March 1983 - Superior General's Letter # 23

Fr Barrielle, dear to many in the Fraternity, passes into the arms of St. Joseph. Rome shows a new attitude toward the old Mass, but there are still conditions that we cannot accept. The spirit of the new Canon Law is the same as that which inspired the changing of the liturgical books namely, it exposes conciliar Ecclesiology.


Dear Friends and Benefactors,

Fr Barrielle passes into the arms of St. Joseph

You have without doubt heard of the decease of our dear Father Barrielle in the early hours of the first day of March. St. Joseph, for whom he had great devotion, came to take him. He was in his 86th year. He held a large place in the hearts of all the members of the Fraternity, and so his parting has left us all orphans. But his earthly remains are at Ecône and we are certain that he will obtain many graces for all those who continue to ask his assistance. We recommend to your prayers the soul of this valiant servant of God.

A new attitude from Rome

“Is there anything new concerning relations with Rome?” This question has been continually put to me in the course of my travels.

I think one can say in fact that an important situation has arrived, all the more important because it concerns not only ourselves but also the priests of Campos in Brazil. It is the first time since the talks with Rome that the Vatican has spoken of leaving priests the freedom of celebrating the Mass as it was before the Council. Until the present time, without affirming that the Mass of St. Pius V was forbidden, Rome wanted to oblige us to adopt the new Mass, affirming ‑ as Cardinal Baggio did to the priests of the diocese of Campos ‑ that it was impossible to return to the old Mass and therefore the new Mass had to be adopted and the old one discontinued.

We have been accused of disobedience, and dividing the Church. Now, not only the priests of Campos but also the Fraternity, and even the Universal Church, would be given the freedom to celebrate the old Mass provided that we recognize the new Mass as being legitimate and Catholic, and that we do not deter the faithful from participation.

This is obviously a new attitude, much more conciliatory, but with an added condition which the priests of the diocese of Campos have done well to reject. If we have to consider the new Mass as having the same titles as the old, why have we not adopted it and why continue to celebrate the old Mass? The reasons which have made us suffer a hard and unjust persecution would therefore be futile! A sentimental attachment to the past!…We, on the other hand, do not cease to affirm: the new Mass has been made in collaboration with the Protestants in order to please them; it still has a Protestant definition and produces Protestants. These reasons are more than sufficient for not giving it the titles reserved to the Catholic Mass of all time in its various rites.

It remains for us to persevere in prayer so that this condition may be suppressed, and that as Rome calls for a return to the catechism of the Council of Trent, so may She also encourage the return to the Mass of the Council of Trent. This is the only way to stop the destruction of the Church and the Catholic Faith.

The spirit of the new Canon Law is the same as that which inspired the changing of the liturgical books

A second question is now being put to us: “What do you think of the new Canon Law?”

We are unfortunately obliged to answer that despite certain useful modifications, the spirit which has presided over this general reform is the same as that which inspired the changing of liturgical books, catechisms, and the Bible. The Apostolic Constitution introducing the new Canon Law explicitly says on page xi of the Vatican edition: “The work, namely the Code, is in perfect accord with the nature of the Church, especially as has been proposed by the II Vatican Council. Moreover, this new Code can be conceived as an effort to expose in canonical language this doctrine, i.e., conciliar Ecclesiology. The elements of this Ecclesiology are the following: Church = people of God; hierarchical authority = collegial service; Church = communion; and lastly the Church with Her duty to ecumenism.

Each one of these notions is ambiguous and will allow Protestant and Modernist errors to inspire from now on the legislation of the Church. It is the authority of the Pope and of the Bishops which is going to suffer; the distinction between the clergy and the laity will also diminish; the absolute and necessary character of the Catholic will also be extenuated to the profit of heresy and schism; and the fundamental realities of sin and grace will be worn down.

These are all dangerous for the doctrine of the Church and the salvation of souls.

Let us pray that this new Code will never come into force.

Since the last letter, six young deacons have been ordained priests and fifty‑five young men have entered our four seminaries. South America is making considerable progress, hence the necessity of pursuing the construction of the seminary.

We are counting on thirteen new young priests for 29th June, without counting those not of the Fraternity. However, twice or even three times as many would have to be ordained in order to answer all the needs.

May God come to our help and bless you through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph.

† Marcel Lefebvre

Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

7 March 1983