A new translation of this important article about Archbishop Lefebvre has just been published in Rorate Caeli, revealing some background many will not be familiar with – Ed.
The popularity… which Archbishop Lefebvre stills enjoys in so-called “liberated” Africa is proof enough that one cannot be satisfied with sticking people into ready-made pigeon holes.
By Louis Boyer (1978), Rorate Caeli tr. John M Pepino (2015)
What has come to be called “the Lefebvre affair” deserves a close investigation. At first glance, one may think that it reveals only the somewhat strange mentality, a ghetto mentality, of Catholics who are incapable of coming out of their isolation, of their life within a closed community in a safeguarded dream. In reality, once one examines it seriously, it reveals a deep malaise in French Catholicism and, therefore, in French society as a whole. And it would be a mistake to believe that this malaise is a recent one: it goes back a long way and its symptoms will never be healed so long as we refuse to go back to its sources.
And still there would be more to say. It could never have developed, branched out, and lastly grown such monstrous and grotesque buds, had modern Catholicism’s most characteristic trait not come about, namely: a phenomenal, and not altogether healthy, development of the papacy. And here again what is at stake is the whole evolution of French society and, more generally, of that Western society which was long synonymous with “Christendom.” If such is the case, it won’t be a waste of time to push our analysis of the “Lefebvrist” phenomenon further than is usually done.