The dehabilitation of Archbishop Lefebvre by the Neo-resistance Priests

by QuaeriteDominum

February 23, 2013
Sooner or later it was bound to happen. There are too many inconvenient truths concerning the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s sometimes conflicting words and actions. It has been difficult, if not impossible, for the neo-resistance priests, and their moral authority, Bishop Richard Williamson, to use Archbishop Lefebvre as a standard bearer and yet explain away some of his actions. In the same way, Thuc-line sedevacantists have a problem justifying the soundness of mind of Archbishop Thuc while avoiding the fact that at times, he appeared willing to make a bishop of anyone with a pulse. Here are the inconvenient truths that the neo-resistance group have so far swept under the rug, so it speak.

1. The Archbishop signed all but two of the Council documents. Very awkward.

 2. 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. This must certainly be a very embarrasing piece of history for the neo-resistance and their moral authoritarian. The Archbishop apparently felt, a year after the conclusion of the council, that it was possible to interpret it in the light of Tradition!!

3. It is tantamount to heresy to even meet with the conciliar Cardinals and Pope, yet the Archbishop met with Paul VI and John Paul II. Actually, all four of the SSPX Bishops met with Cardinal Castrillon, but apparently, that was just for tea and nuts, so no harm done.

4. After penning “I accuse the Council” in 1983, Archbishop Lefebvre found his way clear to collaborate with Cardinal Ratzinger over several weeks to produce an agreement that would recognize the SSPX and give it a canonical structure within the church with the SSPX Superior General answering to some loosely defined council. This became known as the 1988 Protocol. The lynchpin of this agreement was the replacement of Archbishop Lefebvre with a new bishop to be chosen from within the SSPX. The day after signing the Protocol, the Archbishop contacted Cardinal Ratzinger and told him that he changed his mind. By his account, he did not trust that the promised and oft-postponed consecration of an SSPX bishop would ever be honored by the Vatican. According to Bishop Tissier’s book, even on the day of the episcopal consecrations, the Archbishop confided that he was willing to postpone them until the following August if Rome agreed to this condition. Apparently, this was the archbishop’s criterion for the “conversion of Rome”. He reiterated this when challenged about his criticism of the FSSP and the Benedictines for accepting the same Protocol. His answer was emphatic: “No, they have NOT signed the same Protocol, for they have not been granted a Bishop.” This, along with the fact that Archbishop told Ratzinger that he signed the Protocol with “enthusiasm”, must really cause some hand-wringing among the neo-resistance.

What to do? Well, one certainly cannot take the Archbishop’s life and events in the church in chronological order and build a case to use him as support for rejecting a canonical recognition of the SSPX by the Pope. Therefore, they do the only thing they can do which is to take a line from the last priestly retreat Archbishop Lefebvre preached that was subsequently turned into a book “Spiritual Journey” to justify the rejection of the Pope until he converts, which is not specifically what the Archbishop said.

With the prospect of any near-term developments between the SSPX and the Pope close to nil, and the SSPX not yet celebrating the Novus Ordo or holding hands during the Pater Noster, it appears that it now is necessary to begin to marginalize Archbishop Lefebvre and expose some of the chinks in his armor. The moral authoritarian of the neo-resistance has begun, in his recent English language writings, to recall liberalism, in definition and origin. Fine, you might think, as all Popes prior to the council have also done. What has not received much notice in the English press is a conference given by His Excellency in French last month. Here is what he said: (from


Je pense que chez Mgr Lefebvre la pastorale minait sa doctrine, une pastorale qui correspondait à une doctrine qui n’était pas la sienne. Je crois qu’il a été moulé par l’Eglise des années 30, 40, 50 et on se souvient que déjà le vers était dans le fruit aux années 20: Action française et toute la décadence qui a suivi! Donc le mal était déjà bien installé dans l’Église dés les années 20. Mgr Lefebvre était très loyal, il a su apprendre du père Le Floch au séminaire français, il a su assimiler la bonne doctrine. La bonne doctrine des encycliques anti-libérales qu’il a apprises auprès du père Le Floch, mais il nous disait lui-même que quand il est arrivé au séminaire, il croyait encore à la séparation de l’Eglise et de l’État. Ses idées libérales étaient tout-à-fait courantes depuis depuis un siècle à ce moment-là. Autrement dit, quand j’analyse la chose maintenant, je pense qu’il y a eu un aspect “cinquantiste” même chez Mgr Lefebvre. Et je crois que c’est cela qui a mis la pagaille, parce que la moindre faille dans un fondateur se montre inéluctablement par la suite. Il y a un dicton, très amusant, pas très élégant en espagnol: “Ce n’est que quand le singe monte dans l’arbre qu’on voit son derrière!” C’est graphique mais ça dit une grande vérité! A savoir, plus on est supérieur, plus ses déficiences sont dangereuses. C’est pour ça qu’il faut que les supérieurs soient les plus parfaits possibles.

Bishop Williamson often offers an analogy of the conciliar faith with even a slight bit of error like a cake with a slight bit of poison that a mother would never serve to her children. Here, he is using the same analogy with Archbishop Lefebvre saying that because modernism was already rooted in the church as early as the 1920’s, the Archbishop was already tainted with this “flaw” (faille) which has apparently now come to roost in the SSPX. Sins of our fathers equals Flaws of Our Founders (faille dans un fondateur). Luckily, the neo-resistance priests and their moral authoritarian have benefited by an Immaculate Formation whereby they were preserved from the original flaw of modernism, unlike the unfortunate Archbishop and the whole of the SSPX, save for those in Kentucky and Wimbledon.

Now I will expect that little by little, in the future neo-resistance YouTube sermons, we will begin to hear about the flaws and non-infallibility of the Archbishop. It is the next logical step in the side-stepping of the inexplicable episodes in the life of the Archbishop who appeared to be ever interested in a (now taboo, regardless of conditions) canonical status for the Society of St. Pius X.

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6 comments on “The dehabilitation of Archbishop Lefebvre by the Neo-resistance Priests

  1. +Williamson and his confreres have fallen off the deep end and their explanations and interpretations of history are straining at the edges to sound even remotely reasonable and truthful. Nobody is infallible and neither was Archbishop Lefebvre. That he sometimes may have “wavered” some or may have said something in the heat of battle that afterwards needed some clarification is altogether reasonable and normal. The times, situations and pressures he lived under were oppressive. Yet he remained faithful and did what he believed with all his heart was the Will of God. And I believe Bishop Fellay is following in the same path. Who is perfect? +Williamson may think he is and may think he is above everyone else when it comes to being traditional and faithful. Well, keep on dreaming +W. I rather stick with +Fellay ( and, for clarification, I am not near a Chapel and attend a diocesan TLM).

  2. Well, His Excellency has made the most unfortunate statement I have ever heard him make, for sure. Regarding Archbishop Lefebvre’s opinions pertaining to the council, there is no doubt that his mature and final opinion was that no deal or negotiations could possibly be trusted with Modernist Rome. He said this in clear terms many times. He said that Rome had to return to Tradition before he would undertake any more talks.

    Anyway, the idea that somehow the SSPX will be able to fix Rome is cockeyed. The fixing needs to come from the top down, not the other way around. We are, as Archbishop Lefebvre intended, a sort of trust, to keep the Faith, Liturgy and Sacraments Catholic in our own small way until better times. Similar to St. Francis’ mission, to uphold as much of the Church as possible until Rome is reconverted.

    • Except that St. Francis worked under the authority of the Pope, even against his own will.

      • Exactly.

        In fact, there are occasions in the life of St Teresa of Jesus of Avila and St Margaret Mary, where Our Lord gave them a directive, but then their superior forbade it. What did they do? They obeyed their human superior on earth. What did Our Lord then tell them? –“You were right to obey My representative.” On one occasion, the Sacred Heart of Jesus told St Margaret Mary to do something, but her Superior did not approve. When He came again, she asked Him about this, and He replied: “…not only do I desire that you should do what your Superior commands, but also that you should do nothing of all that I order without their consent. I love obedience, and without it no one can please Me.”

  3. Letter of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre to Pope John Paul II April 5, 1983

    (Transcribed from an audio recording of a spiritual conference given by Archbishop Lefebvre to the seminarians at St.Thomas Aquinas Seminary, Ridgefield, Connecticut, April 24, 1983)

    Holy Father,

    It is at the feet of the crucifix that I am replying to you, Holy Father, united to all the bishops, priests, religious, nuns, and faithful who have undergone a moral martyrdom by a forced imposing of this liturgical reform. How many tears, how many sorrows, how many premature deaths for which the responsibility lies with those who have wrongly imposed these changes, worked in the name of a completely wrong ecumenism. That is to say that my reply to the paragraph concerning the Novus Ordo Missae is negative.

    The very authors of this reform have stated that its purpose was ecumenical, i.e., that it intended to suppress, without touching doctrine, what displeases our separated brothers. Now it is quite clear that what displeases our separated brethren is the doctrine of the Catholic Mass. So, to satisfy them, an equivocal or ambiguous Mass has been brought in, in which the Catholic doctrine has been faded out. How can we think that such a diminution of the expression of Faith has been inspired by the Holy Spirit? The definition of the Mass given in Article No. 7 in the Introduction to the Novus Ordo Missae, even when corrected, shows quite clearly this diminution and even falsification of Catholic doctrine.

    Using this ecumenical Mass makes people acquire, and gives people, a protestant and indifferentist mentality, placing all religions on a footing of equality, just as the Declaration on Religious Liberty does, upon the doctrinal basis of the Rights of Man and Human Dignity wrongly understood, and condemned by St. Pius X in his letter on the Sillon. The consequences of this state of mind or spirit spread within the Church, inside the Church, are deplorable and are ruining and sapping the spiritual vitality of the Church. In conscience, all we can do is turn priests and faithful away from using the Novus Ordo Missae if we wish that the complete and whole Catholic Faith remain still living.

    As for the first paragraph concerning the Council (Vat. II), I gladly accept to sign it in the sense that Tradition be the criterion in the interpretation of the documents, which is moreover the meaning of the Note of the Council on the subject of interpreting its texts: because, it is evident that Tradition is not compatible with the Declaration of Religious Liberty, according to the experts themselves, like Fathers Congar and John Courtney Murray.

    Hence, we see no other solution to this problem than as follows:

    FIRSTLY – Freedom to celebrate according to the old rite in accordance with the edition of the Liturgical books promulgated by Pope John XXIII.

    SECONDLY – A reform of the Novus Ordo Missae; to give it back the clear expression of Catholic dogma, the reality of the Act of Sacrifice and of the Real Presence, by an Adoration more marked out, and a clear distinction must be made between the Priesthood of the Priest and the priesthood of the faithful, and to express clearly the propitiatory reality of the Sacrifice.

    THIRDLY – We see no other solution than a reform of the statements or expressions of the Council which are contrary to the Official Magisterium of the Church, especially the Declaration on Religious Liberty and the Declaration on The Church and The World, on the Declaration on Non-Christian Religions, etc.

    It is vital to the Church to affirm by the Sacrifice of the Mass that there is no salvation except through the Sacrifice of Our Lord, Our Only Savior, Our Only Priest, Our Only King. The Catholic Religion is the only true religion. The other religions are false and carry souls into error and into sin. Only the Catholic Religion was founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ, and so we can be saved only by it: hence, the necessity for all souls to have a valid and fruitful Baptism, which makes them members of the Mystical Body of Our Lord. Hence the urgency of the Social Kingship of Our Lord, inscribed in the constitutions in certain States, to protect Catholic souls against the dangers of vice, and in order to favor the conversion of the people of those States for the salvation of their souls.

    Now all of these Truths are henceforth implicitly denied or contradicted ever since the Second Vatican Council, to the delight of the enemies of the Church. It is urgent, Most Holy Father, to bring these Truths back into honor. They are the very substance and reason for the being of the Church, the reason for the existence of the Priesthood, the Episcopacy and of the Papacy.

    Most Holy Father, I have only one desire which has animated my whole life: to work for the salvation of souls in the most perfect submission to the successor of Peter, in accordance with the Catholic Faith that was taught to me in my childhood and at Rome in the Eternal City. Hence it is impossible for me to sign anything which attacks this Faith, as is the case with this false ecumenism and with this false religious liberty. I wish to live and to die in the Catholic Faith, pledge of eternal beatitude.

    May Your Holiness be so kind as to believe in my respectful and filial sentiments.

    In Jesus and Mary, Marcel Lefebvre April 5, 1983

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