April 2004 Print


Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre


If I have come among you it is primarily to speak of the most pressing problem of our time, which is the preservation of our Catholic Faith. I am not referring simply to certain liturgical modifications, nor to certain aspects of renewal which result from the Second Vatican Council. These details, of course, do have their importance. I am here rather to offer encouragement in the struggle to preserve the essentials of our faith, for our faith is vital. Before going on, I would like to bring your attention to what precisely constitutes the essentials of our Faith.

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre


Our Lord Jesus Christ came down to earth to redeem mankind, and it was by means of the Cross that He achieved this. The central point of Christ's life on earth, the purpose for which the Son of God became man, was to die on the Cross for the salvation of all men, not only the faithful, not only Catholics, but all men. Unfortunately, not all men have accepted Christ's message, but, be they Buddhists, Moslems or Protestants, all-at least all who wish to be saved-are bound to achieve their salvation through the blood shed for them by Jesus Christ.

This, of course, is very simple for us who are Catholics. This is our Faith, the Faith we have always been taught, and yet, in our own time, how many Catholics still do accept this truth, that salvation comes to all men through Jesus Christ, that outside of Christ there is no salvation? I find it extraordinary that Catholics will question the age old adage, "No salvation outside the Church." This is precisely the most important question facing mankind today, just as it was in all ages. Indeed there is nothing more vital to man than for him to know how he is to be saved, by Whom he is to be saved, and in what manner he is to be saved. Can there possibly be a question of greater moment for those who live on earth?

Now it is quite certain that when we proclaim today that there is no salvation outside the Church, many Catholics rise up incredulously and affirm that this is nonsense, that otherwise those not in the Church must be condemned to hell. The fact is, however, that this remains a crucial tenet of interest to all mankind. As Catholics we are bound to affirm what the Church has always affirmed because the Church is the repository of all truth: God made man and the Son of God was made man to be crucified for the salvation of all men. Can there possibly be any other source of salvation outside of the Son of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ? Can we as Catholics accept that Luther, Buddha, or Mohammed are also means of eternal salvation? Are they also in Heaven seated at the right hand of God? Yet today, despite the absurdity, many Catholics no longer accept that there is no salvation outside the Church.

The Church teaches that no man is saved except through Our Lord Jesus Christ. This, as Catholics, is what we must believe, for it is what the Church has always taught. There is no other God, no other truth, no other salvation but Christ Jesus. This is the center, the foundation, the goal of our Catholic life, and it will one day be the crowning glory of our Catholic life. There is nothing outside of Christ Jesus Who is our only joy on earth and in Heaven.

You understand, I am sure, how important it is to affirm these truths. Jesus Himself, and not ourselves, chose the means for us to receive His grace. The means He chose was the Cross, and He chose that the Cross and His Sacrifice upon it be continued on earth upon our altars. There is no other place but upon our altars that Christ's Calvary is continued in this world. Catholics in every age have understood the enormity of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Our ancestors most certainly understood it, our ancestors who built the worthy church buildings which adorn your country, and the extraordinary cathedrals and basilicas of Europe. Visitors the world over come to these shrines, to stand in awe before the splendor of the labor and genius of our ancestors of a thousand years ago. Why did they erect such monuments, expending decade upon decade of their fragile lives to bringing forth these magnificent cathedrals? For the sake of the altar of Our Lord Jesus Christ and for the sake of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which is celebrated upon it. And it was Christ Himself who wished it this way.

Jesus Christ instituted the priesthood at the Last Supper on the occasion of the first sacrifice-for the Last Supper, as the Council of Trent teaches, was indeed a sacrifice–when He made priests of His Apostles and enjoined them, "Do this in memory of Me." He did not say, "Tell this story. Describe this action of Mine to your children and to future generations." He said rather, "Do this, re-do this, continue to do this which I have done." It is very important that we realize the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is an action, and not a narrative, not a story. I am sure you must realize why I am emphasizing this. It is precisely because in our time Christ's intentions are being subverted, contradicted, and suppressed.

It is vital, therefore, that we insist upon what is essential to our Holy Faith and indeed to the very idea of Catholic civilization, in which we have good reason to glory still and which we hope with all our hearts to regain and to see revitalized as it was in medieval times. Today the world scorns the Middle Ages. Modern man tells us it was an age of obscurity–"the Dark Ages"–but history itself tells us the medieval age was the greatest age in history, and the 13th the greatest century that mankind has ever known.

Why? Because of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and because of the spiritual life generated by the Mass. Today more than ever before, our civilization needs its altars, needs its priests to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which in fact is a re-enactment of the Sacrifice of the Cross. The whole of Catholic civilization rests upon our altars. But if we destroy our altars and replace them with a table, and upon this table we simply prepare a meal which is but a memorial of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Last Supper, a narrative of what He said and did on that occasion, then we have forfeited the basis upon which Christian civilization rests. The Catholic Church then [if it were conceivable] would cease to exist, for the Church rests upon the dogma, upon the reality of the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, whence comes Holy Communion, which is Our Lord Jesus Christ in His body, blood, soul and divinity. Holy Communion–the Eucharist–transforms our very souls, civilizes us, disciplines us, and imposes order upon our souls. Without the Eucharist, we reek of disorder.

We frequently wonder why there are so few priests today. It is because there is no longer any preoccupation with the Sacrifice of the Mass. There is no more ideal, no more goal for the priest to pursue. His goal had always been to go unto the altar of God to offer the Sacrifice of Calvary. That is precisely what made the sublimity of the priest, what inspired the ideal of the priestly vocation in a young man. Similarly for the religious–nuns and brothers–the fountain of their vocation was the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, just as it is for you, the laity.

What, then, precisely is a Catholic? Essentially, a Catholic is one who offers himself as a victim on the altar with Our Lord. That is what the marriage sacrament is also: a symbol of Christ's union with His Church. Just as Christ offered His life for His Church, so also do the spouses offer their lives for their families and for each other. This union is a vivid symbol of what occurred at Calvary, and thus the spouses derive the strength and courage required for the sacrifice of their union from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass there can be no Catholic spirituality, no Catholic life, and all that has been the life of the Church through the ages will simply wither and cease to exist. We, then, do have a vital requirement for the true Sacrifice of the Mass, and this is of fundamental importance to us as Catholics.

I do allow that in recent centuries our catechetics have perhaps placed more emphasis upon the Eucharist as sacrament than upon the Eucharist as sacrifice. There has been great emphasis placed on the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and for good reason, of course. We stage, for example, massive international Eucharistic Congresses throughout the Catholic world to provide the faithful with the opportunity to adore Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. And these Eucharistic Congresses were of unsurpassed splendor, living testimony of the profound belief of the faithful in the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.1

Thus, while the Church has in recent centuries placed much emphasis upon the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist–the Eucharist as Sacramentat the same time, perhaps unconsciously, the Eucharist as Sacrifice has to some extent been neglected. Let us come back to this idea of the Eucharist as Sacrifice, without losing sight of the Eucharist as Sacrament. I do think that today there ought to be a renewed emphasis on the Eucharist as Sacrifice because, after all, it is the Eucharist as Sacrifice which is the source of the Catholic life in us, and which is also the source of the Eucharist as Sacrament. The Eucharist as Sacrament comes to us from the Sacrifice of the Cross. Without the Cross there would be no Sacrament of the Eucharist because the Sacrament is the Victim, and without the Sacrifice there is no Victim. And without the Victim there is no Real Presence, no participation, no communion by the faithful. In a word, when we receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist–Holy Communion–we are partaking of the Victim Who offered Himself on the Cross and Who offers Himself in an unbloody manner daily on our altars for the forgiveness of sins. This, then, is the profound meaning of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and of the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist: the Blessed Sacrament is the fruit of this extraordinary tree which is the Cross because the Sacrament proceeds from the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.

We must therefore come back to this idea of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is essential to our salvation, and see in this Sacrifice precisely that element which has been the splendor of our civilization, and to understand why, today, this civilization–Western civilization, Christian civilization–is shaken to its very foundation, how the decline of Catholic civilization began when we came to express doubts about the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist, when we began to attack, abolish, and suppress the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This incredible phenomenon traces its origins to Berengarius [a French theologian remembered for his teaching on the Eucharist, condemned by several councils–Ed.] in the 11th century. Then in the 16th, Luther boldly declared that the Mass was not a Sacrifice. Luther's attack, therefore, was directed at the very heart of the Church, at its most precious dogma. And in thus undermining the Sacrifice of the Mass, he destroyed the priesthood instituted by Christ, because without the Sacrifice, what need is there for a priesthood? For what ideal does the priest strive? The priest becomes merely a functionary, designated from among the members of an assembly to offer worship, to perform a communion, to break bread.

That is what Luther achieved 450 years ago, and as those familiar with the history of his reformation will recognize, that is precisely what is happening with respect to the transformation of the liturgy in our own time. Many of the elements of change are identical. During Luther's reformation the vernacular, German, was adopted and, needless to say, there was great rejoicing: the youth became enthusiastic, the laity could now understand, they could return now to what appeared to be a more evangelical church, they could worship now more meaningfully. The laity had discovered a new relevance in the life of the Church. But the euphoria of juvenile enthusiasm soon gave way to disillusion: the priesthood began to disintegrate, priests and nuns left their monasteries, the convents were emptied, and the religious married. How could this come so soon after the fervor and enthusiasm of the earlier years? The whole phenomenon was but a straw fire because the reformers had attacked the essential elements of Christ's Church, that is, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

With the Sacrifice attacked, the traditional respect for the Eucharist did not remain long immune. The faithful began to receive communion standing, then communion was distributed in the hand, then the reformers began to openly deny the Real Presence, the Supreme Sacrifice, and to deny the priesthood, all that the Church had cherished most dearly.

The Protestant Reformation struck our civilization at its very roots, and it was just a matter of time before the tenets of liberalism were added to those of the religious reformation. Thus in the 17th century, Descartes brought forward the notion of truth being relative, subjective, within ourselves. That is, truth comes from our consciences, and not from outside of ourselves. Descartes refused the notion of truth which comes from God and from Christ. And in the 18th century, Jean Jacques Rousseau carried Descartes a step further, directing his attack at the moral law: Man is good. His conscience is good. Therefore, it is his conscience which should guide him, and not the law.

These threeLuther, who attacked Church dogma and the Faith; Descartes, who attacked the concept of objective truth; and Rousseau, who attacked the moral law–were the precursors of the modern society in which we live today. Today, as we all recognize, faith, truth and the law are all relative and subject to the conscience of the individual. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what Liberalism is all about. Man has become free, liberated, adult, guided now exclusively by his own conscience and by his own will.

What in reality has all this liberation meant for society, for our civilization? It has brought about the destruction of the human person whose very being comes from God and from Our Lord Jesus Christ, whose entire spiritual life comes from Christ, from His law of love, from the gift of His grace which transforms and moves him to adhere to His law. If there is no absolute truth, "truth" is something which we create for ourselves, there is no more God, no need for God, because we are sufficient unto ourselves. We become in effect our own gods and accordingly refuse a God Who transcends ourselves. It is not long before human nature destroys itself.

In the wake of Rousseau came the subjectivist philosophers of the 19th century–Kant, Hegel, and the others–all contributing and advancing the destruction of the Catholic Faith. Little by little these ideas made their way until the principles of Liberalism virtually destroyed the notion of Catholic society. Already by the end of the 18th century it had become imperative in France to be liberated form the restrictions of Catholic law, of Catholic kings, of Catholic society, in a word, of God. That is why in France, bankrupt of God, the goddess Reason was formally consecrated by the State.

The Church of course resisted these tendencies. For a century and a half–from about 1800 to about 1960–the Popes spoke out, issued encyclicals, used every conceivable means to prevent the destruction of the social and moral order by these tendencies. But these ideas, which had their origins in the Protestant Reformation and the advent of Liberalism, made their way little by little, and society became contaminated, and the dikes which hitherto had kept men in an ordered state, burst. Finally, as the Jews before Pontius Pilate, the States declared, "We have no King but Caesar," and accordingly effected the separation of Church and State. They drove Jesus Christ from the courts, from the army, from the university, from the schools. The crucifixes were withdrawn from public buildings; the clergy were relegated to their vestries; society was laicized.

Society had thus become free, free of God. There soon followed freedom of thought, freedom of the press, freedom of conscience. And now, a century and a half later, we find ourselves enslaved by pornography, enslaved by television and the other media of social communications which have thoroughly infused into our society the kind of freedom which destroys morality, the family, and society itself.

For her part, until about 1960, the Church resolutely resisted Liberalism in all these forms. She continued to teach obedience and submission to Jesus Christ, to His law, to His sacrifice, to His sacraments, and to His grace. For it is there that we find truth, true freedom, freedom from the slavery sin. Once free of sin, we become enslaved rather to saintliness.

We see to what brutal depths our society has been reduced. The catechisms are perfect examples of the process I have tried at some length to describe, that catechisms are devoted to destruction. Catechism by its nature suggests a breaking with sin, but modern catechisms are directed towards breaking down tradition and social taboos, breaking the family, destroying the restraints which have held our civilization together. These are the things your children are taught in catechism today. Do the Gospels teach us to destroy? On the contrary, the Gospels teach us to forge bonds of charity, of love: love God, love your parents, love your neighbor. These are strong bonds, mandatory bonds. We are not free to love or not to love. We must love God and our parents and society to the extent, of course, that society is in accord with God's law.

To teach children the concept to destroy is criminal because such a notion will accompany them throughout their life, through their youth, and later, by a dialectic which will gnaw at them, oppose them to others, and consume them with the imperative to be "free" in order to grow, in order to be "themselves." This is fraught with extremely serious consequences and we wonder now how we could even imagine such a system of catechism. The new catechetics are simply a natural long-term consequence of Liberalism.

And though our popes opposed Liberalism and recognized it for what it is, today nevertheless one can safely affirm that Liberalism has overtaken the Catholic Church. It has permeated Catholic morals, culture, society, universities and schools. No area remains immune. Not even our families have been spared the poison of Liberalism. Our seminaries have been contaminated by ideas proposed by such men as Teilhard de Chardin, whereby truth is relative, evolving, personal. There is no longer an immutable truth, no fixed dogma. And this, tragically, is what has come out of Vatican II. Gaudium et Spes best illustrates this. At least two pages are devoted to the idea of change, to the evolution of truth. Change is really what "updating" is all about. Anyone who is a party to "updating" faces that as a premise. Updaters are convinced that as a result of our new-found mastery of nature, we must accept change in philosophy, in modes of expression and action, in the manner in which we conceive our religion, in the realization that the way ideas were understood in the past are no longer applicable today.2

These are the factors which leave Catholics today without incentive for the religious life. People no longer know what the religious state of life is. Recently the Archbishop of Cincinnati, Ohio, reporting to the Roman Synod on the crisis of vocations to the priesthood, solemnly declared that the lack of vocations in the Church today stems from the fact that the priest has lost his sense of identity. What do these incredible words mean? Simply that the priest does not know what he is. Since when does the priest not know who or what he is? After 2,000 years of having priests in the Catholic Church we suddenly no longer know what constitutes a priest. Why have we come to this? Because we have destroyed altars by changing them into "tables," stripped them of the altar stones which from the fourth century have harbored relics of the martyrs. A sacrifice is traditionally offered upon a stone, a stone altar, but today there is no sacrifice, no stone, no relics. The Mass has become a meal. Relics signify that the martyrs had offered themselves as a sacrifice in union with Our Lord. You can understand just how grave it is to abolish these magnificent symbolisms, and to what extent all that is most sacred in the Holy Catholic religion is being tampered with. And all of this tampering penetrated the Church at the Second Vatican Council.

I am frequently criticized because I attack the Council. It is true that I am at variance with the Council because I realize that the Liberal spirit is destroying the Church, the priesthood, the Sacraments, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the catechism, Catholic universities, and Catholic schools. And you yourselves are as firmly convinced as I am because you have the example constantly before your eyes. Parents have come to prefer to send their children to non-Catholic schools, even to Protestant schools, because they are less subject there to perversion than in their own Catholic schools.

Is this not an incomprehensible scandal when we reflect on what Canada was 20 years ago? I came to Sherbrooke 20 years ago at the proud invitation of Bishop Cabana to visit his new seminary, finished in 1955, full of seminarians. This remained so until 1965. Today the seminary has been sold and there remains nothing of this work. What is happening in the Church the world over, when seminaries like the one in Sherbrooke, not 20 years old, are disposed of in this way?

Recently, I spoke with an Italian bishop who had just come back from a trip during which he had hoped to come in contact with priests anxious to maintain traditions of the Church, to establish a common bond, to perhaps create an association of traditional priests in Italy. He had returned overwhelmed. Having visited nearly every diocese in Italy, he realized that seminaries were being sold everywhere, and the young priests were unabashed Marxists. Though Italy has an average of three times more priests than France, the seminaries are empty; Turino with 300 places is empty; Milan with 300 places has 80 seminarians from several neighboring dioceses. The Bishop of Casserta confided to me that his seminarians come back to him modernists and refuse to obey him. What kind of diocese is he going to have in a few years in the light of the state of the priesthood and the seminaries today?

In France there are approximately 100 new candidates who enter all the seminaries each year, for 100 dioceses. The only notable seminary left is at Issy-les-Louinaux, near Paris, with 80 seminarians for 25 dioceses and 4 or 5 religious communities. And of these, how many will finish? And how many more are living in the hope that between now and their ordination, Rome will have authorized a married clergy?

This situation, which took root at the Council, is vitally serious. The enthusiasm for liberation was evident throughout the Council. It expressed itself in the equivocal wording of the various schemes, through the idea of change for the sake of change, through the idea of the primacy of the individual conscience as opposed to established law, through the notion of freedom for all religions. This the Church has always regarded as contrary to her rights because she alone is Truth. And if a Catholic state places no obstacle to the spreading of heresy within its jurisdiction, then the state becomes a Protestant state in effect, with all its attendant errors, on marriage, for example, which leads to tolerance for divorce, contraception, and abortion, all of which vastly undermines Catholic society. We recognize that it is precisely this which has set the Church upon a course of full-scale self-destruction, which has become more and more obvious.

These are the reasons why we are so attached to Tradition. This is why, in the face of the deluge, this universal destruction of the Holy Catholic Church, we affirm the will to preserve the Catholic Mass, the Catholic Sacraments, the Catholic catechism, our Catholic universities and our Catholic schools. We refuse to maintain liberal schools in which everything and anything goes. We insist upon Catholic schools in order that our children be raised as Catholics. We insist upon Catholic universities in order that our children not be perverted. We no longer dare send a young man or a young lady to a Catholic university. We prefer to send them to a state university.

Seminarians no longer know where to go. In seminaries today, seminarians come and go as they please, at any time of day and night, assist at daily Mass or stay away, as they please.

We are thus in the state of decomposition and we cannot accept this situation. This is why our resistance gives the impression that we are attempting to stand in the way of all this change. I have been requested to close my seminary at Ecône. Why do I refuse to obey this order? Because I most emphatically do not wish my seminarians to become Protestants, because I do not wish my seminarians to become Modernists, because I do not wish my seminarians to lose their faith and moral perspective. I am quite certain if they were released and sent to other seminaries they would lose their faith and their moral perspective. Accordingly, it appears to me that I have no choice but to resist this order.

I am asked how it is that I can refuse orders which come from Rome. Indeed, these orders do come from Rome, but which Rome? I believe in Eternal Rome, the Rome of the Sovereign Pontiffs, the Rome which dispenses the very life of the Church, the Rome which transmits the true Tradition of the Church. I am considered disobedient, but I am moved to ask why have those who issue orders which in themselves are blameworthy, been given their authority. The Pope, the cardinals, the bishops, the priests have been given their authority for the purpose of transmitting life, the spiritual life, the supernatural life, eternal life, just as parents and society as a whole have been given their authority to transmit and protect life. The word "authority" itself is from the Latin "auctorita? and "auctor which have meanings referring to "author," as in author of life. We have authority insofar as we transmit and sustain life. We are not authorized to transmit death. Society is not permitted to pass laws which authorize abortion, because abortion is death. In like manner, the pope, the cardinals, the bishops, and priests exist as such to transmit and sustain spiritual life. Unfortunately, it is apparent that many of them today no longer transmit or sustain life, but rather authorize spiritual abortion.

These are the reasons why, in the face of an order to close my seminary, I refuse to obey. I believe that we have a desperate need for the type of Catholic priest who transmits the life of the soul. I know you do not want priests who may administer Sacraments invalidly. From time to time I am asked to administer Confirmation, which, of course, is irritating to local bishops who remind me that I have no right to confirm in their dioceses. Naturally, I recognize this, but I remind them in turn that they have no right to administer Sacraments of doubtful validity to children whose parents want them to receive the sacramental grace. These parents have the right to be certain that their children are receiving the grace of Confirmation. This, after all, is a grave responsibility for parents. It is grace which keeps the soul alive and, to this end, I much prefer to see parents confident that their children have received the sacramental grace of Confirmation even when, by administering the Sacrament in someone else's diocese, I am acting illicitly. I may at least rest easy in the knowledge that the children confirmed in the manner prescribed by the Church for centuries truly carry the sacramental grace within them, that the Sacrament is truly valid.3

All of this, therefore, is of utmost importance, and it is also the reason why we must maintain Catholic Tradition, and fear neither difficulties nor obstructions. We are living in a time of veritable agony. We must be careful, of course, not to offer violent opposition to our bishops and to our priests who refuse to understand the grave dangers under which the Church labors today. But in following the Church of all time, we must also pray for our pastors. We are not inventing anything new. I have not innovated at my seminary at Ecône.

Those who condemn me are condemning their own formation, which is absurd. In the face of these absurdities, I can only close my ears and my eyes, and continue to receive seminarians. In September (1975) I welcomed 25 new candidates at Ecône, 5 at our new German-language seminary near Lake Constance in German Switzerland, and 12 at our new house at Armada, Michigan. Vocations are surely not wanting and I am quite certain that were we encouraged instead of harassed and struck down, I would have not three seminaries, but seminaries in every part of the world. Make no mistake: there are sufficient good, young, willing men, good and holy vocations in every country.

We are bound, therefore, to pray that we recover one day an understanding of the way of the priesthood because Catholic society cannot live without its priests. The Church without the priesthood is no longer the Church. It is for this reason essentially that I ask your fervent prayers for young priests. Pray also to the Blessed Virgin Mary, for she is the Mother of priests and the Mother of the priesthood. Pray for the graces for holy vocations, and for assistance with respect to Rome, that one day Rome itself may be enlightened.

Rome for me has become a great mystery. What is happening in Rome? It is surely Rome that constitutes the most serious problem. To say such a thing is neither calumny nor detraction, for if the crisis in the Church has spread to every country in the world, it is only sensible to seek a common cause at its Seat. There is something distinctly abnormal and sinister about Rome today. The workings of grace are being obstructed in Rome. There are men in Rome who are under the ascendancy of Satan. How else could the Church be strangled, as it were, and troubled to such an extent? Though we may not readily understand the problem, one can feel it, sense the atmosphere of today's Rome. I am still frequently in Rome, and I have occasion to chat from time to time to priest-employees of the different Sacred Congregations, the men who carry out the day-to-day affairs of the Curia. These men confide to me in private that Rome has become stifling, that a veritable terror reigns in the bureaus and the corridors of the Vatican, with always somebody listening, spying, ready to report, to criticize. Even the cardinals are not immune to the terror, to the veritable diabolical influence which permeates every facet of Vatican life.

What has caused such a deterioration? Who are these sinister people? Are they hidden personalities, or are they clerics in important positions? Nobody seems to know, but what is absolutely certain is that this spirit permeates not only the Seat of the Catholic Church, but every one of us no matter how physically distant we are from Rome.

The present state of Rome is just one more reason why we must not hesitate or fear to regroup. In closing I would wish to emphasize especially how important it is to remain united, and to avoid dissension at all costs. We are already so few who wish to hold onto Tradition, who understand, who have received the graces. It is God's grace that has allowed us to keep our holy traditions, the very traditions which have produced the saints. It is vital, therefore, that we proceed as of one mind, that we labor together in order to better insure a strong defense.

You most assuredly have it within your power, through grace, to build up something solid, which will last, which will attract others, something which will allow you to form your children. You will, find it easier to provide catechists to help you in your task. You will find it easier to organize your own schools, administered by laymen who are fully Catholic, teaching the true catechism, celebrating the traditional liturgy, forming your children as strong and perfect Catholics. It is this sort of arrangement we must attain in order to protect our Holy Religion and our souls, for, ultimately, to save our souls is all that essentially matters.


Given November 18, 1975, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Translated from the French by Mr. Bernard Pothier. It was first published in the Canadian Layman, and is now appearing in Arrivederci, Padre Pio by Anne McGinn Cillis, pp. 1163-71. Reprinted with Mrs. Cillis's permission. This conference has never appeared in The Angelus.


1. The Congress held at Melbourne, Australia in 1974, the year before this conference was given, bordered on sacrilege. There, under the guise of introducing an ecumenical flavor to the gathering, the organizers agreed to cancel the procession of the Blessed Sacrament in order not to offend Protestants and Jews.

2. Missionaries, for example, are told they must no longer proselytize, evangelize, or convert non-Christians. They must, rather, engage in dialogue in order to direct their flocks towards self-discovery and the realization that their faith, is, after all, as valid as our own. This, of course, is heresy, and has had the predictable effect of numbing in a very short time the Church's entire missionary spirit. It goes without saving that, having killed the missionary spirit, the priestly spirit itself will cease to exist.

3. With respect to Sacraments of doubtful validity, today bishops rarely confirm. They delegate their vicars-general or other priests, and many of these may change the authorized formulae. Because the particular sacramental grace of each Sacrament has to be signified explicitly and because many of these changes in wording do not signify the Sacrament in question, it follows that the Sacrament is doubtfully valid. It is not permissible to toy with the formulae of the Sacraments, just as in the Sacrifice of the Mass we may not tamper with the wording of the Consecration. It is necessary to perform as the Church has always intended.