June 1, 1998
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
The last day of this month will be the tenth anniversary of the famous episcopal consecrations performed by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer in Ecône, Switzerland, on June 30,1988. How does that heroic event look ten years later? More heroic than ever! Let us recall its place in history.
Once upon a time, in the so-called Dark Ages, the Catholic Church reigned supreme as the undisputed mistress of civilization, and all Christendom was Catholic. Then at the end of the Middle Ages, the modern world began in earnest with the break-up of Christendom by Martin Luther. Half Europe turned Protestant, but the other half pulled its Catholic self together in the so-called Counterreformation, and the Church leapt across oceans to make many new Catholic peoples to replace those fallen away.
But of course the Devil would not leave the old or new Catholic nations in peace. Out of the juxtaposition of Catholic truth and Protestant error he developed a virulent new error, liberalism (What is truth? Who knows? What does it matter?), with which he infected the politics in Catholic and Protestant nations alike, generating a series of Revolutions from the end of the 18th century which smashed Catholic altars and pulled down Catholic thrones. Mother Church reeled, but again she pulled her faith and her energy together, and made even of the liberal 19th century one of the greatest missionary centuries ever.
By now the Devil was resolved to break into the Church itself, but of course he could only do so by deceit. So he invented another error, as old as the hills but seeming new, a re-run of Protestantism and liberalism, whereby all the Catholic appearances would be maintained, but the substance would be changed or up-dated to get more in line with the modern world - hence the error's name of modernism. It caught several priests who wished to continue to appear Catholic while turning worldly, which is to sinful man an attractive combination!
However, just before modernism could strike Mother Church a mortal blow, the God-given Pope St. Pius X intervened in the early years of this century to denounce so clearly its perfidy and to smash it with such force that it was driven underground so as to even seem to many Catholics hardly to have existed. Basking then in the reprieve of 50 years (1907-1958) earned for Mother Church by the clear-sightedness and strength of the saintly Pope, the vast majority of Catholics had no idea of the storm being prepared for them.
Thus when Pope Pius XII died in 1958, too many churchmen were tired of resisting the modern world with its Protestantism, liberalism and modernism, so instead of electing another clear-sighted and strong Pope, the Cardinals chose John XXIII, a "Catholic" liberal who launched an Ecumenical Council to "up-date" the Church. At last the moment had come for the condemned modernists lurking in the shadows to step forward and grab power in the Church - John XXIII was on their side.
With his help they hijacked the Second Vatican Council from the beginning, and now the Church was in a desperate plight. When Protestants fell, the Catholic nations had stood. When politics in those nations fell, the Church had stood. When priests in the Church were all ready to fall, the Pope had stood. But now the Pope had virtually fallen - who was left to stand?
At the beginning of the Second Vatican Council in 1962, the good bishops were unorganized and the neo-modernists' onslaught took them completely by surprise. By the end of the Council, however, in 1965, some 450 truly Catholic bishops had grouped together to defend the Faith, and when they went home, they were resolved to continue working together to save the Church. Alas, they had reckoned without the structure of the Church, and Pope Paul VI.
By the structure of the Catholic Church, it is the Pope who commands, and Pope Paul VI was a liberal. These Catholic bishops, he sacked. Those, he waited until they died. Others, he put under such pressure that they cracked, and resigned. He was resolved to break the back of their Catholic resistance, and by fair means or foul, he did just that. No doubt he was convinced he was acting for the good of the Church, but the Church was devastated just the same.
Then had Our Lord's promise failed, that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church? No. Out of the 450 resistant bishops there was one who could not be sacked (he had already resigned), who would not crack under the pressure (despite Rome's best efforts), and who did not die until he had built a shelter to protect the Church's essential treasures for the duration of the storm - Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
What a man! Alone now, against Protestantism, against liberalism, against the Popes, against his fellow bishops, he was alone, alone, alone, except for a handful of scattered priests, and a handful of dear youngsters that he began to draw around him as seminarians. And with a few old priests and these youngsters he constructed that shelter, the Society of St. Pius X.
But under what pressure! In 1975 Rome pretends to "dissolve" the new-born Society. In 1976 it pretends to "suspend" the Archbishop from his priestly functions because his Society, which has refused to die, is just producing its first class of a dozen priests. The Archbishop and his youngsters continue ("Archbishop, do you realize what mistakes your young priests make?" "What do you expect me to do? The old priests won't stay with me!"). He hopes against hope that a few bishops will stand by him to help defend the Faith, but Providence so disposes that only in the early 1980's does Bishop de Castro Mayer from an obscure little Brazilian diocese at last step forward to associate himself with the stand taken by the Archbishop.
Meanwhile Rome is all the time resolutely transforming the Catholic Church into the Newchurch to be the religious spearhead of the New World Order. Pope John Paul II's Assisi event of October, 1986, placing Catholic truth on an equal footing alongside a dozen sectarian, heretical, Judaic and pagan errors, is a decisive alarm-signal for the Archbishop, by now 80 years old and feeling his end approaching. For the longest possible time he has negotiated with Rome and stayed within official structures to avoid even the appearance of breaking with the Roman Church, but soon he must choose. To ensure the continuance of ordinations for his priestly Society and of Confirmations for his now worldwide flock, either he must trust the Roman wolf to look after his Traditional sheep, or he must consecrate bishops of his own to look after them, at the risk of being condemned by Rome and even "excommunicated".
Hence the fateful decision of May 6, and the glorious action of June 30, 1998. But what a decision to have to take, and that he still had to take on his own! See the enclosed flyer for the thinking of his mind, now made up, in the middle of June. (These texts are published here for the first time). What calm! What clarity! What a man! And he died, as he had guessed, a few years later.
And of his heritage we have all received, and continue to receive, against the entire modern world, against bishops, cardinals and Popes, against hell and high water, but with the Truth, with the Faith, and with God.
Your Grace, you can only be very high in Heaven. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Pray for us and intercede for us here below, that we may never abandon the Faith or Church which you defended, rather that with each passing ten years the anniversary of your glorious act may be more and more glorious!
Priestly ordinations take place here in Winona on Saturday morning, June 20 (celebrated by Bishop de Galarreta, not by Bishop Fellay as announced). There should be two new deacons and two new priests. That is not a large number, but it is worth a large number if they remain faithful. The crisis of modernism is about the Faith, not about numbers. All visitors welcome.
Remember also the Spiritual Exercises being given as usual at Winona in the summer, the men's retreat from July 6 to 11 still having places. And may you spend a pleasant summer, taking a vacation from worries but never a vacation from God!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Richard Williamson