REVIEW: “Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy” by Yves Chiron

As the new year begins, I’ll point to a new and interesting book about an infamous figure in the Church in the 20th century.

Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy by Yves Chiron.

US HERE – UK HERE

This is the English translation of the French original.

The forward is by Alcuin Reid.   Reid is very careful to point out Chiron’s objectivity.   However, you can glean from the beginnings of the book that Bugnini – infamously controversial – while he wasn’t guilty of some things said about him – was a master manipulator of structures of power and we not above playing fast and loose with the truth.

Reid adds some information of his own, including an intriguing excerpt from Louis Bouyer about how Bugnini manipulated – even lied to – Paul VI and also the Consilium, telling each that the other was all for what (Bugnini’s agenda) was being proposed.

Reid includes a bit he learned from the late, great Card. Stickler about whether or not Bugnini really was a Freemason, often alleged about him.

“No,” the Cardinal replied, “it was something far worse.”

On the other hand, it seems that Bugnini tried to intervene in the case of Archbp. Lefebvre, arguing for greater patience from Paul VI.  And, counter-intuitively, Bugnini argued for greater permissions for the use of the pre-Conciliar form of Mass, along the lines of the Heenan permission.

I look forward to drill farther into this book.  I’m a couple chapters in, past his early life.  It has already given me food for thought.

The truth is more interesting than useful rumors that can be used as weapons.

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26 Responses to REVIEW: “Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy” by Yves Chiron

  1. RichR says:

    Bottom line: does Bugnini’s credibility nullify or validate the reforms of the liturgy promulgated by Paul VI? No. I say this because there are many in the church who devour this kind of stuff NOT to contextualize complex events the the Church involving many individuals, but rather in an effort to forward their own agendas and validate their own sensibilities. If Bugnini was a saint, it wouldn’t validate the feints, nor would we have grounds to reject the reforms if he was a scoundrel. The rites were promulgated by the Pope on his authority. That’s one reason Christ gave us a Church: so we can be protected from doubt and error. While I prefer the EF, I hope that works like this will not be twisted by traddies to create doubt in the eyes of many mainstream parishes who have found a home in the OF Mass. I know Fr Z is not one of those deceivers, but I read enough to know they are out there.

  2. RichR says:

    *calidate the reforms (not feints)

  3. RichR says:

    {sigh} auto correct. *validate

  4. Prayerful says:

    I read somewhere that Mgsr Bugnini granted a Congregration of Rites indult (which was nominally limited to one of the iterations of the post V2 ‘transitional Missal’) to Fr Charles-Roux (best known as chaplain to Mel Gibson during production of ‘Passion of the Christ’) in a cheery way, almost somewhat hurt that Fr Charles-Roux had to ask. Mgsr Bugnini also requested translations of Lutheran books when working with Concilium on the ‘New Order.’ Perhaps he was an indifferentist, a big club in the post V2 era.

    Anyhow, if there had not been a near de-facto suppression of the Mass of Ages, if Paul’s ‘Missale Romanum’ inaugurating the NOM which seemed not to demand suppression but implicit co-existence, Catholicism would have been spared much bitterness.

  5. VP says:

    Is Yves Chiron related to Bugatti Chiron?

    Fascinating book.

  6. Eric says:

    I read it over the holidays. Good book. It took a while though, getting continually frustrated when one is reading page by page how it all played out. Other than what Fr. Z pointed out, I also noted how Chiron does not believe he had much say so on the preV2 Holy Week reforms, which I had always thought his extensive fingerprints were on as well. I thought a lot of the other information in the book was already known and treated more extensively elsewhere. Chiron’s biography of St. Pius X is excellent and I enjoyed it much more.

  7. Pius Admirabilis says:

    What does the Cardinal mean with “something far worse”? Reading that, I immediately thought of Satanism.

  8. originalsolitude says:

    Bugnini did not stand in the way of the restoration of the rite of consecration of virgins to laywomen, the original recipients of the consecration from the early centuries. In 1950, the consecration was sadly restricted to nuns. In 1970, the rite was unexpectedly restored to laywomen; it was not envisaged by Vatican II, which required only its revision. The ordo virginum is now present all over the world with around 5,000 consecrated virgins. The Holy Spirit works in strange ways.

  9. Gaetano says:

    So if Card. Stickler believed Bugnini was “something far worse” than a Freemason, what was he?

  10. excalibur says:

    “No,” the Cardinal replied, “it was something far worse.”

    Okay …

    Far worse would be demonic.

    Our Lady of Fatima pray for us.

    JMJ

  11. CharlesG says:

    Bugnini’s own book, “The Reform of the Liturgy”, is a good source of information of the changes to the liturgy made by the Consilium, and the process. Well worth reading whether you like or detest the man. I’ll have to check out this new book.

  12. HvonBlumenthal says:

    RRich
    There is more than one reason for digging into the motives and methods of Bugnini. There are many Catholics who still have an unquestioning belief in the existence of the elusive “fruits of Vatican II” but who might become more critical and discerning if they realised that it was, in effect, greatest confidence trick in history and that Bugnini was the conman extraordinaire who set it up.

    Regarding whether he was a freemason, I have never found the supposed direct evidence convincing, but as an ex freemason and former Master of four lodges myself I can say that the underlying liturgical approach to the Novus Ordo which he designed corresponds exactly to the underlying method of masonic ritual. Im sure that other ex masons who read this will agree with me.

  13. Fr Richard Duncan CO says:

    I’ve just finished reading M Chiron’s book (in two days!), and I have to say that it is something of a disappointment. Anyone expecting a full length biography of Bugnini will not find it here. That is not M Chiron’s fault. Bugnini’s (very loyal) secretary has held onto his personal papers, doubtless for fear that any biographer will not be sympathetic towards someone for whom he has nothing but admiration. This means that the first (and formative) period in Bugnini’s life is glossed over, and what we get is a reasonably thorough account of his time at, or near, the centre of the post-war liturgical reform. Bugnini emerges from the early period of his life as someone committed to the radical wing of the Liturgical Movement, but we don’t really find out how and why he adopted this position, which is all the more surprising, since he appears to have had a conventionally pious upbringing.

    However, what does emerge clearly from M Chiron’s book is Bugnini’s deviousness. He realised only too well that if the full extent of his radical agenda became known, then people (especially the Council Fathers at Vatican II) would be frightened off, so he limited himself to innocuous statements of principle, which were consistent with the general thrust of the Liturgical Movement, but which were also sufficiently ambiguous to enable him to claim that the later, and more radical, interpretations of those statements, had been implied ab initio. What also emerges (I regret to say) is the extent to which Pope St Paul VI was committed to the reform. If one had only read Louis Bouyer’s Memoirs, one would gain the impression that Paul VI was a conservatively inclined innocent who had the wool pulled over his eyes by Bugnini. M Chiron makes clear the extent to which they were partners and collaborators.

    We learn little that we didn’t already know about whether Bugnini was, or was not, a Freemason. M Chiron simply recounts the claim and the counter claim without analysing it in detail. Here, as elsewhere, M Chiron’s account is all the more persuasive for not being polemical in tone. The bare facts speak for themselves.

    In short, this is an important, if somewhat disappointing, account of Bugnini’s career at the centre of the liturgical reform, and a fuller account of the Abp of Diocletiana remains to be written.

  14. Fr Richard Duncan CO says:

    I’ve just finished reading M Chiron’s book (in two days!), and I have to say that it is something of a disappointment. Anyone expecting a full length biography of Bugnini will not find it here. That is not M Chiron’s fault. Bugnini’s (very loyal) secretary has held onto his personal papers, doubtless for fear that any biographer will not be sympathetic towards someone for whom he has nothing but admiration. This means that the first (and formative) period in Bugnini’s life is glossed over, and what we get is a reasonably thorough account of his time at, or near, the centre of the post-war liturgical reform. Bugnini emerges from the early period of his life as someone committed to the radical wing of the Liturgical Movement, but we don’t really find out how and why he adopted this position, which is all the more surprising, since he appears to have had a conventionally pious upbringing.

    However, what does emerge clearly from M Chiron’s book is Bugnini’s deviousness. He realised only too well that if the full extent of his radical agenda became known, then people (especially the Council Fathers at Vatican II) would be frightened off, so he limited himself to innocuous statements of principle, which were consistent with the general thrust of the Liturgical Movement, but which were also sufficiently ambiguous to enable him to claim that the later, and more radical, interpretations of those statements, had been implied ab initio. What also emerges (I regret to say) is the extent to which Pope St Paul VI was committed to the reform. If one had only read Louis Bouyer’s Memoirs, one would gain the impression that Paul VI was a conservatively inclined innocent who had the wool pulled over his eyes by Bugnini. M Chiron makes clear the extent to which they were partners and collaborators.

    We learn little that we didn’t already know about whether Bugnini was, or was not, a Freemason. M Chiron simply recounts the claim and the counter claim without analysing it in detail. Here, as elsewhere, M Chiron’s account is all the more persuasive for not being polemical in tone. The bare facts speak for themselves.

    In short, this is an important, if somewhat disappointing, account of Bugnini’s career at the centre of the liturgical reform, and a fuller account of the Abp of Diocletiana remains to be written.

  15. Kerry says:

    HvonBlumenthal, what are the “underlying method of masonic ritual” to which there is exact correspondence? Thanks

  16. Hidden One says:

    Truth is stranger than fiction. And so often vastly more inconvenient.

    Fr. Z, I hope you will provide at least one more post on this important work at least after you finish it if not also while you work your way through it.

  17. HvonBlumenthal says:

    Kerry

    Thanks for asking. The chief principle in both masonic ritual and the Novus Ordo is to achieve the maximum liturgical effect which is possible given the widest possible divergence of opinion of the paricipants, by the use of terminology which is either sufficiently ambiguous or sufficiently vague or sufficiently unexceptionable that each can take it to mean something that accords with his personal religious position.

    If you look at masonic ritual, the part pelagian, part gnostic message, that salvation is possible through good works and the acquisition of knowledge, is very firmly conveyed as is the view that all religions are equally valid. Yet nowhere is it actually stated so plainly that a Christian is likely to take offence unless he is extremely sensitive to doctrinal nuances.

    Something very similar is very apparent in the Novus Ordo. The message that this is a commemoration and not a sacrifice is very well conveyed, even though the language of sacrifice is still there in places. But by shifting the emphasis from priest to people (by a shared confession, a great song and dance at pax tecum, and by subtle disconnections from sacrificial language (no prayers at the foot of the altar, a reinterpretation of magnum mysterium, a diffent selection of readings and other details (hundreds of them) the cumulative effect is a staggering blow agains the theology of transibstantiation, apostolic succession and tge communion of saints.

    All of which makes Protestants feel at ease, just as they do in lodges.

  18. robtbrown says:

    Granted Bugnini’s role in the deformation of the liturgy, it’s a stretch to scapegoat him. His ideology was not unknown to Paul VI when he was given power in liturgical reform.

  19. HighMass says:

    Montini (Paul IV) was a liberal. I believe I read he fell out of favor with Pope Pius XII and Roncalli. Why Montini invited him back is beyond understanding. Montini had the illusion if the Mass was made more protestant, everyone would come back in droves to the Catholic Church. Instead Bugini and Montini, emptied the pews.

    It Breaks my heart that the reform of the reform (Benedict XVI) lost momentum stepped down, obviously the TLM is no friend of Francis’s. On the positive, the new generation of Priests are taking the reform of the reform to task, in some area’s of the globe.

    Last thought, Why has the N.O. been reformed, prayers at foot of the Altar, longer prayers during the Holy Mass been implemented? Priests facing East instead of us, etc. Mother Mary we implore your intersession.

  20. HighMass says:

    Mistake, Montini did not fall out of favor with Roncalli, Bugini did, sorry for the error

  21. Nandarani says:

    Hvon Blumenthal, if I am in my ‘what I learned when doing research on what happened to the Church’ mode, your post is in accord with the kind of thinking I found I was using – as someone who is the granddaughter of a Lutheran minister/seminary professor who converted into the Novus Ordo, and found it to be less Catholic than the Episcopal Church in which raised. I actually approached the Church three times, the first was before RCIA and I had individual instruction from a priest in NYC. When I ‘took’ RCIA I found I was converting into a Church I no longer felt as enthusiastic about – referring only to the manifestations of it since 1958.

    So…. I have learned a lot in the last several years and a lot of it is merely depth perception (may I call your post that – depth perception) of what is commonly understood one way and in truth, was steered in that direction very clearly and with determination, malice aforethought – the entire “Second” Vatican Council.

    I do not attend the Novus Ordo mass here in Honolulu, where no Latin mass exists, what to speak of any service without Vatican II reforms. This is my first post; I see I am on a Novus Ordo blog and am glad to be… but also glad to find someone, Mr. Blumenthal, who appears to be skeptical of Vatican II itself. In researching, the people to whom I responded, since I love the Traditional Church immensely…. are skeptical of the entire Vatican II. I found born Catholics certain sedevacantism was the best solution and giving good reason, including justification for that position in doctrine. All I know is that when I tried accommodation I didn’t like the service – not one bit of it – not the music, not the English, not the female servers, or presider’s chair, etc. And now I know the deliberate nature of the entire “Vatican II” thrust… beginning from 1958.

    Maybe it is easier for an outsider simply to skip over what is in place now, to return to the original Cburch – no sense of loyalty encourages me to accept what pains, or give financial support to it.

    Paul VI: he is someone I have no trust in whatsoever based on his personal conduct and private history. More to the point about trust: he considered it very important to revise the rites of ordination and consecration. That: for no reason except: the power and exactitude of words. Words MEAN something. Traditionalists contend that changing those rites changes everything with regard to validity of the sacraments except baptism. I am not certain that it does or rather… I believe the Church is stronger than scheming even to castrate the priesthood, which Paul VI intended many would contend – but only know that I personally want the original Church… and it is not in the Our Lady of Peace Cathedral here in Honolulu… Not at all! High altar abandoned, table smack in the middle of the nave, and female servers under both species. I found another person with a strong sensus Catholicus who also converted and left… and that person had even less of a Christian background than I did.

    So here I am… getting mentally geared up to relocate thousands of miles for the sacraments and realizing that the Sacred Heart will accept all of us at death except those who truly deserve to be rejected…. and meanwhile, I keep myself pretty aloof a lot of the time from controversy… because it is so distracting to my spiritual life. Everyone is doing the best they can… except the Pope… or perhaps, he is, but for the opposite of good ends. Imagine refusing continually to genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament. Canon212 has posted recently an article with several recent photographs of the pope with clergy at what seems to be a high mass: He is the only one not genuflecting.

    And this isn’t the only offensive thing he does; he speaks words about Our Lady and they are Awful – implying that she is just an ordinary female. Articles have been written just on that subject. They come out every time he says something about Our Lady, it seems. And as a protestant it has taken me a while, and many rosaries via the wonderful bead by bead method of S. Louis de Montfor, to become sensitive to Our Lady! I guess I have become so though! I do wonder whether anyone on this site uses four decades. What a travesty in my opinion – and analyses of that four decade result have been made! By some means of counting the new total, a fraught number is obtained: 666, I think it was. I remember learning about that several years ago.

    It’s horrible…. all I see of the Novus Ordo though I do appreciate mightily certain priests I have discovered recently including Fr. Palka in Tampa, and Fr. Z, from whom I learned about Fr Palka. I speak as a born protestant. Unacceptable for me, because I have no history of adjustment that those born into the Novus Ordo and who have remained in it, may have, and want what my ancestors had. … And Yours!

  22. HvonBlumenthal says:

    Nandarani

    Thank you. To be clear, I am not a sedevacantist nor do I think the Novus Ordo is invalid. I see the Novus Ordo as a bleak room in the mansion, with an open door at one end leading to hell.

    If you or anybody else would like to correspond with me about this or the heresies implicit in masonic ritual, to avoid using up Fr Z’s blogspace my email is hceavonblumenthal@gmail.com.

  23. TonyO says:

    How I wish the liberals would listen to the cries of people like Nandarani, and ponder what their crazy liturgical novelties have wrought.

    but we don’t really find out how and why he adopted this position, which is all the more surprising, since he appears to have had a conventionally pious upbringing.

    I have no idea why it happened specifically in the case of Bugnini, but it happened for most practicing Catholics who turned into liberals in college: even in Catholic colleges, there was an abandonment of true Catholic teaching, and modernism crept in under the banner of “science” and various false philosophies that came with the Endarkenment (the proper term for the mis-labeled “Enlightenment”). These Catholic colleges – even seminaries – repudiated the explicit requirement by Leo XIII and Pius X to teach St. Thomas and his theology and philosophy, and fell into modernism. Of the 240 “Catholic” colleges in the US, there are less than 20 that actually teach Catholic philosophy and theology well, and probably less than 10 that teach the entire spectrum of disciplines as if all truth in all fields is compatible with Catholic teaching. And in Europe it’s even worse, as I understand it.

    so he limited himself to innocuous statements of principle, which were consistent with the general thrust of the Liturgical Movement, but which were also sufficiently ambiguous to enable him to claim that the later, and more radical, interpretations of those statements, had been implied ab initio.

    Yes, this is modernism combined with marxist strategy in virulent form, the grotesque pathology emblematic of the 20th century. It is utterly shocking to realize how bamboozled so many high-ranking Church clerics were – along with the legions of rank-and-file priests and “theologians” who mumbled the numbing nonsense phrases of the “reform” until the revolution was locked in place. It is hard to imagine Paul VI being wholly innocent of the nonsense – how could he have not known to be suspicious of Bugnini after his censure by Pius XII, other than by either willful blindness or actual collaboration?

  24. veritas vincit says:

    HvonBlumenthal, thank you for your lucid comments on the Norvus Ordo. As a convert (and son of a Mason) who has never known any Mass but the NO, I often find some of the disparaging comments about that Mass puzzling and disturbing. Your explanation describes well the reservations of traditional Catholics as well as the deviousness of Bugini. Whatever else is true about the NO, it is clear it went beyond the wishes of the Vatican II Council Fathers.

  25. HvonBlumenthal says:

    Veritas Vincit
    If you want to understand the way in which the Council Fathers were manipulated, read the eye-witness account by Fr Wiltgen, The Rhine Flows into the Tiber. He was a journalist in the Council Press Office and his account is all the more credible because we was himself sympathetic to reform.

  26. MotherTeresa says:

    So I’m pretty late to the game on this one, but I thought it was worth pointing out that the name Annibale is the Italian form for ‘Hannibal’, a historical character notable for his undying hatred of Rome, from a race of people famous for Satan worship and child sacrifice.

    So the name Annibale actually means ‘In the Favor of Baal’. Coincidence? No. This is like something out of a bad movie. Why isn’t this common knowledge? Why would a truly Catholic Italian family name their son ‘Hannibal??’