The Archbishop Speaks


Archbishop Lefebvre On the Conclave

The following are statements made in an interview
given to the Milan daily,
Il Giornale,
on August 28, 1978, just before the announcement
that top Vatican personnel would be reconfirmed in office.


A Conclave as short as this, alter everyone had expected a long and difficult one seems mysterious. The choice was one which the Cardinals could not have made in a few hours, precisely because Albino Luciani was an "unknown". Even the press took no notice of him up to the moment of his election.

I believe, therefore, that before or possibly during the Conclave great persuasion was exerted, perhaps great pressure. I have since been told that the Luciani candidature had long been promoted by Cardinal tienelli. For what reason? I am afraid that the progressives who have been administering the Vatican for the past 15 years thought that this choice would enable them to continue their line unhindered for the future. On the other hand there is one fact which surprises me. While I barely know Cardinal Luciani, I have had many encounters with Cardinal Benelli and I take him to be an anti-communist. If indeed he mediated in favor of a progressive candidate I find it strange.

The French television suggested that such a rapid election could only have been the result of political initiatives rather than those of a purely religious nature. I am inclined to agree. A Conclave coming to perfect agreement in so short a time must have been well worked out even before the seals were put on the doors. Technically it is possible to arrive at a unanimous decision and perhaps this voting was arranged for months in advance. It was well known that Pope Paul was ill and would leave the papacy vacant from one day to the next. I don't rule out the possibility that the machine was set in motion then, under the imperative of finding a successor who would not disturb the progressives.

If this is the case and the orientations pursued by Paul VI—ecumenism with communists, socialists, free-masons and people of all religious beliefs is carried on for another fifteen years it will be the end of the Church, the end of all Christian civilization. That is clear. When the Faith disappears, morality dissolves. If the new Pope does not return to tradition, his succession will have been a catastrophe.

Cardinal Luciani does not come from the Vatican diplomatic corps. This could be a positive sign. Possibly he will exercise freedom in choosing his immediate collaborators. Let us hope that he is capable of selecting men who are not tied to the Left. That will not be easy. But remember that a pope is a pope. If he possesses the personality and the will, he has sufficient power to neutralize every pressure.

Cardinal Luciani has been called a man of prayer. I hope he is and that he will look with favor on the contemplative orders. Everyone hopes to see a Pope who prays rather than one who talks and talks. The Faithful would like to see a Pope that prays. As for the problems with which the Church is confronted we can only hope he will have the courage to meet them with clarity and firmness instead of with undecipherable evasions. To tolerate means to encourage the confusion. Those who go to Church today come away nervous and anxious because they no longer find there any support.

But if Cardinal Luciani has chosen the names "John" and "Paul" with specific intent, much as one chooses a flag, then I am troubled. Had he wanted to distance himself from the operations of his two predecessors he would have chosen another name. Traditionalists, hoping at last to be heard, see in this fact the likelihood that they will meet with the same hard, deaf attitude of Paul VI. In that case the actual separation within the Church will continue, a situation with unpredictable consequences.

I wrote personally to some of the Cardinals before the Conclave to remind them that we have need of a holy Pope, a Pope who has in mind the good of the Church and of the faithful -a good which cannot be reached either through ecumenism, nor compromise with the left and free-masonry. 


Translated from Italian by Mary Martinez

Courtesy of the Angelus Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109

Vol. I, No. 9, Apr. 1978

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