29 Feb: Happy (?) Birthday…. Consilium

As John Sonnen reports at his place, today is the birthday of of Pope Paul III, born in 1468.

That would make him, and other people born on leap year day, "Leaplings".

It is also the birth of the infamous Consilium.

At the beginning of its work the Consilium’s very existence was in question. 

However, it was eventally settled.

In the book which has H.E. Piero Marini’s name on the cover (but which I think was ghost written for him), A Challenging Reform: Realizing the Vision of the Liturgical Renewal, there are interesting pages about the origins of the Consilium.  Here is an excerpt:

The institution of the Consilium was finally "settled" with letters on February 29 and March 2.  February 29 was the date on which the Secretariate of State sent a letter addressed to Cardinals Lercaro, Larraona, and Gregorio Pietro Agagianian, prefect of the Congregation de Propaganda Fide:

I have the the honor of communicating to Your Eminence, in keeping with the directives of Pope Paul VI, the responsibilities of the Consilium for the Carrying out of the Constitution on the Liturgy, of which Your Eminence is PResident.  They are as follows:

a. to suggest the names of the persons charged with forming study groups for the revision of rites and liturgical books;

b. to oversee and coordinate the work of the study groups;

c. to prepare carefully an instruction explaining the practical application of the Motu Proprio Sacram Liturgiam and clearly outling the competence of the territorial ecclesiastical authorities, pending the reform of rites and liturgical books;

d. to apply, according to the letter and the spirit of the Council, the Constitution it approved, by responding to the proposals of the conferences of bishops and to questions that arise involving the correct application of the Constitution.

Appeals of decisions of the Consilium as well as the solution of particularly sensitive nd grave or completely new problems will be referred by the Consilium to the pope.

… [T]he February 29 letter did place the Consilium at the head of the reform.  In fact, it was the Consilium’s legal charter and would later be reffered to often in times of controversy and conflict with the Congregation for Rites.  Therefore it marked a most important step in the life of the Consilium.  this letter sent to Cardinal Larcaro concerning the Consilium’s competencies also appointed him president.

Thus was born the Consilium, set up to carry out what the Council asked for regarding reform of the liturgy.

The Consilium by far outstripped its competency, but Pope Paul backed it, even to the point of stripping the Congregation for Rites of much of its power.

Part of the purpose of the members of the Consilium was precisely to diminish the Congregation, and the rest of the Curia, and used certain liturgical questions as their weapons.  For example, the issue of the vernacular was as much about shifting power to conferences of bishops (whom the Consilium wanted to have final approval of translations) as it was about "active participation".  More so, if you read between the lines in The Book With Marini’s Name On It.  The same goes for the other huge points of war between the Consilium and the Curia, such as concelebration and Communion under both species.

If you can get a used copy of The Book With Marini’s Name On It, that would be best.  Or get it from a library. 

It is like reading a fascinating autopsy.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. John F. says:

    At least we only have to celebrate(or mourn) the anniversary of the letter once every 4 years.

  2. John V says:

    “. . . if you read between the lines . . . .”

    Now you tell me! Here I’ve been reading the words on the pages, struggling through the minutiae, lack of organization, and repetition, when I should have been reading between the lines! I’ve taken to referring to The Book With Marini’s Name On It as A Challenging Book. The suggestion that it was largely the work of the editors might explain why I keep thinking the book could have benefited from a good (or even a mediocre) editor: the “editors” thought they had done such a bang-up job writing it that they didn’t bother showing it to anyone else. Of course, if it had been subjected to editorial review, it might have ended up a pamphlet instead of a book.

  3. henri says:

    The question, which I can’t find out the answer to anywhere, is WHY DID POPE PAUL VI “BACK IT” against the normally competetent authorities. Father?

  4. henri says:

    The question, which I can\’t find out the answer to anywhere, is WHY DID POPE PAUL VI \”BACK IT\” against the normally competetent authorities. Father?

  5. mike says:

    Of course were one to read this book in the course of one’s daily constitutional – well think of the possibilities, in the name of recycling – after reading just a few pages…


  6. Richard Cox says:

    “A Challenging Reform: Realizing the Vision of the Liturgical Renewal” is available through Amazon.com, in case anyone is interested; about $10 in paperback, then if you feel inclined, it is easier to recycle.

  7. malta says:

    It is beyond conspiracy that Anibale Bugnini, who headed the Consilium, and invited six protestant “observers” to take part in crafting the novus ordo, was suspected by Paul VI of being a mason, and this was the reason he was shipped off to Iran.


  8. Mike Williams says:

    Michael Davies’ enshrinement of rumor as fact, in claiming that Paul VI suspected Bugnini of being a Mason and that was why he was sent to Iran is not supported by anything except Davies’ reliance on his own speculation. You don’t have to be remotely sympathetic to Bugnini and his actions to recognize the inaccuracy of much of the demonizing that Davies (and those who take his word as gospel) have spread. Note, for example in the link above that Davies cites only other books by himself as “proof” of his position. The closest anyone has gotten to a citation is the “I heard from someone who heard from someone” variety guardedly offered in Fr Harrison’s dispute of davies’ claims.


  9. malta says:

    Mike, Bugnini himself admitted that he was suspected of being a Mason (although denied it).

    Have you read Davies’ original sources? Why should a writer have to rehash old arguments if he has already cited to them in an earlier source?

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