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Lefebvre’s Proposal to Merge with Rome

Recently we posted the summary of a letter by Fr. Guérard des Lauriers to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre sent to us in English by a reader. We asked whether some of our readers could bring forth evidence that the posted summary was authentic. We received the full text of the mentioned letter in French posted by Sodalitium magazine. Sodalitium is an organ of the Institute Mater Boni Consilii, an Italian priestly organization that split from SSPX in 1985. Reading that document, however, it became clear that Fr. des Lauriers was reacting to a previous letter that Archbishop Lefebvre had sent to John Paul II. So, to understand the des Lauriers' statements, we need first to know the latter.

Today we are posting our translation from French of the December 1978 letter of Msgr. Lefebvre, also taken from Sodalitium website. According to it, this letter was made public in the French edition of the Letter to Friends and Benefactors n. 16. We do not have any primary source at hand. We are assuming as authentic the texts reproduced by Sodalitium. The French documents may be read here. Any rectification regarding the authenticity of the source or our translation from French will be welcomed.    The Editor

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Priestly Fraternity Saint Pius X - SSPX
Letter to Friends and Benefactors n. 16
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Dear Friends and Benefactors,

In responding to your requests regarding the relations of the SSPX with Rome, I believe I act well by communicating to you the letter below that I addressed to the Pope on the [1978] Christmas vigil.

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Most Holy Father,

I do not doubt that the audience you granted me was desired by God. For me it was a great consolation to be able to explain, with all frankness, the circumstances and grounds for the existence of SSPX and its seminaries, and the reasons that led me to continue this Work, despite the decisions coming from Fribourg and Rome.

The torrent of novelties in the Church accepted and encouraged by the Episcopate, a torrent destroying everything in its path - Faith, Morals, the institutions of the Church - does not admit the presence of any obstacle, any resistance.

So, we did have a choice. But, faced with either allowing ourselves to be dragged along by the devastating torrent and increasing the disaster or resisting against winds and tides to protect our Catholic Faith and the Catholic priesthood, we could not hesitate.

Since May 5, 1975, the date of our decision to act firmly no matter what, three and a half years passed and we were proved correct. The ruins of the Church have expanded: Atheism, immorality, the abandonment of churches, the vanishing of religious and priestly vocations reached the point that the Bishops are becoming concerned, making Ecône an often-mentioned fact. The opinion polls show that a great part of the faithful, sometimes a majority, is in favor of Ecône.

For an impartial observer, it is evident that our Work is a rich mine of priests like those the Church has always wanted and like the true faithful desire. We are entitled to think that if Rome would admit this fact and give it the legal status to which it has the right, the vocations would be still more abundant.

Most Holy Father, for the honor of Jesus Christ, for the good of the Church, for the salvation of the souls, we beg you to say just one word as Successor of Peter, as Shepherd of the Universal Church, to the Bishops of the entire world: “Leave them be” [Laissez-faire].“We authorize the free exercise of the centuries-old Tradition utilized for the sanctification of the souls.”

What difficulty does such an attitude present? None. The Bishops could decide and designate the places and hours reserved to this Tradition. Unity would be restored immediately on the level of local Bishops. On the other hand, what advantages for the Church: a revitalization of seminaries and monasteries, great fervor in parishes, and after some years, the Bishops would be amazed to find an élan of devotion and sanctification that they believed had disappeared forever.

For Ecône, its seminaries and priories, everything would become normal, as it became for the Congregations of the Lazarists, and the Redemptorists… Our priories would render service to the Dioceses by preaching parish missions, St. Ignatius retreats, and serving the parishes in entire submission to the Ordinaries of the places.

How the situation of the Church would improve by this very simple measure, so in accordance with the maternal Sprit of the Church, by not dismissing those who work for the salvation of souls, by not extinguishing the wick that is still smoking, by joyfully acknowledging that the sap of Tradition is filled with life and hope!

This is what I thought that I should write to Your Holiness prior to presenting myself before H.E. Cardinal Seper. I fear that long and subtle discussions may not reach a satisfactory result and could delay a solution that, I am convinced, must seem urgent to you.

The solution cannot be found, in fact, in a compromise that would make our Work practically disappear and, doing so, add one more contribution to the destruction.

I remain at the entire disposition of Your Holiness, and I ask You to receive my profound and filial respect in Jesus and Mary.

+ Marcel Lefebvre

Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted January 13, 2011

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