Newsletter of the District of Asia

 July - December 2005

Quod et Accepi

Notes for the reading and understanding of the
Biography of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre

By Fr. Daniel Couture

One who has known Archbishop Lefebvre in the last years of his life and who reads the learned biography written by His Excellency Bishop Tissier de Mallerais happily discovers how true the Archbishop was when he said that he had passed on to us only what he himself had been taught, had received, (“Tradidi quod et accepi – I delivered unto you that which I myself have received” – I Cor. 15, 3). Here is a simple list, certainly not exhaustive, to prove this. The details of the various parts can be found in the official Biography of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, by Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, published by Angelus Press (2915
Forest Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109, USA –

From The Family Sanctuary (1905 – 1923), he received:

A loving home with parents imbued with a deep spiritual life and great generosity (8 children);

A deep love for the Holy Eucharist (he made his First Holy Communion at the age of 6, he belonged to the Eucharistic Crusade);

The good example of brothers and sisters giving themselves to God (5 of 8 children received a vocation).

From the years in the French Seminary in Rome (1923 – 1929), he received:

  • A true knowledge of what constitutes the Catholic Faith, i.e. a deep submission to the teaching of the Catholic Church, especially through the encyclicals of the Popes;
  • A great love of Rome;
  • A profound understanding of the role of St Thomas Aquinas in the Church and in the formation of priests;
  • Deep convictions on the Social Kingship of Christ;
  • A great love for the Gospel of St John from which he chose his motto: Credidimus Caritati (I Jo IV, 16);
  • An awareness that even in Rome, even in the Vatican, there were deep problems, liberal influences clashing with the true teaching of the Church.

From his various assignments as a Priest (1929 – 1947), he received:

  • The knowledge of what it means to be a diocesan priest (he was curate for one year), a religious (when he joined the Holy Ghost Fathers), a seminary professor and Rector, a missionary in Gabon, Africa, and finally he became the Rector of a Scholasticate (first years of the seminary), in Mortain, France.

In Mortain, as the Rector of the Scholasticate (1945 – 1947), he received:

A further conviction, in practice, of the necessity to stick with all the principles he had received in the seminary, particularly in relation to the clash between liberal ideas pervading the French Church at that moment, and the constant teaching of the Church condemning modern errors;

The knowledge of who were some of the real enemies, the real thinkers in the opposite clan, such as Fr. de Lubac, who was at that time already undermining the dogma Outside the Church no salvation.

In Dakar, as Archbishop and Apostolic Delegate (1947 – 1962), he received:

Archbishop Lefebvre
celebrating 40 years as a
bishop, Oct. 3, 1987

An invaluable knowledge of the mechanism of the Vatican and its bureaucracy, due to his need to go there regularly (see Fr. Du Chalard’s article on p.10 of this Newsletter);

The experience required in the nomination of bishops (37 times in 10 years he had to present the ternae i.e. list of three names of candidates for the episcopacy). — This unique experience would prepare him for the great act of choosing with supernatural wisdom the four bishops of the SSPX in 1988;

A greater love of the Unity and Catholicity of the Church in calling toAfrica, to Dakar especially, various Religious Congregations from different countries. — This will be invaluablelater on in his efforts to save the Church, not working only with or for his SSPX but with many other religious traditional communities.

In Tulle, as Archbishop-
Bishop (1962), he received:

A greater knowledge of the sorrows priests can meet with as a result of the de-christianization of a Catholic society and how to re-give them courage. — This, besides the knowledge he had acquired also in Africa, would lead him to make of the SSPX a “Society of Common Life…” where priests would be living in communities of 2-3 together; it also Archbishop Lefebvre celebrating 40 years as a bishop, Oct. 3, 1987 gives a model for SSPX priests for the time when Catholic Tradition will have regain possession of Rome, if and whenever they are to be called upon to help the restoration of torn apart and half dead dioceses;

A greater love for priests who fight alone for the Church — In later years, just as he supported traditional religious communities, he understood and supported as much as he could these respectable elders of the clergy who had been unjustly persecuted or betrayed by their bishop.

As the Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers (1962-1968), he received:

The tragic proof of the dangers of the spirit of the world in the life a priest: he saw his Congregation swallowing the aggiornamento, this openness-to-the-world of Vatican II and heading for suicide; he saw many chapels of his Congregation being deserted in favor of the TV room; he saw priests abandoning their cassock, becoming worldly… — All these would later inspire him various rules to protect the spirituality of his young priests in the Society of St Pius X;

The sad proof that the liberal ideas he had seen in the Church back in his seminary years in Rome, had by now spread throughout the whole Church. — This was the tragedy of the II Vatican Council, and he concluded that to the same ills, one had to apply the same remedies: the teaching of the popes and of St Thomas Aquinas.

Finally, as Founder and First Superior General of the Priestly Society of St Pius X (1970 – 1991), then he delivered
unto his priests the accumulated experience he had received during all these 41 years in the service of the Church, from his experience as an urban parish curate to being Apostolic Delegate for all of French Africa.

Deo gratias. “To them that love God, all things work out together for good.” (Rom. 8, 28). Indeed. The life of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre is a clear illustration of this Paulinian principle.

Archbishop Lefebvre and Fr. Daniel Couture,
after an ordination ceremony in Ridgefield, CT, USA, in April 1986


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