Something interesting about Archbp. Lefebvre

You might be interested in this story from Inside The Vatican.  A reader sent the link.

Did you know that the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s father died in a Nazi concentration camp?

Read about it.

This is interesting to think about in the context of accusations that the SSPX is anti-semitic, or in favor of clearly anti-Jewish things.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. veritas says:

    All honour to the Archbishop’s father, he fought for the resistance and rejected Petain and the Vichy regime.

  2. Sam says:

    Didn’t you know?

  3. veritas says:

    Yes Sam I did. However his heroism in the French Resistance does not excuse the nostalgia for Vichy on the part of many of the French followers of the Archbishop or their enthusiasm for Le Pen.

  4. Daniel Latinus says:

    Actually, The Angelus carried a story about this back in the 1980s.

  5. Steven says:

    In France, the late bishop Marcel Lefebvre was sentenced to pay a fine of 5,000 French francs (about $900) for his “racist” statement, to a non-Muslim audience, that when the Muslims presence becomes even stronger, “it is your wives, your daughters, your children who will be kidnapped and dragged off to a certain kind of places as they exist in Casablanca [Morocco].”

    That a prominent bishop can be brought before a court for evoking the historical fact of European slavery at the hands of Muslim slavers is a sign of a new power equation.

    In contrast, British Muslim leader Kalim Siddiqui was not prosecuted for blaming European civilization for all the evils of the modern world, nor even for breaking the law by publicly calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie.

    And Lefebvre got off lightly, the judge having ruled that he had not “actively incited to discrimination,” in which case he would have received a prison sentence plus a fine of 300,000 francs.

  6. Sam says:

    veritas, I was actually talking to Fr. Z.

  7. BillyHW says:

    Looks like the SSPX website has been ethically cleansed. These pages have been taken down:

    You can still find the anti-Semitic rantings in the Google cache:

  8. Steven says:

    One should not underestimate the fact that millions of muslims are now living in Europe.

    All the European peoples were and are against that wave of muslim immigration. However, the politicians and the European Commission supported and still do activily support the mass immigration of muslims.

    There are three main reasons:

    1. they wanted to import cheap labour

    2. they wanted to break up the homogeneous Christian and Catholic populations of Europe – thus weakening the power of the people

    3. they wanted to undermine the Catholic Church

    So, if these politicians talk about racism and discrimination, THEY imported racism into Europe.

    It is easy to blame the people.

    “Racist” and “anti-semite” are the magic words here in Europe, when you want to silence certain individuals.

  9. Interesting article, Father Z — especially Dr. Chaim Lehmann’s quote. I’m praying for the SSPX’s transition back into the fold.

  10. m says:

    Father, I don’t understand how you can refer to “accusations” of anti-semitism. [Gee… I dunno. Have you read in the press lately any accusations of anti-Semitism? I have. I have also read some SSPX responses to those accusations.] Have you read the links BillyHW provides? What it should mean and how it will or ought to impact the developing story is up for discussion, but it concerns me that people are still so eager to act as apologists on this issue when the SSPX has been so clear about their hatred of jewish people.

  11. pb says:

    m, have you read the links? Explain how they are ‘anti-Semitic’.

  12. Ted says:

    It is pure slander to acusse the SSPX of anti-Semitism. If they accuse the SSPX of anti-semitism they should accuse St. Paul as well. How about Pope St. Pius X as well? If anything you who call the SSPX anti-Semitic are in turth anti-Catholic.

  13. Ian says:


    I’m not sure you actually read those articles. It is manifestly clear that the article on the “Mystery of the Jews” itself rejects the very principle you annunciate, that somehow the “SSPX has been so clear about their hatred of the jewish [sic] people”.

    For as is written in that article:

    Under pain of sin, Catholics cannot hate the Jewish people, cannot persecute them or prevent them to live, nor disturb them in their private practice of their laws and customs.

    It is manifestly sinful to hate anyone. Hatred itself is a sin. Hatred of a people because of their race is detestable and true Antisemitism (truly anti-Jewish, since the Arabs are Semites, too). That kind of racial hatred is gravely sinful and reprehensible for a Catholic to profess.

    So, how can the SSPX as a principle have a “hatred of the jewish people” when their own article says that such is sinful and reprehensible?

    Perhaps you also missed the reference to the Holy Office’s Decree from March 25, 1928:

    The Catholic Church has always had the habit of praying for the Jewish people, which was the depository of the Divine Promises up to the coming of Jesus Christ, in spite of this people’s blindness. More than that, it has done so on account of that very blindness. Ruled by the same charity, the Apostolic See has protected this people against unjust vexations, and just as it reproves all hatred between peoples, so it condemns hatred against the people formerly chosen by God, that hatred that ordinarily goes by the name of Antisemitism.

    You must have breezed over this part too:

    It is unthinkable to Catholics that the Jewish people should be repressed simply for being Jewish. The Catholic argument is not hostile to Jewishness as such. Rather, it is a defense of the true Jewish heritage, the glory of which is Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    “The Jews must not be persecuted or chased like beasts….They are living signs that remind us of the Passion of our Lord. Besides, they are scattered through the world so that, while they pay for such a crime, they can be the witnesses of our redemption.” (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Letter 363)

    “The [Catholic] Church has a nobler triumph over the Jews by making them see their errors or converting them than by killing them. It is not in vain that the Church has prayers for the incredulous Jews: for it would be pointless to pray for them if we did not hope that they may come to believe.” (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Letter 365)

    It’s usually not a good idea not to judge a work by it’s title, or by its hyperlink. Instead, if you actually read at least one of those articles, you would see that in fact it is a defense of how a Catholic is obliged to respect and love the Jewish people and how that Love is to be manifest. Reading is fundamental.

  14. Ian says:

    I should add as well, that it’s probably because of such incorrect analysis of these articles that they were prudentially pulled from the website at the start of trouble.

  15. Cliff W says:

    Very interesting, but will the mainstream media mention this? Doubtful.

  16. m says:

    Ok – let’s look at the first link – which was deleted, and is only available thanks to google cache. Let’s look at the conclusions:
    1st: The Jewish people, whose destiny was to bring Christ to us, found Christ a stumbling block. A part of them believed in Him, and built on Him to form the roots and the trunk of that Olive Tree which is the Catholic Church. The other part fell, denying Him and invoking their carnal pride of race and nation. That part of Israel was rejected, and called upon itself the blood of Christ as a curse. It is this part that forms Judaism proper, which is the heir and the continuation of the rabbis who rejected Christ.

    So we see the distinction being made by the article. Christ, and his followers, were Jews – but when we speak of “jewish people” today and throughout subsequent history, we’re speaking of those who did not convert – “jewish people”, as common sense would dictate, and as the article addresses, are not christian – they are jews, and, per the article, “cursed”.

    2nd: Judaism is inimical to all nations in general, and in a special manner to Christian nations. It plays the part of Ishmael who persecuted Isaac, of Esau who sought to kill Jacob, and of Cain who put Abel to death.

    Here, we aren’t talking theology – Judaism is inimical TO ALL NATIONS – not just Christian nations – all nations. Is this sounding familiar to anyone but me?

    3rd: If the unrepentant Jewish people are disposed by God to be a theological enemy, the status of this opposition must be universal, inevitable, and terrible.

    Again, an “unrepentant Jew” is a Jew, by definition. And as Christians, we are called to see them as enemies, and oppose them with a universal, inevitable, and terrible enmity. Really?

    At the risk of going too long and dull – I’ll skip to the passage that comes after the previously cited idea that christians “cannot hate” Jewish people. Nonetheless: Catholics are not to enter into commercial, social, nor political relations which are bound hypocritically to seek the ruin of Christendom. Jews must not live together with Christians because this is what their own Jewish laws ordain and also because their errors and material superiority have virulent consequences

    Now, honestly. For a Catholic to state that other Catholics must not do business, nor socialize, nor engage politically, nor LIVE AMONG Jews is flatly, and blatantly, anti-semetic. If you disagree – then what IS anti-semitism?

  17. John L says:

    There is an additional point to be made about Abp. Lefebvre, that concerns claims by the likes of George Weigel that he was a supporter of Vichy France and a member of the right-wing monarchist organisation Action Francaise, which was led by Charles Maurras. Abp. Lefebvre spent the years of the Vichy regime in Africa where he was being a missionary, and was not involved with Vichy. As for Action francaise, this SSPX source denies that he had any involvement in it;

    \’As regards Action francaise, in a lengthy press conference given at Econe on 15 September 1976, Mgr. Lefebvre stated that he had not known the late Charles Maurras (founder of the movement); he had not even read his books; he is not linked with Action francaise in any way; he does not read its journal Aspects de la France; he does not know those who edit it; he regretted the fact that it was being sold outside the hall in which his Mass at Lille was celebrated.\’

    Abp. Lefebvre\’s biographer, Msgr. Tissier de Mallerais, was involved with Action Francaise, and I believe tries to exaggerate Lefebvre\’s sympathies with that movement in his biography, which may give some people a misleading impression. There were many Action Francaise supporters among Lefebvre\’s followers, as there were communist sympathisers among his opponents – an inevitable fact of life, especially of French life. But the fact is that his motivations and convictions were religious ones – some people are like that.

    The above quote comes from – which also contains helpful remarks on his attitude to the Second Vatican Council, taken from an interview with Michael Davies;

    \’Michael Davies: It is frequently alleged that you \”refuse\” Vatican II, that you claim any sincere Catholic must \”reject\” the Council. These allegations are very vague. I presume that you accept that Vatican II was an Ecumenical Council properly convoked by the reigning Pontiff according to the accepted norms.

    Mgr. Lefebvre: That is correct.

    Michael Davies: I presume that you accept that its official documents were voted for by a majority of the Council Fathers and validly promulgated by the reigning Pontiff.

    Mgr. Lefebvre: Certainly.

    Michael Davies: In a letter published in The Times on 18 August this year (1976) I stated that your position vis-a-vis the Council was as follows. Would you please read this passage carefully and tell me whether it does state your position accurately?

    The reforms claiming to implement the Council were intended to initiate an unprecedented renewal but, since the Council, the history of the Church throughout the West has been one of stagnation and decline; the seeds of this decline can be traced back to the Council itself as those holding Neo-Modernist and Neo-Protestant views were able to influence the formation of some of the official documents by the inclusion of ambiguous terminology which has been used to justify the abuses which are now apparent at all. Thus, while accepting the Council documents as official statements of the Magisterium, we have the right and duty to treat them with prudence and to interpret them in the light of Tradition.

    Mgr. Lefebvre: That is precisely my position.

    Michael Davies: It is frequently alleged that you believe the New Mass per se to be invalid or heretical. Is this true?

    Mgr. Lefebvre: Not at all. But I believe an increasing number of celebrations of the New Mass to be invalid due to the defective intention of the celebrant.\’

    I can\’t see any objections to the SSPX position if it is understood in this way.

  18. Martin says:

    It is a shame that uninformed folks would post such stupidities as this one:

    Yes Sam I did. However his heroism in the French Resistance does not excuse the nostalgia for Vichy on the part of many of the French followers of the Archbishop or their enthusiasm for Le Pen.
    Comment by veritas — 9 February 2009 @ 4:37 pm

    Because of course, siding with Stalin or the communists was the right thing to do.
    Or so was the massive bombings of innocent civilian populations (oh, but yes, I forgot, that was in the name of Liberty). What a joke. Ignorance combined to arrogance is a complete disgrace.

  19. Martin says:

    By the way, isn’t that amazing that even supposedly well-informed neo-conservative Catholics would ignore the fate
    of Monseigneur’s father?

  20. Corleone says:

    M – everything you cited was written on sound Catholic doctrine and is not unique to the SSPX. It might be harsh for you to hear, but then that should be something which prompts you to examine your own conscience. I would highly suggest you read Quo Primum, an *INFALLIBLE* papal document [PUHLEEZE!] which echos church teaching regarding Judaism for some 1,600 odd years prior to its writing.

    To understand the basis behind this, you *MUST* read the Talmud, the collection of holy books of Judaism. It outlines how Jews are to treat non-Jews, namely Christians. Not only does it say Jews should not eat or socialize with Christians, but that they can cheat or kill them as we are no better than animals. I am not making this up. It is there for you to read. *WHY* does Judaism preach this about us? Because the underriding theme of Judaism is “We are the chosen, you are not, therefore we are better and answer to a higher power.” When you come across this mentality, be it from Jews, atheists, racial-purists etc, you simply cannot rely on that person to treat you with respect, honesty or fairness, because their morality and virtues are based on a misguided idea of superiority. It is for this reason that the church pointed out these aspects of dealing with Jews.

    Now, in our era of secularization, you will find nominal or ethnic Jews who have no need for or even knowledge of the Talmud. Many atheist and secular Jews were indeed behind the civil rights movement of the 60’s, marching for the equality of blacks in the south. Why? Because they are not acting on behalf of Judaism, but of a different morality. There is a distinction here. I’m really hoping you can put aside your own prejudices, conditioning and personal bigotry to contemplate these facts for a moment. What you view as anti-semitism is really the church’s response to centuries old anti-christianity.

  21. Corleone says:

    BILLYW – more and more you are looking like a lost cause unwilling to discuss or learn church teaching on the subject. I don’t understand what prompts your willful ignorance on this subject, but before you accuse others of “rants”, you would do well to understand that from an educated standpoint, you are the one who appears guilty of this. Have you bothered to read Quo Primum?. The texts you are citing as “rants” are in full accord with church teaching on the matter. [Tone it down, please.]

  22. Ian says:


    I defined “Antisemitism” as the Church has above, again, apparently you neglected that part. It would be good to read and re-read something before you form an opinion or objection.

    As the Holy Office said, hatred of the Jewish people because they are the Jewish people is Antisemitism. I cannot hate a Jewish man because he is Jewish just as I cannot hate a black man because he is black or an Arab because he is Arab. That is racism and fundamentally opposed to Christianity because those people have souls and they have an intrinsic value and God wants those people to be saved. To hate is to deny that and effectively wish them damned.

    To realize that it would be a bad idea to allow German citizens to visit the U.S. without restriction during WWII is simple common sense. It does not mean we hated the Germans at all. They posed a threat. Even if they did not accept the German state’s actions, they were nominally enemies. They deserved all those things we would accord in Christian charity to any person, but it was probably a good idea to keep them at a distance while they were enemies.

    Not all Jews accept or follow the teachings of the Talmud and the most radical of these, but most Jews who actually follow the basic philosophies of the Pharisees (knowingly or not, actively or passively) work against Christ and against Christians. That’s the nurture side of the equation. But then again, even if they are a theological enemy, what did Christ himself say: “Love thy enemy”. We should and must pray for the conversion of the Jews (as we had for years on Good Friday); we must protect the Jews within reason from unjust persecution (as that is a Christian thing to do for anyone, and particularly the Jews).

    “Antisemitism” is not some catchall which means anything said about the Jews which is in a negative vein. It is certainly not “Antisemitic” to questions accepted facts of history (though it may be imprudent).

    Indeed, just like “anti-Catholicism” it is more than statements against Catholics. It is a hatred of a people because they are that people. That is not found in this article, which, as I quoted above, is replete with confirmation of this.

  23. Ian says:


    It should also be noted that what is in the “Mystery of the Jews” article is entirely in line with what St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote on the matter (again as I quoted).

    It’s easy to condemn the SSPX for what you think is “race hatred” because they’re a good punching bag (and sometimes make themselves so).

    It’s a bit harder to condemn St. Bernard, a man the Church has infallibly declared enjoys the beatific vision had whom she has lauded many times over for his words and actions while alive. Are you really willing to stick that same label on St. Bernard? On the Holy Office?

  24. Breier says:


    I think there are better things to defend than that article! It had some very objectionable statements. I don’t care to recite them all over again. Look at the conclusions of the article. The stuff is indefinsible, unless you believe there’s some massive Jewish conspiracy controlling the world.

    While there is a technically narrow definition of Anti-Semitism, I don’t think that’s what people have in mind.

    What people object to in that article are crude defamatory statements against a whole group of people. What makes it more sensitive is that many of the defamatory statements were used by the Nazis and others to fan the flames of anti-Semitism, facilitating the Holocaust.

    I’ll give one example. The article maintains that “Jews kill Christians,” and cites some people over history. Crude, despicable, indefensable. Do you really claim that Jews are inclined to murder Christians? That we can’t live together in peace and toleration, like we’ve been doing for oh, the last 250 years in the USA? Odious!

    Moreover, these writings seem to treat Jews as if everyone was some uber-orthodox medieval Talmudist. Those people are a tiny fringe of contemporary Judaism. Judaism has incorporated into modernity, much as most Catholics did after Vatican II.

  25. craig says:

    A lot of non-Jews don’t understand what the Talmud is. It is not holy scripture; it is a compendium of rabbinical opinion collected over the centuries. You know the old joke (Jews tell it freely, so I don’t have any qualms about using it): “wherever there are two Jews, there are three opinions”? That’s the Talmud. Rigorous study and argument are integral to Jewish culture, to its credit and the historical benefit of mankind in fields such as science and medicine.

    The origins of the Talmud predate Jesus Christ. There is an oblique reference to the Talmud in the Gospels, where the people were amazed that Jesus taught “as one having authority, and not as the scribes”. What this passage indicates is that Jesus is not doing as conventional rabbis did, offering up Talmudic opinion while ultimately leaving the answer open-ended — “rabbi A says this, while rabbi B says that, and rabbi C says something else entirely” — but answering questions definitively. Because of Talmudic tradition, that would have sounded stark to Jewish ears; it would have offended some, just as Reagan’s calling the USSR an “evil empire” offended those who deemed it too confrontational to state so openly.

  26. RBrown says:

    In all this I am reminded of Georges Bernanos line: Hitler gave anti-Semitism a bad name.

  27. Ian says:


    I’ve already posted too many things on this one thread, so this will be the last.

    I would say that article is very generally and technically correct, but just because it does describe the orthodox Talmudic Jew (if such even exists anymore) it is not meant to classify all of the Jewish people. What it does point out is that in trying to understand how the Jews over the centuries have interacted with Christians (particularly in the Age of Faith), we see a great Mystery and we see that there is some fundamental principles which underly any culture which has been nurtured by this tradition.

    It is equally true to say that Europe is today what it is because it has been nurtured by the Church for 1500 years. While there are plenty of people who are anti-Christian in Europe, the culture and how the Europeans work is intimately tied in with Catholic tradition. One must say the same for the Jews as well, since modern Jewish culture has been nurtured for thousands of years from the original Jewish traditions (then adapted by the Pharisees into Talmudic Judaism).

    It does not mean there cannot be tolerance (when it is needed for the common good — e.g. when a great number are not Catholic), but it does mean that there are certain dangers in the culture itself that ought to be avoided. This does not judge any individual person, nor should we. But just like we’re not going to let the Protestant pastor give our Catholic children religious instruction, yet we’ll treat him with dignity and decorum, so also we need to see the dangers which the intrinsically anti-Christian Talmudism holds and avoid them in so far as it is Charitible and possible.

    The other problem is that “modernity” as we know it is fundamentally not Christian, so that the “Judaism has incorporated into modernity, much as most Catholic did after Vatican II” cannot be seen as something good for all of us. “Modernity” has for the most part destroyed the souls of most Catholics through apathy. Are we saying simply because most Jews are equally as apathetic now that this apathy has neutralized any danger …

    Perhaps we ought to look at the recent news coverage …

  28. CPKS says:

    The article The Mystery of the Jewish People in History, published in The Angelus Magazine was co-written by a dear old priest who lived for a number of years with my extended family, and who is now passed on and I pray is now with God. It seemed to me a mischievous article: one that rehearsed nothing of great theological value for one’s salvation, but much that could (if misread) lead one astray. I confess that I hoped, and always imagined, that my priest friend was somehow talked into co-signing the other’s work.

    It seems to me, as it seemed at the time, that the intent behind the article was not so much to attack the Jews or to assert an anti-Semitic viewpoint, as to call embarrassment down over the post Vatican II ecumenical enterprise. At that time, SSPX moral and theological teaching seemed to ignore the most important doctrines, both theological and moral, insofar as they were being more than adequately covered by the “mainstream” church; so, little mention of the evils of abortion, stem cell research or racism, and no engagement with the various theological movements that became embroiled with left-wing politics. Instead, the emphasis was on trumpeting loud and clear those teachings about which nothing had been heard since the early years of the twentieth century, and reasserting those things (such as the subjection of women, modesty in dress, the amorality of the mass media) that the post-conciliar church at best aimed to deal with more constructively, and at worst passed over in silence.

    I am very glad indeed to see recent evidence that the SSPX leadership are resiling from encouragement of such what I might call “fringe attacks” and showing more signs of solidarity with the main body. If they can keep this up, I think that their influence will be both greater and better.

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