn apart, literally torn apart, over the Syllabus: for, against, for, against. And you remember in particular what happened to the Count of Chambord. He was criticized for not accepting to be made king of France after the 1870 Revolution in France on the grounds of changing the French flag. But it was not so much a question of the flag. Rather, he refused to submit to the principles of the Revolution. He said, "I shall never consent to being the lawful King of the Revolution." He was right! For he would have been voted in by the country, voted in by the French Parliament, but on condition he accept to be a Parliamentary King, and so accept the principles of the Revolution. He said "No. If I am to be King, I shall be King like my ancestors were, before the Revolution." He was right. One has to choose. He chose to stay with the Pope, and with pre-Revolutionary principles.
We too have chosen to be Counter-revolutionary, to stay with the Syllabus, to be against the modern errors, to stay with Catholic Truth, to defend Catholic truth. We are right!
Vatican II is profoundly wrong
This fight between the Church and the liberals and modernism is the fight over Vatican II. It is as simple of that. And the consequences are far-reaching.
The more one analyzes the documents of Vatican II, and the more one analyzes their interpretation by the authorities of the Church, the more one realizes that what is at stake is not merely superficial errors, a few mistakes, ecumenism, religious liberty, collegiality, a certain Liberalism, but rather a wholesale perversion of the mind, a whole new philosophy based on modern philosophy, on subjectivism. A book just published by a German theologian is most instructive. It shows how the Pope's thinking, especially in a retreat he preached at the Vatican, is subjectivist from start to finish, and when afterwards one reads his speeches, one realizes that indeed that is his thinking. It might appear Catholic, but Catholic it is not. No. The Pope's notion of God, the Pope's notion of Our Lord, come up from the depths of his consciousness, and not from any objective revelation to which he adheres with his mind. No. He constructs the notion of God. He said recently in a document  - incredible  - that the idea of the Trinity could only have arisen quite late, because man's interior psychology had to be capable of defining the Trinity. Hence the idea of the Trinity did not come from a revelation from outside, it came from man's consciousness inside, it welled up from inside man, it came from the depths of man's consciousness! Incredible! A wholly different version of Revelation, of Faith, of philosophy! Very grave! A total perversion! How we are going to get out of all this, I have no idea, but in any case it is a fact, and as this German theologian shows (who has, I believe, another two parts of his book to write on the Holy Father's thought), it is truly frightening.
So, they are no small errors. We are not dealing in trifles. We are into a line of philosophical thinking that goes back to Kant, Descartes, the whole line of modern philosophers who paved the way for the Revolution.
Pope John Paul II's ecumenism
Let me give you a few relatively recent quotations, for example, on ecumenism, in the Osservatore Romano of June 2, 1989, when the Pope was in Norway: "My visit to the Scandinavian countries is a confirmation of the Catholic Church's interest in the work of ecumenism, which is to promote unity amongst Christians, amongst all Christians. Twenty-five years ago the Second Vatican Council insisted clearly on the urgency of this challenge to the Church. My predecessors pursued this objective with persevering attention, with the grace of the Holy Ghost which is the divine source and guarantee of the ecumenical movement. Since the beginning of my pontificate, I have made ecumenism the priority of my pastoral concern." It is clear.
Now when one reads a quantity of documents on ecumenism  - he makes speech after speech on ecumenism because he receives delegation after delegation from the Orthodox, from all religions, from all sects, so the subject is always ecumenism, ecumenism, ecumenism. But he achieves nothing  - the end result has been nothing, nothing at all, except on the contrary re-assuring the non-Catholics in their errors without seeking to convert them, the confirming of them in their error. The Church has made no progress, not the least progress, by this ecumenism. So all that he says is a veritable mish-mash, "communion", "drawing closer", "desire of imminent perfect communion", "hope of soon communing in the sacrament", "in unity", and so on  - a mish-mash. No real progress. They cannot progress this way. IMPOSSIBLE.
Cardinal Casaroli's humanism
Take next Cardinal Casaroli, from L'Osservatore Romano in February, 1989, speaking to the United Nations Commission of the Rights of Man  - just see what a speech it is! "In responding with great pleasure to the invitation extended to me to come before you, and bringing to you the encouragement of the Holy See, I desire to spend a few moments, as all of you will understand, on one specific aspect of the basic liberty of thought and action in accordance with one's conscience, religious liberty." Such things coming from the mouth of an archbishop! Liberty of thought and action according to one's conscience, hence religious liberty!
John Paul II did not hesitate to state last year in a message for the World Day of Peace, that religious liberty constitutes a cornerstone in the edifice of the rights of man. The Catholic Church and its Supreme Pastor, who has made the rights of man one of the major themes of his preaching, have not failed to recall that in a world made by man, and for man...
- Cardinal Casaroli's own words!  -
...the whole organization of society only has meaning insofar as it makes of the human dimension a central preoccupation.
God? God? No divine dimension in man! It is appalling! Paganism! Appalling! Then he goes on:
Every man and all of man, that is the Holy See's preoccupation; such, no doubt, is yours also.
What can you do with people like that? What do we have in common with people like that? Nothing! Impossible.
Cardinal Ratzinger's way out
On to our well-known Cardinal Ratzinger who made the remark that the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes was a Counter-Syllabus. He finds it nevertheless awkward to have made such a remark, because people are now constantly quoting it back to him, as a criticism: "You said that Vatican II is a Counter-Syllabus! Hey, wait a moment, that is serious!" So he has found an explanation. He gave it just a little while ago, on June 27, 1990.
You know that Rome recently issued a major document to explain the relationship between the Magisterium and theologians. With all the problems theologians are causing them on all sides, Rome no longer knows what to do, so they have to try to keep the theologians in line without coming down too hard on them, so they go on and on, page after page after page in this document. Now in the presentation of the document Cardinal Ratzinger gives us his thinking on the possibility of saying the opposite of what Popes have previously decided one hundred years ago or whatever.
The Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian, says the cardinal, "states for the first time with such clarity..."  - and indeed I think it is true!  -
...that there are decisions of the Magisterium which cannot be and are not intended to be the last word on the matter as such, but are a substantial anchorage in the problem...
- ah, the cardinal is an artful dodger! So there are decisions of the Magisterium (that is not just any decisions!) which cannot be the last word on the matter as such, but are merely a substantial anchorage in the problem! The Cardinal continues  - "...and they are first and foremost an expression of pastoral prudence, a sort of provisional disposition..."  - Listen!  - definitive decisions of the Holy See being turned into provisional dispositions!! The Cardinal goes on  -
...Their core remains valid, but the individual details influenced by the circumstances at the time may need further rectification. In this regard one can refer to the statements of the Popes during the last century on religious freedom as well as the anti-modernistic decisions at the beginning of this century, especially the decisions of the Biblical Commission of that time...
The magisterium dissolved
Those are the decisions the cardinal could not digest! Hence three definitive statements of the Magisterium may be put aside because they were only "provisional"! Listen to the cardinal, who goes on to say that these anti-modernist decisions of the Church rendered a great service in their day by "warning against hasty and superficial adaptations", and "by keeping the Church from sinking into the liberal-bourgeois world...But the details of the determinations of their contents were later suspended once they had carried out their pastoral duty at a particular moment" (Osservatore Romano, English edition, July 2, 1990, p. 5). So we turn over the page and say no more about them!
So you see how the Cardinal has got out of the accusation of going a bit far when he calls Vatican II an Anti-Syllabus, when he opposes the Pontifical decisions and the Magisterium of the past?  - He's found the way out!  - "...the core remains valid..."  - what core? No idea!  - "...but the individual details influenced by the circumstances at the time may need further rectification..."  - and there he has it, he is out of his difficulty!
Servants of globalism
So by way of conclusion, either we are the heirs of the Catholic Church, i.e., of Quanta Cura, of Pascendi, with all the Popes down to the Council and with the great majority of bishops prior to the Council, for the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ and for the salvation of souls; or else we are the heirs of those who strive, even at the price at breaking with the Catholic Church and her doctrine, to acknowledge the principles of the Rights of Man, based on a veritable apostasy, in order to obtain a place as servants in the Revolutionary World Government. That is it. They will manage to get quite a good place as servants in the Revolutionary World Government because, by saying they are in favor of the Rights of Man, religious liberty, democracy and human equality, clearly they are worth being given a position as servants in the World Government.
Our strength is in the Lord
I think that if I say these things to you, it is to put our own fight in its historical context. It did not begin with Vatican II, obviously. It goes much further back. It is a tough fight, very painful, blood has flowed in this fight, and in quantities! And then the persecutions, separation of Church and State, religious and nuns driven into exile, the sequestering of Church property, and so on, and not only in France but also in Switzerland, in Germany, in Italy  - the occupation of the Pontifical States driving the Pope back into the Vatican  - abominations against the Pope, frightening!
Well, are we with all these innovators, and against the doctrine professed by the Popes, against their voice raised in protest to defend the Church's rights, Our Lord's rights, to defend souls? I think we have truly a strength and a base to stand on which do not come from us, and that is what is good  - it is not our fight, it is Our Lord's fight, which the Church has carried on. So we cannot waver. Either we are for the Church, or we are against the Church and for the new Conciliar Church which has nothing to do with the Catholic Church, or less and less to do with it. For when the Pope used to speak about the Rights of Man, to begin with he used to allude also to the duties of men, but no longer. No longer. The Rights of Man, and this insistence on everything for man, everything by man. Truly appalling!
The Society fights on
I wished to lay out a few of these thoughts for you to fortify yourselves and to realize the fight you are carrying on. With the grace of God, because it is obvious we would no longer be in existence if the Good Lord was not with us. That is clear. There have been at least four or five occasions when the Society of St. Pius X should have disappeared. Well, here we are, still, thanks be to God! And goodness gracious, we carry on. We should especially have disappeared at the time of the Consecrations in 1988. So we were told beforehand. All the prophets of doom, and even amongst those close to us said: "No, no, your Grace, do not do that, that is the end of the Society, you can be sure, we assure you, that is the end, it will all be over, you can close down." Yet we survived!
No, the Good Lord does not want his fight to come to and end, a fight in which there have been many martyrs, the martyrs of the Revolution and all those who have been moral martyrs by dint of the persecutions they underwent through the nineteenth century. Even in our own century, St. Pius X was a martyr. All there heroes of the Faith, the persecuted bishops, the sequestered convents, the exiled nuns; all these are to be nothing? That whole fight is to have been a fight for nothing, a fight in vain? A fight which condemns those who were its victims? And martyrs? Impossible. So we find ourselves caught up in the same current, in the continuation of the same fight, and we thank God.
The Society being persecuted
That we are being persecuted is obvious. How could we not be persecuted? We are the only ones to be excommunicated. No one else is. We are the only ones being persecuted, even in material matters. For example, our Swiss colleagues are being obliged again to do their military service. That is persecution by the Swiss government. In France they are persecuting the Society's French District by blocking legacies from being handed over to the District, this in the attempt to stifle us, by cutting off our income. This is persecution, of such a kind as history is full of, it is merely continuing. And God works his way round it. Normally, our French District should have been stifled, and we should have had to shut down our schools, to close down all the institutions which cost us money, but that situation has now gone on for over two years and Providence has allowed for our benefactors to be generous and for the funds to come in, so we have been able to continue despite this iniquitous persecution. Iniquitous, because the law, the state of the law is on our side. But there is a letter to the French Minister from Cardinal Lustiger asking him to block our legacies, and this letter did not come out of nowhere, it was written under the influence of Msgr. Perl. It is he, the damned soul. It is he. He was all smiles when he came on the official Visitation of the Society in 1987, but he was the evil genius of that Visitation. He thought he had us where he wanted us when he cut off our funds!
So we must not worry, for when we look behind us, we see we are still not as unfortunate as those Catholics expropriated at the beginning of this century, who found themselves out on the street with nothing. That may happen to us one day, I do not look forward to it, but the more we expand, the more we will arouse jealousy on the part of all those who do not care for us. But we must count on the Good Lord, on the grace of the Good Lord.
No easy solutions
What is going to happen? I do not know. Perhaps the coming of Elias! I was just reading this morning in Holy Scripture, Elias will return and put everything back in place! "Et omnia restituet"  - "and he will restore all things." Goodness gracious, let him come straightaway! I do not know. But humanly speaking, there is no chance of any agreement between Rome and ourselves at the moment.
Someone was saying to me yesterday, "But what if Rome accepted your bishops and then you were completely exempted from the other bishops' jurisdiction?" But firstly, they are a long way right now from accepting any such thing, and then, let them first make us such an offer! But I do not think they are anywhere near doing so. For what has been up till now the difficulty has been precisely their giving to us a Traditionalist bishop. They did not want to. It had to be a bishop according to the profile laid down by the Holy See. "Profile". You see what that means! Impossible. They knew very well that by giving us a traditional bishop they would be setting up a Traditionalist citadel able to continue. That they did not want. Nor did they give it to St. Peter's Society. When St. Peter's say they signed the sane Protocol as we did in May, 1988, it is not true because in our Protocol there was one bishop, and two members of the Roman Commission, of which their Protocol had neither. So they did not sign the same Protocol as we did. Rome took advantage of drawing up a new Protocol to remove those two concessions. At all costs they wanted to avoid that. So we had to do as we did on June 30, 1988...
On the bright side
In any case I am happy to be able to encourage you and congratulate you on the work you are doing  - the complaints now are rare, and how many people write to me their gratitude for the work of the priests of the Society of St. Pius X. For them the Society is their life. They have rediscovered the life they wanted, the way of the Faith, the family spirit they need, the desire for Christian education, all these schools, together with all that our Sisters and Fathers are doing, and all our friends who work together to continue Tradition. All that is marvelous, in the age we are living in. The people are truly grateful, deeply grateful. So carry on your work and organize  - I hope that little by little our various communities will be able to increase in numbers so as to provide more mutual support for you all, moral and physical, so that you can maintain your present fervor.
I wish to thank all the Superiors for their zeal and devotion. I truly think the Good Lord has chosen the Society, has wanted the Society. In November we reach the Society's 20th anniversary and I am intimately convinced that it is the Society which represents what the Good Lord wants, to continue and maintain the Faith, maintain the truth of the Church, maintain what can still be saved in the Church, thanks to the bishops grouped around the Superior General, playing their indispensable part, of guardians of the Faith, of preachers of the Faith, giving the grace of the priesthood, the grace of Confirmation, things that are irreplaceable and absolutely necessary.
So all that is highly consoling. I think we should thank God, and enable it to carry on, so that one day people are forced to recognize that although the Visitation of 1987 bore little fruit, it showed that we were there and that good was being done by the Society, even if they did not wish to say so explicitly outside of our circles after the Visitation. However, one day they will be obliged to recognize that the Society represents a spiritual force and a strength of the Faith which is irreplaceable and which they will have, I hope, the joy and the satisfaction to make use of, but when they have come back to their Traditional Faith.
Let us pray to the Blessed Virgin and let us ask Our Lady of Fatima for all our intentions on
all the pilgrimages we make in various countries, that she come to the aid of the Society, that it may have numerous vocations. Obviously we would like to have some more vocations. Our seminaries are not filled. We would like them to be filled. However, with the grace of God, it will come. So, once more, thank you, and please pray for me that I die a good and holy death, because I think that is all that I still have to do!


Comments

  1. Archbishop Lefebvre saw this conciliar tsunami first hand as it was rolling in on the Council. From the change in its operating schema to the finishing touches on its profoundly "wrong" Constitutions. He witnessed the accompanying disaster in the Liturgy and most of the Sacraments. He refused---almost as a lone buttress (among bishops/archbishops)---to succumb to these disastrous changes with his SSPX (though his organization did/and apparently continues to use the 1962 Missae which was a step towards the Novus Ordo and away from the Pius V Mass.

    I had hoped to get a clearer understanding of why he refused to call the offending portions of the Vatican II Constitutions heresy or the popes in question who upheld/enforced these heresies as heretics. I never found a clear answer in his official biography (or anywhere else).
    Nonetheless, I can't help but admire the man.

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