Excommunication: Archbishop Lefebvre & Bishop Pat Buckley… Spot the Difference!

Excommunication: Archbishop Lefebvre & Bishop Pat Buckley… Spot the Difference!

As promised in our July Newsletter – which you can download from our website here –  we are launching a brief discussion on the matter of two prominent 20th century excommunications: that of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Founder of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX) and Bishop Pat Buckley…  A brief overview of each situation follows: 

Archbishop Lefebvre…

From the SSPX website…

Following the repeated requests of several young men seeking a traditional priestly formation, Archbishop Lefebvre opened a new seminary in Econe, Switzerland. The local ordinary, Bishop Francois Charriere, gave his blessing for this work, and on November 1, 1970 the Priestly Society of St. Pius X was born with the approval of the Church.

A brief account of the history of the SSPX can be read here. One detail, however, should be added to that general account, as it pertains primarily to Archbishop Lefebvre’s involvement in the Coetus Internationalis Patrum. During the Second Vatican Council, an important friendship developed between Marcel Lefebvre and Antonio de Castro Mayer, bishop of Campos (Brazil). These two shared ideas at the various Coetus functions and kept in contact long after the close of the council. They both refused to implement the modernist teachings of Vatican II and in 1983 jointly authored an open letter to the pope lamenting the numerous errors which seemed to infect Rome. When Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated four new bishops in 1988, Bishop de Castro Mayer assisted as co-consecrator.  To read more, click here

From The Remnant website…

Sadly, in the current catastrophe that is the Post-Conciliar Church, some blinded men, instead of joining the fight against the heresy, apostasy, and de facto schism around us, insist on melodramatically condemning, with the most condescending and arrogant invective, the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Although any excommunication that was previously levied against the living bishops of the SSPX has long since been remitted, some hardened Neo-Catholics insist that Abp. Lefebvre himself remains perpetually excommunicated, one Neo-Catholic priest even going so far as to presume his damnation. Thus the same Neo-Catholics who tell us that the Church’s perennial teachings on religious liberty, ecumenism, and collegiality are confined to past times and changeable, treat a 1988 letter from a pope as if its infallibility ranked somewhere between Dogma and Holy Writ.

The 1988 letter I am referring to, of course, is John Paul II’s Ecclesia Dei adflictaTwenty-six years later, Neo-Catholics cling to this letter as it represents, in their minds anyway, the one infallible document that ensures Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre can never be rehabilitated or declared a Saint in the future. As usual, the irony of the Neo-Catholics, on the one hand preaching the Mass of Pius V is changeable at the whim of future popes, while on the other hand preaching John Paul II’s excommunication is certainly valid and binding for all time, escapes them entirely.  To read the entire article on The Remnant website, click here

Bishop Pat Buckley…

Google Father or Bishop Pat Buckley and the description “rebel priest” comes up… Here, in his own words, is why he was dismissed from his parish


Later, Fr Buckley was consecrated a bishop, as reported in the Irish Times: 

“The rebel cleric, Bishop Pat Buckley, has excommunicated himself from the Catholic Church by being consecrated as a bishop, a Hierarchy spokesman has said.

The church spokesman said the ordination of Bishop Buckley by the Tridentine bishop, Dr Michael Cox, was “valid but unlawful” (under Canon law).”  To read rest of this report click  here


The adjective often used to describe both bishops is “rebel”.  Archbishop Lefebvre is well known for his work to preserve Catholic Tradition against the innovations following Vatican II, while Bishop Buckley is well known for his dissent from Catholic teachings, such as the prohibition on divorce and remarriage.  Archbishop Lefebvre fought to keep the Church within Catholic Tradition, while Bishop Buckley seeks to achieve changes in the Church which will meet the perceived needs of contemporary Catholics living in a “liberal” society.  

So, check out the headline – IS there any difference between the two excommunications?   

Comments (15)

  • editor

    Just a reminder about our key House Rules before commenting on this thread. Please stick to the issues, and avoid all temptation to make hostile personal remarks, whether about the two subjects of the thread, or about other bloggers. Avoid crudities – not fitting talk for Christians, as St Paul teaches.

    Robust discussion is, of course encouraged, but always within the above boundaries.

    Thank you, one and all, for your co-operation…

    July 22, 2020 at 8:36 am
  • Josephine

    This is an interesting topic. I know there are people who think Archbishop Lefebvre died excommunicated which means he has to be in Hell, but this is not the teaching of the Church. I just checked it at Catholic Answers and found this explanation which I think makes sense:

    Bishop Buckley seems to have been opposed to Catholic teachings like divorce/remarriage and then when suspended, got himself consecrated bishop, which is a different matter IMHO.

    The one bishop took action to save the Mass at a time of crisis, by consecrating new bishops (allowed in an emergency by Canon Law) while the other seems to have got himself made a bishop in order to change Church teachings.

    The first reason is valid, but not the second, surely. I think I’ve spotted the difference, LOL!

    July 22, 2020 at 11:16 am
  • Lily

    It’s not difficult to spot the difference between the two excommunications, at all.

    The Prophets of old were prophets because they were calling the people back into line, they’d go off on their own, forgetting about God’s law, and a prophet would remind them of the consequences of abandoning God like this. There was never a prophet who called on the people to change God’s law. That is what Bishop Buckley is doing. I’ve seen him on TV, and he has a great sense of humour, but he’s gone off the rails as far as the faith is concerned, sorry to say.

    Archbishop Lefebvre was calling the Church back to what it had always believed, away from novelties, especially the new Mass and ecumenism. That is the same vocation as the OT prophets, calling for a return to the truth – there’s no call coming from God to change the Church. He knew what he was doing when he set it up and gave it the teachings needed for salvation. Jesus explicitly taught that divorce and remarriage was opposed to God’s will. The Church cannot change that, so Bishop Buckley is wasting his time and leading people astray on this issue.

    July 22, 2020 at 12:22 pm
    • Fidelis


      I agree with you about the work of a prophet being to call the human race to repentance and back to living in God’s good grace.

      That can be said of Archbishop Lefebvre but not of Bishop Buckley.

      July 22, 2020 at 1:12 pm
    • Nicky


      That’s a very important point about the OT prophets. They called the Chosen People to repent and warned them that God would punish if they kept doing evil. You can see that in what Archbishop Lefebvre was doing, even if you don’t agree with what he did. Bishop Buckley is looking forward, not back – he is about putting right what Jesus got wrong, LOL! Jesus said adultery was a sin, but that is out of step with modern thinking, so it has to change. It’s such an obvious heresy that you wonder he can’t see that himself.

      July 22, 2020 at 3:54 pm
  • Fidelis

    Bishop Pat Buckley was a dissident priest from very early in his career. He is also gay and lives in a civil partnership with another man. I found this information on a gay website that came up when I Googled to learn more about him – ” On 10 October 1999 he publicly confirmed his homosexuality.[1] and takes a liberal stance on both moral issues and theology. In his autobiography, Buckley stated that he believes it may be possible for the Devil himself to be redeemed.”
    So, there’s hope for me, yet, LOL!

    July 22, 2020 at 1:10 pm
  • Athanasius

    The contrast between the two prelates could not be greater, as the introductory piece to this thread clearly indicates.

    Archbishop Lefebvre was a holy prelate of the Church, called by Pius XII “the best of my apostolic delegates”. His life was one of prayer, penance and self denial in the missions of Africa. The Church and the sacred priesthood were his life’s breath. When he consecrated four bishops in 1988 he made it absolutely clear that these were purely to ordain Traditional priests for the preservation of the Traditional Mass as well as to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation at a time of destructive Modernism in the Church and persecution of Traditional Catholics.

    These four newly consecrated bishops were given no ecclesial jurisdiction, i.e. diocesan authority, which privilege is reserved to the Pope alone and which, if conferred by another, would represent the setting up of a parallel hierarchy, a sin that merits real excommunication. By publicly declaring that the new bishops had no jurisdiction, Archbishop Lefebvre was making clear his fidelity to the See of Peter, only doing what was absolutely essential before God for the preservation of the faith during a time great crisis in the Church. In his own words, he was obeying God rather than man when he took this crucial step to consecrate bishops, a step he delayed for a very long time until his age and declining health forced the issue. This is why he is still thought highly of by prelates in Rome, one in particular writing a few years back of “the fecundity of his life and love of the Church”.

    Bishop Pat Buckley on the other hand is a homosexual priest who lives with man in a “civil partnership”, he is HIV positive, conducts LBG weddings, promotes homosexuality as morally licit and agitates for a married clergy. He has a criminal record, having settled privately with the courts on a guilty plea for taking money to conduct fake immigrant marriages. His consecration was at the hands of a bishop of the “Thuc line”, that is, a lineage of bishops originating from Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc Pierre Martin of Vietnam who was raised to the episcopate in 1938 by Pius XI but who went rogue after Vatican II.

    Archbishop Thuc was first excommunicated for consecrating bishops illicitly in Spain, the infamous nutcases at Palmar de Troya who ended up with their own Pope, a blind man called Clemente. Thuc very quickly repented his illicit action in Spain and Rome lifted the excommunication. The reconciliation wasn’t to last long, however, as Archbishop Thuc shortly afterwards went on something of a spree of illicit consecrations. Here’s a telling line I lifted from another site that describes his lunacy perfectly:

    “Msgr. Thuc’s lineage includes the broadest conceivable spectrum of theologies likely ever to be held by men all claiming to possess valid “Catholic” priestly and episcopal orders that are derived from a single prelate alive in their lifetimes. The spectrum ranges from the head of a French Satanist sect all the way to the strictest (read sedevacantist, my emphasis) of Traditional Roman Catholics.”

    From this it is clear that Archbishop Thuc was not remotely of the same mind or motive as Archbishop Lefebvre. Thuc’s consecrations were legion and theologically varied, Archbishop Lefebvre’s were restricted, measured and of utter necessity for the survival of the Traditional Mass and priesthood. Indeed, it is thanks to Archbishop Lefebvre’s actions in 1988 that we have today the Fraternity of St. Peter, the ICK, the Good Shepherd Institute, Traditional Catholic parishes, etc., none of which would exist if it had not been for this exceptionally holy and faithful prelate.

    Against such holiness and fidelity, Bishop Buckley’s sinful rebellion against all that is holy comes fully into the light.

    Archbishop Lefebvre faithfully obeyed the law of God and the authorities of the Church for the entire 60 years of his priesthood. Bishop Buckley serves the flesh and demands that God and the Church alter the divine law accordingly, thereby making himself his own god. This is the rebellion of Lucifer, nothing more or less, and he and his cohorts will perish eternally unless they repent of this wicked rebellion and slavery to “disordered passions”.

    To quote St. Paul: Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves. Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
    For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error. (Romans I, 24-28).

    The words “God gave them up” is interpreted as meaning that God had withdrawn all grace from these people because of their vile and consistent infidelity. In other words, He blinded them to their shameful sins and their dead conscience.
    Incidentally, it seems Bishop Buckley is very forthright in demanding that Pope Francis expose clerical child abusers in the Church, and that he also take steps to prevent non-homosexual seminarians being bullied by their homosexual superiors.

    What he refers to here is what Pope Benedict XVI rightly called out as “the filth in the Church”. The problem for Buckley is that, according to St. Paul and the Church’s moral teaching, he and his ordained like are equally part of the problem. It’s utter hypocrisy.

    Ultimately, it matters little what Bishop Buckley has to say about the Church since he is no longer a member of it, his oratory and clerical garb notwithstanding. Hence this is my one and only contribution on this man and his followers, for they do not represent anything remotely holy and they will, as I have said, assuredly perish in eternity unless they repent of their “filth” and rebellion against God and His Spotless Bride, the Church.

    July 22, 2020 at 1:32 pm
    • Michaela


      You just saved me a whole lot of work – I was about to search for Bishop Pat Buckley because it’s years since I heard anything about him. I only remember the news about the immigrant marriages. I didn’t know he was gay or in a relationship.
      So it’s clear then that there is a huge difference between the two excommunications.

      I suggest we pray for him. I forget when he was ordained, but probably soon after the Council, so in a way he didn’t stand a chance.

      July 22, 2020 at 2:59 pm
      • Athanasius


        I am perfectly willing to pray for him but the history of fallen clergy, especially those who have fallen into “unnatural” sins of the flesh, is that they rarely repent. It’s as though a particular blindness descends upon them, as St. Paul indicates, which darkens the mind and blunts the conscience so that they blame God and His Church rather than their own shameful behaviour for their unhappy state. So what I’ll be praying for is a very rare miracle of divine grace and mercy.

        July 22, 2020 at 3:26 pm
      • Michaela


        I take your point. It’s very hard, though, to think anyone is beyond repentance. I know that’s not exactly what you mean, but it’s a terrible thought that any heart could be so hardened, that they would not see anything wrong in their immoral behaviour. That really does make it virtually impossible to say “mea culpa” – and if someone is living in a homosexually active relationship and thinks it is perfectly natural, it means they are not confessing it and trying to overcome the temptation. It really does put souls in serious danger of being lost. It’s horrifying to think of it.

        July 22, 2020 at 3:35 pm
      • Athanasius


        Pride is a terrible thing, often leading to final impenitence. Lucifer, the father of pride, is the classic example. There are many people in this world who choose quite deliberately to reject God and His law, some even going so far as to embrace Satan.

        We are all ultimately liable in this life to fall into such apostasy, so I am not writing this in a spirit of superiority to sinners, as I am a sinner myself. I’m just pointing out the tragic truth that many don’t want God, they want only the indulgence of a this life and whatever pleasures they can get from it.

        July 22, 2020 at 4:00 pm
  • Nicky


    It’s not horrifying for them because they don’t believe in Hell. Bishop Buckley thinks even the devil could be redeemed, so there’s no fear of eternal suffering in Hell-fire if that’s the case.

    July 22, 2020 at 3:43 pm
  • RCAVictor

    “…the Church should be answerable to somebody.”

    That is Buckley’s closing line in the video. I don’t have any words to describe the level of hubris and blindness required for a Catholic priest to make a statement like that. All I can say is that he is possessed with the spirit of the Antichrist.

    As for Abp. Lefebvre, I believe he was possessed with precisely the opposite: with the spirit of humble fidelity to Tradition, to Our Lord, to the priesthood, to all things sacred and Catholic. Pardon the liberties with I Corinthians 11:23, but he delivered unto his flock that which he received from the Lord.

    I hope there are no Marxist termites out there trying to make a favorable comparison between these two men.

    July 22, 2020 at 4:18 pm
    • Josephine

      RCA Victor,

      I think that is the way a lot of people think these days – they think the Church was man made and so it has to be accountable to someone on earth. They don’t say who, though, that’s the problem. Luther made the same mistake and it just keeps repeating itself, only with difference priests taking Luther’s role as reformer. It’s always the same reasoning, change the Church’s teaching, just different priests. Luther opened a can of worms.

      July 22, 2020 at 5:19 pm
  • editor

    Thank you, one and all, for your contributions to this thread. We seem to have covered the key points, so, in the absence of any dissenting voices, I’ll close this thread now.

    I had expected some of the Bishop Buckley bloggers to join us here, but it turns out they’ve had their own thread, discussing (drum roll)… Catholic Truth! I made a few contributions there before getting caught up in matters which took me well away from my desk for much of the evening.

    Again, thank you all for your thought-provoking comments.

    July 23, 2020 at 12:17 am

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