Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and the 1976 Audience with Pope Paul VI
With the publication of Mgr. Sapienza’s book on May 16, 2018, we now have two sources that reproduce the famous meeting between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre on September 11, 1976, in Castel Gandolfo.
The first source to tell of the event was Archbishop Lefebvre himself, who immediately told the story to the seminarians in Econe in two conferences recorded on September 12 and 18, 1976. They served as the basis for the account given by his authorized biographer, Bishop Tissier de Mallerais.
The second source, that had remained a secret until now, is the transcription of the meeting that the Pope had drawn up “as faithfully as possible.” The words of the audience were thus put in writing by Cardinal Benelli, the substitute for the Secretariat of State; they cover eight typewritten pages.
While Archbishop Lefebvre’s two conferences were an immediate, living reaction just after the meeting and meant for his seminarians’ ears, they were not meant to give every last detail of every minute of the audience.
The verbatim account drawn up by Cardinal Benelli is a factual transcription of the private audience, meant first and foremost for the Pope and his collaborators. The author scrupulously recorded the beginning of the conversation (10:27) and its end (11:05).