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Fr. Guérard des Lauriers to Msgr. Lefèbvre:

‘You Act like Pontius Pilate’

After Vatican II, Fr. Michel Louis Guérard des Lauriers, O.P. (1898 - 1988) was very concerned about the events taking place in the Church. In 1969 he was the primary ghost-writer who authored the famous Ottaviani Intervention, criticizing the new Mass.

Soon after Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre published his December 1978 letter to John Paul II offering to make an agreement between the SSPX and Rome, Fr. des Lauriers strongly opposed that proposal. In his public response, he depicted Msgr. Lefebvre as a changing character who held the traditional position to please his grassroots - a Pontius Pilate. In that letter he presented some of the earlier actions of Lefebvre that corroborate his claim.

Today, as SSPX approaches Rome seeking an agreement, that earlier proposal of its founder as well as des Lauriers’ criticism are timely again. Since we have already posted Msgr. Lefebvre’s letter to John Paul II, now we present Fr. des Lauriers’ document in its entirety for our readers. Below is our translation from the French original posted on Sodalitium website, which can be read here. The subtitles are ours.   The Editor

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Archbishop, We Do Not Want this Peace


You were clear in your letter about the outlines of a protocol of agreement between Ecône and Rome: Ecône, which up until now we support; Rome, which we resist, just as you do.

The loyalty demanded by the service of the Truth obliges us to declare: We do not want this peace. It appears to be wise. It is, indeed, no more wise than Pilate pretended to be. Jesus was delivered to Pilate because He was accused of saying: “I am the King of the Jews” (John 19:21), whereas the Jews claimed to “have no other king than Cesar” (John 19: 15).

In reality, Jesus was not brought before Pilate for a royalty “whose origin is not of this world” (John 18: 36). And Jesus did not mean to die to conserve anything. He did not mean to die for anything except to “give testimony to the Truth” (John 14:6); regardless of appearances, it was Pilate who depended on Jesus rather than Jesus on Pilate. Your Excellency, you submit the Mass to the Pope because it disturbs the celebration of the “new mass” (as Paul VI called it), just as Jesus disturbed the Pharisaic order “by teaching throughout all Judea” (Luke 23:5).

IN REALITY, THE MASS SHOULD NOT BE SUBMITTED TO THE POPE, since the Pope must respect it. We want, with God’s grace, to testify to the Truth; we do not want a peace that “diminishes the Truth” (Psalm 11:2).

Pontius Pilate gives Our Lord over to the Jews

The Archbishop is compared to Pontius Pilate
Pilate resorts to expedients to save Jesus. He fails. Thrice he fails, in order to accentuate in a providential way that it is not possible to give testimony to the Truth unless one is in absolute accord with the Truth. Pilate thinks he can save Christ by having recourse to Herod. He is doubly fooled: by expecting Jesus to be saved by those who want His death and by “becoming the friend of Herod” (Luke 23: 12). It is a false unity, since it is a unity against the One who is the Truth.

Your Excellency, you have recourse to the Pope to conserve the Mass. And you admit that there can be in the Church - inevitably in the same Church - the Mass that is THE MASS and the “new mass.” And you believe that “unity would be restored immediately at the level of the local Bishops.”

Thus, the unity of the Church would no longer be the radiation of the unique Sacrifice “that Christ commanded from His beloved Spouse”! The unity would no longer be that of “the heavenly Jerusalem that is free and is our mother” (Gal 4: 26). Unity would find itself degraded into a juxtaposition made under the iron fist of an unconditional authority. This is a parody of unity! It is a sacrilege against unity! Archbishop, we do not want this peace or this unity, which would be against the Truth, against the sanctity of the Church, against the Liberty that comes only from the Spirit of Truth. To “save” Jesus, Pilate put Him on par with Barabbas (Marl 15: 9). How could Pilate, mocking the Justice that he should represent, imagine that a changeable mob would impose justice on their [Pharisee] leaders? Pilate could only wash his hands (Mat 27: 24).

Your Excellency, in order to save the Mass that is the Mass, you put it on par with the “new mass,” in the name of the Religion that you profess. How can you imagine that, instructed by your example, those unstable and weak people who follow you rather than the Truth could restore the sense of the true Religion in a Church occupied by the “high priests” of the god of the Universe? One cannot sit at the same table with Satan. It is Hell that is paved with these good intentions that justify the means by their end, perpetrating a manifest evil under the illusion of doing a good.

Fr. Guerard des Lauriers

A young Fr. Guérard des Lauriers
Your Excellency, we do not want this peace that sacrifices the demands of the Religion of “Sprit and Truth” (John 4: 23) for the passing satisfaction of a selfish tranquility. Pilate “found nothing in Jesus that merited death” (Luke 23: 15). It was, however, “by chastising Jesus” (Luke 23: 16), that Pilate thought to buy from the Jews the release of their Prisoner. The public order is worth it - isn’t it? Some lashes of the whip, even if they are unjust. But Pilate fails. The only result is that the Flesh of the Incarnate Word is scourged, His Blood flows, He Himself is humiliated.

Your Excellency, if there were to be in the Church - God forbid - as you desire the Mass that is THE MASS and the “new mass,” the shrewd polls made about [the preferences of] the “people of God,” duly manipulated, would transform the Mass of the minority into a mockery. The only result would be that the broad sacrilegious practice [of the Consecrations in the “new mass”], but actually deprived of object [because these Consecrations actually do not take place], would have all their blasphemous character now effective against the [true] Real Presence. Have you considered this? Should the price of this false security, founded on the illusion of an unconditional submission to those who did all they could to destroy the Church, be to inflict on the Crucified Christ the blows of the most insolent flagellation ever?

Your Excellency, we do not want this peace that would be laden with so many sins. It falls to us, to us and not to the Crucified Christ, “to complete” [by this accord] what would be lacking in this flagellation without us. Archbishop, your protocol of peace gives the final blow to a trust that we no longer can have in you, regarding both the question of the Mass and that of “authority.”

How Msgr. Lefebvre changed Masses

You have celebrated the “new mass” since the beginning of April 1969 until December 24, 1970.

Tomb of St. Pius V

The body of St. Pius V, above, is at the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, below, in Santa Maria Maggiore

Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, St. Mary Major
On May 5, 1969, some friends who venerated you, including the one who signs these lines, had come to assist at the Mass that you would celebrate at the altar where the bones of St. Pius V repose at the Roman Basilica of Saint Mary Major. Astonishment, scandal, sorrow! Over the tomb of St. Pius V, it was the “new mass” that you celebrated! Upon leaving, pressured in the square by respectful and sad questions, you declared: “If someone were to see Archbishop Lefebvre celebrating the traditional Mass, it would risk raising scandal.”

To those same friends, who, encouraged by you, were working to write the text that became the Letter of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci, you gave comforting assurances: “We will have 600 Bishops [to sign this letter].” This would be enough to move the Pope! Instead, there was not one single Bishop, not even yourself.

As a matter of fact, you were more concerned about “not giving scandal” than about defending the Truth. We fear that your letter n. 16 [to friends and benefactors] reveals that you did not change.

You continued to celebrate the “new mass” both at Fribourg and Ecône. The first hopes, nonetheless, started to appear: Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Paul Aulagnier, Bernard Waltz, and three others. On December 24, 1969, at the end of the noon meal, the Dominican priest who signs these lines, then staying at Ecône, with respectful irony said this to you:

“Monsignor, it is a pity that, while supporting Tradition, you celebrate the ‘new mass,’ which is not the Mass of the Tradition.” This simple observation literally set fire to the gunpowder. The “six,” all your living hope, exploded. Each one in his way and all together posed the same question to you: How is it possible to base fidelity to Tradition upon a “mass” that was “innovated” against Tradition? That incident was very vehement and, by the way, quickly closed. Still, be it by some coincidence due to the action of the Holy Ghost along with an interior movement on your part, the fact is that on December 24, 1970 at the midnight Mass, you returned to saying the Mass according to rite promulgated by St. Pius V, to the great joy of all present.

Probably you followed the Holy Ghost. But, alas, everything has happened as if you were following your grassroots. Thenceforth you have followed the same tactic. If you would not have supported the Traditional Mass, the seminary of Ecône would have been deprived of its end, and those who supported you would have felt the obligation to abandon you.

Suspicions of other doctrinal concessions to Progressivism

Nonetheless, you have never made a serious doctrinal study of the “new mass.” You affirm it is valid without justifying it. And you have issued “norms” [on how to behave regarding it] from which many of the faithful, or even Ecône seminarians, can deduce whatever they want. And now - all this is unhappily too coherent - you admit that the Mass and the mass can exist together in the Church. This is “ecumenism” inside the Church, the paroxysm of a false ecumenism that replaces with a deceitful union the true unity, which is the unconditional submission to the Liberty inspired by the Truth.

The changing faces of Marcel Lefebvre

Lefebvre's changing positions, more interested in pleasing the grassroots than serving the Truth
In the same way, Your Excellency, you admit that there could be a “traditional interpretation of Vatican II,” even after you had written – thanks be to God and to you – the work I accuse the Council.

Why do you refuse to enunciate clearly, on the “authority” the principles that unavoidably explain your judicious accusations? Instead, as a supposed counter-attack, you imitate the [blind] false prophets who “lead each other into the pit” (Matt 15:14), by announcing a false peace followed by a false prosperity! We must either speak or be silent. But we cannot not proclaim the error and silence the truth. It is with profound sorrow, believe me Your Excellency, that we are obliged in conscience to remind you of this.

We can no longer trust you. We are not “against you,” we are still “for you,” but we can no longer “be with you.” You count on saving everything through the SSPX; the whole Church, certainly, will be thankful to you for what you have done. But, Your Excellency, you promise too much to be true. Do you remember the promise of the 600 Bishops that never materialized? Remember that when on that “May 5, 1975 you acted firmly no matter what [against Rome],” it was because you opposed those whom today you think you can trust, those whose victim you have become since you are following them.

Your Excellency, we can no longer “be with you.” We are only “unconditional” with regard to the Truth!

Holy Thursday April 12, 1979
M.L. Guérard des Lauriers, O.P.

In memory of a group of the faithful attached to Tradition
Holy Thursday, April 3, 1969
 -  The magazine Sodalitium reminds us
that April 3, 1969 was the date of the promulgation of the New Mass,
opposed publicly by Fr. des Lauriers in his Brief Critical Study.

Posted January 19, 2010

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