Independence of the African countries

Some have said that Archbishop Lefebvre opposed independence for the colonies. To tell the truth, he considered it premature. Those young countries of Africa, which were not true nations and had a long way to go before they would be Christianized in depth, were in fact in danger of becoming victims of Communism or falling into the hands of Islam.

The Archbishop of Dakar thought that that would cause great harm to the Church. In fact that is what did happen almost everywhere.

Diplomatic function

Although he was not a nuncio, the Apostolic Delegate played a diplomatic role with respect to the French civil authorities. He was able to win the sympathy of the governors, even though they were, for the most part, Freemasons.

Ever since 1944 the idea of independence for the colonies had been making inroads. In Guinea, on August 25, 1957, nationalist leader Sekou Toure violently demanded immediate independence.

Troubled, the archbishop obtained from Pius XII a warning to the African peoples against blind nationalism that could throw them into chaos: the encyclical Fidei donum thus repeats the warning in the 1955 Christmas Eve Radio Message. Nevertheless President Leopold Senghor, supported by General Charles de Gaulle, who had several conversations with the archbishop of this subject, proclaimed the independence of Senegal on June 20, 1960.

For Archbishop Lefebvre, the immense benefit of independence can be achieved only in the Christian social order. Therefore he had to react against the ambiguous position of Senghor, and he did so on March 26, 1961, in a pastoral letter, which points out that:

the African socialism of the [Christian] believer Senghor was a contradiction in terms. As Pius XI wrote in Quadragesimo anno, ‘religious socialism and Christian socialism are contradictions: nobody can be at one and the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.’”