What People Are Commenting
The Lefebvre Documents You Posted
In the Light of Tradition
I just wanted to point out to you that a translation of the letters you refer to in your article Archbishop Lefebvre: I Accept Vatican II in the Light of Tradition was published by Angelus Press in Michael Davies' Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre: "8 March 1980. Letter of Mgr. Lefebvre to the Sovereign Pontiff." Vol. 2 (1977-1979), pp. 378-379, Dickinson, TX: Angelus Press, 1983, ISBN: 0-935952-11-X, chap. XLI.
The second document also was published 4 April 1981. Letter of Mgr Lefebvre to Cardinal Seper. Vol. 3 (1979-1982), chap. LII, pp. 305-306, Kansas City, MO: Angelus Press, 1988, ISBN: 0-935952-19-5.
In Cordibus Iesu et Mariae,
Seeing it on a Good Light
Dear Mr. Guimarães,
I am writing regarding your piece on Archbishop Lefebvre (I Accept Vatican II in the Light of Tradition, May 4).
It seems that you are not familiar with Bishop Bernard Tissier de Malleraiss biography of the Archbishop. This is unfortunate, since it includes a considerable amount of relevant information. The bracketed references below are to the English translation published by Angelus Press.
As regards the signing of the decrees of Vatican II, it is true that the Archbishop signed all of them, although he seems to have gone to his grave thinking that he did not sign DH and GS. His explanation: I signed the others out of respect for the Holy Father. (492) Given his role in the Coetus Internationis Patrum and the letter and spirit of the interventions at the Council which comprise I Accuse the Council (1976), it is hard to take seriously any contention that he accepted the letter and spirit of the Council in some general sense.
In a letter written in 1975, the Archbishop indicated that Pope Paul VI had asked him for a public act of submission to Vatican II and the post-conciliar reforms and tendencies in which the Pope was involved, and indicated his intention to lay out my position on the Council and its consequences. (495) I Accuse the Council (1976) was part of that process.
The Council in the light of tradition concept appears in the following year. Bishop Tissier refers to and quotes a document from 1977, Principles et directives, in which the Archbishop indicates that given the non-infallible character of the Council: It was right to exercise some discernment, and the Archbishop suggested using the criterion of Tradition; then, he said, it would to possible to accept the Council in the light of Tradition, which meant correcting the Council according to the eternal principles of Tradition. (501-02)
The Archbishop goes on to indicate how this process of correction would work: [We] need to apply the criterion of Tradition to the various Council documents in order to see what we can keep, what needs clarifying, and what should be rejected. (502) In his meeting with Pope John Paul II on November 18, 1978, he stated to the Holy Father his readiness to accept the Council in the light of Tradition, echoing a statement of the Popes on November 6, 1978, that Council must be understood in the light of Tradition (508). Both of the letters that you reproduce from Thirty Days also refer to the Popes December 6 remark.
The Council interventions collected in I Accuse the Council, not to mention the Archbishops other statements during the mid-1970s (for example, his 1974 lecture on Liberalism, which were published in 1987 as They Have Uncrowned Him), leave very little doubt that there would not be much left of the Council after the application of the criterion of Tradition as the Archbishop understood it. Hence the notion that the in the light of Tradition formula was a formula for compromise seems to be quite without evidence.
In sum, your efforts to demonstrate substantial changes in the Archbishops position on the Council are not successful. You can make what judgments you like as regards his signing of the Council documents, his public silence on the Council until the mid-70s, and the use of the 'acceptance in the light of tradition' formula, which the SSPX has long since abandoned. But they are irrelevant to the fact that from the time of his interventions at the Council itself until the day he died, his view of the major doctrinal scandals of the Council ecumenism, religious liberty, collegiality underwent no substantial change. It was precisely his ability to take the theological measure of the Council very early in the game that, together with his intelligence, prudence and courage, made him with Gods grace the wall of brass against the conciliar revolution.
John A. McFarland
The Editor responds:
Dear Mr. McFarland,
I thank you for the time you spent to write this defense of Archbishop Lefebvre against me. I am separating what are facts in your piece from what are interpretations.
Regarding facts, you essentially state:
- Archbishop Lefebvre actually signed all the documents of Vatican II, although
- He denied signing Dignitatis humanae and Gaudium et spes until his death;
- He maintained a silence on the Council until the mid 1970s;
- He actually wanted to interpret Vatican II in the light of Tradition even before the dates on the letters TIA posted;
- You assert SSPX abandoned this position a long time ago;
- He considered presenting an act of submission to the Pope accepting Vatican II and its reforms. You did not explicitly agree that he wrote the second letter we posted; however, you implicitly concur when further on you say: Both of the letters that you reproduce from Thirty Days also refer to the Popes December 6 remark [of interpreting the Council in the light of tradition].
I thank you for the confirmation of facts 1, 3, and 4. I also am grateful to you for bringing my attention to fact 3.
- You pretend that it would be acceptable for the Archbishop to sign all of the Vatican II documents out of respect for the Holy Father;
- You pretend that to interpret the Council in the light of Tradition would drain it of all the errors and evil it may contain and that, therefore, this position is not a formula of compromise;
- You pretend that any weak point in the Archbishops consistency should be interpreted according to the material in the biography penned by SSPX Bishop Mallerais;
- You advance you personal interpretation that any of his weak points should be considered irrelevant when compared to his positions on ecumenism, religious liberty and collegiality.
I believe you are mistaken when you say that the SSPX abandoned the position of interpreting the Council in the light of tradition (fact 5). News reports often say the opposite; please, check here, here and here (8th answer).
The flagrant contradiction between facts 1 and 2 is shocking to me. How can it be considered normal that Archbishop Lefebvre would deny that he signed all documents until the end of his life in clear contradiction with the fact that he did sign them all? Unless he was suffering some kind of senility, to deny that he signed those documents seems to be a direct transgression against the 8th Commandment.
I personally knew Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer, who never denied signing all the conciliar documents. He tried to present a similar excuse for having signed them. However, among Brazilians traditionalists, whenever he pretended that his signature on those documents should not be taken seriously because he did it out of respect for the Holy Father, he faced a respectful but firm disagreement. I wonder how it can be that inside the SSPX a similar excuse presented by Archbishop Lefebvre was/is accepted without raising eyebrows.
Since the two letters TIA posted are confirmed - you can see in the first correspondence of this page that the letter asking pardon was also confirmed - I will not enter into a discussion on your other interpretations (2, 3, 4), although I do not agree with them. You affirm that the facts do not reflect discontinuity of purpose. I believe they do, they reflect duplicity of character.
As a member of the SSPX you are entitled to believe whatever you wish, according to the versions you hear from the heads of this organization.
To present their founders in a good light is the normal procedure of religious institutions. Nothing seems more normal to maintain the unity of their organizations. However, we have seen some of these institutions fall into chaos and be on the brink of dying - such as what the Legionaries of Christ are presently experiencing - precisely for having unduly covered for their founders. A little more honesty from the heads of that organization would have prevented its collapse from coming.
So far, we have seen the heads of SSPX cover for the following points of their founder:
After evidence was brought forth on these points, the heads are accepting them. It seems that public discussions about the shortcomings of the late Archbishop inspire such acknowledgement. So, by engaging in discussion on other points, we may be rendering a good service for the truth, perhaps also for many well intentioned members of the SSPX.
- He signed all the documents of Vatican II;
- He sought a compromise with Rome that included the acceptance of the Novus Ordo Mass;
- He accepted Vatican II interpreted in the light of tradition;
- He agreed to ask forgiveness for his position of resistance.
This is what I have to say to you at this moment.
Archbishop Lefebvre & the New Mass
I dont know if Archbishop Lefebvre ever celebrated the new Mass, but in his book Letter to Confused Catholics it is very interesting to note that the reason he was excommunicated was because he wouldnt celebrate the new Mass at the consecration of the four Bishops, and not for being disobedient.
For over 40 years we have been conned out of the True Mass. For instance I live in Ireland, and all this time there was one church in Dublin where the True Mass was celebrated officially, but in hindsight it was because The Society of Pius X had their church in Dublin and really it was to take away from the True Mass, Devotions etc. Today at that church of Society of Pius X in Mounttown Rd in Dun Laoire it is the only church where the Rosary is recited before the 6:30 pm Mass anywhere in Ireland.
So the OFFICIAL authorities may try all they like to fool their flock but at the end of the day they only fool themselves and drag souls to HELL with them, Redouble our rosaries to try save as many souls as possible.
We are glad to receive your correspondence and to hear all the good the Tridentine Mass and the Rosaries are doing for the souls in Dublin, thanks to the faithful work of the SSPX priests inspired by Archbishop Lefebvre.
TIA correspondence desk
Lies & Exaggerations
I just read the article you published by Father G. des Lauriers which states that His Excellency Archbishop M. Lefebvre actually offered several N.O. "masses." This is absolutely a lie and I doubt that you don't know this. The Vatican proposed to the Archbishop that if he offered ONE N.O. mass they would grant him permission to continue his SSPX order. The Archbishop REFUSED to do so.
Yes, there are things that we can pick apart in the SSPX - they are not divine, nor have they claimed to be. However you are printing a lie and now I wonder if all the great articles that you wrote are lies or exaggerations too.
The late Fr. Guerard des Lauriers, a very serious theologian, wrote that letter more than 30 years ago in 1978, soon after he learned that Archbishop Lefebvre had proposed an agreement with Rome (please read it here). He was a friend trying to help the Archbishop return to the right position; his purpose was not to make intrigues.
In his letter Fr. des Lauriers presented facts that seem to us to be authentic. This is why we posted the document a reader sent us. If there is any lack of objectivity in those affirmations by Fr. des Lauriers, we would be grateful to know it so we can inform our readers.
You affirm that the Vatican proposed to the Archbishop that if he offered one Novus Ordo Mass they would grant him permission to continue his SSPX order. We would like to have this document you mention also. If it exists, it deserves to be published. Please send it to us to confirm what you stated.
We are doing our best not to post exaggerations on our writings. We suggest you do the same.
TIA correspondence desk
Posted May 26, 2011
The opinions expressed in this section - What People Are Commenting -
do not necessarily express those of TIA
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