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Response: R&T SSPX - Justin Tertius - 02-25-2021

Michael Lofton did a quick review this evening of Archbishop Lefebvre, base on a book by Yves Congar OP from '76. 

He discusses that in his video:



I found some of the allegations very concerning, and also as someone who frequently attends SSPX chapels for Liturgy, I also found some of what was said a little foreign. 

Nonetheless, I want to know what others think and if there might be any responses here. Lofton discuss Lefebvre for about the first 40 minutes.


RE: Response: R&T SSPX - MagisterMusicae - 02-25-2021

(02-25-2021, 01:31 AM)Justin Tertius Wrote: I found some of the allegations very concerning, and also as someone who frequently attends SSPX chapels for Liturgy, I also found some of what was said a little foreign. 

Nonetheless, I want to know what others think and if there might be any responses here. Lofton discuss Lefebvre for about the first 40 minutes.

You expect us to watch a 110+ minute video to make comments? That's a bit ridiculous. Even to just watch 40 minutes is a bit of an ask just to make some comments.

How about posting the arguments in summary form about which you are concerned? That would be reasonable.

One response that could be given already, though, is to look at the source.

Because of his erroneous teaching and suspicion of heresy, Congar's teaching and writing were heavily restricted by the Holy Office from 1947 to 1954. In 1954 he was formally banned from teaching or writing. Only in 1960 thanks to the support of his friend, John XXIII, was he restored without retracting any errors, and made a peritus of Vatican II.

This was also the same Dominican that in 1978 published a work which did not merely take issue with bad churchmen but accused the Church herself of being "tyrannical and alienating," writing, "at times She acted in the public sphere producing an oppressive sentiment of guilt like that felt by an individual."

That does not mean Congar's claims are false, but certainly said claims should be taken with a significant grain of salt, and put in perspective along with a more full view of Lefebvre's life, not that presented by someone who for years saw Lefebvre and his sort as enemies. Rarely should you trust an enemy to present the truth about someone.


RE: Response: R&T SSPX - Justin Tertius - 02-25-2021

Before you read, I know that the current state of the SSPX has changed and some of their positions are going to be more nuanced. The book being referenced has dated information. To summarize.

Why reject the Second Vatican Council if it has the most obvious indicators of being an Ecumenical Council out of all councils? It has 2.500+ Bishops, East and West, in attendance before the Bishop of Rome and was ratified by him and then received by the great majority of the Church. And separating this from the intent of the authors or the chaotic aftermath.

Why did Lefebvre claim that the New Rites were bastard rites and say that their validity could be questioned. This implies that the Church can push defective rites on her children, and thereby lead them to spiritual death.

What is this claim about Eternal Rome? This sounds like a made up claim. Where has allegiance to "Eternal Rome" ever occurred in the history of the Church

What is the idea behind claiming the Latin Mass is the "Mass of the Ages" or "Mass of All Time." This claim is not true. The TLM is one of a plurality of liturgical uses in the west, like the Sarum, Ambrosian and Dominican, and this Mass of Ages language seems exclusive to the equally old and equally venerable Eastern Rites, like that of St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil.


RE: Response: R&T SSPX - MagisterMusicae - 02-25-2021

Thanks for the summary.

It is worth putting the Congar work in context. In 1974 after the Visitation of Ecône by representatives from the Holy See who were scandalous towards the seminarians (pushing the idea of married clergy, denying the Resurrection), Msgr Lefebvre made his famous "Declaration" which somehow, without the permission of Lefebvre was obtained by the writer Jean Madiran who published it. The "Declaration" was meant as a reassurance to the seminarians that these Visitors did not represent what he was trying to teach them and they were terribly wrong. Had that "declaration" stayed as the private spiritual conference it was meant to be, and was not published, there would have been no grounds to try to suppress the SSPX.

If one reads the history of what happened in 1976 in which, because of this "declaration" Lefebvre was personally not only punished with suspension, but the whole SSPX illicitly declared suppressed by the local bishop in Sion for the action of one member, it gives context to Congar's text.

Lefebvre appealed the judgement which was suspensive, and because he felt it all unjust and illicit, he continued to operate, and spoke a bit more openly. This is why Congar even had anything to object to.

(02-25-2021, 10:23 AM)Justin Tertius Wrote: Why reject the Second Vatican Council if it has the most obvious indicators of being an Ecumenical Council out of all councils? It has 2.500+ Bishops, East and West, in attendance before the Bishop of Rome and was ratified by him and then received by the great majority of the Church. And separating this from the intent of the authors or the chaotic aftermath.

It is worth pointing out that, if one reads Lefebvre's own comments before and during the Council, already the same concerns are being aired. The problems that he had were no reactions to the Council, nor, if understood properly and in the context of everything a "rejection".

Recall that Lefebvre was one of the members of the Central Preparatory Commission for Vatican II, charged with overseeing the preparation of the schemas. Already from the very opening when the schemas he helped prepare were thrown out and the liberals were permitted to substitute theirs, he was making his concerns known among the bishops. A read of his Council speeches plus the work on the Coetus Internationalis Patrorum would show this.

Also recall that Lefebvre signed the documents after the Pope did because he thought that would guarantee a traditional interpretation.

So, "reject the Second Vatican Council" is simply not accurate. Further, even if it is ecumenical, the Popes who called it and the Council itself frequently reiterated that it was not meant to define anything, but provide a "pastoral" teaching. It the purpose was to provide a new pastoral paradigm for the same traditional Faith, then to reject the efficacy of the paradigm is not wrong. Proof of that is that Congar, himself, rejected the traditional Scholastic pedagogy as evidenced by the banning of his own writings under Pius XII.

(02-25-2021, 10:23 AM)Justin Tertius Wrote: Why did Lefebvre claim that the New Rites were bastard rites and say that their validity could be questioned. This implies that the Church can push defective rites on her children, and thereby lead them to spiritual death.

He did not call them "bastard rites" in the same sense that we use the term in English. The French is far less pejorative, and simply indicates "illegitimate" in the sense of the product of an illicit mixture of two things. He was referencing the idea that the new rites are a mixture of the traditional ideas with liberal and ecumenical spirit.

He did not question the validity of the rites per se. What he did do was to suggest that the changes remove the clarity of intention which existed with the older rites. Thus, he said, it can be prudently thought that the rites might become doubtful as priests were not trained in the proper understanding of these things. For instance, the New Mass removes many of the aspects of Sacrifice and emphasizes the Mass as a meal, which is erroneous. That does not invalidate, but if after some years priests were not properly taught what the Mass was and began to think it a symbolic meal, it could be doubted if they could offer a Mass in the traditional sense, in which case, the validity of the consecration could become doubted.

This was his position at least around 1976.

(02-25-2021, 10:23 AM)Justin Tertius Wrote: What is this claim about Eternal Rome? This sounds like a made up claim. Where has allegiance to "Eternal Rome" ever occurred in the history of the Church

That is a specific reference to the "declaration". In it he compared "Eternal Rome" with "Neo-Modernist Rome" saying he cleaved to the former. It is just a figure of speech for the consistent Magisterium. As such such allegiance was basically what everyone did, and Lefebvre was contrasting this with a New Rome created with the New Theology pushed by Congar and others at Vatican II.

(02-25-2021, 10:23 AM)Justin Tertius Wrote: What is the idea behind claiming the Latin Mass is the "Mass of the Ages" or "Mass of All Time." This claim is not true. The TLM is one of a plurality of liturgical uses in the west, like the Sarum, Ambrosian and Dominican, and this Mass of Ages language seems exclusive to the equally old and equally venerable Eastern Rites, like that of St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil.

All of the Western usages are tied to versions of the Roman Mass.

Congar and many of his friends were obsessed with the Oriental Rites and trying to experimentally introduce ideas from them into the West. That was a big part of the later efforts in the Liturgical Movement after it went off track.

Those Oriental rites and even the other Western usages were a small percentage of the Masses said in the Catholic Church. The vast majority employed the Roman Mass.

Again, this is a figure of speech meant to contrast a consistent lineage from the early Church in the manner of worship, slowly and organically modified over many centuries, versus a New Mass created by a committee and then imposed, which is an entirely new phenomenon in the Church.


RE: Response: R&T SSPX - Justin Tertius - 02-25-2021

Quote:MagisterMusicae:

It is worth pointing out that, if one reads Lefebvre's own comments before and during the Council, already the same concerns are being aired. The problems that he had were no reactions to the Council, nor, if understood properly and in the context of everything a "rejection".

Recall that Lefebvre was one of the members of the Central Preparatory Commission for Vatican II, charged with overseeing the preparation of the schemas. Already from the very opening when the schemas he helped prepare were thrown out and the liberals were permitted to substitute theirs, he was making his concerns known among the bishops. A read of his Council speeches plus the work on the Coetus Internationalis Patrorum would show this.

Also recall that Lefebvre signed the documents after the Pope did because he thought that would guarantee a traditional interpretation.

So, "reject the Second Vatican Council" is simply not accurate. Further, even if it is ecumenical, the Popes who called it and the Council itself frequently reiterated that it was not meant to define anything, but provide a "pastoral" teaching. It the purpose was to provide a new pastoral paradigm for the same traditional Faith, then to reject the efficacy of the paradigm is not wrong. Proof of that is that Congar, himself, rejected the traditional Scholastic pedagogy as evidenced by the banning of his own writings under Pius XII.


1. If the Archbishop signed onto the documents because he thought that that would ensure that there would be a traditional interpretation, then that implies he thought one possible. So, if such, then I can accept Vatican II, but object to the reorientation of attitude that occurred afterward. Yes or no? Is there anything in Vatican II which I would be a heretic for accepting.

2. I know that it is not accurate. I know that the SSPX has a nuanced position. I've heard it said as embracing 95% of the Council. But this gets to point one. Does that 5% make me a heretic if I accept the Council. Also, I here this claim that the Council was "pastoral" often. I want that substantiated. I can't expect, and don't for that matter, anyone to watch any other video Lofton has done, but he took that claim to task and presented what I thought was solemn language which sounded that the Council was teaching doctrinally. Also, there is the matter of episcopal ordinations being a separate level of the sacrament of Order than the presbyterate. So, how does someone justify using "pastoral" in the light of such claims.

3. Could you please provide the documentation which shows the banning of Congar's writtings.

Quote:He did not call them "bastard rites" in the same sense that we use the term in English. The French is far less pejorative, and simply indicates "illegitimate" in the sense of the product of an illicit mixture of two things. He was referencing the idea that the new rites are a mixture of the traditional ideas with liberal and ecumenical spirit.

He did not question the validity of the rites per se. What he did do was to suggest that the changes remove the clarity of intention which existed with the older rites. Thus, he said, it can be prudently thought that the rites might become doubtful as priests were not trained in the proper understanding of these things. For instance, the New Mass removes many of the aspects of Sacrifice and emphasizes the Mass as a meal, which is erroneous. That does not invalidate, but if after some years priests were not properly taught what the Mass was and began to think it a symbolic meal, it could be doubted if they could offer a Mass in the traditional sense, in which case, the validity of the consecration could become doubted.

This was his position at least around 1976.

1. I understand the distinction in language. But "illegitimate" and "illicit" are stark claims themselves. Has the Church forced illegitimate and illicit rites on the faithful?

2. Why would it be erroneous, in se, to emphasize the Mass as a meal. It is that, along with a true and real sacrifice. Both realities are present, so what is the issue with emphasizing one? 

For instance, Christ himself instituted the Eucharist in the context of the Paschal meal. Now, that meal was itself sacrificial, Sacred Scripture is very clear about that. But it is also a meal.

When Christ instituted the Pasch of the new covenant it was during the celebration of the old Pasch. It is also both those realities, sacrifice and meal. What is the actual error of emphasizing one element over the other, provided that both are still maintained?

3. I cede your point about clergy. I am not denying that there was a crisis or that there was ample heresy and disobedience in the wake of the Council.


RE: Response: R&T SSPX - Justin Tertius - 02-25-2021

Quote:MagisterMusicae:

All of the Western usages are tied to versions of the Roman Mass.


Congar and many of his friends were obsessed with the Oriental Rites and trying to experimentally introduce ideas from them into the West. That was a big part of the later efforts in the Liturgical Movement after it went off track.

Those Oriental rites and even the other Western usages were a small percentage of the Masses said in the Catholic Church. The vast majority employed the Roman Mass.

Again, this is a figure of speech meant to contrast a consistent lineage from the early Church in the manner of worship, slowly and organically modified over many centuries, versus a New Mass created by a committee and then imposed, which is an entirely new phenomenon in the Church.

Please, substantiate that first claim. Were the Ambrosian, Mozarabic, Sarum and other rites all just versions of Rome's usage? External sources are fine, I will research them.

I am also not denying that the New Mass was introduce poorly, or that it is the artificial construction of committees.

EDIT: I also attend Society chapels. I generally tend to avoid this level of controversy because I think it can be distracting from more important concerns in my life (and more beneficial reading). That having been said, I only ask these questions because they have caused me to doubt some of the assumptions that I have been carrying around and I want to know that I stand in the truth. So, please, show me where and why I am wrong.


RE: Response: R&T SSPX - MagisterMusicae - 02-25-2021

(02-25-2021, 04:04 PM)Justin Tertius Wrote: Is there anything in Vatican II which I would be a heretic for accepting.

No. It is never been the SSPX position, nor that of Lefebvre that there were heresies. Errors, but not heresies.

In 1988 Lefebvre was willing to accept Vatican II as read in the light of the traditional Magisterium in writing, so clearly he thought those errors (since they were not taught as defined) when put up against the traditional teachings would easily be seen to be wrong and thus be corrected in time.

(02-25-2021, 04:04 PM)Justin Tertius Wrote: I've heard it said as embracing 95% of the Council.

This was a single quote in an interview of Bishop Fellay to CNS. He was making an analogy here, that 95% has no issues, but reiterates (though ambiguously) the past teachings or says nothing of doctrinal note. It is a few areas (Collegiality, Religious Liberty, and Ecumenism) which present real problems.

(02-25-2021, 04:04 PM)Justin Tertius Wrote: Also, I here this claim that the Council was "pastoral" often. I want that substantiated.

Then read the speeches of John XXIII and Paul VI from the Council.

(02-25-2021, 04:04 PM)Justin Tertius Wrote: I can't expect, and don't for that matter, anyone to watch any other video Lofton has done, but he took that claim to task and presented what I thought was solemn language which sounded that the Council was teaching doctrinally.

Then he is wrong, and clearly is not basing his references off the actual official acts of the Council, but ideas. That he would quote Congar should make us worry about what comes after.

(02-25-2021, 04:04 PM)Justin Tertius Wrote: Also, there is the matter of episcopal ordinations being a separate level of the sacrament of Order than the presbyterate. So, how does someone justify using "pastoral" in the light of such claims.

That was an ongoing debate, and even in the Council was not "defined" except in light of Collegiality. There are serious theological issues with the reason the documents give, namely that Jurisdication is not a power given by the Pope to Bishops, but Sacramentally conferred by Episcopal ordination, such that one possess Jurisdiction by ordination. Never has the Church or any theologian ever taught that before 1960.

(02-25-2021, 04:04 PM)Justin Tertius Wrote: Could you please provide the documentation which shows the banning of Congar's writtings.

It's on Wikipedia, which while unreliable, has the references.

(02-25-2021, 04:04 PM)Justin Tertius Wrote: 2. Why would it be erroneous, in se, to emphasize the Mass as a meal. It is that, along with a true and real sacrifice. Both realities are present, so what is the issue with emphasizing one?

Cf. The Council of Trent on the Mass, which is doctrinal.

(02-25-2021, 04:04 PM)Justin Tertius Wrote: For instance, Christ himself instituted the Eucharist in the context of the Paschal meal. Now, that meal was itself sacrificial, Sacred Scripture is very clear about that. But it is also a meal.

When Christ instituted the Pasch of the new covenant it was during the celebration of the old Pasch. It is also both those realities, sacrifice and meal. What is the actual error of emphasizing one element over the other, provided that both are still maintained?

The Last Supper was a meal. The Mass is not the Last Supper re-presented. It is the Cross re-presented. The Last Supper was a prefigurement of the Cross.

This also is addressed in Trent, against the Protestants who wished to remove the idea that the Mass is a Sacrifice.

Communion is a meal, but Communion is not the Mass. The only Communion necessary at Mass is that of the Priest.


RE: Response: R&T SSPX - austenbosten - 02-25-2021

Ugh...I have gone from liking Michael Lofton...to finding him somewhat insufferable.


RE: Response: R&T SSPX - Justin Tertius - 02-26-2021

Thank you MM, for your response. I appreciate it.

I'll look into what you've written.