The Secret History
On March 4 2011, the French historian Reynald Secher discovered documents in the National Archives in Paris confirming what he had known since the early 1980s: there had been a genocide during the French Revolution.1 Historians have always been aware of widespread resistance to the Revolution. But (with a few exceptions) they invariably characterize the rebellion in the Vendée (1793–95) as an abortive civil war rather than a genocide.
In 1986, Secher published his initial findings in Le Génocide franco-français, a lightly revised version of his doctoral dissertation.2 This book sold well, but destroyed any chance he might have had for a university career. Secher was slandered by journalists and tenured academics for daring to question the official version of events that had taken place two centuries earlier.3 The Revolution has become a sacred creation myth for at least some of the French; they do not take kindly to blasphemers.
Keepers of the Flame
The first major Revolutionary mythographer was the journalist and politician Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877), who became the first President of the Third Republic of France in 1871. He made his name in the 1820s with a bestselling 10-volume history of the Revolution. Purely as history his work was sloppy and unreliable; but the point was to celebrate the subject, not examine it. Thiers does not excuse atrocities in the Vendée; indeed he scarcely mentions them.
Unlike Thiers, Jules Michelet (1798-1874) actually looked at documents when researching his seven-volume history of the Revolution (1847–53). Michelet, more than any other historian, is responsible for the official mythology representing the Vendée rebellion as a would-be civil war instigated by deluded, credulous peasants who did not understand that they were fighting against Progress itself—a kind of 18th Century version of the gilets jaunes protests.
Michelet blames the women of the Vendée for being “sincerely, violently fanatical” in relentlessly harassing their husbands until they drove them to take up arms against the Revolution. They were “champions of counterrevolution”; he criticizes them for their “love of the past; their force of habit; their natural weakness; and their pity for the victims of the Revolution.” With “unbelievable ingratitude, injustice and absurdity” they forced rebellion on their menfolk.
To Michelet’s credit, he does admit at least some of the Revolutionaries’ “excesses,” but only after insisting that there were atrocities on both sides. Yet he conspicuously avoids dealing with evidence of tens of thousands of civilian deaths in the Vendée—even those enumerated by the former Revolutionary soldier and politician Jean-Julien Savary (1753-1839), whose Guerres des Vendéens et des Chouans contre la République française (1824–27) Michelet described as “the most instructive work on the history of the Vendée.”
The first state-appointed mythographer of the Revolution was François Aulard (1849-1928), who held the inaugural Chair in the History of the French Revolution at the Sorbonne from 1891 to 1922. Aulard’s Histoire politique de la Révolution française (1901) institutionalized Michelet’s views on the Vendée rebellion. The rebels were insignificant, superstitious peasants (p.376) who were somehow also a great danger to the Republic (p.378). They may have been part of a grand international conspiracy for which convincing documentation has not yet been found.
Aulard seems not to have noticed the unprovoked mass slaughter of civilians by the Revolutionary Army in 1794. Yet he founded the Society for the History of the Revolution, edited the scholarly journal La Révolution Française, published countless collections of material over almost half a century of professional research, and trained his students to examine primary source materials systematically, insisting that they provide full documentation of all evidence. His mastery of archival resources was second to nobody’s. Something must have been wrong with his approach to history.
The ex-Communist historian François Furet (1927–97) has written about the activist historians who devoted themselves to the study of the French Revolution throughout the twentieth century.4 They were openly, passionately pro-Revolutionary. For the most influential historians who held positions of power in major French institutions, the French Revolution was not a research topic but an origin myth—the heart of their secular faith’s cosmology. How could they celebrate it if it led to genocide?
The ‘Inexplicable’ Vendée
The Vendée is a region in the west of France whose residents became renowned for their piety after Protestants were driven out of the area in the wake of King Louis XIV’s Edict of Fontainebleau (1685). Throughout the 18th century, the Vendée was, culturally, politically and economically, a backwater. The closest major city, Nantes, remains noted for its role in the slave trade.
Vendéens seem to have welcomed the French Revolution, at least initially. Everybody was annoyed with high levels of taxation. Even the pious were fed up with what they had to pay to the Church. The problem was not so much with the clergy as with parish assemblies (fabriques), which controlled parish finances. Vendéens had little quarrel with the local nobility, who as a rule stayed in the region and knew the peasantry well. Few of them spent any time in Paris, Versailles or even Nantes. The nobles too resented centralized administration.
On November 2 1789, the newly-created National Constituent Assembly (NCA) in Paris (formerly the National Assembly) declared that all revenue-generating Church property in France was to be nationalized. On April 19 1790 Revolutionary legislators decided to help themselves to the rest of the Church’s property. It would be sold; the wealth would be redistributed by the Revolutionary government.
On July 12 the NCA passed a law, the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, that completely subordinated the Catholic Church to the Revolutionary government, and forbade Catholic allegiance to any foreign authority (for example, the Vatican, or the Pope). There would be no more recognizing the authority of bishops who had been appointed by non-French powers. Clergy were also ordered to swear allegiance to the Revolutionaries. They were now to be made civil servants, completely subject to the new French state.
Most priests and bishops not only condemned the new Civil Constitution of the Clergy, but refused to swear the oath that would subject them to civil officials. Revolutionary authorities were concerned that people were still loyal to the clergy rather than them. In October the Directory of the Lower Loire was compelled to remind the clergy that they were being stubborn and had to do as they were told. But most priests remained disobedient.
On November 10 1790, 103 priests from the diocese of Nantes signed a sharply-worded letter of protest to the NCA condemning their authoritarianism. Legislators were shocked and angry at the ingratitude. A few months later the Bishop of Nantes ordered his clergy to reject the Civil Constitution. Nine out of ten did not need to be told. The Revolutionary authorities had no choice but to appoint new bishops from among those few priests who had sworn to subject themselves to the NCA.
On June 26 1791, the NCA declared its right to deport or exile “refractory” clergy who had refused to swear the oath. Only obedient “constitutional” clergy who had pledged their allegiance to the NCA were allowed to carry out any duties. Soon there was a shortage of priests; most parishes now had nobody legally to carry out baptisms, weddings, or funerals. Churches were locked up by authorities. Yet citizens continued to show up to church on Sundays, even when the doors were sealed and the priest was imprisoned or in hiding. Force was necessary to maintain the NCA’s new regulations on religion.
The people refused to show up to Masses celebrated by “constitutional” priests. Indeed the “constitutional” clergy were widely ridiculed as cowards, traitors and infidels. Frequently they were subjected to physical assault. But they were public officials now, and could be protected by the armed forces if necessary, particularly when the faithful showered them with dirt, manure and rocks, or kicked them and spat in their faces.
On September 20 1792, the National Convention (NC) replaced the NLA, which had supplanted the NCA, which had been formed in July 1789 from the original National Assembly (established in June 1789). The Revolutionaries’ position on the clergy remained consistent. They did not want good priests, or intelligent priests, or well-educated priests, or priests who knew their parishes and the needs of their parishioners: they wanted priests who would obey them, follow orders and not talk back. The clergy stood in the way of their plans to conscript three hundred thousand men for the Revolutionary army.
On March 6 1793, all Catholic churches not served by “constitutional” clergy were permanently closed. On March 7, a recruitment law went into effect. Revolutionary leaders, legislators, municipal authorities, administrators and government functionaries in general were of course exempt from military service.
In the Vendée, the NC’s call for conscription was not received with universal enthusiasm. When the District Commissioner at Thouaré tried to announce the official decree to the people, he was met with forty peasants armed with sticks who chanted “holy freedom, sacred freedom.” One of them shouted:
You have killed our king, you have chased away our priests, and you have sold off the property of our Church. Where is the money? You have spent it all. Now you want our bodies? No! You will not have them!
Other peasants at Saint-Julien-de-Concelles asked:
What? You expect us to go fight for this government? To go fight at the command of men who have turned the administration of this country upside-down, executed our king, sold all the Church’s land and want to subject us to priests we do not want whilst they send the real leaders of our Church to prison?
They told the Revolutionaries to get their hands out of the people’s pockets and give them back their old priests. If they were as free as Revolutionary propaganda said they were, why were they not free to work in their fields and be left alone?
The revolt in the Vendée began in earnest on March 10 with coordinated attacks across the countryside, mainly on officers of the National Guard who were stationed outside officially-sanctioned churches to protect the “constitutional” clergy inside.
Riots erupted in the towns. Roaming mobs began to ransack Revolutionary offices, armed with hoes, pitchforks and other agricultural equipment. Mayors and “constitutional” clergy alike were physically attacked. At Machecoul and Challeau, the municipal administration buildings were burnt to the ground. Officials and Revolutionary “patriots” were forced to flee the countryside and seek shelter in wealthy bourgeois enclaves in towns where their principles were more welcome.
Revolutionary officials in Paris had no choice but to pay attention to the people’s rebellion. The NC was itself in some turmoil: influential politicians were trying to replace the ineffectual Executive Committee with what would eventually be called the Committee for Public Safety. Whilst the government tried to reorganize itself again, Revolutionary authorities gathered intelligence in the Vendée. They would have to make an example of the rebels or they would lose control of the rest of the country.
Clearly the Revolutionaries were faced with a conspiracy so menacing that everyone touched by it would have to be exterminated in case the moral pollution was contagious. Forty-five thousand troops were sent to put down the rebellion.
Hillbillies with Pitchforks
The rebels’ volunteer army numbered between 25,000–40,000 peasants whose main fighting experience consisted of drunken brawls in village taverns. They had no uniforms; most wore “sabots” (wooden clogs) instead of boots. Yet they consistently managed to beat back well-armed, experienced professional soldiers. A few had hunting rifles and were excellent shots; but the vast majority were armed with pitchforks, shovels and hoes. When the Revolutionary forces retreated, the reblels went back home to attend to their farms so that their families would not starve.
Revolutionary generals did not expect them to fight so fiercely. Of course, the rebels had no reinforcements behind them, and they knew that if they did not repel the Revolutionaries their homes would be destroyed, and their families butchered. The Vendéens were not paid for their fighting. Their main rewards for winning a battle was not being slaughtered for a little while longer. Under the circumstances, their discipline was outstanding, as even the Revolutionary generals admitted.
The Revolutionaries did not enjoy losing to a gang of peasants, and began officially to describe them as “brigands.” Now that they were “brigands” they could be treated like the criminals that they were. As the “constitutional” priest Abbé Roux, vicar of Champagne-Mouton, assured his Revolutionary masters on May 7 1793, in front of his remaining parishioners:
The sons of the Charente region await your orders to exterminate these brigands who are tearing apart our beloved nation. You, Citizens, stand firm at your posts: do not lose sight of the traitors and conspirators: never forget that if you show mercy, you will be feeding vampires and vultures within the precincts of this city, and one day they will drink deeply of the blood of those who saved them from the vengeance that their crimes deserve.
Justice for Brigands
From April 1793, local authorities began to round up suspected brigands in groups of 30 or 40 and execute them without trial. But as General Beysser noted in a dispatch to his colleague General La Bourdonnaye on April 11:
…a man’s death is soon forgotten, while the memory of burning down his house lasts for years.
Revolutionary forces usually ensured that there was nobody at home when they burned down brigands’ houses. They also started firing cannons at churches.
The Revolutionary armies established foundries for cannons in friendly territory: there were many churches throughout the Vendée that they had not yet fired upon. Also, in the interests of public safety, they had to go house to house to confiscate as much metal as they could find. Anything could be used as a weapon against them, even a fork. The Revolutionaries also confiscated church bells wherever they could. Not only to be melted down for cannonballs: also, some brigands seemed to be using them for signaling.
Conveniently, the Revolutionary authorities still had enough money left over from the sale of Church lands to pay for surveillance committees and other security officials. They established two criminal tribunals in the Vendée to reassure loyal citizens that even brigands who were not immediately shot would encounter some form of justice. Revolutionary armed forces were encouraged to take property from the families of brigands, particularly when the men were away fighting and there was nobody at home to defend the weak, the sick or the elderly.
By the end of June the Revolutionary armies were struggling to maintain order: their men were refusing to fire on the brigands; some were even deserting their posts, and abandoning the cause of Progress. But the Revolutionaries, unlike the brigands, could actually replace men who were killed, wounded or AWOL. Another 20,000 battle-hardened soldiers were dispatched to the Vendée. As General Salomon had reminded his men (June 17 1793) while they waited for reinforcements:
This is a war of brigands: it calls for all of us to become brigands. At this point we have to forget all military regulations, fall en masse on these criminals and hound them relentlessly: our infantry must flush them out from the underbrush and the woods so our cavalry can trample them in the plain. In a word: we must not let them regroup.
They had already begun to destroy windmills and bell towers; now they started systematically demolishing houses and chateaux, and any other structures that looked like they might serve in the future as safe houses for brigands. They did not yet have the manpower to burn down forests or ravage agricultural land to any significant degree; at least they could let the brigands know that they had nowhere to hide.
The Revolutionary Army now outnumbered the brigands, and was far better armed. As the summer went on they began to regain territory and drive the brigands back. Now the killing could begin in earnest. The Revolutionaries preferred not to take prisoners. There would be no clemency or mercy for the brigands. As winter approached it was clear that the insurrection would not survive for long.
The Committee for Public Safety sent Jean-Baptiste Carrier to Nantes: he arrived on October 20 1793 and stayed there until the middle of February. Carrier pioneered the technique of drowning brigands to save money on bullets. During his four months as the Committee’s representative in Nantes, 452 alleged brigands were acquitted and released from prison, 1,971 were executed by normal means, 3,000 or so died of disease, and 4,860 were drowned. Perhaps 3,000 prisoners survived.
At first, drowning was used to deal with “refractory” clergy. On November 16 1793, 80 priests were drowned together in a boat; on December 5 or 6 a further 58 were disposed of in the same manner; 10 days later drowning was opened up for brigands more generally, and 129 Vendéens were drowned.
It became customary to drown brigands naked, not merely so that the Revolutionaries could help themselves to the Vendéens’ clothes, but also so that the younger women among them could be raped before death. Drownings spread far beyond Nantes: on 16th December, General Marceau sent a letter to the Revolutionary Minister of War triumphantly announcing, among other victories, that at least 3,000 non-combatant Vendéen women had been drowned at Pont-au-Baux.
The Revolutionaries were drunk with blood, and could not slaughter their brigand prisoners fast enough—women, children, old people, priests, the sick, the infirm. If the prisoners could not walk fast enough to the killing grounds, they were bayoneted in the stomach and left on the ground to be trampled by other prisoners as they bled to death.
General Westermann, one of the Revolution’s most celebrated soldiers, noted with satisfaction that he arrived at Laval on December 14 with his cavalry to see piles of cadavers—thousands of them—heaped up on either side of the road. The bodies were not counted; they were simply dumped after the soldiers had a chance of strip them of any valuables (mainly clothes).
No brigand would be allowed to return home: Westermann and his men slaughtered every possible brigand they could find, until the roads of the area were littered with corpses. December 29 was a particularly successful day, with a bumper crop of 400 Vendéens who were butchered from behind. But General Westermann’s single finest day of slaughter took place at Savenay, on December 21. As he announced, to an appreciative and grateful Committee for Public Safety:
Citizens of the Republic, there is no more Vendée. She has died beneath our sabre of freedom, with her women and children. I have buried her in the woods and marshes of Savenay. Following your orders, I have crushed her children under the hooves of my horses, and massacred her women … who will give birth to no further brigands now. There is not a single prisoner who could criticise my actions—I have exterminated them all….
At Savenay, 3,000 brigands were killed, with another 4,000 taken prisoner to be shot later on.
The Revolutionary generals also decided to end the lives of Vendéens who had stayed home during the rebellion or had somehow managed to return home. As early as December 20 soldiers were combing the countryside in search of candidates for extra-judicial executions. Some compared the process to hunting rabbits: none of the prey was armed. They were never guillotined, because these were mere peasants and artisans; there were few onlookers who would be particularly interested in watching them die.
The Crusade for Liberty
The Vendéen department of the Revolutionary government issued an official proclamation on 12th Frimaire of Year Two of the Revolution (December 2 1793) promising peace and security to the citizens of the region:
It is time…for the French to come together as one and the same family. Your people have disappeared; commerce has been annihilated; farming has withered away thanks to this disastrous war. Your delusions have resulted in many evils. You know it. Even so, the National Convention, which is as great as the people it represents, has forgiven and forgotten the past.
It is decreed by law…that all the people known as rebels in the Vendée … who lay down their arms within a month of the decree, will neither be sought out nor bothered just because they rebelled.
This law is not a fake amnesty. We have come in the name of the National Convention, who put us in charge of executing the law, to bring peace and consolation, speaking the language of clemency and humanity. If the bonds of blood and affection are not entirely broken, if you still love your country, if your return is sincere, our arms are open: let us embrace like brothers.
In fact, it was a fake amnesty. On January 17 1794, General Turreau set out with two armies of six divisions each on a ‘Crusade of Liberty’ to deal with what remained of the brigands. He ordered his lieutenants to spare nobody: women and children were also to be bayoneted in the stomach if there was the slightest hint of suspicion. Houses, farms, villages and thickets were all to be set on fire. Anything that could burn would have to burn. Soldiers in the ‘Infernal Columns’ of the Crusade had explicit instructions to wipe out every last possible trace of resistance or rebellion.
Crusaders for Liberty were relatively sparing in their use of the bayonet. Men, women and children were more often shot, or burned alive in their houses. Some of the Crusading soldiers had the idea of lighting ovens, stoking them and baking Vendéen families in them. Babies were not spared; nor were toddlers or small children. The usual practice was to kill babies in front of their mothers, then kill the mothers. Young girls were often drowned, after first being raped. Widows were usually beaten, insulted and drowned. Though there was no established standard procedure.
Not all brigand corpses were dumped, or left in the ruins of their homes. Many bodies were skinned for their leather. On April 5 1794 at Clisson, General Crouzat’s soldiers burned 150 women alive to extract their fat to use as grease. Though on the whole the soldiers of the Crusade for Liberty were rarely so enterprising: they were well paid, and any profits they made were incidental. The Crusade was expensive: in total as many as 62,000 soldiers took part.
For all the Crusaders’ systematic efficiency there were numerous unforeseen logistical difficulties with their work. Eventually they had to see about burying the bodies of the brigands who had not been drowned. The sheer mass and quantity of corpses posed a potential health risk to General Turreau’s men. Yet many brigands had survived. As the Revolutionary bureaucrat Marie-Pierre-Adrien Francastel later complained: “There are still 20,000 unslit throats in this miserable province.”
Eventually the killing ended. On February 17 1795, what was left of the brigands’ leadership signed a peace treaty with the Revolutionary government, which generously allowed Vendéens who had been rendered destitute by the destruction of their property and livelihoods to join the Revolutionary army; though their numbers would be strictly limited and they would be kept under strict watch in case they had any ideas. The brigands’ rebellion never really ended; Revolutionaries were occasionally compelled to take further action, as at Chanzeaux on April 9 1795, when besieged rebels were burned alive in their church. At least their freedom of religion had been officially restored (January 21 1795).
Reynald Secher estimates that just over 117,000 Vendéens disappeared as a result of the brigands’ rebellion, out of a population of just over 815,000. This amounts to roughly one in seven Vendéens fatally affected by military actions and the Crusade for Liberty. Though some areas lost half their population or more, with notably heavy losses at Cholet, which lost three fifths of its houses as well as the same proportion of its people. Colleges, libraries and schools were destroyed as well as churches, private houses, farms, workshops and places of business. The Vendée lost 18 percent of its private houses; a quarter of the communes in Deux-Sèvres saw the destruction of 50 percent or more of all habitable buildings. Other consequences of the Crusade for Liberty included a widespread epidemic of venereal disease.
Latterly, historians have tried to characterize the extermination of the brigands as a genocide. The jurist Jacques Villemain argues that the Revolutionary government may fairly be charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide. Though this would be anachronistic: the correct term is “populicide,” which was first used by the Revolutionary intellectual François-Noël “Gracchus” Babeuf in his ground-breaking 1794 study On The System of Depopulation, a text that also provides the first detailed account of Jean-Baptiste Carrier’s executions by drowning at Nantes.
A Lasting Legacy
General Turreau’s career demonstrates how easily a thirst for blood can be harnessed to the pursuit of noble ideals. Despite criticism, and a short prison term, he was eventually rewarded for his leadership during the Crusade for Liberty, and spent eight years as Napoleon’s ambassador to the United States (1803–11). His name is inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, at the top of the 15th column, along with those of other heroes who fought for the principles enshrined in the French Revolution’s original motto: “LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY—OR DEATH”.
Jaspreet Singh Boparai is a former academic. He has previously written for Quillette under the pen name “Sandra Kotta.”
Feature image: Le massacre de Machecoul by François Flameng
1 Reynald Secher, Vendée: du genocide au mémoricide: mécanique d’un crime legal contre l’humanité (preface by Gilles-William Goldnadel; afterwords by Hélène Piralian and Stéphane Courtois, Éditions du Cerf 2011) p. 78.
2 An English translation is available: see Reynald Secher, A French Genocide: the Vendée (translated by George Holoch), University of Notre Dame Press 2003. Much of this essay relies on the second French edition of this text (2006).
3 See Secher’s 20,000-word memoir on the subject: La désinformation autour des guerres de Vendée et du genocide vendéen, Atelier Fol’fer (Collection l’Étoile du berger) 2009.
4 See Furet’s Penser la Révolution française, Gallimard 1978 (translated into English by Elborg Forster as Interpreting the French Revolution, Cambridge University Press 1981), as well as his more general essays on historiography in L’Atelier de l’histoire, Flammarion 1982 (English version: In The Workshop of History, translated by Jonathan Mandel, University of Chicago Press 1984).
Principal sources for this essay:
Jean-Joël Brégeon and Gérard Guicheteau. Nouvelle histoire des guerres de Vendée. Paris: Éditions Perrin 2017. 380 pp.
Patrick Buisson. La grande histoire des guerres de Vendée. Preface by Philippe de Villiers. Paris: Éditions Perrin 2017. 300 pp.
Reynald Secher. La Vendée vengé: le genocide franco-français (new edition). Paris: Éditions Perrin 2006. 351 pp.
Jacques Villemain. Vendée 1793-1794: Crime de guerre? Crime contre l’humanité? Génocide? Une étude juridique. Paris: Éditions du Cerf 2017. 305 pp.
The preparation of the synod on the Amazon has provoked many reactions in the Church. Several conservative cardinals and bishops criticized the working document (Instrumentum Laboris) to the point of publicly demanding its suppression.
Professor Matteo D’Amico took the trouble to methodically analyze this text in the Courrier de Rome 1. We reproduce here the main passages from his introduction and conclusion.
* Analysis of Professor Matteo d’Amico (it’s only an extract)
The text of the Instrumentum Laboris […] is divided into three sections :
— the first part entitled “The voice of the Amazon”,
— the second part entitled “Integral Ecology : The Cry of the Earth and of the Poor”,
— and the third part : “Prophetic Church in the Amazon : Challenges and Hopes.”
Before starting a brief analysis of the text, let us first make an observation of the method: one will notice that the choice has been made to follow a plan starting from below, i.e., to arrive at the final document starting from the compilation of the questionnaire and a series of innumerable preparatory meetings.
The Pope has already accustomed us to this method in previous synods, such as the one on the family, and the one on the youth. We are faced with a kind of radical ecclesiastical democracy, with a continual appeal to the people and their solicitation to compile “notebooks of grievances” in which one must say what he expects of the Church, and what changes he expects of it. Basically, it is the method of all revolution, starting precisely from the French Revolution of 1789.
It is a dangerous and completely unnatural method for the Church, and unprecedented in all its history 2. The Catholic Church is essentially “magistra”: it possesses the truth in its entirety; it guards an immutable and clear doctrine that it has the duty to teach all peoples; it is not a mere human agency or institution that must conduct surveys on how to adapt a service to the requirements of its customers. Given the relationship between the Teaching Church (the Pope and the episcopate united to him and subordinate to him) and the Church Taught, it makes no sense to reverse the terms of the relationship and think that the Church Taught should teach the Teaching Church what to do or what to teach. We are facing an antichristic reversal of the right relationship that we should have with the Authority: we will see that this is the heart of the document, and in reality this is the heart of the very personal and heterodox interpretation that the Pontiff gives of the role and duties of the Church.
But it is useful to ask one last question: 34 million people live in the Amazon, of which more than 3 million are Indios, Indian natives (on a territory of 7.5 million square kilometers). It is a derisory number of inhabitants, equivalent to a little more than half of the inhabitants of Italy, but spread over a territory almost 22 times larger than that of Italy.
So why such an emphasis on the fate of Catholicism in this so particular but quantitatively insignificant region, regarding membership to the Catholic Church?
Are there not more urgent problems, such as the very profound de-Christianization of European Catholic States for centuries?
Are there not gigantic problems in the field of bioethics that would require extraordinary synods, such as the problems of abortion, euthanasia, homosexual unions?
Therefore, it does not seem rash to assume that the anxiety for 3 million Amerindians scattered in the vast Amazonian forest has another origin, and comes from ecological strategies put forward by the strong powers in the whole world, and that the Church must be the spokesperson and the sounding board, given its role of moral authority, certainly tamed and controlled but still influential on many, useful to give a varnish of spirituality to the global dictatorship that is slowly taking hold. In short, the Pope is used as a luxury Greta, for the use of dazed peoples who are slowly crushed. […]
It may be necessary, in conclusion, to summarize the structure of the document we have analyzed, highlighting its very serious flaws.
1. Firstly, all the laborious discourse that the Instrumentum Laboris develops is made without ever clarifying the situation of the Church in Amazon: it does not reconstruct its history, nor give data on the distribution, development, or the number of baptisms and marriages. Its style is thus totally abstract and, ultimately, not very serious. One does not understand, by reading this text, what it is talking about and what the situation of Catholicism in the Amazon is.
There is no rigorous and serious evaluation of the moral situation, e.g., respect for the conjugal bond, the frequency of the sacraments, etc. The situation could be good or very bad, but we do not know.
2. The confusion is increased by the fact that it is never clear whether it refers to the evangelization of the already baptized and converted Amerindians, or if it also speaks of the evangelization of Amerindians far from Gospel and who have never received the Good News. The “ancient” culture and beliefs of Amerindian “ancestors” are exalted to such an extent that it seems they are still pagans.
The worldview of the Amazonian Indians is ridiculously exalted as a vision of life of depth, beauty, harmony, and unmatched delicacy: an even superficial knowledge of these peoples suffices to show that it is a world far from being idyllic. The whole text is crossed and made absurd by this ambiguity.
3. The subject of the salvation of souls, eternal life, and the immortality of the soul is never mentioned in any part of the text. We are faced with a Christianity between the sentimental and the ideological, to be corrected to better favor harmony with nature. The text presents a faith completely emptied of its kernel of eschatological and soteriological force.
It never speaks of sin and, at the same time, there is not the slightest allusion to the Cross of Jesus-Christ and the economy of salvation based on the Cross. As sin is completely absent, so too is the theme of salvation absent, and not by chance: what salvation is needed if there is no sin? The very name of Jesus-Christ is mentioned only a very few times, and neither is this a coincidence.
Logically, there is no reference to the life of grace and the need to nourish it with the sacraments and prayer: all life of piety is dissolved in a nebula of continual exaltations of the original spirituality of the Indians of the Amazon, the new “good savages”.
There is […] almost no reference to the Blessed Virgin Mary. And this is very suspicious and raises a lot of doubts about the faith of those who wrote this document.
The document presents an idea of completely false and distorted inculturation, which ends up asking the Church to convert to Native American spirituality.
The aim is to alter the priesthood and the liturgy and to clear the way for ordained women in one way or another (even if one does not yet dare to say openly for what purpose exactly).
The doctrinal and scriptural references are minimal, and we are only faced with a flood of references to the texts of Francis, whose jargon is used shamelessly, repeating like parrots his typical expressions (and especially a “Church that goes forth”).
4. The whole text is frankly modernist in all its aspects, and especially in its way of pleading the cause of the most frantic “dogmatic mobilism”: where doctrine and morality must not be rigid or oppressive, but flexible and able to adapt to the concrete reality and needs of the Amazonian Indians.
The « Instrumentum Laboris » that we have commentated is not a Catholic document, but a breeding ground of heresies. It is a scandalous text, and it is the duty of every Catholic, but especially of every bishop, to publicly condemn it and demand that it be withdrawn, by publicly denouncing its falseness and its pitfalls.
Its application and use during the Synod on the Amazon can only bring about the ruin of the Church in the Amazon, first of all, and worldwide when its application will be expanded.
Translation by A. A.
2 — It must be added that this alleged democracy is actually a manipulation—as in all Masonic regimes. The puppeteers who claim to listen to “the people” have taken all the necessary steps to hear exactly what they want. Augustin Cochin dismantled these manipulative techniques in the unfolding of the French Revolution, and Fr. Calmel repeatedly stressed that they had entered the Church with the the conciliar revolution. (Ed.)
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RCHBISHOP LEFEBVRE’S RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE 4 BISHOPS OF THE SSPX REGARDING ROME
Archbishop Lefebvre’s Recommendations
to the 4 bishops-elect, June 12, 1988
June 12, 1988
“It’s over. The talks between Rome and ourselves are over. The more one thinks about it, the more one realizes their intentions are not good.
Look at what happened to the Traditional leaders, Dom Augustin, Fr. de Blignieres, who went over to Rome and have been swallowed up. Rome wants everything to go Vatican II, while they leave us a little bit of Tradition.
“De Saventhem [then President of the conservative (not Traditional) organization, “Una Voce”] tells me we could still come to an understanding. But I tell him the misunderstanding is not over little things. They are not changing their position. We cannot put ourselves in the hands of those people. We would be fooling ourselves. We do not mean to let ourselves be eaten up.
“The Traditional Benedictine Prior, Dom Gerard, tells me that an agreement with Rome would have opened up for us a huge field for the apostolate. Maybe, but in a world of ambiguity, facing in two directions at once, which would make us go rotten in the end. They insist: “But if you were with Rome, you would have more vocations.” But vocations like that, if you breathed one word against Rome, would make life in our seminaries impossible! And if we “came to an agreement” with Rome on that basis, then the diocesan bishops would say “Then come along and join in the dioceses”, and little by little Tradition would be compromised.
“All the Traditional Sisters and nuns in France are against an agreement. They tell me, “We do not want to be dependent on Cardinal Ratzinger. Imagine if he were to come and give us conferences! He would split us down the middle!”
“As for the risk of some of our priests leaving us if bishops are consecrated, it will be no worse than in 1977, when a block of priests and seminarians walked out of Econe all in one go. They have all now gone over to Rome or dispersed. It is time to take a second decision to face up to this Rome. What else can we do? And if they insist that it is worse this time round, because this time it could mean excommunication, well, I reply that the basic problem remains unchanged: Rome means to exterminate Tradition, while the sedevacantists have no love for us.
“You four will be bishops for the Church, at the service of the Society of St. Pius X, as laid out in the Protocol of May 5. The Society has the standing to deal with Rome. It will be the Superior General’s job, when the time comes, to pick up the threads again with Rome.
“Your function will be to give the sacraments of Holy Orders and Confirmation and to KEEP THE FAITH on the occasion of Confirmations, to protect the flock… You will be an immense support for the Society. Let all four of you be of one mind, without too many personal initiatives, for instance when it comes to requests for ordination. Do not ordain men who are on their own, and if they form part of a community, take a good look at the community.
“Rome wants us to go Conciliar… You will have to make the rounds once a year, once every two years for Confirmations. As for ordinations, I am presently doing 25 to 30 ceremonies a year, but from June 30 onwards, I am not moving from Econe! I will have done my work, by giving to the Society the structure it needs. And then, as I told the Pope, as soon as Tradition comes back to Rome, the problem will be over.
“As for an eventual excommunication, it will mean nothing, because they are not looking out for the wellbeing of the Church. However, excommunicating us will be a nuisance for them. They are trying to get to me by fair means or foul, through de Saventhem, a Czech bishop, and so on and so on. They even wanted to send Mother Theresa of Calcutta. But there is no point in such meetings. It has all been talked out long ago.
“Let anyone just read the letter of the former seminarian of Econe, Carlo, who went over to Rome to set up a conservative organisation there, called “Mater Ecclesix”, who tried to corrupt our seminarians by getting them to leave us, but whose eyes have since been opened wide by the trickery of Rome. In that letter he admits that Rome treats them like outcasts, that they are forced to take off the cassock, that nobody receives them. He has found out what this Rome is like. Rome wants to turn the Society into another “Mater Ecclesiae”. And when the first “Mater Ecclesiae” collapsed, Cardinal Ratzinger rejoiced.
“So why should they keep their word to us? We were protected by God when He allowed the agreement of May 5 to come to naught.”