The future of the Society

The good lord cannot help but want the Society to continue.

The answer that Archbishop Lefebvre gave to two Italian journalists concerning a possible consecration of bishops is not what is referred to in journalistic slang as a “scoop”.

Indeed, His Excellency has expressed many times his concern about the future of the transmission of the Catholic priesthood, without however wishing to anticipate Providence.

Quite officially, in the solemn warning that he, together with Bishop de Castro Mayer, had sent to the Holy Father on August 31, 1985, the two bishops concluded by stating: “we can only persevere in the sacred tradition of the Church and make all the decisions necessary so that the Church might preserve a clergy that is faithful to the Catholic Faith.”

Last September, during the priestly retreat in Econe, Archbishop Lefebvre had explained his thinking.

Mentioning the fatigue caused him by his ceaseless travels throughout the world, which become more frequent as the Society develops, His Excellency first described the role of the bishops that he might be led to consecrate as necessarily being his “auxiliaries”.

It is clear, as he told the Italian journalists, that the task that would be entrusted to them would essentially be priestly ordinations and confirmations, with no assignment of jurisdiction and no particular territorial authority in the Society, since the Superior General who is elected by the [General] Chapter exercises that.

“They could have an office, as I did in my day, when I was rector of the seminary in Econe and went to administer confirmation.

“What matters in the eyes of the Church, to the authorities of the Church, who hopefully one day will change their minds and their doctrine, is what the Society represents, and not the bishops that I might consecrate, or its Superior General.

“They would be at the service of the Society, because the Society is the thing that is of the Church, is grafted onto the Church and has received the official approval of the Church.

“If someday I consecrate bishops, it will never be with the intention of creating a parallel Church. There is absolutely no question of that. It is simply a question of being able to continue the Society, so that it does not die off just because there is no longer anyone to ordain priests for it. That is all, nothing more than that.

“And the day will come again when the Good Lord will allow the light to replace the darkness that now reigns in Rome; Tradition will come back. Then there will be no more problem. The bishops [that I have consecrated] will place their episcopal mandate back into the pope’s hands, saying, ‘Now we will live as simple priests, and if you wish, make use of us.’

“The important thing is that the Society, which is a work willed by God, should continue. I really do wish that there were four or five bishops who came to me and said: ‘We will take responsibility for the ordinations and the confirmations.’ Then the matter would be settled. There would no longer be a problem. We would say: Deo gratias!