Fr. Christian Thouvenot, Secretary General of the FSSPX, discusses the differences and astounding similarities between the two accounts of a meeting which took place during the "Hot Summer of 1976".
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.
Archbishop Lefebvre’s reaction, his work of priestly formation faithful to what the Church had always done, his intention to serve her by preparing for the future and building upon the rock of Tradition, and his vigorous denunciation of errors were clearly not understood.
Revealing and truly paradoxical is the fact that it was Archbishop Lefebvre who suggested dialogue and sought for solutions while Paul VI, the artisan of dialogue left and right, demanded the strictest submission and obedience.