Author's Introduction

I must begin my introduction with an explanation of the title of this book. Many of those who read it will know little or nothing about Archbishop Lefebvre when they begin. If they are Catholics they will have gathered from the official Catholic press that he is a French bishop who refuses to use the new rite of Mass and has a seminary in Switzerland where he trains priests in defiance of the Vatican. He will have been presented to them as an anachronism, a man completely out of step with the mainstream of contemporary Catholic thought, a man who is unable to adapt, to update himself. He is portrayed as little more than an historical curiosity, of no significance in the post-conciliar Church, a man whose views do not merit consideration. The Archbishop is often subjected to serious misrepresentation; he is alleged to have totally rejected the Second Vatican Council or to be linked with extreme right-wing political movements. A sad example of this form of misrepresentation is a pamphlet published by the Catholic Truth Society of England and Wales in 1976. It is entitled Light on Archbishop Lefebvre and the author is Monsignor George Leonard, at that time Chief Information Officer of the Catholic Information Office of England and Wales. I wrote to Mgr. Leonard pointing out that he had seriously misrepresented the Archbishop and suggested that he should either substantiate or withdraw his allegations. He answered in strident and emotive terms refusing to do either. I replied to Mgr. Leonard's attack on the Archbishop in a pamphlet entitled Archbishop Lefebvre - The Truth. This evoked such interest that several reprints were necessary to cope with the demand and it gained the Archbishop much new support. In this pamphlet I explained that the only way to refute the type of attack made by Mgr. Leonard was to present the entire truth - to write an apologia. The early Christian apologists wrote their "apologies" to gain a fair hearing for Christianity and dispel popular myths and slanders. It is in this sense that the word "apologia" is used in my title, i. e. as "a reasoned explanation" and not an "apology" in the sense of contemporary usage.
The classic apologia of modern times is the Apologia Pro Vita Sua of Cardinal Newman. Newman had been seriously misrepresented by Charles Kingsley who refused to provide the unqualified public apology which was requested. Newman's reply proved to be one of the greatest autobiographies in the English language and almost certainly the greatest prose work outside the realm of fiction to appear in English during the nineteenth century - and ironically our thanks for it must be directed to an implacable opponent of Newman and Catholicism.
My own Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre may be devoid of literary merit but it is certainly not without historic interest and those who appreciate its publication must direct their thanks to Mgr. Leonard without whom it would never have been written.
Incidentally, my pamphlet replying to Mgr. Leonard proved so popular that the publisher followed it up with others and thus began the Augustine Pamphlet Series which now has sales running into tens of thousands and includes works by theologians of international repute.
Although this book certainly would not have been written had it not been for Mgr. Leonard it could not have been written had it not been for Jean Madiran, the Editor of Itinéraires. Itinéraires is certainly the most valuable Catholic review appearing in the world today. It contains documentation that would not otherwise be published together with commentaries and articles by some of France's most outstanding Catholic intellectuals; men, alas, who have no counterpart in the English-speaking world. The debt my book owes to Itinéraires is incalculable. It provides the source for most of the original documents included together with the articles by Jean Madiran and Louis Salleron which I have had translated. Some of the material in my commentaries on the documents also originates with Itinéraires. A detailed list of sources for all the material in the Apologia will be provided in Volume II.
The scope of the Apologia is limited. It deals principally with the relations between the Archbishop and the Vatican. It does not deal with the activities of the Society of Saint Pius X in any individual country. I am certainly not committed to the view that every action and every opinion of the Archbishop, still less of every priest in the Society, #4, rue Garanciere, 75006, Paris, France is necessarily wise and prudent. I mention this because the reader who is not familiar with the "Econe affair" may consider that my attitude to the Archbishop and the Society is too uncritical and therefore unobjective. My book is objective but it is not impartial. It is objective because I have presented all the relevant documents both for and against Mgr. Lefebvre, something his opponents have never done. It is partial because I believe the evidence proves him to be right and I state this. However, the reader is quite at liberty to ignore my commentary and use the documentation to reach a different conclusion. Clearly, the value of the book derives from the documentation and not the commentary.
I am convinced that the Apologia will be of enduring historical value because I am convinced that the Archbishop will occupy a major position in the history of post-conciliar Catholicism. The most evident trend in mainstream Christianity since the Second World War has been the tendency to replace the religion of God made Man with the religion of man made God. Although Christians still profess theoretical concern for the life to come their efforts are increasingly taken up with building a paradise on earth. The logical outcome of this attitude will be the discarding of the supernatural element of Christianity as irrelevant. Since the Second Vatican Council this movement has gained considerable momentum within the Catholic Church, both officially and unofficially, and, during the pontificate of Pope Paul VI, appeared to be sweeping all before it. No one was more aware of this than Pope Paul VI himself who made frequent pronouncements condemning this tendency and stressing the primacy of the spiritual. But in practice, Pope Paul VI did little or nothing to halt the erosion of the traditional faith. He reprimanded Modernists but permitted them to use official Church structures to destroy the faith, yet took the most drastic steps to stamp out the Society of St. Pius X. At the time this introduction is being written, June 1979, there are signs of hope that Pope John Paul II will be prepared not simply to speak but to act in defense of the faith. This is something we should pray for daily. It hardly needs stating that the criticism of the Holy See contained in this first volume of the Apologia applies only to the pontificate of Pope Paul VI. Not one word in the book should be construed as reflecting unfavorably upon the present Holy Father. It is my hope that in the second volume I will be able to give the details of an agreement between the Pope and the Archbishop. This is also something for which we should pray.
The reason I believe that Archbishop Lefebvre will occupy a major position in the history of the post-conciliar Church is that he had the courage and foresight to take practical steps to preserve the traditional faith. Unlike many conservative Catholics he saw that it was impossible to wage an effective battle for orthodoxy within the context of the official reforms as these reforms were themselves oriented towards the cult of man. The Archbishop appreciated that the liturgical reform in particular must inevitably compromise Catholic teaching on the priesthood and the Mass, the twin pillars upon which our faith is built.1 The sixteenth-century Protestant Reformers had also realized that if they could undermine the priesthood there would be no Mass and the Church would be destroyed. The Archbishop founded the Society of St. Pius X with its seminary at Econe not as an act of rebellion but to perpetuate the Catholic priesthood, and for no other purpose. Indeed, as my book will show, the Society at first enjoyed the approbation of the Holy See but the success of the seminary soon aroused the animosity of powerful Liberal forces within the Church, particularly in France. They saw it as a serious threat to their plans for replacing the traditional faith with a new ecumenical and humanistically oriented religion. This is the reason they brought such pressure to bear upon Pope Paul VI. There is no doubt that the demands for the destruction of Econe emanated principally from the French Hierarchy which, through Cardinal Villot, the Secretary of State, was ideally placed to pressurize the Pope.
A number of those who have reviewed my previous books have been kind enough to say that they are very readable. Unfortunately, the format of Apologia is not conducive to easy reading. My principal objective has been to provide a comprehensive fund of source material which will be useful to those wishing to study the controversy between the Archbishop and the Vatican. After various experiments I concluded that the most satisfactory method was to observe strict chronological order as far as possible. This meant that I could not assemble the material in a manner that was always the most effective for maintaining interest. The fact that I had to quote so many documents in full also impedes the flow of the narrative. However, if the reader bears in mind the fact that the events described in the book represent not simply a confrontation of historic dimensions but a very moving human drama, then it should never appear too dull. Mgr Lefebvre's inner conflict must have been more dramatic than his conflict with Pope Paul VI. No great novelist could have a more challenging theme than that of a man whose life had been dedicated to upholding the authority of the papacy faced with the alternative of disobeying the Pope or complying with an order to destroy an apostolate which he honestly believed was vital for the future of the Church. Let no one imagine that the decision the Archbishop took was taken lightly or was easy to make.
The reader will find frequent suggestions that he should refer to an event in its correct chronological sequence and to facilitate this a chronological index has been provided. If this page is marked it will enable the reader to refer to any event mentioned in the book without difficulty.
As the reader will appreciate, I could never have written a book of this extent without considerable help - particularly as I was working on two other books simultaneously. Some of those who gave their help unstintingly have expressed a wish to remain anonymous, including the individual to whom I am most indebted for help with the translations. I must also thank Simone Macklow-Smith and my son Adrian for assistance in this respect. I must make special mention of Norah Haines without whose help the typescript would still be nowhere near completion. I am indebted to David Gardner and Mary Buckalew whose competent proof-reading will be evident to the discerning reader. Above all I must thank Carlita Brown who set the book up single-handed and had it ready for publication within three months. She would certainly wish me to mention all the members of the Angelus Press who have contributed to the publication of the Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre.
Despite all our efforts, a book of this size is certain to contain at least a few errors and I would appreciate it if they could be brought to my attention for correction in any future printing or for mention in Volume II. I can make no promise regarding the publication of the second volume of Apologia beyond an assurance that it will appear eventually. It will almost certainly be preceded by a book on the treatment of the question of religious liberty in the documents of Vatican II. The Archbishop's stand on the question of religious liberty is less familiar to English-speaking traditionalists than his stand on the Mass but it is no less important as it involves the very nature of the Church. He refused to sign Dignitatis Humanae, the Council's Declaration on Religious Liberty, because he considered it incompatible with previous authoritative and possibly infallible papal teaching. My book will provide all the necessary documentation to evaluate this very serious charge which is also examined briefly in Appendix IV to the present work.
Finally, I would like to assure the reader that although I have written much that is critical of the Holy See and Pope Paul VI in this book this does not imply any lack of loyalty to the Church and the Pope. When a subordinate is honestly convinced that his superior is pursuing a mistaken policy he shows true loyalty by speaking out. This is what prompted St. Paul to withstand St. Peter "to his face because he was to be blamed" (Galatians 2:11). The first duty of a Catholic is to uphold the faith and save his own soul. As I show in Appendices I and II, there is ample precedent in the history of the Church to show that conflict with the Holy See has sometimes been necessary to achieve these ends. Archbishop Lefebvre has stated on many occasions that all he is doing is to uphold the faith as he received it. Those who condemn him condemn the Faith of their Fathers.
Michael Davies
20 June 1979
St. Silverius, Pope and Martyr.
Si diligis me, Simon Petre.
pasce agnos meos,
Pasce oves meas.
1. Let anyone who doubts this compare the new and old rites of ordination. A detailed comparison has been made in my book The Order of Melchisedech. 

Chapter 1. Who is Marcel Lefebvre?

MARCEL LEFEBVRE was born at Tourcoing in northern France on 29 November 1905. His parents were exemplary Catholics. His father owned a textile factory and was a daily communicant who would assist at Mass at a quarter past six each morning and recite his rosary before arriving at the factory to begin work ahead of his employees. Each evening he would be the last to leave. The welfare of his employees was always a primary consideration for him. The textile industry was to a very large extent dependent upon fluctuations of the market and in 1929, the year of Marcel's ordination, Monsieur Lefebvre was declared bankrupt and the family suffered financial ruin. But with characteristic resolution he set to work and succeeded in building up his business again.
From the age of eighteen he had been a brancardier at Lourdes, work to which he remained faithful throughout his life. He was also a tertiary of the Third Order of St. Francis. When the First World War broke out he joined a society dedicated to saving wounded soldiers and he made frequent trips to Belgium, passing through the crossfire of the French and German armies to bring back wounded soldiers to hospital in Tourcoing. When Tourcoing came under German occupation he organized the escape of British prisoners. He later escaped to Paris and worked for the French Intelligence Service under the name of Lefort for the rest of the war, frequently undertaking the most dangerous missions. All this became known to the Germans who kept his name on record. When Tourcoing was occupied during the Second World War he was arrested and sent to prison at Sonnenburg where he was confined in the most degrading conditions and treated with extreme brutality His companions in prison have testified to his extraordinary courage, his complete resignation to the decisions of divine Providence, and the inspiration he imparted to them all in the midst of terrible suffering. His greatest sorrow was that he had to die without seeing his children again.
The mother of the Archbishop was born Gabrielle Watine. All who knew her considered her to be a saint. The story of her life was written by a French priest in 1948. Gabrielle was celebrated not simply for sanctity but for strength of character. During the absence of her husband in the First World War she directed the factory, looked after her children, cared for the wounded, found time to visit the sick and the poor, and organized resistance against the Germans. She was arrested and subjected to an extremely harsh imprisonment, was distraught at the separation from her children, and became gravely ill. The German Commandant, anxious and embarrassed, promised to release her if she would write a note begging him to pardon her. She refused to do so, being prepared to die rather than compromise on a matter of principle. Fearing the consequences of her death, the Commandant ordered her release and she returned to her children broken in health but unbroken in spirit. When she eventually died after long years of suffering all who knew her testified that her death was the death of a saint, and there are numerous testimonies to favors obtained through her intercession.
Marcel was brought up in a family characterized by the highest standards of piety, discipline, and morality - and it was the example of the parents which above all formed the characters of the eight children. Five of them are now priests or religious and the entire family still remains closely united. As a child Marcel was always good humored and industrious with a particular love of manual work. While a seminary student he installed an electrical system in his parents' home with all the skill of a professional electrician.
After his vocation to the priesthood became apparent he studied in his own diocese and then in the French Seminary in Rome. He obtained doctorates in philosophy and theology. He was ordained priest on 21 September 1929.
His first appointment was to the working-class parish of Marais-de-Lomme, where he was extremely happy and well loved by the parishioners. The impact he made is well illustrated by an incident involving the death of a virulent anticlerical. This type of person is virtually unknown in English-speaking countries, where those who are not religious tend to be indifferent. In most Catholic countries there are people possessed by a fierce hatred for the Church and above all for the clergy, whom they associate with everything that is retrogressive and repressive in life. This particular individual remained inflexible until the end, but just before his death he said that he would see a priest - but it would have to be the young curate as he at least wasn't "one of them"!
In 1932 Father Lefebvre joined the Holy Ghost Fathers and was sent to Gabon as a missionary, where he remained throughout the war. This was, he testifies, one of the happiest periods of his life.
In 1946 he was recalled to France to become Superior of a seminary at Mortain, but he returned to Africa when he was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Dakar on 12 June 1947. On 22 September 1948 he was appointed Apostolic Delegate (the Pope's personal representative) for the whole of Frenchspeaking Africa - a mark of the great confidence placed in him by Pope Pius XII. He was appointed as the first Archbishop of Dakar on 14 September 1955.
Even Mgr. Lefebvre's most severe critics have been forced to testify to the efficacy of his apostolate in Africa. In 1976, a Swiss priest, Father Jean Anzevui, who had been welcomed as a guest at Ecône on a number of occasions, published a most distasteful attack upon the Archbishop, entitled Le Drame d’Ecône. Father Anzevui's assessment of Mgr. Lefebvre's apostolate is all the more remarkable from an avowed opponent. He states:
During his thirty year apostolate in Africa the role of Mgr. Lefebvre was of the very highest importance. His fellow missionaries still remember his extraordinary missionary zeal which was revealed in his exceptional abilities as an organizer and a man of action. He persuaded a number of congregations which had previously shown no interest in the missions to undertake work in Africa. He was responsible for the construction of large numbers of churches and the foundation of charitable works of every kind . . . . they are all agreed in recognizing his magnificent career, his courtesy, his affability, his natural and simple distinction, the dignity of his perfect life, his austerity, his piety and his absolute devotion to any task which he undertook.1
The Testimony of Father Cosmao
On 8 September 1977 Suisse Romande Television devoted a long programme to the Ecône seminary and Mgr. Lefebvre. During the programme there was a discussion between the commentator and Father Cosmao, a Dominican who had been Superior of the house of his order in Dakar for several years while Mgr. Lefebvre was Apostolic Delegate and Archbishop of Dakar. The testimony of Father Cosmao carries considerable weight and it is included here in full together with some comments by Louis Salleron.
Text and commentary appeared in the Courrierde Rome, No. 175, p. 12.
Commentator: Was the prelate (Mgr. Lefebvre) an important person in the Church?
Fr. Cosmao: He had complete power in the Church in the whole of French Africa, from the Sahara to Madagascar. In the Africa which at that time was still French. And he was one of the most important personages in the Church at the end of Pius XII's pontificate.
Commentator: Did he do well, standing for the Church in Africa of that period?
Fr. Cosmao: He did indeed. Christians and priests thought of him as one of themselves. He really stood for that Church at the time. The fact is, it is the Church which has changed, not Mgr. Lefebvre. The Church has changed most profoundly and in particular because she has come to accept what has been happening in Europe since the end of the 18th century, in the train of the philosophy of illuminism and the French Revolution.
Commentator: What, in fact, has been happening?
Fr. Cosmao: Until then the Church made the kings, and by that made the organization of society sacrosanct. When that organization of society no longer corresponded to the actual relations between social groups, it was necessary, in order to transform that social organization, to take away its sacred character, and in so doing to tear the Church away from the position she held in European societies; and finally the Church, in the course of the decades, has come to understand that the criticism of her role under the Ancien Regime was justified, and that it was that very criticism which could renew her from top to bottom. I think that Vatican II, in large part, is the conclusion of that process of growing awareness; and it is that conclusion and the whole process leading it which Mgr. Lefebvre cannot accept, because, to my mind, he is really the representative of that Church which as sure of its truth, its right, its power, and which thought she alone had the power to say how society should be organized. And today Mgr. Lefebvre reproaches the Church not with no longer speaking Latin and no longer offering Mass in the rite of Saint Pius V but, as others put it, surrendering the World on the pretext of a desire to enter it, and subjecting herself to the new world. That is the reproach which issued logically from the Church of yesterday. It is he who is faithful, in a certain way; but his fidelity is to a Church whose attitude in history, as we have come to understand, some more quickly than others, is in contradiction with the demands of the Gospel.
Professor Salleron comments:
"For Fr. Cosmao's candor there can be nothing but praise. In his opinion, it is not Mgr. Lefebvre who has changed but the Church. In a certain way it is Mgr. Lefebvre who is faithful. The fact is that Mgr. Lefebvre's reproach to the church of today concerns not Latin and liturgy primarily but her alliance with the World etc....
Nostalgia? Vague remorse? Provocation? Indifference? It hard to discover Fr. Cosmao's secret feelings. But he bears witness to a fact: the Church has changed, and changed ‘most profoundly,' on that fact we agree - everybody agrees. But we need to know how deep that profound change goes: or better, what is the nature of the change.
It was in 1950 that Teilhard de Chardin wrote to a priest who had left the Church: `Essentially I think as you do that the Church (like any living reality after a certain time) comes a period of "moulting", or "necessary reform." After two thousand years it is inevitable. Humanity is in process of moulting. How can Christianity avoid doing the same? More precisely, I think that the Reform in question (much more profound than that of the 16th century) is no longer a simple matter of institution and morals, but of Faith . . . .'
That conviction of Teilhard's is now widespread. Officially it is rejected, but semi-officially it is propagated in theology, liturgy, catechism, and the Catholic press, with an ambiguity less and less ambiguous-why bother, when you have the `machine' under your control? There is no need to recall the most striking examples: they have appeared time and time again in the Courtier de Rome, La Pensee catholique, Itineraires, the Courtier de Pierre Debray, and many other publications. That the Histoire des crises du clergé français contemporain of Paul Vigneron should, in spite of its moderation, have been passed over in silence or merely mentioned in the semi-official Catholic press, while Le christianisme va-t-il mourir? of Jean Delumeau, which condemns 1500 years of the Church's history and announces, as the Good News, the era of the Liberal Evangelical Church, should have received the Catholic Grand Prix de Littérature, is a 'sign of e times' of tragic dimensions. It is indeed a New Religion which the innovators are promising us. Fr. Cosmao bears witness to the fact. It is a pity he has not told us clearly what he thinks of it."
Vatican II and Retirement
Mgr. Lefebvre was appointed to the Central Preparatory Commission of the Second Vatican Council in 1960 by Pope John XXIII - proof that the confidence placed in him by Pope John was no less than that of Pope Pius XII.
On 23 January 1962 he resigned his archbishopric in favor a native African, now His Eminence Cardinal Hyacinthe Thiandoum, who had been ordained by Mgr. Lefebvre, who regards himself as his spiritual son, and who did all in his power to effect a reconciliation between the Archbishop and Pope Paul VI.
On 23 January 1962, Mgr. Lefebvre was appointed Bishop of Tulle in France, upon the personal insistence of Pope John XXIII, despite opposition from the already Liberal-dominated French hierarchy. Then, in July 1962, he was elected Superior-General of the Holy Ghost Fathers (the world's leading missionary order). After some hesitation he accepted this post upon the insistence of the General Chapter and the advice of Pope John. It involved him in travelling all over the world to visit the various branches of the order. There were few other prelates on the eve of the Council with his first-hand experience of the state of the Church throughout the world.
A series of draft documents for the Council Fathers to discuss had been drawn up by scholars selected from the entire world. These draft documents (schemata) were the fruit of an intensive two year effort by 871 scholars ranging from cardinals to laymen. Mgr. Vincenzo Carbone, of the General Secretariat, was able to claim with perfect accuracy that no other Council had had a preparation "so vast, so diligently carried out, and so profound."2 Mgr. Lefebvre writes:
I took part in the preparations for the Council as a member of the Central Preparatory Commission. Thus, for two years I was present at all its meetings. It was the business of the Central Commission to check and examine all the preparatory schemata issued by all the committees. Consequently I was well placed for knowing what had been done, what remained to be examined and what was to be put forward during the Council.
This work was carried out very conscientiously and with a concern for perfection. I possess the seventy-two prepatory schemata and can state, speaking generally, in these seventy-two schemata the doctrine of the Church was absolutely orthodox and there was hardly any need for retouching. There was, therefore, a fine piece of work for presentation to the Council - schemata in conformity with the Church's teaching, adapted to some extent to our era, but with prudence and wisdom.
Now you know what happened at the Council. A fortnight after its opening not one of the prepared schemata remained, not one! All had been turned down, all had been condemned to the wastepaper basket. Nothing remained, not a single sentence. All had been thrown out.3
During the course of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), Mgr. Lefebvre was one of the leaders of the International Group of Fathers (Coetus Internationalis Patrum) which sought to uphold the traditional Catholic faith. The role of Mgr. Lefebvre during the Council will not be discussed in this book as it is fully documented in his own book, A Bishop Speaks, and in my own account of Vatican II, Pope John's Council. The texts of Mgr. Lefebvre's interventions, and a good deal of supplementary information, are now available in French in his book, J'Accuse le Concile. An English translation of this book is pending. All that needs to be stated here is that Mgr. Lefebvre, in his criticisms of the reforms which have followed the Council, and of certain passages in the documents themselves, is not being wise after the event. He was one of the very few Fathers of Vatican II who, while the Council was still in progress, had both the perspicacity to recognize deficiencies in certain documents and the courage to predict the disastrous results to which these deficiencies must inevitably give rise.
By 1968 the General Chapter of the Holy Ghost Fathers had become dominated by a Liberal majority which was determined to reform the Order in a sense contrary to Catholic tradition. Mgr. Lefebvre resigned in June of that year rather than collaborate in what would be the virtual destruction of the Order as it had previously existed. He retired to Rome with a modest pension which was just sufficient to rent a small apartment in the Via Monserrato from some nuns. After a full and active life devoted to the service of the Church and the glory of God he was more than content to spend his remaining years in quietness and prayer. In the light of subsequent events, Mgr. Lefebvre's unobtrusive retirement is a fact upon which considerable stress must be laid. Some of his enemies have accused him of being proud and stubborn, a man who could not accept defeat. He is portrayed as a proponent of an untenable theological immobilism totally unrelated to the age in which we are living. Although this untenable theology was defeated, discredited even, during the Council, Mgr. Lefebvre's pride would not allow him to admit defeat. The Seminary at Ecône, it is maintained, is his means of continuing the fight which he waged so unsuccessfully during the conciliar debates.
But Mgr. Lefebvre's retirement proves how baseless, malicious even, such suggestions are. Those who have met him know that he is not a man who will fight for the sake of fighting - he has always been a realist. No one could have compelled him to resign as Superior-General of the Holy Ghost Fathers - he had been elected for a term of twelve years. But he could see quite clearly that the Liberals dominated the General Chapter; that they were determined to get their way at all costs; that resistance on his part could only lead to unedifying division. "Je les ai laissés à leur collégialité," he has remarked. "I left them to their 'collegiality'."4
1. J. Mzevui, Le Drame d'Ecône (Sion, 1976), p. 16
2. See The Rhine Flows into the Tiber, p. 22.
3. A Bishop Speaks, p. 131. The story of how the Liberals managed to consign a preparation "so vast, so diligently carried out, and so profound" to the wastepaper basket is told in detail in Chapter V of Pope John's Council.
4. J. Hanu, Non, Entretiens de Joss Hanu avec Mgr. Lefebvre (Editions Stock, 1977), p. 189 (161). Now available in English as Vatican Encounter (Kansas City, 1978), available from the Angelus Press and Augustine Publishing Co. Wherever this book is referred to the page reference will be to the French edition with the equivalent page in the English translation following in parentheses.

Chapter 2. A New Apostolate

Archbishop Lefebvre would have earned a distinguished and honored place in the history of the Church even if he had retired finally from public life in 1968, as he had intended. No one had done more for the Church in Africa in this century; no one had done more to uphold the true faith during Vatican II. But the most important task for which God has destined him had not even begun. When he retired in 1968 he could not have imagined that God had reserved for him what was possibly the most important role assigned to any prelate during this century. An exaggeration? Mgr. Lefebvre was to be given the task of preserving the Catholic priesthood in the West during what is proving to be a period of universal apostasy. But he did not seek to undertake this task. He was sought out by the young men who proved to be the first seminarians of Ecône - but when they came they were quite unknown to him and, as for Ecône, he did not know of its existence.

The young men had been sent to the Archbishop because they wished to become priests but could find no seminary offering a truly traditional Catholic formation. They had asked older priests for advice and had been told to go to Mgr. Lefebvre. He was reluctant at first but they insisted. He told them that if he undertook their direction their studies would be long and intense and they would lead a life of prayer and sacrifice, the formation necessary to prepare them for the priesthood in these times. They insisted that this was what they wanted. But where could they study? Unfortunately, nowhere suitable could be found in Rome itself; but an old friend, Mgr. Charrière, Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva, and Fribourg, suggested that the students pursue their studies at the University of Fribourg. The Fraternité Sacerdotale de Saint Pie X was established in his diocese on All Saints' Day, 1970, with all the necessary canonical formalities.1

Alas, it soon became clear that this university was infected with Modernism and Liberalism. With the approval of Mgr. Nestor Adam, Bishop of Sion, Mgr. Lefebvre obtained a large house which had belonged to the Canons of St. Bernard in this diocese. The house was at Ecône, no more than a hamlet near the small town of Riddes in the Catholic Canton of Valais. The name of Ecône is now known throughout the world, and thousands of visitors from all over the world come there each year. But until the foundation of the Seminary of St. Pius X it is doubtful whether the name would have meant anything to anyone not living in the immediate vicinity.

The Seminary was formally opened on 7 October 1970. A fascinating account of the events leading up to its acquisition by Mgr. Lefebvre was provided by Father Pierre Épiney, Parish Priest of Riddes, in an address which he gave at the opening of the Priory of St. Pius V at Shawinigan-Sud, Quebec, on 19 March 1977. Father Épiney spoke from his heart as a priest and pastor.2 The circumstances in which this saintly young priest was deprived of his parish are described under the date 15 June 1975. Father Épiney's account follows:

The Beginning of Ecône

My dear colleagues and Canadian friends, I am not going to talk abstractions. All I want to do is give my own testimony, for Providence willed that I should be the first eyewitness of what happened at Ecône.

Ecône will soon be known throughout the world

Ten years ago I was appointed parish priest of Riddes, in which Ecône is situated. That was in 1967. At that time Ecône was nothing in particular. Only one Canon of the Grand-Saint-Bernard remained, and he just looked after some dogs and a few calves. The place was up for sale. In 1968, on 31 May, the Feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of my parishioners, M. Alphonse Pedroni (he has already been to Canada with me and also with Mgr. Lefebvre) overheard a member of the Communist Party say in a local café: "is for sale: we're buying it. And the first thing we'll do is destroy the chapel." Alphonse went home, took up the telephone, and called the Canon:

"Is it true that Ecône is for sale?"

"Yes, it's true."

"I'll buy it at the price you have been offered."

He found four friends to help him buy that house and insure that it kept its religious character. The property had belonged to the Canons of Saint-Bernard for over 600 years.

These five men improved the land (in our country it is all vineyards) and waited for the providential moment.

Then one day Mgr. Lefebvre appeared. He was in touch with some young men who wanted to become priests. He had tried opening a house in Fribourg, in Switzerland, but it had become too small. Providence led him to a meeting with these men who were happy to put the house they had bought at his disposal.

I shall always remember that visit of Mgr. Lefebvre's. We had a meal together in a local restaurant. He did not know us. He seemed perplexed at the attitude of M. Pedroni, who said not a word all during the meal. In the end Mgr. Lefebvre urged him to say something.

"Listen, Monseigneur. We are happy to entrust that house to you. I should just like to say this: Ecône will soon be known throughout the world."

During the difficult summer we have just lived through at Ecône, Mgr. Lefebvre reminded me of that: "Alphonse was a true prophet."

"No" to retraining

As for me, what opened my eyes was a retraining course for priests ten years ordained, at Montana in Switzerland. It was to last fifteen days, I stuck it for ten! Then I left and went on a pilgrimage to Fatima. Back home, I told myself I must do something: things could not go on as they were. The theories taught in the retraining were not the Catholic faith we were taught in the seminary. They were hazy theories leading nowhere.

So I thought: "You are no theologian; you are not going to write articles for the papers; you are just a parish priest. You must try to adopt at least two supernatural means to stem the damage and to restore to the parish - with the smallest proportion of practicing Catholics in the whole country - some enthusiasm and a little more love of God."

I decided to begin with the Rosary: the Rosary every day, and on Thursday evenings before the Blessed Sacrament. I decided to go back to the traditional Mass, but with the Epistle and Gospel in French, and every Friday to hold catechism classes for adults. I was astonished at the graces received. The people came. I had a hundred to a hundred and fifty at catechism. I was amazed; and preparing catechism did me a lot of good, because it made me go back over the whole of traditional doctrine. People came to say the Rosary, including a good pagan.

I had to build a church, but I had nothing. I turned to St. Joseph. (I thanked him specially this morning, on his feast day: he has given me such help.) We managed to overcome all difficulties so well that the bishop himself, the day he came to consecrate the church, said to me: "You can thank God. I know this parish - there were not even two men who came to Mass." (He was himself a Canon of Saint-Bernard, and had been parish priest at Ecône. He knew the people.) "You can thank God. What I have seen this morning is beyond anything I could have imagined."

The seminary at Ecône: What will happen?

So I am telling you that I have been well rewarded spiritually and materially. And then Providence pitched the Ecône Seminary into my parish. You can imagine how interested I was, seeing what was going on (for these newcomers do exactly the opposite of what the retrainees are doing). Mgr. Adam, my bishop, was also interested. He twice asked me to pick him up and bring him to the Seminary. He was delighted with what he saw there. Of course there were others, incited by the French progressives, who took a poor view of it. But at last the enterprise started, and I saw the seminarians arriving one by one.

The first week at Ecône they had nothing, so they came to eat at my table. For example, I witnessed the arrival of Denis Roch, a converted Protestant, an engineer. I shall not forget his first visit. After we had talked for an hour he said to me: "Father, Providence arranged for us to meet today. If you please, shall we say a decade of the Rosary together?" We knelt down in the room. It is not every day that you meet a young man like that, a convert from Protestantism, who says to his parish priest after a conversation: "Shall we say a decade of the Rosary?"

So, I witnessed the birth and the growth of this great work. I had the good fortune to be close to Mgr. Lefebvre and to learn much from him. I can therefore tell you without fear of being mistaken: He is truly a man of God; he is a good and a great missionary. Someone said to me one day: "He makes me think of Saint Pius X." Yes, that is so. He has only one desire: that Our Lord Jesus Christ shall reign over all hearts, over all families, over all nations, and that souls shall be saved - for he is a missionary. He does not theorize; he can talk very simply to people because his purpose is the conversion of people: he wants all souls to go to heaven.

I remember one day, a year ago, Cardinal Thiandoum, Archbishop of Dakar, was with me. He had come to topple me into the New Mass. I let him talk; and then I said:

"Listen; Eminence. Do you know who Mgr. Lefebvre is? Must I, a simple parish priest, remind you what he has done for you in Dakar? Eminence, who made you a priest?

-Mgr. Lefebvre.

-Eminence, who founded the major seminary?

-Mgr. Lefebvre.

-Eminence, who made the Archdiocese of Dakar?

-Mgr. Lefebvre.

-Eminence, who made the Dakar Carmel?

-Mgr. Lefebvre.

-Eminence, who made the monastery of Vieta in Dakar?

-Mgr. Lefebvre. He is my father, I am his son. You are right.

-Well then, Eminence, now that Mgr. Lefebvre finds himself in a situation like this, attacked, calumniated, ridiculed, dare you let your father be so defamed, and say nothing?

(That made him weep.)

Then it is your duty to defend your father and to defend Holy Church. You are too afraid. You must not be afraid, especially when you are invested with authority. What do you risk? - losing your position? losing your life? Good! you will go to heaven."

As for Mgr. Lefebvre, he has no fear. Yet his temperament is very gentle. There is nothing swaggering or bellicose about him. But I have rarely in my life met a man with such courage, such strength of will, such firmness in decision, such persistence and perseverance. And I can say - for I lived with him, at his side, this difficult summer - that he has come to the fight, this year, with redoubled courage. Providence has blessed him with extraordinary powers, for, humanly speaking, he should have been crushed. That proves we have to do with a man of God. I think Providence has made us a great present in giving us this missionary.

That is just what the opposition is now most afraid of, for the missionary in Mgr. Lefebvre has set about "having children." You may laugh at that, but it is true. It was thought that "Vatican II" had won. A few old priests were still resisting, but they would die off. The matter was clear: the whole post-conciliar renewal would be put into effect, as well in the great cities as in the African bush. Fine! - and they were already rubbing their hands. Then, all of a sudden, in a tiny corner of Switzerland, an Archbishop appears who sets about "having children," giving to the Church priests who celebrate the traditional Mass. So the enemy, occupying a strong position in the Vatican, saw red and trained all its guns on Ecône; and Ecône, till then unknown, became famous the world over.

Last year, because of the ordinations, the Vatican launched a press campaign to discredit Mgr. Lefebvre and his young priests, to have them taken for schismatics and rebels. But that very press campaign turned against the Vatican; for when people have been able to see and hear Mgr. Lefebvre their Catholic Faith has revived, and they have said: "He is the one who is right. He, at least, can be known for what he is. We can see that he is an archbishop and that his priests are priests. As for the others, we just do not know what they are." So a large part of public opinion turned in favor of Mgr. Lefebvre and his work.

The Seminary Expands

It soon became known that there was an orthodox seminary in Switzerland. More young men with vocations came forward and financial support began to arrive, first from Switzerland and France, then Germany, then Britain, Australia, the U.S.A. and now from all over the world. Mgr. Lefebvre has rejected as totally false the claims that Ecône relies for its support on rich European industrialists or American millionaires. There are a few large donations (which are very welcome, and why not?) but the major part of the financial support for Ecône is made up of tens of thousands of small gifts, the sacrifices mainly of Catholics of modest means or even the very poor.3 The Archbishop has made St. Joseph responsible for the financial support of the Seminary - and has had no cause for complaint. The number of vocations was so great that an ambitious building program was undertaken. Three new wings have been added and the Seminary is now able to house 140 seminarians and their professors in accommodation of high quality - in fact all the facilities of the Seminary, lecture hall, kitchen, dining hall, and living accommodation are almost certainly of a far higher standard than those of any other seminary in Europe. This was, to a certain extent, a matter of necessity as the standards demanded by the Swiss planning authorities are very high. It was even necessary to incorporate - at very great cost - an atomic bomb proof shelter, a feature which is obligatory in all new public buildings in Switzerland.

I have tried to evoke the spirit of the Seminary, and life there, in Chapter VI, which includes an account of my first visit to Ecône in 1975.

In its early years the Seminary received the enthusiastic support of at least some sections of the Vatican, that of Cardinal Wright, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, in particular. A letter which he wrote in 1971, expressing his satisfaction at the progress of the Seminary, is reproduced in Appendix V. He was still recommending young men with vocations to apply for admission to Ecône as late as 1973. I possess the written testimony of one of the seminarians to this effect.

Houses have also been opened in a number of other countries, one of them at Albano, near Rome. This house at Albano was obtained with all the authorization required by Canon Law. It is being used at present for the religious order for women founded by the Archbishop but will eventually be used for sixth year training for the newly ordained priests of the Society. This will not only free accommodation at Ecône for new entrants but, in Mgr. Lefebvre's own words, will also "enable our young priests to draw upon all the resources of the eternal Rome, its Tradition, its martyrs, its magisterium, its monuments, and also to deepen their attachment to the Bishop of Rome, the successor of Peter. "4

The aim of the Seminary is to form good and true priests, devoted to Our Lord, to Our Lady, to the Church, and to the Mass; men burning with pastoral zeal.

The Archbishop is convinced that such a formation can be achieved only by means of a traditional seminary formation based, above all, on Thomism and the traditional Latin Liturgy.

This view certainly seems to be confirmed by the position in France, where half of the major seminaries have already been closed. In France, between 1963 and 1973 there was an 83 per cent drop in the number of men studying for the priesthood. In 1963 there were 917 seminary entrants. In 1973 there were only 151.5 So great indeed is the excess of priests who die or abandon the priesthood over the number of new ordinations to replace them that a spokesman for the French Bishops' Conference has gone so far as to suggest the ordination of married men as a possible solution.

There is, incidentally, a very high "drop-out" rate in the remaining French seminaries, 422 students having "dropped out" in 1973.6

Should this trend continue it is quite within the bounds of possibility that within ten years the Society of St. Pius X could be ordaining more priests than all the seminaries in France put together.

There can be no doubt that it was the escalating success of Ecône in the face of the accelerating decline in the French seminary system which initiated the campaign against Ecône.

It will be shown in Chapter III that Mgr. Lefebvre was far from popular with the more Liberal French bishops even before the Council. As Appendix VIII to Pope John's Council makes clear, the post-conciliar "renewal" in France had proved to be a débâcle almost as catastrophic in its dimension as that in Holland. The success of Ecône provided so dramatic a contrast to this débâcle that its very existence became intolerable for some French bishops. They referred to it as Le Séminaire Sauvage - the Wildcat Seminary - giving the impression that it had been set up illegally without the authorization of the Vatican. This appellation was seized upon gleefully by the Liberal Catholic press throughout the world and soon the terms "Ecône" and "Wildcat Seminary" became synonymous.

The Canonical Status of Ecône

In view of the frequency of the allegation that Mgr. Lefebvre established his seminary without canonical authorization, the canonical status of the Seminary at Ecône is examined in some detail in Appendix V. At this point I will refer briefly to some of the evidence which makes it quite clear that the Seminary was established legally. Firstly, at no stage in the campaign against Ecône did any Vatican spokesman ever allege that the canonical basis of the Seminary was in doubt. Had there been any weakness in the canonical status of Ecône the Vatican would certainly have used this in its campaign to discredit the Archbishop. On the contrary, in 1974 two Apostolic Visitors were dispatched by the Vatican to conduct an official inspection of the Seminary (see the entry for 11-13 November 1974). The letter of condemnation sent to Mgr. Lefebvre by the Commission of Cardinals stated that the Society "no longer having a juridical basis, its foundations, and notably the Seminary at Ecône, lose by the same act the right to existence." Obviously, the Vatican would not conduct an official inspection of an unofficial seminary nor would it withdraw the right to exist from a seminary which had never possessed such a right. (The Cardinals' letter is included under the date 6 May 1975.)

Definite proof that the Society of St. Pius X and the Seminary enjoyed Vatican approval well after the foundation of Ecône is provided by the fact the members of three religious orders were transferred from their own orders to the society of St. Pius X by the Sacred Congregation for Religious. I have documentary proof that this was done in 1972 before me as I write. The Vatican would hardly have allowed members of religious orders to be transferred to a Society which had established a "wildcat seminary." Again, in February 1971, Cardinal Wright wrote to Mgr. Lefebvre expressing his pleasure at the progress and expansion of the Society and mentioning that it was receiving praise and approval from bishops in various parts of the world (this letter is reproduced in full in Appendix V). It has been alleged that this letter could not have involved praise for the Seminary as it had not yet been founded in February 1971.7 On the contrary, it was formally opened on 7 October 1970. On 6 June 1971 the Archbishop blessed the foundation stone of the new buildings, an event which some of his opponents have confused with the foundation of the Seminary.

Finally, bishops from a number of countries incardinated priests from Ecône into their dioceses, observing all the required canonical procedure. This could not have taken place had the canonical basis of the Seminary not been sound.

The Importance of Cardinal Villot

The French bishops held what they believed to be a trump card - Cardinal Villot, Secretary of State and the most powerful man in the Vatican, in de facto terms probably even more powerful than Pope Paul VI himself. As well as holding the all-powerful office of Secretary of State, Cardinal Villot controlled twelve other key Vatican positions.8 Ecône could not be allowed to survive if the French bishops were to retain any credibility. They could count on Cardinal Villot - and with his support there was no hope for the Seminary. It had been sentenced to death. Before examining the campaign designed to implement this death sentence it will be of considerable value if readers are enabled to form an impression of Mgr. Lefebvre for themselves. Ideally they should meet him, but short of doing this the best alternative is to read what he has to say about himself. Chapter III is an account of his life given in his own words - but this should obviously be supplemented by reading his book A Bishop Speaks.9 Indeed, it is presumed throughout the present work that the reader already has a copy of this fundamental text.

1. The text of the Decree of Erection is contained in Appendix V.

2. Father Épiney's account was published in the French-Canadian traditionalist journal Le Doctrinaire, No. 30, April 1977.

3. Hanu, p. 194 (165-166).

4. See Ecône Newsletter No. 5.

5. Report issued by the French National Center for Vocations and cited in the Irish Catholic, 20 March 1975.

6. The Tablet, 27 January 1973 and 1 June 1974. The same reports reveal that in 1971, for example, the excess of deaths over ordinations was 465 and that in the same year almost 200 priests left the priesthood. In 1967 there were 40,994 priests in France. The French Bishops' Conference estimated that by the end of 1975 there would be only 21,820. The number of actual ordinations has declined as follows; 1966-566, 1970-284, 1973-219, 1976-136.

7. See Father Milan Mikulich's Orthodoxy of Catholic Doctrine, April 1977, p. 4.

8. Hanu, p. 238.

9. Available from The Angelus Press in the U.S.A. and in Britain from The Augustine Publishing Company.

Chapter 3. Archbishop in His Own Words

The address given by His Grace, the Most Reverend Marcel Lefebvre, Titular Archbishop of Synnada in Phrygia and Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, on the occasion of the community celebration of his seventieth birthday, 29 November 1975, at the International Seminary of Saint Pius X, Ecône, Switzerland:

"During the course of my life, I have had many consolations, in every position given to me, from young curate at Marais-de-Lomme in the Diocese of Lille, to the Apostolic Delegation of Dakar. I used to say when I was Apostolic Delegate that, from then on, I could only go downwards, I could go no higher; it was not possible. Obviously, they could still have given me a cardinal's hat! Probably God wanted me to do something prepare His ways.

And if in the course of my missionary life I had real consolations, God always spoiled me...always. He spoiled me in my parents, first of all, I must say, who suffered greatly from the war of 1914-18. My mother died from it, in fact. And my father, having helped Englishmen, especially, to escape from the zone occupied by the Germans, had his name put on the German lists, and when the last war came, his name having been carefully recorded, he was arrested and died in a German jail. Both my parents were models for me and certainly I owe much to their virtue. If five out of eight children in the family are religious priests or sisters, it is not without reason.

So I was spoiled in my parents; spoiled also in my studies at the French Seminary, in having as Superior and Director of the French Seminary the venerated Père Le Floch, who was a man of great kindness and of great doctrinal firmness, to whom I owe much for my formation as a seminarian and as a priest. They reproached me for having spoken of Père Le Floch at my consecration. It seemed to me that I could not do otherwise than to thank those who had formed me and who were, in fact, indirectly the cause of my nomination and my selection as a bishop.

But I was openly reproached with that simply because Père Le Floch was a traditionalist. I was not supposed to speak of this man, who had even been discussed by the French Parliament, because he wanted to form his seminarians in complete conformity to Tradition and to truth. He too was accused of being an 'integrist.' He was accused of involving himself in politics. He was accused of being with Action française, whereas never, in any of his spiritual conferences, had Père Le Floch spoken to us of Action française. He spoke to us only of the encyclicals of the Popes; he put us on our guard against Modernism; he explained to us all the encyclicals and especially those of Saint Pius X; and thus he formed us very firmly in doctrine. It is a curious thing - those who were on the same benches as myself, many of whom later became bishops of France, did not follow the doctrine that Père Le Floch had taught them, although it was the doctrine of the Church.

So I was spoiled during my seminary training, then spoiled even as curate at Marais-de-Lomme, where I spent only one year, but where I had such joy in taking care of a working-class parish, and where I found so much friendliness. Then I spent fifteen years in the missions in the bush, as well as at the mission seminary for six years, then again in the bush in Gabon. I became so attached to Africa that I had indeed resolved never to return to Europe. I liked it so well there and was so happy - a missionary in the midst of the Gabonese jungle - that the day I learned that they were recalling me to France to be Superior of the seminary of philosophy at Mortain, I wept, and I would indeed have disobeyed, but that time my faith was not in danger!1

I was obliged to obey and to return, and it was at Mortain, after two years as Superior of the seminary of philosophy, that I was called to be Vicar Apostolic of Dakar. I spent very happy years at Mortain. I have the best memories of the seminarians of that time and I think that they too, many of whom are still living, those who are now priests and missionaries, also have happy memories of that period. When I learned that I was named to Dakar, it was a heavy blow for me, for I knew nothing of Senegal, I knew none of the Fathers there, and I did not know the language of the country, while in Gabon, I knew the language of the country, I knew all the Fathers, and I would certainly have felt much more at home. Perhaps I would even have been capable of a better apostolate toward the missionaries and the Africans of Senegal.

I did not know that a year later yet another nomination awaited me, which was that of Apostolic Delegate. That increased the crosses a little, but at the same time the consolations, because I must say that, during the eleven years from 1948 to 1959 that I was Apostolic Delegate, God filled me with joy in visiting all those dioceses with which I had been charged by the Holy Father. I had to visit them, send reports to Rome, and prepare the nomination of bishops and Apostolic Delegates.

The dioceses confided to me at that time numbered thirty-six, and during the years that I was Apostolic Delegate they increased to sixty-four. What I mean is that it was necessary to divide the dioceses, to name bishops, to name Apostolic Delegates, and then to visit the dioceses, to settle the difficulties that might exist in those territories, and at the same time to get to know the Church. This missionary Church was represented by her bishops, who accompanied me on all the journeys that I made in their dioceses. I was received by the Fathers, and by those who were in contact with the apostolate, with the natives, with the different peoples, and with the different mentalities, from Madagascar to Morocco, because Morocco was also dependent upon the Delegation of Dakar; I travelled from Djibouti to Pointe Noire in Equatorial Africa.

All these dioceses that I had the occasion to visit made me conscious of the vitality of the Church in Africa, for this period between 1948 and 1960 was a period of extraordinary growth. Numerous were the congregations of Fathers and the congregations of Sisters that came to help us. That is why I also visited Canada at that time, and many of the countries of Europe, to attempt to draw men and women religious to the countries of Africa to aid the missionaries, and to make the missions known.

And each year I had the joy of going to Rome and approaching Pope Pius XII. For eleven years I was able to visit Pope Pius XII, whom I venerated as a saint and as a genius - a genius, humanly speaking. He always received me with extraordinary kindness, taking an interest in all the problems of Africa. That is also how I got to know very closely Pope Paul VI, who was at that time the Substitute2 of Pope Pius XII and whom I saw each time that I went to Rome before going to see the Holy Father.

So I had many consolations, and was very intimately involved, I would say, in the interests of the Church - at Rome, then in all of Africa, and even in France, because by that very fact, I had to have relations with the French government, and thus with its ministers. I was received several times at the Elysée, and several times I was obliged to defend the interests of Africa before the French government. I should also say that at that time the Apostolic Delegate, of whom I was the first in the French colonies, was always considered as a Nuncio, and thus I was always given the privileges that are given to diplomats and to ambassadors. I was always received with great courtesy, and they always facilitated my journeys in Africa.

Oh, I could well have done without the detachments of soldiers who saluted me as I descended from the airplane! But if it could facilitate the reign of God, I accepted it willingly. But the African crowds who awaited the Delegate of the Holy Father, the envoy of the Holy Father - in many regions it was the first time that they had received a delegate of the Holy Father - now that was an extraordinary joy. And the fact that the government itself manifested its respect for the representative of the Pope increased still more, I would say, the honor given to the Pope himself and to the Church. All that was, as you can imagine, a great source of joy for me, to see the Church truly honored and developing in an admirable manner.

At that time the seminaries were filling and religious congregations of African Sisters were being founded. I regret that the Senegalese Sister is not here today. She is at St-Luc, but she was unable to come. I know that she would certainly have been happy to take part in this celebration. Yes, the number of Sisters multiplied throughout Africa. All this is to show you once more how God spoiled me during my missionary life.

And then there was the Council, the work of the Council. Certainly it is there, I should say, that the suffering begins somewhat. To see this Church which was so full of promise, flourishing throughout the entire world...I should also add that, from 1962 on, I passed several months in the Diocese of Tulle, which were not useless for me because I was able to become familiar with a diocese of France and to see how the bishops of France reacted and in what environment they were.

I must say that often I was somewhat hurt to see the narrowness of mind, the pettiness of their problems, the tiny difficulties which they considered enormous problems, after returning from the missions where our problems were on a much greater scale, and where the relations between the bishops were much more cordial. In the least matters, you could sense how touchy they were; that was something which caused me pain.

And I was also surprised at the manner in which I was received into the French episcopate. For it was not I who had asked to be a bishop in France. It was Pope John XXIII at that time who obliged me to leave. I begged him to leave me free, to leave me in peace and to let me rest for a while after all those years in Africa. But he would hear nothing of it and he told me, ‘An Apostolic Delegate who returns to his country should have a diocese in his country. That is the general rule. So you should have a diocese in France, so I accepted since he imposed it upon me, and you know what restrictions were placed upon me by the bishops of France and particularly the assembly of Archbishops and Cardinals, who asked that I be excluded from the assembly of Archbishops and Cardinals, although I was an archbishop, that I should not have a big diocese, that I should be placed in a small diocese, and that this would not be considered a precedent. This is one of the things that I found very painful, for why should a confrère be received in such a way, with so many restrictions?

No doubt the reason was because I was already considered a traditionalist, even before the Council. You see, that did not begin at the Council! So in 1962 I spent some time in Tulle. I was received with great reserve; with cordiality, but they were also afraid of me. The Communist newspapers already spoke of me obviously in somewhat less than laudatory terms. And even the Catholic papers were very reserved: what is this traditionalist bishop coming to do in France? What is he going to do at Tulle? But after six months, I believe that I can say that the priests whom I had the occasion to see, to meet...I had the occasion to give Confirmation in almost all the parishes, and our relations were truly excellent. I admired the clergy of France, who were often living in poverty, but who constituted a fervent, a devoted, a zealous clergy, really very edifying.

Then I was named Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers, and there again, I had occasion to travel, this time not only to Africa, but South America, North America, and everywhere where there were Holy Ghost Fathers...the Antilles, all the English territories of Africa and all the English-speaking territories; the Belgian Congo; South Africa; and so on - all of which obviously permitted me to become more familiar with all these missions, and I really believed that God was everywhere pouring forth extraordinary graces on His Church. At that time the effects of the Council, and all this degradation, had not yet begun. So it was a very happy period, very consoling.

Then came the Council and the results of the Council, and, I must say, it was an immense pain for me to see the decline of the Church, so rapid, so profound, so universal, that it was truly inconceivable. Even though we could foresee it, and those who worked with me in the famous Coetus Internationalis Patrum (the International Group of Fathers) did foresee it, the assembly of two hundred and fifty Fathers who strove to limit the damage that could be foreseen during the Council, none of us, I think, could have foreseen the rapidity with which the disintegration of the Church would take place.

It was inconceivable, and it obliged us to admit in a few years how much the Church was affected by all the false principles of Liberalism and of Modernism, which opened the door to practically every error, to all the enemies of the Church, considering them as brothers, as people with whom we had to dialogue, as a people as friendly as ourselves, and thus to be placed on the same footing as we, in a theoretical manner, and even in practice. Not that we do not respect their persons; but as for their errors, we cannot accept them. But you have all been familiar with this portion of history for some time now.

Indeed, I suffered terribly. Imagine if I had remained with the Holy Ghost Fathers where, in theory, I should have stayed until 1974. I could have stayed until 1974 as Superior General. I had been named for twelve years in 1962. But I submitted my resignation in 1968 and, in fact, I was glad to do so, because I did not want to collaborate in the destruction of my congregation. And had I remained Bishop of Tulle, I cannot very well imagine myself at present in a diocese of France! In an environment like that, I should probably have had a nervous breakdown!

It seemed that God intended my apostolic life to end in 1968, and I foresaw nothing else than simply to go into retirement at Rome; indeed, I rented a small apartment at Rome from some Sisters in Via Monserrato, and I was very happy there. But I think that God decided that my work was not yet finished. I had to continue. Well, I could never have imagined - because there I was in a small apartment, which M. Pedroni and M. Borgeat know well - I could never have imagined at that time that God was reserving for me such profound joys and such immense consolations.

For could there be, in my last years, a consolation greater than to find myself surrounded by such faithful collaborators, faithful especially to the Church and to the ideal which we must always pursue; than to find myself surrounded by such devoted, such friendly, and such generous lay people, giving their time and their money and doing all that they can to help us? And besides them, I should recall, we must think of the tens of thousands of benefactors who are with us and who write to us - we receive their letters all the time. Now that is obviously for us and for myself an immense consolation. It is truly a family that has been created around Ecône.

And then, to have such good seminarians! I did not expect that either. I could never imagine or really believe that, in the age in which we live, in the environment in which we live, with all this degradation that the Church is undergoing, with all this disorganization, this confusion everywhere in thought, that God would still grant the grace to young men of having this desire, a profound desire, a real desire, to find an authentic priestly formation; to search for it, to leave their countries to come so far, even from Australia, even from the United States, to find such a formation; to accept a journey of twenty thousand kilometers to find a true Seminary. It is something I could never imagine. How could you expect me to imagine such a thing? I like the idea of an international Seminary and I am very happy with it, but I could never imagine that the Seminary would be what it is and that I would find young men with such good dispositions.

I believe that I can say, without flattering you and without flattering myself, that the seminary strangely resembles the French Seminary that I knew, and I believe that I can even say that it is of a quality even more pleasing to God...more spiritual, especially, and it is that which makes me very happy, because it is the character that I very much desire to give to the Seminary. It is not only an intellectual character, a speculative character - that you should be true scholars...may you be so, certainly, it is necessary - but especially that you should be saints, men filled with the grace of God, filled with the spiritual life. I believe that it is even more essential than your studies, although the studies are indispensable.

For this, then, and for all the good that you are going to do, how can you expect me not to thank God? I ask myself why God has thus heaped His graces upon me. What have I done to deserve all these graces and blessings? No doubt God wished to give me all these graces and blessings so that I could bear my cross more easily.

Because the cross is heavy, after all...heavy in the sense to which I made allusion this morning. For it is hard, after all, to hear oneself called, and to be obliged in a way to accept that people call you, disobedient. And because we cannot submit and abandon our faith. It is a very painful thing, when you love the Church, when you love obedience, when for your entire life you have loved to follow Her leaders and Her guides. It is painful to think that our relations are so difficult with those who ought to be leading us. And all that is certainly a heavy cross to bear. I think that God gives His blessings and graces in compensation, and to strengthen us in our work.

For all this, then, I thank God, first of all, and I thank all of you, and may God do as He pleases. If He wishes me to be at your service yet for some time, let it be so. Deo gratias! If on the other hand He wishes to give me a small reward somewhat sooner, more quickly, well, let it be Deo gratias also. As He wishes. I have worked only in His service and I desire to work to the end of my days in His service and in yours also. So thank you again and let us ask God to grant that this seminary may continue for His glory and for the good of souls."

1. Every Catholic, including priests and members of religious orders, must refuse to obey even the order of a lawful superior if complying with that order could endanger his faith.

2. The assistant to the Vatican Secretary of State is known as the "Substitute".