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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thomas Reese SJ on Lefebvre ....

...... from 1988, which is historically interesting as it's just when the founder of the SSPX was about to consecrate four bishops against the will of the Vatican, one of whom was the Holocaust-denier Richard Williamson. Here's a little of what Fr. Reese wrote, from Archbishop Lefebvre: Moving Toward Schism? .....


Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre is threatening to ordain three bishops this June, a move that will put him in formal schism with the Roman Catholic Church. The ordination of bishops is the act of rebellion most feared by the Vatican because it would provide episcopal successors to the 82-year-old Archbishop. Without bishops, the movement will eventually wither away after his death since there will be no one to ordain new priests and bishops. If he does ordain a bishop without Vatican approval, he will be automatically excommunicated under the Code of Canon Law .....

Marcel Lefebvre was raised in a conservative French family by an industrialist father who longed for the return of the monarchy. Both father and son believed all of France's problems (liberalism, modernism, socialism and Communism) originated in the French Revolution. In the Archbishop's mind, the council presided over the marriage of the church and the revolution. "The union of Church and Revolution is adulterous. And from such an adulterous union, nothing but bastards can come forth. And who or what are the bastards? Our rites. The rite of the Mass is a bastard rite!"

Archbishop Lefebvre is known most widely for his support of the Tridentine liturgy and his attacks on the liturgical changes initiated by Vatican II. But his complaints against Vatican II go far beyond liturgical reforms. He also rejects conciliar developments in collegiality, religious liberty and ecumenism. These are seen by him as corresponding to the Revolution's égalité, liberté and fraternité.

At the Vatican Council, he even refused to sign the final versions of "The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church," "The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World" and "The Declaration on Religious Liberty." In his view, "The council has allowed those professing errors and tendencies condemned by the believe in good faith that their teachings are now approved."

Archbishop Lefebvre was suspended from priestly functions in July of 1976 after ordaining priests against the direct order of Pope Paul VI. He has continued to ordain priests against papal orders. These priests, and others who have joined him, do not recognize the authority of the Pope or of local bishops. They have sown confusion among the faithful by constantly reviling the council and attacking local bishops as heretics. In a 1970 profession of faith, he rejected "the Rome of neo-Modernist and neo-Protestant leanings that clearly manifested itself in the Second Vatican Council and after the council in the reforms issuing from it." .....

In Archbishop Lefebvre's view, "Not we are in schism, the conciliar church is!" He has vowed that "no authority--not even the highest authority in the hierarchy--can compel us to depart from our Catholic faith as it has been taught for 19 centuries." (See Bede Lackner, "Archbishop Lefebvre and His Rebellion Today," America, July 13, 1985) ....... Despite this mud slinging by the Archbishop, the Pope has continued trying to bring the Archbishop back into the church. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has met repeatedly with the Archbishop .....

The day of reckoning between Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and John Paul II is fast approaching. Up until now, the Vatican has followed the same strategy one would use with hijackers or terrorists. Vatican officials have kept talking in the hopes that the Archbishop would be reconciled or die before he ordained a bishop. Archbishop Lefebvre says, "I've already pushed the date back four times, and I cannot delay the ordinations another time." Unless the Archbishop once again postpones the ordination of new bishops, the Pope must give in to the Archbishop or acknowledge his excommunication.



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