INTERVIEW WITH ARCHBISHOP LEFEBVRE – END OF 1990
The following interview with Archbishop Lefebvre with the French magazine of the Society called “Fideliter”. It took place towards the end of last year, 1990.
Fideliter: Since the Episcopal Consecrations in June of 1988 there have been no more contacts with Rome, however, as you told us, Cardinal Oddi telephoned you saying: “We must come to an agreement. Make a little apology to the Pope and he is ready to welcome you”. Then why not try this final step, and why does it seem impossible to you?
Archbishop Lefebvre: It is absolutely impossible in the present climate in Rome which is becoming worse and worse. We must be under no illusions. The principles now directing the Conciliar Church are more and more openly contrary to Catholic doctrine.
Speaking to the United Nations Commission of the Rights of Man, Cardinal Casaroli recently declared: “I wish to spend a little time on a specific aspect of the fundamental freedom of thought and action according to one’s conscience, hence freedom of religion … the Catholic Church and its supreme Pastor who has made of the rights of man one of the main themes of his preaching, have not failed to recall that in a world made by man and for man the whole organization of Society only has sense to the extent that it makes of the human dimension a central preoccupation”. Hearing that from the mouth of a Cardinal! God he does not mention!
For his part Cardinal Ratzinger in presenting a long document on relations between the Magisterium and theologians states, he says “ for the first time with clarity” that “ decisions of the Magisterium may not be the last word on the matter in hand as such” but “ a sort of provisional disposition …The Kernel remains stable but particular aspects on which the circumstances of the time have an influence may be in need of further rectifications. In this respect we may high-light the declarations of the Popes of the last century. The anti-modernist decisions rendered a great service … but they are now out of date”., and there you are, Modernism is a closed chapter! These reflections of Cardinal Ratzinger are absolutely senseless.
Lastly the Pope is more ecumenical than ever. All the false ideas of the Council are continuing to develop and to be re-stated with ever more clarity. They are more and more coming out into the open. It is therefore absolutely unthinkable that we should accept or collaborate with such a hierarchy.
Fideliter: Do you think that the situation has deteriorated ever since you entered upon the conversations prior to the Episcopal Consecrations, which resulted in the drawing up of the Protocol of May 5, 1988?
Archbishop Lefebvre: Oh yes! For example the fact of the Profession of Faith which is now being required by Cardinal Ratzinger since the beginning of 1989. This is very serious. Because he is asking all those who have rejoined Rome, or who might do so, to make a profession of Faith in the Council’s documents and in the post-Conciliar reforms. For us that is out of the question. We will have to wait a while before we can envisage any prospect of agreement. For my part I think that only the good Lord can intervene, for humanly speaking there is no chance of Rome reversing the tide.
For fifteen years we have been dialogue with Rome in the effort to give to Tradition the honour due to it in its rightful place in the Church. We have come up against a continual refusal. What Rome is presently granting in favour of Tradition is a purely political gesture, a diplomatic move to make people rejoin Rome. But it is not out of any conviction in the benefits of Tradition.
Fideliter: When people see that Dom Gerard and the Fraternity of St. Peter have obtained from Rome the right to keep the old liturgy and the Catechism without, they say, giving anything away, some people are troubled that they find themselves in difficulties with Rome and they may be tempted in the long run to rejoin Rome, like the others, out of weariness. “Such people” they say, “have managed to come to an agreement with Rome without giving anything away”.
Archbishop Lefebvre: When they say, have not given anything away that is untrue. They have given away the possibility of opposing Rome. They can no longer say anything. They must keep quiet, given the favours which have been granted them. It is now impossible to denounce the errors of the Conciliar Church. Little by little they are adhering to Rome if only by the profession of faith which is being asked of them by Cardinal Ratzinger. I think that Dom Gerard is in the process of bringing out a little book written by one of his monks, on religious liberty, and which is going to justify it.
From the point of view of ideas, gently they are slipping and they will finish by agreeing with the Council’s false ideas, because Rome has granted them a few favours for Tradition. They are in a very dangerous situation.
In the course of an audience which the Pope granted to Dom Gerard and to a delegation of monks from Barroux, the Pope expressed the desire to see them evolving further. He did not hide his thinking. They must submit still more to the Archbishop of Avignon and they must take care not to act in such a way as to depreciate the Conciliar reforms on the grounds that they have been granted exceptions to the Council’s liturgical rule. Also they must make an effort to bring back to Rome all those who are not yet under obedience to the Holy Father.
Pressing invitations were made to them in this sense and such indeed is the aim of the privileges which were granted to them.
That is why Dom Gerard wrote to Mother Anne-Marie Simoulin, to Father Innocent-Marie, to the Capuchins of Morgon and to other persons in the hope of reaching me. When Dom Gerard returned from Rome he launched his offensive to attempt to convince all those who do not follow him, to follow in his wake and rejoin Rome.
Everything that was granted to them was only agreed to with the purpose of bringing about that all those who belong to or are connected with the Society should separate from it and submit to Rome.
Fideliter: Dom Gerard is thus taking up the role that was Monseigneur Perl’s at the time of the Visitation in 1987.
Archbishop Lefebvre: I have had the opportunity to see at least three letters sent by Monsignor Perl in reply to persons who had written to him. Its always the same thing. An effort absolutely must be made with regard to those who have not understood the need to rejoin the Pope and the Council. It is a shame, he writes, to see that there have not been more people rejoining Rome.
Fideliter: You said, speaking of Dom Gerard and others: “They are betraying us, they are now reaching out a hand to those who are destroying the Church. The Liberals and the Modernists”. Is that not a little severe?
Archbishop Lefebvre: Oh no, they appealed to my services for fifteen years. It is not I who went in search of them. It is they who came towards me to ask for support, to receive Ordinations and to obtain the friendship of our priests, while we would open all our priories to them to help them financially. They made use of us as long as they could. We did what we did with a good heart and even generously. I was happy to perform those Ordinations, to open our houses so that they could profit from the generosity of our benefactors. And then suddenly I get a telephone call: we no longer need you. It’s over. We are going to the Archbishop of Avignon. We have now come to an agreement with Rome. We have signed a Protocol.
It is not with a light heart that we have had our difficulties with Rome. It is not for the pleasure of it that we have had to fight. We have done so for the sake of principles, to keep the Catholic Faith. And they agreed with us. And suddenly they abandoned the true fight to make an alliance with the destroyers, on the pretext that they are being given certain privileges. That is unacceptable. In practical terms they have abandoned the fight of the Faith. They can no longer attack Rome.
That is also what Father Blignieres did. He has completely changed. He who wrote a whole book to condemn religious liberty is now writing in favour of religious liberty. He cannot be taken seriously. One can no longer rely on men like that, who have understood nothing of the doctrinal question.
I consider in any case that they are committing a grave mistake. They have sinned gravely in acting as they have done, knowingly and with an incredible lack of seriousness.
I have heard that some monks are intending to quit the Barroux saying that they can no longer live in an atmosphere of lies. I wonder how they have been able to stay as long as they have in such an atmosphere.
The same thing is true for the monks of Dom Augustine. They were even more Traditionalist than we were and now they have completely tipped over to the other side. For all the youngsters there, it is horrible to think of such a reversal. They entered the Monastery in order to be truly in Catholic Tradition. It was the surest and firmest Tradition at that time, even firmer than the Society of St. Pius X. They thought that they were protected for ever. Then the monastery’s position was completely reversed … And the youngsters stay. It is inexplicable.
Fideliter: Father de Blignieres, the Abbe de Nantes and Dom Gerard have virtually accused you of lying when you stated that you did not sign two Council documents, ‘Dignitatis Humanae’ on religious liberty and ‘Gaudium et Spes’. The magazine “Sedes Sapientiae” reproduced a document drawn from the Vatican archives on which figured your name written in your hand. What is the truth of this, and what is this document?
Archbishop Lefebvre: The idea of interpreting signatures to signing an approval of Conciliar documents germinated in the more or less malicious brain of Father de Blignieres. The approving or refusing of documents was obviously carried out for each Council document on its own. The vote was secret performed on individual cards, and done with a special pencil which made possible the electronic counting of the votes. The cards were picked by the secretaries from the hand of each Bishop voting, The large sheets were circulated from hand to hand among the Council Fathers, and where each one put his signature, had no meaning for or against any of the documents, but merely signified our presence at the voting session for the four documents. One would truly have to take the Council Fathers who voted against the text for weather-cocks turning with the wind, when one gives people to understand that with their signatures on the sheet they approved of what they had disapproved of half an hour beforehand in the vote itself.
One sees what can be expected from the imagination of people who truly are weather-cocks and who are now adoring what they burnt a little while beforehand, such as Father de Blignieres, Dom Gerard and the fightingest weather-cock of them all, the Abbe de Nantes.
Fideliter: Some of the faithful are being tempted to stay on good terms with those who have rejoined Rome, even to attend Mass or ceremonies celebrated by them – do you think there is a danger there?
Archbishop Lefebvre: I have always warned the faithful for example with regard to the Sedevacantists. People say their Mass is good, so we go. True, there is the Mass. The Mass is good, but there is also the sermon; there is the atmosphere, there are the conversations and contacts before and after Mass which bring about a whole slow change of a person’s ideas. Hence there is a danger and that is why in general the Mass and the surroundings are one whole. One not only goes to Mass, one is blending into a whole environment.
Obviously there are people who are attracted to the beautiful ceremonies who also go to Fontgombault, a Novus Ordo monastery where they have gone back to the old Mass. These are people are in a climate of ambiguity which in my opinion is dangerous. As soon as one finds oneself in this environment, in submission to the Vatican, in submission finally to the Council, one finishes by being ecumenical.
Fideliter: The Pope is very popular. He mobilizes crowds, he wishes to gather all Christians together according to his ecumenism of which he has said that he was making it the cornerstone of his pontificate. At first sight it seems to be a noble thought, to wish to bring about the gathering together of all Christians.
Archbishop Lefebvre: The Pope is wishing to create unity outside the Faith. It is a communion. A communion with who? With what? It is no longer a real unity. Unity is only possible in the unity of the Faith. That is what the Church has always taught. That is why there were missionaries to convert people to the Catholic Faith. Now we must no longer convert anybody. The Church is no longer a hierarchical society, it is a communion. Everything is falsified. That is the destruction of the notion of the Church and of Catholicism. It is very serious and that explains why so many Catholics are leaving the Faith.
When you add to that all the scandalous remarks made in the course of the Synod on the priesthood, statements such as those of Cardinal Decourtray and Danneels, one wonders how there can still be any Catholics. After Assisi and similar statements, one understands why there are many people going off to the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and elsewhere. They are losing the Faith, its quite normal.
Fideliter: Concerning the Synod, Cardinal Lorscheider, in announcing that two married Brazilians had been ordained to the priesthood, asked that the possibility be studied of ordaining married men “of proven virtue”.
Archbishop Lefebvre: All that is directed against priestly celibacy. The Synod to be held in Africa probably will be another stage towards the abolition of priestly celibacy, assuming that the good Lord does not intervene in the meantime.
Fideliter: People quote as an example to be imitated in the development of Catholicism and the considerable increase in the number of vocations in the African countries, notably Zaire, where there are several hundred seminarians.
Archbishop Lefebvre: Yes, but you have to see how they have been formed. In the Third World countries there are many children, and to be a priest is a step up in the world. Unfortunately that is not real progress in Catholicism.
I’m not saying that everything is negative. But they are all Conciliar seminarians with the New Mass, with tam-tam music and inculturation in the liturgy. What religion will they have? It will no longer be the Catholic religion, but a sort of religious syncretism which is largely outward show. All that is grave, because it means the demolition of all the work accomplished by the missionaries.
Fideliter: Rather than a question of liturgy, you often say, it is now a question of Faith which stands between us and present- day Rome.
Archbishop Lefebvre: Certainly the question of the liturgy and the sacraments is very important but it is not what is most important. What is most important is the question of the Faith. As far as we are concerned, the question is settled. We have the Faith of all time, of the Council of Trent, of the Catechism of St. Pius X, of all the Councils and of all the Popes prior to Vatican II.
For years they have striven in Rome to show that everything that was in the Council was perfectly in conformity with Tradition. Now they are taking off the mask. Cardinal Ratzinger had never stated his mind with such clarity. There is no Tradition. There is no longer any Deposit of Faith to transmit. Tradition in the Church is what the Pope today says. You must submit to what the Pope and the Bishops today say. For them that is what tradition is, their famous “living tradition”, the only reason for our being condemned.
Now they are no longer seeking to prove that what they say is in conformity with what Pius IX wrote, with what the Council of Trent promulgated. No, that is all over, that is out of date as Cardinal Ratzinger says. It is clear, and they might have said so sooner. It was not worth their getting us into talks and discussions with them. Now we have the tyranny of authority because there is no rule. There can no longer be any reference to the past.
In one sense the situation is becoming clearer. It is more and more proving that we are right. We are dealing with people who have a different philosophy from ours, a different way of seeing things, who are influenced by all the modern subjectivist philosophers. For them there is no fixed truth, there is no dogma. Everything is in evolution. That is a wholly Masonic way of thinking. It is truly the destruction of the Faith. Fortunately, we ourselves are continuing to lean on Tradition!
Fideliter: Yes, but you are alone against the world.
Archbishop Lefebvre: Yes, that is a great mystery.
Fideliter: In the latest issue of “Introibo” Fr. Andre notes that although they are saying the New Mass some ten Bishops are giving reason for hope. They are called “Traditional bishops” by the “Episcopal Trombinoscope”.
Archbishop Lefebvre: Yes, but they are all Conciliar bishops. There was only Bishop de Castro Mayer and myself who resisted the Council and its aftermath, whereas during the Council there were 250 of us opposed to its errors. Someone made me read again recently the prophecy of our Lady of Quito in which at the beginning of the 17th century the Blessed Virgin Mary revealed to a holy nun the dissolution of morals and the appalling crisis which today has come over the Church and her clergy, and who announced also that a prelate would devote himself to restoring the priesthood. The Blessed Virgin Mary announced this for the 20th century. That is a fact. The good Lord foresaw this moment in the Church.
Fideliter: You have emphasized your becoming convinced that the work undertaken by you is blessed by the good Lord, for on several occasions it could have disappeared.
Archbishop Lefebvre: Yes, that is true, we have always been undergoing attacks, very strong and disagreeable attacks. Often people who were with us, who were our friends, have turned against us and have truly become our enemies. It is very painful, but that’s the way it is. One realizes after a certain time that those who dislike us and seek to destroy us go under, while we carry on. Say what you will, we have to conclude that the line of Faith and Tradition that we have taken, that we now follow, cannot be destroyed because it is the Church, and God cannot allow His Church to perish.
Fideliter: What can you say to those amongst the faithful who are still hoping in the possibility of some agreement with Rome?
Archbishop Lefebvre: The Catholics who are truly with us, those who have understood the problems and who correspondingly have helped us to keep the straight and firm line of Tradition and the Faith, were afraid of the steps I undertook at Rome. They told me that it was dangerous and that I was wasting my time. Yes, of course, I hoped up to the last minute that at Rome they would show a little honesty. I cannot be reproached for not having done the utmost to achieve reconciliation. And so now to those who come and tell me that I must come to an understanding with Rome, I think I may say that I went further even than I should have gone.
Fideliter: You reply that you have no reason to fear because we are with Tradition, with the Councils prior to Vatican II, with everything the Popes prior to Vatican II laid down or stated ….
Archbishop Lefebvre: Yes, that is obvious if we were inventing something, we could well fear that our invention would not survive. But we are doing nothing new. A little while ago I met a bishop, one of my friends with whom we worked during the Council and who was wholly in agreement with me at that time. He said to me, “It is unfortunate that you are in difficulties with Rome”. I answered him, “You who struggled at the Council for the same causes that I did, how can you now be surprised? We continually held 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 reprehensible? See the results of the Council. Can you give me any results that were good or positive? Where and in what field have the Council and the reforms it engendered brought an extra ordinary renewal in the Church?”
He had no answer. There is nothing. The record is wholly negative.
Fideliter: What about the Charismatic movement?
Archbishop Lefebvre: Negative again. The devil is in it because charismatics themselves come and ask us to exorcise them. One must conclude that they are possessed by the devil. They call upon the Spirit.
What spirit? That some of the charismatics are of good will I do not doubt, when they strive to pray, to make Holy Hours, but the devil is clever. One side of him attracts people, but the other side holds them fast.
Our struggle is not over. Once I am gone my successors will still have to fight. But the good Lord can do anything. In the political field, it would have been difficult to foresee one or two years ago what is now taking place. Whoever imagined that the Iron Curtain would be lifted, that Germany would be reunited? Now they are saying that the Soviet Empire is on the brink of breaking apart.
I have received a letter from a Ukrainian bishop who wishes to make contact with us for us to help him edit a catechism because they no longer have anything. He spent more than fifteen years in a Soviet prison along with others. A certain number of them are now freed. He found his diocese in an appalling condition, because for sometime everything has belonged to the Orthodox Church. They took over everything. So they are trying to recover whatever they can, but they have the Vatican against them, which is thoroughly embarrassed by this affair. The return of these priests and bishops wishing to revive the Catholic Church in the Ukraine upsets the Vatican which above all wishes not to get into trouble with the Kremlin and with Orthodox. This Catholic renewal in the Ukraine upsets them. That is what this bishop wrote to me: “For us there is truly some mystery involved, as far as Rome’s attitude is concerned”
For us there is no mystery!
Fideliter: What has the Society achieved after twenty years of existence?
Archbishop Lefebvre: The good Lord has wanted Tradition. I am intimately convinced that the Society represents the means willed by the good Lord to guard and keep the Faith and the Church’s truth and whatever can still be saved in the Church. Thanks also to the bishops surrounding the Society’s Superior General, who are fulfilling their indispensable role of guardians and preachers of the Faith, and who are imparting the graces of Holy Orders and Confirmation, Tradition remains unchanged and an ever fruitful source of divine life.
All that is indeed most consoling and I think we must thank the good Lord and continue faithfully to guard the Church’s treasures, while hoping that one day these treasures will take again their rightful place in Rome, the place which should never have lost.