Revenge of Lefebvre

Turning Right
Turning Right

It is rare that these posts include theological musings, however, the news that Pope Benedict XVI has lifted the excommunication of four bishops ordained by renegade Bishop Marcel Lefebvre may create waves that are felt not only in Poland but France (birthplace of Lefebvre) and all the Catholic countries of the world.

Lefebvre Speaks Out
Marcel Lefebvre was a controversial, traditionalist Catholic bishop who made the headlines when he publicly opposed the liberal reforms of Vatican II, spearheaded by the then Pope John XXIII. In particular Lefebvre resisted the idea of ecumenism, rejected the introduction of the  Mass of Pope Paul VI instead of the Tridentine Mass and supported the view that the Pope is the sole authority in the church (as opposed to sharing power with the bishops). In other words, Marcel Lefebvre supported traditional, orthodox views.

Turning Right
If one follows the ‘calm and collected’ Papacy of Benedict XVI one cannot help noticing a marked turn to the right. Benedict XVI is not only following in the orthodox footsteps of his predecessor Pope John Paul II, but is taking the church in a decidedly more rightist direction. The first whiff of orthodox traditionalism was when Pope Benedict XVI ‘reinstated’ the Tridentine Mass, used primarily by orthodox members and, significantly, the Society of St Pius, a traditionalist Catholic group established by… Marcel Lefebvre.

Back in the Fold
So why is all this significant? The decision by Pope Benedict XVI to lift the excommunication of four bishops who were previously ordained by Marcel Lefebvre without pontifical consent has, in effect, given the traditionalist Society of St Pius the thumbs up. By lifting the excommunication of the so-called Ecône consecrations, the Pope has opened the Catholic Church to orthodox influences and in doing so has publicly given a statement of intent: no reform.

European Conservatism
Perhaps this swing is a sign of the times. The global crisis could spell the end of open-minded politics and could create more hard-line and uncompromising opinions. The United Kingdom is likely to swing right in the next election, France has a President from the Christian conservative Union for a Popular Movement, Germany’s Angela Merkel is from the conservative Christian Democratic Union, Italian PM Berlusconi hails from the Christian conservative Forza Italia and Poland is dominated by Civic Platform and Law and Justice, both supporters of the Roman Catholic Church.

8 thoughts on “Revenge of Lefebvre

  1. Gosh, we are gloomy today!

    Viz your ‘whole world gets reactionary’ thesis: there are strong signs that Obama has signposted his liberal agenda in the first few days of his Presidency.

    And of course, prediction is difficult, especially about the future: but here goes, the ‘Global Crisis’ might also be a time when people decide that the right have been wrong and minds might even open… 🙂

  2. One of the un-excommunicated bishops is reportedly a Holocaust denier who thinks the Protocals of Zion was an authentic document. Messy.

  3. Lifting the excommunication does not mean they have been reinstated as priests or invested as bishops in the Roman Catholic Church. The ball is now in their court. They pretty much have to come crawling back on their knees recanting to actually be reinstated in clerical positions.

    Also it is necessary to be careful when using terms like orthodox and traditional. You can’t just frame them political vis-a-vis the church. Do you think somebody like Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement in the US was traditional, orthodox or radical leftist?

  4. Phlegm, you’re most certainly correct about them not being reinstated, however, for me this does not change the fact that a certain direction seems to be taking shape.

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