Rev. Franz Schmidberger, the German designated by Archbishop Lefebvre to succeed him as head of the dissident order, said, "May God reward him for his life entirely devoted to defend the Catholic faith against heresy." Indeed, the last time this phrase "defend the Catholic faith" was distinguished, was to the honor of schismatic HenryVIII, and we all know the phrase was dirtied by his making it a mockery by assigning it to the Church of England.
In our long sacred history of our beautiful Faith, we have heard of many who have gone on to glory after a life of duty and faithfulness to our Leader after taking an unpopular moral position despite the odds and risks of where their decisions may lead them. Some even rank with the Saints. Their cases may have created rifts in conscience for their fellow members, such as St. Thomas More's effect on the Bishops when he was called by Christ to hold fast to his beliefs for the sake of the Faith. Many of them decided to save their necks rather than save their standing in the Church. These received empathy of sorts in their case, and the absent lack of excommunications of course were understandable. Some may have thought, "After all, they had their temporal lives to lose" was the justification.
Some may abstract somewhat and wonder about these deviant members of our fourteenth century community. We are in awe for a second in interest, then move on. But in some centuries we are tested by yet another case. Now we are closely being watched again. It would seem we can do nothing to help these people except perhaps a mass offering and fasting.
I present for consideration one man with an exemplary holy career Abp. Marcel LeFebvre. He like Thomas More and others struggled with disobedience for the sake of Truth and conscience. He also hated to say no to this non ex cathedra teaching presented for his signing. In his conversation later in the French media, LeFebvre states how he pleaded for the Pontiff to declare his decision infallible, a most perfect solution to his dilemna, but to no avail.
Anyway, good news. We are in the era of ecumenical reconciliation, and with this honorable standard being applied in that spirit before us every day in the atmosphere of dialogue and commemoration, we have in those examples another yardstick that brings me here to talk to you. These times of commemoration should not pass without speaking of this man's justice by giving his case a closer examination. No doubt a close scrutiny will only have us pick up the honorable literary words out of the dirt after 600 years the words, " Defender of the Faith".
Through communal Sensus Fidelium, we sense the need to honor a true Minister to Our Lord's cause, one who has called to raise his Shield of Defense against inner and outer forces, his Excellency, Archbishop Marcel LeFebvre. We the Common Priesthood of the Faithful*, and in the current ecumenical spirit of reconciliation hereby submit to His Holiness our desire to have a commemorative stamp made and a mass said for the repose of his soul.
The title should read the deserving "Defender of the Faith".
*Ref: Vatican Paper, "Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration Of The Non-Ordained Faithful In The
Sacred Ministry Of Priest"