In the months immediately following, during a break in the work of the Council, Lefebvre decided to send to Genoa father Christian Charlot, then a seminarian and his aide, to meet Cardinal Siri and propose the creation of an international seminary in which young people destined for the priesthood could receive an education in the Catholic tradition, in opposition to the progressive drift of much of theology.
Fr Charlot said, who later became a priest of the "Fraternity of Mary" and later trusted collaborator of the same Siri, interviewed by Father Raymond Spiazzi in the book Cardinal Giuseppe Siri (Edizioni Studio Dominican, 1990): "On the matter of the seminary said to me: "It 'a good thing, you do it well, but always in the spirit of the Church, in obedience.'" And on Coetus Internationalis Patrum : "Siri said that one should not destroy our meetings with what the Church has established. He did not want that there was a union of the fathers of the council, regardless of their role, to apply pressure. If the Church had wanted a Cardinal there was a reason: the Cardinals had to have a wide eye on the universal Church and help the Pope with that.
From this detailed episode reveals, among other things, the large difference in approach to the Council (and the Church) by Siri and Lefevbre : If at first, despite all the personal reservations about the course and turn that the Vatican was taking, it was always the first place to have obedience to the Pope and the duty to cooperate with him in order to achieve the general good of the Church, even then the second tended to give precedence to their own particular point of view, declined in an ideological way, and therefore potentially "violent", in respect of the council. The rest of the story and evidence that this initial difference between Siri and Lefebvre would eventually be the origin of the gap in their paths: the first produced a fruitful commitment within the body of the Church, in fidelity to the Pope, to read the Council in continuity with the Church history, giving voice and words to those who, while critical of the Vatican did not want to lose the meaning and richness of their Catholic experience, and the second elicited the "escape" to Ecône, the break with the papacy , episcopal ordination without papal mandate, the excommunication and schism, in revolt against the same teaching that you wanted to defend to the hilt (as pointed out then in a press release of Communion and Liberation, "what happened to Ecône is a very serious injury to 'unity of the body of Christ, in front of which pales all the reasons put forward to explain it. The most serious consequence of this act of rebellion carried out to defend traditional values is precisely to encourage opponents of the true tradition ").
It was precisely because of his love for the Catholic Church and its unity which Cardinal Siri, in the years before the excommunication, tried in every way to prevent what even then seemed like a possible painful schism within the Church . Fr Charlot, who had since joined the "Fraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary," replied positively to the invitation of Archbishop Lefebvre for a collaboration with his seminary. Charlot says: "We said yes, provided they accept our spirit: it was necessary to enter positively in a mystical vision of the Church, it was necessary to learn the conciliar reforms and try to give them life with the spirit of the eternal Church. It was not closed, Lefebvre. But he was surrounded with people ... he did not want to hear about the forms of the Mass. They would have deserted him if he had accepted the point of view of Siri. Here ended the estimation of Siri for Lefebvre. " SOURCE
"But Siri did not merely try to serve as a mediator between the Rome of Paul VI and then to John Paul II and the ultratraditionalist french. He sought in fact up until the very last to prevent schism. AND to confirm it in a way no doubt still remains the extreme message, dated June 22, 1987, sent to Archbishop Lefebvre, before he proceeded to those consecrations, which in fact were to cut the communion among the priests of Ecône with the successor of Peter.
"Monseigneur - the Cardinal wrote in the note to become a valuable point of reference for those historians who, in the future, prepare to analyze, sine ira et studio (without anger or fondness), the turbulent years of the post-conciliar period - I beg you on my knees do not detach from the Church. You have been an apostle, a great bishop; You must stay at your place. At our age we stand before the door to eternity. Think about it. always look forward, here in the church and then in paradise " . But unfortunately these heartfelt words did not follow any response." SOURCE
How Cardinal Siri tried to Avoid the Schism of Lefebvreby Gianteo Bordero
A bold and courageous attempt, driven by a truly Catholic spirit, and aimed at preserving the unity of the Church. This was what Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, Archbishop of Genoa from 1946 to 1987, decided to take with Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre before the latter was subject to latae sententiae excommunication, following the ordination of four bishops consecrated without the necessary authorization of the Pope in 1988.
The relationship between the Siri and Lefebvre began during the years of Vatican II, when around the Archbishop of the capital of Liguria, the then President of CEI [NLM: the Italian Episcopal Conference], there gathered a significant group of members of the episcopate who were against the twisting of the Council into an assembly for a radical break with the tradition of the Church. On the evening of October 22, 1963, in the midst of debate about the conciliar documents on the Church (which caused the resounding statement of the position of Pope Paul VI in the Nota Praevia of 16 November 1964 on the meaning of the word 'collegiality') the two met at the first meeting of what would later become the Coetus Internationalis Patrum, a group that originally collected thirty Fathers' worried and dissatisfied with the work on the Council floor" (Benny Lai, Il Papa non eletto, Laterza 1993), coordinated by the Brazilian Bishop Gerardo de Proença Sigaud and by the same Archbishop Lefebvre.
In the months immediately following, during a break of the Council deliberations, Lefebvre decided to send to Genoa, Father Christian Charlot, then a seminarian and his aide, to meet with Cardinal Siri and suggest the creation of an international seminary in which young men destined for the priesthood could receive training in harmony with the Catholic tradition, in opposition to the progressive drift of much theology. Charlot, who later became a priest of the Fraternity of Mary and then a trusted collaborator of Siri, was interviewed by Father Raymond Spiazzi in the book “Cardinal Giuseppe Siri” (Edizioni Studio Domenicano, 1990): "On the matter of the seminary, he [Siri] said: 'It is an excellent thing, it must be well organized, but always in the spirit of the Church, in obedience". About the Coetus Internationalis Patrum: "Siri said it should our meetings should not destroy what the Church has established. He did not want a union of the Fathers of the Council, irrespective of role, to be a pressure group. If the Church had wanted him as a Cardinal, there was a reason; Cardinals must have one eye on the universal Church and to help the Pope in this."
It was precisely because of his love for the Catholic Church and its unity that Cardinal Siri, in the years leading to the excommunication, tried in every way to prevent what already seemed like a possible, painful schism within the Church. With Father Charlot, who meanwhile had become part of the "Fraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary," [Siri] replied positively to the invitation of Archbishop Lefebvre for his collaboration with the seminary. Charlot recalls: 'We said yes, provided they would accept our spirit: to enter positively into a mystical vision of the Church, learn the conciliar reforms and try to enliven them with the spirit of the eternal Church. Lefebvre was not closed [to this].
[T]he efforts of the Genoese Cardinal to repair relations between Rome and Ecône remained alive and were greatest in subsequent years, after the suspension a divinis of Monsignor Lefebvre which occurred in 1976 due to the ordination of priests despite the prohibition imposed by the Vatican. Siri was very active on this subject in 1977-1978. In the last months of that year, after some second thoughts of Lefebvre and public words of appreciation from Lefebvre for the Cardinal during the second conclave of that year, [Siri] asked him to Genoa, proposing a plan of agreement: “full submission to the authority of the Pope and also full adhesion to the norms of the Council. The only request of Lefebvre concerned permission to celebrate Mass in Latin according to the rite of St. Pius V.” (B. Lai , Il Papa non eletto)
The cardinal was received in audience by Pope John Paul II on 13 November 1978 and then submitted to the pope the draft agreement that Lefebvre seemed willing to accept. Pope Wojtyla gave his consent and he decided to receive the founder of St. Pius X in the Vatican on November 18.
Siri advised John Paul II to inform of Lefebvre’s visit only, in person, Cardinal Franjo Seper, president of the Holy Office. And he suggested publishing only after the fact a brief report in L'Osservatore Romano which was to announce that the monsignor had "settled his difficulties with the Holy See." But something did not go well, and after the meeting between the Pope and Lefebvre there was no announcement of the peace made between the Holy See and the Fraternity of St. Pius X.
Thus the attempt of Siri failed. If it had been successful, almost certainly the final break of 1988 would not have taken place, culminating with the excommunication and schism. On June 22 of that year, when Lefebvre announced his intention to ordain four bishops, the Genoese cardinal wrote to Lefebvre: "Monsignor, I beseech you on my knees not to break from the Church! You have been an apostle, a bishop, you must remain in your place. At our age we are at the door of eternity. Think! I am always waiting for you, here in the Church and later in Paradise ." It was yet another painful testimony of what was essential for Siri: love for the Church and unity of its members first of all.
© Copyright Ragionpolitica, February 3, 2009