I have the press cutting but not an absolute record of whence it came but Jonathan Petre, the author, was a Telegraph religious affairs journalist at that time.
The whole world had dubbed a saintly and academic man as a "rebel" and few rallied to defend him.
Twenty four years later and it appears as if all has changed, sanity has returned and the Society of St Pius X, defenders of the one true faith and the Latin Mass, is back in the fold.
|Archbishop Lefebvre RIP - hardly a rebel|
"Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, provoked his own excommunication and the first schism in the Roman Catholic Church for 118 years yesterday by consecrating four bishops without papal approval.
He describes his action as an "operation of survival" to preserve the true Church.
The 82-year old French Traditionalist, who founded his Fraternity of St Pius X in 1969 in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, rejected an eleventh hour appeal from the Pope not to proceed and to reopen reconciliation talks.
In a letter to the new bishops, one of whom is a Briton, the Archbishop said the "throne of Peter and the posts of authority in Rome have been occupied by antichrists". The Vatican, not he, had departed from Church Tradition, he insisted.
Cardinal Basil Hume, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain (sic) urged the Archbishops 3,000 or so supporters in this country to return to Rome, warning that to continue to worship with the Fraternity "is to leave the Church....."
"....In a half-hour homily before the consecration at his seminary in Econe, Switzerland, Archbishop Lefebvre said the Pope had "surprised" him by sending a car on the previous night to take him to Rome for immediate negotiations. He had not accepted the offer.
"We do not wish in any way that this ceremony be a schism......we are not schismatic," he said to applause from a congregation of nearly 8,000.
The Archbishop, who in the past has asserted that the spirit of the French Revolution had polluted the Church, claimed that Rome had made "grave errors" since Vatican II, and accused it of accepting "modernism, liberalism, communism, Zionism."
It is worth remembering that, at this time, several priests in Northern Ireland were accused of colluding with the IRA, encouraging violence and participating in gun running and munitions storage - no Church action was ever taken against them.
It appeared to me as if the world had gone mad; here was a priest (Mgr Lefebvre) who only wished to celebrate the Mass of all Time as it was intended and to follow accurately the Doctrinal commands of Holy Mother Church.
He was the one to be 'crucified' but Barabbas, in the form of the murdering IRA, was released without charge.
This was the point on which we, as a family, stopped attending the capering antics of the Novus Ordo at our local parish and went solo.
We were basically solo until 2007; it was a lonely 19 years - but now, Deo Volente, it's over.