January 1991 Print

The Archbishop Speaks


Archbishop Lefebvre Crest

1 November 1990
On the Occasion of the Twentieth Anniversary of The Society of St. Pius X at Ecône, Switzerland

My dear colleagues,
My dear seminarians,
My dear brethren,

It was twenty years ago—to the very day—that I went to Fribourg to see His Excellency Bishop Charrière, to ask him the answer to the study and the inquiry he had made concerning our statutes, our constitution which I had submitted to him at the beginning of July. He had had four months to examine this constitution.

I acknowledge that I was going to the Bishop's house with some apprehension. Times were already unfavorable to any work regarding Tradition. I really wondered what Bishop Charrière's response would be. But, to my great surprise, he told me, "Of course, there is no problem. I will sign this right now!" He called for his secretary, asked him to bring the documents; the letter was ready; His Excellency signed the official approval of our statutes and our constitution in my presence.

For me, it was a small miracle! Then I was thinking of what the reaction would be of our elders, our first seminarians, in the face of this official recognition of the foundation of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X. Indeed, when I arrived at the Rue de la Vignettaz and announced this to those dear confreres who were present—some are still present here—there was an outburst of joy and surprise: the Priestly Society of St. Pius X was officially recognized by the Church, by His Excellency Bishop Charrière!

Some time later, these same statutes, sent to Rome with the approbation of Bishop Charrière, received the official approbation of Cardinal Wright, Prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy, undersigned by the then Monsignor Palazzini, today Cardinal Palazzini. Thus, in an official way, Cardinal Wright and the now Cardinal Palazzini recognized the benefit of these statutes and encouraged us to continue the work we had begun.

What a grace for the Society to have obtained these official recognitions! And I think that if the canonists study attentively the document given to us by Cardinal Wright, they could legitimately conclude that we are recognized as being of "Pontifical Right." Indeed, it was truly a "decree of praise" of our statutes and of our constitution, officially recognized by a Roman Congregation.

Now, dear friends, don't you see between this official recognition of the Society and All Saints Day a profound, wonderful, mystical bond, which perfectly corresponds to the goal of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X. It is of its very essence to search for holiness, and not only to search for holiness but to do holy things.

Indeed, what is a priest? My dear friends, what is a priest? "Sacerdossacra dans: he who gives sacred and holy things." "Sacrificiumsacrum faciens: he who does holy things." This is the priest, and we received the recognition of our Priestly Society on this day, the Feast of Holiness!

My dear friends, let us not forget these circumstances. Nothing is done by luck, but by Divine Providence. I am convinced that the holy angels were rejoicing up in Heaven to see this coincidence between this beautiful day of the Feast of All Saints and the recognition of this Society made to train holy priests who would give holiness and communicate holiness to the faithful.

Let us therefore draw some conclusions from this providential connection: God wishes our priests to be holy!

What is holiness, substantial holiness, if not the Word of God Himself, Verbum Dei? It is the Lamb spoken of in the Apocalypse, surrounded by the twenty-four elders and by an innumerable crowd of angels and elect who were singing, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Our God!" That is indeed the Word Incarnate.

But what are priests doing if not communicating the Word of God, communicating this Holy Word, communicating Him by words of mouth, communicating Him by preaching, becoming the echo of the very Word of God, of the substantial Word of God, and of all the words which the Incarnate Word pronounced during His sojourn here below. This is the role of the priest: to be the echo of the Prophet.

We must transmit these words faithfully to all the faithful—those who truly want to be sons of God, to those who truly want to benefit from the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are thus communicating this Word of God, yet we are also communicating him as "having been made flesh." "Et Verbum caro factum est—And the Word of God was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us." And the work by which He has communicated to us His grace, by which He has communicated to us His life, His principal work, you know it well—it is the Sacrifice of His Cross. To communicate the Word of God by preaching, to communicate the Word of God by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Word made flesh, isn't this the role of the priest? To communicate Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, after having re-enacted the Holy Sacrifice of the Cross and brought God under the species of the Bread and Wine, and to communicate Him to the faithful... what a wonderful example, what a wonderful task!

Indeed, the priest is made to communicate holy things. Therefore he must be holy himself!

Perhaps some persons might ask me, "But why the Priestly Society of St. Pius X? Was it really necessary at that time? Were there not still some holy bishops and some holy priests?" Alas! we were obliged to see the revolution which had been made and which was always progressing further and further. It was 1970. The Council had closed its doors five years before and had applied disastrous reforms.

Really, in the end, what happened to these parish priests, these poor priests, many of whom had kept only the name of priest? They proved it by abandoning their priesthood and returning to the world. But many of them had kept the Faith, and the desire to worthily offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Well, it also was taken away from their hands, as well as their catechism. Thus, this Word of God written in our traditional catechism, which was nothing other than the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ, was falsified in their catechism; they were requested to teach another faith, which was no longer the Catholic Faith.

Think of the sorrow of these priests! And they are still forced today to teach the children of their parish things contrary to the Catholic Faith.

And the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was taken away from them! It was transformed. It was brought much closer to the Protestant Supper than to the true Sacrifice of the Catholic Mass. This is crystal clear. This transformation was also for many of these priests a cause of profound sorrow.

Many of them went into retirement. Bishops gave their resignation and went into retirement in order not to be obliged to implement this Revolution. Many priests left their parish—those who could—and gave their resignation. I saw some of them weep from sorrow. And I am convinced, as I have often told you, that at least the Archbishops of Madrid and Dublin died out of sorrow in the face of this atrocious reform which was changing the nature of the priesthood.

The priest no longer truly offers the Sacrifice, but simply makes a Eucharist, a sharing according to Protestant custom; the priest no longer teaches the catechism as he had learned it in his childhood—this was to stab the very heart of priests and even more so that of bishops who knew that they were, in a certain way, responsible for what was happening in their dioceses.

Yes, this frightening "reform" has been a kind of revolution, a revolution which still continues, which is not finished!

So tell me, my dear friends, my dear brethren, if the foundation of the Society of St. Pius X was not useful or in vain? This was precisely the Counter-Revolution, by the re-affirmation of the Faith, of the Catholic Faith of all time. It is this Counter-Revolution by the offering of the true Sacrifice of the Mass, which is the source of holiness, the source of life.

Indeed, we must consider that all the seven Sacraments are connected with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, are the radiation of the Mass, its preparation or its consequence; they are essentially and profoundly linked to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is the whole life of Jesus, the Life of the Word of God, which is communicated to us in the Mass and in the Sacraments, and how much more by Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself in the Holy Eucharist, center of our religion. Yes, the birth of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X has certainly been willed by Divine Providence.

I am so much more convinced of this that I have been, I would say, an instrument sometimes a little uncooperative. I began to wonder, during the years 1969-70, whether I should not abandon the project. If I had not had on my side my "guardian angels,"—Fathers Aulagnier and Tissier de Mallerais—who comforted me as the holy angels who assisted Our Lord in the Garden of Olives and inspired Him to say: "Thy will be done!" Thus was the Society established and realized.

I think that, after twenty years of existence, all those who even outside of the Society do not follow it and do not agree with it, are well obliged to acknowledge that it has been blessed by God. The proof was written in the Golden Book of the seminary by those who came from Rome and officially visited us: they wrote of their admiration for the work accomplished here in this seminary.

Yes, the Society was willed by the Good Lord, and innumerable graces have been given. I think there lies the greatest consolation in the midst of the immense trials which are ours. Indeed, to feel misunderstood and even rejected by the official authorities of the Church, by those who occupy the places of command—this is an immense sorrow, sorrow for the vitality of the Church, sorrow because we are seeing souls going to hell in great crowds, in huge crowds, because of the apostasy reigning in Rome.

It is a real apostasy. Our Lord Jesus Christ is no longer honored as He deserves, because He is God, He must reign, He alone must reign, He alone deserves worship, the true worship. We see this apostasy of the mind by the transformation of the virtue of Faith into something which is no longer the true Faith, but rather a feeling from the subconscious, developing from within man, which has nothing to do with the true Faith. Apostasy by the disobedience of the will, replacing the Law of God by the human conscience, thus by Man. God replaced by man as well in the intelligence as in the will. This is a grievous sin! This is a state of sin, expressed for example in the neutrality of States in the matter of religion, i.e., the Lay State, willed by the Holy See. The Lay State is nothing more than public atheism; this is a grievous sin. These States which now profess this official atheism, based on the Declaration of Human Rights, are in a continual state of mortal sin, and in fact legalize sin.

Since they have rejected the Divine Law, they make laws contrary to the Divine Law, putting millions of souls in a permanent state of sin. The law on divorce puts in a permanent state of sin those persons responsible for their divorce. Abortion places in the state of sin all those who participate in it. And so, on. We could continue the list of laws putting in the state of habitual sin millions of souls. And this is true in the whole world, in the whole Christian world.

Therefore, we can say in truth that these millions are going towards Hell. Unless they be converted by the grace of God at the moment of their death—let us hope for this—they are going to hell. This is what Our Lady of Fatima was showing to the children, these crowds falling into Hell.

And this is willed and organized by a complete Revolution, a Revolution which started in particular in the universities, among the so-called "enlightened" spirits, who have replaced the Thought of God and the Being of God by their private thoughts, who have replaced Divine Law by their conscience. This is radical sin, the exclusion of God from the mind and soul. This sin started in the universities. This sin permeated the [French] Revolution which then spread it throughout the world, in the Constitution of the Rights of Man, and now these constitutions are the basis of all our socialist and Masonic societies and governments.

My dear friends, you see immediately the importance of your role. Indeed, you are here as in a university, and you must therefore be aware of this grievous sin, the sin of mankind today, unfortunately of the major part of the intelligentia.

Yours is indeed the duty to return to the Way of God, yours the duty to show that minds are made for God, for Being, for reality, and not for human thoughts. Yours the duty to show that conscience is made for the Law and not for its own sake. Yours the duty to show that the Law of God must replace the Constitution of the Rights of Man, which is an insult to God. And so on. What a task! What work you have to accomplish, my dear friends!

You are this remnant, small in fact, but upholding the burning flame with courage! Do not be afraid to show it. Do not be afraid to show that you are priests, traditional priests, priests as the Church has always wanted them to be, priests for the Truth, priests for holiness. Ah, what a wonderful task, what a beautiful crusade you have in front of you! The Good Lord has made you to be born at a time in the history of mankind which has much enthusiasm for youth as you, just as it was for the Machabees when they left the corrupted society of Israel. They were only a few: Judas Machabeus found himself with 800 soldiers before an army of 20,000 and he beat them!

Therefore, have confidence, my dear friends. God is with you and He will not abandon you. As He did not abandon us in these past twenty years, He shall not abandon you in the future either, because God wants it Himself. He cannot want to disappear because He is God and He wants to remain God not only in Heaven but here below also, and thus He wants soldiers in His army.

I would like to conclude by reading to you the words which the Bishop addresses to priests at the end of the admonition of Ordination, words so adapted to the conclusion of these twenty years and at the same time to the preparation of the future years which the Good Lord will deign to give the Society:

Appreciate what you are doing, model yourselves on what you handle, and as you celebrate the mystery of the Lord's death, see that your bodies are wholly dead to every vice and carnal impulse. Let your teaching bring spiritual healing to God's people; the fragrance of your lives delight the Church of God. By preaching and example build up the house—that is, God's family, so that we may not incur the Lord's blame for promoting you, nor you for accepting so great a dignity, but may rather earn reward. May He, by His grace, grant us this. Amen.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Eternal Priest, and our Mother, to keep us in the holiness of the priesthood. Amen.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.


The following is a translation of a question addressed to Archbishop Lefebvre. This is His Grace's response to the calumnies which are often directed against him by Father de Blignieres, by Father de Nantes and by Abbot Gerard, for having signed two documents of the Second Vatican Council. Archbishop Lefebvre shows in his response that not only did he not sign the document on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae,) and the document on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et spes), but that he has always rejected them.

Father de Blignieres, Father de Nantes and Abbot Gerard have practically accused you of lying when you maintain that you did not sign the two documents of the Council Dignitatis
Humanae and Gaudium et spes. The journal Sedes sapientiae  published a document drawn from the archives of the Vatican, upon which your name is written by your own hand. What exactly is the truth, and what is this document?

Archbishop Lefebvre: This idea of interpreting the signatures as signifying an approbation of the conciliar documents was born in the badly intentioned brain of Father de Blignieres.

The approbation or refusal of the documents was obviously accomplished for each document in particular. The vote was in secret, accomplished on individual cards, and made with a special pencil, which permitted the electronic calculation of the votes. The cards were then collected by the secretaries from the hand of each voter.

The large sheets which were passed from hand to hand among the Fathers of the Council and upon which everyone placed his signature, had no meaning of a vote for or against, but signified simply our presence at the meeting to vote for four documents.

One would really have had to have thought that the Fathers who voted against these texts changed with the wind by trying to make believe that they would have approved of that which they refused but a half-hour beforehand.

One can see what one can really expect from the imagination of those who do change with the wind and who adore that which they had previously burnt—as Father de Blignieres, Abbot Gerard and the weathercock par excellence, Father de Nantes.