Archbishop Lefebvre, "What is Modernism?"
Taken from a Conference in Campbell, California January 5, 1986
If one tries to give a definition, or at least a clear idea of these modernist and liberal ideas, of what do they consist? “The Church is no longer the only true religion.” Here you have one of the truths denied by all these modernists and liberals now. “The Church is no longer the only way of salvation.” This is very grievous, because for twenty centuries the Church has affirmed this: “I am the only way of salvation.” The Church was saying: “Our Lord Jesus Christ gave me all means of salvation; He did not give them to any other group. He gave His Sacrifice of the Mass, His Sacraments, His teaching and all the care of the salvation of souls to His Apostles, to the Church, and to no other group.
Therefore, one cannot be saved outside the Church, at least through Baptism of Desire; one must be baptized, baptized by water or at least by desire; this is necessary to go to Heaven.” This is what the Church has always preached. Why did She send missionaries throughout the world? To preach: “you must be converted to our Lord Jesus Christ, you must become Christian, you must be baptized and become Catholic if you want to be baptized!” Many missionaries have been killed, slaughtered, all the Apostles have been martyred because they have preached this Gospel, because they have preached the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. But now they say: “No! All religions are ways of salvation.” My dear brethren, this is false, absolutely false! And it is precisely this which changes everything inside the Church. This influence comes from Protestantism and from Freemasonry; one must say it, these are Masonic ideas that the Church must not claim to be the only way of salvation. If the Church wants to be friend with Protestants and Freemasons, She must give up saying that She is the only way of salvation. She must accept to say that all religions are ways of salvation. But this is contrary to what our Lord Jesus Christ Himself said! Our Lord said: “Go, teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; he who shall believe shall be saved, he who shall not believe shall be condemned.” No other choice!
Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. Now if there is an example which is given to us today and which contradicts the errors which are spreading in the Church, it is in this feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. St. Peter said at the very beginning of his apostolate: “there is no other name given to men on earth by which men ought to be saved than the Name of Jesus.” Thus there is no other name by which we can go to Heaven than the Name of Jesus! And the Church is the Mystical spouse of our Lord. There is only ONE Mystical Spouse of our Lord; it is through Her that we may be saved. This is what has always been the Catholic Faith.
So now we are in a very grievous situation in the Church, because everywhere within the Church is spread the idea that all religions are ways of salvation and that the Holy Ghost is working in all of them. Now I do not know how the Good Lord will solve Himself this grievous problem, but for us the conclusion which we ought to draw from all the facts which I quoted, from the present situation, is that we must remain Catholics, we must believe in the Catholic Church. We say it in our Creed: “Unam Sanctam Catholicam Apostolicam Ecclesiam." Unam: One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church. ONE, there are not two, but ONE! We must believe this, and absolutely refuse to follow these false ideas which are spreading everywhere in the Church, that one may be saved in any religion; this would be to ruin the Church. The Church would no longer have Her “raison d’ê‑tre”, reason for being. If one may be saved in any religion, why the Church? Why? She has no longer any reason for being. This was the very “raison d’être” of the Church - to be the Way of Salvation and to work with all Her strength to convert souls so that they may become Catholic in order to go to Heaven, to be saved.
So in this feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, let all of us here present take the resolution to keep the Faith as the Tradition kept it, the traditional Faith as the Church has always given it to us, to keep Her teaching, to keep Her Catechism of the Council of Trent in which are summed up all the truths of our Faith, to keep the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to keep the Sacraments as before for you, for your children, and above all, gather yourselves around priests who are keeping the Faith. Do not hesitate, do not listen to criticism neither from modernist bishops nor from modernist priests in your parishes. Do not listen; follow the Catholic priests, those who are keeping the Catechism, those who are keeping the Faith. These are in the Truth, these shall save your souls. Do not be afraid, otherwise you will do as, for instance, the Catholics in England did when they passed to Anglicanism. They followed their priests, they followed their bishops, and they became Anglicans, they became heretics, they went out of the Catholic Church. If you also follow your progressive priests, if you follow your progressive bishops, you shall become progressive and that is no longer Catholic. This is a new error, a new heresy. Let us remain Catholic! In order to know what is Catholic, let us look at what the Church has done for twenty centuries, had taught; let us keep what the Church has done for twenty centuries. It is not possible that the Church would have been wrong for twenty centuries. So let us attach ourselves to twenty centuries of Tradition and we continue to do the same.
I ask you to pray during this ceremony asking for the grace of remaining Catholic and that we may continue our work in our seminaries for our priests, to make Catholic priests, to continue the work and encourage religious Monks and Nuns to remain true Monks, true Nuns. Here in America you have the priory at Campbell with your priests, you have the Seminary at Ridgefield; some seminarians from around here are in Ridgefield. You have the Carmel recently opened at Philadelphia with American Sisters, you have the College of St. Mary’s in Kansas, where a group of priests and nuns are keeping the Tradition. The College is wonderful and is working very well; I wish that you support it. And there will soon be at Armada, Michigan, near Detroit, a novitiate of the Sisters who are now at St. Mary’s; they will have a Novitiate for the Sisters of the Society. This is encouraging news, this shows that there are still vocations, there are good vocations, but they must be led according to Tradition.
So let us ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary in the end, let us ask her to help us to remain Catholic, to love her Divine Son. She is not ecumenical; the Virgin Mary believes that there is only one Savior, her Son Jesus, Whose Mother she is. She knows that it is by Him that every soul may be saved. If one asks the Blessed Virgin Mary whether there is another name by which one may be saved than the Name of her Divine Son, she would answer: “No! This is impossible!” Every time she came on earth, that she appeared, she appeared either with her Divine Son, or she encouraged souls to come to her Divine Son in order to be saved. So we ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to make the Church remain Catholic and during this Mass I promise you to pray for you, for your families, for all those who are in hesitation that they may come to the Truth, that they may return to the Truth, that they remain attached to the Tradition.
My dear brethren, I thank you for your attention..
Someone asked that I give in a few words what is my situation, the situation in which I find myself in the Church, in which you find yourselves also. Well, I think that the shortest answer, the simplest answer, is this: we are in the situation in which St. Athanasius found himself. I am not St. Athanasius, I am not a saint, but he found himself in the same situation. All the Church had passed to Arianism; the great majority of bishops, the Pope himself was favorable to a certain kind of “semi‑Arianism.” Well, St. Athanasius was excommunicated by the Pope! And Athanasius became a saint. He was visiting everywhere, he was going everywhere. He was saying Mass in chapels everywhere in order to maintain the Catholic Faith against Arianism. We are in a situation fairly similar. It is not Arianism but modernism; modernism which is, as Pope Pius X himself said, the synthesis collecting all heresies. Now this modernism is underneath everywhere, is spreading everywhere in the Church, even in Rome. Well, we defend our Faith, we defend the Catholic Faith. As St. Athanasius was saying to those who attacked him, “you have kept the churches, you have kept the monuments, we have kept the Faith! Faith is more important than monuments!” Well, we are in the same situation. So let us pray to St. Athanasius that he may give us the courage to follow him so that one day Holy Mother Church may find again Her good Tradition.
TCK Presents: A Saint vs. Modernist Rome