June 15, 1988.
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
The die is cast, and, God willing, Archbishop Lefebvre will be consecrating four bishops for the Society and for the Catholic Church, at the Society’s Seminary in Ecône in Switzerland, on June 30, with or without Rome’s authorisation.
The sincere hopes of many good people for a reconciliation between the Society and Rome will be dashed to the ground by such a decision. The enclosed documentation is being sent to you all by first class mail in advance of June 30 to help you to understand why such a decision was necessary. Rome and the Society met together from July of last year to June of this year in their common desire to find an accord, but there was no meeting of minds. While the Society is intent upon preserving Tradition, today’s Rome is intent upon dissolving it. That is what these documents are to help you to grasp.
Firstly, there is Archbishop Lefebvre’s June 2 letter to the Holy Father requesting of him more than the one bishop granted by the Pope at the end of May, and requesting above all a majority of members on the Commission for Tradition which was meant in the Society’s mind to guarantee the protection of Tradition, but in Rome’s mind to ensure its dissolution.
Secondly, there is a statement concerning the episcopal consecrations by Archbishop Lefebvre, going back to 1983 and just as appropriate today. The Archbishop has not changed. Rome has not changed. When Vatican II turned the Church’s back on Tradition, and when in 1970 the Archbishop founded the Society (canonically) to defend Tradition, logically the clash of today was inevitable. For different reasons both parties have sought to avoid the clash, but a “fact is stranger than the Lord Mayor;” says the proverb. In fact, Tradition and anti-Tradition are not reconcilable. See the incident of 1969 in Note 1.
Thirdly, there is a text of Archbishop Lefebvre dating from March of this year; and explaining how the Pope has a right to our disobedience.
Fourthly, there is the Archbishop’s letter to the four future bishops, for whom please pray that the words of the Prophet Jeremiah be realised (Chapter 23). “And I will set up pastors over them, and they shall feed them: they shall fear no more, and they shall not be dismayed.” The letter is followed by biographical notes on each of the four:
Then there are notes on Canon Law’s provisions for a state of emergency by a German professor, expert in Church Law. These notes most interestingly indicate that under today’s circumstances, the New Code itself says that its own automatic excommunication for “unauthorized” consecrators and consecrated would not be automatic.
And lastly-and you might like to start with this one-read the letter of the seminarian who quit Ecône at Pentecost of 1986 to help found in Rome an alternative Traditional seminary under Rome’s protection. He learned the hard way what we said at the time, namely that to entrust Tradition to today’s Romans is like asking the fox to look after the chicken-coop.
This was in fact the decisive reason why the negotiations failed. The Archbishop knew that Rome’s intentions were not to protect Tradition. Thus from the French Embassy in Rome a quote of Cardinal Ratzinger at the time of the negotiations was relayed to the Archbishop, in which the Cardinal reassured some French politician that the Commission for Tradition was only to be very provisional, to arrange for the re-insertion of the Ecône priests into the official dioceses….
The Archbishop has not defended Tradition all the way up till now in order now to hand it over to the wolves. Always pray for this great shepherd of souls. He does not think he is much longer for this life after June 30.
Sincerely yours in Our Lord’s service,
Fr. Richard Williamson