THE EPISCOPAL CONSECRATIONS OF JUNE, 1988,
In the 53 years that that have elapsed since the closing of the Second Vatican Council in 1965, the greatest single act performed to defend the Catholic Faith was without doubt the consecration of four bishops by Archbishop Lefebvre in Ecône, Switzerland on June 30th, 1988. This act was the crowning glory of his long and distinguished career in the service of the Catholic Church. The 30th anniversary of this great event having just passed, it deserves to be commemorated by a presentation of what led up to it, and what has followed from it.
What led up to it was the dramatic split at the second Vatican Council between Catholic Authority and Catholic Truth. Catholic Authority exists primarily to defend Catholic Truth: Peter, when you have recovered the Truth, then exert your authority to confirm your brethren in the Faith, says Our Lord to the Head of His Church, just before His Passion. But at Vatican II the mass of the Church’s bishops and leaders voted for the liberty, equality and fraternity of the French Revolution to be brought inside the Church as religious liberty, collegiality and ecumenism. To get in step with the modern revolutionary world the Catholic churchmen imposed on the entire Church to get out of step with God. The result was a crisis in the Church, unprecedented in all her history, and which is still raging.
The first part of what follows will present the action taken by Archbishop Lefebvre to counter this crisis. Since the Archbishop himself is the best commentator on his action, the second part will summarize all the important answers he gave to questions put to him in an interview in 1989, one year after the consecrations, and each answer will be followed by a brief up-date from today, 30 years after the Consecrations. Firstly, what led up to them.
Following the Council’s split between Catholic Authority and that Catholic Truth which it should have faithfully defended, all Catholics were from now on torn apart. In order to fit with modern man, Catholic Authority (the Pope and bishops) had broken with Catholic Truth (the Church’s unchanging doctrine). Therefore Catholics either obeyed Catholic Authority and more or less abandoned Catholic Truth, or they clung to Catholic Truth and were forced to “disobey” (at least in appearance) their Catholic authorities. All too many Catholics – both clergy and laity – lacked a true grip on Catholic doctrine, and that is why the false Council – unfaithful to Catholic Truth – was overwhelmingly accepted in the years after the Council. At that Council the shepherds had gone astray and easily most of the Catholic sheep followed, so that the Catholic Church steadily changed into what could be called the Conciliar Church, just as the nightingale’s nest, when occupied by cuckoos, could be called the cuckoo’s nest.
But, by a special grace of God, Archbishop Lefebvre never lost his grip on Catholic Truth, unlike the mass of his fellow bishops in the 1960’s. That is why he never mistook the song of cuckoos for the song of nightingales and that is why in 1970 he founded a school of nightingales or a truly Catholic seminary with a truly Catholic Congregation or Society, the Society of St. Pius X, to form truly Catholic priests so that all Catholics still wishing to save their souls would have available to them the soul-saving Catholic doctrine and sacraments of all time, not contaminated by Conciliar cuckoos, so to speak.
But the Conciliar churchmen in Rome did not want the old religion to continue, because by its Truth it discredits them as Catholic authorities. Therefore in 1974 they sent a delegation to inspect the Archbishop’s seminary in Ecône. In 1975 they summoned him to Rome to justify his continuing the old religion, and they punished him by suspending him from his episcopal functions. The Archbishop defied that suspension because it had come from Church Authority, but it was not in accordance with Justice because it was not in accordance with Catholic Truth, which Catholic Authority only exists to serve. So the Archbishop always considered the suspension to be invalid, and because he put Truth in front of unfaithful Authority, he paid no attention to the suspension, and so Ecône continued.
As a result, in 1976, when he ordained the first large batch of priests for the Society, a dozen in number, Rome condemned the Society. But the Archbishop again put Truth in front of Authority because the condemnation was based on the invalid suspension, and so again Ecône continued. And why did the Archbishop put Truth in front? Because the fruits of the Council were showing more and more clearly that Vatican II had been introducing a new religion. The Archbishop was all the time more clearly right when he said that the Catholic Faith itself was at stake in the continuing or closing of Ecône.
And more and more Catholics were agreeing with the Archbishop, both clergy and laity, which is why Rome backed off from attacking him. For in the wake of their condemning the Society, at the famous Lille Mass in August of 1976, a spontaneous crowd of 10,000 Catholics in attendance launched what came to be known as the Traditional movement. These Catholics were seeing that the Faith was at stake and that the Archbishop was its defender, and they showed that Tradition was not going to go away.
Hence for the next 12 years, from 1976 to 1988, Rome used all its Authority to attempt to get the Archbishop to give up his old Catholic Truth and to get in step with the Brave New World with its New World Order and with its religious department, the Catholic Church as taken over and occupied by the Conciliar churchmen so as to present in face of the Archbishop what he never hesitated to brand as the “Conciliar Church.” Not that there were ever two churches, strictly speaking, but there was the single nest occupied by a quite different kind of bird – the Catholic Church with all its institutions, taken over by Conciliarists, or followers of Vatican II.
And so for 12 years Rome attempted to get the Archbishop and his Society to adopt its Council, while the Archbishop for his part was always ready to go down to Rome and to talk to the Romans. Not that there was ever any question of the Archbishop’s abandoning the Truth, but he did remotely hope to benefit the entire Universal Church by getting Rome to return to the Truth, and to abandon its deadly Council. However, for there to be any meeting of minds, or agreement, the Council was always in its documents themselves so far from Catholic Tradition and Truth that there were only three possibilities – either Rome renounced its Council, or the Archbishop gave up on Truth, or they met in some impossible half-way house – oil and water will not mix, godliness and godlessness will not mix, Vatican II and Catholic Truth will not mix, however smoothly one talks or however severely one shakes them together.
Therefore for those dozen years, the Society grew stronger in Truth all over the world, while Rome by insisting on the Council reduced ever more of the Catholic Church to ruins. Truly, it was a war of religion, a war between two religions, which is always the fiercest of wars. However, Rome held one trump card in its hand, and that was the age of the Archbishop. Born in 1905, by 1987 he was 82 years old, and he was growing understandably tired from his ceaseless missionary journeys from the past 17 years, undertaken to launch and to guide his Society all over the world.
In these journeys he had succeeded. The Society was on its feet, and fighting for the true Faith, in Europe, in the United States and Canada, in Latin America, in Africa, in New Zealand and Australia. Given how the Church’s Authority steadily disapproved of the Society and how the New World Order absolutely wanted by all means at its disposal to stop the Society from exercising its Old World influence, that worldwide expansion of the Society was an astonishing achievement. But Rome could afford to wait – the Archbishop would have to die.
Of course he knew it himself, and he also knew that his Society would absolutely need bishops to continue the Ordaining of priests and the Confirming of confirmands, as he himself had alone been doing up till then. At the age of 83 he felt his end was coming. So in the summer of 1987 he announced in a sermon that would be sure to reach the ears of Rome that he was going to consecrate some bishops to succeed him, thus ensuring the future of the Society. Rome might have been hoping that he would die leaving no successors, but now they hit the panic button.
They arranged an official Visitation of the Society, worldwide, to observe it in operation. The Visitors could only admire the Catholicity of what they observed, and they said so, for as long as they were in Society houses. However as soon as they got back to Rome they also back-tracked on their testimony – how could they be sure that the reality corresponded to the appearances presented to them? – and so on. Then in the spring of 1988 Rome re-opened direct negotiations with the Archbishop, accompanied by two of his priests, to see if Rome could not grant permission for the Archbishop to consecrate one bishop on terms agreeable to both parties. Here the Archbishop admitted later that in bending over backwards to please Authority he went further than he should have done in bending the Truth, but at least nobody could accuse him of not having done all that he possibly could to conciliate Authority, and to reconcile Authority with the Truth.
In fact, by the Protocol of an agreement which he had initialled on May 5th, last day of negotiations, he had gone too far, but after a sleepless night he realized as much, and on the 6th he took back his initials, and the Romans declared that the Protocol and prospective agreement were now dead in the water. Obviously, they would grant no permission for the consecration of a bishop. But in the course of the negotiations they had granted the principle of a consecration, so that it had seemed that only the date remained to be fixed, but when it came to fixing the date, Cardinal Ratzinger hummed and hawed. The Archbishop was confirmed in his long-standing judgment that the Romans were not honest men, and so he went ahead with the consecration of four bishops and not just one, at the end of June 1988, the event whose 30th anniversary has just occurred.
It was a great event, the crowning glory, as said, of the Archbishop’s long and outstanding career in the Church’s service. Prior to Vatican II, he might have seemed little different from many other outstanding missionary bishops, but subsequent to Vatican II the Archbishop had either an outstanding faith to discern how false was the Council, or outstanding courage to take effective action upon what he had discerned, or both – in any case he stood alone against Church and world for the true Faith, with no episcopal colleague beside him, except Bishop de Castro Mayer from 1981 onwards, and notably at the Consecrations themselves. The Archbishop was immensely grateful for the Bishop’s co-consecrating, because it was the proof that the Consecrations were Catholic, and not just his own fabrication.
Thus whatever further trials Catholic Truth may have to undergo in a world and Conciliar Church departing further and further from God, descending into chaos, in 1988 the survival of Tradition was guaranteed for a certain time at least by the Archbishop’s heroic feat. And how did believing Catholics react? Some 15 Society priests left the Society to form St. Peter’s Fraternity, taking with them much Catholic Truth to put it back under the control of its New World Order enemies, but the rest of the Society’s priests followed the Archbishop, even if some of them – including leaders – were not entirely convinced that Authority should have been defied in order to guarantee Truth. However, despite dire predictions that the Consecrations would put an end to the Society, such a large proportion of so-called Traditionalists rejoiced in the Consecrations that even the Archbishop himself was taken by surprise. Riding high upon the Consecrations, the Society entered upon some of its golden years.
One year after the Consecrations the Archbishop took stock in an interview he gave to “Fideliter,” the monthly magazine of the Society’s French District, in the summer of 1989. Catholics wishing in the 21st Century to keep the Faith cannot be too strongly encouraged to find this eight page interview and to study it in order to enter into the mind of the greatest defender of the Faith in modern times. His thought is being distorted, and so the Society which he bequeathed to Church and world, just when it is most needed, is being laid waste by his successors who wish to put faithful Truth back under faithless Authority. “Forgive them, lord, they know not what they do.” How did it come to this?
By ignorance or deliberate neglect of the principles of the Faith which informed the Archbishop’s decision to consecrate bishops 30 years ago. There is no substitute for reading all of the Archbishop’s answers to the questions put to him by “Fideliter” in 1989. However, let us now give the questions with a summary of his answers and a brief up-date in order to throw the light of 29 further years upon them.
1. Why did you consecrate four bishops last year?
I had to have successors for the Society to survive. When I announced in 1987 that I would consecrate bishops, Rome was ready to make some concessions to stop me from doing so, but I did not trust the Conciliar Romans after 14 years of dealing with them. They did organize a Visitation of the Society, but “very soon we realized we were dealing with people who are not honest.”
In fact we and they were working at cross purposes. All the last minute contacts showed that we wanted to re-christianise the modern world, while they wanted, by following it, to help de-christianise it. For the survival of Catholic Tradition, I was forced to consecrate.
In 2018 the Romans are still clinging to their Council and therefore de-christianising the world, especially Pope Francis. But they still want to seem Christian, so they are still “not honest people.” The huge difference today in relations between the Society and Rome is that Bishop Fellay, the Society’s Superior General, is no longer sure that the Romans are “not honest people.” By virtually trusting them, he has over 20 years changed the Archbishop’s Catholic Society into his own liberal Newsociety, just as Vatican II changed the Catholic Church into the Newchurch.
2. But is not Rome granting a bishop to St. Peter’s Fraternity?
Rome will never grant them a fully Traditional bishop, but only one that they can gently bring round to the Council. But the Church consists essentially of bishops. So if they have none, they have in effect surrendered to the Council. There can be no Tradition without Traditional bishops. It is the Faith which is at stake. Thank goodness the Society now has such bishops.
In 2018, as to bishops, the Newsociety is “up a creek without a paddle.” It desperately needs more bishops, but it will not offend Conciliar Rome, it will insist on having this Rome’s approval of any candidate it proposes. But Conciliar Rome will only approve of Conciliar candidates. Then the Newsociety must either renounce Conciliar approval or it must renounce Traditional candidates. But how then can the Newsociety serve Tradition? Bishop Fellay has driven the Newsociety into a dead end. And let us note that St. Peter’s has still been given no bishop.
3. But could you not have achieved more by staying with the Church?
What Church? The Church occupied and taken over by modernists devoted to the Council? But how do you think Tradition would survive under the command of Conciliarists? That is a complete illusion. Subjects do not form Superiors. Superiors form subjects.
Between 1988 and 2018 we have seen several Traditional groups submit to Conciliar Rome on the grounds that they would be able to preserve Tradition. Not one has been able to do so. “But they do not have bishops, whereas we do,” replies the Newsociety. But the one of its four bishops who would really have resisted, the Newsociety excluded. As for Bishop Fellay, he is all for submitting to the Conciliarists because by re-entering the Conciliar Church he is under the incredible illusion that the Newsociety will be able to convert the Newchurch back into the Catholic Church. And the remaining two bishops are following Bishop Fellay.
4. Do you not risk creating a parallel Church alongside the visible Church?
The true Catholic Church is always visible, but not all visible “churches” are Catholic, unless they have all four notes, namely, “one, holy, catholic and apostolic.” These four notes the Society has. The Conciliar Church does not have them. It is not one with all the centuries of the Catholic Church that went before it. Nor can one argue that the Conciliar Church is infallible because it is the official Church. The Conciliar Popes and Cardinals repudiate infallibility because they are liberals who neither believe in, nor want, any unchanging Truth. The Conciliar Church may be visible, it may be official, but measured by the four notes it is virtually schismatic and virtually excommunicated.
In 2018 the official Church, visible in Rome and all over the world, is still Conciliar, and therefore virtually schismatic and virtually excommunicated. Yet this is the Newchurch into which Bishop Fellay has for 20 years been trying with his liberal colleagues at the top of the Society, to make the Society re-enter. But occupying a nightingale’s nest does not turn cuckoos into nightingales. Bishop Fellay and his colleagues are turning the Archbishop’s Society of Catholic nightingales into their own Newsociety of liberal cuckoos.
5. Could not Catholic priests be formed without requiring Catholic bishops to ordain them?
Then the Catholic seminarians would require Conciliar bishops to ordain them, with all the unpleasant Conciliar consequences. On the contrary, the Society is neither schismatic nor excommunicated, nor against the Pope, when he is faithful, nor against the Church when it is not Conciliar. The Society has simply stood back from the Conciliar Church and Popes in order to continue being Catholic.
I am frightened by the thought of the millions of Catholics now losing the faith because they dare not stand back from Conciliarism.
Not only is Bishop Fellay’s Newsociety no longer standing back from Conciliarism, it is positively striving to put itself back under the command of Conciliarist Romans! But how can they be so unfaithful to their Founder? By ignorance, or pride, or both. They delude themselves, either that Rome has changed (ignorance), or that once re-entered they can convert Rome (ignorance and pride), or that they can “succeed” in achieving “reunion” where the Archbishop “failed” (pride). In any case they have not enough Catholic faith to understand what the Archbishop was really doing.
6. But could you not reconcile with Rome?
That is the suggestion of a particular Catholic priest who is obliged to admit that the Council’s doctrine of religious liberty is a serious problem. Indeed the Council no longer measures liberty by freedom to do what is objectively good, but by freedom to follow my subjective conscience. But this is the death of the Catholic Church. And when we sent our official objections to Rome, the Conciliar Romans responded with errors even worse than those of the Council itself. Such actions favour Communism.
Since the secret-but-not-secret contacts between Rome and Ecône of the 1990’s, Bishop Fellay has been leading the Newsociety’s attempts to reconcile with Rome. In 2018 he does-not-intend-but-intends to be re-elected again as Superior General of the Newsociety in order to complete the reconciliation. But did he not learn at Ecône under the Archbishop how wrong is the Council’s doctrine of religious liberty? Of course he did, but he is a liberal, and so his words go one way, his actions go another way. He knows Catholic doctrine, but he does not act upon it, because in reality he does not take it seriously. Yet he pretends that he does!
7. You accuse the Church of favouring Communism, but a Roman Cardinal was recently refused entry to the Ukraine.
He jumped the gun. Communist-Catholic friendship is not quite there yet. But all of the outreach of Conciliar Popes towards the Communists, as though they are normal people, does terrible harm to simple Catholics. To respect error and vice as though they are truth and virtue ruins Christian morality, and ruins life in society.
In 2018 the problem of the Conciliar churchmen fraternising with vice and error in politics is the same, only now it applies less to Russia, which is undergoing a real religious revival, and much more to the Western nations which are becoming Communist in all but name. This is because the essence of Communism is materialistic atheism, now rampant in the West. Conciliarism is tantamount to materialistic atheism occupying the Catholic Church.
8. Does not Pope John-Paul II defend Catholic morals?
As to general guide-lines, yes, but as to taking a strong stand on particular issues, no. For instance, priests favouring contraception are allowed to go ahead.
On many particular issues Pope Francis now attacks Catholic morals. The Conciliar Church is sinking all the time. Yet the Newsociety still strives to put itself under the Conciliar Romans!
9. But are there no signs from Rome of some return to Tradition?
Some signs, yes, but a real return, no. This is because in any revolution it is necessary to hold back the extremists who are going too far, too fast. That is merely good tactics in any fight. But the fundamental errors of the Conciliar revolution are still accepted and put into practice even by supposedly conservative bishops. The return to Tradition does not go deep in the Conciliar Church, especially when highly dangerous revolutionaries like Mons. Kasper are still being promoted.
The situation inside the Conciliar Church still proceeds along the same lines. Mons. Athanasius Schneider is held up as an example of a neo-conservative bishop, but he still believes in the Council. As for Mons. Kasper, he is a Newcardinal, and plays a prominent role in the Conciliar Church.
10. Are there no Cardinals taking a turn for the better, e.g. Cardinals Ratzinger and Mayer?
Any such turn for the better on their part would seem rather to be exceptional and temporary. For instance, in allowing use of the Tridentine rite of Mass, it is usually for particular communities only, and only by that Indult which is always a special permission that can be taken back. In other words, there is no question of the Cardinals’ going back on the new Mass. On the contrary. (And now the Archbishop’s own very important words) “That is why what can look like a concession (of the Conciliarists) is in reality merely a manoeuvre to separate from us the longest possible number of faithful. This is the perspective in which they seem to be always giving a little more and even going very far. We must absolutely convince our faithful that it is no more than a manoeuvre, that it is dangerous to put oneself into the hands of Conciliar bishops and modernist Rome. It is the greatest danger threatening our people. If we have struggled for 20 years to avoid the Conciliar errors, it was not in order, now, to put ourselves in the hands of those professing these errors.”
When one observes over the last 20 years the determination and cunning with which Bishop Fellay, and the Menzingen Headquarters of the Society which he has formed around himself, have pursued the goal of “putting themselves in the hands of those professing the Conciliar errors,” one can only think of Little Red Riding Hood putting herself in the power of the Big Bad Wolf – except that Little Red Riding Hood never resorted to habitual ambiguity or downright lies. This warning of the Archbishop cannot be taken too seriously by Catholics wishing to save their souls. It has been completely disregarded by the Society’s leaders for the past 20 years.
11. Have the four new bishops given you satisfaction since their consecration last year?
Up till now, yes. Without claiming any territorial jurisdiction, all four are replacing me for Ordinations and Confirmations all over the world. Territorially, it is the Society’s District Superiors who are responding to local Catholics’ call for help. After all, Catholics have a right to the sacraments and Truth by which to save their souls, and Canon Law grants to the Society priests the right to respond to their appeals.
Last year we lost some priests and we have lost some faithful, but (crucial words of the Archbishop himself) “we may thank the good lord for having allowed those who are not completely in agreement with us, who do not completely understand what we are fighting for, to leave us.” If those who do not agree stayed with us there would be disorder and division. Yet we have suffered no considerable drop in numbers.
Alas, the Archbishop’s Society has been gravely misled over the last 20 years by conscious or unconscious liberals, by Society priests who have never “completely understood” what the Archbishop, “was fighting for.” Instead of honestly leaving the Society and re-joining the Conciliar Church, they have stayed within the Society to make it abandon the Archbishop’s stand for the Faith. Oh, they have disguised their abandon, but if they now complete it at the 2018 General Chapter, then the fruits of their abandon will rapidly make clear what is still not clear to many deceived Catholics. God, have mercy!
12. Did you recently meet Cardinal Thiaudoum seeking a reconciliation?
Yes, but he offered no real opening on the part of Rome. In fact, actions speak louder than words, so that if there is anything that persuades Rome to take Tradition seriously, it is not sweet words but the Society’s opening of houses on the ground, one after another. Rome knows what is going on. So I think it is pointless for me to try to contact them. Alas, we must wait for the situation getting worse and worse to open their eyes.
Alas, since 1989 the situation in Church and world has grown immensely worse, but far from opening Rome’s eyes, that has merely closed the eyes of the Society’s leaders. They have no grasp of the deepest problem of all, ruining Church and world, namely the loss of Truth and the corresponding loss of Faith, because these leaders are children of that modern world. They may be pious, and think that their piety makes them supernatural, but their piety has no foundation in reality, so that their “supernatural spirit” is unreal. They will have to learn the hard way that the Archbishop was right after all.
13. Why did Rome not grant you just one bishop? Surely that was not too much to grant?
The reason was surely their fear of Tradition. Just one bishop working for Tradition is one too many for them.
It is surely for the same reason that for 20 years Rome has been skilfully leading up the garden path Bishop Fellay and his Menzingen. Rome must cripple any potentially serious opposition to their Council.
14. What do you think of Rome’s recent “Oath of Fidelity”?
It is in three parts, and the first two parts are Catholic – no problem. But the third part is very bad, because it requires anybody taking the oath to get in line with the diocesan bishops, in other words with the Council. It refers explicitly to the Council and to the “Magisterium of Today.” But this Oath’s loyalty to the Council is absolutely opposed to the Anti-Modernist Oath which was loyal to Tradition. This Oath is sheer trickery.
I wonder if Rome is not recovering lost ground, ground that it lost when it signed the Protocol of May 5th last year. Just as I realized that I had gone too far by signing, so Rome may regret not having sufficiently expressed in the Protocol the need to submit to the Council. All who now sign the oath will be obliged to make an official act of joining the Conciliar Church.
There is no way in which Conciliar Rome can officially recognize the Society without some insistence or other on acceptance of the Council and the New Mass. Bishop Fellay must either betray Tradition by accepting them, or admit that he has been misleading the Society for 20 years, which he is not likely to do.
15. Do you have any doubts or regrets for last year’s Consecrations?
No. I think they were Providential and almost miraculous. I could have done them sooner, but I am glad I waited, so as to show Rome that I did all I could to obtain official authorization for them. On signing the Protocol granting a bishop, Rome still refused the bishop. They would have continued to throw every obstacle in the way had an agreement been signed by both parties along the lines of the Protocol. I was right to take it back, and to consecrate without their permission.
Just one year later Bishop de Castro Mayer is so tired that he could never now have taken part in consecrating the four bishops, as he did last year. But his participation was crucial proof that I was not just fabricating the whole event out of my own head. His presence and his valiant sermon proved that the event was Catholic and not just “Lefebvrist.”
For myself I still feel well, but I have reached my limits. I can no longer perform the heavy ceremonies, nor undertake worldwide journeys. I leave that to my successors. The ceremony itself was a great gift of God. May He grant more and more Catholics to see that salvation is in Tradition and not in the Conciliar Church.
More and more Catholics have indeed come over to Tradition since the Archbishop died in 1991, but with regard to the Society, the Devil has not been sleeping. Within a few years a French diplomat was proposing that Rome and Ecône should reconcile, by leaving aside questions of doctrine, and by each of them moderating their antagonism. And within a few more years, thanks to GREC, secret-but-not-secret contacts were re-opened, everybody discovered once more how nice everybody was, and hey presto, by 2012 the Society officially left doctrine to one side in the hope of coming to a non-doctrinal agreement. Like the modern world, like the Conciliar Church, the Society was letting go of the Truth.
However, with or without the Society, God will save His Church, through His Mother. We beg Her to obtain the salvation of as many souls as possible, and we thank Her profoundly for the true principles and heroic example of her faithful servant, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
+ Richard Williamson
Brewster, New York State, July 5, 2018