The International Priestly Society of Saint Pius X
XXV Anniversary 1970-1995
A family diary...
Conference given by Fr. AnglÚs at Kansas City, November 1, 1995
Reverend Fathers, Ladies, Gentlemen:
I am going to take you for a historical tour of the past 25 years of the life of the Society of St. Pius X. It is impossible to note here every single detail, nevertheless I will present you with the most relevant moments in our history. You will see a parade of the main characters and you will hear what they have to say. I will follow a chronological approach, free enough to include biographical sketches and tidbits of information.
While we go ahead through this historical journey it will become apparent that the hand of God has guided our work from the start.
The history of the Society of St. Pius X begins of course in the mind of God. But do not believe that its temporal origin is to be found solely at the time of the post-Conciliar crisis. The Society of St. Pius X was made possible by the providential foresight of an extraordinary man, Father Le Floch, superior of the French seminary in Rome, who in the 1920's formed a group of future prelates and priests who, having been warned by him of the dangers of the Modernist infiltration in the Church, remained faithfully attached to her traditions in the neo-Protestant Revolution. Fr. Le Floch announced in 1926, "the heresy which is now aborning will become the most dangerous of all; the exaggeration of the respect due to the Pope and the illegitimate extension of his infallibility." A grateful Archbishop Lefebvre often spoke of his great teacher, and we will see how in this historical recollection appear again and again figures of ecclesiastics close to the SSPX who studied with our founder under the exemplary guide and example of Fr. Le Floch.
April 11, 1968, Maundy Thursday. In the little Swiss village of Saxon, Alfonse Pedroni is in the town's cafe. He hears a pompous business man bragging that in a few months he will be able to dynamite the chapel and old farm of Econe. The contract is going to be signed shortly. Before the day is over, Alfonse and Marcel Pedroni and their friends Gratien Rausis, Roger Lovey and Guy Genoud decide to buy the property, once owned by the Canons of St. Bernard, and containing the shrine of Our Lady of the Prairies. They visit Bishop Adam of Sion to let him know of their intentions. The Bishop congratulates them but says that the Church is in crisis of vocations and there is no hope for Econe to be saved and used as they would like as a house of formation. During the week that follows, these Catholic gentlemen learn that the businessman intends to build in Econe a complex of nightclub, restaurant and motel. On May 31, feast of the Queenship of Mary, the Canons sell Econe, not to the disappointed developer but to Alphonse and his friends, who have obtained an emergency loan from the bank. They are happy but they do not know exactly what they are going to do with the property they have saved from desecration.
Also in 1968, the General Chapter of the Fathers of the Holy Ghost revises its Constitutions in the spirit of the Council. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, General Superior, protests before the Sacred Congregation of Religious in Rome and he is invited to take a break and to go on vacation. He presents his resignation and retires as chaplain to a convent in Rome.
In May, 1968, in the French Seminary of Rome, the Communist flag hangs from the main balcony in support of the revolutionary students in Paris. A minuscule group of seminarians, still dressed in their cassocks and being shunned by the rest of their comrades and teachers, turn for help to Archbishop Lefebvre. He directs them to the still-conservative University of Fribourg in Switzerland, encouraged by the Abbot of Hauterive and the Dominican theologian, Fr. Philippe. The Archbishop told us about this early endeavor: "I said to these gentlemen that wanted to force me to do something for the seminarians, asking me to take care of them personally, 'I'm going to see Bishop Charriere; if he tells me, "go ahead," then I will see in it a sign of the will of God.' I said this because I really didn't want to; I felt old and I was sure that I could not undertake such a work. When you are 65 years old you do not undertake a work like the one of the Society. Had somebody told me the number of priests and what the Society would be today I would just have smiled sweetly. So I didn't want to, but Bishop Charriere insisted, 'Il faut, il faut, you should, you should; faites, faites, do it, do it! Do something, rent a house, don't abandon these seminarians. You know what's going on in the Church. We need absolutely to keep the good traditions.' This was the sign. The Society is therefore not a personal work; it would never have been blessed by God as it has been. It was definitely a work of God."
And then, as a supplementary proof that the Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva, and Fribourg wanted us to exist, in the 1st of November, 1970, he approves and confirms the constitutions and proceeds to the canonical foundation of the International Priestly Society of St. Pius X in his diocese.
Meanwhile, the Swiss laymen offer the property of Econe to
Archbishop Lefebvre via a local parish priest, Fr. Bonvin,
confrere of the Archbishop in the French Seminary at Rome. The
seminarians leave the rented 12 rooms of the Don Bosco House in
Fribourg and in Sept, 1970, the first year starts at Econe with
the warm approval of Bishop Adam of Sion.
The Archbishop expected to wait a long time until the second canonical step, the approval of Rome, was effected. Only four months elapse until February 18, 1971, when Cardinal 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.
Much 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 SSPX. This official act of Rome recognizes the right of the SSPX to incardinate its members.
In 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 exigence of the episcopal consecrations of 1988.
On 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" which for some reason is called here 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. "How can I accept 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."
In 1971, 24 candidates enter the seminary of Econe. 32 more will join them in October '72. 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. Cardinal 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 Cardinal Marty to meet the bishops at the coming Episcopal Conference at Lourdes to explain them the situation of Econe. A Cardinal insisted that there was going to be no question of Econe at this meeting. But the Episcopal Conference in Lourdes labels Econe 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.
In 1973 an ephemeral pre-seminary is opened in Fribourg, but only for a few months, to be closed because of the worsening conditions in the University.
Society seminaries are opened at Armada, Michigan, 1973, and Albano, Rome, 1974. The plot to close Econe 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 Cardinal Villot persuades Paul VI to believe that our seminarians must take an oath against the Pope. Villot will say to Cardinal Etchegaray who repeated it widely, "in six months Econe will not exist."
November 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 to be discussed. 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 Rome neo-Modernist and neo-Protestant of Vatican II. "To insure our salvation the only attitude of fidelity to the Church and to the 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."
1975 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 Cardinal Garrone calls him "a fool." Against the provisions of Canon Law, the Society is invalidly suppressed May 6, 1975. French Cardinal Villot, forces Cardinal 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 to this illegal condemnation with a pilgrimage to Rome of the whole Society to gain the indulgences of the Holy Year, 1975.
Paul VI, in the consistory of May, 1976, denounces the Archbishop as "disobedient to the new liturgy." Cardinal Benelli asks the Archbishop to celebrate at least once the New Mass, 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 prairie of Econe 12 priests for the Society. The 23 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.
The 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.
Instead of the excommunication joyfully announced by the media, on Sept 11, 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.
In February 1977, traditional Catholics liberate the church of St. Nicolas du Chardonnet in Paris. Monsignor Ducaud Bourget and Fr. Coache summon the faithful for a conference in support of the Archbishop, and direct them to the old church of St. Nicolas, only a few meters away. An astonished parish priest who is celebrating the New Mass for about 40 people has just announced that the church would be open only two days a week. Suddenly he sees an immense crowd filling the church respectfully and in reverent silence. A miracle? Yes, indeed, since at the end of this Mass, a processional cross announces the arrival from the street of the clergy who are going to celebrate the True Mass on the true altar. The supper table is removed, the priest escorted to the door, and the miracle of St. Nicholas continues until today.
Fall, 1977 sees 38 new seminarians, despite the condemnations. In October, the Society has 40 priests, 150 seminarians, 20 priories, and 3 seminaries. The sisters of the Society, founded in 1974, move their Novitiate to Albano, and their general house to St. Michel en Brenne under the direction of Mother Mary Gabriel Lefebvre.
1978 sees the acquisition of four priories in France, a property in Long Island, and the priory of Madrid. The German seminary of Weissbad moves to Zaitzkofen. The Jesuit College of St. Mary's Kansas is also bought by the Society.
On November 16, the new Pope John Paul II receives the Archbishop in Rome. After a long conversation the Pope is willing enough to remove all restrictions on the traditional Mass, but Cardinal Seper standing back exclaims immediately, "They make a banner of this Mass," a remark which makes a negative impression on the Pope.
Meanwhile in Argentina, a humble seminary opens in Venezuela Street, in Buenos Aires, with 12 candidates.
In June, an old inn is purchased at Rickenbach to be our first General House. During summer, a large property is bought 20 kilometers north of Turin at Montalenghe, for a retreat house. The American Seminary transfers to Ridgefield.
Aug 15, the Archbishop is in St. Mary's for the first Marian Pilgrimage. "It was a magnificent success, more than 2,000 people came from everywhere. I wish that this place becomes a great sanctuary for all America, and a center of devotion and prayers towards the Blessed Virgin only capable to stop the moral corruption which does not cease to grow in this immense country."
France: "The experience of our first two schools of St. Michel in Chateauroux and of Etoile du Matin gives us great hopes for the truly Christian formation of young men and for vocations that will certainly spring in such an excellent atmosphere. May God allow our schools to multiply."
The year is crowned on September 23rd by the celebration of
the priestly jubilee of the Archbishop in Paris, where he calls
for a Catholic Crusade of restoration. "We must make a
Crusade founded on the sacrifice of the Mass, to recreate
Christendom as the Church wants it, on the same principles, the
same Mass, the same Sacraments, the same Catechism, the same Holy
Scripture. A Crusade of young people, of Catholic families, of
heads of families, a Crusade of priests."
At the occasion of our 10th anniversary, the Archbishop writes: "Our attitude for the last ten years must continue now without hesitation for the good of the Church, to help the authorities of the Church who want it to come out from the disorder in which they have imprudently engaged themselves. The conclusion of this anniversary must be depositum custodire, to keep the deposit of the faith, source of grace and sanctification."
In France, the Archbishop announces the opening of "Facultes Catholiques St. Pie X," named soon afterwards "Institut Universitaire St. Pie X." "The teachers themselves," he writes, "have provoked this foundation by addressing the SSPX as the only institution capable to maintain a sure and permanent doctrine to those spirits thirsty of truth."
In May, he visits the USA. May 23: "C'est magnifique, c'est une catedrale." The delicately nasal French voice of Archbishop Lefebvre echoes within the walls of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Kansas City. Built in 1922, for more than one half century the church was under the care of the Vincentian Fathers. After the Council 11 churches closed in the metropolitan area, and St. Vincent's was sold to a non-denominational group, then it reverted to the diocese which held it in trust until its sale to the Crusaders Community Church. The rest is history. The classic beauty of this building is a standing testimony to the love of the Church by American Catholics in an era of faith. "I have been able to confirm with great satisfaction the extraordinary development of the groups of faithful Catholics both at the chapels of our priest-friends and in the Society. St. Mary's College, the School of St. Louis, Mo., the beautiful chapel and rectory of Phoenix, and at the last moment the acquisition of a big church in Kansas City are reasons to hope the continuation of the Church in the United States."
Econe sees the arrival of 9 seminarians from Argentina who have come to finish their theology, but first need to learn French and Latin.
In Ridgefield we have 12 new candidates. Archbishop Lefebvre says, "we are asked from everywhere in the world to form and send priests. As of today I would need to have 150 or 200 extra priests to answer the requests of the faithful."
During an early year visit to the States, Archbishop Lefebvre dedicates the complex of Jesus and Mary in El Paso, Texas. In the afternoon of January 4th, 200 children are confirmed. On Jan 6, 4 years after a visa had been denied to Archbishop Lefebvre due to pressure put on the government by the bishops of Mexico, our founder crosses the border for what turns to be a triumphant tour of the country of the Cristeros. Followed continuously by the Mexican secret police, the Archbishop visits in the south of the country large areas of very poor Indians who, astonished, received an affirmative answer to their request for a truly Catholic bishop coming to support their fight for the Faith before the Communist clergy, sold to the Liberation Theology. He is received like a conquering hero, walking among cheering crowds of thousands in villages festooned with ribbons, garlands, and the magnificent fragrant flowers of those latitudes. Some natives walk as much as 100 miles through mountains to bring their children to be confirmed and to be able to kiss the episcopal ring and receive the blessing of Marcel Lefebvre, "el hombre justo." In Tlaxiaco, while the diocesan bishop celebrates the New Mass for 25 people, thousands attend the solemn ceremonies presided by Archbishop Lefebvre.
In Rome, Cardinal Seper, the Pope's delegate for the dialogue with the Society, writes on Feb. 19, making allusion to the possibility of sending of a Cardinal to find a solution to the liturgical problem and the canonical situation of the Society.
The Archbishop goes for a long missionary trip to S. Africa and then to Argentina, where in August 15, he lays the first stone of seminary in La Reja, very close to Buenos Aires. He also visits Brazil at the request of Bishop Antonio de Castro-Mayer who is soon going to be forced to retire from his diocese. "We hope that he will now be able to take some action at the level of the universal Church in the present crisis."
The same year he travels to Australia to prepare the foundation of the first priory in Sydney. "I must acknowledge that the Australian priests, faithful to tradition and the laity have worked very well during these last years. In my last trip in 1973 the groups of Sydney and Melbourne were composed by a few families; this time 700 faithful were present at the confirmations and Mass of Sydney, and almost as many in Melbourne, and about 150 in Adelaide, Perth, and also Wanganui in New Zealand. This region gives now great hope and deserves its first priory."
75 new candidates enter our seminaries.
In Rome, Cardinal Seper goes to his reward. His last letter of October does not present any solution. Traditionalists are the only victims of tolerance and religious freedom, when in reality we are the ones who defend the truth.
On March 1, St. Joseph buys for us our first church in London, seating 300 faithful.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger replaces Card. Seper as personal representative of the Pope. The Archbishop has a long interview with him in March. Rome wants us to say that even though we may have some reservations the liturgical reformation is good and that we just think it is less good than the old one. "Now," says the Archbishop, "we believe that the reform is evil, poisoned by ecumenism, and we refuse to accept it and we are obliged to advise all the faithful against it. How long the reformers will close their eyes before the destruction of the faith, of the morals, of institutions, only God knows."
March 20: An all-night prayer vigil is held in Martigny, near Econe, inspired by the message of Our Lady of Fatima asking for prayer and penance. 3,000 pilgrims assist at the consecration of the world, and especially of Russia, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In anticipation of the present frenzy about the new millennium, Archbishop Lefebvre declares calmly and firmly, "The twenty-first century will be Catholic or it will not be at all."
At Easter time, five monsignori and twenty diocesan priests of the diocese of Campos in Brazil, publish a profession of Catholic faith in the face of the present errors, a splendid document defending the pristine doctrine and traditions of the Church. "We have the absolute certainty that our position is legitimate, not by virtue of our arguments and ideas, but because we take our stand on that which the Church herself has taught us. For the Church, we wish to give our lives if it is necessary."
The first general chapter of the SSPX takes place in Econe in September. In the Acts we read a declaration of principles and directives of the SSPX, decisions on pastoral action in the present crisis, and warnings against liturgical changes and false ecumenism, and the rejection of liberalism but also sedevacantism. "The SSPX is founded on the history of the Church and upon the doctrine of theologians. It believes that the Pope can favor the ruin of the Church by choosing and letting act bad advisors, also by signing documents and decrees which do not engage his infallibility and that cause a considerable damage to the Church. Nothing more dangerous for the Church than liberal popes who are in a continual incoherence. We pray for the Pope but we refuse to follow him in his errors on religious freedom, ecumenism, socialism and the application of reformations destructive for the Church. Our apparent disobedience is true obedience to the Church and to the Pope as successor of Peter in the measure that he continues to maintain holy Tradition." "All the members of the Society have one desire, to be submitted in filial obedience to a Rome returned to Tradition."
Father Schmidberger is elected Vicar General with right of immediate succession as Superior General.
In the seminaries, the course of studies is extended from 5 to 6 years. We have 60 new entries in Econe, Ridgefield, Zaitzkofen, and Buenos Aires.
This is the year of the publication of the new Code of Canon Law, which brings to canonical terms the new Conciliar conception of the Church.
Wednesday, March 1: Fr. Barrielle, an apostle of the Exercises of St. Ignatius, dies at Econe, standing up like the soldier that he always was. Before his birth, his mother had consecrated him to the Blessed Virgin asking for a boy who one day would be a priest. And priest he became, the parish priest of a large church of Marseilles. With the permission of his bishop he followed Father Vallet to preach with him the 5-day Ignatian Retreats as we know them today. In 1944, he became Superior General of the Cooperators of Christ the King, a priestly institute dedicated to Ignatian retreats. In 1973, the general chapter of his congregation changed the original constitutions, and Fr. Barrielle wrote an official letter stating that he had never been a member of this new congregation and that he did not want to leave the one in which he had made his religious vows. As he used to say, he "remained the only member of the congregation founded by Fr. Vallet." He became spiritual director of the seminary of Econe where he helped generations of priests inspiring them with his zeal and giving them the key to the Exercises. This priest with a heart of fire, as the Archbishop called him, signed his testament: Ludovic Marie Barrielle, slave of Mary and Joseph.
On April 5, the Archbishop writes very openly to the Pope: "The use of this ecumenical Mass fosters a mentality which is Protestant and indifferentist, placing all religions at the same level in the manner of the declaration of Religious Freedom, with the doctrinal foundation of the rights of man, a misunderstood concept of human dignity that has been condemned by St. Pius X. The consequences of this spirit are deplorable and ruin the spiritual vitality of the Church. In conscience we must discourage the priests and the faithful from the use of this Novus Ordo if we wish that the integral Catholic faith remains alive." Those who maintain what the Archbishop spoke against religious freedom only in his last years should read in this letter "It is obvious that tradition is not compatible with the Declaration on Religious Freedom of the Council. We request a reform of the affirmations of the Council that are contrary to the official Magisterium of the Church, especially the Declaration on Religious Freedom. It is impossible for me to sign anything that may hinder the Catholic faith of my infancy, as it is the case with the false ecumenism, the false religious freedom. I want to live and to die in the Catholic faith."
During the spring some priests in the United States leave us, pretending that the liturgy used by the Society is bad. In this they join the choir of our modernist persecutors in Rome who also say that our liturgy is not authorized. This absurd attitude unfortunately sows confusion within the faithful and seminarians in the States. This situation puts to proof the Germanic endurance of the new Superior General, Fr. Schmidberger. In June, 28 new priests are ordained in Econe. Ireland receives the first priest of the Society. The Archbishop wishes that God will bring many vocations from this island that in the past gave so many priests and missionaries to the Church.
Cardinal Ratzinger writes from Rome in July, "The Pope acknowledges the devotion of Archbishop Lefebvre and his fundamental attachment to the Holy See, expressed for instance by the exclusion of members who do not recognize the authority of the Pope."
On Aug 27-28, Switzerland sees the first traditional pilgrimage to Flueli, Sanctuary of St. Nicholas of Flue, with more than 4,000 faithful attending. In Econe 65 priests follow the priestly retreat and in Ridgefield, 11 new students join the seminary after the split. In Germany, Don Bosco School starts with 15 students.
The priests of Campos publish a declaration about the priestly ministry in the present extraordinary period of grave crisis explaining the canonical doctrine that allows traditional priests to hear confessions and bless marriages.
In November, the Archbishop visits the USA. 360 confirmations in Ciudad Juarez and in the afternoon 350 in El Paso. On Nov. 5 the Archbishop blesses St. Michael's chapel in Long Island.
On the 21st, he meets with Bishop Castro-Mayer in Rio de Janeiro. Together they prepare an open letter to the Pope. "In our capacity as bishops of the Holy Catholic Church, our hearts are overwhelmed. To remain silent in these circumstances would be to become accomplices to these wicked works. Considering that all the measures we have undertaken in private during the last 15 years, have remained ineffectual, we find ourselves obliged to intervene in public before Your Holiness." The two faithful bishops present a list outlining the principal errors of the time including an ecumenical notion of the Church, a democratic orientation, a false notion of the natural rights of man, and a Protestant notion of the Mass and of the Sacraments.
The SSPX has reached the number of 120 priests, and Econe counts also 120 seminarians. Father Schmidberger insists on a stabilization and consolidation with a happy expansion, and to hold on to the motto, "Neither heretics nor schismatic."
The Pope, to the great scandal of Catholics traditional or not, preaches in the Lutheran temple of Rome in March. On the 10th of May, he bows before a bonze in a Buddhist temple in Thailand, the same time the Vatican abrogates the concordat with Italy. At this point the Archbishop starts to consider seriously the necessity of an episcopal consecration.
Also in May, Mother Mary Jude is named Superior General of the SSPX Sisters, and in the USA the northeast and southwest districts are reunified.
Monsignor Ducaud Bourget dies in Paris in the middle of June. Chaplain of the Order of Malta, renowned poet and writer, faithful to the Traditional Mass, he was responsible for the liberation of St. Nicolas. When the Osservatore Romano announced his suspension, in the literary pages of the same issue an article praised the latest book of a great Catholic French writer, Francois Ducaud Bourget. No greater tribute could please more the ironic character of our dear Abbe.
During summer the happy expansion starts with foundations in Mexico, Colombia, S. Africa, Holland, and Portugal. Our seminarians spend one month in Rome inaugurating what will become a yearly summer tradition. Directed by a priest, they are exposed during four weeks to the history, the art, and majestic beauty of the eternal city.
October 3, the Indult. The Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship communicates the presidents of episcopal conferences that the diocesan bishops may allow the celebration of the Mass according to the 1962 typical edition of the Roman Missal. Among the draconian conditions, public evidence should exist that the petitioners have no ties with those who deny the doctrinal soundness of the missal promulgated by Paul VI, and that the celebration may take place only on those days and circumstances approved by the bishop. The letter is signed by Archbishop Mayer, afterwards Cardinal in charge of the Ecclesia Dei commission. He indicates that this Indult is to be used without prejudice to the liturgical reform.
On October 18, in the so-called Document of Flavigny, the SSPX and 40 priests and laymen leaders of traditional works, refuse the conditions of the Indult and ask for a wider application without compromise regarding the Liturgical Reformation.
In November, a Gallup Poll requested by traditionalists of Vienna, Virginia, reveals that 40% of American Catholics want the return to traditional Mass, 53% will be happy to attend if it is restored.
The Archbishop travels to Chile in November. 400 confirmations are announced in Santiago; 1200 arrive. During a ceremony of 4 hours the Archbishop proceeds to the longest confirmation session in his life.
On Dec. 8 in Econe, all the superiors make the Consecration of the SSPX to the Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart of Mary, prepared by an evening of prayers at Martigny attended by more than 4,000 faithful.
On Dec. 21, Don Francesco Putti dies. A close spiritual dirige of Padre Pio, he was a late vocation. Staunch defender of tradition in Rome, he founded the Disciples of the Cenacle, a feminine congregation, and the journal SI SI NO NO, which can be found hidden under every desk in the Roman Curia. Don Putti was feared by the Modernist hierarchy because of his no-nonsense approach and his tenacity that took him to sue the Osservatore Romano, obtaining the first public apology that the newspaper ever published. He was with us till the end.
At the end of the year, Archbishop Lefebvre visits Card. Ratzinger, then goes to Africa, and at his return in Rome he sees Card. Gagnon who gives shocking details of the network of conspiracy and corruption in Rome. The Archbishop comments: "The situation is even worse than what we had thought until now."
Archbishop Lefebvre on television. Archbishop Lefebvre honored by a head of state and received by bishops. We are not talking about the good old days, but of the visit that in January the Archbishop paid to his missionary origins in Gabon. He had been warmly received in Senegal, by Card. Thiandoum, and now he is officially welcomed at Libreville by President Bongo, who recalls the "excellent work accomplished by Fr. Lefebvre in Gabon," a well-deserved tribute that is featured in a television broadcast for all the country. The president puts his car and his private plane at the disposal of his guest and in a jubilant tour the Archbishop visits the communities and friends where his memory has remained imperishable.
Fr. Schmidberger writes in February: "The best service we can give to the Church, the Pope and the Bishops, is to insist inflexibly on our position, to preach the Gospel at any cost, to continue in the way in which we are engaged and first of all to form true priests. Our disharmony with the present Rome does not come from us but from those who have broken with tradition. It is not us who are the defendant; we are the prosecution, and this not by a caprice, nor pharisaism, but in virtue of a sacred duty and heart full of sorrow."
In March, Father presents to Card. Ratzinger three big packages with the petitions of 129,849 traditional Catholics asking the Pope to solve the problem of tradition.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop writes his Open Letter to Confused Catholics.
In Chartres, France, 8000 faithful attend the pilgrimage of tradition. At the end a message of encouragement from Cardinal Gagnon is read.
Mexico: during the Holy Week in Tlaxiaco, 15,000 faithful Indians attend the Palm Sunday procession and 2,500 confessions are heard during the holy days.
At the end of July, the SSPX preaches retreats in Lebanon. During summer: Missionary trips to India, Ceylon and Gabon where two bishops encourage a foundation. Cardinal Thiandoum says, "The SSPX could form in the whole world a clergy rooted in the faith; Econe would turn into an example for the formation of priests in our times."
In Ireland a new church is bought in Dublin seating 700 faithful, and 10 new chapels open in Germany. A world-wide campaign led by the SSPX protests against the blasphemous film, "Hail Mary." The modern church, of course, has nothing to say.
On July 22, Lady Kinnoull dies in Carmel, California. She was the very first providential benefactress of the Society. English countess, very cultivated, knowing profoundly her religion with a solid attachment to tradition, with the character of a crusader, and with a great fortune, she supported financially Gen. Franco during the Spanish War. Restless fighter, in 1964 she flew to Paris to meet Archbishop Lefebvre while he was still Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers, to tell him that her fortune and influences would be at his service if he needed help to fight against the subversion within the Church. During the first years of the SSPX in Fribourg she covered most of the expenses of that early foundation. At her death, the Archbishop wrote that, "She could consider the young priests of the Society as her children because without her help at the beginning it would not have been possible to fulfill our priestly work."
On August 31, Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Castro-Mayer write another open letter to the Pope, a solemn injunction this time: "Holy Father, your responsibility is heavily engaged in this new and false conception of the Church which is drawing clergy and faithful into heresy and schism. If the Synod of Bishops perseveres in this direction you will no longer be the Good Shepherd. Please put an end to the invasion of Modernism within the Church."
Mother Mary Christiane visits the USA in October to found the American Carmel in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.
The month of October witnesses three important declarations of the Archbishop. During a press release concerning the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome, to be held on the 20th anniversary of the closing of the Council, he asks, "While at the Council there was a battle between conservative Catholics and Ecumenist Liberals, now we are witnessing a struggle between the Liberals themselves. Thus we have the tragedy which is to unfold. Will the Revolution carry the day yet a second time, or will it be crushed? Alas, unless God intervenes, there is every reason to believe that the Revolution will continue its devastating course."
At the end of the month, he talks about the three wars of his life: lst World War 1914-18, where he saw the destruction of whatever remained of Christian Europe; 2nd World War, '39-45 with the official recognition by all nations of Communism; and the 3rd war, 1962-65, the worse one, wounding the very heart of the Church, the 2nd Vatican Council. After it, the liberal virus is instilled openly in the hierarchy and the faithful.
In our church of Geneva, October 27, Archbishop Lefebvre asks traditional Catholics to consider our chapels as our parishes "We are going to find ourselves in an ecclesiastical situation more and more grave and this is why in my opinion we are obliged more and more to separate ourselves from this Conciliar stream, if not heretical, at least openly favoring heresy. In consequence, henceforth, we must consider our places of worship as true parishes and receive in there the sacraments including the sacrament of marriage."
November 6, the Archbishop places before Cardinal Ratzinger our Dubia on religious freedom. We will wait one year for an answer.
In La Reja, Argentina, he celebrates his 80th birthday, November 29. On December 1, Bishop Castro-Mayer, who came from Brazil for the ordination, imposes hands on the 8 new priests. The 3rd of December he himself proceeds to confer the tonsure and the minor orders to our seminarians, an unexpected event that makes our Archbishop declare: "This is the first time in the history of the Society that I have attended a ceremony of ordination."
The Pope visits Togo and India, scandalizing again the faithful by taking public part in ceremonies of a pagan nature.
In January, Cardinal Gagnon calls Archbishop Lefebvre to Rome and announces that the Holy Father wants him to be associated to Card. Ratzinger in the Society's case.
Our house of Gabon is founded on January 14, the mission being consecrated to St. Joseph. The President invites Archbishop Lefebvre to visit the country, which he does in February, this time to leave his priests in residence.
Regular missionary trips commence to New Guinea, Japan, S. Korea, and Hong Kong. The pilgrimage of Chartres brings 15,000 faithful and more than 100 priests; more than 3,000 will attend also the pilgrimage to St. Nicolas de Flue.
During the ordinations of June at Econe, 125 priests impose hands on the young men who have come to reinforce the ranks. The priory of Wanganui, New Zealand opens on August 16. A priory is also founded in Port du France, Martinique. Monthly masses start in Luxembourg, and in Santiago, Chile, a big church is bought with 500 faithful in attendance. The Castle of Jaidof is purchased in Austria to become a center of retreats and missionary work. A summer retreat in Lebanon brings 65 men to follow the Exercises. The SSPX prepares a foundation for October in Zimbabwe, and starts a timid beginning of the apostolate in India.
In the US, At the beginning of August SSPX sisters found a novitiate at Armada, Michigan. The headquarters of the Society moves from Dickinson to St. Louis.
The bishops of Gabon, who had been happy to visit with the Archbishop, but not so happy to have his priests among them, instigated by the papal nuncio, write the Archbishop expressing of course esteem and gratitude but telling him also that they would like to see him reconciled with Rome. Their old superior answers on August 9, scolding them without false charity, using the words of St. Paul, to the Galatians "I am shocked that you turn away so quickly from the one who has called you in the grace of Jesus Christ to pass to a different Gospel." And then he says, "I am in a position to repeat these words to you because I am the one who has announced you the Gospel, the only one. The new gospel of religious freedom and of the rights of man is not the true gospel. We have a tragic choice to make, either to keep the Catholic faith and not to follow the authorities unfaithful to their task, or to follow blindly those authorities and accept a false gospel. You choose the unfaithful authorities; we choose the Gospel of Our Lord, faithfully transmitted by the Church until 1960. We go to the rescue of those Catholics who have kept the sense of faith; founding an SSPX house in Gabon I only continue what I did from 1932 to 1945 with the approval of the Church. You are the ones who have turned away to a different gospel. The true Catholics of Gabon are fully aware of it and now they thank God because they have found the true Gospel of their infancy. The day of our judgement, God will ask us if we have been faithful, not if we have obeyed unfaithful authorities. Obedience is a virtue relative to truth and to good. When it is submitted to error and to evil it is not a virtue, but a vice. May you remain disciples of truth and not of error."
The Archbishop keeps writing in the hot summer, this time a letter addressed to conservative Cardinals to warn them about the meeting of Assisi that is going to take place on October 27. He asks them to save the honor of the humiliated church and to avoid the scandal of this meeting in which the Pope will publicly mock the first article of the Creed and the first commandment of the Decalogue. "What will the Inquisition do if it still existed?" writes the Archbishop.
The new academic year sees the opening of the seminary of Flavigny in France for the spirituality and philosophy years with 36 seminarians.
After the scandal of the ecumenical meeting of Assisi, Bishop Castro-Mayer exercises a public episcopal ministry along with Archbishop Lefebvre, and on November 29, he confirms with great solemnity 450 children in our chapel of Buenos Aires. Meanwhile, in the Antilles Archbishop Lefebvre is received by 250 people in Martinique and 500 in Guadaloupe.
The seminarians of Econe restore the Eucharistic Crusade for children, now extended throughout the world.
The Society has 205 priests working in 23 countries and 263 young men filling the seminaries. In Ridgefield, the arrival of 19 new seminarians makes the house burst at the seams, and the General Council determines that it is time to move the seminary elsewhere, and to turn Ridgefield into a retreat house. St. Mary's has 700 faithful, and in France a new Carmel is founded, the 7th after the foundations started by Mother Marie Cristiane Lefebvre in 1977, one Carmel for each seminary.
January sees the death of Mother Mary Gabriel. Sister of the Holy Ghost, co-foundress and first Gen. Superior of the Sisters of SSPX, missionary in Cameroon, in Banghi, in the Antilles, and Senegal, she founded the Society of the Daughters of Mary of Cameroon in Yaoundee, and devoted herself as a nurse in the leper hospital of Banghi. Always happy and humble, profoundly religious and exemplary, she was unable to accept the changes in her congregation, to the point that she felt like a stranger. With the permission of her superiors she helped her brother to found a religious congregation of women with identity of goals with the SSPX. A simple, happy, and strong soul, she cannot be forgotten by those who had the grace to know her.
On January 18, dies Fr. Raymond du Lac, a renowned canonist who studied at the French Seminary with Archbishop Lefebvre, remaining friends to the end. He proved canonically that the Constitution Missale Romanum of Paul VI did not affect the right to celebrate the traditional Mass. Until the last day he remained an energetic defender of the Roman traditions the he learned under Fr. Le Floch.
On March 9, Rome answers to our Dubia: Religious freedom, they say, constitutes a novelty that can very well be put in accord with tradition. While Rome answers in this nonchalant manner, the South American bishops announce that 60 million Catholics have joined Protestant sects, and Card. Ratzinger optimistically declares that "we want to assimilate in the Church the best values of 200 years of liberal culture." Archbishop Lefebvre answers with his book, They have Uncrowned Him.
In Gabon, 400 faithful already attend the Society chapel regularly, which makes the Archbishop of Libreville attack publicly our work. He pressures the government, and the Fathers are notified that by the end of the school year they must close the chapel and leave the country. Only a miracle can stop the persecution and the miracle happens. On the feast of the Sacred Heart, the chief of police of Libreville comes in person to tell the astonished community that nothing is going to happen and that they may finally remain.
The SSPX founds in France the Confraternity for the Deliverance of the Souls in Purgatory, a work that keeps growing every year and that today is in possession of their own chapel in France.
During the ordinations, the Archbishop says that after the visit of the Pope to the Synagogue of Rome and the Congress of Religions in Assisi, after all the warnings, Rome is now in the darkness. 21 new priests, 130 assisting priests and 6,000 faithful are present to the historical moment when the Archbishop announces publicly that he believes it is an obligation to save the priesthood by proceeding to an episcopal consecration.
Rome, July 14. In a meeting with Card. Ratzinger, the Archbishop exclaims, "Your eminence, for us Jesus Christ is everything; He is the Church, He is the priesthood, He is our apostolate, He is the Catholic family, He is the Catholic state." And he adds, "If you do not name bishops to assure my succession, my duty will be to do it by myself."
After a "dialogue of deaf people" during 20 years that has become an unsuccessful monologue, everything seems to indicate that Rome is just waiting for the death of Archbishop Lefebvre to give the final stroke against traditional works.
At the end July, Providence directs us to Winona, Minn., where a magnificent building that belonged to the Dominican order, after some repairs, is to receive our seminarians, presently squeezed in Ridgefield.
On July 26, Fr. Stephen Abdoo, after one year of most fruitful priestly work since his ordination dies in a car accident in New Zealand.
July 28, Card. Ratzinger writes to the Archbishop offering at last concrete proposals for a solution, including the possibility of a Cardinal visiting the works of the Society.
Fatima, August 22, at 70th anniversary of the apparitions: 2,000 people gather for a night vigil of prayer and a Pontifical Mass during which Archbishop Lefebvre consecrates the SSPX to Our Lady, and inasmuch as it is in his power, he also consecrates Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. During his homily he says that there is an intimate link between the secret of Fatima and the post-Conciliar crisis.
A group of cardinals and bishops ask the Pope in September to find a solution for the SSPX. On the 1st of October the Archbishop accepts an Apostolic Visitor to come in the name of the Pope to see what tradition is all about. The Archbishop informs the press of a certain positive change in our relations with Rome. He goes to the Eternal City to continue the negotiations and on the 29th of October, Card. Ratzinger informs the Synod of Bishops that the Pope has named Card. Gagnon as Apostolic Visitor to the SSPX, much to the delight of some bishops and to the worry of others.
The great family of tradition, surrounds Archbishop Lefebvre in Econe for his 40 years of episcopate on Oct. 3. Before 80 priests, 150 seminarians, and 4,000 faithful, the Archbishop Lefebvre says in his homily that two mottoes have conducted his episcopal ministry, the one of St. Pius X, "Instaurare omnio in Christo," and "Credidimus Caritati," his own episcopal motto.
In November, more involved than ever, Bishop Castro-Mayer goes to our seminary in Buenos Aires to confer the tonsure and give the minor orders, as well as to ordain 3 sub-deacons and 4 deacons.
The 11 of November, exactly 13 years after the first Apostolic Visit of 1974, Card. Gagnon and Monsignor Perl arrive in Econe. In a marathon visit till the 9th of December, they visit the three European seminaries, chapels, general house, groups of priests, schools, convents, retreat houses, up and down France, Germany, and Switzerland. In the Book of Honor of the seminary of Econe, Card. Gagnon writes a testimony of admiration for the work done in the seminary.
On Dec. 8 he assists pontifically to the Mass celebrated by Archbishop Lefebvre during which 27 seminarians make their engagement for the first time in the SSPX. The Pope's delegate thus officially attends a Mass celebrated by a "suspended" bishop who receives members into a suppressed society, which officially does not exist.
On January 5, Card. Gagnon presents to the Pope a mysterious 39-page report of which no copy was ever given to us.
On February 2, the Archbishop announces in Flavigny before television cameras that he will consecrate 3 bishops on June 30.
Our Australian seminary, Holy Cross, opens with 14 seminarians on the feast of St. Joseph.
Rome is afraid. After constant coming and going of negotiations an obscure protocol is signed the 5th of May. The day after, the Archbishop discovers that there are no securities that the conditions will be promptly fulfilled, and he decides to proceed to the consecrations of auxiliary bishops. It is a survival operation of tradition, absolutely justified by the unjust persecution of faithful Catholics and the betrayal of the faith by Roman authorities.
Econe, June 29: at the priestly ordinations, the two faithful bishops, plus 173 priests who come from all over the world, impose hands on the ordinands. That very evening Rome makes a last attempt to avoid the consecrations, sending a beautiful black Mercedes to take the Archbishop on the spot to Rome.
On June 30, 8,000 faithful witness the historical consecration of 4 Catholic bishops to continue the work of Archbishop Lefebvre. This heroic action made of him, Bishop Mayer, and the 4 young prelates the first excommunicated of the post-Conciliar era. The reasons for which the Church reward him greatly until the death of Pius XII were now the cause of his condemnation by the New Church.
Our Bishops do not have vacation, they go immediately in long confirmation trips. Bishop Williamson visits England, Ireland, S. Africa, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Australia, and Hawaii in the months following his consecration.
With the fresh chrism of consecration still on his hands, Bishop Fellay visits Asia and Australia. He finds an unexpected reception in Palayankottai, India, where the traffic is stopped for the solemn procession in which he is driven in a triumphal carriage of stupendous form, much like a throne of an Indian maharajah, accompanied by a band and firecrackers. The locals are enchanted, the Modernist bishop is not, and so he pressures the local police to forbid the confirmation ceremony. Bishop Fellay must take refuge in the house of some Protestants, and finally he is allowed to visit the chapel for a few minutes escorted by the police. So much for postconciliar tolerance and freedom of religion.
The seminary of Winona opens October 8. In Australia, our sisters open a convent in Sydney.
On October 27, Fr. Marchal, one of our young priests, dies in a car accident in France. During his seminary he devoted himself to the preparation of a booklet The SSPX, a Work of the Church. In London and in Lourdes he exercised his apostolate and he still wrote another book on the Archbishop's resistance.
November 23, death of Fr. Joseph LeBoulch, a Benedictine monk and spiritual director at Econe. A great preacher, very well known in religious communities and parishes in France, from 1937 onwards he undertook over 1,000 major preachings (retreats, missions, days of recollection). He joined Archbishop Lefebvre in 1975, leaving with the permission of the superiors his dear Landevennec, an ancient abbey with a history of 15 centuries.
Another Benedictine with a different concept of loyalty, Dom Gerard Calvet, prior of LeBarroux, breaks with the Archbishop and condemns the Episcopal Consecrations at which he was present, turning himself into Rome's hands "without any doctrinal or liturgical concession." In 1995, Abbot Calvet concelebrates the New Mass with John Paul II in Rome.
Rome, Dec. 4, 25th anniversary of the Liturgical reformation. An Apostolic Letter of the Pope says that the liturgical reform is absolutely traditional and according to the norms of the Holy Fathers. "Ad normam sanctorum patrum!"
Dec. 8: The six Catholic bishops consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The SSPX starts a perpetual Mass in honor of the Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart of Mary, renewing daily its consecration to her. Perpetual Adoration is also begun and the Blessed Sacrament remains exposed at some house of the Society throughout the world every day for the faithful to pray for the following intentions:
1) return of Rome and the Bishops to the traditional doctrine of the Church;
2) sanctification of priests and candidates for the priesthood;
3) awakening of priestly and religious vocations.
In one year our four new bishops have ordained 34 new priests. The Archbishop, being asked if he has any doubt, or if he regrets the step of 1988, answers, "Absolutely not. Everything was truly providential and almost miraculous. I was pressured from many sides for a long time and I could have ordained bishops three or four years ago; it would even have been reasonable, but I believe that God wanted that things develop slowly so that we could show to Rome and to history that we have done all we could to finally obtain the authorization to have traditional bishops. The faithful will be more and more numerous and they will open their eyes to see finally what is the truth in this affair. They will understand that salvation is in the Catholic Church and not in the Conciliar Church that becomes more and more schismatic. I know that my name has been removed from the Pontifical Directory this year, but I hope that it has not disappeared from the Directory of Our Dear Lord, and this is what matters."
Winona sees the first priestly ordinations in the new seminary. In France, summer study sessions for priests on theological subjects start and continue successfully until today.
Rome, September: the Pope writes to all moslems of the world saying that he addresses them "in the name of the same God that we adore."
While the Pope adores Allah, on Nov. 19, in Le Bourget, 23,000 faithful gather together to adore the Triune God to thank Him in the occasion of the 60th priestly jubilee of the Archbishop.
Italy, December 1: Katharina Tangari dies at the seminary of Albano. Spiritual daughter of Padre Pio, she was commanded by him to consecrate her life to help the priests and the Catholic faithful in Communist countries, bringing them financial help, medicines, books and religious objects to help them to keep their faith. Madame Tangari continued this apostolate helping the priests of the SSPX to the point that there is not one country in the traditional world which has not been in some way benefitted by her generosity and dedication. Purified by a long prison term in Czechoslovakia under the Communist KGB, she was not afraid of taking a public stand for Archbishop Lefebvre and his works. A truly saintly soul, she continues to help us from her well-deserved rest in heaven.
No doubt that it was Madame Tangari who from heaven made possible the beginning of our Eastern European apostolate. On May 23, Fr. Schmidberger visits Hungary and celebrates a Mass in a Budapest church for 200 faithful.
On April 29, twenty years of the Society are celebrated before 10,000 faithful in Friedrichshafen, but the earthly crown of the Archbishop is still a crown of thorns. He is accused of racism and calumny by the LICRA (League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism). Cardinal Thiandoum, the African prelate ordained priest by the Archbishop, makes an indignant public declaration against the accusations and in favor of the great missionary Archbishop of Dakar who left in Africa an extraordinary memory. The president of Gabon defends "the good Archbishop who spent 30 years in Africa doing only good." What an irony it is to condemn as racist the only prelate who received from African governments the highest decorations as the Equatorial Star of Gabon and the Grand National Order of Senegal, as well as the Legion of Honor from France for overseas services. At this time he finishes his book, The Spiritual Journey.
During summer, Father Peter Scott becomes the new District Superior of the United States, and the Carmelites move to Spokane, Washington. In Ridgefield the great number of retreatants make us realize that a new retreat house is needed immediately for the Southwest.
Canada, September 10: A magnificent building in Lauzon, Quebec, houses the big school of the Holy Family starting with 42 students.
In Gabon, 3,000 faithful attend the Christmas Mass in our mission. Also at Christmas time, our sisters' novitiate moves from Armada to Browerville, Minnesota.
On Mar. 25: Archbishop Lefebvre dies. It is the day of the priestly ordination of Our Lord in the bosom of His Mother, and according to the ancient martyrologies it is also the date of the death of Our Savior. On his tombstone we put the words that he wanted, "Tradidi quod et accepi," "I have transmitted what I received."
Exactly one month later on April 25, Bishop Castro-Mayer follows him to heaven.
To fulfill the wish expressed last February by the two late prelates, the Bishops of the Society consecrate Msgr. Licinio Rangel, on July 28, to continue in Brazil the survival operation of the Catholic Faith. After the retiring of Bishop Castro-Mayer, his successor Bishop Navarro, had proceeded to systematic persecution of all the traditional priests in Campos, removing them from their parishes, and forcing in the New Mass and the new religion. The Catholic resistance was centered around the person of Bishop de Castro-Mayer. After his death, his priests and thousands of faithful needed a bishop who, without claiming a personal jurisdiction, would use his episcopal faculties to ordain, to confirm, and to sustain the faith among the Catholic people in the present crisis.
This year sees also the death of Dom Edouard Guillou, on May 19. A monk of Solesmes, a specialist in liturgy and in art, writer in history and literature, he was one the early teachers of Econe in 1974. He instilled in the early seminarians the love for the Roman Liturgy and for the spirit of Dom Gueranger. A man of convictions and sempiternal good humor he used to repeat, "never hide your flag in your pocket."
In the US district, a property is bought in Los Gatos, California in order to make possible a very much-needed new retreat center.
Energetic start of missionary work in Eastern Europe: Prague, Budapest, visits to Poland, Lithuania, the Ukraine, and Russia.
Itinerant missionary priests of the Society visit also Kenya, Sri Lanka, and the Dominican Republic.
In order to implore the Master of the Vineyard to send laborers into the field, the Society launches a crusade for vocations.
January 14: Fr. Spiq, a Dominican, internationally renowned scriptural scholar, dies in Switzerland. He was also one of the early professors who helped Archbishop Lefebvre to form the first seminarians.
USA, May 13: official opening of the Regina Coeli house. Father Schmidberger blesses the new District Headquarters and consecrates the U.S. district to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Cardinal Oddi oddly appears in the seminary of Econe for a sudden visit. After praying before the tomb of the Archbishop he exclaims in his unique Italian flamboyance "Merci Monseigneur, Thank you Archbishop." Fr. Schmidberger writes him shortly afterwards, "There are three stages, Your Eminence, in the present crisis: 1) to admit that we live in a very grave crisis, and not in a new Pentecost of the Church; 2) we must analyze the foundations of this crisis using the teachings of the Popes in the past two centuries, the crisis is not just a question of Latin; 3) we must take conclusions and also concrete measures so that we do not remain at a Platonic level. Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Castro-Mayer arrived at the third stage on June 30, 1988." Knowing Cardinal Oddi, we will be surprised if he ever crosses the Rubicon.
Philippines, August 18, the first priory of the Philippines is founded in Manila.
USA, September 3: Bishop Williamson blesses the beautiful church of Cincinnati.
Brussels, September 13: 300 religious leaders, Christian, Buddhist, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Animists, are invited by Card. Daneels to pray for the world's peace, rejecting that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only one Who can bring peace to the world. Buddha, Krishna, Allah, donate nobis pacem. The Society organizes a concentration of Catholics for a ceremony of reparation for the Cardinal's sin with the public prayer of the Stations of the Cross.
Buenos Aires, October 12: the Congress of the 5th Centenary of the Discovery of America and its Christianization assembles illustrious speakers who emphasize the need of a re-Christianization of the large continent that Columbus and Queen Isabella offered to Christ the King.
The US district starts study sessions for priests and 41 gather at Winona for this purpose.
In April, the General House is transferred to Menzingen, in the Swiss Canton of Zug.
The conservative international magazine 30 Days publishes two interviews and an article presenting our doctrinal position.
The relations with Eastern Europe become more intense. 110 Ukrainians in three big busses visit Econe, and 20 Russians spend one week at the seminary of Zaitzkofen. Our priests start to visit Albania, Byelorussia, and the Baltic countries.
Fr. Paradis, an old Canadian priest, in Shawinigan since 1985, goes to his eternal reward. On May 21 our Fr. Henri La Praz consummates his Calvary on earth. 130 surgeries, 80 of them under general anesthesia and a good number of the last ones without any anesthesia at all, mark a life of cheerful suffering which makes of Fr. La Praz priest and victim as Our Lord Jesus Christ, an extraordinary and unique soul.
During the summer, 400 retreatants attend the Exercises of 5 days preached in South America.
Fr. Schmidberger, indefatigable, repeats his motto again in a letter to the Society members. "We are not liberals nor schismatic; we are Catholic, Roman Catholic. We want to be the heirs of St. Thomas Aquinas, of St. Pius V, of St. Pius X. We are the children of Archbishop Lefebvre. We do not want any particular spirituality, we make ours the one of the Holy Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, priest and victim, prophet and king. The holiness of the Church is not to be found in the new Liturgy, in the relativist ecumenism, nor in the naturalist laization of the nations. The sanctity of the Church is to be found in holy tradition."
And so the work of tradition continues and our priests go to teach all nations. This year they will visit Moscow, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Guatemala in a regular schedule, and, at the same time that the house is bought in Fatima, just behind the Basilica of Our Lady, the General Superior opens an extra-territorial priory based in Austria to take care of the spiritual needs of all of Eastern Europe, and to coordinate our apostolate in this immense region.
In July, The General Chapter of the SSPX, assembled at Econe, proceeds to the election of a new Superior General in the person of Bishop Bernard Fellay. After a spiritual retreat, the 40 participants in the chapter elect the new Superior General and his assistants and during 4 days they discuss the problems and challenges of the Society apostolate worldwide. All those assisting renew the Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Chapter finishes with the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in our work.
August 6: Another encyclical comes to darken and confuse the Church. Veritatis Splendor, a document of liberal tenor presenting a naturalist interpretation of the mysteries of Incarnation and Redemption, with an anthropocentrical moral based on the dignity of the human being and the freedom of conscience. A splendid masterpiece of obscurity and ambiguity.
August 21: Fr. Coache, probably the last great figure of the old resistance in France, dies peacefully. A doctor in Canon Law and parish priest for many years, his bishop expelled him for continuing the traditional procession of Corpus Christi in his parish. With his publications, his pilgrimages to Rome and to Lourdes, Fr. Coache was a great supporter of the traditional cause.
The Old Guard goes and leaves the work to the young soldiers. On May 12, Father Barcelonne dies in France at 94 years of age. He worked for 27 years in China from where he was expelled in 1952 by the Communists. Missionary in Brazil, guess the diocese. Campos, all right. He returned to France and spent his last 10 years at St. Nicolas du Chardonnet where he was affectionately called "The Patriarch." He finishes his testament by writing "The only grace I ask is to die in an act of perfect love and total abandonment in the infinite mercy of God." He was faithful until the end to the Mass of his 73 years of priesthood.
Father Urban Snyder, from the Abbey of Gethsemani, where he had been master of novices, dies January 25. He was one of the priests who were incardinated in the SSPX by rescript of the Sacred Congregation of Religious. From 1972 to 1976 he taught at Econe.
The Papal Encyclical Ut Unum Sint consecrates the ecumenical mania under the inadmissible belief that "The spirit of Christ uses non-Catholic churches as means of salvation." A bishop to say, "After Vatican II, ecumenism was a pious wish; after Ut Unum Sint ecumenism is a command for the whole Church."
While modern Rome descends deeper and deeper into the darkness of confusion, the SSPX calmly, quietly and securely perseveres in the luminous work of preaching Our Lord crucified and guiding the souls to heaven.
In the preface of his Spiritual Journey, the Archbishop wrote a mysterious and unusual paragraph, "Before entering into the bosom of the Holy Trinity, I will be allowed to realize the dream of which God gave me a glimpse one day in the cathedral of Dakar. The dream was to transmit, before the progressive degradation of the priestly ideal, in all of its doctrinal purity and in all of its missionary charity, the Catholic Priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, just as He conferred it on His Apostles, just as the Roman Church always transmitted it until the middle of the twentieth century."
The dream is now a reality. As of today, the Society has 336 member priests established in 27 countries, 50 brothers, 53 oblates, 226 seminarians in 6 international seminaries, 130 priories, more than 600 Mass centers regularly-served, 9 retreat houses, 14 major schools, and at least 50 connected to priories or chapels. With innumerable publications and an apostolate that extends to all kind of priestly activities, the SSPX continues the very work for which it had been created, recognized and mandated by Rome. And faithful to this priestly mission with the grace of God we shall continue.
Thank you for your attention.