Post-1986 Quotes of the Archbishop against Sedevacantism


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Archbishop Lefebvre spoke against sedevacantism up until his death.

1)Archbishop Lefebvre, Interview given to Pacte, 1987

Q. - Implicitly, it seems that you are “sedevacantist”?

A. - No, it's not because I say that the Pope is unfaithful to his task, that I say there isn’t a Pope anymore, or that I say he is a formal heretic. I think that it is necessary to judge the men of current Rome and those who are under their influence the same way the bishops, Pope Pius IX and St. Pius X considered liberals and modernists.

Q. – How did they consider them ?

A. - Pope Pius IX condemned liberal Catholics. He even said this terrible sentence: "Liberal Catholics are the worst enemies of the Church.” What more could he say?

However, he did not say: all liberal Catholics are excommunicated, are outside the Church and must be denied Communion. No, he considered these men as "the worst enemies of the Church," and yet, he did not excommunicate them.

The holy pope, Pius X, in his encyclical Pascendi, also dealt as severe a judgment on modernism, calling it the "synthesis of all heresies." I do not know if it is possible to bring a more severe judgment to condemn a movement! But he did not say that all modernists would from now on be excommunicated, outside the Church, and that they had to be refused Communion. He condemned some.

Also, I think that, like these two popes, we must judge them severely, but not necessarily considering them as being outside the Church. That is why I do not want to follow the “sedevacantists” who say: they are modernists; modernism is the crossroads of heresies; so modernists are heretics; so they are no longer in communion with the Church; so there isn’t a Pope anymore...

We cannot make a judgment with such implacable logic. There is, in this way of judging, passion and a little pride. Let us judge these men and their errors in the same way as the popes themselves did.

The pope is modernist, that’s certain, like Cardinal Ratzinger and many men of his entourage. But let us judge them like Pope Pius IX and St. Pius X judged them.

And so this is why we continue to pray for the Pope and to ask God to give him the graces he needs to accomplish his task.


2) Excerpt from Archbishop Lefebvre’s conference in Flavigny, December 1988 – Fideliter March/April 1989

So what is our attitude? It is clear that all those who are leaving us or who have left us for sedevacantism or because they want to be submitted to the present hierarchy of the Church all the while hoping to keep Tradition, we cannot have relations with them anymore. It is not possible.

Us, we say that we cannot be submitted to the ecclesiastical authority and keep Tradition. They say the opposite. They are deceiving the faithful. Despite the esteem we may have for them, there is of course no question of insulting them, but we do not want to engage in polemics and we prefer not to deal with them anymore. It is a sacrifice we have to make. But it did not start today, it has been going on for twenty years.

All those who separate from us, we are very affected by it, but we really cannot make another choice if we want to keep Tradition. We must be free from compromise as much with regard to sedevacantists as with regard to those who absolutely want to be submitted to the ecclesiastical authority.”


3) Archbishop Lefebvre, March 1989

"Unlike sedevacantists, we act vis-a-vis the Pope as vis-a-vis the Successor of Peter. We address ourselves to him as such, and we pray as such. The majority of faithful and traditional priests also feel that it is the prudential and wise solution: to recognize that there is a successor on the throne of Peter, and that it is necessary to strongly oppose him, because of the errors he spreads." ("Apres les ralliements sonnera l’heure de vérité," Fideliter 68, March 1989, p. 13).


4) Archbishop Lefebvre, Priests’ Retreat, 1989

“I think, nevertheless, that we need a link with Rome
. It is still there in Rome where we find the succession of Peter, the succession of the apostles, of the apostle Peter, of the primacy of Peter and of the Church. If we cut this link, we are really like a boat which is cast off to the mercy of the waves, without knowing anymore to which place we are attached and to whom we are attached. I think it is possible to see in the person who succeeds all the preceding popes, since if he occupies the see, he was accepted as Bishop of Rome at Saint John Lateran. Now it is the Bishop of Rome who is the successor of Peter; he is recognized as the successor of Peter by all the bishops of the world. Good! What you want? We can think that he is really the successor of Peter, and in this sense, we attach ourselves to him and through him to all his predecessors, ontologically so to speak. And then, his actions, what he does, what he thinks and the ideas he spreads; that is another thing, of course. It is a great sorrow for the Catholic Church, for us, that we are forced to witness such a thing. But I think that this is the solution that corresponds to the reality.

The solution of sedevacantism is not a solution: it poses a lot of problems, because if since Pope Paul VI there were no popes, then all the cardinals that were made by these popes are invalidly made; so the votes they made as cardinals, members of the Conclave, are void; and who will then re-establish the link with John XXIII?; and even if we think that John XXIII wasn’t pope either, then we have to go back to Pius XII. Who is going to re-establish the tie? Because if these cardinals were invalidly-made cardinals, they cannot elect the future Pope. Who is going to designate the new pope? We are completely lost! It is not surprising that in these circles there have been groups that have made a pope. It is logical. Let us keep a little the solution of common sense and the solution that the faithful inspire in us.

Every time that there were stories of sedevacantism that caused a little trouble in the Society, I must say, well, on the whole, we can say that the faithful did not follow. These faithful followed us, followed the solution of the Society, And I think that if one day we all of a sudden took the decision - the authorities of the Society, the majority of priests – and said “it is clear now, we affirm that there is no Pope,” the faithful would not follow us. Most of the faithful would not follow us! With good reason. Look at Bordeaux for example, when Fr. Guepin left with Father Belmont, well they thought that they were going take two-thirds of the parish with them. They had two or three families, that’s all. No, no! The faithful have the sense of the faith. See how they reacted to the episcopal consecrations. The faithful have the sense of the faith. They have good sense and the sense of the faith. We can rely on the judgment of our good Christians, our good faithful.”


5) Archbishop Lefebvre, retreat at St. Michel en Brenne, April 1st, 1989

Concerning the position of Archbishop Lefebvre on the "non una cum" sedevacantist error, after the Episcopal consecrations of 1988; here is an excerpt from a conference given by Archbishop Lefebvre during a retreat preached to the sisters of Saint-Michel en Brenne, France, on April 1st, 1989

“… And then, he [Dom Guillo] goes through all the prayers of the Canon, all the prayers of the Roman Canon. He goes through them one after the other and then he shows the difference, he gives translations, very good ones. He gives, for example, precisely this famous…you know, this famous una cum.., una cum of the sedevacantists. And you, do you say una cum? (laughter of the nuns of St-Michel en Brenne). You say una cum in the Canon of the Mass! Then we cannot pray with you; then you're not Catholic; you're not this; you're not that; you're not.. Ridiculous! ridiculous! because they claim that when we say una cum summo Pontifice, the Pope, isn’t it, with the Pope, so therefore you embrace everything the Pope says. It’s ridiculous! It’s ridiculous! In fact, this is not the meaning of the prayer. Te igitur clementissime Pater. This is the first prayer of the Canon. So here is how Dom Guillou translates it, a very accurate translation, indeed. "We therefore pray Thee with profound humility, most merciful Father, and we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord, to accept and to bless these gifts, these presents, these sacrifices, pure and without blemish, which we offer Thee firstly for Thy Holy Catholic Church. May it please Thee to give Her peace, to keep Her, to maintain Her in unity, and to govern Her throughout the earth, and with Her, Thy servant our Holy Father the Pope." It is not said in this prayer that we embrace all ideas that the Pope may have or all the things he may do. With Her, your servant our Holy Father the Pope, our Bishop and all those who practice the Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox faith! So to the extent where, perhaps, unfortunately, the Popes would no longer have ..., nor the bishops…, would be deficient in the Orthodox, Catholic and Apostolic Faith, well, we are not in union with them, we are not with them, of course. We pray for the Pope and all those who practice the Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox faith!

Then he [Dom Guillou] had a note about that to clarify a little: "In the official translation, based on a critical review of Dom Batte, the UNA CUM or "in union with" of the sedevacantists of any shade is no longer equivalent but to the conjunction "and " reinforced either by the need to restate the sentence, or to match the solemn style of the Roman canon. Anyway, every Catholic is always in union with the Pope in the precise area where the divine assistance is exercised, infallibility confirmed by the fact that as soon as there is a deviation from the dogmatic tradition, the papal discourse contradicts itself.

Let us collect the chaff, knowing that for the rest, it is more necessary than ever to ask God, with the very ancient Major Litanies, that be "kept in the holy religion" the "holy orders" and "Apostolic Lord" himself (that is to say the Pope): UT DOMINUM APOSTOLICUM AND OMNES ECCLESIASTICOS ORDINES INSANCTA RELIGIONE CONSERVARE DIGNERIS, TE ROGAMUS, AUDI NOS."

It is a request of the litanies of the Saints, right? We ask to keep the Pope in the true religion.. We ask that in the Litanies of the Saints! This proves that sometimes it can happen that unfortunately, well, maybe sometimes it happens that... well there have been hesitations, there are false steps, there are errors that are possible. We have too easily believed since Vatican I, that every word that comes from the mouth of the Pope is infallible. That was never said in Vatican I! The Council never said such a thing. Very specific conditions are required for the infallibility; very, very strict conditions. The best proof is that throughout the Council, Pope Paul VI himself said "There is nothing in this Council which is under the sign of infallibility". So, it is clear, he says it himself! He said it explicitly.

Then we must not keep this idea which is false! which a number of Catholics, poorly instructed, poorly taught, believe! So obviously, we no longer understand anything, we are completely desperate, we donot know what to expect! We must keep the Catholic faith as the Church teaches it."


6) Archbishop Lefebvre, Easter Retreat, Econe, April 11, 1990

“The issue concerning the Pope is obviously a great mystery. It is probably something that you think about often and that cannot be eliminated. It is a serious problem, perhaps the most serious of the current situation of the Church. So, the declarations of the Pope, his acts, the ecumenical acts that he did and that he redoes many times during his travels and during his receptions at the Vatican, his statements, everything throw us into anguish. Then, a certain number of traditionalists believe that they have to conclude that: “the Pope is not the Pope. This is not possible. He is heretical. He is schismatic. He cannot be the Pope, so there is no more Pope.” They consider the seat as vacant. This logic may be too simple, too mathematical. The complexity of things in reality is often much greater than we think.

See for yourselves, in the reading that we are making you do on the semi-rationalists, semi-liberals. We are dealing with people who mix up truth and error, who live in a continual contradiction. If you read the book on liberalism of cardinal Billot, you see that the cardinal defines precisely what a liberal is: a man who is in contradiction all the time, a man who constantly contradicts himself and who lives in contradiction. He is always two-faced. And so, they are dangerous people. This is what Pope Pius IX said. Pope Pius IX considers them as the greatest danger in the church because they mislead the faithful. Sometimes, we believe that they are traditional and that they conform to the truth of the Church, and then, all of a sudden, they fall into error and lead people into error. It is very, very dangerous. They scandalize and lead millions of faithful into error.

So, personally, I believed, during all these years, for twenty years, in having to act as if the Pope was Pope, in not asking myself deeper questions, in having to act, in practice, as if the Pope was the Pope. I would say: "I recognize the Pope as the Pope of the Holy Catholic Church.” This is why I have never refused to go to Rome when I was summoned there. The books edited by Madiran on The savage condemnation of Archbishop Lefebvre and Archbishop Lefebvre and the Holy Office well prove that [...] I have considered the authority of the Pope as if he was the Pope. And then, I often appealed to him, I wrote I do not know how many times to Pope Paul VI and to Pope John Paul II, and then to the offices and to the congregations and to the presidents of the congregations in charge of fixing these problems.I think that this is the wisest attitude and the most consistent with the spirit of the Church.”


7) Interview with Archbishop Lefebvre, Fideliter No. 79 Jan. – Feb. 1991

Archbishop Lefebvre
: “I have always warned the faithful vis-à -vis the sedevacantists, for example. There, also, people say: “The Mass is fine, so we go to it.”

Yes, there is the Mass. That’s fine, but there is also the sermon; there is the atmosphere, the conversations, contacts before and after, which make you little by little, change your ideas. It is therefore a danger and that’s why in general, I think it constitutes part of a whole. One does not merely go to Mass, one frequents a milieu.”

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