Archbishop expected to wait a long time before the second canonical
step, the approval of Rome, was effected. Only four months elapse
until February 18, 1971, when Card. Wright, prefect for the Sacred
Congregation for the Clergy, officially approves and encourages
the Society. The Roman document recognizes the Society's international
character and the fact that many bishops from the world praise and
approve it. The Cardinal is happy that the Society will contribute
to the distribution of the Catholic clergy in the world.
Cardinal Wright, then Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for
the Clergy, congratualates Archbishop Lefebvre for the newly
approved Society of Saint Pius X, praising "especially
the wisdom of the norms that establish and govern this Association..."
(Feb. 18, 1971).
Card. Wright joins his parents and a young Fr. Donald Wuerl
on the day the former was made a cardinal (1969). He was
appointed Prefect for the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy
in Rome and made Fr. Wuerl-currently Bishop of Pittsburg-his
secretary. Certainly Secretary Wuerl read this letter!
to the surprise of our founder, his small work of faith receives
a further encouragement. When a few priests from the outside wish
to join him in the Society's work, the Archbishop submits the case
to Rome, and the Roman Curia, anticipating his desires, detaches
totally these priests from their bishops and even from their religious
orders to make them depend exclusively from the Society of Saint
Pius X. This official act of Rome recognizes the right of the Society
of Saint Pius X to incardinate its members.
the vicissitudes of the years to come the Modernist Rome will publicly
disapprove our Society, its fruits, and its spirit. It matters little
when we know that the Rome faithful to tradition approved the Society
and sent it in official mission to maintain the Catholic priesthood.
Ultimately, this mandate of the Church constitutes the main reason
and necessity for the episcopal consecrations of 1988.
Annibal Bugnini, architect of the Novus Ordo Missae.
April 3, 1969, the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum presented
a new order of the Mass. Archbishop Lefebvre gathered together a
group of 12 theologians who wrote under his direction the Brief
Critical Examination of the Novus Ordo Missae often called the
Ottaviani Intervention. Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci wrote
indeed an introduction and presented the study to Paul VI. Since
no response came from the Vatican, the Archbishop announces to his
small group of seminarians, June 10, 1971, that he refuses to accept
this new protestantized liturgy:
can I agree to abandon the Mass of all ages or to admit to place
it at the same level as the Novus Ordo, created by Annibal
Bugnini, with the participation of Protestants to make of it an
equivocal supper that eliminates totally the Offertory, and
touches the very words of the Consecration.
site in Albano, near Rome, was at one time a seminary of
the Society of Saint Pius X.
1971, 24 candidates enter the seminary of Ecône. Thirty-two more
will join them in October, 1972. But during the Christmas vacation,
trouble starts. The French bishops, eager accomplices of the Modernist
conspirators, are watching closely every step of the expansion of
the young Society. Card. Lefebvre, his cousin, had already warned
the Archbishop "the French episcopate will never forgive you
for what you did in the Council." Jealous and worried by the
unexpected success, they start a campaign of discredit. The Archbishop
knew about those jealousies and he had already proposed Card. Marty
to meet the bishops at the coming Episcopal Conference at Lourdes
to explain to them the situation of Ecône. The Cardinal insisted
that there was going to be no question of Ecône at this meeting.
But the Episcopal Conference in Lourdes labels Ecône as "the
wildcat seminary," as if they didn't know that its canonical
situation was perfectly regular and that the seminary did not depend
on their jurisdiction.
1973 an ephemeral pre-seminary is opened in Fribourg, but only for
a few months, to be closed because of the worsening conditions in
seminaries are opened at Armada, Michigan (1973), and Albano, Rome
(1974). The plot to close Ecône continues and the French bishops
put pressure on Rome to suppress the Society. They are afraid that
traditional priests will return into their dioceses creating a traditional
Catholic resistance. It is probably at this point that Card. Villot
persuades Paul VI to believe that our seminarians must take an oath
against the Pope. Villot will say to Card. Etchegaray who repeated
it widely, "In six months Ecône will not exist."
first North American Seminary was located here, in Armada, MI.
It is now known as St. Joseph's Priory.
11, 1974: After breakfast, the Archbishop assembles the community
to announce the arrival the same day of two apostolic visitors from
Rome. They speak to the seminarians and professors, maintaining
scandalous opinions such as: the ordination of married men will
soon be a normal thing, truth changes with the times, and the traditional
conception of the Resurrection of our Lord is open to discussion.
These remarks prompt Archbishop Lefebvre to write his famous Declaration
of November 21. While Paul VI speaks openly about the auto-demolition
of the Church, Archbishop Lefebvre proclaims his adhesion to the
eternal Rome and his refusal of the neo-Modernist and neo-Protestant
Rome of Vatican II:
insure our salvation the only attitude of fidelity to the Church
and to Catholic doctrine is a categorical refusal to accept the
Reformation. We will pursue our work of the formation of priests
under the star of the age-old magisterium in the conviction that
we can thus do no greater service to the Church, to the Pope,
and to future generations.
Cardinal Etchegaray, head of the central comittee for the preparation
of the celebration of the Year 2000,
addresses the Roman Curia and Pope john PaulII on June 8,1995. Card.
Etchegaray is President of the Pontifical Commission
for Justice and Peace and of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum."
He is responsible for managing the Balamand Statement
(June 23, 1993) which includes statements like Paragraph 22:
activity in the Caholic Church, Latin as well as Eastern, no longer
aims at proselytizing among the Orthodox.
It aims at answering the spiritual needs of its own faithful and
it has no desire for expansion at the expense of the Orthodox Church.
Within these perspectives, so that there will no longer be room
for mistrust and suspicion,
it is necessary that thee be reciprocal exchanges of information
about various pastoral projects...
is the same Car. Etchegaray who parroted Card. Villot's threat,
"In six months Ecoône will not exist."
starts with a large-scale press campaign against the Archbishop.
Vandalism thickens the atmosphere around the seminary; graffiti,
nocturnal phone calls, shooting of the windows, night trespassing.
On February 13, three cardinals interrogate Archbishop Lefebvre,
and one of them, French Card. Garrone, calls him "a fool."
Against the provisions of Canon Law, the Society is invalidly suppressed
May 6, 1975. French Card. Villot, forces Card. Staffa to refuse
the Archbishop's rightful canonical appeal to the Supreme Apostolic
Signature, the higher instance tribunal in the Church. The Secretary
of State writes all the bishops of the world, asking them to refuse
incardination to the members of the Society. The trap is now set:
Without incardination there will be no priestly work, and since
the Society is supposedly suppressed Archbishop Lefebvre can no
longer ordain priests for our institute. He answers this illegal
condemnation with a pilgrimage to Rome of the whole Society to gain
the indulgences of the Holy Year, 1975.
Coache (right) speaks with Fr. Schmidberger.
He was a canon lawyer expelled from his diocese for insisting
on his parish's Christ the King procession.
He was a supporter of the Society of Saint Pius X from its
earliest days. He attended the Credo Pilgrimage.
VI, in the consistory of May, 1976, denounces the Archbishop as
"disobedient to the new liturgy." Card. Benelli asks the
Archbishop to celebrate the New Mass at least once, promising in
the name of the Pope that this gesture will suffice to solve the
difficulties. The Archbishop refuses and, June 29, he ordains publicly
in the field of Ecône 12 priests for the Society. The 23rd
of July, a suspensio a divinis forbids him to celebrate the
New Mass, as the Archbishop says with humor, and also to ordain
priests because the Society doesn't exist any more.
weeks that follow the condemnation are the opportunity for thousands
of faithful to manifest publicly their attachment to Archbishop
Lefebvre. More than 10,000 assemble in Lille, in the middle of summer,
to show their support. (See The Angelus, Nov., 1995-Ed.)
of the excommunication joyfully announced by the media, on September
11, Pope Paul VI receives the Archbishop privately at Castel Gandolfo.
During this meeting it becomes obvious that the Pope is being deliberately
misinformed by dishonest collaborators.
by Archbishop Lefebvre, the Credo Pilgrimage to Rome (May, 1975)
processes through St. Peter's Square.
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