Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
An Address Given by His Grace: Ottawa, Canada November 1975
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have come among you to primarily speak of the most pressing problem of our time, which is the preservation of our Catholic Faith. I am not referring simply to certain liturgical modifications, nor to certain aspects of renewal, which result from the Second Vatican Council. These details, of course, do have their importance. I am here rather to offer encouragement in the struggle to preserve the essentials of our Faith, for our Faith is vital, and before going on, I would like to bring your attention to what precisely constitutes the essentials of our Faith.
Our Lord Jesus Christ came down to earth to redeem mankind, and it was by means of the Cross-that He achieved this. The central point of Christ’s life on earth, the purpose for which the Son of God became man was to die on the Cross for the salvation of all men, not only the faithful, not only Catholics, but all men. Unfortunately, not all men have accepted Christ’s message but be they Buddhists, Moslems or Protestants, all – at least all who wished to be saved – are bound to achieve their salvation through the bloodshed for them by Jesus Christ.
This, of course, is very simple for us who are Catholics. This is our Faith, the Faith we have always been taught, and yet, in our own time, how many Catholics still do accept this truth, that salvation comes to all men through Jesus Christ, that outside of Christ there is no salvation? I find it extraordinary that Catholics will questions the age-old adage, “no salvation outside the Church”. This is precisely the most important question facing mankind today, just as it was in all ages. Indeed, there is nothing more vital to man than for him to know how he is to be saved, by whom he is to be saved, and in what manner he is to be saved. Can there possibly be a question of greater moment for those who inhabit the earth?
Now, it is quite certain that when we proclaim today that there is “no salvation outside the Church,” many Catholics rise up incredulously and affirm that this is nonsense, that otherwise those not in the Church must be condemned to hell. The fact is, however, that this remains a crucial tenet of interest to all mankind. As Catholics we are bound to affirm what the Church has always affirmed, because the Church is the repository of all truth: God made man and the Son of God was made man to be crucified for the salvation of all men. Can there possibly be any other source of salvation outside of the Son of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ? Can we as Catholics accept that Luther, Buddha or Mohammed are also means of eternal salvation? Are they also in heaven seated at the right hand of God? Yet today, despite the absurdity, many Catholics no longer accept that there is “no salvation outside the Church.”
Protestants or Buddhists who achieve their salvation through an act of love for God – in effect, implicitly a baptism of desire – do so through Christ and His Church. The Church teaches that no man is saved except through Our Lord Jesus Christ. This, as Catholics, is what we must believe, for it is what the Church has always taught. There is no other God, no other truth, no other salvation but Christ Jesus. This is the center, the foundation, the goal of our Christian life, and it will one day be the crowning glory of our Christian life. There is nothing, in a word, outside of Christ Jesus who is our only joy on earth and in heaven.
You understand, I am sure, how important it is to affirm these truths. Jesus Himself, and not ourselves, chose the means for us to receive His Grace. The means He chose was the Cross -, and He chose that the Cross – and His Sacrifice upon it be continued on earth upon our altars. There is no other place but upon our altars that Christ’s Calvary is continued in this world. Catholics in every age have understood the enormity of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Our ancestors most certainly understood it, our ancestors who built the worthy church buildings, which adorn your country, and the extraordinary cathedrals and basilicas of Europe. Visitors the world over come to these shrines to stand in awe before the splendor of the labor and genius of our ancestors of a thousand years ago. Why did they erect such monuments, expending decade upon decade of their fragile lives to bringing forth these magnificent cathedrals? For the sake of the altar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the sake of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which is celebrated upon it. And it was Christ Himself who wished it.
Jesus Christ instituted the priesthood at the Last Supper on the occasion of the first sacrifice – for the Last Supper was indeed a Sacrifice, as the Council of Trent teaches – when He made priests of His Apostles and enjoined them, “Do this in memory of Me.” He did not say, “Tell this story, describe this action of Mine to your children and to future generations.” He said rather, “Do this, re-do this, continue to do this which I have done.” It is very important that we realize the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is an action and not a narrative, not a story. I am sure you must realize why I am emphasizing: it is precisely because in our time Christ’s intentions are being subverted, contradicted and suppressed.
It is vital, therefore, that we insist upon what is essential to our Holy Faith and indeed to the very idea of Christian civilization, in which we have good reason to glory still, and which we hope with all our hearts to regain and to see revitalized as it was in medieval times. The world chuckles today about the Middle Ages. Modem man tells us it was an age of obscurity – the dark ages – but history itself tells us the medieval age was the greatest age in history, and the thirteenth the greatest century that mankind has ever known. Why? Because of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and because of the spirituality generated by the Mass. Today, more than ever before, our civilization needs its altars, needs it priests to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which in fact is a re-enactment of the Sacrifice of the Cross. The whole of our Christian civilization rest upon our altars. But if we destroy our altars and replace them with a table, and upon this table we simply prepare a meal which is but a memorial of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Last Supper, which is but a narrative of what He said and did on that occasion, then we have forfeited the basis upon which Christian civilization rests. The Catholic Church then ceases to exist, for the Church rests upon the dogma, upon the reality of the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, whence comes Holy Communion, which is Our Lord Jesus Christ in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. For Holy Communion – the Eucharist – transforms our very souls, civilizes us, disciplines us and imposes order upon our souls. Without the Eucharist we reek of disorder.
We frequently wonder why there are so few priests today. It is because there is no longer any preoccupation with the Sacrifice of the Mass. There is no more ideal, no more goal for the priest to pursue, His goal had always been to go unto the Altar of God to offer the Sacrifice of Calvary. That is precisely what made the sublimity of the priest, the ideal of the priestly vocation in a young man. Similarly, for the religious – nuns and brothers – the foundation of their vocation was the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, just as it was for you, the laity.
What, then, precisely is a Christian? Essentially, a Christian is one who offers himself as a victim on the altar with Our Lord. That is what the Sacrament of Marriage is also: a symbol of Christ’s union with His Church. Just as Christ offered His life for His Church, so also do the spouses offer their lives for their families and for each other. This union is a vivid symbol of what occurred at Calvary, and thus the spouses derive the strength and courage required for the sacrifice of their union from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass there can be no Catholic spirituality, no Christian life, and all that has been the life of the Church through the ages will simply wither and cease to exist. We, then, do have a vital requirement for the true Sacrifice of the Mass, and this is of fundamental importance to us as Catholics.
I do allow that in recent centuries perhaps our catechetics have placed more emphasis upon the Eucharist as sacrament, than upon the Eucharist as sacrifice. There has been great emphasis placed on the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and for good reason, of course. We stage, for example, massive international Eucharistic Congresses throughout the Catholic world to provide the faithful with the opportunity to adore Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. And these Eucharistic Congresses were of unsurpassed splendor, living testimony of the profound belief of the faithful in the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Thus, while the Church has in recent centuries placed much emphasis upon the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist – the Eucharist as Sacrament – at the same time, perhaps unconsciously, the Eucharist as Sacrifice has to some extent been neglected. Let us come back to this idea of the Eucharist as Sacrifice, without losing sight of the Eucharist as Sacrament. I do think that today there ought to be a renewed emphasis on the Eucharist as Sacrifice because, after all, it is the Eucharist as Sacrifice, which is the source of the Eucharist as Sacrament. The Eucharist as Sacrament comes to us from the Sacrifice of the Cross. Without the Cross there would be no Sacrament of the Eucharist because the Sacrament is the Victim, and without the Sacrifice there is no Victim. And without the Victim there is no Real Presence, no participation, no communion by the faithful. In a word, when we receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist – Holy Communion – we are partaking of the Victim Who offered Himself on the Cross, and Who offers Himself in an unbloody manner daily on our altars for the forgiveness of sins. This, then, is the profound meaning of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and of the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist: the Blessed Sacrament is the fruit of this extraordinary tree which is the Cross because the Sacrament proceeds from the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.
We must therefore come back to this idea of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is essential to our salvation, and see in this Sacrifice precisely that element which has been the splendor of our civilization, and to understand why, today, this civilization – Western civilization, Christian civilization – is shaken to its very foundations, how the decline of our Christian civilization began when we came to express doubts about the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist, when we began to attack, abolish and suppress the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This incredible phenomenon traces its origins to Berenger in the fourteenth century. Then in the sixteenth century, Luther boldly declared that the Mass is not a Sacrifice. Luther’s attack, therefore, was directed at the very heart of the Church, to its most precious dogma. And in thus undermining the Sacrifice of the Mass, he destroyed the priesthood instituted by Christ, because without the Sacrifice, what need is there for a priesthood, what ideal does the priest strive for? The priest becomes merely a functionary designed from among the members of an assembly to offer worship, to perform a communion, to break bread.
That is what Luther achieved 450 years ago, and, as those familiar with the history of his reformation will recognize, that is precisely what is happening with respect to the transformation of the liturgy in our own time. Many of the elements of change are identical. During Luther’s reformation the vernacular, German, was adopted and, needless to say, there was great rejoicing: the youth became enthusiastic, the laity could now understand, they could return now to what appeared to be a more evangelical church, they could worship now more meaningfully. The laity, in a word, had discovered a new relevance in the life of the Church. But the euphoria of juvenile enthusiasm soon gave way to disillusion: the priesthood began to disintegrate, priests and nuns left their monasteries, the convents were emptied and the religious married. How could this be so soon after the fervor and enthusiasm of the early years? The whole phenomenon was but a straw fire because the reformers had attacked the essential elements of Christ’s Church, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
With the Sacrifice attacked, the traditional respect for the Eucharist did not remain long immune. The faithful began to receive Communion standing, then Communion was distributed in the hand, then the reformers began to openly deny the Real Presence, the Supreme Sacrifice, and to deny the priesthood, all that the Church had cherished most dearly.
The Protestant Reformation struck our civilization at its very roots, and it was just a matter of time before the tenets of Liberalism were added to those of the religious reformation. Thus, in the seventeenth century, Descartes brought forward the notion of truth being relative, subjective, within ourselves. That is, truth comes from our consciences, and not from outside of ourselves. Descartes refused the notion of truth, which comes from God and from Christ. And in the eighteenth century, Rousseau, carrying Descartes a step further, directed his attack at the moral law: man is good, his conscience is good. Therefore, it is his conscience, which should guide him, and not the law.
These three – Luther who attacked Church dogma and the Faith, Descartes who attacked the concept of objective truth, and Rousseau who attacked the moral law – were the precursors of the modern society in which we live today. Today, as we all recognize, faith, truth and the law are all relative and subject to the conscience of the individual. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what Liberalism is all about. Man has become free, liberated, adult, guided now exclusively by his own conscience and by his own will.
What in reality has all this liberation meant for society, for our civilization? It has brought about the destruction of the human person whose very being comes from God and from Our Lord Jesus Christ, whose entire spiritual life comes from Christ, from His law of love, from the gift of His grace which transforms and moves him to adhere to His law. If there is no absolute truth, but rather our own which we create for ourselves, there is no more God, no need for God, because we are sufficient unto ourselves. We become in effect our own gods and accordingly refuse a God, which transcends ourselves. It is not long before nature destroys itself in a sense.
In the wake of Rousseau came the subjectivist philosophers of the nineteenth century: Kant, Hegel and the others, all contributing and advancing the destruction of the Christian Faith. Little by little these ideas made their way until the principles of Liberalism virtually destroyed the notion of Christian society. Already by the end of the eighteenth century it had become imperative in France to be liberated from the restrictions of Christian law, of Catholic kings, of Catholic society, in a word, of God. That is why in France, bankrupt of God, the Goddess Reason was formally consecrated by the State.
The Church, of course, resisted these tendencies. For a century and a half – from about 1800 to about 1960 – the Popes spoke out, issued encyclicals, used every conceivable means to prevent the destruction of the social and moral order by these tendencies. But these ideas, which had their origins in the Protestant Reformation and the advent of Liberalism, made their way little by little, and society became contaminated, and the dikes which hitherto had kept men in an ordered state, burst. Finally, like the Jews before Pontius Pilate, the states declared, “We have no king but Caesar,” and accordingly effected the separation of Church and State. They drove Jesus Christ from the courts, from the army, from the universities, from the schools. The crucifixes were withdrawn from public buildings, the clergy were relegated to their vestries, society was laicized.
Society had thus become free, free of God. There soon followed freedom of thought, freedom of the press, freedom of conscience. And now, a century and a half later, we find ourselves enslaved by pornography, enslaved by television and the other media of social communications, which have so thoroughly infused into our society the kind of freedom, which destroys morality, the family, and society itself.
For her part, until about 1960, the Church resolutely resisted Liberalism in all these forms. She continued to teach obedience and submission to Jesus Christ, to His Law, to His Sacrifice, to His Sacraments and to His grace. For it is there that we find truth, true freedom, freedom from the slavery of sin. Once free of sin, we become enslaved rather to saintliness.
We see to what brutal depths our society has been reduced. The catechisms, the Canadian catechism, is a perfect example of the process I have tried at some length to describe, to destroy, an entire catechism devoted to destruction. Catechism by its nature suggests a breaking with sin, but modern catechisms are directed towards breaking down tradition and social taboos, breaking the family, destroying the restraints, which have held our civilization together. These are the things your children are taught in catechism today. Do the Gospels teach us that we must destroy? On the contrary, the Gospels teach us rather that we are to forge bonds of charity, of love: love God, love your parents, love your neighbor. These are strong bonds, mandatory bonds. We are not free to love or not to love. We must love God, and our parents and society, to the extent, of course, that society is in accord with God’ s law.
This concept to teach our children to destroy, to break is a criminal concept because such notions will accompany them throughout their lives: through their youth and later when, by a sort of dialectic which will continue to gnaw at them and will always oppose them to others and consume them with the imperative to be “free” in order to grow, in order to be “themselves.” This is fraught with extremely serious consequences and we wonder now how we could even imagine such a system of catechism. The new catechetics are simply a natural long-term consequence of Liberalism.
And though our Popes opposed Liberalism and recognized it for what it is, today nevertheless one can safely affirm that Liberalism has overwhelmed the Church. It has permeated our culture, our society, our universities and our schools. No area remains immune, not even our families have been spared the poison of Liberalism. Our seminaries have been contaminated by ideas proposed by such men as Teilhard de Chardin, whereby truth is relative, evolving, personal. There is no longer an immutable truth, therefore no fixed dogma. And this, tragically, is what has come out of Vatican II. Gaudium et spes best illustrates this: at least two pages are devoted to, the idea of change, to the evolution of truth. Change is what “updating” is all about. Anyone who is a party to “updating” faces that as a premise: as a result of our new found mastery of nature, we must accept change in philosophy, in modes of expression and action, in the manner in which we conceive our religion, in the realization that the way ideas were understood in the past are no longer applicable today.
Thus, seminaries, for example, are told they must no longer proselytize, evangelize or convert non-Christians. They must, rather, engage in dialogue in order to direct their flocks toward self-discovery and the realization that their faith is, after all, as valid as our own. This, of course, is heresy, pure and simple, and has had the predictable effect of numbing in a very short time the Church’s entire missionary spirit. It goes without saying that, having killed the missionary spirit, the priestly spirit itself will cease to exist.
These are the factors, then, which leave Catholics with no incentive for the religious life today. People no longer know what the religious state of life is. Recently the Archbishop of Cincinnati, reporting to the Roman Synod on the crisis of vocations to the priesthood, solemnly declared that the lack of vocations apparent in the Church today stems from the fact that the priest has lost his sense of identity. What do these incredible words mean? Simply that the priest does not know what he is. Since when does the priest not know who or what he is? After 2,000 years of having priests in the Catholic Church we suddenly no longer know what constitutes a priest! Why have we come to this? Because we have destroyed our altars by changing them into “tables,” stripped them of their altar stones, which from the fourth century have harbored the relics of the martyrs. A sacrifice is traditionally offered upon a stone, a stone altar, but today there is no sacrifice, no stone, no relics. The Mass has become a meal. Relics signify that the martyrs had offered themselves as a sacrifice in union with Our Lord. You can understand just how grave it is to abolish these magnificent symbolisms, and to what extent all that is most sacred in the holy Catholic religion, is being tampered with. And all of this tampering penetrated the Church at the Second Vatican Council.
I am frequently criticized because I attack the Council. It is true that I am at variance with the Council because I realize that the liberal spirit is destroying the Church, the priesthood, the sacraments, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the catechism, Catholic universities and Catholic schools. And you yourselves are as firmly convinced as I am because you have the examples constantly before your eyes. Parents have come to prefer to send their children to non-Catholic schools, even to Protestant schools, because they are less subject there to perversion than in their own Catholic schools.
Is this not an incomprehensible scandal when we reflect on what Canada was twenty years ago at the proud invitation of Msgr. Cabana to visit his new seminary, finished in 1955, full of seminarians. This remained so until 1965. Today the seminary has been sold and there remains nothing of this work. What is happening in the Church the world over when seminaries like the one in Sherbrooke, not twenty years old, are disposed of in this way?
Recently I spoke with an Italian bishop who had just returned from a trip during which he had hoped to come into contact with priests anxious to maintain traditions of the Church to establish a common bond, to perhaps create an association of traditional priests in Italy. He had returned overwhelmed. Having visited nearly every diocese in Italy, he realized that seminaries are being sold everywhere, and that young priests are out and out Marxists. Though Italy has an average three times more priests than France, the seminaries are empty; Turin with a capacity for 300 has 80 seminarians from several neighboring dioceses. The Bishop of Casserta confided to me that his seminarians come back to him Modernists and refuse to obey him. What kind of diocese is he going to have in just a few years from now in the light of the state of the priesthood and the seminaries today?
In France there are approximately 100 new candidates who enter all the seminaries each year, for 100 dioceses. The only notable seminary left is at Issy-les-Moulinaux, near Paris, with 80 seminarians for 25 dioceses and four or five religious communities. And of these, how many will finish? And how many more are living in the hope that between now and their ordination Rome will have authorized a married clergy?
This situation, which took root at the Council, is vitally serious. The enthusiasm for liberation was evident throughout the Council. It expressed itself in the equivocal wording of the various schemas, through the idea of change for the sake of change, through the idea of the primacy of the individual conscience as opposed to established law, through the notion of freedom for all religions. This the Church has always regarded as contrary to her rights because, as she believes, she alone is Truth. And if a Catholic state places no obstacle to the spreading of heresy within its jurisdiction, then the state becomes a Protestant state in effect, with all its attendant errors, on marriage, for example, which leads to tolerance for divorce, contraception and abortion, all of which gently undermines Christian society, Catholic society. We recognize that it is precisely this, which has set the Church upon a course of full-scale self-destruction, which has become more and more obvious.
These, then, are the reasons why we are so attached to our traditions. This is why, in the face of the deluge, this universal destruction of the Holy Catholic Church, we affirm the will to preserve the Catholic Mass, the Catholic Sacraments, the Catholic catechism, our Catholic universities and our Catholic schools. We refuse to maintain liberal schools in which everything and anything goes. We insist upon Catholic schools in order that our children be raised as Catholics. We insist upon Catholic universities in order that our children not be perverted. We no longer dare send a young man or a young lady to a Catholic university.
We prefer to send them to a state university. Seminarians no longer know where to go. In seminaries today, seminarians come and go as they pleased, at any time of the day and night, go to daily Mass or stay away, as they please.
We are thus in a state of decomposition and we cannot accept this situation. This is why our resistance gives the impression that we are attempting to stand in the way of all this change. I have been requested to close my seminary at Econe. Why do I refuse to obey this order? Because I most emphatically do not wish my seminarians to become Protestants, because I do not wish my seminarians to become Modernists, because I do not wish my seminarians to lose their faith and their moral perspective. I am quite certain that were they to be released and sent to other seminaries they would lose their faith and their moral perspective. Accordingly, it appears to me that I have no choice but to resist this order.
I am asked how it is that I can refuse orders, which come from Rome. Indeed, these orders to come from Rome, but from which Rome? I believe in Eternal Rome, the Rome of the Sovereign Pontiffs, the Rome which dispenses the very life of the Church, the Rome which transmits the true Tradition of the Church. I am considered disobedient, but I am moved to ask why have those who issue orders which in themselves are blameworthy been given their authority. The Pope, the cardinals, the bishops, the priests have been given their authority for the purpose of transmitting life, the spiritual life, the supernatural life, eternal life, just as parents and society as a whole have been given their authority to transmit and protect life. The word “authority” means “author,” author of life. We are not authorized to transmit death; society is not permitted to pass laws, which authorize abortion, because abortion is death. In like manner, the Pope, the cardinals, the bishops and priests exist as such to transmit and sustain spiritual life. Unfortunately, it is apparent that many of them today no longer transmit or sustain life, but rather authorize spiritual abortion.
These, then, are the reasons why, in the face of an order to close my seminary, I refuse to obey. I believe that we all have a serious requirement for the type of priests who transmit the life of the soul. I am certain you do not wish to have priests who are apt to administer sacraments, which are invalid. From time to time I am asked to administer Confirmation which, of course, is irritating to local bishops who remind me that I have no right to confirm in their dioceses. Naturally, I recognize this, but I remind them in turn that they have no right to administer sacraments of doubtful validity to children whose parents want them to receive the sacramental grace. These parents have the right to be certain that their children are receiving the grace of Confirmation. This is, after all, a grave responsibility for parents. It is grace, which keeps the soul alive, and, to this end, I much prefer to see parents confident that their children have received the sacramental grace of Confirmation even when, by administering the sacrament in someone else’s diocese, I am acting illicitly. I may at least rest easy in the knowledge that the children confirmed in the manner prescribed by the Church for centuries truly carry the sacramental grace within them, that the sacrament is truly valid.
With respect to sacraments of doubtful validity, today bishops rarely confirm: they delegate their vicars-general or other priests, and many of these change even the new authorized formulas. Because the particular sacramental grace of each sacrament has to be signified explicitly, and as many of these changes of working do not signify the sacrament in question, it follows that the sacrament is invalid. In other words, it is not permissible to toy with the formula of the sacraments, just as in the Sacrifice of the Mass we many not tamper with the wording of the consecration. It is necessary to perform as the Church has always intended.
All of this, therefore, is of utmost importance and it is also the reason why we must maintain our traditions, and fear neither difficulties nor obstructions. We are living in a time of veritable agony. We must be careful, of course, not to offer violent opposition to our bishops and to our priests who refuse to understand the grave dangers under which the Church labors today. But in following the Church of all time, we must also pray for our pastors. We are not inventing anything new. I have not innovated at my seminary at Econe.
Those who condemn me are condemning their own formation, which is absurd. In the face of these absurdities, I can only close my ears and my eyes, and continue to receive seminarians. In September , I welcomed twenty-five new candidates at Econe, five at my new German-language seminary near Lake Constance in German Switzerland, and twelve at my new house at Armada, Michigan. Vocations are surely not wanting and I am quite certain that were we encouraged instead of harassed and struck down, I would have not three seminaries, but seminaries in every part of the world. Make no mistake: there are sufficient good, young, wiling men – good and holy vocations in every country.
We are bound, therefore, to pray that we recover one day an understanding of the way of the priesthood because Christian society cannot live without its priests. The Church without the priesthood is no longer the Church. It is for this reason essentially that I ask your fervent prayers for young priests. Pray also to the Blessed Virgin Mary, for she is the Mother of priests and the Mother of the priesthood. Pray for the graces of holy vocations, and for assistance with respect to Rome, that one-day Rome itself may be enlightened.
Rome, for me, has become a great mystery. What is happening in Rome? It is surely Rome that constitutes the most serious problem. To say such a thing is neither calumny nor detraction, for if the crisis in the Church has spread to every country in the world, it is only sensible to seek a common cause at its Seat. There is something distinctly abnormal and sinister about Rome today, the workings of grace are being obstructed in Rome, there are men in Rome who are under the ascendancy of Satan. How else could the Church be strangled, as it were, and troubled to such an extent? Though we may not readily understand the problem, one can feel it, sense the atmosphere of today’s Rome. I am still frequently in Rome, and I have occasion to chat from time to time to priests of the different sacred congregations, the men who carry out the day-to-day affairs of the Curia. These men confide to me in private that Rome has become stifling, that a veritable terror reigns in the bureaus and the corridors of the Vatican, with always somebody listening, spying, ready to report, to criticize. Even the cardinals are not immune to the terror, to the veritable diabolical influence, which permeates every facet of Vatican life.
What has caused such a deterioration? Who are these sinister people? Are they hidden personalities, or are they clerics in important positions? Nobody seems to know, but what is absolutely certain is that this spirit permeates not only the Seat of the Catholic Church, but every one of us no matter how far we are from Rome.
The present state of Rome is just one more reason why we must not hesitate or fear to regroup.
In closing, I would wish to emphasize especially how important it is to remain united, and to avoid dissension at all costs. We are already so few who wish to hold onto our traditions, who understand, who have received the graces. There can be no question but that it is God’s grace, which has allowed us to keep our holy traditions, the very traditions, which have produced the saints. It is vital, therefore, that we proceed as of one mind, that we labor together in order to better insure a strong defense.
You most assuredly have it within your power, through grace, to build up something solid, which will last, which will attract the others, something which will allow you to form your children. You will find it easier to provide catechists to help you in your tasks. You will find it easier to organize your own schools, administered by laymen and fully Catholic, teaching the true catechism, celebrating the traditional liturgy, forming your children as strong and perfect Christians. It is this sort of arrangement to which we must come in order to protect our holy religion and our souls, for, ultimately, to save our souls is all that matters.
Tradidi quod et accepi
Archbishop Lefebvre, after guiding the SSPX for over 20 years, died on March 25, 1991. He is buried in a crypt beneath his beloved seminary at Econe where his remains can be visited today. On his tomb are marked the words of the apostle St. Paul: “Tradidi quod et accepi” (I have transmitted what I have received—I Cor. 15:3).