On this day in 1991 Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre died. 30 years ago, today.
Lefebvre was in his day a great churchman, an astoundingly effective missionary in Africa.
Of course you most of you know Lefebvre only as the “renegade” who founded the SSPX.
I learned of Lefebvre’s death in an interesting way. I was that morning opening up our office (the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei“) because I was the first to arrive. As I was switching on lights and machines, there the doorbell rang. Thinking it was our secretary, who might not have the key handy, I opened the door to find… then-Card. Ratzinger. He gave me the news that Lefebvre had died. He had just received a phone call about his death and stopped at our office on his way in to the Congregation. I got on the phone to our own Cardinal right away.
Here are shots of Lefebvre’s memorial card, which I have kept these years. I have it in a plastic holder, usually also with a short list of names of bishops for whom I say a Memorare after every Mass I say.
Lefebvre needs prayers. He died excommunicated, poor man, although there are those who think that both the latae sententiae and ferendae decree might not have been legit. His case was never heard.
In your charity, you might pray for him too. It is a work of mercy to pray for the dead.