1985 joint letter to Pope John Paul II

This was a joint letter sent to Pope John Paul II composed by Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer at St. Pius X Seminary in Econe during the latter prelate's visit in 1985. The letter summarizes the root causes of the ecclesiastical crisis and begs the Holy Father to remedy the matter.

A letter to Pope John Paul II from Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer

August 31, 1985

During the 15 days preceding the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Your Holiness has decided to gather together an Extraordinary Synod in Rome, with the purpose of making the Second Vatican Council, which closed 20 years ago, "an ever more living reality."

On the occasion of this event, allow us, who took an active part in the Council, to make known to you with all due respect our apprehensions and our desires, for the good of the Church, and for the salvation of the souls entrusted to us.

These 20 years, as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith himself says, have provided sufficient illustration of a situation resulting in a real self-destruction of the Church, except in those areas where the millennial Tradition of the Church has been maintained.

The change wrought within the Church in the 1960s was given concrete form and expression in the Council by the Declaration on Religious Liberty, which granted man the natural right to be exempt from any restraint imposed on him by divine law to adhere to the Catholic Faith in order to be saved, a restraint necessarily embodied in ecclesiastical and civil laws in subordination to the legislative authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

This freedom from any restraint by divine law or human laws in the matter of religion is inscribed among the freedoms proclaimed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man, an impious and sacrilegious declaration condemned by the popes and in particular by Pope Pius VI in his encyclical Adeo nota of April 23, 1791, and in his Consistory Allocution of June 17, 1793.

From this Declaration on Religious Liberty the following consequences flow, as from a poisoned spring:

  1. Religious indifferentism of states, even Catholic states, carried out over 20 years, at the instigation of the Holy See.
  2. The ecumenism pursued unceasingly by yourself and by the Vatican, an ecumenism condemned by the Church's Magisterium, and in particular by the Encyclical Mortalium Animos of Pius XI.
  3. All the reforms carried out over 20 years within the Church to please heretics, schismatics, false religions and declared enemies of the Church, such as the Jews, the Communists and the Freemasons.
  4. This freedom from the restraint of divine law in the matter of religion obviously encourages freedom from restraint in all divine and human laws, and destroys all authority in all areas, especially in the area of morals.

We have never ceased protesting, both during the Council and after the Council, at the incredible scandal of this false religious liberty. We have protested in speech and in writing, in private and in public, resting our protest upon the most solemn documents of the Magisterium: among others, the Athanasian Creed, the Fourth Lateran Council, the Syllabus (No. 15), the First Vatican Council (DS 2008), and the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas concerning the Catholic Faith (IIa IIae, Questions 8 to 16), a doctrine which has been that of the Church for almost 20 centuries, confirmed by Canon Law and its applications.

That is why, if the coming Synod does not return to the traditional Magisterium of the Church, in the question of religious liberty, but instead confirms this serious error from which heresies flow, we shall be forced to think that the members of the Synod no longer profess the Catholic Faith.

For their actions are contrary to the immutable principles of the First Vatican Council, which stated in the fourth chapter of the Fourth Session:

For the Holy Ghost was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard the revelation transmitted through the Apostles, or the Deposit of Faith, and might faithfully expound it."

This being so, we can only persevere in the Church's holy Tradition and take whatever decisions are necessary for the Church to keep a clergy faithful to the Catholic religion capable of repeating with St. Paul, "For I received of the Lord what I also delivered unto you."

Holy Father, your responsibility is heavily engaged in this new and false conception of the Church which is drawing clergy and faithful into heresy and schism. If the Synod under your authority perseveres in this direction, you will no longer be the Good Shepherd.

We turn to our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, rosary in hand, begging her to impart to you her Spirit of Wisdom, as to all members of the Synod, in order to put an end to the invasion of Modernism within the Church.

Holy Father, be so good as to forgive the frankness of our approach to you, which has no other purpose than to render unto our one and only Savior, Our Lord Jesus Christ, the honor which is due to Him, as also to His one and only Church, and deign to accept our homage as devoted sons in Jesus and Mary.

(Signature: Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre)
Marcel Lefebvre,
Archbishop-Bishop Emeritus of Tulle

(Signature: Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer)
Antonio de Castro Mayer,
Bishop Emeritus of Campos