Fr. Bouyer and an anecdote about how the liturgical reform was imposed

Forgive the screwy formatting of the following.  It is taken from a mass e-mail from the editor of Inside The Vatican, Robert Moynighan.

It concerns the behind the scenes story of the post-Conciliar liturgical reform.  The characters involved are the famous liturgist Fr. Louis Bouyer and Paul VI.  This is a bit removed, but it is perhaps useful.

Letter from a Reader about the Liturgy

I just received this letter from a reader:

Dear Dr. Moynihan,

These newsflashes are really informative and important for many of us to help us understand what is going on in Roma.

Given some of the past (and somewhat unfinished) newsflashes, I was wondering if you had seen this, from Fr. Anthony Chadwick (TAC priest in France) on his Civitas Dei web site, translating from a French traditionalist email group:

(Note: here follows the text from the web site; the incident occurred in about 1974.)

October 3rd — Sainte Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus (Roman calendar and a local Saint here in Normandy)…

Father Louis Bouyer (photo): I wrote to the Holy Father, Pope Paul VI, to tender my resignation as member of the Commission charged with the Liturgical Reform. The Holy Father sent for me at once (and the following conversation ensued):

Paul VI: Father, you are an unquestionable and unquestioned authority by your deep knowledge of the Church’s liturgy and Tradition, and a specialist in this field. I do not understand why you have sent me your resignation, whilst your presence, is more than precious, it is indispensable!

Father Bouyer: Most Holy Father, if I am a specialist in this field, I tell you very simply that I resign because I do not agree with the reforms you are imposing! Why do you take no notice of the remarks we send you, and why do you do the opposite?

Paul VI: But I don’t understand: I’m not imposing anything. I have never imposed anything in this field. I have complete trust in your competence and your propositions. It is you who are sending me proposals. When Fr. Bugnini comes to see me, he says: "Here is what the experts are asking for." And as you are an expert in this matter, I accept your judgement.

Father Bouyer: And meanwhile, when we have studied a question, and have chosen what we can propose to you, in conscience, Father Bugnini took our text, and, then said to us that, having consulted you: "The Holy Father wants you to introduce these changes into the liturgy." And since I don’t agree with your propositions, because they break with the Tradition of the Church, then I tender my resignation.

Paul VI: But not at all, Father, believe me, Father Bugnini tells me exactly the contrary: I have never refused a single one of your proposals. Father Bugnini came to find me and said: "The experts of the Commission charged with the Liturgical Reform asked for this and that". And since I am not a liturgical specialist, I tell you again, I have always accepted your judgement. I never said that to Monsignor Bugnini. I was deceived. Father Bugnini deceived me and deceived you.

Father Bouyer: That is, my dear friends, how the liturgical reform was done!


(The letter to me then continues):

Of course, this plays into the I think unfinished story you were recounting about Cardinal Gagnon’s investigation, and the aftermath. I must add that I saw on another traditionalist list group a few years back the comment from Prof. Luc Perrin (Strasbourg) that he himself had a typescript copy of Fr. Bouyer’s memoirs, which could not then be published due to family opposition or something of the sort, but that they contained bombshells…


You have to know that Paul VI was perhaps overly trusting.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. pberginjr says:

    Now that’s interesting!

  2. moon1234 says:

    Talk about being left on a cliffhanger. I would love to read his memoirs. I can just imagine some of what went on. I was told long ago, by many priest friends, that Bugnini was the mastermind of the Mass. A mason even.

    I am surprised that, if this story is true, that Paul the VI did not take more decisive action in stopping Bugnini.

  3. jlmorrell says:

    I have been following Robert Moynihan’s inquiries into the liturgical reform, Bugnini, Cardinal Gagnon, Monsignor ??, and the rest. It is utterly fascinating, but at the same time tremendously sad and anger invoking. The more I read and hear about what happened surrounding the Consilium and Bugnini I am outraged.

    Why is it that we still cannot have an honest discussion about the serious departure from Tradition that is the Novus Ordo, even when it is celebrated according to the rubrics? Of course, the Novus Ordo needs to be celebrated without abuses, but why won’t more people with clout even raise questions about the serious problems with the Mass.

  4. Irenaeus says:

    Wasn’t Bugnini effectively exiled to Iran? Too little, too late perhaps…but, for historical purposes, wouldn’t such a horrid posting be an effective signal of displeasure?

  5. After all has been said and done, the question remains…What will happen to the entirely fabricated New Mass of Bugnini?

  6. Norah says:

    What proof is there that this conversation ever took place? It doesn’t read right.

    I was deceived. Father Bugnini deceived me and deceived you.

    And the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth, finding that he had been deceived couldn’t undo what Bugnini had done??

    I must add that I saw on another traditionalist list group a few years back the comment from Prof. Luc Perrin (Strasbourg) that he himself had a typescript copy of Fr. Bouyer’s memoirs, which could not then be published due to family opposition or something of the sort, but that they contained bombshells…

    Of course, the old family opposition preventing the proof from being shown to the world.

    Call this healthy scepticism.

  7. I thought Fr. Bouyer’s memoirs were supposed to be published (in French) a couple summers ago. I read about that either here or at Rorate.

    I’m no Bugnini fan. I think he was a mason. Michael Davies is convincing on this. I do think, though, that a false and overly optimistic ecumenism – toward mainline Protestants who were at that very moment abandoning Christianity rather than ripe for reunion – may have been the motive. As opposed to a masonic or communist or Jewish or whatever conspiracy to destroy the Mass.

    But we do seem now to have the Missa Bugnini and I don’t see how that can stand.

  8. JARay says:

    I would indeed like to know the truth of this matter. I do remember that Fr. Bouyer was a distinguished liturgist. If that conversation between Fr. Bouyer and Paul VI really took place then I am aghast that the present Novus Ordo Mass ever came into being.

  9. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Bugnini’s name seems to come up again and again in these liturgical discussions. Where can I read about him in detail?

  10. Davidtrad says:

    This, as the email from Moynihan points out, is a third hand account of the conversation. While I doubt there was any conscious effort to deceive, people do remember things how they would like to remember them.

    It seems to me that Bugnini was too clever for this. Yes, he was eventually discovered and sent off to Iran, but I seriously doubt his subterfuge entirely consisted in lying to the pope about what the commission said and lying to the commission to about what the pope said. Fr. Bouyer or Pope Paul VI were not men who needed to be deceived in order to favor radical changes to the Church’s liturgy. But, then again maybe it was that simple. Who knows for sure at this point?

    But does it matter? Bugnini’s sad end, and the current state of the Church, is more than ample evidence that Bugnini’s Mass was a deception.

    Why do we still have it, then?

    Because it’s not as simple as it appears on the surface.

    First, this Mass wasn’t conceived after Vatican II, and it wasn’t conceived on the spot by one man or group of men in Rome. It was a long time in the making, going back to the early days of the 20th century. In 1959 this Mass was being used, without much variation at all with what we have today in the Catholic Church, by the Taize Community in France. Bugnini’s Normative Mass that became the Novus Ordo Missae already existed. He was simply inserting it into the Catholic Church.

    Second, even before the work of the Concilium, this Mass had the support of the most powerful men in the Church. Countless bishops and cardinals before the Second Vatican Council were already supporters of Beauduin’s radical ideas concerning liturgy and ecumenism, and these powerful individuals included Cardinal Lercaro, and Roncalli (who as nuncio jokingly, or so it would seem, sat Beauduin on a papal throne) (Roncalli, of course, became Pope John XXIII), and Cardinal Montini, who was a great supporter of the Centro di Azione Liturgica (Center for Liturgical Action) in Italy. Of course, Montini became Pope Paul VI. This already radical group was in turn founded by a bishop, Bernareggi of Bergamo. It was, indeed, the stated objective of Beauduin to use the hierarchy of the Church, the princes and bishops, to promote the liturgical revolt. Win first the bishops, then change the Church. We see the poisoned fruits of this approach in the nature of the post-VCII reforms, which are the first major reforms to be top-down in nature.

    Even though the deception is unraveling, the Novus Ordo Missae is still thoroughly entrenched because it was a long founded liturgy put in place, not just by “liturgical experts”, but by and with the full support of many of the most powerful prelates in the Church.

  11. Hello Seraphic,

    The late Michael Davies (well respected by the Our Holy Father when Cardinal Ratzinger) wrote this in Liturgical Time Bombs of Vatican II:

    In the “Organic Development of the Roman Liturgy” by Dr. Alcuin Reid, Bugnini’s presence in the liturgical offices was as far back as, if I recall, the late 1940’s. His scissors came out very early with both the Holy Week reforms (the only real necessary changes were perhaps the hours of the services) and then the 1962 Missal (which is what is used today for the Extraordinary Form). His work to reshape and reform the liturgy began decades before the Missa Normative of 1970.

    Perhaps some day we will understand how he was allowed so much power.

  12. Malta says:

    Bugnini was a suspected Mason, and Paul VI, believing some truth to the charge, shipped Bugnini off to Iran, a less than desirable post. Michael Davies, a personal friend of our current Pope, made the case for the possibility of Bugnini being a Mason:

    Moreover, six protestant “observers” helped the Consilium, who, according to Cardinal Baum, actually participated in the discussion (and eventual document):

    Finally, Cardinal Stickler quotes Paul VI’s friend as saying the Pope wanted the new liturgy to be more protestant in orientation:

    Is it any wonder that only 30% of Catholics now believe in the Real Presence? The Latin Mass (VO) focussed on Christ and His Sacrifice, with Priest and people facing Christ to the east. Now, with Bugnini’s mass, the orientation is gumbled by the Priest entertaining his flock–an old argument, I know, but a true one.

  13. Frank H says:

    Seraphic Spouse –
    Consider reading Bugnini’s own memoir on the reform –

    The Reform of the Liturgy (1948-1975) by Annibale Bugnini

    It’s a pretty lengthy book, and sometimes tedious, but you get a sense of the arrogance.

  14. TNCath says:

    I think this type of thing happens more often than we realize. What a tragedy. The smoke of Satan…

  15. mpm says:


    I’m not picking a fight with what you say about the Cardinal Stickler article (which I recommend that others read, it is very clear), but the Cardinal is very clear that he is not attributing any heretical intent to Paul VI, and I would describe the disastrous results of the work of the Concilium in the article as “unintended consequences” as far as the Pope is concerned:

    French philosopher Jean Guitton says that Pope Paul VI revealed to him that it was his [the Pope’s] intention to assimilate as much as possible of the new Catholic liturgy to Protestant worship. Clearly, it is necessary to verify the true meaning of this remark, since all the official statements of Paul VI—especially his excellent eucharistic encyclical Mysterium Fidei of 1965, issued before the end of the Council, as well as the Credo of the People of God demonstrate his absolute orthodoxy. Now, how can we explain this opposite statement? (bold added)

  16. Bryan says:

    You know…being involved in these discussions since, oh, even before the days of CIN (Catholic Information Network), Fidonet, and Fr. Nick Lombardi’s Fordham Jesuit BBS…one thing always struck me…

    Paul VI, of happy memory, instead of being vilified or second-guessed about why he did what he did, should be prayed for as a man who was handed a wolf in sheep’s clothing in the guise of Vatican II and did the best he could, always under the protection promised the Vicar of Christ.

    He wasn’t impeccable. Did he make mistakes? I’m sure of it. He was human. Should we second guess him? I guess we can second guess the results as an intellectual exercise, but, in the end, I believe his motives were good; but, like all actions by the head of any organization, perhaps his flaw was investing too much confidence in the good will of those that were in a position to implement (or not…) his vision. Was he apparently betrayed by fast operators and deceitful men? History (and witnesses) shout a resounding YES. But, not being inside his mind or heart, judging his motives or whether or not he believed he was doing the right thing is unkind to his memory.

    I’m not a Paul VI apologist by any stretch; others more qualified and knowledgeable can defend this Servant of the Servants of God. The fruit of the ‘reforms’ he directed be implemented have been dissected and microscopically examined ad nauseam here, in the popular press, academically, in the blogosphers, wherever two Catholics meet, etc. And that is the crux of the matter, I think, not the person who, as a fallen man like the rest of us, may have made a mistake in judgment about temporal matters (all the while showing brilliance in the spiritual realm…witness the absolutely prescient Humanae Vitae), and, from all subsequent observations, suffered privately from the observed effects, but, as an old man surrounded by people who he may have sensed betrayed his good nature and position, did not know where to turn or who, ultimately, to trust in righting the ship.

    The one thing that strikes me, in looking at photos of him late in his pontificate, was an intense and haunting sadness in his eyes. Almost like he had looked into the abyss…

    Pray for his soul. Pray for his successor, gloriously reigning, who probably understands, more than we ever will, just what the real story is, and in his own way, is working to steer the Barque of Peter gently back on course.

  17. chironomo says:

    If all of this were found to be actually true (incontrovertible), could there… would there be some sort of action taken to “reverse”? I mean… I know that there is something of a “reversal” going on now, but wouldn’t this make such a reversal imperative?

  18. mpm says:


    Nicely put. And the sooner we can all (except true historians) just put the “conspiracy theories” aside, and get down to doing what we know, or are coming to know, is our duty, the better and the sooner this wound will be healed.

  19. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Thank you, David in T.O., Malta and Frank H. for your links and suggestions.
    I’m looking forward to all this reading. The TLM I attend is so beautiful, I
    am more and more astonished that it was mostly abandoned.

    As Jewish kids are encouraged to study Hebrew and Muslim kids are encouraged to study Arabic, it is obviously unfortunate that Catholic kids are no longer encouraged to study Latin. Why we are discouraged from learning the linguistic traditions of our faith when people in the religions we are in dialogue with are encouraged to uphold the traditions of their faith is a mystery. If there is indeed something we can learn from the Other Religions, then it may very well
    be respect and love for tradition!

  20. Jordanes says:

    Davidtrad said: But does it matter? Bugnini’s sad end, and the current state of the Church, is more than ample evidence that Bugnini’s Mass was a deception.

    Bugnini’s sad end? How would dying in a Roman hospital after receiving Last Rites be a “sad end”?

    It was a long time in the making, going back to the early days of the 20th century. In 1959 this Mass was being used, without much variation at all with what we have today in the Catholic Church, by the Taize Community in France. Bugnini’s Normative Mass that became the Novus Ordo Missae already existed. He was simply inserting it into the Catholic Church.

    I suspect it’s not that simple either.

  21. Clinton says:

    Bryan (@7:44 am):

    Well said. And mpm, I couldn’t agree more. The conspiracy theories are more entertaining than doing one’s duty according to
    one’s state, but it is the latter that will do yeoman’s work for the Church.

  22. cor ad cor loquitur says:

    I share Norah’s healthy scepticism. This reads like an urban legend.

  23. Henry Edwards says:

    Bryan, I’m possibly less of a Paul VI apologist than you, but there’s another mitigating factor that may not have mentioned yet.

    First, let me mention that — though no liturgical historian — I was aware as a young but informed Catholic in the late 1950’s of the liturgical movement that bore tangible fruit in the promulgated Novus Ordo of the late 1960’s. Actually, it did — as a counter-establishment movement at that time before Vatican II — have certain conspiratorial aspects, though not like the particular kind of wacko “conspiracy theory” that traces everything to the Knights Templar. But the movement did go back quite a way, and had been driven somewhat underground, perhaps since around the time of Pius X’s 1907 Syllabus of Errors.

    Also, in the mid 1960’s I enjoyed (?) the perspective of a member of the archdiocese of the only U.S. episcopal member of the Bugnini group that was preparing the new liturgy, and indeed of the parish that he seemed to use as an experimental liturgical laboratory trying out various ideas, and even (now that perhaps at this late date I can confess my guilt) a sort of parish liturgy leader in some of these trials.

    Now, in regard to Paul VI’s desire that the new Mass be made as amenable as possible to Protestants, it should be understood that there was nothing necessarily heretical or even suspect about this. Many faithful Catholics in the aftermath of the Council shared almost euphorically the expectation that the new liturgy would spur a wholesale influx of Protestants into the One True Church. Of course, we now know that nothing of sort happened — and instead that the Church itself was Protestantized — but in that time of hope the optimism seemed neither suspect nor unrealistic. Perhaps, even now, one can imagine a pope feeling obliged to pursue this prospect in following Christ’s command to spread the Gospel.

    But the “new” factor is this. In the several years preceding the promulgation of the Novus Ordo, the liturgical situation was even more chaotic than what most Catholics alive now have experienced. Dozens (or even hundreds) of different Eucharistic prayers were in use in lots of places — circulating in the form of hastily mimeographed documents that upon arrival in a parish were three-hole punched and inserted in the loose-leaf altar binder for trial use the following Sunday. It seemed that a new one appeared at least monthly, and many of these (as I recall) were worse than anything recently mentioned from Switzerland or Austria or wherever.

    Now I do believe that some of those involved did intend to gut the liturgy for the purpose of gutting the Faith — as in fact has occurred. However, I do not believe that Paul VI shared or even realized this goal.

    Instead, I suspect a compelling argument (and perhaps the strongest one) in favor of the Novus Ordo was that it — with its “only” four EPs, one of them being the Roman Canon that Paul VI personally insisted on retaining — was necessary to quell the uncontrolled experimentation that was spreading like cancer in the Church, and thereby establish some semblance of liturgical order. Though as a rather traditionally minded Catholic I am as critical as most of the unintended consequences of this approach, I would admit that it had some temporary success, and that worse might have occurred if nothing whatsoever had been done.

    Of course, in retrospect I (like most everyone else) can see better things that could have been done, like settling on a 1965-type revision of John XXIII’s 1962 Missal that he and the Council plainly intended to be the basis for going forward. However, I can also see that by 1968 it may have seemed impossible to hold the fort to this extent.

  24. Jordanes says:

    That’s the danger of trying to move a massive boulder on a mountainside, that heretofore had only been nudged a few inches or maybe a few feet at a time. If you want to move it a greater distance, you run the great risk of getting the boulder rolling and crashing down the mountain — once it starts rolling, you can’t stop it. I think that’s kind of what happened when Vatican II opened the door to much greater liturgical reform, when they should have kept all such reform at a very modest level. They didn’t, and the boulder started tumbling down at great speed, taking out several cottages and chalets and all their inhabitants along the way.

  25. We all know that God brings a greater good out of evil – for those who are united with Him.

    Serious God-fearing Protestants have almost certainly a more realistic understanding of the Catholic Church these days compared to their opinions often seen before the Council, and much of this change is likely due to the reform of the liturgy. However, the greatest ecumenical progress was made by something that was completely unforeseen (and in many cases, unwanted) by the reformers of the Council: Humanae Vitae.

  26. Gregory DiPippo says:

    Bugnini was not completely honest with the Paul VI or his collaborators.

    In other news, water is found to be wet, the sun bright, and fire hot. The Pope is Catholic. Bears poo in the woods.

    Stay tuned for more startling developments!

  27. dcs says:

    Serious God-fearing Protestants have almost certainly a more realistic understanding of the Catholic Church these days compared to their opinions often seen before the Council, and much of this change is likely due to the reform of the liturgy.

    On the other hand, more Catholics almost certainly have an erroneous understanding of the Church today as compared with Catholics before the Council, and much of this change is likely due to the reform of the liturgy.

  28. On the other hand, more Catholics almost certainly have an erroneous understanding of the Church today as compared with Catholics before the Council, and much of this change is likely due to the reform of the liturgy.

    Sad but true.

  29. albizzi says:

    In my opinion, having read Fr Villa’s book “Paolo Sesto beato?” and Alice von Hildebrand’s interview in there are convergent clues leading that Pope Paul VI played a double game.
    If Bugnini was obviously proven to be a freemason, why didn’t the Pope dismiss him instead of only moving him away? Isn’t a freemason excommunicated ipso facto?
    What good fruits may one expect from a new liturgy a freemason worked out?

  30. Bornacatholic says:

    ++++++++++++++++++++ begin quotes +++++++++++++++

    A response to Michael Davies’ article on Archbishop Bugnini (June 1989)

    Fr Brian Harrison OS
    Aug 1989AD2000 August 1989

    Letters: A response to Michael Davies’ article on Archbishop Bugnini (June 1989) – Fr Brian Harrison OS

    I refer to Michael Davies’ article on the liturgy (June AD2000), which discusses, amongst other things, the allegation that the architect of the liturgical reform, Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, was a Freemason.

    Given the gravity of the accusation, and its implications regarding the underlying motivation for many of the post-conciliar liturgical changes, the greatest possible precision with regard to the facts of the case seems important. I therefore hope that you will publish the following clarifications.

    1. Mr. Davies quotes Archbishop Bugnini as saying that “a very high-ranking cardinal” disclosed the existence of a dossier, purporting to prove the Masonic affiliations of Archbishop Bugnini, which had been presented to Pope Paul VI. Actually, Bugnini does not say that the cardinal was “very high-ranking”. The word Eminentissimo, though grammatically in the superlative form, is customarily used in Italian to refer to any cardinal. This is the only word used to refer to this cardinal in Bugnini’s posthumously published memoirs La Riforma Liturgica, (Rome, CLV Edizoni Liturgiche, 1983, p. 101).

    2. Bugnini cites his own letter to Pope Paul of 22 October 1975, denying any involvement in Freemasonry (p.102). The fact that he wrote such a letter shows that he must have had excellent reason for believing, or at least strongly suspecting that the Pope had been convinced by these accusations, and had dismissed him for that reason. However, Mr Davies goes on to say that the Vatican “has never denied the allegations of Masonic affiliation”, and adds (very rightly) that if the charge of Freemasonry had had nothing to do with the Archbishop’s dismissal, “it would have been outrageous on the part of the Vatican,” to remain silent in the face of this public accusation.

    The evidence here is rather more complex than Mr Davies realises. According to Bugnini’s footnote 35 (p. 101) the accusation that he was dismissed for being a Freemason was first published in the Italian press in late November 1975. It is true that the Vatican remained silent at that stage – although it could be argued that the public announcement of his appointment as Pro-Nuncio to Iran in mid-January 1976 was seen by the Vatican as a sufficient vindication of his reputation. In June 1976, however, fresh reports began circulating in the Roman press that not only Bugnini, but over 100 other Vatican officials (including cardinals) were Masons. This time, an explicit denial was issued by the Vatican. Archbishop Bugnini cites it in his own defence on p. 103 of his memoirs. The daily Italian edition of l’Observatore Romano (10 October 1976), gave a blanket denial to these allegations: “Not one, we say, not one of the accused Vatican prelates has ever had anything to do with Freemasonry. We say this in order to rebut the possible accusation that silence signifies consent.” No names of any of the accused were mentioned in this denial.

    3. On the other hand, I know that there are high-ranking Vatican officials, including at least one former Cardinal Prefect of a Roman Congregation, who believe that there have been and are Freemasons in high Vatican positions. I confess my own amazement when I came to realise that such ideas (whether true or false) do not originate solely amongst “crackpot” conspiracy-theorists. Indeed it is quite widely held in Rome that the Masons themselves were responsible for circulating the absurdly long list of alleged Vatican Lodge members in 1976, precisely in order to make the whole idea look ridiculous, thereby protecting the few prelates who really were Masons. An internationally known churchman of unimpeachable integrity has also told me that he heard the account of the discovery of the evidence against Bugnini directly from the Roman priest who found it in a briefcase which Bugnini had inadvertently left in a Vatican conference room after a meeting.

    Rome, Italy

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++ end quotes +++++++++++++++++

    I try to imagine our Orthodox friends passively submitting to such radical changes in their Divine Liturgy and my imagination fails. They simply would not have tolerated this nonsense. They’d have heaved their Bishop out of their Churches onto their ears if they tried to pull such a stunt.

    Maybe God allowed this to happen so as to wake us the heck up and to start acting like men.

  31. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Henry Edwards raises very important points in his post above. The changes made by Paul VI at the request of the Consilium were not weird inventions out of nowhere. Experimentation was going on under Pius XII and, during Vatican II, as Henry states, it went into overdrive. I believe the 1962 Missal was disregarded already at the end of the Council in many places. This made the Pauline missal a helpful concession which was “necessary to quell the uncontrolled experimentation that was spreading like cancer in the Church” (words of Henry Edwards).

    In the seminary, I once read through the stacks of old “Orate Fratres” magazines (the precursor to “Worship” of the Collegeville Benedictines). I was shocked that going back to the 1940’s, one can see clamorning for the vernacular. In addition, I found old articles on the “need” to shorten the penitential rite, face the people for certain parts of the Mass, such as collects, have prayers of intercession, rework the lessons of Scripture to have more variety, make the offertory prayers sound less like a part of the Canon, have a sign of peace, eliminate the Last Gospel and prayers after Low Mass, etc.

    Even the Third Eucharistic Prayer of the Pauline Missal was there, in black in white, in a 1950’s edition of Orate Fratres, written and published by the Italian liturgist Cipriano Vaggagini, OSB. And here we think it was sprung onto us the by liturgical Consilium.

    It was mind blowing to me, as I always believed that the Novus Ordo came out of nowhere and was a concession to Protestants by Bugnini. The reality is that the Novus Ordo changes were circulating in discussion for many years before the Council. What is also interesting is to realize that the Consilium had over 30 members, making 6 Protestants consultants a small minority.

    And if the Orate Fratres mindset is any indicator, I seriously doubt that Protestants suggested any changes that the Catholic liturgists hadn’t already been suggesting; nay, the Catholic members of the Consilium (including Lercaro) were chomping at the bit to get these changes pushed through. Who needs Bugnini and masons to tamper with the liturgy when so many prominent Catholic liturgists were on standby to spring into action with a new Missal and a new rite?

  32. jbas says:

    I like your comment, Mister Henry. At a time when the faith was so secure, it would have been an act of charity to attempt some flexibility for the sake of our Separated Brethren. It may not have been clear until 1974 or so that Satan could go so far so fast.
    What lessons will be taught in Catholic seminaries and universities about this period in a hundred years?
    Perhaps a “Vatican I”-style council will one day define papal fallibility on liturgical matters, thereby serving as a formal warning to all future popes, and opening the door to our fearful Eastern brothers.

  33. robtbrown says:

    The best explanation for the disaster came from a Swiss priest friend (known also to Fr Z):

    You must understand that for 100 years before the Council whatever the Church did worked. There was certainly opposition from secularism, but still seminaries and religious houses were packed, and there were scads of conversions. Those who conceived and implemented the changes could not imagine that the bottom would drop out of it all. (NB: Before the Council JXXIII referred to the prophets of doom.)

    The Church was fueled by an organic system of discipline (e.g., Latin), which they took for granted. One day they looked up, and that system was gone–and they had no idea what to do about it.

  34. Fr. John Mary says:

    Fr. Bouyer wrote “The Decomposition of Catholicism”, which I read several years ago. This is ‘must reading’, I believe.

  35. Sam Schmitt says:

    Bugnini makes it clear that the Protestant consultors had no voting power, so it was not a question of them being a “very small minority.” However, they did have their influence, or rather, the notion that the liturgy should be amenable to Protestants was a major factor in some of the decisions of the Consilium.

    For example (and this is recounted by Bugnini), when the cycle of readings for the mass lectionary was being considered, a number of Consilium members were wary of the change from the traditional annual set of readings to the 3 year cycle – as we have today in the Novus Ordo. However, when a prominent member of the group working on the lectionary (I believe it was the well-known Fr. Vaggagini others have mentioned) stated that a group of Protestant denominations had made it clear that they had no objections to the Catholic Church re-ordering its lectionary in such a radical way (since it was anticipated that many Protestants would follow the lead of the Catholic Church in this matter), the opposition within the Consilium group practically vanished. The new 3-cycle concept passed with only a single dissenting vote.

  36. ocsousn says:

    I heard the same story from Fr. Bouyer’s own lips, along with many others recounting the duplicity of Msgr. Bugnini: how Eucharistic Prayer II was composed on the back of an envelope at a sidewalk cafe; how the first volume of the revised breviary was printed with an expurgated Psalter in spite of the negative votes of the concilliun and the synod of bishops, not to mention the expressed wish of the pope himself; his scathing opinion of the new offertory prayers and, finally, how Paul VI discovered what was going on when Bugnini tried to do damage control and revealed too much of his game. Unfortunately I was driving at the time and struggling to navigate some treacherous back roads. What I wouln,t have given for a note pad or tape recorder. I have eagerly awaited the publication of his memoirs and am certain that others are not so enthusiastic.
    Fr. Aidan Logan, O.C.s.o.

  37. “…but why won’t more people with clout even raise questions about the serious problems with the Mass.” – jlmorrell

    As I recall from my reading of Card. Ratzinger’s “Spirit of the Liturgy,” he does raise questions about the deficiencies of the Ordinary Form even when it is celebrated according to the rubrics without abuse. You can’t get any more clout than the pope!

    I also seem to recall he implied that we have something of a Catch 22 on our hands in that one of the problems with the liturgical reforms stems from the “spontaneity” with which the liturgical changes were imposed. (Set aside the fact that these liturgical changes were favored by liturgists for decades as earlier posts made note, as Card. Ratzinger was speaking exclusively of the way they were *introduced* and *implemented* spontaneously as opposed to organically.) So for the solutions to be imposed with at least the appearance of an equal measure of spontaneity is potentially harmful as well.

    I don’t have the book handy right now in order to quote it directly, but I got the sense that the Holy Father sees very clearly what needs to be done, and he is determined to see that it is done, but he is loathe to perpetuate the false impression that it is OK to inflict upon the liturgy wholesale change in a moment’s notice by attempting to impose the remedy over night.

  38. sarumuse says:

    I am largely at the origin of the “Inside the Vatican” article, for having translated something I found in French and considered convincing. I have added to the page ( to take the “Inside the Vatican” version into account and to express reserves. I am concerned in my site not to engage in rumour-mongering or any kind of exaggeration or untruth. The evidence of duplicity of either Bugnini or Pope Paul VI, or both, is strong, but not conclusive until I see real proof.

    I have also added a few observations about Bugnini and the fact he was not the origin of the Paul VI Roman rite, but refined ideas of reforming the liturgy that went back to 18th century France and Italy via early 20th century experiments with Mass facing the people. I refuse the “conspiracy theory” way of looking at things, preferring historical evidence and fact. This is not always easy, and sometimes silence and patience are the way – which is certainly the case for us in the TAC waiting at Rome’s front door.

    Fr. Anthony

  39. Philippus says:

    Questions immediately rise.

    If Bugnini was opposed to such radical changes and was so scandalized by them, did he ever celebrate the New Mass? If he never did, then that in itself would be vindication.

    Secondly,it seems quite silly that a Freemason in the Vatican would not remember to take along with him the evidence that would prove him to be a traitor to the Church. So, this briefcase was just sitting around with his costumes neatly folded in it? Could this have been planted? Was this even more of a cover-up?

  40. sarumuse says:

    In response to Philippus — 15 October 2009 @ 3:35 pm

    Bugnini died in 1982, and therefore celebrated the Novus Ordo. We would know if he had continued with the old rite. Furthermore, I once heard that he concelebrated with two women dressed in albs and wearing priest’s stoles in 1982, and that a photo was taken – but I do not have this photo and I cannot prove this allegation.

    I disregard the allegations of his having been a Freemason as irrelevant. In my opinion, he was simply a progressist liberal and a pseudo intellectual.

    Fr. Anthony

  41. patrick_f says:

    Is it me or does Fr Bugnini bear a resmblence in defiance and deciet to people in our own congress? Or Perhaps Br Elias, in regards to St. Francis? All too familiar story.

    I would even liken it to the health care debate as well. Steam roll ahead with change despite the majority. Perhaps that is the true progressivist mindset.

    I often wonder, the good sweet man JP2 was, especially in later years, how many people took advantage of him.

    The comment about freemasonry infiltrating the church is one that goes round and round . “pope Pius XIII” claims this of Blessed John XXIII, so, there you go. Maybe he was, but, as pointed out, irrelevant. I think he simply thought too much of himself, given his post.

  42. Philippus says:

    Thanks Fr. Anthony. That clarifies a whole lot.

    Simply put, the enemy is in the Church. We need a purge really badly.

    Lastly, a friend of mine noted that the only two priests who have been canonized since Vatican II are Padre Pio and St. Josemaria Escriva. Both priest petitioned to the Holy Father to not say the Novus Ordo. Hence, they died never celebrating the New Order Mass.

  43. Davidtrad says:

    “It was a long time in the making, going back to the early days of the 20th century. In 1959 this Mass was being used, without much variation at all with what we have today in the Catholic Church, by the Taize Community in France. Bugnini’s Normative Mass that became the Novus Ordo Missae already existed. He was simply inserting it into the Catholic Church.

    I suspect it’s not that simple either.”

    I like you, but this is so typical of your often cross comments. I would appreciate your insights, rather than one-off-man-ship.

  44. “I often wonder, the good sweet man JP2 was, especially in later years, how many people took advantage of him.”

    I once read a comment by a respectable blogger saying that the document permitting the use of altar girls never was signed by Pope John Paul, but merely rushed through the CDW and sent out to the world under the Pope’s nose – making it, as a matter of fact, an invalid document. Apparently, the document does not posess any archival number, as is required for validity. I have not been able to verify this account and I have no idea whether or not it is true.

  45. Malta says:

    “…but why won’t more people with clout even raise questions about the serious problems with the Mass.” – jlmorrell

    Then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger called the new mass a “banal, on-the-spot product.” Might I add: a manufactured liturgy, a liturgy by commission, a liturgy fabricated by thirty modernists, rather than the liturgy organically developed since the time of Our Lord (which was the vehicle which formed most of the greatest Saints, and gave solace to the Martyrs, the mass which, moreover has inspired much of the greatest art the world has ever known, from Palestrina to Mozart–Yes, this mass was trash-canned for the “banal, on the spot” product of 1960’s modernists):

  46. Fr. John Mary says:

    Fr. Anthony: “Furthermore, I once heard that he concelebrated with two women dressed in albs and wearing priest’s stoles in 1982, and that a photo was taken – but I do not have this photo and I cannot prove this allegation.”
    This troubles me at the very depths of my being. And it explains a lot, if it, is fact, true.

  47. Margaret says:

    Point of clarification on St. Josemaria: He did, in fact, say the Novus Ordo for a brief time, once it became normative to do so. One of the other priests in Opus Dei (I want to say Don Alvaro del Portillo, but I’m not positive and can’t dig up the documentation right now) observed how enormously St. Josemaria was struggling with the new rite and rubrics– a combination of trying to break very long-standing habit (ordained in 1925) plus failing eyesight. Without the saint’s knowledge, this other priest went and obtained the appropriate permission for St. Josemaria to revert to saying the form he’d celebrated his entire life as a priest. I don’t think he would ever have ever sought such permission for himself, wishing to be completely obedient to the Holy Father, but when it was presented to him as a done deal, he accepted it.

  48. Malta says:

    Talk about Bugnini in 1982, what about JPII in 1984?

    If you scroll down towards the bottom, you will see JPII saying mass with bare-breasted New Guinea women (don’t scroll down, if you don’t want to see it, but is is an actual, unphotocopied picture of the late Pope and Bishops in attendance.)

    If you click the link, supra, you will see scantily clad acrobats in the “Paul VI hall,” a horrific site–in the Catholic milieu–superimposed on another horrific sight.

    I like dancers (my wife is one, and even majored in it in college) but there is something wrong with that first picture. View at your own discretion.

  49. Malta says:

    I meant to add that I don’t subscribe to the “New Church” descriptions in the link above, but only posted it for the photos. I was baptized and confirmed into the so-called “New Church,” I have a good priest-friend in the “New Church,” and so I don’t like that term. But things are what they are, as the photos illustrate…

    I have lived on both coasts, and in cities in-between, and I can attest to the “Devastated Vineyard” (in the words of Hildebrand) out there.

  50. albizzi says:

    Fr Anthony,
    Would you please let me know your opinion about Fr Luigi Villa, about the books he wrote, peculiarly on John XXIII and Paul VI, and about the website ?
    Are these conspiracy theories?
    Do you believe this priest is in good standing with his bishop?
    For my part, I am at least partially convinced that he says the truth.
    Dr Robert Moynihan recently quoted his name in “Inside the Vatican”. Moynihan doesn’t look to be fond of conspiracy theories.

  51. sarumuse says:

    I had a brief look at this site, and can’t really seem to “connect” with it. I am not familiar with Fr Luigi Villa, and have no idea about his canonical status as a Roman Catholic priest.

    There have been real conspiracies in history, and the Church does have enemies. Enemies logically infiltrate to attack their targets in a “Trojan Horse” fashion. These conspiracies could be real, but your question should be “What can I do about it?”. Conspiracy theories or that way of seeing the world can be obsessive and “addictive”, and induce a paranoid way of thinking and analysing reality. Be careful. Check facts, and ask yourself if there isn’t something more useful you can do with your time. It’s just a question, and I don’t pretend to have the answer.

    As an Anglican priest in the TAC, I am interested in the situation of the liturgy in the Catholic Church, but not really in knowing whether John XXIII or Paul VI were part of some Masonic conspiracy to ruin the Church. Freemasonry and conspiracies are of their nature secret, and we don’t know about them. They keep their secrets secret. That seems to be logical. I prefer to see things in terms of human errors and illusions, something we can all suffer from as individual persons and groups. If the Church is of God, then we have nothing to worry about.

    That’s my way of seeing things. I tend to be something of an English empiricist and sceptic, and faith to me is truly a gift from God! I am also of Yorkshire roots, and like to see things in simple and straightforward ways. The ways of Italian priests sometimes elude me.

    Fr. Anthony

  52. robtbrown says:


    Bugnini, Lercaro, et al midwifed the liturgical changes, which were a consequence of a species of theology that arose between the two World Wars.

    All theology of that period attempted to fill in the lacunae of Counter Reformation theology. A certain strain, however, was more oriented toward Ecumenism with Protestants rather than with the Eastern Churches.

    Those who followed that strain weren’t capable of shifting from the concept of Church as Perfect Society (with its emphasis on legislative power) to the concept of Church as Mystical Body (found in St Thomas and reinvigorated by Pius XIII with Mystici Corporis). Instead, they injected a Community of Man ideology into theology–and the liturgy.

Comments are closed.