Newsletter of the District of Asia

 Jan - April 2007

The Blessed Virgin Mary and Ecumenism

During the inter-religious ceremony of Assisi in October 1986, a group of Italian pilgrims presented themselves at the entrance to the town. They came from the South of Italy and carried on their shoulders a statue of Our Lady of Fatima. They thought of contributing to the prayer for peace in seeking the participation there of the ‘Queen of Peace’, but they were asked to leave the statue at the entrance to the town.1

Perhaps this gesture signaled the hostility of the partisans of ecumenism towards the cult of the Holy Virgin? Or, perhaps it could be construed as a sign of disapproval by Our Lady of the ecumenical service at Assisi by refusing to enter the town? Both explanations are equally possible. The hostility of ecumenical partisans towards the Blessed Virgin has been sufficiently clear since the Council. Consider this evidence extracted from the Bulletin ‘Fidélité catholiqué’2 No. 101, January 1985:

The pre-Conciliar Commission of the Council had prepared a schema on the Virgin Mary as part of the schema on the Church3. But the ecumenists and Protestants were on their guard: just before the Council, the German Lutheran Bishop Dibelius had loudly proclaimed that the Church’s teaching on Mary was one of the major obstacles to union between Catholics and Protestants. Other Protestant theologians had said to Catholic bishops that in approving a schema on Mary they were erecting a new wall of division. Others again, more moderate, wished that if the Council were adamant in discussing the Virgin Mary that it be done within the framework of a schema on the Church, which would permit them to see the doctrine on the Holy Virgin in a new manner. What happened?

On 1st December 1962 (the first session) after a difficult debate on the schema on the Church, Mgr. Carli, an Italian, declared that certain Council fathers had pushed their ecumenical concerns to such a point that ‘it was no longer possible to speak about Our Lady’.

On 30th September 1963, Cardinal Alfrinks, a Dutchman, demanded that all that was to be said about the Virgin Mary, be included in the schema on the Church: ‘In such a manner as to contribute greatly towards facilitating dialogue with separated Christians.’ The French prelate, Cardinal Garrone, supported him: the Church’s theology would be perfected by the inclusion of teaching on the Virgin in the doctrine of the Church; and moreover, this would serve as an antidote to devotional excesses.

SSPX Asia Newsletter Jan -Apr 2007 Ecumenism On the other hand, Cardinal Spellman, an American, protested that the Council should not be able to pass over in total silence the titles of co-redemptrix and reparatrix already used in respect of the Virgin Mary, for the simple reason that non-Catholics had difficulty in understanding them. He added that the task of the Council was to teach the members of the Church rather than those outside.

On 27th October 1963, Mgr Grotti, an Italian, forcefully asked: ‘Ecumenism - Does it consist of confessing or hiding the truth? To hide the truth wounds us and wounds those who are separated from us. It wounds us because it will make us look like hypocrites. It will wound those who are separated from us because it will make them appear weak and susceptible to being offended by the truth. Let us make a distinction between these two schemas, on the Virgin, and on the Church. Let us profess our faith openly. Let us be doctors to those in the Church teaching with clarity and not by hiding the truth.’

On 29th October the following question was put to a vote: ‘Does it please the Council Fathers that the schema on the Most Holy Virgin Mary be revised so as to become Chapter 6 of the Schema on the Church?’ The vote resulted in 1114 in favour of merging the two schemas. The majority required was only 1097. The ecumenists won by 17 votes.

On 30th November, a month later, at the end of the session we received the following letter from Fr. Victor Berto who participated in the work of the second session in the capacity of theological advisor to Mgr. Lefebvre, then Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers. Here is how Fr. Berto felt about the results of this vote on 29th October 1963 which decided to merge the schema on the Virgin Mary with that on the Church (the italics and parenthesis are ours):

Work has been incredible, but that’s nothing, it has especially been painful. The number of times I have wept after the votes of 29th and 30th October on these simple sheets I was writing on! The chastisement of God will come from these votes, above all on the first.

Although the second vote, more grievous ut res ( in reality) than the first, was less awful ut signum (as a sign). The fate of the session was settled that day in heaven where reigns a Son who wills that no one insult His Mother. The chastisement is this awful mess.

I accuse myself and want to accuse myself before the whole world for having doubted, doubted of the love of Our Lord for His Mother, and doubted the action He would take to avenge her honor. Vengeance has been prompt: the Council has been going mad for six weeks, and it will be a mild vengeance if it stops there.

The grievous vote of 29th October 1963 apostatizing the Gospel of the Wedding Feast at Cana, far from inviting the Virgin Mary, had signified to her to leave. She hampered! The Virgin Mary hampered the Council which invited her to leave. Oh, she wasn’t asked twice. The earth did not tremble, lightning didn’t strike St Peter’s. The Virgin Mary left discreetly in profound silence, only so discreetly, in a silence so profound, that the words ‘Vinum non habent’ (They have no wine) remained unsaid, and the fate of the second session had been sealed.4

When you are an ecumenical Council from which you make the Virgin Mary leave, you should at least remember that she only asks to withdraw, that much is known, but that that she could withdraw too far. The Blessed Virgin having nothing to say, Jesus has done nothing. The water remained water, not even potable water, but wash-water just as at Cana...

I think that the Blessed Virgin, on her part, would have been content to leave the council wade in all this not-so-clean water. Rather than demanding on their knees in solemn supplication that she pronounce the ‘They have no wine’ they have formally declared her annoying, embarrassing, a hindrance before her Son, she the Spouse of the Holy Spirit.

We should know that to show the Blessed Virgin the door at an ecumenical Council is an act that can have consequences, and may not be ratified by Him Who has opened the gates of heaven to her. One has to see further than the end of one’s nose and should not expect to have a right to the Holy Spirit, on demand, from the moment one is a Council. During this time, the Holy Spirit Who comes not from the Father alone but by the Son too, ‘Quem ego mittam vobis a Patre’ (Whom I will send you from the Father) waits in Paradise. What is he waiting for? He awaits the Council being celebrated in the manner of the Cenacle ‘cum Maria matre Jesu’ (with Mary the Mother of Jesus).

Notre Dame du Laus

Notre Dame du Laus

Here lies the mystical history of the Council: the only true history. I have lived it without at first understanding it, my heart in a vice; ‘Nondum venit hora mea’ (My hour has not yet come). Jesus has not advanced that hour because the Holy Virgin did not ask it of Him.

V.A. Berto

* *

As for the disapproval of ecumenism by the Blessed Virgin we can refer to two historical examples. The first occurred at Laus, France, when Benoîte Rencurel (16471718) a modest shepherdess and a Dominican tertiary enjoyed apparitions of the Most Holy Virgin Mary for some 50 years. These apparitions have been recognized by the Church and Laus has become a fairly important place of pilgrimage up to our time. The Holy Virgin granted many graces of conversion there.5

In Abbé Roger de Labriolle’s book, Benoîte, La bergère de Notre Dame de Laus6, on page 7, we may read the following account of an event which occurred in 1668.

One of the punishments suffered by Benoîte merits being underlined in our ecumenical era. She was taking a child to be baptized at Remollon, where some Huguenots (i.e. Protestants) asked her if she believed that they were able to save themselves in their religion. ‘I leave that to the judgment of God’, she replied.

The Virgin - Gaillard affirms - corrected her saying that she had too much human respect and that she had not told the truth, because, if she had said no, some of them would have been converted. This they have not done.

As a penance she did not appear to Benoîte for a month. It was no doubt a matter of pastoral tact which did not involve a truth of the faith.

We will leave the responsibility for the last sentence with the author. On page 190 of the book, Notre Dame de Laus et la vénérable Soeur Benoîte d’après les manuscrits authentiques conservés au pieux sanctuaire,7 we find the following explanation:

One day she went to Remollan to have a child baptized. She met some Huguenots who asked her if they could be saved in their religion. ‘I will leave that to the judgement of God’, she responded. The Mother of God soon corrected her afterwards and said to her: ‘My child because you have had too much human respect and have been afraid to speak the truth, you will not see me for a month.’ The pious shepherdess wept for a long time over this fault.

A fault certainly light indeed compared to that which one can attribute today to a number of Catholic prelates who never tell the truth to Protestants, to let them know that they are in peril of losing their souls if they do not return to the Catholic Church.

* *

Notre Dame de l'Osier

Notre Dame de l'Osier

The second account also occurs in the Alps at another site of apparition by the Blessed Virgin which is recognized by the Church, Notre Dame de l’Osier, in the French Department Isère.

On the 25th March 1649, a Calvinist peasant, Peter Port-Combet was cutting a willow. His wife, a Catholic had warned him not to work because it was a ‘holy-day’. Our Calvinist paid no attention. While he was working, however, ‘he saw that his hands were covered in blood’ and his pruning knife too. ‘The blood fell in great drops from each of the branches.’ Totally terrified and worried he appealed to his wife who told a neighbor about the miracle. The story spread and our Calvinist was fined for having worked on a feast day. The depositions of Pierre Port-Combet and his wife before the Judge allow us to see the undoubted evidence from which we have extracted some extracts. Moreover, our Calvinist did not convert. The Blessed Virgin was to intervene personally. Here is the account reported by Fr. Delarue OMI8:

He was working on the high ground, thinking of nothing, when suddenly, on the ‘mound of Épinousa’, he saw a ‘maiden’9 appear dressed in white and blue and, ‘on her head, a worn, black veil’. At first he thought that ‘from Bergerandière’ she had ‘wandered from the willow path...and become lost in the Épinousa wood’. She was opposite the place where he stood. And when she saw him it appeared that she wanted to come over to him across the declivity which separated them.

He ‘laughed to himself, as was common among the Huguenots, at the piety of Catholics’ (Huguenot was the description used at that time, and the celestial visitor was to use it; in itself it didn’t have any pejorative sense; etymologically the word comes from the German ‘Eidgenossen’ – ‘those who are bound by the same oath, those who are part of a collectivity ruled by the same oath or vow’)

Port-Combet’s reaction was open and very natural: as a good Calvinist, he smiled to see a Catholic maiden going to so much bother to see him and his willow and whom he believed had become lost. It amused him to see this city dweller come forward with no regard to the nature of the terrain. She will have to learn this at her own expense, she will have to get out of it on her own. He turned his back on her and recommenced his work. The furrow was not long and he had quickly reached the end. But surprise, surprise when he turned his cattle to come back on his line, the maiden ‘of whom he had daydreamed’ while ploughing, ‘found herself in front of him; in the place, where today stands a small chapel dedicated to the Holy Virgin and named by popular acclaim, Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Rencontre’. Jeanne Pélion gave this last detail when she made her declaration in 1686. Already puzzled by the rapidity with which this stranger had moved, Pierre Port-Combet was even more overwhelmed to find ‘that she was beautiful, so brilliant and so majestic in the way she carried herself that he didn’t know what to think’.

She was not therefore lost as he had believed, she needed no one to find her path, none of our earthly slopes were too steep for her. He remained gaping.

It was she who broke the silence and greeted him; ‘God be with you, my friend.’ Then without appearing in the least disconcerted by the disarray of the poor man and with regal ease, the stranger continued:

‘What do they say about this devotion? Do many come here?’

It was really what he had though all along: she had come for the willow, from afar surely.

Without too much attention, he vaguely replied: ‘Good day Miss, a fair number of people go there’.

‘Are there many miracles there?’

‘Oh! Miracles!’ he retorted in a defiant, gruff tone.

Having now regained control of his senses he sensed the danger: better to cut this meeting short. He gave his cattle a prod, because he sensed it was him that she had come so see. But with regal authority she dissuaded him from carrying on:

‘Stop, stop your beasts!’ (and) ‘This Huguenot10who cut the willow, where does he stay? Does he not wish to convert?’

If he had any doubts about this being just another interview, his eyes had been opened. The visitor was not in search of original information - this was much worse. Three days after the miracle, he admitted ‘And I don’t know what that was about’: Here was the reply. This prodigy had only one aim: to bring him to ‘acknowledge himself”, to make him convert.

He thought quickly, then for a moment an irresistible force riveted him where he was - better to sidestep the issue, he thought: ‘I don’t know,’ he said, ‘He lives over there’. But he was mistaken if he truly believed he had put his interlocutor off the scent;

‘Ah Miserable! (miserable11, as we would say: you are pleased to have recourse to infantile subterfuge). ‘You imagine that I do not know that ...this Huguenot is you?’

It is noted that unlike his wife, the ‘Maiden’ had called him by the familiar French ‘tu’12. More strongly than ever he had the desire to flee: once more she commanded him to stop his beasts. He persisted and spurred them on, but she ‘very quickly’ warned him;

‘If you do not stop your beasts, I will stop them.’

Rendered powerless he replied: ‘Oh, I will certainly stop them myself, Miss’. It was important that he hear her to the end .... ‘She told him that the time of his end was approaching and that if HE DID NOT CHANGE HIS STATE, HE WOULD BE ONE OF THE GREATEST EMBERS THAT HAS EVER BEEN IN HELL and that if he did change she would protect him before God. He was to tell the public that their prayers were not fervent enough but that if they were more fervent they will receive many graces and favors from God’. That is all.

‘If he did not change his state he would be one of the greatest embers that has ever been in hell’ - this is what the Virgin thinks of a Protestant who refuses to convert. This is something which ought to give the partisans of ecumenism something to think about.

Our Huguenot, despite such a warning, waited until he found himself on his death bed until he made the abjuration demanded. His wife explained to us that a ‘panic attack which gave him no respite’ succeeded the consolation of this visit of the Mother of God. And she stated that it was a caused by ‘an extraordinary fear of losing life in some way unknown to the average heretic’. In his act of abjuration he himself declared ‘that he had wanted to change his religion for some time but that he was urged by those of the said so-called religion not to do so’. This too ought to be reflected upon by the partisans of ecumenism i.e. the difficulties of a poor soul entangled in a false religion and who would like to get out. It is advisable to come to his aid rather than make him believe that he perhaps might save himself the effort of changing religion.

(This article first appeared in Le Sel de la Terre, No. 6, Autumn 1993. Translated by A. S. Fraser, in A Propos, St Andrew 2005, revised by Fr. Couture)


1.Cf. La Contre Reforme Catholique, n.229, janvier 1987, pp.33-34
2. B.P. 217, 56402 Auray Cedex, France.
3. One can thus notice the interest shown by oecumenists and Protestants to lead the Council Fathers to renounce from making a separate schema on the Virgin Mary: Our Lady being considered an obstacle to a rapprochement with the Protestants, they had to avoid as much as possible to speak of her. (Note of A. de Lassus, in AFS no. 170)
4. One might add that the destiny of the whole Council was undoubtedly sealed that day.
5. For a history of Laus see Louis Pain’s book, La bergère du Laus, Published by Resiac, Montsûrs, 1988, ( See also note of SSPX-Ed.)
6. R. de Labriolle, Benoîte la bergère de Notre Dame de Laus, published by GAP, 1977
7. Anonymous c/o J.C. Richaud, GAP, 1895
8. Père Delarue O.M.I. Notre Dame de L’Osier. Les origines du pèlerinage d’après les manuscrits et imprimés du temps de 1649 – 1686. Published by M. Lescuyer et fils, Lyon 1966 – 1980, pp. 23 onwards.
9. ‘Demoiselle’ – Mademoiselle – this is how one would address an untitled woman, such as marquess, countess, etc.
10. (‘Cet Huguenot’) This Huguenot – Littré (French dictionary) notes that even in the following century ‘Voltaire did not pronounce the “H” in Huguenot. Proof that that when the Virgin appeared she used the language of the place and time.’
11. Wretch (miserable) in the original sense of the term signified, 1. one who was in misery or in adversity or 2. pitiable
12. The use of “tu” is either used among close friends or between adults and children – we consider it was the latter sense that was indicated here. (Ed.)


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