An interview with Archbishop Lefebvre
This interview appeared in the July-August 1989 issue of the Society's magazine in France, Fideliter. It is a typically lucid and profound analysis of the state of the official Church and its relations with the Society.
1: Why the consecrations?
Fideliter: Perhaps it would be good to recall why and for what purpose you took the grave decision to consecrate bishops, when you knew at the time that it would cause a violent reaction on the part of Rome. You accepted to run the risk of being excommunicated, of being dismissed as schismatic, because you wished to guarantee, by these consecrations, that the priesthood and the sacraments would continue to be handed on.
Archbishop Lefebvre: Yes, obviously, it was a decision that had to be prepared. The decision was not taken from one day to the next. For several years already, I had been trying to get Rome to understand that as I was advancing in age, I had to ensure my succession. I had to ensure that someday someone would take my place. One can't have seminaries and seminarians without a bishop. The people, too, have need of a bishop to hand down the Faith and the sacraments, especially the sacrament of confirmation.
In Rome, they were very well aware of the fact. I alluded to it several times, and finally, I did so in public. No one in Rome can say that I took them by surprise—that they were caught unawares, or that I acted under cover. They were clearly warned several years in advance by letters and by recordings of my sermons which they had in their hands, and by the letter which Bishop de Castro Mayer and myself had addressed to the Holy Father.
I think that is what actually caused a certain change in their attitude towards us. They were afraid of the episcopal consecrations, but they did not believe that I would actually do them. Then, on the 29th of June 1987, when I spoke about them in public, Cardinal Ratzinger was nevertheless a little upset.
At Rome, they were afraid that I would really get to consecrating bishops, and that is when they made the decision to be a little more open with regard to what we had always been asking for—that is to say, the Mass, the Sacraments, and the pontifical services according to the 1962 rite of John XXIII. At that moment it seemed that they would not make any demands upon us to go along with the Second Vatican Council. They made no mention of it, and they even alluded to the possibility of our having a bishop who would be my successor.
Now, that was definitely a somewhat profound, radical change on their part. And so the question arose to know what I should do. I went to Rickenbach [in Switzerland; this was the former General House of the SSPX now located in Menzingen] to see the Superior General and his assistants to ask them: What do you think? Should we accept the hand being offered to us? Or do we refuse it?
"For myself, personally," I said, "I have no confidence in them. For years and years I have been mixing with these people and for years I have been seeing the way in which they act. I have no further confidence in them. However, I do not wish people within the Society and Traditional circles to be able to say afterwards, you could easily have tried, it would have cost you nothing to enter into discussion and dialogue." That was the opinion of the Superior General and his assistants. They said, "You must take into consideration the offer which is being made and not neglect it. It's still worthwhile to talk with them."
At that moment I accepted to see Cardinal Ratzinger and I insisted strongly to him that someone should come and make a visitation of the Society. I thought that such a visit would result in the benefits of maintaining Tradition being made clear at the same time that its effects would be recognized. I thought that that could have strengthened our position at Rome, and that the requests that I would make to obtain several bishops and a commission in Rome to defend Tradition, would have more chance of succeeding.
Very soon, however, we realized that we were dealing with people who are not honest. Immediately after the visit, as soon as Cardinal Gagnon and Msgr. Perl got back to Rome, we fell under their scorn. Cardinal Gagnon made declarations in the newspapers that were incredible. According to him, 80% of our people would leave us if I went ahead with the episcopal consecrations. We were looking for recognition, Rome was looking for reconciliation and for our recognizing our errors.
Those who had made the Visitation to the Society houses said that, after all, they had only seen the externals—that God alone sees what is in men's hearts, and consequently the visit was worth no more than it was worth... In brief, they were saying things which did not at all correspond to what they had done and said during the visit itself. That seemed unimaginable. Just because they got back to the Vatican and came back under Rome's evil influence, they adopted its mentality all over again and turned on us and scorned us once more.
I nevertheless went to Rome for the conversations, but without any confidence in their success. I wrote at the beginning of the month of January to Fr. Aulagnier: "I am convinced that on the 30th of June I will be consecrating bishops. It will be the year of the consecration of bishops because I really have no confidence."
Nevertheless I wished to go as far as possible in order to show what good will we had. That is when they brought up the question of the Council again, which we did not want to hear of. A formula for an agreement was found which was at the very limits of what we could accept.
Then they granted us the Mass and the Sacraments and the liturgical books, but concerning the Roman Commission and the consecration of bishops, they did not want to accept our requests. All we could get was two members out of seven on the Roman Commission—without the president, without the vice-president—and I obtained only one bishop whereas I was asking for three. That was already virtually unacceptable. And, when, even before signing, we asked when we could have this bishop, the answer was evasive or null. They didn't know. November?—They didn't know. Christmas?—They didn't know... Impossible to get a date.
That is when, after signing the protocol, which paved the way for an agreement, I sat down and thought. The accumulation of distrust and reticence impelled me to demand the nomination of a bishop for the 30th of June from amongst the three dossiers which I had left in Rome on the 5th of May. Either that, or I would go ahead and consecrate. Faced with such a choice, Cardinal Ratzinger said, "If that's how it is, the protocol is over. It's finished, and there is no more protocol. You are breaking off relations." It's he who said it, not I.
On the 20th of May, I wrote to the Holy Father, telling him that I had signed the protocol but that I was insistent upon having bishops, and bishops on the 30th of June.
But in fact there was no way of coming to an agreement. While I was facing Cardinal Ratzinger with that alternative, and while he was saying that he would give us a bishop on the 15th of August, he was asking me for still more dossiers in order that the Holy See might choose a bishop who would meet the requirements laid down by the Vatican. Now, where was that going to lead us?
Realizing the impossibility of coming to an understanding, on the 2nd of June I wrote again to the pope: It is useless to continue these conversations and contacts. We do not have the same purpose. You wish to bring us round to the Council in a reconciliation, and what we want is to be recognized as we are. We wish to continue Tradition as we are doing.
It was over. That was when I took the decision to give the press conference on the 15th of June because I did not wish to act in secret. There can be no durable Tradition without a traditional bishop. That is absolutely indispensable. That is why the Fraternity of St. Peter and Le Barroux are in Wonderland, because they do not have traditional bishops.
2: A bishop for the Fraternity of St. Peter?
Fideliter: The rumor is going around that the Fraternity of St. Peter might be given a bishop.
Archbishop Lefebvre: What bishop?—A bishop that would meet the Vatican's requirements? In that case, they will have a bishop who gently, gently will bring them round to the Council—that's obvious. They will never obtain a bishop who is fully traditional, opposed to the errors of the Council and to the post-conciliar reforms. That is why the Fraternity of St. Peter did not, in fact, sign the same protocol as we did, because they do not have a bishop.
The protocol that I signed with Cardinal Ratzinger did stipulate that we could have a bishop. And, hence, in a certain way, Rome approved the nomination of a bishop. People say to us: "You disobeyed the Holy Father." Disobeyed partially, but not fundamentally. Cardinal Ratzinger gave us the written authorization to have a member of the Society as a bishop. It's true that I consecrated four. But the principle itself of having one or several bishops was granted by the Holy Father.
Until proof to the contrary, those who have left us have not obtained any bishop or any representation on the Roman Commission, and so, they have handed themselves over, bound hand and foot, into the hands of the progressives. Under such conditions, they will never manage to maintain Tradition. They say that they are being given everything that they desire, but they are completely deluding themselves.
I think that it was a duty for me and so a necessity for the faithful and for the seminarians to have these traditional bishops.
Once again, I do not think it possible for a community to remain faithful to the Faith and Tradition if the bishops do not have this Faith and fidelity to Tradition. It's impossible. Say what you will, the Church consists first and foremost of bishops. Even if the priests are of your way of thinking, the priests are influenced by the bishops. Whichever way you look at it, the bishops make the priests, and so guide priests, either in the seminaries or in preaching or in retreats or in any number of ways. It is impossible to maintain Tradition with progressive bishops.
Since there was no other way for us to go, I am very happy that we are now assured of having bishops who keep Catholic Tradition and who maintain the Faith. Because it is the Faith that is at stake. It's not a little matter. It's not a matter of a few trifles.
3: "Lefebvre should have stayed in the Church".
Fideliter: Some people say:
Yes, but Archbishop Lefebvre should have accepted an agreement with Rome because once the Society of St. Pius X had been recognized and the suspensions lifted, he would have been able to act in a more effective manner inside the Church, whereas now he has put himself outside."
Archbishop Lefebvre: Such things are easy to say. To stay inside the Church, or to put oneself inside the Church—what does that mean?
Firstly, what Church are we talking about? If you mean the Conciliar Church, then we who have struggled against the Council for twenty years because we want the Catholic Church, we would have to re-enter this Conciliar Church in order, supposedly, to make it Catholic. That is a complete illusion. It is not the subjects that make the superiors, but the superiors who make the subjects.
Amongst the whole Roman Curia, amongst all the world's bishops who are progressives, I would have been completely swamped. I would have been able to do nothing, I could have protected neither the faithful nor the seminarians. Rome would have said to me, "Alright, we'll give you such and such a bishop to carry out the ordinations, and your seminarians will have to accept the professors coming from such and such a diocese." That's impossible. In the Fraternity of St. Peter, they have professors coming from the diocese of Augsburg. Who are these professors? What do they teach?
4: Danger of schism?
Fideliter: Are you not afraid that in the end, when the good Lord will have called you to Him, little by little the split will grow wider and we will find ourselves being confronted with a parallel Church alongside what some call the "visible Church"?
Archbishop Lefebvre: This talk about the "visible Church" on the part of Dom Gerard and Mr. Madiran is childish. It is incredible that anyone can talk of the "visible Church", meaning the Conciliar Church as opposed to the Catholic Church which we are trying to represent and continue. I am not saying that we are the Catholic Church. I have never said so. No one can reproach me with ever having wished to set myself up as pope. But, we truly represent the Catholic Church such as it was before, because we are continuing what it always did. It is we who have the notes of the visible Church: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. That is what makes the visible Church.
Mr. Madiran objects: "But the official Church also has Infallibility." However, on the subject of infallibility, we must say, as Fr. Dulac said in a suggestive phrase concerning Pope Paul VI: "When years ago the Church had several popes, one could choose from amongst them. But now we have two popes in one." We have no choice. Each of these recent popes is truly two popes in one. Insofar as they represent Tradition—the Tradition of the popes, the Tradition of infallibility—we are in agreement with the pope. We are attached to him insofar as he continues the succession of Peter, and because of the promises of infallibility which have been made to him. It is we who are attached to his infallibility. But he, even if in certain respects he carries the infallibility within his being pope, nevertheless by his intentions and ideas he is opposed to it because he wants nothing more to do with infallibility. He does not believe in it and he makes no acts stamped with the stamp of infallibility.
That is why they wanted Vatican II to be a pastoral council and not a dogmatic council, because they do not believe in infallibility. They do not want a definitive Truth. The Truth must live and must evolve. It may eventually change with time, with history, with knowledge, etc.,... whereas infallibility fixes a formula once and for all, it makes—stamps—a Truth as unchangeable. That is something they can't believe in, and that is why we are the supporters of infallibility and the Conciliar Church is not. The Conciliar Church is against infallibility—that's for sure and certain.
Cardinal Ratzinger is against infallibility. The pope is against infallibility by his philosophical formation. Understand me rightly!—We are not against the pope insofar as he represents all the values of the Apostolic See which are unchanging, of the See of Peter, but we are against the pope insofar as he is a modernist who does not believe in his own infallibility, who practices ecumenism. Obviously, we are against the Conciliar Church which is virtually schismatic, even if they deny it. In practice, it is a Church virtually excommunicated because it is a Modernist Church. We are the ones that are excommunicated while and because we wish to remain Catholic, we wish to stay with the Catholic Pope and with the Catholic Church—that is the difference.
For Mr. Madiran, who otherwise has a good grasp of the situation, to say that we are not the "visible Church"—that we are quitting the "visible Church", which is infallible—all that is just words which do not correspond to reality.
5: Necessity of bishops?
Fideliter: Is it possible, Your Excellency, to be neither for or against the consecrations, and even to take no position at all concerning them, and to promote the formation of priests such as you have given an example of in founding Econe, without arriving at the conclusion that seminarians being formed for the Catholic priesthood require Catholic bishops to ordain them?
Archbishop Lefebvre: Those who think like that will have bishops like Bishop de Milleville who arrived in civilian clothing to carry out the ordinations at Fontgombault. Had he given a sermon, I wonder just what he would have said to those seminarians and what example he would have given them. That is no longer the Catholic Church: that is the Conciliar Church with all its unpleasant consequences. They are contributing to the destruction of the Church. It was John XXIII, as Fr. Dulac said, began to be two popes in one. It is he who launched the opening of the Church to the world. From that point on, we entered into ambiguity and two-facedness, the way of acting proper to the liberal.
Hence, I think we should have no hesitation or scruples with regard to these episcopal consecrations. We are neither schismatic nor excommunicated, and we are not against the pope. We are not against the Catholic Church. We are not making a parallel Church. All that is absurd. We are what we have always been—Catholics carrying on. That is all. There is no need to look for unnecessary complications. We are not making "a little Church", as Paupert wrote in his book, The Torn-Away Christians. When you arrive at the end of his book, what he writes makes you shudder: "I no longer know what I am"!
Paupert was a seminarian—maybe a priest—but he lost the Faith and then recovered it more or less, and he inclines to be of a traditional way of thinking, but he is afraid to quit the Conciliar Church. And so, he does not know if he is Catholic or not, whether he is practicing or not. "When I find myself these days in a church, I have the impression that I am not at home. That is why I do not go to Communion."
He is an intelligent man but he finds himself in a sort of cul-de-sac with no way out. It's frightening. And such is the problem of all Catholics who absolutely refuse to take the step over to Tradition. They wish to remain with the occupants of the episcopal sees, with the bishops, but they want to have nothing more to do with the Catholic Faith which they practiced when they were young and which they have not got the will to pick up again. It is truly frightening when one thinks that millions of Catholics find themselves in this situation. That is why many of them are no longer going to Church on Sunday's, while others are joining sects, or are not practicing anything at all and so are losing the Faith.
6: Cannot the archbishop backtrack?
Fideliter: In a recently appeared book, Econe, How To Resolve The Tragedy, Fr. de Margerie advises you to reconcile with Rome, in effect, by accepting what you have always rejected. What do you think?
Archbishop Lefebvre: I do not personally know Fr. de Margerie. He is full of contradictions. It is clear he is highly embarrassed when it comes to defending religious liberty and stating that it is in conformity with Tradition, that there is no rupture. That is an untenable position. Because the leaders of the Conciliar Church, its most outstanding personalities, like for instance the Rector of the University of the Lateran, or, Msgr. Pavan, who is an important man in Rome (it is he who virtually wrote all of the popes' social encyclicals), openly said in May last year at the Congress of Venice, concerning religious liberty: "Yes, something has changed." Others like Cardinal Ratzinger and theologians who have written numerous works on the question strive to prove that the doctrine of Religious Liberty is in continuity with Tradition.
In the old days, Liberty was always held in essential relation to Truth. Now, Liberty is related to the human conscience. This means leaving the choice of Truth up to one's conscience. That is the death of the Church. It means introducing the poison of the Revolution, when the Rights of Man are approved by the Church. At least the rector of the University of the Lateran and Msgr. Pavan recognize the fact. The others will say what they like in an effort to keep us quiet. But there it is, written black on white: "The State, civil society, is radically incapable of knowing which is the True Religion." The whole history of the Church, ever since Our Lord, rises up in protest against such a statement. What about Joan of Arc and the saints and all the princes and kings who were saints, who defended the Church—were they incapable of discerning the True Religion? One wonders how anyone can write such enormities!
Then Rome's replies to our objections which we sent to Rome through intermediaries all tended to demonstrate that there was no change, but just continuity of Tradition. These statements are worse than those of the Council's Declaration on Religious Liberty. It is truly officialdom telling lies.
So long as in Rome they stay attached to the ideas of the Council: religious liberty, ecumenism, collegiality... they are going the wrong way. It is serious because it results in practical consequences. That is what justifies the Pope's visiting Cuba. The Pope visits or receives in audience Communist leaders who are torturers or assassins, or who have Christians' blood on their hands, just as if they were as honest as normal men.
7: Churchmen against Communism?
Fideliter: There has been a break in Cardinal Lustiger's not being able to go to Kiev.
Archbishop Lefebvre: In going to Russia, he thought that Moscow had become Catholic. It's a lack of judgment. The pope, they say, has more or less granted Moscow the right to designate the Ukrainian Patriarch by replacing the present one who himself succeeded Cardinal Slipyj, but of course, the replacement would be a Soviet agent like Pimene.
All of these Catholic visits play into the hands of the Soviets who will end up by getting what they want, namely, to put the Ukrainians in their pocket by means of a hierarchy under the government's control... exactly as they did, following on Cardinal Mindszenty in Hungary, when they nominated Lekai: the scandal of Lekai! In the old days, all these cardinals and bishops were thrown into prison because they were defending the Catholic religion, but, now, it is they who are throwing into prison the priests who are truly Catholic. We find ourselves in exactly the same situation: the bishops are persecuting us because we remain Catholic. It is not the atheistic government, the socialists, or freemasons who are hounding us down, it is the supposedly Catholic bishops—the Conciliar bishops.
The same thing is happening in the Communist countries. They have the Catholic bishops, bishops who are part of the "Pax Priests" who are in agreement with the Communist government. It's no longer the governments who are doing the persecuting, it is the bishops.
I received a letter from a Hungarian priest who wrote to me: When there are disputes, the government is trying to get the bishop and the priests to agree, and the government plays the role of the "good guy." It's incredible! The pope is causing considerable harm by this way of giving the same respect to error and to vice as to truth and to virtue. It is catastrophic for the little folk. It is the total ruin of all Christian morals, or the very foundation of morality, and even of life in society.
8: Pope defending morals?
Fideliter: John Paul II is defending the unity of the family, he is against the marriage of priests, against abortion. In morals many consider that he is a good pope.
Archbishop Lefebvre: That is true with regard to certain principles of natural morality. Good things are said, but then the priests who are favorable to contraception, for instance, are allowed to go ahead. Nobody takes a strong stand. There are only generic guidelines which are so much a part of natural morals that one could hardly be against. President Bush of the United States is against abortion, so how could the pope be in favor of it?
9: Pope appointing conservatives?
Fideliter: John Paul II has nominated bishops in Austria and elsewhere who are considered as being traditional to such a point that a group of German theologians, backed up by French theologians, are criticizing the pope and rebuking him for it. Recently, also, Cardinal Ratzinger published an instruction with an Oath of Fidelity and a Profession of Faith preceding it. Can't we see here signs of a sort of improvement and a return to more traditional formulas?
Archbishop Lefebvre: I don't think it is a true return to Tradition. Just as in a fight when the troops are going a little too far ahead one holds them back, so they are slightly putting the brakes on the impulse of Vatican II because the supporters of the Council are going too far. Besides, these theologians are wrong to get upset. The bishops concerned—the supposedly conservative bishops—are wholly supportive of the Council and of the post-Conciliar reforms, of ecumenism and of the charismatic movement.
Apparently, they are being a little more moderate and showing slightly more traditional religious sentiment, but it does not go deep. The great fundamental principles of the Council, the errors of the Council, they accept them and put them into practice. That is no problem for them. On the contrary, I would go so far as to say that it is these conservative bishops who treat us the worst. It is they who would the most insistently demand that we submit to the principles of the Council.
No, all of that is tactics, which you have to use in any fight. You have to avoid excesses. Besides, the pope has just named Msgr. Kasper a bishop in Germany. He was Secretary of the Synod of 1985 presided over by Cardinal Danneels of Brussels. Kasper was the leader, the mastermind, of the Synod. He is very intelligent and he is one of the most dangerous of Conciliarists. He is a little like the bishop of Trier who is President of the German Assembly of Bishops, and who is very dangerous also. They are absolutely men of the left, who, deep down link up with the Rahners and Hans Kungs but who take care not to say so. They keep up appearances in order to avoid being associated by anyone with the extremists, but they have the same spirit. And so, no, I think there is hardly any hope for the moment.
10: Benevolence towards Tradition?
Fideliter: Now what should we think of the attitude of Rome as characterized by Cardinals Ratzinger and Mayer, who, up till now, are showing a certain tolerance towards Le Barroux, towards the Fraternity of St. Vincent Ferrer, towards the Fraternity of St. Peter. Do you think they are sincere? Is it a double game that they will keep up until they have exhausted all other means of rallying other traditionalist groups to Rome and then, once the game is over, those that have been reconciled with Rome will be asked to submit to the Council? Or, should we credit them with taking a turn for the better?
Archbishop Lefebvre: There are plenty of signs showing us that what you are talking about is simply exceptional and temporary. They are not general rules, applying to all priests throughout the world. They are exceptional privileges being granted in precise cases. Thus, what is granted to the Abbey of Fontgombault or to the Sisters of Jouques, or to other monasteries—they do not say it—but it is according to the Indult. Now, the Indult is an exception. It can always be taken back. An indult confirms a general rule. The general rule in this case is the New Mass and the New Liturgy. Hence, it is an exception which is being made for these communities.
We have an example in London where the cardinal archbishop has inaugurated three Masses around the Society's church in the capital of Great Britian in order to try to take away our people. "I am trying it for six months," he said. If our faithful begin to leave our center, he will keep up the experiment. If, on the contrary, the faithful stay with us, he will suppress it. If these Masses are then suppressed, the faithful who have regained a taste for the traditional liturgy will no doubt come over to us.
It seems that Cardinal Lustiger in Paris is envisaging giving a church to the priests who left us, but he would require that New Masses also be celebrated at these churches. In our discussions in Rome with Cardinal Ratzinger, he told me when we were moving towards an agreement, that if authorization was given to use the old liturgy at St. Nicholas du Chardonnet in Paris, there would also have to be New Masses. That was perfectly clear and it clearly shows their state of mind. For them there is no question of abandoning the New Mass. On the contrary. That is obvious.
That is why what can look like a concession is in reality merely a maneuver to separate us from the largest number of faithful possible. This is the perspective in which they seem to be always giving a little more and even going very far. We must absolutely convince our faithful that it is no more than a maneuver, that it is dangerous to put oneself into the hands of Conciliar bishops and Modernist Rome. It is the greatest danger threatening our people. If we have struggled for twenty years to avoid the Conciliar errors, it was not in order, now, to put ourselves in the hands of those professing these errors.
11: The last year
Fideliter: After a year's ministry of the four new bishops that you chose, has everything unfolded as you wished, according to the directives that you gave them in the letter written almost a year in advance of their consecration?
Archbishop Lefebvre: Up to now, it seems that events are unfolding as we wished. We are striving to act in such a way that we cannot be reproached with the bishops' being given a territorial jurisdiction, in such a way that there is no bishop being attributed to such and such a territory. Of course, it's only normal that a French bishop should go to France, and that a German-speaking bishop should go to Germany, but from time to time, we try to bring about an exchange in order to head off that accusation.
Of course, it is normal that in the United States, Bishop Williamson should give the confirmations. But Bishop Fellay went to give confirmations in St. Mary's, Kansas, and so one cannot say that the United States are the domain of Bishop Williamson. Bishop Fellay also went to South Africa which had previously been visited by Bishop Williamson. As for Bishop Tissier de Mallerais, he went to South America and to Zaitzkofen in Germany. So, we are striving to establish this principle, that there is no territorial jurisdiction. The four bishops are there to give ordinations and confirmations, to replace me and to do what I did for several years.
For the rest, it is clearly the district superiors who are given a territory which is theirs and who, as far as they can, go to the help of the souls calling for them. For these souls have the right to have the sacraments and the Truth, the right to be saved. And, so we go to their help, and it is the appeal of these souls which grants us the right, as foreseen by Canon Law, to minister to them.
I think we can then thank the good Lord that everything has turned out so well. The feedback reaching us from the faithful proves that they are satisfied and that our bishops are well received.
No doubt we suffered from the departure of some priests and seminarians. But, that is a little like the pilgrimage of Chartres, which this year split in two, into a traditional and a conservative pilgrimage. We may thank the good Lord for having allowed those who are not completely in agreement with us, who do not completely understand what we are fighting for, to leave us. In this way we are stronger and surer in our actions. Without that we would all the time be mixing with people criticizing us, who do not agree with us, within our own congregations, and that would cause division and disorder.
As Fr. Schmidberger, the Superior General, underlined in the last issue of Fideliter, we have had a good number of candidates entering our seminaries, the Sisters of the Society, and the other religious traditionalist congregations. And, so, we have not had an unpleasant after-effect of the consecrations, as forecast by certain people who made us fear that there would be a considerable drop in numbers.
12: Feelers towards reconciliation
Fideliter: Did you recently meet Cardinal Thiandoum at his request, and was he seeking to find a way of reconciliation?
Archbishop Lefebvre: It is true, he did insist that I go to see him in Neuilly at the Sisters of St. Thomas of Villanueva, and so I went. He is always very friendly and very affectionate but for the moment there is nothing—nothing on the side of Rome, nothing on the part of Cardinal Thianboum nor any other cardinal... There is no sort of opening.
As always, I think that actions are more convincing than words. There are some who say to me, you could easily write a grand letter to the pope. But, for twenty years now, we have been writing letters which get nowhere. Once again, actions speak louder than words. When we open a seminary or when we create priories, or when we open schools, when the sisters swarm and the convents multiply, that is the only way of forcing Rome to negotiate. It's not a question of my being there, it's a question of the works we do. At Rome, they're well aware that what we're doing is not nothing. The bishops get a little annoyed when we implant ourselves here and there, and so they complain to Rome and Rome knows what's going on.
So I do not think it is opportune to try contacting Rome. I think we must still wait. Wait, unfortunately, for the situation to get still worse on their side. But up till now, they do not want to recognize the fact.
13: Fear of Tradition
Fideliter: If Rome had accepted to give you just one bishop, the protocol of an agreement could have issued in an agreement, and one may be surprised that such a concession, which after all doesn't commit them to very much (one bishop amongst three thousand in the world), should have been refused you.
Archbishop Lefebvre: Yes, it is extraordinary. It can only be explained by their fear of Tradition. It is unbelievable, but they are afraid of a traditional bishop working against the errors of the Council and they cannot bear it.
14: Oath of fidelity
Fideliter: What do you think of the instruction of Cardinal Ratzinger setting up the Oath of Fidelity which includes a Profession of Faith?
Archbishop Lefebvre: Firstly, there is the Credo which poses no problems. The Credo has remained intact. And, so the first and second sections raise no difficulties either. They are well-known things from a theological point of view. It is the third section which is very bad. What it means in practice is lining up on what the bishops of the world today think. In the preamble, besides, it is clearly indicated that this third section has been added because of the spirit of the Council. It refers to the Council and the so-called Magisterium of today, which, of course, is the Magisterium of the followers of the Council. To get rid of the error, they should have added, "...insofar as this Magisterium is in full conformity with Tradition."
As it stands this formula is dangerous. It demonstrates clearly the spirit of these people with whom it is impossible to come to an agreement. It is absolutely ridiculous and false, as certain people have done, to present this Oath of Fidelity as a renewal of the Anti-Modernist Oath suppressed in the wake of the Council. All the poison in this third section which seems to have been made expressly in order to oblige those who have rallied to Rome to sign this profession of Faith and to state their full agreement with the bishops. It is as if in the times of Arianism one had said, "Now you are in agreement with everything that all the Arian bishops think."
No, I am not exaggerating. It is clearly expressed in the introduction. It is sheer trickery. One may ask oneself if in Rome they didn't mean in this way to correct the text of the protocol. Although that protocol is not satisfactory to us, it still seems too much in our favor in Article III of the Doctrinal Declaration because it does not sufficiently express the need to submit to the Council.
And so, I think now they are regaining lost ground. They are no doubt going to have these texts signed by the seminarians of the Fraternity of St. Peter before their ordination and by the priests of the Fraternity, who will then find themselves in the obligation of making an official act of joining the Conciliar Church.
Differently from in the Protocol, in these new texts there is a submission to the Council and all the Conciliar bishops. That is their spirit and no one will change them.
15: Any regrets?
Fideliter: When all is said and done, then, you have no doubts and no regrets?
Archbishop Lefebvre: No, none at all. I think everything that happened was brought about in a truly providential and almost miraculous way.
Many people were urging me—"You're growing old. If you happen to disappear, what will become of us...?" I could have ordained bishops three of four years ago at least. It would even have been reasonable. But, I think that the good Lord wanted things to ripen gently to show Rome clearly that we have done everything we could to manage to obtain the authorization to have truly traditional bishops.
Even while signing the protocol, Rome refused to give us three bishops, and if we had gone on, in practice we would have had every imaginable kind of difficulty. I truly think we had to come to the decision which I took, and we were at the very end of our rope. Our dear friend, Bishop de Castro Mayer, is so tired now that he can no longer say his Mass, and that is less than one year after the consecrations.
I truly think it was all miraculous—his coming, his journey, his admirable Profession of Faith, his acceptance to perform with me the ceremony of the consecration of our bishops... all that was miraculous. The press did not realize the importance of his being there. But for me and the bishops who were consecrated that was truly quite an exceptional grace. The fact that there were two bishops to consecrate them is very important.
As for me, I feel well. I have no grave illness, but nevertheless I feel the tiredness and I am going to be obliged to give up completely performing the ceremonies which I still accept to perform because I no longer have the strength. I would now be quite incapable of making these worldwide journeys as I used to do. They insist on my returning to the Argentine or that I go to the United States to see the new seminary of Winona, but there are limits and I have reached them. I am only going to keep up the things which are not tiring: like a blessing of a chapel, the taking of the veil with the Carmelites, attending a first Mass... in sum, little, compared with what I used to do before.
I can feel clearly that for me, too, the 30th of June of last year was my limit. I think that the good Lord wished things to happen as they happened. All those who attended the ceremony retain an extraordinary memory of it. All of that was providential. What one may hope is that the faithful should become more and more numerous, that they open their eyes and finish by seeing where the Truth is, and recognize that salvation is in Tradition and not in the Conciliar Church which is more and more schismatic.
16: Heaven's Yellow Pages
Fideliter: Of course you realize that your name has disappeared from the latest edition of the Annuario Pontifico, the "Papal Year-Book" edited in Rome.
Archbishop Lefebvre: I think that my name has not disappeared from the Annuario of the Good Lord, at least I hope so, and that is what matters.