November 15-17, 2002
volume 13, no. 137

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Bait and Switch!

    Part Two of the Series:

    The Illicit Episcopal Consecrations of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre

       "As a shepherd, an archbishop, Lefebvre had the duty, not just the right, to educate his sheep, to keep them from error, and to protect them from anything that might destroy or otherwise harm their souls. This command came from Christ directly: 'Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you' (St. Matthew 28:19-20). This is not optional, obviously. And in cases of such extreme urgency as nowadays, it was clear to the archbishop that he had to ensure that there would be orthodox bishops who would feed the flock with true Catholic doctrine, even if this meant disobeying the Pope, for 'We ought to obey God rather than men' (Acts 5:29)."

   In the first part of this series, I laid down a few general guiding principles of the Church with regards to law, excommunication, and the salvation of souls. I then demonstrated that it is clear that at least until and including June 29, 1988, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was a member of the Catholic Church, innocent of any charges of schism or excommunication. Now I will come to the much more disputed part, namely, that His Grace did not incur excommunication or start a schism on the day of his episcopal consecrations of June 30, 1988, or immediately thereafter as regards these consecrations.

II. No Schism or Excommunication On or Immediately After June 30, 1988

   This second part is, of course, the most important and most substantial of the treatise. Clearly, the burden of proof is on us, i.e. all adherents of the Society of St. Pius X and Archbishop Lefebvre, since none other than the highest authority in the Church, the Pope, has said that a schism exists and an excommunication has taken place. Hence, unless and until we can make a coherent and more plausible case against the unjust accusers, the defense cannot rest. But - such a coherent and plausible case can be made. I will now go ahead and demonstrate this.

a) Background

   At first it is important to realize the enormous gravity of the situation we're in. A little background to the situation is therefore very important, especially with regards to the canonical punishment of excommunication, as I shall demonstrate later.

   As far as non-infallible teaching is concerned, I believe it to be no exaggeration to say that Rome has lost the faith. This was already apparent back in 1988, even though certainly it is much more evident now, especially with the recent remarks of Cardinal Walter Kasper, that German indifferentist heretic who just said in no uncertain terms that the Jews do not need to be converted to Christ in order to be saved (see evidence of just this in the Catholic News Service story "Christians can't hide mission role in talks with Jews, cardinal says " and Bob Sungenis' analysis of it in his epologetic Kasper the Friendly Ecumenist Teaching Spooky Doctrines). Bishop Kasper was made a cardinal by none other than Pope John Paul II, and he was made the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, also by the same Pope. Now, Kasper denies that Jews and Protestants have to become Catholic in order to be saved, and so making him the head of the Council for Promoting Christian Unity is as smart and responsible as making Cardinal Roger Mahony the guardian of the Church's orthodoxy. In short, there is no excuse. The Pope has appointed a heretic to an office in which he has the best chance to spread his heresy-with Vatican approval, more or less.

   This is just the latest incident in a never-ending series of evidence that Rome has lost the faith and is actively contributing to the destruction of the one, holy Catholic faith. This is akin to what happened back at the time of St. Isaias the prophet, when the Jewish leadership appointed by God led the people astray: "O my people, they that call thee blessed, the same deceive thee, and destroy the way of thy steps" (Isaias 3:12); and again, "they that call this people blessed, shall cause them to err" (Isaias 9:16).

   Archbishop Lefebvre, thank God, recognized the sad state of the Church and where all of this was heading to. The leaders, the authorities, the teachers of the Faith were teaching a different faith, a different gospel, a wicked new religion that had been condemned by previous Popes and never been accepted in the Church as the authentic Gospel. Such people, we know, are condemned: "But though we, or an angel from Heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema" (Galatians 1:8-9).

   So, what to do? People who do not have the Faith cannot pass it on, cannot perpetuate it, cannot teach it to the new generations. That means that if there is no truly Catholic bishop around, no one will receive the true Catholic Faith anymore. It will die out. It will vanish from the face of the earth. Therefore, Archbishop Lefebvre knew he had to consecrate bishops, not only to keep the Society of St. Pius X going (whose founding, by the way, had been approved by Pope Paul VI in 1970), but in order to ensure that there would be shepherds that know and love and teach the Catholic Faith as it had been handed on to him, and which he had a divine obligation to pass on. As a shepherd, an archbishop, Lefebvre had the duty, not just the right, to educate his sheep, to keep them from error, and to protect them from anything that might destroy or otherwise harm their souls. This command came from Christ directly: "Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (St. Matthew 28:19-20). This is not optional, obviously. And in cases of such extreme urgency as nowadays, it was clear to the archbishop that he had to ensure that there would be orthodox bishops who would feed the flock with true Catholic doctrine, even if this meant disobeying the Pope, for "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).

   Now, this is not supposed to be a history of the events that led up to June 30, 1988, so I am going to focus only on some main events.

   Archbishop Lefebvre had first publicly voiced his desire to consecrate a bishop in 1987, mainly in order to have a successor to himself who could ordain truly Catholic priests, for Lefebvre was already advanced in years then (82) and needed to ensure that the faithful would always have true Catholic priests and bishops to dispense the sacraments to them.

   The first problem that came up was the choosing of a candidate to succeed His Grace. In other words, just who should succeed Lefebvre? It is always up to the Pope to approve of a suggested candidate. So the negotiations began. Rome had always since about 1974 looked upon Lefebvre and the SSPX with immense disdain, specifically since he was ordaining priests while being (unjustly) "suspended."

   But no matter whom Archbishop Lefebvre proposed to receive episcopal consecration, the Vatican said "no." Lefebvre, pressured by his (fairly accurate) supposition that he would not live much longer, and pressured by the serious state of the Church, had to find a way to consecrate at least one bishop so that the faithful would have at least one man who can ordain priests and administer all of the sacraments.

   In any case, Archbishop Lefebvre really did attempt to normalize relations with the Vatican and to get a pontifical mandate for his bishop. He really sought to discuss the issues which have turned Perennial Rome into a Modernistic Babylon. He even submitted an entire dubium on the question of religious liberty to Cardinal Ratzinger, which, of course, has not been responded to until this very day, even though the dubium was submitted because Cardinal Ratzinger had encouraged Lefebvre to do so. (It was just recently released in book form called "Religious Liberty Questioned." Call 1-800-966-7337 to get a copy from Angelus Press.)

   After months of back-and-forth struggle, on May 5, 1988, Cardinal Ratzinger and Archbishop Lefebvre signed a protocol of agreement. The actual text of the agreement can be found at the Protocol Agreement. It was only a day after, however, that Lefebvre retracted his signature. Why? At a conference with his priests in Paris, France, he said why:

       After signing the Protocol, they wanted me to write a letter to the Pope, asking for the re-establishment of a normal situation for the Society, for the pontifical right, the suppression of the canonical penalties, exemptions, and privileges - so-called privileges - on the liturgy. Thus, I have signed, I have written that letter.

       I signed it on Thursday; Feast of St. Pius V They did not know it was the Feast of St. Pius V because they have relocated his feast to another date...

       Thus I have said, "We must know where to stand concerning June 30th, it's coming soon." So, with these thoughts, I did not sleep the whole night. I told myself, "They are going to get us." Indeed, the Cardinal [Ratzinger] had made a few frightening reflections. "Well! There is only one Church we respect your feelings, you must also respect religious liberty, the New Mass, the sacraments. It is inconceivable that you turn the faithful away from these new sacraments, from the New Mass.... For example, if there is an agreement, it is evident that in churches such as St. Nicolas du Chardonnet, Card. Lustiger shall ask that a New Mass be said there. This is the one Church, in it there is the Tradition that we shall grant you, but there are also the new rites that you must accept for the faithful of your parish who do not want Tradition." I said, "Well! Go and tell that to our parishioners and see how they receive you!"

       They call all this a "reconciliation." This means that we accept what they do and they accept what we do. Thus, we have to align ourselves on Dom Augustin [Dom Augustin founded a traditional Benedictine monastery in the early 70's. In 1985, after the Indult, he had secret meetings with the Vatican to make a special arrangement. The Vatican required: 1) the New Mass as the Community Mass, 2) the new Breviary, 3) new rites of Ordination, 4) unconditional submission to the local bishop, who even for a while forbade them to preach the Exercises of St. Ignatius, which had been the main apostolic work of his monastery - Ed.] and Fongombault [a conservative Benedictine monastery in France which took the New Mass in the mid-70's under pressure from the local bishop - Ed.].

       This is not possible. All this makes me hesitate. We asked the Cardinal when we would be able to consecrate a bishop. On the 30th of June? He said, "No, this is much too early. It takes time to make a bishop. In Germany it takes nine months to make a bishop." When I told that to Card. Oddi, he said, "That must be a beautiful baby then!" I said, "Well, give us a date. Let's be precise. The 15th of August?" "No, on August 15th there is no one in Rome. It is the holidays from July 15th to September 15th." "What about November 1st?" "I can't tell you." "What about Christmas?" "I don't know."

       I said to myself, "Finished. I have understood. They do not want to give us a bishop." They put it on the paper because we were ready to quit the negotiations without it, but they will maneuver. They are convinced that when the Society is acknowledged we don't need a bishop.

   How right His Grace was! Indeed, the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), which came out of the SSPX after the consecrations in 1988, to this very day does not have a bishop! The FSSP is nothing other than the "acknowledged SSPX"; that is, the SSPX minus what Rome doesn't like! And they do not have a bishop even now, 14 years after 1988. Archbishop Lefebvre was exactly right.

   Let's continue with what else His Grace said at the May 10, 1988, conference:

   And so he renounced the Protocol Agreement of May 5, fearing that he would put the SSPX into the same situation which had already proved to be destructive of several other traditional communities. He realized that, as soon as he had signed that protocol, the Vatican turned around and said, "Gotcha!" That's exactly what the Vatican did. Only moments after his signature was dry on the protocol, he was told, as he relates, that they "might" one day "consider" giving him a bishop. (Please be sure to read the rest of what His Grace relates as to the May 5th Protocol fiasco here:

   So the situation was clear: Rome was not interested in giving him (actually, the faithful!) a real Catholic as bishop. And that is understandable, as Rome does not want to foster the traditional Catholic faith but instead likes to suffocate the old Faith and dish up novelties and errors. His Grace realized that he was the victim of a cat-and-mouse game. It seemed to him that Rome was just waiting for him to die, or to find any other way to keep him from consecrating a truly Catholic bishop.

   So, what to do? Time was of the essence, and he had to act. Finally, he decided that the situation was so grave and urgent that he would have to ordain at least one bishop, even if the Pope did not give his go-ahead or would even expressly forbid him to consecrate. Therefore, Lefebvre announced to the Vatican that he would consecrate bishops on the 30th day of June, 1988, with or without the approval of the Pope. He could wait no longer since he could not be sure he would live much longer, and since Rome had only stalled his efforts to find a man they would approve to receive the episcopal rank of ordination. The salvation of souls required that His Grace ordain at least one bishop soon, and so he announced that he would consecrate-and not just one, but four men whom he had decided were fit to receive episcopal consecration: Fr. Alfonso de Galarreta, Fr. Richard Williamson, Fr. Bernard Fellay, and Fr. Bernard Tissier de Mallerais. (The reasons for choosing four instead of just one are several, but this shall not concern us here in any detail-suffice it to say that four bishops for an entire planet are certainly not "too many.")

   Let it be noted here that His Grace was immensely qualified to discern which priests make good bishops. Pope Pius XII had put so much trust in Lefebvre that, when Lefebvre was Vicar-Apostolic of Dakar, on September 22, 1948, he was made Apostolic Delegate (that is, the Pope's personal representative) of French-speaking Africa. Among his duties was to see whether any new bishops might be needed, and, if so, to pick out several candidates and put together dossiers about them and send them to Rome. So, Lefebvre was no stranger to looking for good priests who would likewise make good bishops. He had been the Pope's assistant in this regard. It is therefore all the more telling about Rome and the post-conciliar crisis that no one who had been suggested by His Grace to be ordained bishop for the SSPX was approved by Pope John Paul II.

   Anyway, the day of the consecrations came closer, and of course no pontifical mandate was given. On June 17, 1988, then, Archbishop Lefebvre received a canonical warning from Cardinal Bernadin Gantin. And this is where I will pick up next week.

Mario Derksen

    Editor's Note: So many of the post-conciliar bishops today refer to those clinging to the true Roman Catholic traditions that were in vogue for 2000 years prior to the reforms of Vatican II as 'fossils,' 'dinosaurs,' 'old folks who will die off soon.' We beg to differ and offer as proof the youthful wisdom and enthusiasm of the younger generation in the Traditional Insights of Mario Derksen who exemplifies the thinking of many more young men and women today who realize the new thinking of the post-conciliar church does not add up to true Catholic teaching. Thus they long for those traditions so tried and true. His insight shows great promise, optimism and hope for the future of Holy Mother Church.

      Note: [bold, brackets and italicized words used for emphasis]

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November 15-17, 2002
volume 13, no. 137
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