John Paul I was concerned about the SSPX

The intrepid Andrea Tornielli reports, as part of coverage of what would have been Papa Luciani’s (Pope John Paul I’s) 100th birthday, that the late Pontiff was very concerned about the followers of Archbp. Lefebvre and the “rip” in the garment of the Church which they posed.

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  1. John UK says:

    For those, like myself, not blessed with a knowledge of the Italian language, here is the link to the article in English:

    Kind regards,
    John U.K.

  2. Sissy says:

    Thanks, John UK!

  3. Fr. Z: Did you ever review The Problem of the Liturgical Reform?

  4. heway says:

    This Pope comes across as very compassionate and understanding. His words are wonderfully peace-giving and peace-loving. No judgement, no scolding, no threats…but sounds like great sadness.
    Thanks for the opportunity to read this, Father Z

  5. norancor says:

    Am I the only one disturbed that the SSPX, by holding fast to Tradition and traditional practice, is deemed the “rip” by anyone, much less a Pope? Equally amusing, and disturbing, is that a Pope could make their mind equate a faithful Catholic, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and an avowed Communist, Giovanni Franzoni. If these were in fact his sentiments, I can only posit that his pontificate would have been more an acceleration the spread of the auto-demolition of the Church.

    And, for the record, I have absolutely nothing to do with the SSPX whatsoever. Not a whiff.

  6. Denis says:


    Well said!

  7. milano_rossonero says:

    John Paul I astutely recognized the fundamental problem of these rebellious groups! He hit the nail right on the head: “Bisogna vivere come si pensa, altrimenti si finisce col pensare come si vive”. Purtroppo aveva ragione allora, e ancora ce l’ha pure oggi.

  8. norancor says:


    Traditional Catholics live according to what we think. You call black white and call white black to say the Society and other traditional Catholics are rebellious for living as we think. They were strange words for Pope John Paul I to say the SSPX are rebellious because they live as they think, in conformity with his words. It is even more strange to equate Communism with traditional Catholic life. It is a diabolical disorientation, I say.

    Le mie parole nella traduzione di Google:

    I Cattolici tradizionali vivere secondo quello che pensiamo. Si chiama nero bianco e chiamare bianco nero a dire la Società e gli altri Cattolici tradizionali sono ribelli per vivere come si pensa. Erano strane parole di Papa Giovanni Paolo I a dir FSSPX sono ribelli perché vivono come pensano, in conformità con le sue parole. E ‘ancora più strano di equiparare il Comunismo con la tradizionale vita Cattolica. Si tratta di un disorientamento diabolico, dico.

  9. leonugent2005 says:

    I suspect that the SSPX will in the end do untold good for the church. The question that remains to be seen is whether of not they do any good for themselves.

  10. norancor:

    I would tend to agree with you. If those were in fact the Pope’s sentiments, then I have to say they are confusing.

    There is much that disturbs me about the behavior of the SSPX. Many times I think to myself, “Why can they not operate by the same basic principles of criticism that the FSSP and the ICKSP operate by?” If they did, they wouldn’t be in fuzzy canonical ground or be in a grey area as far as communion with the Sovereign Pontiff is concerned. As Father Z says, You can fall off the road into the ditch on either side in terms of being obstinate.

    Having said that, the state of the Church also disturbs me, though her human element is certainly improving of late. Certainly, as far keeping the Faith preserved in Sacred Tradition, the SSPX is doing a fine job and to compare it with communism is highly alarming.

  11. Lori Pieper says:

    norancor, please, Luciani was not equating the traditional Catholic life or true obedience to the Pope with Communism. He was talking about the Lefebvre’s genuine spirit of disobedience to the Pope. As as I am writing a bio of Pope John Paul I, allow me to respond. Maybe some other words of his will make it clearer. This is a part of his response to a speech by Lefebvre in June 1977:

    “At the Palazzo Rospigliosi, Msgr. Lefebvre mentioned the names of some bishops who, in his opinion, are ‘leftists.’ [As I understand it, the actual names included Francois Marty, the Abp of Paris, and Roger Etchegarary, whom Luciani knew personally, and by implication others, including members of the Italian hierarchy]. I don’t feel I can share his judgment on these points, which, in addition, is not backed up by any proofs. At any rate, isn’t the French prelate aware of the almost daily accusations against the episcopate in Italy because it declares that Christianity and Marxism are incompatible? The same accusation falls on the Pope, to whom Lefebvre professes himself, in words, to be so devoted. I said ‘in words’; in deeds, he aligns himself with Voltaire, who used to say: ‘The Pope is a holy person; therefore let us kiss his foot, but tie his hands.'” (From Il Gazzettino, the daily newspaper of Venice).

    I don’t know exactly what Lefebvre said in that speech about the Pope, but it must have been really something to get Luciani riled up, because he was the most peaceful of men. He obviously had a biting sense of humor though.

    In a follow-up Luciani refuted a reader’s accusation of Communism against Pope Paul for receiving the secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party, Janos Kadar, at the Vatican. I don’t know if Lefebvre’s words had anything to do with that or not.

    I’ll add that during his time in Venice, Luciani was having to deal with a group of traditionalists (sedevacantists so probably not SSPX) who had taken over the church of San Simone and were holding completely unauthorized Latin Masses in the older form. They were recalcitrant in their disobedience, so he ended up taking some very severe action against them. I’m sure this showed him where the actions of some traditionalists would end up if they were obedient to the Pope in words, but their deeds showed otherwise.

    By way of contrast, here is a bit of what his reign as Pope promised, just a year later. In his homily during the Mass in which he took possession of his cathedral, St. John Lateran, on September 23, 1978, Pope John Paul I said:

    “I should like also that Rome should in fact give a good example of liturgy celebrated devoutly and without ill-placed ‘creativity.’ Certain abuses in liturgical matters have succeeded, through reaction, in favoring attitudes that have led to a taking up of positions that in themselves cannot be upheld and are in contrast with the Gospel. In appealing with affection and with hope to the sense of responsibility of everyone, before God and the Church, I should like to be able to give an assurance that every liturgical irregularity will be diligently avoided. ” (The whole of this beautiful homily is on the Vatican web site. Emphasis mine. I believe he was talking about Lefebvre and his followers being that “reaction”).

    Obviously, if anyone knows where the text of that speech by Lefebvre can be found, I’d be very grateful.

    And please don’t forget about the conference on John Paul I October 12-13 in New York:

  12. heway says:

    Thanks Lori/ “In appealing with affection and with hope…” these are the kind of sentiments that reveal his goodness and concern.

  13. Lori Pieper says:

    You’re welcome. :-)

    By the way, today is the 34th anniversary of John Paul I’s election as Pope. A long time ago, but for me, the memory is eternal. I dream of soon seeing him called Blessed.

  14. Ambrose Jnr says:

    Considering the hornet’s nest of liberals in positions of power at the Vatican at that time, I see John Paul I’s death as much more providential than any other moment of this kindly prelate’s life…whilst not doubting that the Holy Spirit was happy for him to be elected, I have even less doubt that the Holy Spirit wanted his papacy to be extremely short, since he was too kind to stand up to the hornet’s nest.

    As a catholic with traditionalist sensibilities, I am very grateful for JPII’s papacy, notwithstanding the problems with the SSPX and his awful liturgical taste, since he made real progress in clearing out the Augean stables…

  15. Pingback: 34 years Ago Today. . .

  16. SKAY says:

    “At any rate, isn’t the French prelate aware of the almost daily accusations against the episcopate in Italy because it declares that Christianity and Marxism are incompatible?”
    How relevant to what is happening in the US today.

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