Archibishop Lefebvre - Letter to Friends and Benefactors No 9 (1975)
This was published on the Remnant's site and I believe it is always a good idea to keep a good perspective on this war for the heart of the Church.
Courtesy of The Remnant
Thus liberalism and liberal Catholicism have always been condemned by Peter’s successors in the name of the Gospel and Tradition.
This obvious conclusion is of capital importance in deciding what attitude to adopt in order to show that we are unfailingly at one with the Church’s Magisterium and with Peter’s successor reigning today when he echoes the apostolic tradition and all his predecessors’ teachings. For it is the very definition of Peter’s successor to guard the deposit of Faith and hand it faithfully down. Here is what Pope Pius IX proclaimed on the subject in his Encyclical : “The Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter, that by His revelation they might make known new doctrine, but that by His assistance thy might keep inviolably and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith delivered through the Apostles”.
Influence of Liberalism on Vatican Council II
Now we come to the question which so concerns us: How is it possible that anyone can, in the name of the Second Vatican Council, oppose the centuries-old apostolic tradition, and so bring into question the Catholic Priesthood itself and its essential act, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?
A grave and tragic ambiguity hangs over the Second Vatican Council, which is presented by the Popes themselves in terms favoring that ambiguity: for instance, the Council of the ‘aggiornamento’, the ‘bringing up to date’ of the Church, the pastoral non-dogmatic Council, as the Pope again called it just a month ago.
This way of presenting the Council, in the Church and the world, as they were in 1962, ran very grave risks which the Council did not succeed in avoiding. It was easy to interpret these words in such a way that the Council was open wide to the errors of liberalism. A liberal minority among the Council Fathers and above all among the Cardinals was very active, very well organized, and fully supported by a constellation of modernist theologians and numerous secretariats. Take for example the enormous flow of printed matter from the I.D.O.C., subsidized by the Bishops’ Conferences of Germany and Holland.
Everything was in their favor for their demanding the instant adaptation of the Church to modern man; in other words, man who wishes to be freed of all shackles, for their presenting the Church as out of touch and impotent, for their beating their predecessors’ breasts. The Church gets presented as being as guilty as the Protestants and Orthodox for the divisions of old. She must ask present-day Protestants for forgiveness. The Traditional Church is guilty in her wealth, in her triumphalism; the Council Fathers feel guilty at being ‘out of the world’, at not belonging to the world; they are already blushing at their episcopal insignia, soon they will be ashamed of their cassocks.
Soon this atmosphere of liberation will spread to all fields, and it will show in the spirit of collegiality which will veil the shame felt at exercising a personal authority so opposed to modern man, let us say ‘liberal man’. The Pope and Bishops will exercise their authority collegially in Synods, Bishops’ Conferences, Priests’ councils. Finally, the Church is opened wide to the principles of the modern world.
The Liturgy, too, will be liberalized, adapted, subjected to experiments by the Bishops’ Conferences. Religious liberty, ecumenism, theological research, the revision of Canon Law, will all soften down the ‘triumphalism’ of a Church which used to proclaim herself the only Ark of Salvation! The truth is to be found divided up among all religions; joint research will carry the universal religious community forward around the Church.
Geneva Protestants—Marsaudon in his book —liberals like Fesquet, are triumphant. At last the era of Catholic states will disappear. All religions equal before the Law! “The free Church in the free State”, Lammenais’ formula! Now the Church is in touch with the modern world! The Church’s privileged status before the Law and all the documents cited above turn into museum pieces for an age that has out-grown them! Read the beginning of the Schema on The Church in the Modern World (), the description of how modern times are changing; read the conclusions –they are pure liberalism. Read the Declarations on Religious Freedom and compare it with the Encyclical of Gregory XVI, or with of Pius IX, and you can recognize the contradiction almost word for word.
To say that liberal ideas had no influence on the Second Vatican Council is to fly in the face of the evidence. The internal and external evidence both make that influence abundantly clear.
Influence of Liberalism in the Post-Conciliar Reforms and Trends
If we pass on from the Council to the reforms and trends since the Council, the proof is so clear as to be blinding. Now, let us take careful note that in the letters from Rome calling upon us to make a public act of submission, the Council and its subsequent reform and trends are always presented as being three parts of one whole. Hence all those people are gravely mistaken who talk of a wrong interpretation of the Council, as though the Council in itself was perfect and could not be interpreted along the liens of the subsequent reforms and trends.
Clearer than any written account of the Council, the official reforms and trends that have followed in its wake show how the council is officially meant to be interpreted. Now on this point we need not elaborate: the facts speak for themselves, alas, all too eloquently.
What still remains intact of the pre-Council Church? Where has the self-destruction (as Pope Paul called it) not been at work? Catechetics, seminaries, religious congregations, the liturgy of the Mass and the Sacraments, the constitution of the Church the concept of the Priesthood. Liberal ideas have wrought havoc all around and are taking the Church far beyond Protestant ideas, to the amazement of Protestants and to the disgust of Orthodox.
One of the most horrifying practical applications of these liberal principles is the opening wide of the Church to embrace all errors and in particular to the most monstrous error ever thought up by Satan: communism. Communism now has official access to the Vatican, and its world revolution is made markedly easier by the official non-resistance of the Church, nay, by her regular support of the revolution in spite of the despairing warnings by cardinals who have been through communist jails.
The refusal by this pastoral Council to issue any official condemnation of communism alone suffices to disgrace it or all time when one thinks of the tens of millions of martyrs, of people having their personalities scientifically destroyed in psychiatric hospitals, serving as guinea-pigs for all sorts of experiments. And the pastoral Council which brought together 2,350 Bishops said not a word, in spite of the 450 signatures of Fathers demanding a condemnation, which I myself took to Msgr. Felici, secretary of the Council, together with Msgr. Sigaud, Archbishop of Diamantina.
Need the analysis be pushed any farther to reach its conclusion? These lines seem to me to be enough to justify one’s refusing to follow the Council, these reforms, these trends in their liberalism and neo-modernism.
We would like to reply to the objection that will no doubt be raised under the heading of obedience, and of the jurisdiction held by those who seek to impose this liberal trend. Our reply is: In the Church, law and jurisdiction are at the service of the Faith, the primary reason for the Church. There is no law, no jurisdiction which can impose on us a lessening of the Faith. We accept this jurisdiction and this law when they are at the service of the Faith.
But who can judge that? The Tradition, the Faith taught for 2000 years. Every Catholic can and must resist anyone in the Church who lays hands on his Faith, the Faith of the external Church, relying on his childhood catechism. Defending his Faith is the prime duty of every Christian, all the more of any priest or bishop. Wherever an order carries with it a danger of corrupting Faith and morals, disobedience becomes a grave duty.
. The greatest service we can render to the Catholic Church, to Peter’s successor, to the salvation of souls and of our own, is to say “No” to the reformed liberal Church because we believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God made man, who is neither liberal nor reformable.
One final objection: The Council is a Council like any other; therefore, it should be followed like the others. Yes, it is like them in its ecumenicity and in the manner of its being called; it is not like them in its object, which is what is essential. A non-dogmatic Council need not be infallible; it is only infallible when it repeats traditional dogmatic truths.
How do we justify our attitude towards the Pope? We are the keenest defenders of his authority as Peter’s successor, but our attitude is governed by the words of Pius IX quoted above. We applaud the Pope when he echoes Tradition and is faithful to his mission of handing down the deposit of the Faith. We accept novelties which are intimately in conformity with Tradition and the Faith. We do not feel bound by any obedience to novelties going against Tradition and threatening our Faith. In that case, we take up a position behind the papal documents listed above.
We do not see how, in conscience, a Catholic layman, priest, or bishop can adopt any other attitude toward the grievous crisis the Church is going through. “” – let nothing be introduced which is not contained in Tradition.
May Jesus and Mary help us to remain faithful to our episcopal promises! “Call not true what is false, call not good what is evil.” That is what we were told at our consecration.
+ Marcel Lefebvre
On the Feast of St. Pius X, 1975