A look back - July 1988 - Letter on Religious Liberty


Courtesy of SSPXAsia


Archbishop LEFEBVRE and the VATICAN

July 8, 1987

Letter of Archbishop Lefebvre
to Cardinal Ratzinger


After a serious examination of the answer from the Sacred Congregation for the Faith to the Dubia10, as well as to the objections which we have submitted to it concerning the conciliar Declaration on Religious Liberty, would you please find enclosed our judgment on the matter, and our justification of this judgment. May I enclose documents which will manifest that this judgment is not a personal opinion, but rather that of authorized persons. Since it so happens that I have just published during these past few days a book on this subject called They Have Uncrowned Him, I consider it my duty to respectfully offer you a copy.

During the past few months, we have received several important studies which came from Roman universities and episcopal conferences. I send you a critique of the document of Fr. Cesboué, which was sent to us by the French episcopal conference.

I add a few other miscellaneous writings on the same subject in order to show that our refusal of the liberal principles of the conciliar Declaration is not founded on personal or sentimental opinions, but on the infallible magisterium of the Church. Therefore you will find:

1) thoughts of Cardinal Browne,

2) remarks of the Cœtus Internationalis, that is, the group of the Council Fathers opposed to Religious Liberty,

3) the critique of Msgr. Husseau of the Catholic University of Angers,

4) the critique of Fr. de Sainte Marie Salleron, former professor at Teresianum,

5) the letter of Bishop de Castro Mayer, then Bishop of Campos, Brazil, addressed to Pope Paul VI, with its enclosure.

It appears that we can conclude that the Liberal doctrine of Religious Liberty and the traditional doctrine are radically opposed. A choice had to be made between the draft of the schema of Cardinal Ottaviani and that of Cardinal Béa, on the same subject.

At the last meeting of the Central Commission preparatory to the Council there was a heated opposition between these two Cardinals. Cardinal Béa then affirmed that his thesis was absolutely opposed to that of Cardinal Ottaviani. Nothing has changed since. The traditional magisterium is opposed to the Liberal thesis founded on a false conception of human dignity and on an erroneous definition of civil society. The problem is to know who is right—Cardinal Ottaviani or Cardinal Béa.

The practical consequences of the Liberal thesis adopted by the Holy See after the Council are disastrous and anti Christian. It is the uncrowning of Our Lord Jesus Christ, with the reduction to an equal status before the law of all religions leading to an apostate ecumenism as that of Assisi.

In order to prevent the auto demolition of the Church we beg the Holy Father, through your mediation, to allow the free exercise of Tradition by procuring for Tradition the means to live and develop itself for the salvation of the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls: that the traditional foundations may be recognized, especially the seminaries; that His Excellency de Castro Mayer and myself may consecrate some auxiliaries of our choice in order to give to the Church the graces of Tradition, the only source of the renewal of the Church.

Eminence, after almost 20 years of pressing requests so that the experience of Tradition be encouraged and blessed, requests always left unanswered, this is probably the final appeal in the sight of God and of the Church. The Holy Father and yourself will bear the responsibility of a definitive rupture with the past of the Church and its magisterium.

The magisterium of today is not sufficient by itself to be called Catholic unless it is the transmission of the Deposit of Faith, that is, of Tradition.11 A new magisterium without roots in the past, and all the more if it is opposed to the magisterium of all times, can only be schismatic and heretical.

The permanent will to annihilate Tradition is a suicidal will, which justifies, by its very existence, true and faithful Catholics when they make the decisions necessary for the survival of the Church and the salvation of souls.

Our Lady of Fatima, I am sure, blesses this final appeal in this 70th anniversary of her apparitions and messages. May you not be for a second time deaf to her appeal.

I am, Your Eminence,

† Marcel Lefebvre
July 8, 1987

10. In 1985, Cardinal Ratzinger asked the Archbishop to write down his objections to the Declaration on Religious Liberty. In October 1985, a long study of 120 pages was sent to Rome, questioning many points of this Decree: this study is called the Dubia.An English translation will appear at some time in the future.

11. Emphasis added by Editor.

June 29, 1987
July 28, 1987

Courtesy of the Angelus Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109

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