“In the thirteen years of my pontificate,thisis the biggest cross.” —Pope Paul VI to Jean Guitton, concerning Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and a potential schism
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (courtesy of Marcel / Anefo Antonisse)
In response to the crisis within the Church following in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, Swiss Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre took certain actions that questioned his canonical standing with the Church. The most controversial was the consecration in 1988 of four new bishops without a papal mandate. Lefebvre has become the figurehead of what is called the “traditionalist movement” within the Church.
Pope Paul VI (courtesy of the Holy See)
During the pontificate of Paul VI (1963-1978), deep concerns were raised about the possibility of Lefebvre causing a schism. Lefebvre’s differences with Paul VI were recently raised for discussion in the light of new historical disclosures and the impending canonization of Paul VI. In light of that ongoing discussion, I am providing a first-ever English translation of a forgotten conversation of Paul VI on Archbishop Lefebvre. First, however, a quick background on the recent developments.
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On July 2, 2018, the publication Catholic Family News issued an article on the organization’s web site entitledSexual Abuse and the Third Secret—A Timely Reminder. The article was written by the managing editor of Catholic Family News, Matthew Gaspers. Among other aims, the article seeks to connect the third part of the secret of Fátima with some recent news on allegations of sexual abuse.