Freemasonry and the Lefebvre Question
A Look Back to the Future

Walter L. Matt (RIP)
Reprinted from The Remnant, August 21, 1976 (But even more relevant today)


( Whatever one might think about the "Lefebvre question”, i.e., whether or not he should submit to the demands made of him by Rome, there are two things that must not be lost sight of:  1) He has, as was pointed out in these columns many times before, applied to Rome for a formal hearing or trial, but has been summarily denied his day in court.  That being the case, he has in fact been denied even such an elementary right as ‘due process’, to which even the worst kind of criminal is entitled.  2) As one of our correspondents appropriately points out:  “Whereas Mgr. Lefebvre has been suspended and forbidden even to say Mass under pain of excommunication, no such disciplinary action has been taken against the Freemason Bugnini.” The latter has not even been publicly reproved. 

Moreover, despite his (Bugnini’s) being subject to automatic excommunication because of his alleged membership in Freemasonry, Archbishop Bugnini continues to exercise a diplomatic function on behalf of the Vatican – and this despite the fact, as the same correspondent shows, that Bugnini, the author of the New Mass, “was sacked in July 1975 when unquestionable proof of his being a Freemason was submitted to the Holy See.”

There are other aspects of the “Lefebvre question” which are alluded to in today’s “The Remnant Speaks” and which need not, therefore, be labored here.  Suffice it to say that, before The Wanderer or anyone else dares, as the erudite Catholic lay publisher Hamish Fraser puts it, “to condemn this dedicated Churchman”, they “should first be at pains to indicate the nature and the dimensions of the unprecedented scandal against which he (Lefebvre) considers it his duty to protest, in order to arrest what Pope Paul himself has described as the ‘self-destruction of the Church”.

Mr. Fraser, writing from his native Scotland, is by no means alone in his expressed thinking anent the “unprecedented scandal against which he (Lefebvre) considers it his duty to protest”.  So, for example, the illustrious French Dominican priest, Fr. R. L Bruckberger, whose article appears elsewhere in this issue of The Remnant hammers home the same point:

One fine day, Paul VI discovers, with irrefutable evidence, that this pernicious Bugnini is a Freemason and that there is little room for doubt that he is not the only Mason within the Roman Curia, and within the immediate entourage of the Pope:  that this Bugnini is there for one sole purpose:  to help in the destruction of the church from within.  What does the Pope do?  Keep a Freemason in a key position in the Church?  Impossible!  Bugnini must be interrogated; his interrogation continues throughout the night.  Are sanctions applied to him for his deadly work?  Is he suspended from his sacred functions, which one has every reason to believe were sacrilegious?  Is he excommunicated?  Not on your life!  He is appointed pro-Nuncio in Iran, where he represents the Pope and the Catholic Church!  And all that he has done during those ten years is allowed to remain; all that he has destroyed during those ten years is allowed to remain destroyed.

Mgr. Lefebvre is accused in some circles of ‘warring against the Church’ or of ‘disobeying the Pope’.  Why, pray tell, this accusation is not made, rather, against Freemason Bugnini, or, for that matter, any bona fide Freemason, is anyone’s guess.  Are Freemasons not warring against the Church and disobeying the Pope?  Was it not Pope Leo XIII, in his Apostolic Letter of March 10, 1902, who told us that “the whole purpose (of Masonry) is to make war against God and against His Church.”?  And was it not the same Pontiff, in his encyclical on Freemasonry, who admonished all the Bishops of the world thus:  “We wish it to be your rule first of all to tear away the mask from Freemasonry, and let it be seen as it really is; and by sermons and Pastoral Letters to instruct the people as to the artifices used by societies of this kind in seducing men and enticing them into their ranks….”? (Humanum Genus, April 20, 1884)

And that being so, would it not be high time, now that the Roman Curia itself appears to have been infiltrated by Freemasonry, that the Holy See and the Bishops and faithful everywhere begin to “tear the mask away” and expose the scandal come what may?  Would not this be a more urgent and honest task than to continue to single out and condemn without trial one man – and only one man! – whose record of faith and fidelity to all things truly Catholic is plain enough and clear enough for all to see?

Clearly, as Fr. Bruckberger so aptly concludes, something is ‘rotten’ somewhere, though not really in Denmark?  What it is that still lies hidden behind the so-called “Lefebvre question” is the far more formidable and truly appalling scandal of Masonic infiltration and impenetration of the Church – which, of course, Archbishop Lefebvre himself has repeatedly touched upon but which has likewise been dealt with at length by one of the most widely known and respected European theologians of our day, Dr. Rudolf Graber, Bishop of Regensburg, Germany, in his book, “Athanasius and the Church of Our Time”, (Available from The Remnant Bookstore, or, by telephone: 800-839-4139).

Thus, in the chapter of Bishop Graber’s book, “Secret Societies”, we read inter alia:  “It would not be going too far to maintain that many spheres of Catholicism have now begun (1974) to adopt its (Masonry’s and/or the French Revolution’s) main ideas…” He cites Masonic lenders and writers, particularly the 19th century ex-priests de Guarita and Roca, to demonstrate how Masonry has long been striving not merely to infiltrate the Church, but ultimately to transform her, to establish a “new Church”, which, though stripped of its ancient dogmas and sacred traditions, will still, generally speaking, appear to be the same old Church, though in fact, it will be seriously compromised if not committed to the evil ends and objects of Masonic schemers and kindred revolutionaries. 

In this connection, Bishop Graber points out that, although the Popes (Pius X, in particular) had so incisively warned against these developments, they stood virtually alone.  The Church as such paid little, if any, heed to them.  Hence the long and carefully concealed process of crafty infiltration and impenetration has continued, and, as Bishop Graber observes, “from all the (Masonic) quotations which could be expanded into books, it is not difficult to discover the tactics being employed; to deprive the Church of its supernatural character, to amalgamate it with the world, to interweave the denominations ecumenically instead of letting them run side by side as separate confessions, and thus to pave the way for a standard world religion in a centralized world state.  The Church’s predicate of the ‘Only True’ has disappeared from the dialogue…” (p.37)

The point to bear in mind here is that this demolition work, as the Bishop suggests, is really an “inside job” or, as Pope St. Pius X pointed out at the turn of the century, it is a campaign being waged from ‘within the bosom of the Church’, not by outside enemies!

Bishop Graber cites, in this connection, the “change of strategy” adopted by Masonry at approximately the turn of the century, when it decided; “The goal is no longer the destruction of the Church, (at least not for the time being!-Ed.) but to make use of it by infiltrating it”.  He cites Masonic sources to show how they hoped “for the successful outcome of (Pope) John XXIII’s revolution”, i.e., a “revolution” which, as Masonry devoutly wished, would strip the Church of her dogmatic character and bring about her amalgamation with the world. 

He cites the 19th century Masonic writer, Antonio Fogazzaro (who has likewise been cited by Archbishop Lefebvre in his latest Letter #10 to Friends and Benefactors, available from The Remnant Press), to show that concealed Masons, priests and laymen both inside and outside of Italy, have been striving for many decades of years to bring about “a reform of the Church”, but without arousing the suspicions of the Church authorities. (!)  Their hoped-for “reforms” would center on the Church’s religious instruction program, her liturgy, her disciplines, even her top administration in Rome.  The Bishop emphasizes the fact that Masonry schemed to bring about these “reforms” by working from within, clandestinely, even without a tangible kind of organization or fixed apparatus, but always keeping before their minds the one fixed goal:  “the establishment of this Catholic Freemasonry” (!). (p.44)

“Catholic Freemasonry”?  Like “Catholic Communism” or “Christian Socialism”, this is a contradiction in terms. One cannot be a true Freemason and at the same time a sincere Roman Catholic.

Which brings me back to the “Lefebvre question” and the dilemma faced by this dedicated Roman Catholic priest and prelate. The distinguished Catholic lay editor and publisher of “Approaches” magazine, printed in Saltcoats, Scotland, Mr. Hamish Fraser, advises his friends in a letter dated August 3, 1976:

It is true that in my opinion at the time of writing it, I considered it advisable for him (Lefebvre) NOT to seek a frontal clash with Rome by proceeding with the ordinations (at Econe on June 13). But in the light of subsequent developments – in particular the scandalous consistorial allocution of May 24, 1976, which was literally studded with blatant falsehoods from beginning to end (I indicated only a few in my hurriedly prepared leaflet – supplement to Approaches 49-50), and the subsequent unilateral action against Mgr. Lefebvre (none against the Freemason Bugnini – not even a public reprimand – who continues to exercise a diplomatic function on behalf of the Vatican despite his being automatically subject to excommunication for being a Freemason, or against heresiarchs such as Kung, etc.,) – it would seem to me that the present pontificate has lost the very last vestige of moral authority, and is nothing short of a totalitarian despotism.  This being so, the cause of scandal is Rome’s totalitarian intolerance of everything authentically traditional.  And because of this Mgr. Lefebvre seems to be increasingly cast in the mould of a 20th century Athanasius. Under these circumstances, one’s first duty would seem to be to indicate the true nature and the dimensions of the present scandal. (Which, it goes without saying, has definitely NOT been done to date by any of Archbishop Lefebvre’s detractors. – Ed. The Remnant)

Mr. Fraser’s comment, to which the editor of The Remnant unhesitatingly subscribes, contains this further statement:  “In my opinion, Mgr. Lefebvre cannot be faulted in respect of his refusing to accept the demands made in the name of the Pope:  i.e., to accept Vatican II, the post-Conciliar reforms and also the orientations to which the Pope is himself committed.’  Indeed, I’d unhesitatingly go to the stake rather than put my signature to so monstrous a demand, for to do so would in effect be to approve and connive at the destruction that has taken place since Vatican II.  In refusing THIS package, Mgr. Lefebvre deserves the support of the entire, Catholic world.”

To Mr. Fraser’s statement, I might merely add my own fervent Amen.  For me to accept THAT kind of package would be, as it is for Mgr. Lefebvre, a fairly clear-cut case of treason not only against the Papacy itself, but against the Bride of Christ, His Mystical Body.  I could not, in particular, accept the ‘post-conciliar reforms’ and ‘orientations’ which, more often than not,  in these post-Conciliar days, are not only completely befogged and beclouded by their passage through the ‘intermediary bureaucracies’, but are unmistakably stamped by many of the nefarious hallmarks of “Catholic Freemasonry”, and its evil intents and purposes.  For myself, therefore, I will continue to profess the Faith of our fathers as set forth in the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Council of Trent and 1st Vatican Council.  As for Vatican II, I accept Bishop Graber’s dictum that the Council was not – certainly not in first place a dogmatic Council – since it “refrained from making dogmatically binding statements”.(p.66) 

More explicitly, he writes that “since the Council was aiming primarily at a pastoral orientation and hence refrained from making dogmatically binding statements or dissociating itself, as previous Church Assemblies had done, from errors and false doctrines by means of clear anathemas, many questions took on an opalescent ambivalence which provided a certain amount of justification for those who speak of the ’spirit of the Council’ . (p.66)

But it is precisely this “opalescent ambivalence”, this equivocal language, this ambiguity of textual expression which characterizes Vatican II, that impels men like Archbishop Lefebvre seriously to question some of its key pronouncements.  Beyond that, however, it seems to us that if it be true, as Bishop Graber states, that he Council “refrained from making dogmatically binding statements or even dissociating itself, as previous Church Assemblies had done, from errors and false doctrines by means of clear anathemas” – why, then, is Archbishop Lefebvre or anyone else expected to submit to everything the Council said and did, including the infinite varieties of the “post-Conciliar reforms”? 

The answer to that question, it would seem to me, is self-evident:  It is, simply stated, to expect the impossible.  It is too much!  We therefore say what we have said before: Archbishop Lefebvre’s position at this point in history will one day be vindicated – whether by a Third Vatican Council or even by this or a future Pope, remains of course to be seen.  It is all in God’s hands. Meanwhile, I strongly recommend that we all pray hard for Pope Paul as well as Archbishop Lefebvre, asking God to restore unity and peace and concord to the sorely divided “household of the Faith” which  stands today in such great peril.  And as we pray, let us implore Him further, not indeed for an ill-defined and shallow kind of ‘Christian unity’ or even the Masonic kind of ‘one world synthesis;’, but solely for one world in Christ, one world solidly committed to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church with Christ as its Invisible and Sovereign Head and the Pope as His earthly Vicar.  For this let us pray to the Lord