Yesterday was the 40 th anniversary of Archbishop Lefebvre’s historic Declaration on November 21, 1974, of the reasons for which he and the priests and laity following him were taking their stand against the total change of the Catholic Church and religion being wrought in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. The Declaration is a fresh today as it was on the day when it was written, because the true Catholic religion of God is unchangingly true, while the Conciliar religion of man is resolutely false and it is occupying Rome more than ever.
The Declaration consists of ten brief paragraphs, little more than 50 lines in all: 1/ We cleave to Catholic Rome, eternal Rome. 2/ We refuse Conciliar Rome, neo-Protestant and neo-modernist. 3/ The Conciliar reform is destroying the Catholic Church and diminishing our Catholic Faith, 4/ as not even an angel from Heaven has the right to do (Galatians I, 8). 5/ We choose Tradition, we refuse innovations. 6/ Everything in the Church is being renewed in a way opposite to age-old Catholic doctrine. 7/ The Conciliar reform, coming from heresy and resulting in heresy, is unacceptable to Catholics, so 8/ we shall continue to form Traditional priests. 9/ And we shall cleave to the Catholic teaching and practice of all time, 10/ being convinced that by so doing we will remain truly faithful Catholics.
Notice firstly the clear and sharp distinction (1 and 2) between Catholic Rome and Conciliar Rome. Now it is true to say that Conciliar Rome is occupying the structures of Catholic Rome, but to say that the Conciliar Church is therefore none other than the Catholic Church is as foolish as to say that a cuckoo is a nightingale because it occupies a nightingale’s nest. (And to say that the Archbishop wrote of Conciliar and Catholic “Rome” and not of the Conciliar and Catholic “Church” is to quibble with words.)
But how does the Archbishop distinguish between Conciliar cuckoo and Catholic nightingale? By doctrine! Conciliarism is neo- Protestant and neo- modernist (2). Our faith is being diminished (3), in opposition to Catholic doctrine (6). Conciliarism is heresy (7). We cleave to Catholic teaching (9). And the brief summary above does not give all of the Archbishop’s references to doctrine. Catholic doctrine was the Northern star of his mind and action. It is because modern man wants freedom for his mind and action that he in effect wants his mind to be reduced to mush, whereupon doctrine has no more than a merely decorous function. It has no more bite upon man’s action, except the one disastrous doctrine that doctrine is unimportant. And that disastrous doctrine has a total bite. Here is why the Archbishop is being reduced within the Society of St Pius X, which he founded, to little more than a decorous mascot.
One is impelled to ask, what is it going to take to restore the bite of doctrine, the sense of reality and the love of truth in Society, Church and world? Surely suffering, no less. Solzhenitsyn made a remark to the effect that it will take the crowbar of events to smash open the concrete casing which modern man has built around his sinful way of life. Truly, Lord have mercy.