Lefebvre – Coward or idiot?

November 1, 2012

Now that Bishop Williamson has been excluded from the SSPX, it appears as most had anticipated, that he will become the DE-facto Bishop of the independent priests who at least claim to not hold the sedevacantist viewpoint. That is, of course, merely a matter of semantics since to say that one should not accept recognition by the Vicar of Christ until he repents, nullifies the Council and its documents, and perhaps is conditionally re-consecrated a Bishop using the Traditional books by at least two Bishops who have also been so consecrated is, in my view, a very convenient albeit stealth version of sedevacantism. For if the Pope is only the Pope by virtue of the apartment he occupies in the Vatican then he is indeed not the Vicar of Christ. The argument against a recognition, under any conditions, is that His Excellency is afraid that he will be forced to become a Protestant (again) as will be the same with all priests and traditional bishops. Apparently, within months of a recognition by Rome, the SSPX will be fraught with liturgical dancing, a new hybrid Mass, luminous mysteries, and lay Eucharistic ministers. By some accounts, this has apparently already happened.

Certainly the small group of priests and the laity that are providing financial support need a Bishop for certain sacraments, Chrism, etc. His Excellency will fill that role and will probably settle down in the Washington, DC area and will once again be on the road rallying against the Superior General and showing his Twin Towers Conspiracy video. Hopefully, His Excellency will forget the latter and focus on the faith for he is so good and clear when he does that. Much to the dismay of His Excellency and his new followers, one would imagine, is the admonition by the other two SSPX Bishops who have now both publicly declared their support for the Superior General’s judgment while still declaring that the defunct or at least seriously delayed recognition of the SSPX by the Pope was not something that they favored, at least in the form that it took in the Spring of 2012. From the perspective of Bishop Fellay, what began as a no-strings-attached agreement became an unpalatable compromise of the faith.

And so, in His Excellency’s latest Eleison Comments, he harkens once again back to how the good Archbishop felt about the Council which is apparent in most of his writings. His Excellency’s followers have created a “Traditio”-styled website (even copying the Traditio moniker ‘from the fathers’) complete with articles and rantings in 26pt font and videos on who really blew up the twin towers. Now, more important than preaching on the nature of sin and the disorder of the Pauline Mass, they preach on sinfulness of Bishop Fellay purportedly retaining a Jewish attorney. You will not see articles on the fact that the Archbishop, in the company of then Father Williamson, expelled four of the top ranking priests in the United States for merely disobeying a request to celebrate the Mass according to the 1962 Book. Nor will you find any discussion of the fact that after years of ministry and just two years before he died, the Archbishop signed an agreement with Rome. Nor will you find mention of the fact that the Archbishop said, on the day of Bishop Williamson’s consecration, that were the Pope to send him a document that agreed to the Archbishop’s demand for the consecration of the four bishops, he would postpone the consecrations until August 15th as originally discussed with Cardinal Ratzinger. What you will find are articles on how the documents of the Second Vatican Council are heretical and how Bishop Fellay is the illegitimate leader of the SSPX.

So here is the dilemma that none of the members of ‘la resistance’ will touch with a ten foot pole. Why did Archbishop Lefebvre, De Castro Mayer, Cdls Siri, and Ottaviani and the balance of the Coetus not, on the day following the close of the council in 1965 and then everyday for the rest of their lives proclaim that they had just taken part in the most sinful undertaking against the church in modern times? Why did they not from every pulpit and in every means at their disposal condemn what they had just participated in and urge the faithful to ignore it? Why did they not rue the fact from day one that they signed the freshly inked documents? They clearly knew every last word of every document. There are only a few possible answers. The first is that for all of their bluster, they were all cowards. Perhaps they feared retribution? The other possibility is that they were spiritual idiots compared to the modernist who penned the documents. In other words, they would not know a heresy if it bit them on their red buttons. It has to be one of these. Either they did not recognize a heresy when they saw it or they recognized it and decided to let the church flounder under it. Which was it, do you think?

The answer is clearly presented in the Tissier biography of the Archbishop. His Excellency Bishop Williamson and all those opposed to the judgments of Bishop Fellay would do well to (re-)read it. In February of 1966, the Archbishop informed his colleagues in the Coetus that he proposed to publish a “combative, multilingual interepiscopal bulletin of information and analysis which will help the bishops to take practical measures against progressivism and in favor of a sound interpretation of the Council”. He was encouraged in this effort by Cardinals Ottaviani and Siri and supported by the generous gift of a lay benefactor. There was no talk or professed opinion by any of these that the conciliar documents contained heresy. They reserved that charge against the newly published (Dutch) Catholic catechism. In the Archbishop’s own words, the Council that he was a Father of and of whose documents he signed, was flawed in many ways and the Archbishop documents his objections concerning these flaws in his many recorded interventions during the various sessions.

If the Archbishop and the Coetus had a fault, it was that they were at least too naive to understand the ingrained nature of modernism in the Catholic hierarchy of 1965 and the destruction of the priestly formation which was well underway by that time. The Archbishop felt that Pope Paul VI was surrounded by modernists and that he would eventually be rid of them and replace them with more orthodox priests.

The Archbishop and his conservative conspirators were neither heretics nor idiots. They were Princes of the Church who knew a heresy when they saw it and would not be part of a promulgation of it. They knew heresy and they did not see it in the documents but all condemned the heresy that has resulted in the New Mass, the new catechism, and in the faith as a result of the post-conciliar liberal mindset.

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8 comments on “Lefebvre – Coward or idiot?

  1. vinnyf wrote:

    “The Archbishop and his conservative conspirators were neither heretics nor idiots. They were Princes of the Church who knew a heresy when they saw it and would not be part of a promulgation of it. They knew heresy and they did not see it in the documents but all condemned the heresy that has resulted in the New Mass, the new catechism, and in the faith as a result of the post-conciliar liberal mindset.”

    Beautifuly said!!


    There is a Rock
    Upon w’re built
    That evil men
    Will sometimes tilt

    And though they vex us
    To the hilt
    We never leave
    Reject or jilt

    We daily kneel
    In His Blood spilt
    To weigh down Rock
    Of golden-gilt

    And as they sink
    In their sin’s silt
    As though He built
    On one lone stilt

    Upon this Rock
    His voice, love’s-lilt
    We stand our ground —
    Do what thou wilt!

  2. Vinny,
    Thank you for posting this.
    The Society remains in my prayers.

  3. A well written essay. Thank you, vinnyf. You presented some very important points and historical facts.


  4. Neither. He was a double agent.

  5. These are Archbishop Lefebvre’s own statements regarding the documents of the Vatican II Council:

    “We were able…to limit the damage, to change the inexact or tendentious assertions, to add a sentence to rectify a tendentious proposition or an ambiguous assertion. But I have to admit that we did not succeed in purifying the Council of the liberal and modernist spirit that impregnated most of the schemas. The drafters [of these Vatican II schemas] were precisely the experts and Fathers tainted with this spirit. Now what can you do when a document is in all its parts drawn up with a false meaning? It is practically impossible to expurgate it of that meaning. It would have to be completely recomposed in order to be given a Catholic spirit.”

    “This Reform, since it has issued from Liberalism and from Modernism, is entirely corrupt; it comes from heresy and results in heresy, even if all its acts are not formally heretical. It is thus impossible for any faithful Catholic who is aware of these things to adopt this Reform, or to submit to it in any way at all. To ensure our salvation, the only attitude of fidelity to the Church and to Catholic doctrine, is a categorical refusal to accept the Reform.”

    “Fortunately this operation of exploding the erroneous ideas of the Council has already begun, and begun satisfactorily with the work of Professor Salet in the Courrier de Rome on The Declaration on Religious Liberty. His conclusion is that this declaration is heretical.”

    “You will recognize the tree by its fruit.” The fruits are before us, evident, clear. The fruits which come from the Second Vatican Council and the postconciliar reforms are bitter fruits, fruits that destroy the Church. When someone tells me, “Do not touch the Council; speak, rather, of the postconciliar reforms,” I reply that those who made the reforms- it was not I who made the reforms – say themselves: “We are making them in the name of the Council. We made the liturgical reform in the name of the Council; we reformed the catechism in the name of the council.” And these are the Church’s authorities. It is they, consequently, who legitimately interpret the Council.”

    “It is impossible to comprehend this profound crisis without taking into consideration the central event of this century: the Second Vatican Council. My feelings with regard to that are well enough known, I believe, so that I can express from the outset the essence of my thoughts: without rejecting this Council wholesale, I think that it is the greatest disaster of this century and of all the past centuries, since the founding of the Church. In this, I am doing nothing but judging it by its fruits, making use of the criterion that Our Lord gave us.”

    This from an article by John Vennari regarding another brilliant theologian’s reaction to Vatican II:

    “Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton was one of the most eminent American theologians of the first half of the 20th Century. He had been trained at the Angelicum in Rome, wrote his doctoral dissertation under the revered Thomistic theologian Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, and for 20 years–from 1944 to 1963–he was editor of the theological journal, The American Ecclesiastical Review.

    Msgr. Fenton was a peritus at Vatican II, working with Cardinal Ottaviani. On November 11, 1963, there was a crucial meeting between the Roman theologians: Cardinal Ottaviani and Msgr. Fenton and others on one side, and the proponents of the new teaching (Cardinal Bea, John Courtney Murray, Rahner and the rest), on the other. A vote was taken at that meeting which secured John Courtney Murray’s new teaching on religious liberty as the official position at the Council. This was the position that Fenton understood well, and had consistently fought throughout the entire 1950s.

    Shortly after this meeting, Msgr. Fenton left the Council, returned to the United States and immediately resigned as Editor of the American Ecclesiastical Review.38 Yesterday’s heresy had become today’s orthodoxy, and Msgr. Fenton would not cooperate in the defense of a new teaching he knew to be contrary to the Church’s traditional doctrine. He ceased writing and died in a parish in Massachusetts in 1969. Archbishop Lefebvre likewise knew that with Vatican II, yesterday’s heresies had become today’s orthodoxy. Not long after the Council he too resigned his position of Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers, and quietly retired in Rome.”

    I cannot believe anyone would attempt to diminish Archbishop Lefebvre’s efforts to decry what he obviously considered heresy. If a theology is “new”, as in never before taught by Holy Mother Church, then it is not and cannot be Catholic, since revelation ended with the Apostles. And I find it outrageous that anyone would suggest that he did not spend the rest of his life decrying it. where is the proof of all this? And as to the question of why did all these good Catholics did not begin screaming “heresy” the day after the Council ended, well, I would think that there was a large measure of shock involved. No one believed it could happen. That that small group of ultra-liberals of which Pope Benedict XVI was a part, could so easily and quickly undermine 2000 years of Church teaching, was for most very shocking. The Council ended in 1965 and Archbishop Lefebvre resigned his post with the Holy Ghost Fathers in 1968 and was shortly thereafter contacted by the French seminarians. So, it only took him three short years to regroup from what was the greatest shock to Holy Mother Church and those who loved Her, in Her long history. From then on, he never stopped trying to point out the errors and heresies of Vatican II.

    • He obviously did not consider it heresy when he signed the documents and neither did the other members of the Coetus. That testimony is in Tissier’s book. Since the documents he signed have not changed, they can not have become heretical since then. His testimony immediately following the council was that he believed that the documents could be applied with the proper orthodox spiritual direction. That obviously didn’t happen. The exact opposite happened and that is why we are where we are.

      Speaking only of the documents, I’m not sure what you mean by “there was a large measure of shock involved”. We are talking about the documents he and the Coetus were very intimately involved with and signed. There was no shock involved in their release and publication.

      If you feel I’ve attempted to diminish the efforts of the Archbishop to rail against the Council, then you have completely misread the post. My objective was to show that the Archbishop would not sign a document to promulgate heresy. He signed the document, ergo, he did not consider it heretical. I believe he is a saint.

      He certainly spent the rest of his life decrying how the documents were applied to the faith and ushered in a new era of modernism. Heresies have entered into the catechism and the new Mass which have certainly been developed from the ambiguities of the conciliar documents.

      If you hold that the documents contain heresy then you would have to able to apply the term heretic to anyone who signed them. If you read his biography, you will find that he found them weak but implementable in a traditional sense.

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