Friday, June 15, 2007

Lefebvre a Modern Athanasius?

I was listening to Traditional Catholic Radio last night when a program came on about St. Athanasius and the Arian Heresy. It went into history and talked about how St. Athanasius bravely fought the Arian Heresy when 80% or so of the bishops in the world bought into it. The speaker (I believe it was a Society priest) went on to say that Archbishop Lefebvre was a modern day St. Athanasius, bravely fighting the Modernist Heresy after Vatican II was promulgated. I tend to disagree with this assessment. Here's my thinking...

  • St. Athanasius DID stand up to the Arian Heresy, but it needs to be remembered that he was defending what the Pope was teaching, even though 80% of the bishops at that time went against what was being taught.
  • Archbishop Lefebvre ordained three bishops against the wishes of Pope John Paul II.
  • So you have defending the Pope (St. Athansius) against disobeying the Pope (Archbishop Lefebvre).
The conclusion I come to is therefore this: Nope.

Archbishop Lefebvre had some good ideas, though; any Indult Catholic needs to admit that without Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of St. Pius X, there would be no Tridentine Indult Mass at all, let alone a Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. And facing facts, like it or not, he was also right about Modernists running amuck in the Church after the Second Vatican Council. This was not the fault of the Council itself but mainly the fault of a poor implementation of it afterwards. Latin was never supposed to be completely eliminated from the liturgy, and Gregorian Chants were still supposed to be used as well. If you are truly supposed to give your best to God, why on Earth would anybody choose Marty Haugen or David Haas to represent that musically?

I just wish that Archbishop Lefebvre wouldn't have went off and gotten himself excommunicated and gotten the Society suppressed/suspended/whatever. There are people in various places thirsting for a Mass that's celebrated in a holy and sacred manner. And the Society could have provided that, within the confines of the Church, had this whole fiasco not happened. If confronted with "saying even one Novus Ordo Mass", it should have been pointed out that the Eastern Rites aren't bound to the Novus Ordo, nor are various religious orders in the Western Rite (these orders weren't even bound by Quo Primum), and it would have made sense to allow the Tridentine Mass for all those who wanted it. I honestly believe that had Archbishop Lefebvre worked with the Church instead of against it, there would be no Pontifical Commision Ecclesia Dei but rather a Ponitifical Commission Quo Primum, overseen by Archbishop Lefebvre himself. And he wouldn't have had to sell out. Not one bit.

I think that in time, things will be patched up between the Society and Rome, and Archbishop Lefebvre will be in some way vindicated. However, I don't think a comparison to St. Athanasius would be appropriate; let Archbishop Lefebvre's work stand by itself, and time will tell whether or not he's vindicated.

Chuck, MI


Donato said...

It's okay to tell a Pope he's wrong (St. Catherine) but to disobey is not acceptable. Lefebvre is a modern day Luther, not Athanasius. Remember: no Luther, no Council of Trent.

Chuck Abraham said...

I wouldn't compare him to Luther, since he still believed in a Sacramental Church and believed everything in the Church up until Vatican II. It would be more fair to liken him to the Eastern Orthodox. Either way, since this was written before Summorum Pontificum was released, I'd like to see how things develop. It's only been released for a few weeks at this point. These things can take years to straighten out. Ask the Eastern Orthodox... ;)