Archbishop Lefebvre and the sedevacantists
(a little known document)
Concerning the position of Archbishop Lefebvre on the “non una cum” sedevacantist position, 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 1, France, on April 1st, 1989 (AUDIO excerpt attached).
« … And then, he (Dom Guillou O.S.B. 2) 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 Botte O.S.B. 3, 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 good grain, 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 the “Apostolic Lord” himself (that is to say the Pope): UT DOMINUM APOSTOLICUM AND OMNES ECCLESIASTICOS ORDINES IN SANCTA 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, people no longer understand anything, they are completely desperate, they do not know what to expect! We must keep the Catholic faith as the Church teaches it. »
Archbishop Lefebvre, retreat at Saint-Michel en Brenne, April 1st, 1989
1 — General Mother House of the sisters of the Society.
2 — A famous traditionalist benedictine monk, friend of Archbishop Lefebvre.
3 — A famous Belgian modernist monk. It is he who made the new rite of the consecrations of bishops.