The rebel French Archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre, went ahead and ordained 14 young priests on Wednesday (29 June) in an act of defiance against the Vatican.
The rebel French Archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre, went ahead and ordained 14 young priests on Wednesday (29 June) in an act of defiance against the Vatican. Pope Paul said on Monday (27 June) that the Archbishop faced "an irreparable break" with the Church of Rome if he went ahead with the service. This was seen by some Catholic leaders as a veiled threat of excommunication. But one of the Archbishop's supporters, Abbott Ducaut Bourget, said in Paris on Tuesday (28 June) that if the Vatican excommunicates Lefebvre it will be cutting itself off from 2,000 years of Catholic history.
SYNOPSIS: The Church of St. Nicholas of Chardonnet in Paris was the centre of the controversy last February when in was occupied by supporters of Archbishop Lefebvre. The traditionalists want the former Latin Tridentine mass to be continued, but this has been forbidden by the Vatican. However, Abbott Ducaut Bourget says the ban will be ignored.
The Abbott has been a strong supporter of Archbishop Lefebvre. It is in France that the rebellion against Rome has had its greatest effect. The Archbishop chose his home tome of Lille last August for his much-publicised celebration of the Tridentine mass. Thousands of people go to the Chardonnet Church each Sunday to hear the mass performed.
Abbott Ducaut Bourget said at his home that the Vatican would be cutting itself off from the Catholic religion if Archbishop Lefebvre is excommunicated. Such a move, he said, would be totally denying everything that had passed before in the Church's history and would in no way affect the rebel clergy's decision to continue using the 400-year-old liturgy. He said they would continue to oppose the reforms initiated by the second 1962 to 65 Vatican Council.
There have been reports though that Archbishop Lefebvre does not have the support of the majority of Catholics around the world. In Brazil, - the world's largest Catholic country - even the most conservative Catholics have shown full loyalty to Pope Paul. There have been claims that the Archbishop might visit Mexico but Church leaders there are solidly behind the Pope. In the Philippines, church sources say there is no support for the traditionalists' stand. And although British Catholics were first attracted to the Archbishop's stand on the liturgy, many now say they feel alienated by what they regard as his right-wing political views. But the traditionalists seem determined to continue, even if it means a major schism in the Catholic Church.