"The Archbishop Speaks"
of Archbishop Lefebvre
The Rector of the Seminary of the Society of St. Pius X in Switzerland, Father Lorans, having asked me to help in drawing up this issue of the Letter from Econe, it seemed to me, in these circumstances, that it would not be without benefit to put before you again what I wrote on January 20, 1978, concerning certain objections which could be made as to our attitude with regard to the problems created by the present situation of the Church.
One of these questions was: "How do you see obedience to the Pope?" Here is the reply I gave ten years ago:
The principles governing obedience to the Pope's authority are the same as those governing relations between a delegated authority and its subjects. They do not apply to the Divine Authority which is always infallible and indefectible and hence incapable of failing. To the extent that God has communicated His infallibility to the Pope and to the extent that the Pope intends to use this infallibility, which involves four very precise conditions in its exercise, there can be no failure.
Outside of these precisely fixed conditions, the authority of the Pope is fallible and so the criteria, which bind us to obedience, apply to his acts. Hence it is not inconceivable that there could be a duty of disobedience with regard to the Pope.
The authority, which was granted him, was granted him for precise purposes and in the last resort for the glory of the Holy Trinity, for Our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the salvation of souls.
Whatever would be carried out by the Pope in opposition to this purpose would have no legal value and no right to be obeyed, nay, rather, it would oblige us to disobey in order for us to remain obedient to God and faithful to the Church.
This holds true for everything that the recent popes have commanded in the name of Religious Liberty or ecumenism since the Council: all the reforms carried out under this heading are deprived of any legal standing or force of law. In these cases the popes use their authority contrary to the end for which this authority was given them. They have a right to be disobeyed by us.
The Society and its history show publicly this need to remain faithful to God and to the Church. The years 1974, 1975 and 1976 leave us with the memory of this incredible clash between Econe and the Vatican, between the Pope and myself.
The result was the condemnation, the suspension a divinis, wholly null and void because the Pope was tyrannically abusing his authority in order to defend laws contrary to the good of the Church and to the good of souls.
These events are an historical application of the principles concerning the duty to disobey.
That clash was the occasion for a departure of a certain number of priests who were friends or members of the Society, who were scared by the condemnation, and did not understand the duty to disobey under certain circumstances. Since then, twelve years have passed. Officially, the condemnation still stands; relations with the Pope are still tense, especially as the consequences of this ecumenism are drawing us into an apostasy, which forced us to react vigorously. However, the announcement of consecration of bishops in June stirred Rome into action: it at last made up its mind to fulfill our request for an Apostolic Visitation by sending on November 11, 1987, Cardinal Gagnon and Msgr. Perl. As far as we were able to judge by the speeches and reflections of our Visitors, their judgment was very favorable indeed, and the Cardinal did not hesitate to attend the Pontifical Mass on December 8th, at Econe, celebrated by the prelate suspended a divinis.
What can we conclude from all this except that our disobedience is bearing good fruit, recognized by the envoys of the authority, which we disobey? And here we are now confronted with new decisions to be taken. We are more than ever encouraged to give the Society the means it needs to continue its essential work, the formation of true priests of the holy, and Catholic, and Roman Church. That is to say, to give me successors in the episcopate.
Rome understands this need, but will the Pope accept these bishops from the ranks of Tradition? For ourselves it cannot be otherwise. Any other solution would be the sign that they want to align us with the conciliar revolution, and there our duty to disobey immediately revives. The negotiations are now under way and we shall soon know the true intentions of Rome. They will decide the future. We must continue to pray and to watch. May the Holy Ghost guide us through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima!
+ Marcel Lefebvre