I think that some day many more people will know about the life and work of the late French Archbp. Marcel Lefebvre. He, a Holy Ghost Father, was a great missionary in Africa whose influence is still strongly felt there. He was also a bishop at the Second Vatican Council, about which he writes in his memoirs.
Oh yes, he also founded the SSPX.
At One Peter Five there is a post about Lefebvre’s view of a powerful influence on Popes John XXIII and Paul VI.
Here is a bit of the post about the liturgical reform with my emphases and comments:
I had the occasion to see for myself what influence Fr. Bugnini had. [Annibale at the gate] One wonders how such a thing as this could have happened at Rome. At that time immediately after the Council, I was Superior General of the Congregation of the Fathers of the Holy Ghost and we had a meeting of the Superiors General at Rome. We had asked Fr. Bugnini [to] explain to us what his New Mass was, for this was not at all a small event. [litotes] Immediately after the Council was heard of the Normative Mass, the New Mass, the Novus Ordo. What did all this mean?
It had not been spoken of at the Council. [The Council Fathers had mandated a few points, but the Consilium (a committee entrusted with the reform) went waaaaay beyond the mandates.] What had happened? And so we asked Fr. Bugnini to come and explain himself to the 84 Superiors General who were united together, amongst whom I consequently was.
Fr. Bugnini, with much confidence, explained what the Normative Mass would be; this will be changed, that will be changed and we will put in place another Offertory. We will be able to reduce the communion prayers. We will be able to have several different formats for the beginning of Mass. We will be able to say the Mass in the vernacular tongue. We looked at one another saying to ourselves: “But it’s not possible!”
He spoke absolutely, as if there had never been a Mass in the Church before him. He spoke of his Normative Mass as of a new invention. [Keep in mind that Bugnini had been given the heave-ho by the Sacred Congregation for Rites from his position at the Lateran University. From that point onward, he had it out for just about everyone and everything. And the 1955 changes to Holy Week was just the warm-up. Who he was and what he was about was clear.]
Personally I was myself so stunned that I remained mute, although I generally speak freely when it is a question of opposing those with whom I am not in agreement. I could not utter a word. How could it be possible for this man before me to be entrusted with the entire reform of the Catholic Liturgy, the entire reform of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, of the sacraments, of the Breviary, and of all our prayers? Where are we going? Where is the Church going?
Two Superiors General had the courage to speak out. One of them asked Fr. Bugnini: “Is this an active participation, that is a bodily participation, that is to say with vocal prayers, or is it a spiritual participation? In any case you have so much spoken of the participation of the faithful that it seems you can no longer justify Mass celebrated without the faithful. Your entire Mass has been fabricated around the participation of the faithful. We Benedictines celebrate our Masses without the assistance of the faithful. Does this mean that we must discontinue our private Masses, since we do not have faithful to participate in them?”
I repeat to you exactly that which Fr. Bugnini said. I have it still in my ears, so much did it strike me: “To speak truthfully we didn’t think of that,” he said! [I wonder.]
Afterwards another arose and said: “Reverend Father, you have said that we will suppress this and we will suppress that, that we will replace this thing by that and always by shorter prayers. I have the impression that your new Mass could be said in ten or twelve minutes or at the most a quarter of an hour. This is not reasonable. This is not respectful towards such an act of the Church.” Well, this is what he replied: “We can always add something.” Is this for real? I heard it myself. If somebody had told me the story I would perhaps have doubted it, now I heard it myself. [Remember what Joseph Ratzinger said: an artificial creation. No wonder such a shock slammed the Church and wounded her for these many decades.]
Afterwards, at the time at which this Normative Mass began to be put into practice, I was so disgusted that we met with some priests and theologians in a small meeting. From it came the “Brief Critical Study,” which was taken to Cardinal Ottaviani. I presided [at] that small meeting. We said to ourselves: “We must go and find the Cardinals. We cannot allow this to happen without reacting.”
So I myself went to find the Secretary of State, Cardinal Cicognani, and I said to him: “Your Eminence, you are not going to allow this to get through, are you? It’s not possible. What is this New Mass? It is a revolution in the Church, a revolution in the Liturgy.”
Cardinal Cicognani, who was the Secretary of State of Pope Paul VI, placed his head between his hands and said to me: “Oh Monseigneur, I know well. I am in full agreement with you; but what can I do? Fr. Bugnini goes in to the office of the Holy Father and makes him sign what he wants.” It was the Cardinal Secretary of State who told me this! Therefore the Secretary of State, the number two person in the Church after the Pope himself, was placed in a position of inferiority with respect to Fr. Bugnini. He could enter into the Pope’s office when he wanted and make him sign what he wanted.
Does not such a professed sense of powerlessness (and paralysis) – as described here with reference to Cardinal Cicognani – remind us of our own current situation, where we are told my high-ranking prelates and even prefects of congregations that they cannot do anything about the revolutionary things that are happening in the Vatican? Here it might be worthwhile to add another example given by Archbishop Lefebvre:
A third fact, of which I was myself the witness, with respect to Fr. Bugnini is also astonishing. When permission was about to be given for Communion in the hand (what a horrible thing!), I said to myself that I could not sit by without saying anything. I must go and see Cardinal [Benno Walter] Gut – a Swiss – who was Prefect of the Congregation for Worship. I therefore went to Rome, where Cardinal Gut received me in a very friendly way and immediately said to me: “I’m going to make my second-in- charge, Archbishop Antonini, come that he also might hear what you have to say.”
As we spoke I said: “Listen, you who are responsible for the Congregation for Worship, are you going to approve this decree which authorizes Communion in the hand? Just think of all the sacrileges, which it is going to cause. Just think of the lack of respect for the Holy Eucharist, which is going to spread throughout the entire Church. You cannot possibly allow such a thing to happen. Already priests are beginning to give Communion in this manner. It must be stopped immediately. And with this New Mass they always take the shortest canon, that is the second one, which is very brief”
At this, Cardinal Gut said to Archbishop Antonini, “See, I told you this would happen and that priests would take the shortest canon so as to go more quickly and finish the Mass more quickly.”
Afterwards Cardinal Gut said to me: “Monseigneur, if one were to ask my opinion (when he said “one” he was speaking of the Pope, since nobody was over him except the Pope), but I’m not certain it is asked of me (don’t forget that he was Prefect for the Congregation for Worship and was responsible for everything which was related to Worship and to the Liturgy!), but if the Pope were to ask for it, I would place myself on my knees, Monseigneur, before the Pope and I would say to him: ‘Holy Father, do not do this; do not sign this decree.’ I would cast myself on my knees, Monseigneur. But I do not know that I will be asked. For it is not I who command here.”
This I heard with my own ears. He was making allusion to Bugnini, who was the third in the Congregation for Worship. There was first of all Cardinal Gut, then Archbishop Antonini and then Fr. Bugnini, President of the Liturgical Commission. You ought to have heard that! Alas, you can now understand my attitude when I am told: you are a dissident and [a] disobedient rebel.
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