Abp. Lefebvre, Easter retreat, April 1988 (Part I)

            Our rule is that faith goes before obedience. The first obedience is the obedience of the faith. Faith goes before obedience to men whose duty it is to give us the faith. This position is simple, but clearly we find ourselves in opposition with those who destroy the faith. We have a double fight: there is the fight against the errors, and the fight against those who are in favor of the errors. It is difficult to be against the errors and not to be against the men who diffuse the errors. This is what makes it easy for those who attack us to say: “You battle against Rome and so you are against Rome, so you are against the Pope, so you are against the Council, so you are outside the Church.” These are reactions which are entirely comprehensible, and easy to make, but false. They suppose that Rome never makes a mistake, which is false.

            So, that is where we are, but if our role is to combat the errors, and also to oppose ourselves to and disobey those who diffuse the errors, that does not prevent us from trying to keep contact with them in order to try to convert them, in order to try to bring them back to Tradition. Perhaps it is an undertaking that is a bit presumptuous, perhaps a bit difficult, but at the same time, it is what God asks of us. Even if necessary to try to convert our superiors! What are we doing? But it is clear that they are in error, they are opposed to what their predecessors taught. We see the two texts. The text which is given to us now and the text which was given to us before are completely opposed. Who are we to obey then? Those who went before or those of today? We cannot obey both of them. That’s a contradiction. That’s what I said to Pope Paul VI when I saw him at Castel Gandolfo: “Most Holy Father, we are in an unbelievable situation. We are obliged to disobey you in order to obey your predecessors. Put yourself in our place. It’s an impossible situation. Consider what a situation it is for the faithful! There is a contradiction between what the Council teaches and Quanta Cura of Pius IX.” “Oh, we don’t have time to do theology here.” It is an easy answer to make, but it’s not an answer. It is serious.

            So, that is where we are, and we continue to be there. But keeping contact with Rome is a rather delicate business, rather delicate, because at the same time that we criticize them, we also have to correspond with them, we have to go from time to time to see them, at least the representatives of the Pope. Well, God permits things to happen in this way, that we keep our connection with Rome, and that at the same time we criticize Rome without fear. The letters that I have sent to the Pope with Bishop de Castro Meyer were not very tender. That is the least that one could say. The same is true of the little image (note: about the meeting of religions in Assisi in 1986) that I had made which was even criticized by not a few traditionalists. It even came into the hands of the Pope. That is what Cardinal Ratzinger told me. He was clearly not very edified by it. But I finally said to Cardinal Ratzinger: “if that could but save his soul”. You tell me: “We are giving lessons to the Pope!” These are catechism lessons! He lets all the devils into the Church and then he wants to be in the good books with God! He has to choose. Either he goes completely on the side of the demons, and stays with the demons, or he keeps to the side of the good God and he drives away the demons. What do you want? It is not complicated. It is the catechism in images. In spite of that, they want to correspond with us, they want to consider us as something. It also seemed to me that a principle that should always be kept is to convince by facts rather than convince by means of a propaganda campaign which would be made in our favor by all the media, by the radio, by television, etc.