In effect, the battle began immediately, from the very first days of the Council. Cardinal Ottaviani had presented the list of members who had belonged to the preparatory commissions, leaving full freedom for each to chose those that he wanted. It was obvious that we could not all know one another, since each one came for his own diocese. How could one possibly know the 2,500 Bishops of the world? We were asked to vote for members of the commissions of the Council. But who could we chose? We did not know the Bishops from South America nor from South Africa nor from India. ..

Cardinal Ottaviani thought that Rome's choices for the preparatory commissions could help as an indication for the Council Fathers. It was in fact quite normal to propose these.

Cardinal Lienart arose and said, "We do not accept this way of doing things. We ask for 48 hours to reflect, that we might know better those who could make up the different commissions. This is to exert pressure on the judgement of the Fathers. We do not accept it."

The Council had begun only two days previously and already there was a violent opposition between the Cardinals. What had happened?

During these 48 hours the liberal Cardinals had already prepared lists made out from all the countries of the world. They distributed these in the letterboxes of all the Council Fathers. We had therefore all received a list proposing the members of such and such a commission; that is such a bishop and another etc. from different countries. Many said: "After all why not. I do not know them. Since the list is already ready we have simply to make use of it." Forty-eight hours later it was the liberals' list, which was in front. But it did not receive the two thirds of the votes, which were required by the Council rules.

What then would the Pope do? Would Pope John XXIII make an exception to the rules of the Council or would he apply them? Clearly the liberal Cardinals were afraid that he might apply them and so they ran to the Pope and said to him: "Listen, we have more than half the votes, nearly 60%. You cannot refuse that. We cannot keep going like this and hold another election. We will never be done with it. This is clearly the will of the majority of the Council and we have simply to accept it." And Pope John XXIII accepted. From this beginning all the members of the Council commissions were chosen by the liberal wing. It is easy to imagine what an enormous influence this had on the Council.

I am sure Pope John XXIII died prematurely because of what he saw at the Council, although he had thought that at the end of a few months everything would be done with. It was to be a council of three months. Then all would say good-bye and go home happy for having met one another at Rome and for having had a nice little meeting.

He discovered that the Council was to be a world of itself, a world of continual clashes. No text came from the first session of the Council. Pope John XXIII was overwhelmed by this and I am persuaded that this hastened his death. It has even been said that on his deathbed he said: “Stop the Council; stop the Council."


Pope Paul VI came along. It is obvious that he gave his support to the liberal wing. Why was that?

From the very beginning of his pontificate, during the second Session of the Council, he immediately named four Moderators. The four Moderators were to direct the Council instead of the ten Presidents who had presided during the first Session. The Presidents, one of whom had presided over one meeting and then the second and then the third, sat at a table higher than the others. But they were to become honorary Presidents. The four Moderators became the true Presidents of the Council.

Who were these moderators? Cardinal Dopfner of Munich was one. He was very progressive indeed and very ecumenical. Cardinal Suenens, whom the entire world knows along with his charismatics and who has given conferences in favor of the marriage of priests, was another. Cardinal Lercaro who is known for his philocommunism and whose Vicar General had been enrolled as a member of the Communist party was a third. Finally there was Cardinal Agagianian, who represented somewhat the traditional wing, if I can say so.

Cardinal Agagianian was a very discreet and self-effacing man. Consequently he had no real influence on the Council. But the three others accomplished their task with drums beating. They constantly brought together the liberal Cardinals, which gave considerable authority to the liberal wing of the Council.

Clearly the traditional Cardinals and Bishops were from this very moment put aside and despised.

When poor Cardinal Ottaviani, who was blind, started to speak, boos could be heard amongst the young Bishops when he did not finish at the end of the ten minutes allocated to him. Thus did they make him understand that they had had enough of listening to him. He had to stop; it was frightful. This venerable Cardinal, who was honored throughout Rome and who had had an enormous influence on the Holy Church, who was Prefect of the Holy Office, which is not a small function, was obliged to stop. It was scandalous to see how the traditionalists were treated.

Monseigneur Staffa (he has since been named Cardinal), who is very energetic, was silenced by the Council Moderators. These were unbelievable things.


Marcel Lefebvre Missionary.PNG